Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO): Just another red dot? No, it’s a Leupold!

Last Updated on January 9, 2021.

Red dots are here to stay, and for a good reason: they are light, simple, durable, and have very little in the way of skills to acquire. They allow even mediocre shooters to reliably engage short range targets with reliable accuracy and predictable results. The market is accordingly inundated with red dots of all shapes, sizes, and price tags. Leupold has weighed in with a little offering of their own, the Leupold Carbine Optic.


  • Very strong monolithic design milled out of billet 6061-T6 aluminum. If any readers here are also kit airplane builder or enthusiasts, they will instantly recognize this as aircraft grade metal
  • Nitrogen filled glass making the unit impervious to water
  • Legendary brand quality, backed by a five year warranty


  • Price point. I have to just lay this one out right here; the company lists the MSRP at over $900, with real-world prices hovering just below $700. Even the Trijicon MRO and the EOTech XPS2, both legitimately considered premium units, sell for $200+ less than the LCO
  • It is built like an armored car, which give peace of mind. It also comes with a stiff weight penalty. While a different style, the Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot is a scant 4 oz
  • Depending upon location, the -20℉-120℉ range may not be adequate; think Fairbanks, of Minot, North Dakota in the winter, or a parked patrol car in Phoenix in the summer

Always the first question I ask myself of any purchase, although I must admit to more leniency when buying gun stuff! As far as red dots go, it is at the highest end of the spectrum, so this one would have to impress me. However, the product just might be able to pull this one off with a litany of notable and unique features.

Scope Review and Breakdown

  • Features
  • Specifications
  • Ease of Use and Reliability
  • Battery Life
  • COST

Besides having the name ‘Leupold’ laser etched on it, the LCO has features which turn my head. It is rated waterproof to 66’. Muy impresionante. Sharing a common thread with the DeltaPoint Pro, it employs the innovative Motion Sensor Technology (MST™) which shuts the unit off after five minutes of inactivity but brings in immediately on when motion is sensed, thus eliminating the scourge of dead batteries.

The feature which I am particularly attracted to is the construction. It is milled from 6061-T6 aluminum, which is genuine, aircraft-grade aluminum. Harkening back to the very basics of marksmanship, the more pieces connecting it to your rifle, the more opportunities for a bit to loosen, go out of adjustment, etc. Any time a unit like this is machined from a solid billet, it will fare better in retaining zero over the long run of storage, movement, and use.

Who is this scope for?

Type of Shooter

Type of Gun

Our Opinion

The RMR is a simple piece of equipment that mounts to just about any firearm and provides a dot that can be easily seen in a variety of lighting. While it is subject to dot washout if you’re also running light on your weapon, that’s a standard issue with red dots that can be mitigated with suppressor sights.

The cost can be prohibitive – this isn’t a cheap product. With a price point that can exceed $500 with the mount, depending on how much you paid for the firearm you put it on, you might pay more for the RMR and corresponding mount than you did for the gun.

That being said, it’s worth the money; it’s light, versatile, and it’ll do what you need it to do. More importantly, it’ll do it for a very long time. With the RMR, you get what you pay for – arguably the best RMR on the market.

Other Options Worth Looking At

I mentioned these a little earlier, and I am going to reiterate the items that I think are really cool right now:

The Trijicon RX34 is a really cool reflex sight, equipped with a 4.5 MOA green dot. Very cool, very sleek, and it wears the Trijicon brand. The RX comes in a little over $550, so almost $150 less than the LCO.
AimPoint Micro T-1. AimPoint was the very first red dot that I ever used (M-68) on an M-4, so I have always liked them. They are accurate, fast, and reliable.

Also, they are pricey. The Micro T-1 is over $700, although you can get into an AimPoint for sub-$400 if you want to consider the AimPoint Carbine Optic (ACO).
The EOTech EXPS3™. EOTech has proven itself completely over the years, and are an undisputed heavyweight in the market. Operators have been using these since the early years of OIF with tremendous success and they have become a mainstay of the market.

Our Other Reviews and Buying Guides

Deltapoint Pro

Leupold vs. Nightforce (view here)

LTO Tracker (view here)