Leupold VX2 vs VX3 – Which Is Better? (ANSWERED)

leupold vx2 vs vx3, leupold vx-2, leupold vx-3

Photo by logan wolfe / CC BY

We get asked lots of questions on Reloader Addict like, “What is the best scope for shooting down flying saucers?” or “What’s the best scope for hunting Bigfoot?” Well, oddly enough, there is an answer to those questions, namely the Leupold VX-3 and VX-2, although I would strongly advise against engaging flying saucers or Bigfoot with anything less than a .50 BMG. However, since we are talking about a pair of kickbutt Leupold scopes now, it’s worth taking a closer look. Which will come out on top in the battle of Leupold VX2 vs VX3 scopes? And for what purposes?

Leupold has been synonymous with high-grade American scopes after WWII when affordable scopes became a reality for Americans and there was a demand for scoped rifles. Leupold filled the bill and sold the finest optics in America to the government, hunters, and target shooters. Anyone who could appreciate quality optics soon learned to value the name Leupold on their scopes, and that legend continues today. The VX-2 and VX-3 scopes each fill overlapping niches, which is why choosing between them can be very hard, despite the price differences. Hopefully, we can make choosing one a bit easier for you.


The VX-2 is a 4-12 power scope with a 40mm objective lens, while the VX-3 is 3.5-10 power with a 50mm objective lens. Each come with a standard lifetime warranty, each is suitable for hunting or target practice, but the VX-2 clocks in at usually half the price of the the VX-3 (check current prices, though), so just what is the difference?

Leupold VX2 vs VX3 – The Difference

Well, it turns out there is some pretty substantial differences here. The VX-2 (see full specs) is a basic, nearly entry level all-around hunting and sport shooting scope. The practical 40mm objective lens is a bit bigger than the more common 30mm objective lens, but still works fine with standard height rings. It is naturally waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and features fully coated optics.

Windage and elevation can be changed with finger adjustable dials, and features Leupold’s unique “Duplex” reticle which allows for easy target acquisition even in low light. The VX-2 starts showing its entry level heritage when you roll them all together and realize there isn’t all that much more. It’s a rock solid hunting scope for most hunting situations, and the sort of thing you buy if you don’t take demanding long range shots.

The VX-3 (see full specs), though, shows its real long range heritage. Starting with the oversized 50mm objective lens which allows for optimal light transmission, it has a more advanced one piece tube, more rugged internals, and higher grade glass. After all, this is a serious scope that has even supposedly seen military use in Iraq.

Digging deeper, we find it is filled with a special argon-krypton gas blend for optimal protection against fogging and thermal shock, a unique match grade adjustment system ensures repeatable fine windage and elevation adjustment, a high-end optical coating designed to optimize transmission of red and blue light for a superior sight picture in extreme low light conditions. In other words, where the VX-2 is a solid all around hunting scope, the VX-3 is an AMAZING all around hunting scope. But, as they say on TV “But wait!”

Leupold VX2 vs VX3 – There is More . . .

The VX-3 is your near ultimate long-range, low-light hunting scope. It’s the scope to take hunting in the worst conditions, or to set up for an afternoon of prairie dog shooting. It is more expensive, because it is more feature-rich. It’s an advanced scope for advanced shooting.

The VX-2 is more like the minivan of rifle scopes. It does a little bit of everything, is affordable, and something that fills most common needs for most common people. It’s what you buy for the rifle you take out a few times a year on nice days and then for your weekend hunting trip. Oh, it’s a Leupold through and through, but it’s the scope for everyday hunting and shooting, which is to say for most people it’s absolutely a great idea.

Zeroing the Leopold VX 2 scope

Leupold VX2 vs VX3 – So Which is Best?

Honestly, for most people, it’s the VX-2 (read reviews) for the reasons we already outlined. That’s what I usually stick to my rifle, and for most folks, they really don’t do the kind of shooting that justifies the cost of the VX-3, no matter how truly awesome it is. The VX-3 is an advanced scope for the sort of advanced shooting and advanced rifles that justify a scope with its price tag. The easier way to decide is to break it down by your habits and your rifle.

If, like many people, you might have a solid entry-level to mid-grade rifle, say a good .30-30 lever gun, a decent AR, or a nice bolt action rifle. Nothing you’d call match grade, but something you can depend on to fill your tag every fall. You shoot it a few times a year for sport and to stay familiar with the platform, but for the most part, it sits in the safe until hunting season. Pretty obvious choice, right?

But, if you’ve invested in a match grade platform, maybe a nice AR-10 style rifle or an advanced sort of Remington 700, your shooting habits are different, and you plan to do something with that expensive rifle you custom built to your specifications. Well, doesn’t it make sense to match the scope to the gun? When you are on a once in a lifetime hunt, and every second of daylight counts, you need a scope that is scientifically built to optimize low light shooting, and is built from the ground up to let you take longer range shots than you might normally take. That folks, is the VX-3 (read reviews). Be it flying saucers or trophy sheep, that’s your scope.

The Shooting Show – stalking and gralloching with Chris Dalton PLUS the Leupold VX-3

Leupold VX2 vs VX3 – Conclusion

In the end, either way you get a Leupold. And that’s something to be excited about. True heirloom-quality scopes are hard to come by in a world of soulless computerized machining and manufacturing. American-made scopes are even harder to get. Get the biggest and best scope you can afford and can use, and rest assured that your grandchildren will thank you for it. And one of them might just finally bag Bigfoot.

  • Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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