Leupold has developed a new combat optic, the High Accuracy Multi Range riflescope, or HAMR. Look through it and downrange you’ll spot the classic Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight. The HAMR’s 4x magnification matches the most popular ACOG models, including the standard military issue TA31RCO and TAO1NSN models. It features an illuminated “horseshoe” reticle with built-in bullet drop compensator, just like the latest ACOG optics. If that isn’t enough, you can mount a Leupold Delta Point 1x dot sight on top of the HAMR, just as Trijicon puts their RMR dot sight on top of some ACOGs. The HAMR is a clear-cut case of Leupold taking saying “me too” to Trijicon’s concepts, but there are significant differences as well.
Before you dismiss the HAMR as a “copy,” remember this is Leupold we are talking about. They put the latest technology into this scope, including their new Xtended Twilight Lens system. I don’t really understand the math, but Leupold says that most optimized optics transmit as much light as possible in the green wavelength. The human eye is most sensitive to light and shadow in that green wavelength, which is why night vision devices output their displays in green. We could make night vision any color we want, but human beings “see” green best. The problem is, once the sun goes down, the green wavelength is no longer the dominant color of the available light that remains. A blue-violet wavelength takes over during twilight. Leupold’s Xtended Twilight Lens system is a proprietary lens coating that boosts light transmission through the scope in the blue-violet wavelength without sacrificing performance during daytime. On top of that, they’ve added the Diamond Coat 2 ion-assist lens coating for maximum scratch resistance.
The HAMR’s reticle illumination uses a CR2032 battery, and if you have the optional Delta Point mounted on top, it uses its own CR2032 battery. Its reticle has seven brightness settings the user can choose from using a rheostat turret mounted on its right side. The ACOG uses tritium for nighttime illumination, and a fiber optic line feeds ambient light into the reticle by day. Its reticle brightness is self-adjusting depending on the amount of ambient light gathered by its fiber optic tube. Normally this extremely simple setup works very well. However, sometimes the ACOG’s reticle can “wash out” if there is a big difference between the amount of light where the shooter is and where the target is. For example, if a U.S. Marine in a dark room needs to shoot at an insurgent on a sun-scorched street outside, there is nothing he can do to boost his reticle’s illumination. A HAMR user can just crank up the battery power manually. Of course, when the batteries run dry, so does your illumination. The HAMR’s reticle is etched so lack of illumination isn’t a deal-breaker, you can still use it with illumination turned off or a dead battery. The Delta Point requires a battery to have any aiming reference at all. Both optics will turn themselves off after an hour of sitting still, and then instantly light the reticle again as soon as they are moved. That’s a pretty cool trick to minimize wasting batteries, but I can’t find a reference on Leupold’s website to the HAMR’s overall battery life. That’s never a good sign.
How do all these features add up? How does the HAMR perform in real life? I recently compared one to a Trijicon TA31F ACOG side by side. The HAMR is smaller and lighter than the ACOG but still looks plenty tough. The caps covering its adjustment knobs tether to the scope body, like an Aimpoint, so you can’t misplace them. The ACOG should do that. There is a focusing ring on the back, which is a moving part the ACOG doesn’t have. A second ring acts like a jam nut to lock the focusing ring in place once you have it set for your eyes. A one-piece mount puts the HAMR on top of any picatinny rail receiver, so like the ACOG you won’t have to buy a mount or rings.
Optical clarity on the HAMR is so good I was startled. I saw no distortion or chromatic aberration around the edges of the scope and light transmission was excellent. Eye relief lists at 2.71 inches, compared to 1.5 inches for the ACOG, so you don’t have to put your face as close to the HAMR to get a good sight picture. On an AR15 with a “flat-top” railed receiver and collapsible stock, I don’t know if it matters that much—you can probably just mount the ACOG a couple of notches further to the rear or collapse the stock by a single position to compensate. However, looking at the two optics side by side, the eye relief difference is one of the first things I noticed. The HAMR’s reticle is larger than the ACOG’s, but my eye picks up both almost instantly. The HAMR’s sight picture and optical clarity is comparable to the ACOG’s, and I can’t really tell which scope is the easiest to look through. I love the ACOG, so that’s high praise coming from me.
The HAMR copies the ACOG in one last category: price. We currently only have HAMR models without the Delta Point dot sight, and they are $1299. The full setup with both scopes sells for over $1500 from other dealers. That’s just as much as an ACOG, which is both older and more proven. At least one military unit, the Marine Air Guard, is experimenting with the HAMR in combat, but I haven’t heard any feedback yet on how these new optics have held up to Marine abuse. Time will tell!