The Leupold LCO, or “Leupold Carbine Optic” is a robust Red Dot Sight (RDS) with a 1 MOA dot. Leupold’s LCO product information states that they put each optic through their “Punisher” test, but I decided to put it through a couple extra paces anyway when I received the opportunity to review the LCO. The RDS is a unique optic on several levels, which I’ll expound on in this dive into the Leupold LCO.
TFB REVIEW: LEUPOLD LCO
The Leupold Carbine Optic is an aggressive-looking RDS that’s on the larger size of the spectrum due to its completely enclosed housing, which is made of aircraft-grade aluminum. However, the LCO doesn’t feel oversized or bulky. The LCO is listed as weighing 9.5 ounces and is 3.6 inches long and provides 60 minute of angle (MOA) adjustment for elevation and windage each. Leupold states that the LCO is also waterproof to 66 feet. The LCO mounts to any 1913 Picatinny rail, so the optic can be mounted to basically any weapon provided it has a section of rail.
The glass on the LCO is clear and the image viewed through the optic is crisp and unhindered. The red, 1 MOA sized dot has 16 brightness settings, which I found very functional in all types of lighting conditions. I found that while zeroing the LCO on my go-to AR-15, it was helpful to dial the brightness setting down to the point that I could still see the dot, but low enough that I could see through the dot to my point of aim.
I haven’t personally seen many LCO’s in the wild, but I have most commonly seen the LCO paired with Leupold’s D-EVO 6x offset optic which TFB’s Nick C. reviewed last month.
Overall, I liked the construction of the Leupold LCO as it felt pretty solid and built to take some abuse. The LCO’s sight window is 34x23mm, and the housing around the window didn’t seem to hinder a good, overall sight picture. It didn’t come with any lens protectors, so I was a little concerned for the potential that the glass could be damaged if were to take the right (or wrong) hit from a piece of gear, or while transporting it in a soft case. I took to covering the LCO with a sock to add a little more protection during transport. The housing of the LCO doesn’t have much in the way of a “sunshade” for lack of a better term, and the glass is more exposed to getting smudges, however, those are easily wiped away with a lens cloth.
The window is just the right height to be able to co-witness iron sights and is probably best mounted on an AR-15 or AR-10 style rifle. I mounted it on my AKM, but when mounted above the gas tube, the LCO stands a bit too tall for maintaining a good cheek weld on the stock.
I like the on/off function, which is a button within the brightness dial on the left-hand side of the optic. To turn the red dot on, one quick press of the button brings the red dot to life, and I believe this function was intended for defensive purposes to bring the LCO into action quickly. To turn the optic off, press and hold the same button for about four seconds.
RANGE TIME, AND GOING THE EXTRA MILE
Using the Leupold LCO was fun and easy. Once I’d zeroed the Leupold Carbine Optic, I spent some time going from low-ready to firing two quick shots on target. The dot was easy to pick up each time and put it where I needed it to be. One minor gripe about zeroing the LCO is that the vertical adjustment is placed right behind the window, so it was a bit more work to make sure I was adjusting it in the right direction, which I prefer to verify visually. However, this can be remedied by using a longer, skinnier screwdriver instead of what I had on hand. If you’re in a pinch, it’s also possible to adjust the elevation and windage knobs with a cartridge case head.
After that initial range trip, I decided to put it through a few more paces, literally. Since Leupold said they put each optic through their “Punisher” test, which is a simulated recoil test which they state equals three times as much recoil as a .308 Winchester, and this test involves 5000 such “impacts”. I didn’t really expect I could dish out much worse, short of abusing the Leupold LCO. One reasonable test I subjected it to was to run a mile and a half on the treadmill while my rifle, equipped with the LCO, was strapped to me. I admit it’s a minor test, but completely within the scope of how this red dot may be used by competitors or professionals. I didn’t notice any shift in the zero after my jostling run. I had the opportunity to take my rifle and the LCO to my department’s qualification day at the range and passed with all of my shots landing within the FBI “Q” target against the clock in multiple shooting positions and movement.
The “elephant in the room” regarding the Leupold LCO is the price. Leupold’s MSRP for the LCO is listed at $909.99, which is certainly one of the steeper options on the market for a red dot scope. On the surface, this may seem like a hefty price for a red dot sight without any sort of bullet drop compensator (BDC), or the ability to shine your shoes for you. However, the fact that the LCO is built to withstand recoil up to three times that of a .308 means that it’s not simply built for your dad’s “M4’gery”, nor is it limited to any one caliber by omitting a BDC. The LCO should be mountable atop any caliber made to fit inside an AR-15 or AR-10 pattern rifle or pistol. While the price may exclude some people from purchasing this red dot sight from Leupold, I found it to be a solid, versatile red dot sight.
You can check out the Leupold LCO information page HERE, or Leupold’s main website HERE to see more of their products. You can also view their Facebook and Instagram pages if you wish to follow them. What do you think about the Leupold Carbine Optic?
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