Leica PRS scope review w/ Chris Parkin

In this Leica PRS scope review, Chris Parkin explores it’s appeal for long-range shooters.

The European optical manufacturers have undoubtedly been paying more attention to market trends and where “long-range” was and still is the number one buzzword or phrase, “First Focal Plane” or FFP is similarly seen to be so now.

The new “PRS” scope from Leica hopes to appeal to precision shooters and the tactical “PRS” competition market and upon first encounter has done so, but with some modesty and a clear external design style keeping it visually still very Leica.

The PRS is available with the three reticle types, all in the first focal plane so as magnification is increased through the 6x zoom range, the reticle grows in size retaining corresponding sub-tension on target.

Leica PRS scope: specifications

Objective lens Diameter: 56mm
Magnification: 5-30x
Field of view at 100 m (min. up to max. magnification): 9.0 yds up to 1.42 yds / 8.2 m up to 1.3 m
Eye Relief: >90mm
Exit pupil: 9-2mm
Parallax: 20m-infinity
Dioptre compensation: -3/+1
Lens Coatings: AquaDura
Light Transmission: >90%
Tube size: 34mm
Click value: 1cm@100m or 0.1mRad
Adjustment range: 32mRad vertical, 18mRad windage
Overall Length: 14.3”/365mm
Weight: 36.3oz./1030g
Watertight: up to 4m
Reticles: L-4a, Ballistic, PRB
Focal Plane: First
Reticle Illumination: Dot/Scale
Illumination: 10 stages for 4 hours

The first step to consider is that mine shows the simple L-4a version which is a basic crosshair with a simple fine illuminated dot in the centre. The two other options of “Ballistic” or “PRB” both show reticles with milliradian scaled hash marks corresponding exactly to the click values of the turrets which are in 10mm@100m increments/0.01mRad.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say they will be the more popular options, as the concept of first focal plane is more commonly accepted to allow precision shooters and tactical marksmen the capability to rangefind, aim off or dial off to correct shots, with no possibility of making mistakes as the reticle subtension always tallies with the clicks.

It has to be assumed this L-4a is a longer range varminting or hunting scope with dialling capability as the FFP element is not fully utilised. Personally, I don’t see the point going for FFP with a simple crosshair but, because all reticles feature the same internal optics and identical pricing, the choice is yours.

Turning to the scope’s other attributes, the PRS is supplied with a 100mm sunshade that threads securely to the body for minimal light entry interference or reflection.

A discreet Leica logo is inlaid flush on either side of the 56mm objective lens’ body which tapers straight back to the 34mm tube before the spherical saddle.

There is 48mm in front and 67mm to the rear of the saddle for free mounting space of rings giving versatile linear control to suit the 90mm+ eye relief on this large scope.

Overall length is 365mm with a 1030g mass, about the average for these sorts of specifications. The saddle carries a tall elevation turret offering 10mm clicks at 100 metres corresponding with 0.1mRad for true longer-range ballistic calculation potential, with a maximum internal adjustment range of 32mRad.

I mounted the scope on a zero inclination rail and had 15mRad still remaining for longer range use beyond my 100m zero so a 20MOA rail on the same rifle (equal to about 6mRad) would have left me with 21mRad to reach out and that’s plenty for non-specialist rifles.

The windage turret offers an 18mRad total range and both are logically set out to offer 100 clicks per turn. Each offers a folding lever that lifts to unscrew the outermost indicator dial to align the markings after zeroing.

The windage also incorporates a tiny Allen key for adjustment to the elevation turret’s zero stop. This is a handy feature as although it’s standard metric size, this ultra-small key will always remain with the scope ‘just in case’ for emergencies.

Windage is marked 5mRad left and right of centre with well-spaced, firm tactile clicks on the 37mm diameter dial showing aggressive aluminium teeth for secure grip.

There is no overrun and the engraved markings are bold and clear with each spaced more than 1mm apart for visual reference. The elevation turret features a zero stop and a vernier turn indicator in the form of a small 18m button that telescopes upward as revolutions mount.

Although it’s physically tactile, you need to be able to read the vernier scale to be sure of which rotation you are within at longer distances beyond the first 10mRad turn, but it’s always possible to turn back down to the zero-stop if you ever get ‘lost’.

The zero stop itself is set-up with the outer collar removed and requires three Allen grub screws to be loosened so it can be spun towards its stop. Flexibility here also allows it be set up with some negative travel if you are ever likely to need it and I must admit, I always allow myself five clicks ‘down’ spacing from a 100m zero – just in case!

The left side shows parallax adjustable from 20m to infinity with smooth backlash free control from similar grippy teeth. There is no internal mechanical noise or perception of movement and backlash seems to have been kept to an absolute minimum, with the scope snapping in and out of focus at higher magnification from either direction repetitively through its almost 270-degree rotation.

Outermost to this is illumination control, marked from 1 to 10 with intervening off positions, it’s sharp in use with a four hour auto shut off time but no positional extinguishers laid on its side or pointed up/down.

No overt sparkle or dazzle is emitted from the fine central dot on the L-4a but I’d like to have seen the complex tactical offerings for a better impression of reticle precision and ease of reading the inherently important markings on them. Illumination is powered by a CR2032 and the very outer cap is removable for battery swap over.

100mm sunshade included but no lens caps

Zoom control at the ocular body shows more grippy teeth for magnification setup with a full range from 5-30x accessible from a 180-degree rotation clockwise.

There is a small stud screwed in at ‘11x’ for tactile reference and faster zoom control, just beware of clearance from your bolt handle at full mag as they can interfere if the scope is mounted low, if so it can be removed.

The ocular bell is parallel back to the fast focus dioptre control collar offering -3/+1 range, which is a little less than Leica’s usual if memory serves. Still, I got crisp reticle picture and no issues with further control once I had set up behind the 38mm rearmost lens. The PRS wasn’t supplied with lens caps but Leica do offer a matching Neoprene stretch-over-cover.

Zeroing the scope on my .223 Wylde was without incident with positive clicks matching the adjustments I dialled, perfectly. Although not FFP, I can read my zeroing targets in metric sizes to apply immediate corrections and when box testing, it cuts the time I need for accurate assessment of mechanical accuracy.

Zoom, like parallax, was ultra-smooth with no internal mechanical motion perceived. Optical performance was what I expected from Leica with bright image and warm colour rendition, flat focus across the field of view and no distortion near the edges.

Low summer sun was a bit of a dazzler through the test period, but I was pleased to see no issues with excessive chromatic aberration and the tube’s internals were great at minimising reflections.

The reticle is very fine at just 5mm sub-tension on 100m target and the illuminated dot just 10mm. I don’t always fare well with such fine reticles but I found it pleasingly sharp with excellent contrast from the blackened etching on glass.

The big issue with FFP scopes is having a reticle that will vary 6x in physical size through the mag range so it’s a compromise of getting enough detail at low mag without too much bulk when zoomed in and this simple crosshair was never going to present too many problems in that respect.

The higher magnification on offer compared to 2-12x hunting scope or similar 6x erector tube optic had the expected effect of making the exit pupil a little more critical in size but the eye box remained accessible and versatile with reducing magnification offering more forgiveness over displaced head position, although I’d like to try the complex reticle options, with a heavier recoiling rifle, to fully access this.

As for dialling, well the scope was accurate, all dialled corrections matched previously confirmed mRad ballistic date on a rifle I specifically chose for intermediate range shooting with significant DOPE available for reference.

Internal zero stop mechanics are simple with the Allen key included
Flip up lever allows dial removal for setup

I have seen too many high-end European scope makers disappoint me with their attempts at what they ‘think’ long range is about. Leica have kept things reasonably simple and avoided tripping up with overly complex turret designs that add significantly to cost yet somewhat detrimentally to the understanding of less experienced scope users.

They have offered a confident, tactile turret combined with seemingly tough internal mechanics alongside glass and precision reticle etching to offer a central but fully justified market position for long range optics.

I liked the spacious field of view, and for more regular hunting needs it wasn’t ridiculously oversized, yet – when precision was on the cards – I was able to find comfort within the eye box when challenged with uncomfortable shooting positions, and visual comfort is a huge factor for me.

Perhaps the final icing for me was the linearly diminishing optical performance as magnification was increased in poor light. There was no drop off ‘edge’, just an honest gradual slope without milkiness and, to be fair, if you want a low light hunting scope, you must accept that ultimate functionality in that regard does not correlate with 30x magnification and ‘long range’ ideology.

Frankly, £2,375 seems to fit comfortably for the Leica name without taking on the tactical masterclass competitors which are significantly more expensive, head to head. I have used some scopes of significantly greater expense that were far less appealing!

Hunt it down

Leica PRS 5-30x56i
RRP: £2,375
Leica, +44 (0) 207 629 1351

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