Good Gear: Leupold’s Freedom RDS Red Dot Sight

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC

I’ve owned the Leupold Freedom RDS red dot sight for years, since it first came out back in late 2019. I’ve used it off and on and it’s always worked well for me. But for some reason, I never took it out and really “stretched its legs,” spending much time shooting it in the way it’s intended. That changed on Wednesday.

Leupold makes two versions of the Freedom RDS. The base model has a 1 MOA red dot and standard windage and elevation adjustments like any red dot. The RDS BDC model has an elevation turret that’s pre-calibrated for 5.56/.223 55 grain ammo at 3100 fps. If you like to shoot a different load, Leupold’s Custom Dial System lets you get a dial calibrated for your favorite load.

The point of the BDC model is that it lets you dial your distance anywhere from 100 to about 550 yards and be right on target. That’s something other 1X red dots don’t do.

Like every Leupold optic we’ve ever shot, the RDS BDC is built like a tank, this one with a 34mm tube. You can get the base model alone, or Leupold sells it and the BDC version pre-mounted in their own beefy three-notch AR mount. Like all of Leupold’s optics, it’s nitrogen purged with a fog- and water-resistant coating that has excellent clarity and light transmission. The quality of Leupold’s glass is second to none in our experience.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC

The American-made RDS BDC is obviously larger and more substantial than a standard open reflex-type red dot and, accordingly, weighs more. Unmounted, the sight is 7.1 ounces. In the Leupold mount, the unit weighs 13.1 ounces.

I mounted the Leupold Freedom RDS BDC on my Stag Arms SPCTRM rifle and zero’d it at 100 yards. Once that’s done, you’re very much good to go.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC
Once it’s zero’d, just dial the distance and pull the trigger.

It literally couldn’t be easier. If you’re shooting at 400 yards, spin the dial to 4, aim and pull the trigger. The 1 MOA dot is designed to let you see your target at those longer ranges.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC
Brightness is adjusted by pressing the rubberized Leupold logo button on the left side of the RDS BDC.

The red dot is powered by a standard 2032 battery held in a housing on the left side. Brightness is adjusted both up and down by pressing the rubberized Leupold logo.

You’ll either like that or you won’t. Most people prefer adjusting dot or reticle brightness via a dial, preferably one with off positions between each setting. The Freedom RDS isn’t night vision compatible.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC

Jeremy and I took the rifle out to the long range at Copperhead Creek Shooting Club in Marble Fall, Texas to see what’s possible with a 1X red dot.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC
We tested the 1X Leupold RDS out to 600 yards…and actually hit what we were shooting at.

The zero’d RDS BDC works just as designed…and better than we expected. The Copperhead Creek range is laid out at 100 yard increments from 100 to 600 yards.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC
The Leupold RDS with BDC isn’t small, but you can do things with this 1X red dot you can’t with standard open reflex sights.

The 1 MOA dot ensures you can see your targets at most distances. We were shooting at steel gongs and small silhouettes. The dot didn’t really obscure the target until we got out to 400 yards. But even then we were getting more hits than misses.

Shooting bulk American Eagle XM193 ammo — exactly the bullet weight and velocity the Leupold RDS BDC is designed for — we consistently dialed and hit steel as far as 500 yards.

While the dial is only calibrated to about 550 yards, we used a little holdover and went for the 600 yard targets. Even on a breezy day, with a dot that obscured most of the 2’x3′ target we were aiming at, we got hits between a third and half the time. And our misses right around the target.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC
Jeremy reaching out at 300 yards.

Then we tried it offhand. Hits at 200 yards were pretty consistent and hit-or-miss at 300 yards.

Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight RDS with BDC

All in all, we were pretty surprised by what the Leupold RDS with the BDC feature is capable of. I’d forgotten what this sight was designed to do and had let it sit in my safe for too long. No more. This optic makes your AR amazingly effective at an impressive range of distances.

Specifications: Leupold Freedom Red Dot Sight

Magnification: 1x
Reticle: 1 MOA dot
Length:5.4 inches
Weight: 7.2 ounces (13.1 ounces with mount)
Battery: 2032
Battery Life: 1000 hours (avg)
Motion Sensor Auto Off: Yes
Brightness Settings: 8
Objective Lens Diameter: 34mm
Price: $399 BDC w/mount (non-BDC model = $299, non-BDC w/o mount $279)




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