Leatherwood CMR Review: Best AR-15 Optic 2013

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The Leatherwood CMR scope tested with the Les Baer Police Special AR-15.
The Leatherwood CMR scope tested with the Les Baer Police Special AR-15.

The Leatherwood CMR (Close Medium Range) scope is tough, versatile and best of all, affordable. Giving it my Best AR-15 Optic for 2013 endorsement was an easy decision.

When Corbett Leatherwood insisted I take a look at his company’s CMR 1-4x scope (Close Medium Range), I admit it was an easy decision. That’s because I’d already reviewed the excellent Leatherwood ART M1000 scope, which turned out to be one hell of a quality product that did exactly what it promised.

The CMR (Close Medium Range) features a very fine reticle, allowing you to shoot very tight groups.
The CMR (Close Medium Range) features a very fine reticle, allowing you to shoot very tight groups.

So I was eager to take a look at the CMR. And it did not disappoint.

But just to make sure the CMR wasn’t afforded any unfair leeway, we set the bar high and mounted it atop a Les Baer Police Special—arguably one of the finest AR-15 style guns on the market. If the broadside of the barn went untouched, it certainly wouldn’t be the fault of the gun.

Leatherwood CMR Review on the Bench

The Leatherwood CMR is a genuine 30mm scope, and the first thing you notice when you pick it up is how rugged it is. I’ve handled a great many scopes in this price range and have never seen one constructed this tough for under $400 dollars. That’s no joke.

Leatherwood CMR review. The build quality on this thing seems on par with optics costing three or four times as much (it is matte black and uses what the company calls a Diamond Tuff14 coating). It’s hefty, at just over 16 ounces, and is about 10 inches in length.

The tube is a 24mm objective, and the power adjustment ring—1-4x—is glass smooth. The external turrets are both ½ MOA and the scope has a really neat ZRO-LOK System, enabling you to return to a rock-solid and easy-to-find zero after making on-the-fly adjustments in the field.

The CMR reticle is very versatile. It has 11 illumination settings, plus Night Vision or NV (to be mated with a separate night vision device). It’s intuitive and fast-pointing—thanks to a ring encircling a precision dot—which seems to enable the mind to naturally gravitate the dot to the target. The Mil-based ranging hash marks are icing on the cake.

Its built-in Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) for 5.56mm and 7.62mm are alone worth the price of admission. What all of these features add up to is one lightning-fast scope—ideal for tactical applications on any AR-15 or AR-10 style carbine, and equally useful on a heavy-caliber dangerous game rifle.

Shooting the Les Baer Police Special with Leatherwood CMR optic.
Shooting the Les Baer Police Special with Leatherwood CMR optic.

Leatherwood CMR at the Range

Any lingering reticence I might have harbored about sticking a scope that retails for $399.00 on a top-of-the-line AR-15 like the Les Baer flew out the window immediately when we shot the combination together.

Les Baer Police Special with Leatherwood CMR scope.
Les Baer Police Special with Leatherwood CMR scope.

At the risk of gloating too much, it’s really not accurate to describe the CMR as a “value optic” because you don’t get any hint that any corners were cut in the making of it.

The scope’s 3-inch minimum eye relief gave a clear and instant field of view while shooting. And the clarity of the glass was superb, with no indication whatsoever of edge distortion.

It only took a few shots to acquire zero; the turrets were precise and had no discernible slack or sloppiness (plus you hear a very audible click when you adjust them, as yet another layer of verification when making quick adjustments).

The reticle’s fine lines are precise—allowing you to wring the most accuracy out of your gun (see photo for the little cluster groups we were able to shoot).

For faster 3-gun or tactical-style shooting, activating the illuminated reticle allows you to really get on target, and quick, against a myriad of varying background colors and lighting in a dynamic environment.

We banged away well into the late-summer afternoon, from close range out to one hundred yards. Both the Les Baer Police Special and Leatherwood CMR kept rounds on target, whether it was from the bench or shot off-hand. We shot slow. We shot fast. And the scope did its job without a hiccup. We shot slow. We shot fast. And the scope did its job without a hiccup.

In fact, this gun and scope combination is so good, so fast and so precise that I’d be remiss if I didn’t come clean about the fact that the equipment exceeded my skill level, and by a country mile. So unlike my ever-wanting shooting skills, I can’t imagine a single thing I’d improve about the Leatherwood CMR. It’s that good.


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