US Optics Scopes

14 March 2001
By Mike Miller

US Optics is a custom scope manufacturer. The company's goal is to produce the toughest, most versatile scopes on the market. I have seen the scopes hammer nails, get thrown across the room, and generally take abuse that would ruin a rifle. The scopes took the abuse and continued to function. In short, US Optics scopes take and seem to thrive on abuse. That is the start of any great sniper scope.

The next thing a scope has to do is see well. That is where the US Optics scopes really start to shine. They have lenses that see better than the human eye does. What that means is that you will be able to see longer after dark, and more clearly in all conditions. This translates into better shooting, better target identification abilities, and better groups.

The owner and designer of US Optics is Dr. John B. Williams. He has been in the optics business for many years. Dr. Williams is a master of invention and holds many patents. The company makes everything from entry weapons to ultra-long-range night vision scopes. I have had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Williams and spending a day at his facility. That was a great day. I was able to see the US Optics scopes being made and test US Optics products against other scopes on an optics testing bench.

You can read many articles about different scopes and come away with the feeling that everything is equally good. This is not so. Many riflescope companies, or should I say almost all optics companies, market scopes that you can see well with under ideal conditions. These ideal conditions are at the gun store parking lot and on a nice range day. Problems only become evident when you use them in the real and ugly world - the one where the light is almost non-existent and the rain almost drowns you. That is where sniper scopes need to work, but so few perform well under these conditions.

Most riflescope manufacturers do not actually make their scopes. What happens is they have the scopes made for them in another place, that place usually being Asia. That can be good and bad: good because labor is cheap there, but bad because the companies lose control of the product. Quality control becomes a major issue if you do not supervise the scopes being put together. US Optics makes their scopes in southern California, and Dr. Williams supervises every step of production.

It has been said that US Optics has more options than a Chevy dealer, and I agree. To get any scope they make you start off by reading through their catalog. The catalog should be called a scope guide, as it has many information-crammed pages. When you read the catalog you learn many things about riflescopes. Options listed range from main tube diameter, lens grade, reticle, color of finish, adjustment type, and diameter of the objective lens. The details of the options available would take far too much space for this article. The catalog costs ten dollars and is well worth the money.

If you order an unusual scope from US Optics, be warned that custom takes time. A year is about what to expect, so be patient. Most standard items can be made in 90-120 days or less. That is what perfection and the ability to order something exactly the way you want it takes. Since US Optics is the only scope company I know of that allows you to design your own scope, this seems to be about the right amount of time. Looked at in another way, you have to wait six months for a rifle stock and a year for a custom rifle.

I tested four scopes from US Optics: the SN3 1.8-10x44mm, the SN3 3.2-17x58, the fixed SN6 10x44mm, and the new BRX 3.8-22x46mm. All of these scopes are available with many different reticle options. I chose the standard mil-dot with optional battery-operated lit reticle.

SN3 1.8-10x44mm

This model comes in tube diameters of 30mm, 35mm and 40mm. I chose the 35mm with shorter turrets - as it gave over 100 minutes of travel - in a compact package. The model with taller turrets has 120 minutes of internal adjustment. Either turret model can be equipped with an adjustable lit reticle. Or, you can opt for the 40 mm tube, longer turrets, and over 200 minutes of travel.

I absolutely loved this scope. The adjustments were smooth and precise. The optics were the best of any police sniper scope in this power range that I have ever used. I could find no distortion and the lenses were clear to the extreme edges. I liked the adjustable lit reticle feature. It allows you to dim the reticle for night vision compatibility or increase intensity for very dark nights. Usually the limiting factor in urban police sniping is the reticle being too dim to see. The US Optics lit reticle feature cures the problem.

This scope has found a home on a work rifle. It will serve the police and military sniper equally well. I dropped, smashed, and banged this scope many times without a problem. I highly recommend it for police and military alike.

SN3 3.2-17x58mm

This scope is designed for long-range weapons. Resolution of the optics is as good as your eyes can see. Light transmission is so good, US Optics offers a light reducer for bright days. I chose the same reticle and turret arrangement as the 1.8-10x44mm model. Quality was equal in all respects.

This is an ideal low-light or extreme-range scope. You can choose options that allow over 300 minutes of adjustment. This scope will also serve you well in both long-range police and military applications. I prefer an objective smaller than 58mm for field use, but that same 58mm objective allows tremendous light transmission. You can see well enough in a typical city and under many moonlight conditions in the field that you can get away without the use of night vision devices in most circumstances.

BRX 3.8-22x46mm

This scope is a new design. It was made with the goal of making a 46mm objective see as well as a 58mm. They reached the goal. There is a trade off, though, as the scope is about one inch longer than the SN3 3.2-17x58mm. It's a fine choice for an extreme-range rifle, such as a .338 Lapua Magnum. I prefer a more compact scope for field use, but the length is the only draw-back I could find. It performed flawlessly in all tests. I had trouble telling it from my SN3 3.2-17x58mm (set at the same power) in abilities. It is truly a benchrest scope dream!

SN6 10x44mm

This is a fixed power scope and comes with or without an adjustable objective. I prefer the adjustable objective for all-around long range shooting. This is an ideal scope for field use. It is built like a tank and the optical quality is truly outstanding. This scope is currently being evaluated by US Military units. U.S. Optics has, in fact, contracted to make prototypes for the U.S.M.C. They will also be making the Unertl 10x the Corps now uses, and have an order to service the older units that are currently in use.

All of the scopes were tested in a manner that the word abuse does not do justice to. They were smacked, dropped, dragged, and soaked. I tried to make them break, but I lost the battle. My hands, back, and knees gave out before the scopes. They were easy to use and the adjustments were repeatable, precise, and solid. No mushy clicks or jumping of the reticle, just a micrometer with lenses. The love and attention given while the scopes were produced truly shows in the US Optic line. I would recommend US Optic scopes to anyone serious about long-range shooting.

For more information contact:

US Optics
5900 Dale Street
Buena Park, Calif. 90621

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