Both companies are known for quality optics, both are US based, although Vortex imports a great many of their optics from state of the art factories overseas, and both build scopes for the demanding hunter and tactical shooter.
So how do you know which is best? Well, you could ask a fortune teller or climb a mountain to consult with a wise guru--or you could sit back and read our comparison. We pulled a pair of tactical scopes and a pair of all around general duty hunting optics such as you might find on many common hunting rifles.
Save yourself the trip up a mountain and check these out because we’ve answered the age-old question of “Vortex scopes vs. Leupold — which optics are better?”
Vortex Scopes vs. Leupold Round 1: Leupold VX-Freedom vs Vortex Strike Eagle
- Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC Reticle (MOA)
- Price as of 10/31/2020 05:55 PDT(more info about ad)
- Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4 x 20mm Riflescope, Pig-Plex (174177) (174177)
- Price: $249.99
- Price as of 10/30/2020 10:16 PDT(more info about ad)
Here, we have two very similar scopes that are designed with the needs of AR-15 shooters in mind. Compact, lower magnification for short to medium range shooting, and lightweight, they have some pretty similar specs too. ‘
The Leupold comes in with 1.5 to 4x magnification compared to the Vortex 1-6x. We see a 20mm objective as opposed to the larger Vortex 24mm objective lens, and each are built to exacting water-, fog- and shock-proof standards.
Each has a few slightly different features such as the glass etched reticle of the Vortex and the fact the Leupold is actually made in the USA, but the technical differences are negligible for most shooters.
Getting down to the nitty gritty: the Vortex claims true 1 power magnification or rather a lack of magnification on its lowest setting. Some people value this for short range shooting where they simply want and can use an unmagnified, distortion free sight picture.
The Leupold starts at 1.5x magnification so even at its lowest setting, there is some magnification, which may or may not matter to some shooters.
Obviously the Vortex (see full specs) has a slightly larger objective lens which permits greater light gathering, and offers half again as much magnification as the Leupold. This could be critical at medium ranges--or make the difference between a difficult long range shot or one you just can’t take. However, as I’m fond of pointing out, some of the greatest sniper battles of WWII were done with 4 power optics, but then again none of us are fighting the Battle of Stalingrad either.
End result? If you value you wallet and the “Made in USA moniker,” the Leupold is the hands down winner. However equally well, you can get a Vortex scope with visibly more advanced features, and built in cutting edge optics plants, albeit overseas. I think for most folks, the extra performance won’t matter, so my money is on the Leupold.
Vortex Scopes vs. Leupold Round 2: Vortex Diamondback vs Leupold Rifleman
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA)
- Price: $199.00
- Price as of 10/30/2020 17:43 PDT(more info about ad)
- Leupold Rifleman 4-12x40mm Riflescope, Wide Duplex (56170)
- Price as of 10/31/2020 04:06 PDT(more info about ad)
This one is going to be somewhat easier to compare as both scopes are nearly identical 4-12x40 scopes. Skipping past the obvious and allowing that both scopes are built to similar to identical levels of water-, fog-, and shock-proofing, we are left staring at two optics that for all intents and purposes are identical to the end user. Even the reticles are nearly identical, leaving precious few things to compare except for price. And boy is there a difference.
Each company offers a pretty impressive warranty, ranging from Leupold’s lifetime warranty to Vortex offering a fully transferable warranty for life that covers damage and failure. Basically, again the same level of service.
So how do you pick? Well, honestly, it boils down to budget and principle. I personally will go with the Diamondback; it’s an absolutely fantastic scope and loved by those who use it. If you want to go with “Made in the USA” then it is probably worth it to support the American workers who build the Leupold Rifleman (see full specs). Either way, you are getting a killer scope.
My personal choice is the Diamondback because it’s usually cheaper, and Vortex is a US-based company with much of its operation here. We live in a world of global trade, and I’m not ashamed to buy overseas at times.
Vortex Scopes vs. Leupold — Conclusion?
Short answer. Flip a coin, Leupold or Vortex, they are both amazing optics and will often compare neck and neck with little to no practical difference. Long answer? It’s wrapped up in politics, global trade, and patriotism. What do you do with two US-based companies with a reputation for high grade optics, rock-solid customer service, and bet your life on them scopes? My immediate response is “Well, crap this is tough.”
Vortex optics are often more affordable, simply because when you are running a trained workforce in a state of the art, modern optics plant it matters little if they come from China or the Philippines or Japan, you are simply going to get high-grade optics. “You get what you pay for” has become blurred in the modern global economy with automated and computerized manufacturing.
Leupold supports American jobs and is an old, venerable name. There is also no doubting that Vortex supports American jobs but not so much in the manufacturing sector, and they are newer to the market. Both Leupold and Vortex offer a killer warranty, and each has its devoted followers.
Follow your heart and your wallet. I have lots of guns. You probably have lots of guns. Or at least more than one. My optics collection has Vortex and Leupold, and strange off brands from some odd Chinese factory. Some came with guns, some I bought brand new. You won’t go wrong buying Vortex or Leupold. You’ll generally save money with Vortex, though, and that is an important consideration.
Bottom line, if it’s the wallet that you have to answer to, buy Vortex. If you don’t have budget constraints, buy Leupold. Either way, you’re going to get a scope that you’ll treasure for years to come.
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.