US Optics SN12
Tomorrow's USMC Battle Rifle Scope

23 July 2002
By Mike Miller

SOF was invited to US Optics Headquarters to test a new scope that has been awarded a USMC Contract for advanced testing. US Optics calls the scope the SN12. It is a scope designed to mount to a flat top M16 and more specifically the M4 Carbine.

The requirements were simple:

The requirements may have been simple but our experience made us think twice about the perfection of such a project. Having tested other manufactures' scopes in this class and being disappointed we were frankly skeptical.

When we arrived, the owner of US Optics met with us personally. He was pleasant but professional. He answered all questions and pointed out his scope was competing against several others, and the final contract has not been awarded yet.

We tested the scope for optical resolution (how clear the scope is) against the current issue ACOG. The SN12 was the hands down winner. It did not take years of experience to see the difference. Size and weight were about the same but the SN12 appeared to be built tougher. The question was asked of John "How tough is the SN12?" The reply was simple. He threw it across the parking lot. I explained I had no intention of playing Baseball with it and grabbed it before he could throw it again. Close examination revealed it was still in perfect working order, with some added road rash, but only a field test would show if it worked.

A few days latter in a more civilized place than the Los Angeles Area, I put on my rucksack and headed into the hills. A Colt M16 M4 in hand, with the SN12 Scope (the scope John Williams had thrown across the parking lot) mounted on top. I set targets up at 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 yards. The rifle was zeroed at 200 yards and the BDC was checked for accuracy. It performed well. Center hits out to 600 yards were simple. The BDC is calibrated for 62-grain FMJ. Additional BDC wheels can be purchased for any 7.62 Nato/308 Winchester or 5.56 Nato/223 Remington round. Additionally the scope has more adjustment than needed. It could have had a BDC set up for shots to 800 yards. That may be changed in future models. The contract called for a 600-yard BDC so that's what was given. The scope is capable of far more.

The optical clarity is better than any scope of this type I have tested before. Eye relief was very forgiving and one of the few scopes I have ever used that was capable of Gas Mask use. Gas Masks will play an important role in future conflicts just as they did in WWI. This fact seems to have missed most Battle rifle Scope Manufactures, but not US Optics. Try a gas mask with the new Leupold MK4 CQT scope, I have and was unable to get a sight picture with the Gas Mask and CQT scope but could with the SN12.

The reticule is of the current vogue "Circle Chevron" type and what the USMC specified, but it has the addition of a typical cross hair and with hash marks placed for moving leads. The addition of the cross hairs allows a quick horizontal reference point, something not possible with just a circle dot. This is a nice touch and well thought out.

The choice of reticules in military scopes has been one of debate for years. We have seen "V" shaped things, so fine they disappear in low light. Dots, circles, hash marks, squares and just about every possible shape known, but the end result is two lines crossing with mildots has proven time and time again to be the best all around design for sniper scopes but this is a battle rifle scope of lower power. If a mildot reticule was used in a 3.5 power scope the dots would be so fine, it would be hard to pick up quickly or in low light. This circle chevron with cross hair reticule seems to be the best reticule for this application. The addition of moving target leads and the ability to do ranging was a big plus as few men will stand still on a battlefield or call out their range. The USMC specified this reticule and they did their homework before picking. It works well.

Some will ask, "Why no lit reticule feature?" The answer is simple. The USMC did not want one. It is available from US Optics as an option. Keep in mind, as the USMC did, a lit reticule will light up to all Night Vision devices like a flare. Not the best thing to do when rounds are flying.

Overall about three thousand rounds of ammunition were fired over the course of four months' hard use. The scope maintained zero no matter how many times the BDC was turned back and forth.

The overall impression of the scope is it is the toughest, clearest, best designed fixed power assault riflescope tested to date in the world. My M4 Colt was switched from the ACOG to the SN12 permanently. This was a step not taken lightly as the ACOG rode my assault rifles for five plus years. The US Optics SN12 is the new King of Assault Riflescopes.

For further information contact:

US Optics
5900 Dale Street
Buena Park, CA

Back to Articles