The New 2021 Leupold VX-3HD Review

2021 Model Leupold VX-3HD

I’d planned on taking the new VX-3HD 4.5-14×50 to Africa on my Winchester M70 .30-06 last month.

I couldn’t.

Some absolute unit in Leupold’s manufacturing facility in Oregon tightened one of the CDS elevation turret screws so tight that I bent two Allen wrenches trying to loosen it to set the zero stop. This has been my first and only issue with a Leupold scope in over 25 years of hunting with the brand. And it was really just the result of someone overdoing their job.

Instead of taking that scope, I remounted my rifle with a VX-3HD 2-8×32 that Leupold sent with the aforementioned optic. I didn’t have time to wait on a replacement with higher magnification.

Eight power magnification should be plenty in Africa, right?

On a quick trip to the range, I set the zero on the smaller scope and collected some last-minute speed data on the Doppler. The rifle was shooting sub 1/2” MOA and I felt confident in the rifle / optic setup, so I went back to the office and packed everything up with two days to spare before setting off across the ocean.

On the flight over, I adjusted my data to 5,000 feet of elevation to have a good average for where we’d be hunting and went to sleep.

Two days later, on our first hunting day, a big greater kudu bull ran within 20 feet of us as he was chasing a cow. He had one thing on his mind, so he didn’t catch us in his peripheral vision. When he finally stopped, he gave me a 240-yard downhill shot. Without touching the elevation dial, I anchored him where he stood.

Quick kill.

Kudu taken down using the Leupold VX-3HD.

What follows is a series of one-shot quick kills using the Leupold CDS dial for range/elevation:

Zebra taken down using the Leupold VX-3HD.
Zebra: 232 yards…heart shot
Fallow deer taken down using the Leupold VX-3HD.
Fallow Deer (brought in by the Europeans settlers centuries ago): 205 yards…lung shot
2021 Model Leupold VX-3HD
Blesbok: 470 yards…heart shot

I did miss a fallow, but the range was bad as was my shot off the sticks. I hate shooting sticks. It certainly wasn’t the rifle or the scope’s fault. That one was all me.

In summary, the Leupold 2-8×32 VX-3HD is good to go. It’s very lightweight and would be best paired with an ultralight mountain / sheep rifle. While 2-8 may seem like low power, it’s plenty to for getting the job done. Also, the elevation tracking is absolutely spot-on. This scope wasn’t designed with 500-yard shooting as a priority, but it will perform there if you need it. Light transmission was plenty adequate for safari hunting…which isn’t a super low light hunt. One of those kills was just after sunup and I had no issues with the shot.

Full Setup:

Winchester Model 70 Super Grade

Leupold VX-3HD 2-8×32

Talley Steel Quick Release Rings/Bases

Unknown Munitions 180gr Barnes TSX


  • Very Light
  • CDS helps you reach out when needed
  • Very clear glass


  • None if the Leupold assembly guy doesn’t inject HGH before tightening your elevation cap


Absolutely. Call this one “The little scope that could.”

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