Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4×20 Scope Review

Looking for a variable-power, high-quality scope for your AR-15?  Consider the Mark AR series of rifle scopes from Leupold.  These scopes offer extremely clear optics, excellent magnification and the durability you need when taking a rifle into the field.

leupold mark ar 1.5-4x20

I had a chance to test a Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4×20 with the company’s integrated mounting system recently, and I have been pleased with its performance.

In the Mark AR series, Leupold offers four different magnification scopes:

  • 1.5-4x 20
  • 3-9x 40
  • 4-12x 40
  • 6-18x 40

The glass was extremely clear with no visible imperfections, distortions or clouding.  As a long time photographer, I have a deep appreciation for good glass.  This Mark AR scope was as clear as any I’ve ever used.

Adjustments were easy.  With the help of a friend, I was able to quickly dial the scope in and get rounds on paper.  Once dialed in, the groups were very nice indeed.

Reticles vary with models, but on the 1.5-4x version two reticles are available: a duplex (crosshair) reticle and a Firedot-G SPR reticle.  The Firedot-G SPR is an illuminated reticle that can be turned on and off, plus allows the shooter to cycle through various brightnesses.  The Firedot-G SPR carries a $125 premium.

leupold mark ar 1.5-4x20mm

I had the Leupold mounted to a Rock River LAR-15 with a flat top receiver and a folding front sight.  The rifle is chambered for 5.56 NATO and has a 1:9” twist 16” barrel.  I have generally gotten 1” – 1.75” groups from it depending on the load.

I shot four different loads through the gun:  Remington .223 55 grain FMJ, Corbon .223 53 grain DPX, Hornady .223 55 grain TAP FPD and the Hornady 5.56 NATO 55 grain GMX.  All loads averaged about 1.5 – 1.75”.  The best performer of the lot was the Hornady TAP with a five shot group just over 1.25”.

Initially, I mounted the scope too far to the rear on the receiver.  It was fine in this position for shooting, but it made reaching the charging handle difficult.  Rookie mistake.  I later moved the scope to the front of the Picatinny rail to give more clearance for the charging handle.

leupold mark ar mod 1 review

The eye relief on the scope was such that moving it forward did not negative impact my ability to use the scope in a natural position.  According to Leupold, the measured eye relief is 4.1” on the lowest magnification to 3.7” on the highest magnification.

The 1.5x magnification on the low end did not bother me as much as it does some people.  I was able to transition from target to target without a problem.  That said, I would still prefer a 1x (non-magnification) on the low end.  The 1.5x could cause slight hesitation from visual confusion when rapidly transitioning between close targets under stress.


  • magnification: 1.5 – 3.9x
  • objective size:  20mm
  • waterproof, fogproof
  • 1” maintube
  • lifetime warranty
  • MSRP $374.99 – $689.99

leupold mark ar review

There are a lot of choices and price-points when it comes to optics for your rifle.  It really pays to do your homework and understand what kind of scope will work for your needs.  If you need a variable power scope for your AR-15, the Leupold Mark AR series is definitely worth consideration.  Click here to get the best price for the scope on Amazon.

Ed. note:  I am doing a long-term test of the Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4×20 scope.  I will have several additional follow up posts about this ongoing scope review.

About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing in Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, on The Firearm Blog and at BlueSheepdog.

  • Aaron

    Love Leupold scopes, just wish they had a price line that was a little more obtainable for most of us.

    What kind of hand guard is that?

    • http://www.GunsHolstersAndGear.com Richard

      That’s the Uber Tactical Operator Handguard 2000 with Carbon-Kevlar NanoTube reinforcement. All the real operators use them. 😉

      Truthfully, I don’t know. I bought this rifle second-hand. It is a Rock River upper and lower with a mix of parts. It shoots better than I thought it would. It is a little heavier than I would want for patrol and such, but for range shooting it works very well.

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  • George S.

    Looks like a great scope. I’d rather have a 3-9x though and just a non-magnifying red dot for close up stuff.

  • Tammi

    Is that an original M16 flash hider on there? Awesome. That Leupold sounds good but it sure isn’t cheap. I guess you get what you pay for.

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