Leupold vs Nikon Scopes Comparison (2024 Review)

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What’s the difference between Leupold vs Nikon Scopes?

I wanted to find out, so I bought both rifle scopes and hand-tested everything:

  • Reticle
  • Durability
  • Battery life
  • Field of view
  • And so much more

By the end of this Leupold vs Nikon scopes comparison review, you’ll know which rifle scope is best for you.

Let’s get started!

Leupold vs Nikon Scopes Review

When it comes to scopes, it’s always good to have a brand you can trust. Two of the top names in the game are Nikon vs Leupold. Both manufacturers have a rich history in scopes.

The duplex reticle was invented by Leupold, so I’ve always known I can count on their scopes. The U.S. military also trusts them, but Nikon has been around since 1917.

They’re both great scope manufacturers. To find out which one is better in the battle of Nikon vs Leupold, let’s get started!

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Since Leupold invented a new kind of reticle, they’ve definitely got an advantage going in.

I love the variety in reticles with the best Leupold rifle scopes.

Some Leupold reticles are bullet-drop compensating, or BDC for short.

LEUPOLD SCOPE RETICLE (1)

One of my favorite reticles that Leupold uses is the Tri-MOA reticle, which gives me great clarity at different ranges.

There are all kinds of Leupold scopes to choose from, but I’ve never had an issue with clarity. I can always see my hunting targets clearly, especially with illuminated reticles.

LEUPOLD SCOPE CLARITY

One of the best comparable scopes I’ve found to my Leupold 4-12x is the Vortex Crossfire II. Not all of their scopes have them, but Leupold glass has a lot of options for illuminated optics.

Of course, Nikon is no slouch. Their reticles are similar, with the adjustable BDC.

I can hit with consistent accuracy at 5- or 600 yards without a problem with my Nikon glass.

NIKON LENS (3)

The multi-coated lenses from both manufacturers give their optics extra clarity.

However, my Nikon optic has an UltraCoat Optical System for better light transmission in low-light conditions.

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NIKON LENS (2)

Leupold has something similar with the Twilight Management Systems.

Winner: Leupold. Nikon has more options for reticles with BDC, but I personally love that Leupold has more reticle styles and illuminations to pick from.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

When it comes to eye relief, Leupold and Nikon make some of the best rifle scopes. With both manufacturers, I usually have at least 3 inches of eye relief back from the scope.

In some cases, I get 4 inches of eye relief.

NIKON EYE RELIEF

It all depends on the magazine and how the scope is mounted, but the eye relief is always safe even from heavy recoil.

I also love the sight picture with both brands.

LEUPOLD SCOPE CLARITY

The edges of my field of view are a little clearer with my Nikon rifle scopes, but both offer a wide visual.

Winner: Both. Nikon and Leupold understand the importance of eye relief and a clear sight picture.

Durability

Leupold made its name as a hunting scope manufacturer.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (1)

While the brand has expanded over the years, their scopes are designed for rough conditions and bad weather.

Both manufacturers have scopes that are clearly built with a purpose.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (2)

They’re resilient, and all of their scopes are shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof.

Nikon does have a slight edge with the integrity of their scope, though.

NIKON OVERVIEW (1)

The o-ring seal keeps moisture out of the housing.

I’ve never had a problem with anything getting in there.

NIKON OVERVIEW (2)

Winner: Nikon. The added security of the o-ring seal gives Nikon rifle scopes a slight advantage.

You can buy scope covers for your Leupold that have a triple o-ring seal, but you don’t need that step with Nikon.

Elevation and Windage Knobs

Nikon vs Leupold scopes use a ¼ MOA adjustment for windage and elevation.

NIKON TURRETS AND MOUNT

This gives me a lot of control over the placement of each shot.

I also love the feel of the adjustment knobs.

LEUPOLD SCOPE TURRET ADJUSTMENT

There’s a nice click for each adjustment, so it’s easy to know when I’ve turned the knob far enough.

My Nikon P-308 has Instant Zero-Reset knobs that make adjustments a breeze.

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Once I’m zeroed with my P-308, my turrets can drop back to that zero instantly.

NIKON TURRETS (2)

On the other hand, my Leupold 4-12x has a maximum adjustment range of 80 MOA.

Winner: Both. With such a precise adjustment system in each scope, the winner is a matter of preference. I love the Instant Zero from my Nikon P-308, but the adjustment range on my Leupold is nice.

Parallax and Magnification

I mentioned my Leupold 4-12x a few times already, so my experience with Leupold is a minimum of 4 and a max of 12x magnification.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MAGNIFICATION (1)

While I’m satisfied with that, Nikon does provide a better magnification range.

I’ve been able to hit targets as close as 100 yards before switching magnification all the way out for a 500-yard target.

NIKON MAGNIFICATION

Leupold offers a wide range, too, but Nikon has 1x through 24x.

LEUPOLD SCOPE RETICLE (1)

The lower end of magnification puts the Nikon rifle scopes on par with something like the Vortex Spitfire 3x. Leupold scopes have a fixed parallax, which is designed for hunting.

It’s also very useful for shooting at a similar distance.

LEUPOLD SCOPE CLARITY

However, a lot of Nikon have a side focus parallax, which is conveniently adjustable on the side of the scope. My P-308, though, is fixed.

Winner: Nikon. While both manufacturers have a lot of variety with their magnifications, the adjustable parallax gives Nikon an edge.

Mounting

This is one area where Leupold definitely shines.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNT (2)

My Nikon P-308 uses mounting rings for Picatinny rails, but Leupold has all kinds of mounting options.

They’re designed to fit practically anything for hunting, which is why there’s such a variety.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNT

You can find quick release and tactical mounts all the way to military-style professional mounts.

Winner: Leupold. They can be mounted on everything I’ve got in my collection and fit any situation.

Price

There’s good news when it comes to buying scopes.

LEUPOLD SCOPE PACKAGING

Between Leupold and Nikon, you can probably find one of the best scopes under $300.

From what I’ve seen, Leupold has around 20 scope models in the same price range.

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LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (1)

They’re more affordable than the rest of their high-end scopes, but they’ve all got quality.

For contrast, the Nikon scope line has closer to 50 scopes under $300 or $350.

You’ll have a better inventory to choose your rifle scope from, comparable durability, and a BDC reticle.

One of the most popular ones is the Nikon Monarch, but it’s easy to be interested in other scopes with a Nikon comparison.

With that being said, we can’t talk price without mentioning the manufacturer warranties.

NIKON EYE RELIEF

Leupold warranty is for your lifetime with only a few exceptions.

If you modify or damage your scope under certain conditions, you’ll void the warranty.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNT

As long as you take care of your scope, I’ve never had any issue with their warranty being met.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (2)

It’s worth noting that a battery-powered Leupold scope will only be under warranty for 2 years, though.

Still, my Leupold can change hands and doesn’t have to be registered beforehand.

Nikon has a great warranty, too, but it’s now a limited lifetime warranty.

NIKON MOUNT

There are more things that will void your warranty and you’ll want to hold onto your receipt.

Winner: Nikon. While Leupold scopes have a better warranty, there are a lot more affordable scope models through Nikon if you’re looking for the best scope under $500.

Leupold vs Nikon: Which Rifle Scope is Better?

When it comes to choosing between Nikon vs Leupold, it’s usually a matter of preference. In this case, I think Leupold makes slightly better scopes, but the Nikon scope market isn’t far off.

Plus, Nikon has a more affordable range for their scopes. Their scopes have solid magnification and sight picture, but Leupold is time-tested and durable through any situation.

In other words, Nikon is a great option to have for your scope brands. If you have the money, though, I’d definitely recommend Leupold as your first choice.

Both manufacturers offer tactical shooting. Against other scope brands, Leupold and Nikon have an advantageous scope comparison.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>