A Cadillac Among Tactical Optics
Leupold M8 1.1-8x24mm CQBSS.
So this guy calls and asks me what optic he should buy. He wants a scope to perform at close quarter but also allow him to shoot mid-range. I mentioned several. His comments were those scopes did not go low enough; the other scopes did not go high enough. His comments were true for what he wanted until Leupold hit the market with one of the most innovative scopes in many years.
The initials in Leupold’s Mark 8, 1.1-8x24mm CQBSS stand for Close Quarter Battle Sniper Scope. With a 1.1- to 8-power ratio, it makes what the guy wanted possible. Leupold also put the reticle in the first focal plane. The result is a reticle, like the M-TMR and H-27D that can be extremely useful for quick shots at mid-range on 8X. But when turned to 1.1X, the center ring becomes like a red dot reflex sight when the illumination is turned on. The 34mm main tube allows a huge elevation and windage range if you prefer to dial or hashmarks if you prefer not to.
The innovation does not stop there. They have designed a dial system unique, useful, and reliable. Most tactical scopes use dials without caps. I have more than once suspected my elevation settings got moved while carrying the rifle on my front or back. Caps, however, are too slow to deal with in a tactical situation. Leupold has solved that problem by designing squeeze-top dials. Under normal circumstances, the dial can’t be moved. But when quick dial changes are required, simply squeeze the top and move the dial. Release and it locks where you left it. But what happens in a dirty, sandy environment? Some say it makes the squeeze top useless. Others say they have not had a problem. However, if it did happen, shooters can use the hashmarks on the reticle.
In explaining the high tariff of this scope, Leupold explains the aspherical lenses and very high quality components drive the cost, and the 1.1X to 8X zoom is no easy animal to deal with either. The H-27D reticle adds the better part of a grand over the standard mil dot. Just holding and looking at the scope gives you the immediate impression of quality stuff.
Many modern scope companies market their reticles as good for a specific bullet, velocity, and ballistic coefficient. This normally denotes what I call a progressive reticle system. That is, the subtension between each hashmark on the vertical reticle increases. This in theory matches some range of bullet, velocity, and ballistic coefficient range. Neither the H-27D’s nor the M-TMR’s reticles are progressive, which is OK with me as I prefer a reticle with hashmarks that subtend the same distance for every mark. It makes ranging and holdover easier. But Leupold has made them specific for the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm with the use of BDC dials.
The truth is, both systems will work just fine with any bullet, any ballistic path, at any velocity, however, ranging becomes a bit more problematic with a progressive hashmark reticle.
The illumination turret is on the left side of the manifold. Many scopes require the user to turn the dial completely around to access the brightest illumination, while others do the opposite. The MK8 can be turned in either direction, making the best illumination quicker to access.
Turning the knob on the left gives you eight levels of brightness. But that solves another problem as well, that of very close quarter shots, made possible by placing the reticle in the first focal plane. As you know, subtention between the lines is then proportional to the range at all powers. This makes ranging the same at any distance but also solves the other problem of close shots. That is, when turned to 1.1X, and with illumination on, it acts as a close quarter reflex sight.
Image quality is excellent, and at this price point, you expect no less. Resolution is sharp, contrast excellent, and I could not detect any aberrations. Color balance is very good with no bleeding or fringing. I suspect that the ark seconds are very low.
The illumination turret is located on the left side of the manifold (above) and can be set so either high or low illumination can be accessed first. Markings on the turrets are clear and precise. The elevation and windage turrets will not move during carry, but are easily changed by squeezing the turret and rotating (below). Since turret caps restrict quick access to the turrets, and exposed turrets can be spun without being noticed, the squeeze turrets solve both problems. A zero stop is included with the use of a nut at the bottom of the turret.
I mounted the MK8 CQBSS on a LaRue upper and DPMS lower and sighted it in at 100 yards. I found the squeeze dials took a little getting used to. I also found the glass to be unusual. Not bad, just different as I changed from 1.1X to 8X. An 8X power ratio must take a bit of trickery in the guts of the scope, requiring a strange method of moving lenses from 1.1X to 8X. However, it was obvious high-quality glass is used.
This scope allows you to either dial up to distance and right or left for windage or use the reticle to both range and for holdover and windage. Since the scope’s primary purpose for speed is centered on the use of the hashmarks, I turned to mid-range, chose the appropriate hashmark, and started pulling the trigger at distances of 200 to 600 yards. Nothing but resounding hits on metal at each range. But the same result happened with the BDC. Luckily, I live at sea level, temperature approximately 60 degrees F, pressure approximately 29.53 Hg, and I was shooting the AA53 MK262 Mod 1 5.56mm round.
The M-TMR is a Mil-Dot reticle. Ranging with it takes a bit of math. Holdover does as well. The BDC turrets make it easier, and it is a real advantage to have a reticle built specifically for your cartridge. In this case it is for the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm military cartridges. This is also predicated on standard conditions at sea level. Put the 600-yard dot on the 600-yard target and voilà! Problematically, not everyone lives at sea level or has a 20-inch barrel and might not even like shooting military-style bullets. The result is the 600-yard dot might not hit the 600-yard bull. But don’t worry, you can use any cartridge, bullet, velocity, ballistic coefficient, or conditions you desire and make the reticle work perfectly with the use of any modern ballistic software.
By Jacob Gottfredson
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14400 N.W. Greenbrier Pkwy.
Beaverton, OR 97006
Actual Magnification: 1.1X-8X, Length: 11.75″, Tube Diameter 35mm, Eye Relief: 3.7″ (1X), 3.3″ (8X) , Weight: 23.2 ounces, Elevation Adj. Range: 100 MOA, Windage Adj. Range: 150 MOA, Illumination Power: 2032 Lithium 3V,
Price: $4,999.99 (H-27D: $5,749.99)