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  1. #1
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    Leuold MK 8 CQBSS Thoughts

    Happy Wiggler Wednesday Everybody!

    As my season of optics testing continues, I've had the fortunate opportunity to obtain a Leupold MK 8 CQBSS.

    I've been curious about this optic for a long time, as I've always perceived it as an optic that would be a very good jack-of-all-trades. After using it for a bit, I've come to view the CQBSS as a niche optic. As always, I will make changes and adjustments to this thread if I find anything significant or relevant to report.

    If you're interested in reading a technical review, BIG JIM FISH has written an excellent CQBSS technical review at Snipershide.com. I agree with his conclusions 100% and any technical data I could provide would only be re-hashing what he's already written. He also does a good job of explaining the "Beam Splitter Illumination" tech in the MK 8.

    I'll try to provide my thoughts from an end-user perspective. I've been mainly thinking about this optic in an operational role so I apologize in advance if I fail to take into account the LEO perspective.

    On to the notes!



    MECHANICAL CONSTRUCITON AND DESIGN:
    The design, fit and finish live up to the expectations that you would expect from a +$3,000 optic. Again, read BIG JIM FISH's review for a comparison to optics of similar price and features. Optical Clarity is second to none, eye relief and eye box are very generous. I don't know if its a byproduct of optical clarity, but I caught myself shooting with two eyes open at 8x a few times. All turret clicks are positive and audible. Magnification changes are fast and easy to execute as the optic is designed to allow the user's entire hand to grip and rotate the rear housing of the optic. The entire unit feels very robust and durable.

    PRACTICAL USEAGE:
    As I've stated above, the CQBSS seems to be a niche product. It straddles a line between a full blown precision optic, and a 4x / 1-4x variable power optic. I believe that its size and weight prevent it from being an optimal choice on a 5.56 gun, and the fact that its maximum magnification is 8x prevents the CQBSS from being a precise optic for shooting at +800 meters on a long gun. Don't get me wrong, I think that the CQBSS could fill either role in a pinch, but that doesn't seem to be what it was designed to do. I think that the CQBSS was made to live on top of a modern battle rifle. Some kind of 16" - 18" .308 autoloader. Its weight compared to larger optics becomes an advantage when you begin to think about attaching it to a rifle that already weights +13 lbs. Its ability to quickly go from 1.1x - 8x gives the battle rifle shooter the ability to do what their gun was designed to do, which is quickly put large caliber bullets on target from 25 - 800m.

    - Two things really stood out to me on the CQBSS. Those are the glass and the turrets. BIG JIM wrote about the glass, so I'll cover the turrets. Leupold is doing something with the turrets that I haven't seen anywhere else. The elevation (and windage) turret has a user-replaceable ring that simultaneously provides standard 0.1 mil markings, and ballistically calibrating markings. The numbers on the bottom of the ring (see picture below) indicates 0.1 mil increments. The numbers on the top indicate the position to turn the dial in order to impact at specific distances. MY CQBSS came with a ring calibrated for a 178gr .308 bullet. The optic is zero'ed at 100m so the "1" marking is my zero. The "2" is center impact at 200m, "3" at 300m, and so on. This system is interesting in that it allows the shooter to operate quickly (Not optimally) without a dope card, but still provides the ability to use .mil adjustments as one normally would. It also gives the user the advantages of having a ballistically calibrated optic, with little extra cost. If the user switches ammunition types, only a relatively inexpensive ring needs to be replaced v. a complete reticle or turret change.
    - The turrets are also well thought out from the perspective of an end-user in a field environment. When fully "set" the turrets only offer a single rotation (10 mils) of adjustment, with an additional 0.2 mils of adjustment below zero, baked in for good measure. In order to achieve more adjustment or adjust zero, the user only needs to loosen two allen screws (per turret), pull up, and re-tighten the screws. This allows for two (I seem to remember it being two) full rotations of the turret. If the user wants to re-zero the rifle, the user sets the turrets in the "up" position, finds the zero, loosens the allen screws allowing the turret to spin freely, align the "zero" marker with the centerline of the optic, push down, and re-tighten the allen screws.
    - I wanted to highlight this because throughout the entire process, I never had to remove the turret housing or expose the more sensitive parts of the optic to the elements. To me, this is a highly desirable feature because it means adjustments can be made quickly and with relatively little risk in an operational environment. I've also not seen this kind of design on many optics. Some Leupold Mk6, and Schmidt and Benders have a similar feature, and I think those turrets are equally as impressive. I also appreciate the beefy allen screws that Leupold decided to use on the turrets.



    PROS and CONS:
    I've already written about what I think this optic does right, and honestly I have a hard time coming up with negatives. Below are thoughts that I had wile using the optic. They are relatively minor and nit-picky, but I figured I would mention them anyways.
    - I had to come further off the gun than I normally do in order to visually confirm that I've turned the dial to the appropriate marking. I suspect this is because the turrets (and subsequently the markings) sit so close to the optic tube, compared to standard long range optics. A nice unintentional benefit of the Larue mount is that because the center line of the rings are vertical and not horizontal, the centerline point where the two ring halves meet is directly in line with the CQBSS' centerline marking. This means that in order to visually confirm that I've made the correct rotation, I only have to line up the center of the marking with the center of the larue mount, and I don't need to come off the gun to do that (I've tried to capture this relationship in the picture above).
    - The pinch-to-rotate feature is convenient and fast but I sometimes found myself using my standard turret grip, and not being able to pinch each half of the turret. I eventually found a method of gripping that worked every time, but it required some experimentation and re-training.
    - I appreciate the large allen screws in the turret housings, but it would be awesome if Leupold could somehow allow the turrets to be adjusted by a tool more common than the included allen wrench.
    - To my knowledge, Leupold only offers BCD rings for 69gr 5.56 and 178gr .308 bullets. It would be great if they offer fully custom rings in the future.

    CONCLUSION:
    In the case of the CQBSS, I don't think the price is a negative factor. Its a a fantastically executed piece of optical engineering and design. You get what you pay for in this optic, and compared to other optics in its class, I think that the price is reasonable. The big drawback, and maybe the only drawback, is inherent in its design. I've mentioned the role I think excels in, and as long as the end user has this in mind, the QCBSS is an outstanding choice. Once the user starts to push it outside of that role, they may begin to suspect that they could get more utility in some other optical solution, for less money.




    PS.
    Although I think it would be completely overkill on my LVOA-S, I'm very much looking forward to throwing the CQBSS on top of it, just to see how things work out.

    PSS.
    I also think this would be a good optic for a lightweight, compact bolt-gun. As seen in the configuration I've been testing the optic with.

  2. #2
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    Where and how do you get these turret rings? I need some made for a mk6 to my dope specs. Doesn't the mk6 have similar?

  3. #3
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    *edit*

    Emailed the custom shop and it looks like they can make turret rings based on whatever load you want. They need:

    - Caliber
    - Bullet Weight
    - Type of bullet
    - Muzzle Velocity
    - Average elevation above sea level (where used) Average temperature (where used) Mounted scope height (center of bore to center of scope) Ballistic Coefficient of the bullet being used
    - Zero distance


    I don't know if they offer BDC rings for the Mk6 but it seems like it would be possible on M5B2 turrets.

  4. #4
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    Update on the TMR reticle after some extended usage:

    For some reason, I've recently been having a discussions about the rationale behind different reticle designs and speficially, the benefits of different aiming point designs.

    The Bushnell ERS I have uses a single dot as its central aiming point, some ACOGS use the tip of a triangle/chevron, and some (or most) optics use the intersection of two stadia lines to form a crosshair.

    The theory behind the shift from a crosshair design to a chevron/triangle is that in a crosshair, small targets at long distances tend to become obscured by the stadia lines. Some people also report a slight blurring of the distant target when a crosshair is placed over it.

    The tip of a chevron has a smaller central point v. a stadia line. In theory and in practice it produces less obscuration and blurring when placed over a distant target.

    A similar idea can be applied to the dot in the ERS v. a stadia line. The difference being that the dot still produces obscuration and blurring, but the size of the dot is smaller than a stadia line, and there is an open area surrounding the dot that in practice reduces obscuration and distortion compared to a solid line.

    The TMR reticle in the CQBSS approaches the problem in a slightly different way. Leupold has opted to completely remove any kind of aiming point in the center of their reticle. See picture below:



    In theory it may seem counter-intuitive to remove an aiming point from an optic, but in practice it works pretty well. The brackets on either side of the reticle are close enough that the user can accurately intuit where the stadia lines would intersect if they were solid.

    This design leaves the target free of any obscuration and distortion.

    The focus seems to be a double edge sword. On one hand, I was able to more easily pick shot placement and apply the "aim small, miss small" concept. A down side I noticed is that I was actually able to focus in TOO easily (in my opinion). At the highest magnification, when taking careful aimed shots, I fell into tune vision very quickly. Tunnel vision so severe that I couldn't tell what was happening three to four feet around the point I was focusing on. For example if I was aiming at the torso of a person, and they had their arms outstretched to either side with their fingers held out to transmit numbers, 75% of the time my focus would be so tight that I wouldn't be able to remember how many fingers were being displayed.

    I'm also unsure as to how useful this reticle design would be at magnifications higher than 8x. The reason the hollow center works well is because are close enough to allow the user to mentally connect the lines. In an FFP optic, at higher magnifications, the perceived distance between the lines would be greater, and it would likely become more difficult to accurately connect the lines.

    After using the MK8 some more, I'm still of the opinion that its is a very well thought out but relatively niche system.

  5. #5
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    It's a very nice optic but when I used one on the same day as a S&B short dot the better glass was immediately apparent with the Short dot.

    Of course the Short dot had none of the bells and whistles the Mk8 did but for optical clarity and brightness the difference was more than subtle.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by schambers View Post
    *edit*

    Emailed the custom shop and it looks like they can make turret rings based on whatever load you want. They need:

    - Caliber
    - Bullet Weight
    - Type of bullet
    - Muzzle Velocity
    - Average elevation above sea level (where used) Average temperature (where used) Mounted scope height (center of bore to center of scope) Ballistic Coefficient of the bullet being used
    - Zero distance


    I don't know if they offer BDC rings for the Mk6 but it seems like it would be possible on M5B2 turrets.
    Thank-you. I have ordered 3 BDC turrets. The price is $80/ea, and the people who take the order are very competent. They verify G1 or G7, and a host of other factors as stated, and they don't act like they are monkeys plugging numbers into a blank space. Switched on people, and +1 to Leupold's custom shop!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SINNER View Post
    It's a very nice optic but when I used one on the same day as a S&B short dot the better glass was immediately apparent with the Short dot.

    Of course the Short dot had none of the bells and whistles the Mk8 did but for optical clarity and brightness the difference was more than subtle.
    I do not think European glass can be beaten. My K16i dominated my MK6 for glass quality. That said, the K16i got itself sold and the MK6 hasn't. I guess that's unfair, as the MK6 was a gift, and I don't pawn those kinds of gifts, but still, there is nothing that I would trade my MK6 for...because features. The MK8 has features, as well, but I truly feel the H27D is the only reticle it should be ordered with. Sadly, whip out yo wallet! Also, it is a bit fat, at 24.x ounces, compared to the MK6's 17oz. That's half a pound of optic! If Leupold put the H27D in the MK6, they wouldn't sell any more MK8's, is my theory.

    That said, I am very curious how Leupold is going to keep up with the new 1-8's coming to market next year. Leupold recently has been putting out some GREAT! products in their tactical line, and I hope they are not resting on their laurels.

    OP: Is it true that the TMR is not daylight visible?

  8. #8
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    short answer is that the TMR is daylight visible.

    Long answer is that the illumination used in the MK 8 is not like other similar optics, in that the light is not projected like a red dot, so it doesn't "pop out" like a red dot. Instead, the end result is closer to how an ACOG looks.

    for a full technical description you can read Big Jim's review. Its linked in my original post.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JGifford View Post
    If Leupold put the H27D in the MK6, they wouldn't sell any more MK8's, is my theory.
    I'm a big fan of hold-over / christmas tree / Horus style reticles, too, and it's the main reason I don't own any Leupold scopes at the moment, even though I generally like most other things about them. However, the new "Illuminated Impact-29 MOA" reticle on the new VX-6HD 3-18x44 scope from Leupold has caught my eye for my AR308 (i'm looking to spend up to $1,200-ish). Unfortunately it's a SFP scope, though. At that price point, though, I can get a NF SHV F1 4-14x50 but that has neither the reticle I want nor the magnification I'm looking for. I'd like to get around 18 or 20x at the high end. I don't think I really need 25X and I'm not sure 14x gives that much more over what I already have with my 10x scopes. Sig is also bring a Christmas tree reticle to their Tango 6 3-18x line, but those are still so new to the market that I'm a little nervous.

    So back to the new VX-6HD - it looks like a nice package for my needs/wants, with FFP being the only lacking feature, but I'm not sure how important that really is to me anyway. They just hit the market so I'm waiting to see some reviews. Oh, the other think I like about the VX-6HD is the weight. I expect to take this rifle hunting, so I'm looking to keep the weight down and don't mind dropping some of the "tactical" features.

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