I received the D-Evo & LCO combo in early February 2016. The product was first demonstrated to the public at the 2015 SHOT show. Since that initial release and review comments in January of that year, there have been very little in the way of reviews. I have to thank the Korth Group for making this unique product available to me for testing and evaluation.
The D-Evo concept is innovative. Building on the popularity of red dot optics, the D-Evo adds a 6X magnification scope behind and below any such red dot sight (RDS). The ocular lens is situated such that once your head/eye is in correct position; you can switch between the magnified optic and the RDS simply by looking up or down. Total eye movement is 6 degrees according to Leupod’s literature. I can say that there is not much eye movement needed and certainly no head movement required, as is otherwise the case with mounting a micro RDS on top of a magnified optic.
The effect is unique. The RDS is intended to the primary optic. Your initial site picture is to be taken with the RDS and if you feel that more precision is needed, you simply glance down to view the target at 6x magnification. From here the user can take advantage of the ranging and balllstics drop capabilities of the specially modified CMRW reticle. The RDS can also be used as basically a wide angle view finder for the 6X optic, providing a much larger field of view from which to locate your target, then “zero in” on it with the magnified view.
Okay, let’s get this out of way early. Price is a factor for any optic selection. I have found that money saved on a low quality product is quickly forgotten when it’s limitations are determined. Similarly the “premium” paid for a well built, quality piece of kit get easily amortized over the time of continued satisfactory use.
Searching on-line and asking some contacts in the retail side of things, here are the lowest prices I could find for the separate components and the combined package.
Country LCO D-EVO COMBINED
USA $999.00 $1,449.00 $2,259.00
Canada $1,700.00 $ 1,945.00 $3,280.00
I can’t honestly say anything about the pricing except, well……this is not an inexpensive package. Keep in mind though, if you already have an RDS or Holgraphic sight, you can simply purchase and use the D-Evo. It was designed to work with any standard AR height electronic sight. It really is up to the user to decide if they can and want to afford an optic at this price point. For some no doubt, this will be a deal breaker. However, before you decide, please read on.
LCO – Leupold Carbine Optic
The LCO is Leopold’s latest red dot optic. It features a large square viewing window, easy to access brightness settings and is turned on with a single button push. The on/off button is located inside the brightness control dial on the left side of the optic which I found to be easy to reach instinctively. The dot comes on at the last brightness setting which seems like the most sensible approach. The optic also features an auto off if it remains motionless for 15 minutes, with a corresponding auto on when the movement is detected. The auto on is FAST. There is no notable delay at all. This feature is well executed in my opinion. I do find it curious however that the time delay is set so long. Given how the sight reactivates essentially instantly, I see no drawback to a shorter off time; say 5 minutes. Of course accordingly to Leupold, Kyle Lamb was involved in the development of this sight….so there is probably a good reason for the 15min time delay that escapes me.
Power is provided by a CR123 battery installed in front of the unit. Estimated battery life is 3 years or so but of course that will depend on usage.
The sighting dot is 1 MOA in diameter which I found to be ample for accurate shooting at as far as 100 yds. I was actually surprised at how well I was able to group the rifle using the dot given my nearly complete lack of experience with this type of sight and mild astigmatism. Tuning the dot down to low brightness helps of course as the “bloom” is minimized. For me, the dot typically looks like some kind of bright irregular blob (which is never the same shape two times in a row). This is generally consistent across any RDS that I have ever looked through so it’s not a specific issue with the LCO.
Adjustments are 0.5 MOA the flush mounted dials with a cross slot. This allows turning with a flat blade screw driver, dime, or the rim of a cartridge case. I assume the latter is the reason why a cross slot was chosen over say a hex head screw cap. Shooters always have a case (live or empty) to use as an adjustment tool.
Regardless of the auto off timing mentioned above, if I could change one thing anything with this, or any RDS, it would be to add a BDC dial on the elevation adjustment. This allow would allow quick and easy adjustment to correct for height over bore adjustments at distance beyond the zero point and up close, 50 yds and in. For the accuracy focused competitions I participate in, this would be a real benefit. Instead of having to hold off accounting for height over bore maintaining rounds impacting at the intended point instead of where the dot is pointing. For military, law enforcement and self defence that also has benefits where absolutely precise shot placement, say at a very small target obscured behind cover. To me at least, it would be a nice option to have. The BDC dial can be left at any “default” zero that the user wants and then can be adjusted as the user sees fit for an any given known or expected target distance. This is how I deal with the issue with magnified optics.
That all being said, many users and organizations issuing these types of sights seem to appreciate the “soldier proof” idea of a fixed zero and then training to use holdovers or simply accepting that the height over bore error fits within their standards of acceptable accuracy.
I honestly need to give myself more time with this optic to learn holdovers and vertical errors. It would not be right to let my previously established opinions and procedures color my review of this type of sighting system. That means more range time is need….darn.
MORE LCO RANGE TIME – February 22/16
On a sunny, warm February day I found myself all alone at my local range. Score, that means I can shoot from any distance from the target stands that I want. Time to see what I can hit with a dot sight. I started at 25 yards standing. I fired a couple of rounds to see the general point of impact and then adjusted from there so my rounds were impacting where I was aiming. Even with the fuzzy blob of the dot, getting centred hits when applying fundamentals of marksmanship was not really too hard. Yes, I should really zero it from a supported prone position or bench but warm in February does not mean dry and I just wasn’t interested in laying prone on melting ice and snow.
Once zeroed it was time to get in close and see where I need to aim to keep hits in the 50 x 100mm center scoring zone of a Figure 11 target. I was quite pleased that with a 25yd zero I could keep them in the box with a center hold from 35-15yrds. At 10yds, I found it best to aim right at the top of the box.
On another note, bright sun on a snow covered range makes for a pretty bright back drop. The LCO brightness setting was up to the task. I had no problem keeping the dot visible. I have to say that the concept of a dot sight is growing on me.
March 4 & 11/16
During A range session to test some 55 gn handloads, I decided to check to see how much variation in POA/POI there would be at 100yds with the 25yd zero. After verifying that the POI/POA was reasonably close with the D-Evo, I glanced up at the dot. It was floating well above my 8×11 target paper. This I think is going to be a problem.
After reviewing with a couple of more experienced friends, I decided to try things out with the dot zeroed at 50yds. Once this zero was established I checked how far off the POI was at 35, 25 and 10yrds. It’s all reasonably close and certainly up close it’s possible to compensate for the height over bore with a 50yd zero.
Now, I did run into a challenge with the LCO during this session. Setting up in the later afternoon, I found I had the sun sitting kind of low on the horizon, shining in my eyes. This caused a bright reflection of the internal mechanism of the LCO which partially obscured my view of the target and the dot. It was very similar to an object on the dash of a car reflecting on the windshield. In this case, I was able to compensate by resting the rifle on the magazine and shading the sight with my support hand however, obviously this would not work if I were not in a supported shooting position. Turning up the brightness of the dot helped some, but with my astigmatism the makes the dot a larger “blob” and is not conducive to precise zeroing. Some type of sunshade would be one possible answer, or perhaps an Anti-reflective device cover for the objective lens would counter this. I’m not sure as I have no experience with ARDs.
April & May 2016
Through April and May I had the chance to run the LCO in a training clinic, service rifle mini-match (300, 200 and 100m) and one our local CQB matches (35-10 yrds). The LCO worked fine in this instances but honestly I rarely used it beyond 25 yds distance. The 50 yrd zero did give me a decent ability to in practice at 100 yards with a centre hold and I was able to remember my close range hold overs for in close. The dot was easy to adjust for brightness in varying light conditions and I had no trouble finding it on demand. If I was in the market for a wide field of view RDS, the LCO would be a consideration for me for sure.
D-Evo – Dual Enhanced View Optic
No offence to the design team for the LCO, but the D-Evo is really the bell of this particular ball. It is unlike any other optic on the market today (It’s not a totally new idea however. There have been offset prismatic scopes used in military applications dating back to World War II or earlier. Go ask Ian at Forgottenweapons.com about it).
As noted above, the ocular lens is designed to sit behind a red dot or holographic sight set at standard AR mounting height. In order to have a down range view, the objective lens is offset to the right by approximately 46mm (by my measurements). The image is translated through the Z shaped scope body with mirrors.
The scope features an etched glass reticle which means no batteries are required and no batteries can go dead on you and leave you hanging. The glass is bright and clear and uses a specific version of Leopold’s Close Mid-Range Reticle with Wind Holds (CMRW). Getting a good camera view of the reticle up close escaped me, so I took a picture of the reticle shown in the instruction pamphlet that comes with the optic.
Note the vertical stadia line in the middle of the optic is not actually vertical. That is not a trick of the camera. The folks at Leupold are smart cookies and the realize that with the horizontal offset of the D-Evo, there will be a corresponding horizontal shift in POA/POI that needs to be accounted for as you stretch the optic further and further away from the suggested 200m zero point. The horizontal shift isn’t huge at distance (more on that later) but if you are trying for precision, any gain to help center your grouping at your point of aim is a benefit.
The horizontal stadia and the vertical at the left of the reticle are for ranging objects of known size. I understand the theory behind it but have no training/experience/reason to use these for that purpose so those features are not that useful to me. The hash marks on the horizontal could also be used for wind holds…..in a LOT of wind. Like tornado wind. I don’t tend to need to shoot things during tornadoes.
Each range line includes a wind hold off dot for 10 and 20 MPH full value winds. For me, adding a 5 and 10mph wind dot would be useful. Perhaps of a different shape like a cross or triangle to help distinguish them from the existing 10 and 20 mph dots.
The eye box for the D-Evo, the placement where you need to get your eye so that you get a full view through the optic, is small. However after a couple of days of messing around with the optic system (when work and family allow me the time), it became instinctive to bring the rifle up and the optic be right there. No concerns and honestly I spent about an hour in all getting to where I was comfortable. Not a bad time investment really.
A note here on mounting position. Leupold recommends starting with the D-Evo as far back as possible on the upper. I tried this but found I was more comfortable with the optic moved up one rail notch. The issue was getting clearance to access the charging handle. Both the D-Evo and LCO are fastened in places by ½ inch hex head bolts. These stick out a rather noticeable amount and I found I had to be somewhat careful when I reached for the charging handle. The rifle currently mounts a BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 which gives ample room to grasp. To me it though seems a bit odd that Leupold did not choose to go with QD levers for both optics.
Adjustments feature cross slot heads like the LCO but in 0.1 MRAD graduations. I’m not clear why the difference from the LCO except the CMRW reticle has MRAD graduations. We at least some of them are. The CMRW reticle combines MRAD and MOA graduations which is the first time I have seen this done. Frankly it’s a bit strange but I assume the engineers at Leupold have a good reason for it.
So you will have noticed that the D-Evo hangs off the RIGHT side of the rifle. Yeah I know, it’s a right handed world. As a south paw, I feel the pain of having my “handedness” ignored. This is a bit of a new issue for me personally with rifles, as I have just decided to finally train myself to shoot long arms left handed, using my dominate left eye. Actually it is because of this optic that I am making the switch.
A somewhat off topic note here: Using the D-Evo has really illustrated to me the benefit of shooting with the dominant eye behind the sight. From the first time I picked up a long arm, it felt right to shoot from my right side and simply close my left eye. Now, using a RDS that facilitates shooting with two eyes open I really noticed that I had to close my left eye to be able to see a clear sight picture in the magnified optic. I tried shouldering the rifle on my left to see of the D-Evo obscured the peripheral view of a left handed shooter. When I did this, voila! Two eyes open, full sight picture the LCO and the D-Evo with just a glance up or down. No need to hold my off eye closed or squint.
Going back to my other rifles with conventional magnified optics on the left side I discovered again that using my dominant eye allows for much easier two eye open shooting. Time to go along with conventional wisdom and make the switch. (Which will be a topic for another article). But honestly, Leupold had to pick a side. I can’t imagine this thing being built to allow the user to pick a preference. For shooting use, it really does not affect things much. I don’t find there to be a discernible loss of peripheral vision regardless of the shoulder I bring the rifle too. Now if you are slinging your rifle across your chest or on a single point sling then yes, the D-Evo is going to be against your chest. Can’t be helped. If I was going to be hiking a long way with the rifle slung that way it may be and issue. Maybe. I dunno. Time will tell. Just messing with it in dry fire at home, it has not proven to be much of an issue so far.
Access the charging hand on the right side of rife is really impacted as you already have to deal with the forward assist which. Now the back of the D-Evo is obstructing your right hands path to the charging handle too. A left handed user would be well served to have a fairly large extended charging handle to make manipulations easier. Some of the current offerings from Ranier Arm come to mind. I personally am going to stick with my current non-ambi BCM and work with my manual of arms to access the charging handle on the left side of the rifle. I have another optic that presents a similar obstruction for right side charging handle access so I may as well find a way to deal with the issue that works for both.
Another “downside” to the right side placement of the D-Evo is that ejecting brass (at least from a right ejecting AR) hits the bottom of the optic casing/tube. Yup, it gets dinged up. Oh well. It’s the bottom of an optic. I can’t really get too worked up about brass marks. Consider it a sign of use, same as on your shell deflector. The brass deflecting off the bottom of the scope also has not detrimental effect for left handed users. The brass still sails well clear of your face. (Actually be being deflected down, your brass piles up nearby rather than being tossed a couple lanes over or into tall grass. Handy for us reloaders) Naturally, safety glasses are always recommended for shooting any firearm regardless.
The D-Evo system, as designed to give the user instant access to a RDS or Holographic sight and a magnified site, works as advertized. I like the concept of being able to switch from no magnification to a useful 6X by moving only my eye. I can see it be really useful in say 3-gun competitions or hunting or, I imagine, martial applications (I’m not military nor have I ever been so I won’t waste the readers time with my speculation on such things)
With no magnficiation power rings to adjust (with no resulting chance of a change of zero or reticle sub-tensions no longer being true), no head movement which means you are always in good shooting position from a head to stock / eye to sight perspective. The combined D-Evo and LCO are light enough to not make the rifle feel top heavy and the weight of the D-Evo hanging off the right side of the rifle does not make it seem un-balanced. There is no signficant blocking of view to the right either regardless of shouldering on the left or right side.
I think Leopold was smart I think to make the D-Evo a separate unit from the dot sight. Users who already run this type of optic can simply add the D-Evo behind their existing (don’t try to tell an Aimpoint user to give up their optic…they get testy). So really there is no down side to adding this optic if you think you want the advantages of instant magnification for your sight picture.
Frankly I think the overall concept is great and I applaud Leupold for being innovative and developing what I hope is the 1st generation version with future developments improving on it in the years to come.
Apart from the mentioned lack of QD mounting options, there were a couple of things that I honestly feel are minor but make me scratch my head a little.
No Lens covers?
While not a deal breaker I do find it a little odd that neither the LCO nor the D-Evo come shipped with any type of lens cover. For storage and transport at least I like to cover my optics to avoid dust, dirt and scratches. Given the cost of the package, I would like some means to limit the chance of damage to either of these optics. Perhaps Leupold is waiting for the aftermarket to come up with a product?
Lack of Illuminated Reticle?
In current “tactical” optic market, finding one that does not offer an illumination option is out of the ordinary. Well the D-Evo certainly is not ordinary and continues so in this respect. I would think that when attempting a precision shot at low light, or light fog against a dark back drop, illumination of the reticle would be a benefit.
Where’s the BUIS?
Another common feature for tactical rifles is to have some form of back up iron site or BUIS. Two is one and one is none and all that current tactical “rules of thumb”. The D-Evo as designed precludes this. A flip up sight can’t be mounted behind the unit as it would obscure the view through the objective lens. I suppose a person could mount a fixed or flip up iron sight ahead of the D-Evo, between it at the RDS but there is only so much rail space on the upper receiver. You are likely to have to then mount the RDS at least partially on the front handguard assuming the rifle has a continuous top rail. Looking at the top scope body at the rear of the unit, it seems like there would be room to add some type of fixed or flip up rear sight. The very simple E-sight concept from Leightner Weise Manufacturing comes to mind. Maybe Leupold should talk with Paul Leightner Wise?
To be fair, the primary sight is intended to be the dot sight. If this goes down, the D-Evo makes a heck of back up sight itself. Does a rifle really need three sighting systems, a back up to the back up? In those terms I guess not but, still I imgaine some users would want that option.
The CMRW reticle would not be my choice for this or any optic. Honestly this is personal preference based on what I use a rifle for, as most reticle choices are. Looking through the catalogue, I personally would have preferred something to be developed from Leupolds Varmint Hunter reticle (see below), with the same horizontal offset corrections as currently offered for the D-Evo. Let me explain my reasoning.
Working with this optic at my local range I zeroed the 200m dot in the optic at 50m. A 50/200 zero is common enough. My normal sighting target is black 4 inch wide diamond, set inside another diamond outline a couple of inches offset from the center. The diamond shape (actually a square rotated 45 degrees) allows me to line up the vertical and horizontal stadia of a scope to help make sure I am centred with even a relatively low magnification (I designed this target for use with a fixed 3x optic that I am fond of).
The D-Evo provides a 200m aim point in the form of a 0.5MOA black dot surrounded by empty space. I found it very hard to see the black aiming dot against the black aiming square and the empty space around the dot gave me no aiming assistance. This would be a bit less of a problem if I was aiming against a lighter coloured target, or if say the reticle was illuminated.
I believe the intent of the CMRW is to have a precise aiming point surrounded with a large donut for target ID and quick snap shooting. However in this particular application, you have a dot sight as your primary for quick snap shots. The 6X D-Evo is intended to provide for added precision. At least the hold over dots at 3, 4, 5 and 600 yrds have a horizontal line (subtending 18 inches at the given distance, used for ranging on a shoulder width target) that gives a bit more of an aiming point that just a 0.5MOA dot. The aforementioned varmint reticle does away with the donut and provides continuous vertical and horizontal cross hairs through the centre of the reticle which helps in centring it with variable contrast between the sight and aiming point. The same vertical hold over and windage hold off marks are provided with the Varmint reticle, the lower leg of the vertical stadia would simply have to be canted to account for horizontal offset of the ocular lens.
Each elevation mark also provides for hold off points for 10 and 20 MPH winds. To me that is pretty course in terms of wind adjustment, and it also is based on full value. Intermediate winds speeds and values are going to require estimation. The marks do give some reference for this, much better than nothing. When it comes to wind reading I am at best a novice so for me to state an opinion on how well these wind hold points work, would be of very limited value.
The Bad (from my intended use perspective)
Generally speaking, my modern rifle use is focused on accuracy based competitions that fall under the umbrella of Service Conditions up here in Canada. My focus is on Service Rifle which is shot at ranges from 25-500m and silhouette type (Figure 11, 12 and 14) targets which inscribed maximum scoring rings sized between 3 and 6 MOA generally. This event also includes run downs where we start at one mount then run forward 100m before adopting a shooting position to engage snap (short exposure) and moving (left and right) targets.
My other competitive shooting passion is CQB which is shot at 10-35 yrds, again using Figure 11 targets with maximum scoring rectangle that is 50mm wide x 100mm tall. This features standing snaps and rapids, modified prone shooting, advance and fire and firing on the move.Both of these events are shot under fixed limits. There is no benefit to getting through an exposure faster than anybody else. Hitting closest to the middle is what gives you the most points and thus is the most important. Where the D-Evo presents a challenge in these types of events is the horizontal offset of the objective lenses. It necessarily adds a horizontal error in the sighting that the reticle only accounts for at 200m and beyond. When I am trying to drop rounds into a 50mm wide box at even 25m the D-Evo adds a holdoff requirement that I find to be a challenge.
How much error are we talking about? Well after zeroing the D-Evo at 50 yds, I found my hits at 100 yards were right of my point of aim by about 1.5 inches. See the group beside the centre “diamond” below.
“But this is okay, this is still only 1.5 MOA from the point of aim and the target is 3MOA in diameter”. Yes, 3 MOA in diameter which means a radius of 1.5MOA. These rounds are hitting at the extreme right edge of my intended target zone. Not ideal for my particular shooting sport. Centred groups are where it’s at with Service rifle.
Below is a group shot at 25m standing using the same zero. I found a decent hold point after some experimentation. Note where the target had to appear in the reticle in order to get centred hits. Between the 300 and 400 metre elevation marks and fully under the left end of the 300m hash mark.
(For readers familiar with Project Appleseed, that is 9/9 in the 5 “ring” at 25 yds (not metres) off hand, no sling)
Now I am pretty sure the developers at Leupold would intend that the shooter would use the dot sight at 100 yrds and in but that still provides a challenge to me as the user has to account for height over bore. Now more experienced users with dot sights will develop hold over points for target distances that vary from the zero point. I’m not there yet. I tend to think in terms of hold the sight where I want the bullets to go.
How much horizontal error is there?
Okay, I explained the error that I found through shooting at relatively moderate ranges. I won’t have access to a range that is longer than 100m for several months. I was lazy and didn’t want to necessarily burning up ammo (and its winter for eh) shooting to check horizontal different from POI to POA. I also realized the while a 50yd zero generally equates to a 200yd zero accounting for bullet drop with an AR platform, the horizontal would not match. (From 50 to 200, the bullet “rises” compared to the line of sight at 50yds and falls back across it at 200yd due to the pull of gravity. Horizontally, once the bullet crosses the line of sight at 50 yrds, its going to keep going on this vector unless affected by wind which is anything but constant.)
I needed a way to see what the horizontal offset would be if the optic was zeroed at 200 yds at recommended by Leopold. At my office, I was able to use a CAD program to draw this to scale and simply measure off the horizontal offsets any given point along a straight line path from the muzzle. To do this, I started with a 500m long line vertically representing the line of the bore. Then I drew a 500m long line of sight, starting 46mm (the measured horizontal offset of the D-Evo to the bore on my rifle) to the right of the bore line and had it cross the bore line at 50m. I was then able to measure the horizontal distance from the bore line to the line of sight to get a general idea of how far the centre of the group should theoretically be from the point of aim at any given distance. I repeated this for a 100 and 200m zero. The table below summarizes the resulting measurements.
As noted, the vertical stadia on the D-Evo CMRW reticle is offset to the right for holdovers beyond the 200m zero. This in theory (I would have to shoot the optic at the given ranges to verify) will maintain the centre of groupings on the intended aiming point for each distance to target (ignoring wind influence).
The canted vertical stadia will help a little to account for the horizontal deviation if using elevation holdovers to account for height over bore deviations at ranges inside the 200m zero, but not a lot. Overall, this horizontal offset reduces the effectiveness of the optic for use in short range precision in my view, though as I demonstrated on the 25 yd target above, the offset can be accounted for.
My perception of concerns with the optic and reticle are obviously heavily influenced by the type of shooting competitions that I participate in and what my intended use for the rifle is. I will freely admit that I may be getting lost in the numbers (not seeing the forest for the trees as it were). One testing trip to a relatively short distance range is really not sufficient to evaluate this optic.
At this point in the review I would suggest that the reader needs to evaluate the degree of offset at various ranges inside the 200m zero point, and compare this to the degree of accuracy that is needed for their intended use. Using the 200m zero, the largest offset is 1.7inches at 10m. At 150m, this drops to about 0.5inches. With experience I suppose, a shooter could learn to hold just a bit to the left to centre the group. Depending on the target size, it may not even matter. Certainly all of these horizontal “errors” are will inside the width of a man sized target. They are even well inside a 6 inch plate with a centre hold.
Follow up Short Range Testing – February 22/16
That same warm February day that I was working with the LCO, I also did some more testing with the D-Evo and short range. To start, using the measured horizontal errors in the chart above, I zeroed the rifle at 100m to hit about 0.9in left and 1.5in high of my point of aim. The latter is the elevation correction I’ve applied to other optics when going from 100 to 200m. The final result for the day is shown below. Close but not quite what I was intending.
At this point however, I considered it to be close enough and decided to stop shooting 69 Gn Sierra bullets at 100m targets. I am very curious to see how my calculations work out when I get to finally zero the optic a real 200m. Hopefully on a windless day to eliminate that variable.
Next up was determining what my short range hold overs were going to be using the 200m zero I had established. As noted previously, I was holding the target somewhere in the empty space between the 300 and 400m elevation marks, out near the limit of hash marks. With this zero, I was pleased to find that at 25yds, my rounds were impacting right at the left end of the 300m hash mark. This also worked effectively for 35yds. Okay, easy enough to remember that hold point for those two target distances. That combined with what I learned about bullet drop with the 25yd zero on the LCO means that this optic combination is now good to go for one of the types of competitions I will be participating in this season. I have to say that at this point, the D-Evo is growing on me.
It’s now May 2016. I the last month or so I’ve had chance to use the D-Evo at various competitive events. This also gave me the opportunity to zero the D-Evo properly at 200m and luckily with no wind. Once done, centred hits at 200m were easy with this optic. Moving back to 300m, I found the BDC reticle to be true enough for my purposes shooting 62gn ball from a 15.7inch barrel. However, the wind came up between the two mounds and the wind hold was a real challenge for me. It was a intermediate wind the was somewhere between the hash marks on the reticle. I ended up holding on one edge of an 18 inch wide Fig 11 target to get close to centre on zeroing. That was all well and good for deliberate shooting, but then we moved back down to 200m and shot movers. Trying to guess a hold off to apply in addition to a lead for a moving target was just a bit more than I was able to cope with on this day and I really didn’t have a solid feel for it. My score was not notably worse than normal for moving targets (honestly it’s never great) but the D-Evo reticle didn’t really enhance my ability to make centred hits on moving targets at this range.
My final test for the D-Evo happened at a short range carbine competition held recently. Distances were from 35-10 yards and I employed the D-Evo at 35 and 25 yrds. Unfortunately, I should have checked my hold off notes before the match and I shot a nice tight group at 35m, about 1 inch outside the highest scoring zone for my snaps and rapids. Moving to the 25yd we shoot from what we call the modified prone, basically laying on your strong side such as you would to shoot under an obstacle. While I managed to correct my hold off and kept all my rounds in the highest scoring zone, I really had to work at it with the D-Evo. The field of view of the 6X optic was such that I could only see one of my pair of targets at a time. This meant that I had to continually check up through the RDS to make sure I was on the correct target. This is of course quick, but still consumed some fractions of seconds that I would rather have invested in my sight picture.
Inside of 25 yrds, I didn’t even attempt to use the D-Evo for the time limited shooting we do at this short distance. The small field of view and horizontal hold off would have been too limiting. I have to assume that Leopold really intends you to use your RDS at this range anyway.
What would I change?
I really do like the overall concept of the D-EVO. I would hope that Leupold sees enough promise to move ahead with revisions in the future. How would I like to see the D-Evo changed or evolved? Well there are a couple of things that could be done to strengthen some of what I find to be weak points for my use.
1) Get the objective lens in line with the bore. The optic has mirrors to bend light through 90 degrees now. Add more mirrors and move the objective lens in front of the RDS or otherwise move it so it is in-line with the bore. (Of course I have to assume that Leupold had already tried to make this rather obvious configuration work so there are likely technical reasons why this is not feasible)
2) Reduce the magnification to increase field of view. I currently engage targets at distances up to 500m with a fixed 3x optic with confidence (and have shot to 600m). I think a fixed 6x is perhaps overkill and something lower powered like a 4x would be just as effective at ranges where the 5.56×45 from a modern semi-automatic rifle is considered effective.
3) Add adjustable elevation and windage dials.
An elevation dial would give the user the option to fine tune their elevation setting for given ammunition and barrel length. It would only need to have a few minutes of adjustment either up or down as the BDC hold over marks could still be used (and must be if the offset objective is retained, requiring a canted vertical stadia.
A windage dial would provide the shooter the option of accounting for wind drift in a positive and repeatable fashion, rather than estimating a hold off, if they prefer to do this. Keeping the wind dial at zero and simply holding off is always an option regardless.
Okay, at the end of three months of testing I have come to a conclusion about the current D-EVO based on my personal intended use. I don’t have a need to go from a 1x magnified dot sight picture to a 6x magnified sight picture in a glance. I don’t need to deal with the guess work involved in BDC reticles during windy conditions at distance. I don’t want deal with a fixed RDS for moderate range target engagements and to learn holdovers for precision shot placement at distances other than my chosen zero. I don’t want to deal with narrow field of views mandated by a 6x magnified optic at short distance targets. I don’t want have to deal with horizontal hold offs for moderate range target engagements when my goal is to place hits in the middle of the target, not simply on the target.
In its current configuration, the D-EVO It is simply not an effective optic for me. For you the reader, that may not be the case. I have attempted to explain where and why the D-EVO falls short for me so that you can evaluate my findings against your own usage needs. Hopefully you have found this discussion to be informative.