To Top It Off

Ruff's Precision Rifle and Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter Ammo

To Top It Off

With a rifle Coues tag in my pocket, and a custom rifle in my hands, I was in need of a riflescope to top it off.

by Darren Choate

Ruff's Precision Rifle and Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter AmmoHunting Coues deer, and more precisely, shooting at Coues deer is a complicated and challenging feat. First, the target is small, we’re talking about a 100-pound animal with a body that isn’t much more than 12-inches, top to bottom, which means a kill zone of less than that. Second, Coues deer reside in steep, rugged, high desert terrain where getting close might mean to within 300-yards, but probably means 500-plus-yards. Lastly, Coues deer, especially bucks have the innate ability to disappear quickly in their environment; thus their nickname, The Grey Ghost. For the Coues hunter to be successful, he/she needs a capable rifle, some shooting skills, and luck on their side.

This past year, I was successful in the Arizona draw, drawing a late-November Coues tag in central Arizona. After drawing the tag, I talked to the guys at Ruff’s Precision Rifles, who ended up building me a custom 6.5 Creedmoor on their proprietary action for the hunt. While they were busy putting the rifle components together, I searched for the right riflescope to top it off.

The criteria I set were the following.

  1. High-power, 20+
  2. 50mm objective
  3. Adjustable elevation settings
  4. Ease of use
  5. Dependability

Leupold CDS DialsAfter researching thoroughly, I selected the Leupold VX-3i, 8.5-25 x 50 with a CDS dial set specifically for the rifle and the  Hornady Precision Hunter 143-grain ELD-X ammunition I would be shooting. I was prepared for a shot opportunity out to 800-yards, and the 25-power would be sufficient at that distance; however, I hoped for a much closer shot opportunity. In my experience, shots as Coues deer often come at first or last light, and I knew the 50mm objective combined with the excellent glass and coatings of the Leupold would provide ample light gathering. Although I am not the most expert or skilled shooter by any stretch of the imagination, I also knew that to make a long-range shot, I needed to be able to dial-in to an exact range to make the shot, and the CDS dial provided that necessity. All-in-all, I was comfortable with the ease of use of the CDS dial, and the power selector to set the distance and power quickly during any chaotic Coues situation. I own several Leupold scopes and they have always been dependable for my uses.

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, I was also faced with high winds, approaching 30-MPH gusts. The equipment I chose worked as advertised, and even in the unfavorable shooting conditions, I was able to make the needed shots count. As it turned out, luck was also on my side, and I was able to harvest a 100-inch Coues buck with a shot of less than 400-yards, and a follow-up shot just under 200-yards.

!00-inch Coues buck.
The author used a Ruff’s Precision Rifle with Hornady Precision Hunter 143-grain 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, topped off with a Leupold VX-3i 8.5-25 x 50 riflescope to harvest this 100-inch Coues buck.

Leupold VX-3i Riflescopes

Leupold VX-3i Riflescope

Versatile magnification ranges and an attractive new look make the Leupold VX-3i riflescopes ideal for hunting and competition. The aggressively redesigned power selector is easy to grasp and turn and allows the shooter to quickly verify the power setting even with gloved hands. The Twilight Max Light Management System delivers the highest average light transmission in all colors with emphasis on the blue and red portions of the light spectrum for exceptional low light performance and contrast in all conditions. Edge blackened lenses reduce diffusion and glare to improve resolution and contrast. Second generation Argon/Krypton gas more effectively resists thermal shock and the dual spring precision adjustment system ensures match grade repeatability and strength. Top it all off with DiamondCoat 2™ external lens coatings for scratch resistance and you can see why the VX-3i is the first, last, and only name in riflescopes. As always, each Leupold Gold Ring riflescope is factory tested to be the ultimate in ruggedness, reliability and absolute waterproof integrity. Covered by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee.

For more information on Leupold’s VX-3i riflescope lineup visit,

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