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Unmatched Performance: Testing the Leupold LCO in Real-World Conditions

Welcome to our comprehensive review of the Leupold LCO (Leupold Carbine Optic). In the world of firearms optics, the Leupold LCO has earned a reputation for its rugged construction and exceptional performance. Whether you are a competitive shooter, a law enforcement professional, or an avid sportsman, the LCO scope by Leupold promises to enhance your shooting experience with its advanced features and precision engineering.

In this article, we will look into the key features of the Leupold Carbine Optic, providing you with an in-depth analysis of its design, performance, and user experience. We will explore its optical quality, reticle, durability, mounting versatility, and every other feature that sets this optic apart from its competitors. To make the review comprehensive, we will compare the Leupold LCO with other red dot sights and holographic sights, identifying its unique advantages and differentiating factors. 

So, let’s dive in and explore the world of Leupold riflescopes through our detailed review.

Quick Overview of Leupold LCO

Leupold LCO Reviews

The Leupold Carbine Optic, or LCO, is a highly regarded red dot sight that has gained popularity among shooters, both in the civilian and professional realms. Known for its exceptional quality and performance, the Leupold LCO offers shooters a reliable and accurate aiming solution for a wide range of applications. At first glance, I thought this sight was a Holographic sight or even a prism sight, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that it was a reflex sight because it operates with LED.

The LCO sight features a compact and lightweight design, making it ideal for carbines, rifles, and shotguns. Its robust construction ensures durability and resistance to harsh environmental conditions, making it suitable for use in demanding situations. The Leupold LCO has advanced optics, providing a clear and crisp sight picture. Shooters can expect excellent target acquisition and fast follow-up shots due to the parallax-free design and unlimited eye relief. The LCO also offers an outstanding reticle that is visible in the sun or rain.

With its precise windage and elevation adjustments, the Leupold LCO enables shooters to zero in quickly and maintain accuracy even in dynamic shooting scenarios. The sight offers multiple brightness settings and an illuminated reticle, ensuring optimal visibility in various lighting conditions. Like other Leupold riflescopes, the LCO is a trusted companion for shooters seeking a high-quality optic.

Leupold LCO: Features

Lens quality

The optics and lens quality of the Leupold LCO sight are key factors contributing to its reputation for exceptional clarity and precision. Leupold, a renowned optics manufacturer, incorporates advanced technology and meticulous craftsmanship into the design of the LCO, resulting in high-quality optics that meet the demands of shooters. The sight features a premium lens that delivers a clear and sharp sight picture. The lenses are carefully crafted to minimize distortion, color fringing, and aberrations, ensuring optimal image quality. 

The lenses of the Leupold LCO are military-standard scratch resistant and also treated with advanced coatings to enhance light transmission, clarity, and contrast. These coatings reduce glare, improve low-light performance, and maximize the amount of light reaching the shooter’s eye. 


Reticle clarity is a critical aspect of any optic, and the Leupold LCO excels in this regard. The reticle in the LCO is designed to provide a crisp and clear aiming point, ensuring shooters can precisely align their shots. The illumination feature of the reticle further enhances its clarity, allowing for better visibility in various lighting conditions.

The Leupold LCO sight provides users with a 1 MOA dot illuminated reticle. This reticle consists of a single illuminated dot with a 1 MOA (Minute of Angle) subtension. The 1 MOA dot provides a fine aiming point, ideal for precision shooting and engaging small targets at longer distances. This reticle option is favored by competitive shooters and those who require precise shot placement rather than close range shooters. The Leupold LCO’s reticle clarity is complemented by the scope’s brightness settings.


The durability of this Leupold optic is one of its standout features, making it a reliable choice for shooters who demand a rugged and long-lasting optic. Leupold, known for its commitment to quality and craftsmanship, has designed the LCO to withstand the rigors of harsh environments and heavy use. The sight is built to be durable and resistant to various external factors. The sight has aircraft grade aluminum housing that provides robust protection to the internal components. This machined aluminum body ensures that the LCO can handle impacts without compromising its functionality.

The Leupold optic is sealed to be both fogproof and waterproof up to 66 feet, safeguarding it against moisture, dust, and other contaminants. This feature allows shooters to confidently use the optic in inclement weather conditions or humid environments without worrying about internal fogging or damage. The sight is shockproof thanks to the machined aluminum body, meaning it can withstand the recoil generated by high-caliber firearms without affecting its zero or performance. This durability is particularly crucial for shooters who engage in intense shooting activities, such as tactical operations or competitive shooting, where firearms experience significant recoil forces.

Leupold puts its optics through rigorous testing procedures to ensure their durability and reliability. The LCO sight undergoes impact testing, and it can survive more than 5,000 impacts on the Punisher (each impact is about 3 times the recoil from .308 rifle). This commitment to testing and quality control reinforces the durability of the Leupold LCO and instills confidence in its performance, even under demanding conditions. Leupold backs the durability of the LCO sight with a Full Lifetime Guarantee, providing peace of mind to the shooters.


The LCO sight offers a versatile mounting option, allowing shooters to easily and securely attach it to a wide range of firearms. Leupold has designed the LCO with compatibility in mind, ensuring that it can be mounted on various platforms without sacrificing stability or ease of installation. The LCO sight comes with a Picatinny rail attachment, which is a widely adopted standard for firearm accessories. This scope mount type offers a secure and repeatable attachment to firearms equipped with Picatinny or MIL-STD-1913 rails. It allows for quick and straightforward installation, ensuring shooters can easily attach or detach the LCO as needed.

The Leupold LCO utilizes a compact and low-profile mount that minimizes the overall footprint and weight added to the firearm. This scope mount design allows for a streamlined and sleek appearance, ensuring the optic does not obstruct the shooter’s line of sight or interfere with the firearm’s ergonomics. Leupold also ensures that the LCO sight maintains zero and holds its position under recoil and vibrations. The mount and attachment system is designed to provide a secure and stable connection between the optic and the firearm.

Accuracy and Precision 

This Leupold sight is known for its accuracy and precision, which are crucial factors for shooters who require consistent and reliable performance in their aiming. One of the key factors contributing to the accuracy is its precise aiming reticle (1 MOA dot), which provides a fine aiming point for precise shot placement. 

Additionally, the LCO sight’s parallax-free design ensures that the reticle remains aligned with the target, regardless of the shooter’s eye position. This eliminates the potential aiming errors caused by parallax. The durability also plays a role in its accuracy and precision. 

Eye Relief

Eye Relief

The Leupold LCO provides a comfortable and sufficient eye relief, allowing shooters to position their eyes at a comfortable distance from the optic without sacrificing the sight picture or experiencing any discomfort. The specific eye relief measurement for the LCO is unknown, but it typically provides unlimited eye relief that accommodates various shooting positions and preferences.

Brightness and illumination settings 

The Leupold LCO sight offers a range of 16 brightness settings, providing users with the flexibility to adapt to various lighting conditions. These brightness settings allow shooters to customize the reticle intensity according to their specific needs, ensuring optimal visibility and target acquisition.

With 16 brightness settings, users can easily adjust the brightness level to match the ambient lighting conditions, whether it’s a bright, sunny day or a low-light environment. The wide range of settings allows for precise control over the reticle’s brightness, enhancing visibility and reducing the risk of washout or glare.

Battery life

The Leupold LCO sight is designed with efficient power management and offers a respectable battery life, ensuring that shooters can rely on the optic for extended periods without frequent battery changes or recharges. The LCO sight utilizes a single CR123A battery, which is a widely available power source and offers a good balance between size and performance. This battery type provides sufficient power to drive the LCO’s illumination and other electronic functions while maintaining a compact and lightweight design.

The specific battery life of the Leupold LCO can vary depending on the brightness and illumination settings used, as well as other factors such as temperature and usage patterns. Generally, the LCO offers an impressive battery life of about 1800hr on lower settings and about 96hr on highest setting. To optimize battery life, the Leupold LCO sight features an auto-off function. When the optic detects inactivity for about 5 minutes, it automatically shuts off to conserve power. This feature helps extend the battery life, especially if the optic is inadvertently left on after use.

Focal Plane

The Leupold sight uses a second focal plane design, also called rear focal plane. In this design, the reticle remains the same size while the target appears to grow or shrink as the magnification is adjusted. The advantage of the second focal plane design is that it provides a stable reticle size regardless of the target’s apparent size.

This stability is particularly beneficial in low light shooting conditions where maintaining a consistent reticle size is crucial for accurate aiming. Additionally, the SFP design is well-suited for sights that do not rely on hash marks or subtensions for range estimations. With a fixed reticle size, the LCO allows for reliable aiming without the need to account for reticle size variations at different magnifications.

Ease of Installation and Zeroing

Installation of the Leupold LCO is typically a hassle-free process. The sight comes with a mounting system, often a Picatinny rail mount, which ensures a secure and repeatable attachment to firearms equipped with Picatinny or MIL-STD-1913 rails. The mount is designed to provide a stable connection, minimizing any movement or shifting of the optic during use.

To install the LCO, shooters need to align the mount with the rail and securely tighten the mounting screws or levers. Once the LCO is installed on the firearm, zeroing the optic is the next step to ensure that the point of aim aligns with the point of impact. The LCO sight features precise windage and elevation adjustments, allowing shooters to fine-tune the optic’s alignment with their specific shooting preferences and ammunition.

Controls and Adjustments 

The sight features intuitive controls and adjustments, allowing shooters to customize their aiming experience according to their preferences and shooting conditions. The primary controls of the LCO are typically located on the top or sides of the optic and are easily accessible for quick adjustments. These controls include:

On/Off Button

The sight has a power button that allows shooters to easily turn the optic on or off. This button is positioned at the side for convenient access, enabling shooters to activate or deactivate the sight with minimal effort.

Brightness Adjustment

The brightness settings control is in the form of a dial, it is positioned close to the On/off button. 

Turret Adjustment

The sight incorporates windage and elevation adjustment dials, which enable precise zeroing and reticle alignment. These adjustment controls typically have audible or tactile clicks, providing clear feedback when making adjustments. You will need a coin to make adjustments to the windage and elevation dials.

Weight and Size 

The LCO sight strikes a balance between weight and size, offering shooters a compact and lightweight optic that is suitable for a variety of firearm platforms.

In terms of weight, the LCO is generally considered lightweight compared to many other sight options on the market. The compact size of the Leupold is another advantage. The optic is designed to have a low-profile and streamlined profile, which helps minimize the impact on the firearm’s maneuverability. The compact size ensures that the LCO does not obstruct the shooter’s field of view or add unnecessary bulk to the weapon.

However, it is important to note that due to its weight and size, the Leupold LCO may not be the most suitable option for handguns. Handguns generally have more limited rail space and require scopes that are specifically designed for their size and weight constraints. 

Gun Platform 

The Leupold sight is compatible with various gun platforms, providing shooters with flexibility and versatility in their optic selection. While it may not be a suitable red dot sight for pistols due to its weight, the LCO excels when mounted on specific gun platforms known for their stability and recoil management.

M-4/AR-15 Pattern Carbines

The Leupold LCO is an excellent choice for M-4/AR-15 pattern carbines. These firearms are widely popular among shooters, whether for recreational shooting, home defense, or competition. The LCO’s compact and low-profile design complements the sleek profile of these carbines, and its rugged construction ensures it can withstand the recoil generated by these platforms.

IWI Tavor

The LCO scope is a suitable optic for the IWI Tavor (TC-21), a bullpup-style rifle known for its compactness and versatility. Its compatibility with the Tavor provides shooters with an enhanced aiming solution for this unique firearm. The LCO’s low-profile mount and durable construction align well with the Tavor’s design and intended use.

9mm Carbines

The Leupold sight can be effectively mounted on 9mm carbines such as the MP5 or 9mm AR-platforms. These firearms are commonly used for home defense, training, and competition purposes. The LCO’s clear sight picture, rapid target acquisition, and durability make it an ideal choice for enhancing the performance of these 9mm carbines.


The LCO sight is also well-suited for shotguns, offering shotgun users an optic solution for various applications, including hunting, clay shooting, and home defense. Shotguns require optics that can handle the recoil generated by heavy loads, and the LCO’s robust construction and shockproof design make it capable of withstanding the recoil and providing reliable performance on shotgun platforms.

Are you looking for long range scopes? Check out this article Best Long Range Rifle Scope

Limitations of the Leupold LCO sight

While the Leupold LCO sight offers numerous benefits and features, it is important to consider its limitations to make an informed decision regarding its suitability for specific shooting requirements. Here are some notable limitations of the Leupold LCO:

Limited Battery Life

While the LCO sight offers respectable battery life, it may not be as long-lasting as some other scopes on the market. Shooters should be mindful of battery usage and carry spare batteries for extended shooting sessions or critical missions.

Limited Reticle Options

The Leupold LCO typically provides a limited selection of reticle options, often consisting of a 1 MOA dot. Shooters who prefer a wider variety of reticle choices, such as BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) or different reticle patterns, may find the options provided by the LCO limiting.

Lack of Night Vision Compatibility

The LCO does not typically feature night vision compatibility. Shooters who require the use of night vision devices alongside their optics should consider alternative options that offer this capability.

Limited Handgun Compatibility

Due to its size and weight, the Leupold LCO may not be an ideal choice for handguns. Handguns often have limited rail space and require optics specifically designed for their compact size and recoil management. Shooters looking for an optic for their handguns should explore options specifically tailored to their needs.


The Leupold LCO is positioned in the mid-to-high price range compared to other optics. While it offers quality construction and features, the price may be a limiting factor for budget-conscious shooters who are seeking more affordable options.

Comparison With Other Sights

When comparing the Leupold LCO with other popular red dot sights such as the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, Vortex Razor Red Dot, Trijicon RMR, and Aimpoint T1, here is a brief summary of their key features:

All sights offer high-quality optics with clear sight pictures, but the specific lens coatings and edge-to-edge sharpness may vary. When it comes to mounting options and compatibility, the DeltaPoint Pro and Trijicon RMR offer a wider range of mounting options, while the Leupold LCO and Vortex Razor Red Dot are designed for compatibility with Picatinny rails. The Aimpoint T1 stands out for its exceptional battery life, while the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro and Trijicon RMR also offer extended battery life with power-saving features.

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