Used extensively by the US military, the Leupold Mark 4 20-60X 80 tactical spotting scope is now available to the public. It will see extensive use for long-range shooting and archery.
If it’s good enough for US Navy Seals and Marine sharpshooting teams, it must surely be good enough for civilian use as well. The highly-regarded Mark 4 20-60X 80 tactical spotting scope has been made available for the public market by Leupold. Constructed for the most rugged terrain and use imaginable, and using the best available materials, the Leupold Mark 4 is naturally at the higher end of the spotting scope price range. For those who are seeking exacting precision in long-range sighting and hunting, however, this scope may be exactly what they need.
The Mark 4 20-60X 80 comes from Leupold’s 100-plus year tradition of sporting optics and builds upon their outstanding reputation for unmatched quality of production and effectiveness during use in the field. In this review we’ll have an opportunity to learn about the heritage of Leopold scopes, to review the impressive specs of the Mark 4 20-60X 80, and to hear from those who have used it in the field.
It all started with a missed shot. Legend has it that Markus “Fred” Leupold was hunting in 1942 and missed what should have been a very makeable shot at a deer, which turned and bounded away through the Oregon forest. Swearing, Leupold exclaimed, “I can make a better scope than this!” He did just that. Co-founder and patriarch of Leupold & Stevens, Fred Leupold may have missed the deer but found the mark in constructing scopes. Today his company is a primary supplier of spotting scopes and rifle scopes for the US military. Indeed, there are more Leupold long-range scopes employed by the US armed forces than provided by any other supplier.
Founded in Beaverton, Oregon, in 1907 by Leupold and his brother-in-law Adam Voelpel, the company began as a manufacturer of technical supplies for industry. Now a fifth-generation company, Leupold makes a variety of spotting and rifle scopes for the Secret Service, the US Army, the US Navy Seals, the US Marine Corps, and even the Israeli Defense Forces. The company is extremely proud of its history as a supplier to the armed forces and has worked diligently to share the technological advances it has achieved in military-grade devices with the civilian market. One remarkable success story in this regard is the series of Mark 4 scopes.
It’s been reported that, in the early 1980s, US armed forces personnel were using civilian grade rifle scopes while deployed in combat. To overcome the many limitations of these traditional optics, Leupold worked with the military in what was called the “Mark 4 Project.” The company was charged with constructing a scope they called the “Ultra.” Among the special qualities the scope needed to possess, it had to be “jump proof,” that is, thrown out of an airplane and still capable of functioning perfectly. It had to be submersible to 66’ and remain waterproof. The Ultra scope not only succeeded but exceeded the expectations of the military, leading to Leupold becoming the key scope supplier for the armed services. The same extremely rugged quality built into the spotting and sighting scopes that Leupold made for the military services has now been adapted into its optics for civilian use. This has been demonstrated in the quality standards used to construct all scopes in the Mark 4 series and in particular the Mark 4 20-60X 80. The scopes developed from the interface between the military and civilian sides of Leupold & Stevens are called “tactical” scopes because they bear the appearance and even interior specifications used for the armed forces.
What Goes into Making the Mark 4 20-60X 80?
The Leupold Mark 4 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope, at 15”, is a compact straight-line scope housed in a magnesium alloy body that weighs 3.8 pounds. Leupold refers to the compact design as a “folding light” optical. This BAK-4 Porro prism style design allows for a greater length of light, resulting in extreme clarity of resolution. The lens glass uses the propriety Xtended Twilight Lens system that yields an additional 20 minutes of viewing in the low light before dawn and after dusk. Both exterior lenses are coated with Dіаmоndсоаt 2, a Leupold emulsion that makes the glass extremely scratch and dirt resistant while at the same time improving light transmission. The Mark 4 20-60X 80 has a magnification range of 20X at the low end, giving a 121’ field of view. Zoomed up to 60X, the scope gives a 42’ field of view. The objective lens is 80 millimeters. The instrument has an amazing 30 millimeters of eye relief, still providing an exit pupil of 4.10 millimeters at low magnification and 1.3 millimeters at maximum magnification. The smooth zoom wheel is easily accessible on top of the straight body, with the fine focus adjustment directly in front of the zoom.
The housing is nitrogen-filled, making the lenses fog proof. The Mark 4 20-60x80mm is shockproof and waterproof. The scope is covered with “easy-grip” rubber armor designed to be slip-proof. The eyecups are made to be foldable and can adapt to users with or without eyeglasses. There is a built-in tripod platform on the bottom of the scope. While the interior reticle display is not illuminated, illuminated reticles are an option available through the Leupold custom shop. Among the other perks available with the Mark 4 20-60x80mm is a particularly functional padded carrying case that allows the scope to be mounted on a tripod without having to remove the case. Designed to fit the Mark 4 20-60x80mm tightly, the case can easily be loaded into a backpack. The scope comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Make sure to pay special attention to what you see when looking through the eyepiece of the Mark 4 20-60x80mm. Leupold has retained the Horus Reticle as an option in its Mark 4 spotting scopes. The Horus is a highly calibrated reticle that is useful in several ways. First, the reticle is unsurpassed in estimating distances. Second, since the reticle is located on the first focal plane of the scope, adjusting the magnification will not change the position of the reticle to the target, even though the crosshairs appear to have changed size. The Horus Reticle is of such refined accuracy that it can eliminate the need for laser rangefinders and thus cut down on the chance of the spotter being detected by the target. Unlike laser rangefinders, the Mark 4 20-60x80mm is less cumbersome, has less additional equipment to carry, and requires no batteries. Looking through the ocular, the user will see a targeting grid, which is used to determine the size of the target. Next to the grid is a rangefinder which is then used to determine the distance to the target.
Another option available to users has to do with the reticle used within the scope. Leupold offers either a mil-dot or a TMR (tactical milling reticle) in the Mark 4 20-60x80mm. The mil-dot reticle establishes points on the crosshairs that allow for the estimation of elevation and windage. As is the case with mil-dot reticles, the dots are calibrated to mil radians, meaning a distance of 3.6 inches at 100 yards or 36 inches at 1000 yards. The TMR extends the mil-dot system by giving more aiming points on the vertical and horizontal planes. This can dramatically increase the accuracy of the Mark 4 20-60x80mm spotting scope. The only downside to the tactical reticle in the lens is that it makes the scope less appealing to birders.
To help explain the use of the reticle for TMR distancing to the spotting scope user, Leupold has made available a manual: The “Tactical Milling Reticle Manual,” which is available as a pdf on the Leupold website. Also available on the site as a pdf manual is the user’s guide the Mark 4 20-60x80mm, “Spotting Scope Manual.”
How Does the Mark 4 20-60x80mm Perform in the Field?
The great tradition of a manufacturing company and the admirable specs of the spotting scope they produce is pointless if the device doesn’t perform as promised in the field. Because it is a higher-end product, there are fewer available reviews from which to draw. Still, we have been able to find objective comments from spotters, archers, shooters, and hunters who have used the Mark 4 20-60x80mm and shared their observations.
Those who have used the scope for competitive archery have given it high praise. The Mark 4 20-60x80mm can be set on a tripod alongside an archery range of 60 to 100 yards. After releasing an arrow, the archer can track the point of impact precisely. With each arrow in the group, the archer can adjust the pins of the bow sight without having to make several trips down the range to see exactly where the arrows landing and in what order.
It was noted by digiscopers that cameras or smartphones can be attached to the ocular of the scope, allowing videos to be made of objectives on the range or target impacts. The brightness, high contrast, and vivid colors enabled by the Mark 4 20-60x80mm lenses at every magnification provide a useful tool for videographers.
Some users pointed out the uniqueness of the scope and how it stands apart from so many other spotting devices. There are an estimated 10,000 different spotting scopes available to purchasers today, but none have the pedigree of the Mark 4 20-60x80mm.
As is so often the case, some purchasers report that they have tried several different, similarly priced scopes that have magnifications on par with the Mark 4 20-60x80mm. It is uniformly reported that the Leupold compares favorably to others in its price range, notably Vortex, Howa, Swarovski, and Pentax. Several important selling points include the clear resolution from edge to edge of the image and the manner in which the large exit pupil holds its round shape. Users were also impressed with the stability of the scope, even when raised to maximum height on a tripod.
At least one purchaser reported having selected the Mark 4 20-60x80mm specifically out of a need to shoot in light so low that other spotting scopes could not see the target. Other shooters reported being able to see 6-millimeter target impacts on a paper target at 600 yards.
The Mark 4 20-60x80mm has been rated at 4.2 out of 5 stars, with 61% of its reviewers giving it 5 Stars and no reviewers giving it less than 3 Stars.
- Highest quality construction.
- Best for low light use.
- Edge to edge clarity at all magnifications.
- Not well suited for birding.
- Two hands required to operate the scope.
- Best for advanced mil-dot users.
For spotting scope users, the Mark 4 20-60x80mm gives an opportunity to step into the legendary world of Leupold optics and also into the rarefied world of tactical military technology. With outstanding visual resolution, even in the lowest lighting conditions, the Mark 4 20-60x80mm enables spotters to focus on the most distant objectives with extreme clarity. Constructed to withstand the most rigorous weather and terrain conditions, the scope is undaunted by bumps, freezing weather, or even deep water. Designed to accommodate those who used glasses as easily as those who do not, the Mark 4 20-60x80mm proves itself as a first-rate tool for the archer, the target shooter, or the hunter.
This scope is a real investment in that it is at the higher end of the spotting scope market, but it is meant to last and function perfectly for the user’s lifetime and is backed by a lifetime warranty. Leupold also provides manuals and support to make certain that purchasers have the ability to use the Mark 4 20-60x80mm to its full potential.