Competitors in the sport of field target shooting have often sought to gain an edge in range finding, which is one of the fundamental elements in this sport. In order to achieve this telescopic sights of increasing quality and magnification have been used over the years. Probably the most expensive and certainly the toughest scope that has been placed on FT rifles is the Leupold Mark 4, modified by the American firm Premier Reticles.
The basic Mark 4 as used for FT use is a 16x magnification sniper sight, that is fitted with a power booster to take them originally to 32x magnification and now they are increased to 35x magnification. A limited number of 20x Mark 4’s were manufactured and some were converted to FT use, these being boosted to 40x. Such a scope was used by Nick Jenkinson in the early 1990’s. The power booster is basically a 2x converter (on the 32x version) and is fitted as an extension piece between the body tube and eyepiece bell. This adds about 30mm to the overall length of the scope.
The main body tube of the Mark 4 is machined from a solid block of 6061T aluminium giving it tremendous strength. As the scope is a fixed magnification sight there is no zoom ring and consequently there are fewer lenses within the sight, the benefit of this is a brighter image even given the high magnification and relatively small objective lens diameter.
The scope is finished in an extremely tough matt black anodising. The parallax adjustment, which is located on the left hand side of the saddle, is equipped with a substantial knurled knob to which a large diameter wheel can be attached to allow for range finding marks. The standard Mark 4 focuses from 50 yards to infinity, when modified this is altered to focus from 10 yards to about 70 yards. The focussing mechanism is exceptionally smooth in operation and has absolutely no detectable backlash in the system.
The eye bell of the scope is adjustable to ensure that the reticle can be brought into clear focus for people of differing eyesight and is equipped with a locking ring when the correct degree of adjustment has been achieved.
The windage and elevation turrets are of a substantial external target type, which feature click values that are equal to 1/4 MOA and vernier scales that allow the amount of adjustment to be easily monitored. When the scope has been zeroed at the desired distance, the turrets can be reset to the zero mark using an allen key. The reticle on the test scope is of the 1/8 MOA target dot type, this features fine cross wires with a dot at the centre. This reticle is best suited to dialling for different ranges, and given the high quality of the turrets on this scope which are designed to be used for dialling it seems to be one of the most appropriate reticle options. However when a scope is ordered from Premier Reticles, almost any design of reticle can be fitted according to the preference of the individual customer (Note: US Federal Law prohibits the export of scopes fitted with Mil-Dot Reticles to non-NATO countries).
When the side-wheel is operated the image snaps in and out of focus very quickly which allows for a rapid and effective assessment of target distances. The best results are obtained by operating the side-wheel quite slowly and always coming into the focal point by operating the wheel in one direction for absolute precision i.e. go from infinity downwards or from the minimum setting upwards, depending on how the individual owner has set the sight up for their own eyesight. The sight proved to be easily capable of distinguishing between targets at 50 and 55 yards. The turrets give totally consistent and reliable results during dialling for targets of different distances, returning accurately to zero each time.
The 40mm objective lens combined with the Multicoat 4 full coatings on all the lenses and the absence of a zoom mechanism contributed to providing a very usable bright image. Targets in shaded areas could be clearly discerned. The reticle proved to be readily visible against poorly illuminated targets. It is fine enough to allow for high precision aiming at all target distances. The presence of the dot at the centre of the fine wires provides a very precise aiming mark for the shooter to concentrate on. One other aspect of the Mark 4 that is quite attractive is the fact that even when converted to a higher magnification the scope is still a sensible size and weight and does not upset the balance of a rifle, something that can sometimes occur with some of the larger target scopes.
The Mark 4 is a superb scope but is not suited to everyone. The fixed magnification takes a lot of practice to become used to, and there is no option to reduce the magnification. It is extremely expensive, but balancing that it will last a lifetime and in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong with it is worth repairing. The Mark 4 requires a fair degree of input from the shooter, but the person who learns to use this scope is rewarded by one of the best sights available for FT. The scope reviewed here is my own, I purchased it second hand several years ago and it has never let me down in competition in any conditions.
Length: 357.6mm (excluding Sun shade)
Eyepiece Length: 68.5mm
Objective Length: 110mm
Objective Diameter: 49.8mm
Eyepiece Diameter: 42.6mm
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Weight: 624.0 grams
Eye Relief: 102mm
Obj. Lens Diameter: 40mm