Leupold vs Nikon Scopes Comparison (2024 Review)

Scopes Field is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE RETICLE

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE CLARITY (1)

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.

NIKON CLARITY

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.

NIKON LENS

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

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.

NIKON EYEPIECE

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNTED

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MAGNIFICATION (2)

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (4)

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.

NIKON OVERVIEW (4)

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.

NIKON OVERVIEW (3)

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.

NIKON TURRETS

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.

NIKON TURRET ADJUSTMENT

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

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE TURRETS (1)

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.

NIKON EYEPIECE (2)

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MAGNIFICATION (2)

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNT RINGS

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE MOUNTED

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (1)

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

Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12x40mm Riflescope
  • Model #180600 - VX-Freedom 4-12x40mm Riflescope with a Duplex CDS reticle and a Matte finish

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

NIKON OVERVIEW (3)

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

Nikon P-308 4-12x40 Matte BDC800
  • The BDC 800 reticle was developed specifically for the trajectory of the 308 win/7.62 NATO round with 168-grain hpbt match bullet at 2680 feet per second
  • Multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds on every Glass surface provide bright, vivid pictures and optimum light transmission from dawn to dusk
  • The p-308, like all of Nikon riflescopes, is optimized for Use with Nikon spot on Ballistic match Technology

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

NIKON MOUNT (1)

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE TURRET WITH CAP

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.

LEUPOLD SCOPE OVERVIEW (4)

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

LEUPOLD SCOPE OBJECTIVE BELL (2)

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.

NIKON MOUNT (1)

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.

Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12x40mm Riflescope
  • Model #180600 - VX-Freedom 4-12x40mm Riflescope with a Duplex CDS reticle and a Matte finish

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.

FAQ

Are Nikon scopes good quality?

Absolutely, though I’d say that Leupold optics are slightly better.

Are Nikon scopes first focal plane?

Yes

Are Leupold scopes shockproof?

Yes, and so are Nikon scopes. They’re also fogproof and waterproof. 

Does the military use Leupold?

Most branches of the military use Leupold.

Where is Leupold made?

The United States, specifically Oregon.

Where is Nikon made?

Japan. Nikon was being manufactured in some other Asian countries, but it’s centralized to Japan.


Written By

Richard Douglas

Hello, I’m Richard Douglas, a Firearms Instructor, Tactical Advisor, National Defense Security Consultant, and the voice behind Scopes Field.


3 thoughts on “Leupold vs Nikon Scopes Comparison (2024 Review)”

  1. Just my 2 cents, I have 2 Nikon scopes and love both of them. One is the predator edition so it is camo and has a grill (that surprisingly doesn’t effect the view at all… Its some kind of magic if you ask me) to keep from the optical shining with the sun and my other everyday rifle has a prostaff 5 and it’s been through everything and it’s still like new. I borrowed a black powder rifle at the end of the season a few years ago from a co-worker and he had a leupold on it. Told me that the scope was over twice the price of the gun! I was very careful with it, and while it was very clear, I moved the zoom function to get a look across a marsh, but when I moved it back, there was black specs in the field of vision. I had no idea what was going on or what it was. I gave it back to him and told him what was up, and that if I did something I’d pay for it to be replaced. He decided to send it to a repair facility to see what was going on and when he got it back, covered under the leupold warranty, they had told him that some of the assembly grease had fallen off and landed on the inside lense, and also that some of the paint had come off the inside of the barrel and was stuck on the lense too. I have no idea how the inside of a scope works, so they could have been telling him a bunch of moose droppings, but they fixed it and didn’t change him anything, and they even paid for the shipping! So I wasn’t as happy with my experience using the scope but I’ll praise their warranty! That being said, I have t had to warranty my Nikon scopes so I can’t compare. Like I said, just my 2 cents, and my apologies for being long winded! Cheers everyone

    Reply
    • Hey Jeff,
      Something you omitted from your 2023 scope comparison. Nikon is out of the Scope Business !
      I’m not a huge Loopy fan, w/o changing reticles. O.E. way too small
      Liked the “Leupfeilds” because they came with a wider reticle, but they got sold to SWD, and are made in the Phillipeans now.
      . Every single Nikon I ever owned, (still have 3-4) I’ve had to send back. Service was fine, but EVERY single one? Explains why Natchez always had pages of “factory refurbs” for sale.
      Good luck.

      Reply
  2. Hey there first off thank you for your time and work this was a great comparison good job!👏🙌 I have 2 Nikon scopes they are both Monarchs my first scope by them is a 2.5x10x42 with BDC it is mounted on my FN/AR 308 it is one of my most accurate rifles I own they pair very well together I have had that scope sense 2007 area I have never had any problems with it. It and my rifle went threw a side-by-side rollover with all my hunting gear in 2010 the day before deer opener in Washington state. They both did unbelievably both a little scratch up I thought for sure it was going to be completely tossed but I shot it and it was still dead on zero at 200 hundred yards! It’s still holding zero on the same rifle like the day I bought them. My other scope is a Monarch 6x24x50 with BDC and focus dial from 0 out to 1000 yards it is on my Remaining 700 7mm mag I have had some smithing done to that rifle as well as trigger and stock. It is the most expensive scope I own I bought that scope back in 2015 on sale at Cabelas for 600 dollars at the time it was the second highest magnification scope they made. I got it for considerable discounted price it was the last one they had and it was a display item I believe that one is 700/800 dollars new somewhere in their but don’t know for sure! It has also been a great scope no problems mounted on my most accurate rifle after the smithing done last summer and I can put 3 rounds threw the same hole at 200 yards I am a avid hunter and it has never failed me with that being said this is just one mans opinion and experiences now in 2023 their are way more options then their was back then my uncle has mostly Leopold scope and has had them longer then I have had mine with no problem. From what I have seen and used you really can’t go wrong with either one the both make a great scope. It just so happens that I own Nikon and they both are just as great as the day I bought them. Thank again stay safe everyone and GodBless 🙏🤙🏻🇺🇸

    Reply

Leave a Comment