Find out if a new LUCID L5 Rifle Scope would fit for your needs.
By Jeremy S via The Truth About Guns
At SHOT Show this January I begged, borrowed, or bought a few goodies that came home in my suitcase. The two that I was most excited about were the MagnetoSpeed V3 Chronograph and the subject of this review, LUCID’s L5 6-24×50 Rifle Scope, both of which you can expect to see making cameos in all sorts of other reviews into the future. The L5 is supposed to be a stout, high-quality optic geared towards long range shooting, while impacting your wallet significantly less than the competition. After shooting with it quite a lot over the last ~5 months on a handful of different rifles, I’d say…
LUCID hit its target with the L5. Quality features and functionality plus a lifetime warranty all at an MSRP of $449 (“street price” more like $370 shipped). Sure, there are some pain points that wouldn’t be found in a truly premium optic, but it’s available for a fraction of the cost of one and, in my case, the numbers work out just right. Naturally, we’ll cover both the good and the bad here to see if it might suit the bill for anybody else.
The L5 is built on a single-piece, 30mm aluminum tube. It is waterproof (fully submersible), nitrogen purged for fogproofing, and rated for up to .338 Lapua Magnum. Lenses are fully broadband multi-coated, and LUCID claims light transmission of 92%.
It’s adjustable for parallax from 15 yards to infinity, and the diopter can adjust reticle focus for your eyesight from -2 to +1.5.
Eye relief is between 4.25″ and 3.25″ and exit pupil ranges from 8.3mm at low zoom down to 2mm at full, 24x zoom.
LUCID’s L5 reticle, which is also used on its 4-16×44 scope, is pretty clean and simple, but offers a fair bit of ranging and hold information. As it’s a second focal plane reticle, its size does not change at all with the adjustment of the scope’s zoom level. Therefore, the “key” seen above is only valid at full zoom. The benefits of this are maintaining fine, precise dots and dashes throughout the zoom range, and significantly more holdover capability at lower zoom levels. Drawbacks are, as mentioned, the MOA measurements are only “known” at full zoom although, sure, you could figure it out for other specific zoom levels if you wanted to.
Tactical style turrets are lockable and re-zeroable. Click values are a precise 1/8 MOA. Maximum adjustment range for windage and for elevation is 50 MOA. With a 50mm objective lens and a telescope-like 24x max zoom, long range shooting is definitely on the table.
On The Range
I sighted in the L5 on my go-to AR-15 with American Eagle 5.56, then used the provided Torx wrench to loosen the bolt in each turret, lift it up off its spline, and set it back down with the “0” aligned with the witness dot. Zeroed. It’s really nice to have turrets that are capable of this, as now when I adjust it to accuracy test other guns in other calibers, I can easily return it back to zero and it’s shooting straight on my AR again.
That said, the holdover marks are still very handy. When shooting a Shaolin Rifleworks .300 BLK carbine, which is currently in for testing, at 100 yards, I was able to zero it for supersonic ammo and use a consistent hold down the BDC dots to account for the ~14-to-20 inch lower point of impact for subsonic loads. Hitting a 4″ pepper popper at 100 yards while alternating sub/supersonic ammo was easily accomplished without touching the turrets. In a case like this, the second focal plane reticle is helpful. Were the distance any farther with a supersonic-zeroed scope, the drop of subsonic rounds would be off the reticle at full zoom. Back off the zoom and the reticle holdover marks equate to more POI movement downrange, putting you back in the holdover game without touching your zero.
The paid version of the Strelok ballistic calculator app includes LUCID’s L5 reticle, which is really handy if you’re using the L5 and shooting at varying distances for which you don’t have a known dope. It will actually show you where on the reticle to hold the target to account for variables such as distance, wind, elevation, temperature, angle, etc, or how much adjustment to dial in should you want to re-zero and center the target for current conditions.
Light transmission and clarity is quite good, but not premium. It’s noticeably better than with all of the cheap scopes I’ve played with over the years, but it isn’t what you get from a $1,500 to $3,000 optic.
Diopter adjustment worked well for my slightly weaker, no-longer-20/20 right eye and I was able to effectively dial in a crisp, clear reticle. Parallax adjustment was also effective and it was fast and easy to tune out any hint of parallax from ranges too close to warrant a 6x scope out to just barely past 200 yards, which is the farthest I’ve shot with the L5 thus far (shooting almost exclusively in a forest doesn’t offer lots of open space).
As is usually the case, the zoom “scale” increases rapidly at some point. On the L5, it’s consistent until 16x, at which point the rest of the zoom range comes much more quickly:
Zoom and parallax adjustment feel smooth and precise. They require enough force to rotate that it isn’t going to happen accidently, but they aren’t as stiff as on some other scopes I’ve used (which often really need a throw lever to operate easily). I love that smooth feeling that you get when two parts are fit very precisely and snugly and it feels like there’s a heavy grease between them. The zoom adjustment in particular feels like that.
Detent clicks on the elevation and windage turrets are not aggressive, but are still sufficiently tactile and audible. They’re relatively clean and precise, but not as sharply defined as on some scopes. I tend to use the markings rather than trying to count clicks. Of course, counting clicks gets you into big numbers with the L5’s fine, 1/8 MOA adjustment. That’s more precise than I actually need, but at extreme range that sort of adjustment precision can come in handy.
I do like the rubber nubs that are inserted into all of the turrets and the zoom adjust collar. They may not look as “premium” as tactical grooves and texturing actually machined into the aluminum, but they feel nice and they work well.
Following Tyler’s lead I did perform a “box test” with the L5, but I screwed it up in cold, morning weather thanks to a POI that shifted as the barrel warmed. I’ll do another test and update the review with that, but can say that I zeroed this scope on my AR-15 and have subsequently shot it on a .308, .300 BLK, and .22 LR, dialing in the POA=POI for each one. Despite requiring multiple full turns of the turrets for the .22 LR and significant adjustment for .300 BLK, the scope has returned right to zero for me each time it was reinstalled on my AR. It is holding up nicely and the return to zero continues to function without fail.
It’s very hard to find an adjustable-zoom optic — whether a rifle scope, spotting scope, binocular, etc — with a high zoom level that maintains light transmission and especially clarity past a certain point in its zoom range. While on a budget, that is. Once again the L5 is much better than the cheapo scopes I’ve used, but it still isn’t a truly premium scope. At around 18x zoom the target is beginning to fuzz a bit, and above 20x it’s getting blurry enough that my eye tries to compensate, which causes issues for precision shooting.
At the risk of going a little TMI here, while my left eye is apparently way above average in its ability to compensate for focus (e.g. I could put on glasses that move focus + or – an unusually large range before my eye wouldn’t be able to adjust for it and keep things sharp and clear), my right eye is a bit below average. When the target gets out of focus and the eye tries to compensate, the reticle then goes out of focus. My right eye doesn’t do a very good job of juggling both of these things. While I could totally hunt deer or hit reactive targets with the L5 on high zoom, the blur is enough that it doesn’t work well for me when attempting to put up the tightest possible groups to test mechanical accuracy of a rifle. Basically, too much time is spent focusing on a precise point of the target. Shooting with both eyes open definitely helps here with focus and eye strain, but I’m not as precise that way.
The solution for me in this case, of course, is to do accuracy testing at a zoom level under 18x. And as <18x is way more than sufficient to shoot extremely precise groups at only 100 yards, even with this limitation the L5 entirely meets my needs.
In fact, 24x zoom is sufficient for really long-range shooting. Like, past 1,000 yards. This brings up a second L5 negative, which is “only” 50 MOA of elevation (and windage) adjustment. That’s more than I need, but likely not enough to really stretch out the range. 50 MOA in a 30mm tube is typical in this price range, but once again a premium optic will offer more adjustment. If you’re wanting to shoot past 500 yards and way beyond, you’ll likely want to purchase a scope mount and/or rifle with an MOA cant already built in. Again, if you back off the zoom then the holdover marks can account for a huge amount of POI compensation, but then you’re making the compromise of backing off the zoom.
LUCID’s L5 is adjustable from 6x to 24x zoom, but begins to lose its otherwise very solid brightness and clarity above ~18x. This isn’t an issue for all users in all scenarios, and the sub-par eyesight in my right eye may mean it’s worse for me than for you, but it pretty much puts that zoom range in the “don’t use” category for me when shooting a rifle for groups.
Even with that caveat, I’m left with a broad range of usable zoom and a rifle scope that I really like in every other way. It has served me wonderfully when switching between different rifles of completely different types, and has been quick and easy to sight in. Return to zero when I move it back to my AR has been much better than I expected. I like the L5’s looks, feel, functionality, and price point for its quality level.
Specifications: LUCID L5 Rifle Scope
MSRP: $449 (going rate: ~$370)
All of the Info:
Ratings (out of five stars):
Feel & Function * * * *
Looks good, and the feel of all of the adjustments is quite nice. Turret clicks could be a touch more defined, but every other adjustment is excellent. Resetting the zero is easy and effective. I like the rubber nubs.
Glass Quality * * *
Probably above average for the price, but once again I’ll just say it isn’t the “premium” optic you’ll find for a couple grand. It’s solid, though, and especially at the lower zoom levels it has plenty of light transmission to see clearly and brightly at dusk and in the shade of dense trees.
Reticle * * * *
I really like how clean, fine, and precise the reticle is. After struggling with one that was simply too thick to align accurately at distance, I’m enjoying the fine lines and small center dot on the L5 reticle. Its availability in at least one ballistics calculating app is nice.
Overall * * * *
Solid optic for the money.