Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm Riflescope

cmr_01-tm-tfb

[ This guest post was written by Timothy Yan ]

The 1-4x variable magnification rifle optic had become very popular with the tactical shooters. The 1x magnification allows the shooter to use it like a reflex sight at the close range. While, the higher magnifications offer greater hit probability and target identification at the longer ranges. During last year’s Big 3 Event hosted by David Fortier and Dillard C.J. Johnson in Kansas, I was introduced to the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm scope in one of the presentations. Afterward, I had a chance to try it out on the range. Some aspects of the CMR that had caught my attention are its reticle design, the optic performance and its price at just $300.

The CMR 1-4x24mm in the Tactical Rifle Chimera titanium heavy-duty scope rings
CMR 1-4x24mm scope in the Burris AR-P.E.P.R mount

Normally, when other shooters ask me for optic purchase advises, I generally tell them this: you get what you pay for it. Good optics is never cheap. There rare exception to that rule and the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm is one of them. Its optic performance is easily the best in its price range. The lens distortion is not noticeable and there’s no issue with chromatic aberration or color fringing. Other reviewers agree with me that the CMR has better resolution and clarity than some of the 1-4x scopes that are at twice the price.

I met John Wu, the owner of Hi-Lux Leatherwood at his booth during the 2011 SHOT SHOW and he loaned me a CMR sample for T&E. I didn’t have a chance to really talk to John about the CMR in detail until this year’s Big 3 Event and afterward. He told me that he used a special lens element in the CMR to achieve the low distortion and high optical resolution. When I asked him about why he chose the second focal plane for the CMR’s reticle, John said for a low 1-4x magnification scope there’s really no need for a first focal plane design (FFP). Most of the shooters will use either 1x or 4x magnification and seldom use anything else in between. It’s not practical to use the 1x magnification for BDC or range finding.

On the topic of daylight visible reticle illumination, John said there’s two ways to do it: the cheap way is by using very bright LED. The downside of that is the internal reflection from the overpower illumination is hard to control and the battery life will be very short. If he would design a daylight visible illumination system, he would use the much more expensive combination of LED lit fiber optic and microprocessor control circuit like those found on the Schmidt & Bender Short Dot, the ELCAN SpecterDR and the Swarovski Z6. However, such system would add a considerable $200-$300 to the price of the CMR. Instead, John said the CMR’s unique reticle design works sufficiently in most of the daylight condition without the need for illumination.

CMR mounted in the LaRue LT104 SPR mount.

The reticle on the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm is another area that makes it stands out from the rest of 1-4x scopes on the market. The CMR’s unique reticle is the work of Alex Sergeev, a brilliant Russian optical engineer working for Hi-Lux. His reticle design features dual stacking open-circles that assists targeting by centering the shooter’s eye onto the middle 1 MOA dot. At the closer ranges, the outer circle fits over a torso target area at 100 meters and the smaller inner circle will fit over a head size target at 75 meters. The bottom openings of both circles are a match for a shoulder width target at 300 meters. There are additional BDCs on the vertical stadia line and the hash marks on the horizontal stadia lines are in Mil for use with more precise range finding. The center 1 MOA dot and the inner reticle circle can be illuminated in either green or red for lowlight condition. Noted that two colors are not found in the same scope. There two separate CMR models for each of those color illumination.

There are few shortcomings in the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR. The main one is its relatively small exit pupil of 11.1mm at the 1x magnification. Which requires the shooter to have a consistent cheek weld when using it for the CQB type drill. Next, the adjustment turret is not lockable. While the CMR’s turrets do have a neat zero-locking patented feature but that’s only useful for return it to the user’s preset zero. The turrets really need to have either a locking mechanism or be capped. Also, the CMR’s 1x zoom setting doesn’t represent a true 1x unmagnified view. There’s slight magnification to it that makes more of a 1.1x or so. To be fair, the majority of the 1-4x scope under $700 does not have true 1x either. Like what John Wu has explained to me, optical design is the attempt to have the best compromise on a set manufacturing cost.

CMR at 1x magnification
CMR at 4x magnification
CMR at 1x magnification
CMR at 4x magnification

As for the mount option for the Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm scope, I’m recommending use a one-piece SPR style 30mm scope mount with moderate front offset for the AR15 flat-top. The best QD type mounts are the LaRue LT104, American Defense Mfg. AD-Recon or AD-Scout and Bobro’s Precision Optic Mount. If you are on a budget and can do without the QD function, check out the Burris AR-P.E.P.R. and the Weaver Tactical’s US-made SPR 30mm Optic mount. Both of those are under $80. For those that needs low-profile mount for a piggyback rail system like the Vltor or to use on a non-AR type rifle, Tactical Rifles’ Chimera titanium alloy rings offer the high-strength of the steel rings with the lightweight of the aluminum rings. The more affordable Weaver Tactical 6-Hole Picatinny aluminum rings come in at under $40 a set.

Specifications:
Model: Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR 1-4x24mm
Magnification: 1x to 4x variable
Objective Lens Size: 24mm
Ocular Lens Size: 33mm
Lens Coating: Diamond Tuff14 multi-coat
Field of View at 100 yards: 1x: 94.8 ft. and 4x: 26.2 ft.
Eye Relief: constant 3 inches
Exit Pupil size: 11.1mm at 1x and 6mm at 4x
Tube Size: 30mm
Adjustment: 0.5 MOA per click
Length: 10.2 inches
Weight: 16.5 ounces
Reticle: Double open-circles with 1 MOA center dot, stadia lines with BDC.
Reticle Illumination: Green or Red color, 11 levels with Night Vision setting.
Power Source: 3-volt Lithium CR2032
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Price: $300

CMR mounted in the Weaver Tactical SPR 30mm Optic mount
Hi-Lux’s Alex Sergeev is testing the CMR by mounting it on a full automatic Kerbs RPK-74 during the Big 3 Event.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


Advertisement

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

    $300! I am going to have to buy one.

    • Groot Mamba

      I have been using them in South Africa with great success. It cost a bit more to ship them here though. When shooting at running targets like warthogs it makes snap shooting smooth.
      Its holding up on the R5/Galil as well

      Great product

      They need to design a good sniper scope for their range

  • Lance

    Alot cheaper alternative for combat rifle competitions than a ACOG or ELCAN. And is variable power which is a BIG plus.

    For ops thought I stick with my TA-31 ECOS ACOG. But cool for MGM Iran Man competition.

    • Yoda

      Your such a marine corps gear fanboy it sickens me. I love the usmc and they pick some of the best and smartest equipment. But on every article its you ranting about how if the usmc doesn’t use it it isn’t up to par. I’m sick of it.

    • DW

      What exactly is “MGM Iran Man Competition”? Did you mean Iron man?
      Actually that typo is pretty funny…

  • erwos

    This article seems to completely ignore the obvious question, which is “how does it measure up to the competing Nikon 1-4x?”

    • Jeff Smith

      Great question!

      I was just at Sportsman’s Warehouse looking at several 1x-4x scopes. The have a Burris scope similar to this one for $299. While I’m not sure how these two compare, I’d be more likely to buy the brand I know.

    • CHRIS WILSON

      In my opinion, this optic is far superior to the Nikkon and/or the Burris. But you will have to actually take a look through it compared to the others to form your own opinion.

  • Doug

    Finally, an effective tactical scope for under $1200!!!

  • http://calmgun.com Calm Gun

    My order is going in!

  • Ken

    I LOVE this scope. I have it on my FN-FAL, and it DOMINATES out to 300 yards. It is the clearest piece of glass I own, and you can use the mil / MOA markings to rangefind.

    The Chinese are making some fine optics these days.

    Go RED for the reticle. Green blows.

    Clicks are hardy and audible. Actually does return to zero, as advertised. (No need to tap the scope to make internal parts move.) Quite small compared to most scopes, although bigger than it looks in pictures.

    The 1x does have barrel distortion; if you look at a straight horizontal line such as the top of a door post, you’ll see it bend in the upper and lower viewfinder at 1x. But who cares? It’s $350.

    Get a good mount. I used hardcore Leupold ones to keep up with the hundreds of 7.62 rounds I’ve shot under it.

    Probably not as good as the Vortex Vipr, but half the price.

  • Gerald

    … I think this is exactly what I have been looking for.

    And for $300, I want very badly to believe in this scope. My jaw dropped at that low price. If this company has indeed created a variable magnification scope that holds zero well and is durable enough to stand up to range use for $300 then sign me up. I am, however going to wait for end-user reviews to make certain that this isn’t too good for reality.

    • El Duderino

      The guys at Shotgun News love this scope, I swear it makes it into almost every issue — when they review a tactical rifle it’s usually the piece of glass they put on there for close range work. If you’re looking for further reviews try to find some back issues. The irony is the ads at the back are also full of Chinese scopes, but these are all the super cheap Airsoft quality ones from CDNN, J&G, and other distributors.

      It is a scope that actually scares the big boys here in the U.S. and out in Europe. I have a nice Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4x, but in terms of features it doesn’t hold a candle to the Hi-Lux. Yes it’s slightly cheaper @ $280 but it’s very basic. You’d have to move up to a $800+ Leupold to match the Hi-Lux. I am starting to lean toward one of these for my new 20″ AR.

    • CHRIS WILSON

      SWFA was just running a special for the Hi Lux CMR … $320 with a mount. The wife got me one for Christmas!!!

  • ChrisJ

    Looking at the photos of the reticle, the distortion at the edges of the image is pretty bad. I’d expect FAR better from an optic in that price range.

    • 18D

      Distortion is exactly what I would expect from an optic in this price range. It’s hard to find a good optic for less than about 800$.

      • Jason

        Couldn’t be farther from the truth.

      • 18D

        Unfortunately, it’s exactly the truth.

    • David Fortier

      The distortion is from the digital image which was likely taken from a camera simply hand held behind the optic. The actual image you see looking through a CMR is much better. Its a lot of scope for the money……..

      • KLee

        I disagree. Refer to the author’s review of the Elcan. He shot the same scenes through the Elcan. Those images are sharp edge-to-edge.

    • Vanna White

      Maybe you should actually look through the scope before taking shots at the view; better still – maybe you could steer me towards any 1 – 4 x 24 that compares to this one for the price … just saying slick!

  • Darren

    I was wondering how this would compare to the Burris AR-332. The price is pretty comparable, I have an AR-332 and am very happy with it, although it is a fixed 3x rather than a variable 1-4x. The AR-332 seems like a low-budget alternative to an ACOG, I would be curious to see someone with more optic experience review it and offer their opinion.

  • Vtb

    Good scope for the money.
    But dark compared to Trijicon tr24r (red triangle).

    • Timothy

      why dont you just compare the hi lux to a S&B or Nightforce? The Trijicon is 3 times as expensive. Youre comparing apples to cats

  • Al T.

    Chinese made huh? That bothers me. Pass.

  • KG

    Does any one know what rail that is in the 2nd and 3rd pictures?

    • Timothy Yan

      11-inch Samson Evolution Rail.

  • Paul

    There is a QD version of the Burris PEPR mount. Slightly more than the standard version. Much easier to justify than a LaRue or American Defense. Probably heavier, not by much.

    “Pass” because it’s Made in China? show me one that is made in the states that offers the same functionality that you can afford. Get real.

    • Jason

      Apparently lots of people can afford them. I see more LaRue and ADM mounts than PEPR’s. Might sound silly to some, but “Made in USA” means a lot to people these days.

    • Al T.

      Paul, I’d rather work a second job and save up than buy Made in China or Pakistan. Just my personal opinion. Oh, I find the Nikons good value for a DMR scope. The 1-4 Turkey Scope works fine. :)

      • Timothy Yan

        Nippon Kogaku doesn’t sound like ‘Mercian to me and the 1-4x is made in the Philippine.

      • Al T.

        Reply to Timothy:

        Neither Japan nor the Philippines is an evil communist dictatorship. And unlike Pakistan, they don’t side with terrorists while taking US aid. I’m not anti foreign trade, just anti China and Pakistan.

      • WTFOver

        I picked up the M-1000 and the M-1200 for use on 7.62 and 5.56 Nato on AR platforms. The M-1200 goes back as it has a few issues quality and engeneering wise. The M-100 I think I’ll keep even though I wished it had the zoom range of the M-1200. For $300 it compares with what’s out there plus you have a ranging base and great for when you want to shoot long range without figuring mil dots or take out the laser range finder. Plus you can email Corbett, John Wu or Chris (Customer Service) and actually get a reply back! I also picked up a few of the Weaver KASPA 849820 3-12×44 with the ranging reticle for 55 gr. 5.56 with Burris AR P.E.P.R QD Mount for $200 (Both) and think it gives you alot for the money. Both scopes are Chinese but seem to have better quality control than most. I prefer American made as I own 4 Leupold Mk 4’s. But moneys tight and you can’t put a MK 4 or NightForce on everything. As far as the Chinese thing goes, check the tag on your shoes, shirts, computer and cell phones. I tried to find an American Flannel shirt once and everything I thought was American made (LLBean) wasn’t. If you want the economy to be better get the jokers in Washington to stop printing it and giving it to their Bank buddies. Then your dollar might be worth a dollar next week.

      • WTFOver

        I picked up the CMR, M-1000 and the M-1200 for use on 7.62 and 5.56 Nato on AR platforms. The M-1200 goes back as it has a few issues quality and engeneering wise. The CMR stays!! Great scope, just wish it was the $250 some videos claimed instead of the $315 it cost me. Someone said they put a PVS14 behind it, that was a no go for me as it sucked up more light than a Eotech. Still good for what it’s intended for. The M-100 I think I’ll also keep even though I wished it had the zoom range of the M-1200. For $300 it compares with what’s out there plus you have a ranging base and great for when you want to shoot long range without figuring mil dots or take out the laser range finder. Plus you can email Corbett, John Wu or Chris (Customer Service) and actually get a reply back! I also picked up a few of the Weaver KASPA 849820 3-12×44 with the ranging reticle for 55 gr. 5.56 with Burris AR P.E.P.R QD Mount for $200 (Both) and think it gives you alot for the money. Both scopes are Chinese but seem to have better quality control than most. I prefer American made as I own 4 Leupold Mk 4’s. But moneys tight and you can’t put a MK 4 or NightForce on everything. As far as the Chinese thing goes, check the tag on your shoes, shirts, computer and cell phones. I tried to find an American Flannel shirt once and everything I thought was American made (LLBean) wasn’t. If you want the economy to be better get the jokers in Washington to stop printing it and giving it to their Bank buddies. Then your dollar might be worth a dollar next week.

    • W

      ““Pass” because it’s Made in China? show me one that is made in the states that offers the same functionality that you can afford. Get real.”

      Unless you want everything else made in the US to completely disappear to China, I think it is you that needs to get real. This is the exact attitude that the American consumer has had for the past fifteen years…except we are paying for it now.

  • Southerner

    Since this is a second focal plane scope, what is the manufacturer’s maximum acceptable point of impact shift between low and high power settings at 100 meters?

    *First plane scopes cannot change point of impact when changing magnification because the reticle does not move.

  • Jason Parks

    Probably not the best idea to show the scope pointed at a town.

    • Vanna White

      I love the view through the Hi Lux CMR!!!

    • Sammy

      Idiot.

  • Mike Sheehan

    This scope was designed by Leatherwood but manufactured in China which is true of many things nowadays. You aren’t helping the economy by only “Buying American” but go with that if it makes you feel better. I have one of these on a Stag Arms AR mounted with a Burris PEPR. It is excellent and the optics are very clear . I mount my PVS 14 behind it and it works great. Find a better scope for less money that is night vision compatible. Can’t be done.

  • http://FIREARMBLOG ROBERT PARDUE

    AT A RECENT GUN SHOW WHILE TALKING TO A SCOPE DEALER AND LOOKING AT SOME OF HIS PRODUCTS, HE TOLD ME THAT NO SCOPE UNDER $700 WAS MADE IN AMERICA. I THINK HE WAS CORRECT.

  • Steven Huntt

    I wasn’t on any war front but my pick was Schmidt & Bender 1.1-4 x 20 Short Dot with AICS rifle during hunting has made the entire season such an incredible experience for me last year. Many look for low budget scope but they will never understand until they use it like short Dot. Its not made for long range but certainly there is no comparison in accuracy for short and medium range.