Scope Review: Hi-Lux Leatherwood M40 3-9x40mm Tactical Scope

    During the Vietnam War, both the US Army and the US Marine Corps revived the use of sniper rifle. The US Army chosen the M14 based semi-automatic rifle match with a dedicated build Leatherwood ART scope with build-in range estimation mechanism.  The USMC selected a Remington 700 based bolt-action rifle and an off-the-shelf green color Redfield Accurange 3-9x40mm hunting scope with a range estimation reticle.

    Redfield closed its door almost two decade ago and Leupold is the current owner of the Redfield name. Today, Hi-Lux Leatherwood still makes an updated version of the Leatherwood ART scope. Recently, Hi-Lux Leatherwood has also introduced a reproduction of the original Redfield USMC scope: the Hi-Lux Leatherwood M40 USMC 3-9x40mm.



    The Hi-Lux Leatherwood M40 reproduction is available in the original green color as the USMC model or in black as the Tactical Hunter model. Both versions included a fully functional copy of the Redfield range estimation feature with the internal moving tombstone range scale. Since, I don’t have a bolt-gun, I used my Mk12 Mod 1 clone that build with the BCM Mk12 Mod 1 upper for the testing. The Mk12 Mod 1 is the current designated marksman rifle of the Marine infantry. With the use modern Mk262 OTM 77-gr heavy load, the Marines are now using the Mk12 Mod 1 to engage targets out to 700-800 meters.



    I talked to Hi-Lux about how I will conduct my field test, and they recommended the black Tactical Hunter version for my Mk 12. The reticle on the black version has additional hash marks on the reticle for use as target lead and hold-over. The reticle also has thicker outer sections on both the vertical and horizontal reticle lines.

    The OD green USMC version is really made for those that want to build a classic M40 sniper rifle. The original green Redfield scope are hard to fine nowadays and it could fetch up to $3000 if it has a USMC serial number. Leupold offers a limited run of commemorative replica M40 scope, however, it’s not a true reproduction since it lacks the ranging feature and has a completely different mil-dot reticle. It’s just really an existing Leupold 3-9x40mm model with some cosmetic changes and in green color.



    Comparing to the original Redfield Accurange’s 1960 design, the Hi-Lux reproduction is superior in every way due to updated manufacturing, better sealing and improved optical design with multi-coated lens. However, it still maintains many of the old design feature such the slow focusing eye-piece with locking ring, which is a throwback for me since I’m used to the modern Euro-style fast focusing eye-piece design. Both the original and the Hi-Lux model also lack reticle illumination.



    Faithful to the original Redfield, the Hi-Lux scope also has capped brass adjustment turrets with 1/4 MOA per click of windage and elevation adjustment. The scope uses a 1-inch body in contrast to more common 30mm or larger size of today’s military scope. I mounted the Hi-Lux M40 Tactical Hunter on my Mk12 Mod 1 with a 1-piece 1-inch Midwest Industries Scope Mount.



    At the 3x magnification. The black Tactical Hunter model features extra BDC marks on the vertical reticle line. Each of the two horizontal hash marks next to the crosshair center are for bracketing a 36-inch target. While that’s designed for deer hunting, but noted that the shoulder width of a human size target is 18-20 inch wide or roughly half of the space of each hash mark.



    At the 9x magnification. On the lower right, the tombstone range scale is now showing 600 yards. The system is connected to the zooming mechanism on the scope. The reticle’s two closely spaced top lines are designed for bracketing a 18-inch target. That’s the distance between the shoulder and the chest cavity of an whitetail deer. During the Vietnam conflict, marine snipers use the this ranging feature by bracketing the distance from the head to the chest of an enemy target.



    The Hi-Lux’s reproduction ranging feature in action. The spacing from the top of my target frame to the bottom of the hanging steel piece is 18 inches. The steel hanger target is located 300 yards aways and I have confirmed that with a Bushnell laser range finder. The tombstone ranging scale on the lower right indicated the correct target range.

    The tombstone range scale is another major upgrade on the Hi-Lux’s design. The original Redfield has a fragile plastic tombstone ranging scale. Back in the Vietnam days, the plastic piece is known to be melted if the Redfield scope is left in the hot tropical sun for extended period. On the modern Hi-Lux Leatherwood model, the tombstone ranging scale is now made from optical glass with etched numbers and that fixes the durability and clarity problem of the original.



    Hi-Lux Leatherwood M40 USMC/Tactical Hunter Specification:
    Magnification: 3x-9x
    Objective: 40mm
    Tube size: 1 inch
    Length: 10.5 inches
    Weight: 16.2 ounces
    Field of View at 100 yards: 3x = 37.7 ft, 9x = 12.6 ft
    Exit Pupil: 13.3mm – 4.4 mm
    Eye Relief: 3.25 inches
    Adjustment: 1/4 MOA or 7mm at 100m per click
    Total Adjustment Range: 90 MOA of elevation and windage
    Warranty:  Limited Lifetime
    Price: $419 MSRP

    Writer and gear editor with articles published in major gun publications. A five year combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, Tim is also part of Point & Shoot Media Works, a producer of photography, video and web media for the firearms and shooting sport industry. Tim’s direct contact: Tyan.TFB -at-