Released to a collective “Huh?”, Leupold’s D-EVO scope is certainly a step somewhere away from the status quo. Various Subject Matter Expert’s will argue that the scope is a solution looking for a problem and others will laud its ability to think out of the box. Regardless of one’s reaction, its hard to argue that the D-EVO is not unique. Its the first n-shaped optic that I am aware of.
My gut reaction at its launch mirrored the industry as a whole, though rather than dismiss it, the novel design stoked my curiosity. Now having handled it a few times, I see what Leupold was going for.
From the perspective as a general scope, the glass is Leupold’s typicaly brilliant glass with clear sights. The reticle is a bit busy for my tastes, but considering its a fixed 6x optic, its not meant to be a primary sight (especially true with its design) so the ability to make quick shots at a range is good. One can get used to any reticle and this is no exception. If it was a scope review of a standard straight tube, most would agree that its excellent.
However, one must then take into account the shape. Its certainly an interesting approach to reducing the footprint of an optic on a rifle. It is drastically shorter than similar fixed power optics, especially those at 6x and with the offset objective lens, it sits to the side of any accessory or iron sight that would be mounted centerline to the rail and bore. Its designed that a standard red dot can be put directly in front of it and the shooter then has a seamless transition. In this respect it works well. It is near seamless and the set-up is better than a MRDS on top of an ACOG or ELCAN.
But therein is my first complaint on the optic. A red-dot has to be a separate optic and mounted forward of the main optic, which seems entirely unusual for an optic that is attempting to reduce rail footprint. When accounting for the red dot, it takes up the same space as the mentioned competing fixed power optics and in some cases like Leupold’s own LCO, nearly as much as a variable 1-6x optic. Simply put, the lack of an option to mount an MRDS including Leupold’s own Deltapoint is a major oversight which Leupold can easily fix.
The second issue is setting the zero. While I have not seen the actual manual, I can’t find it online to warn shooters NOT to zero the optic as one would for a standard piece of glass. With the offset objective, the light is coming in about 1″ to the right of the bore, and while very capable of zero at 100 yards, it runs into an issue further out. As the range increases past the zero point, the optic reads off center. Assuming a 100 yard zero, point of impact at 200 yards will be 1″ to the right. At 300 yards, 2″ and so on. While perfectly usable as a combat optic assuming center of mass, the detailed reticle screams DMR work, so I expect POA-POI. This can be off-set by zeroing the optic offset to the POI, but for one expecting true plug and play, its annoying.
While these annoyances are certainly capable of being overcome, the optic still shines. The concept of rapid transition between no and usable magnification with only a slight movement of the chin is fantastically interesting and executed well (especially when used with the LCO). Its near seamless, or at least as much as technically possible assuming that optics must have a seam for the metal mounting of the glass.
For example, in 3-Gun there is no need to remove a hand from the weapon to change to distance shooting. Its just sad the D-EVO with LCO counts as multiple optics by most rules and could only be used practically in Open classes.
To me, the optic makes sense, just requires a small amount of changes to perfect its form. Its a step in the right direction, especially when one looks at what it can mean for seriously short bended light optics and their future applications on space-limited weapons.