The Original USMC Sniper Scope Goes Public

29 April 2004
By Mike Miller

The USMC has used the same sniper scope for the last twenty years. My first use of this scope came when the scope was fielded on the USMC M40A1 Sniper Rifle. From then on, I wanted one for myself. I contacted Unertl, in 1985, the company that made the scopes for the USMC. Back then Unertl would only sell to the USMC and no individual sales. Damn I was out of luck! That is until recently.

Recently two major things happened that changed the availability of the scopes. Unertl is under new leadership. Recently Rocky Green (Col. USMC Reserve and Vet of Gulf War) obtained ownership of the company. Now the old company was great, but the new company is going to be a major player in the firearms industry for many years to come.

Col. Green is good to go and has upgraded just about every aspect of the company a man could. New facilities and many new ideas. Unertl will be bringing out many new products in the years to come but the first product they are selling is the Original USMC Sniper Scope. I mean original because it is the only scope built to the exact same specifications as John Unertl sold the USMC many years ago. The same scope that has served our country for over twenty years. If you buy the new production scope from Unertl you are purchasing one hell of a scope. They are built by hand, one at a time, just like the originals. No cheap parts or knock-off designs.

I obtained a sample and could not tell it from the original ones I used on M40A1 rifles. I called Col. Green and asked how he did it? The answer was simple: he obtained everything possible from the original US manufacturers of the parts and had the same two guys that built and repaired the USMC scopes build these scopes. Since he had bought all the rights to the scope design and plans, it was fairly simple to get any part made that an original supplier did not exist for. One thing not original is the owner’s manual. The original lacked in directions while this one has the most extensive/best manual I have seen for a riflescope. I asked Col. Green about this and he told me that he had guys, who taught the use of the scope to Marines, write the manual.

Two versions of the scope are made. One with a Ballistic Drop Compensator (BDC) for the 7.62 NATO 118LR round and the other for the 50BMG M33Ball round. The compensator wheels are changeable by the manufacturer. These are the two BDCs currently used by the USMC.

The USMC Scope has a wire MilDot Reticle. The reticle is made by Premiere Reticle Co. Frankly the best in the industry and the original maker for the USMC scopes. It is a fixed ten power, one inch steel main tube, 36mm objective and 32mm ocular lens. The BDC is unique in that it not only allows for the standard range adjustment, it also allows for fine changes to be made without disturbing the range settings. A sniper can quickly dial for any range to one thousand yards, in one hundred-yard increment, and then make fine adjustments of several minutes up, down, right or left. Since the path of a bullet is changed by atmospheric conditions, most BDCs are designed for quick, rough estimations and use an average ballistic trajectory curve for the round. The BDC of the USMC scope allows a sniper to have pinpoint precision under all conditions with the quickness of a BDC. This is truly the best of both worlds.

The USMC Scope, being made of steel, is not light at 1.25 pounds, but it is tough. Under serious abuse the tubes may dent but the optics and internals continue to function. This is one of if not the most durable sniper scopes ever issued to any military! At just about ten inches it is compact. In comparison the M24 scope is approximately thirteen inches. Optic quality is outstanding with the lenses being clear to the edges and the color being correct. Heck with it, the optics are the best in any scope of this size and power I have used. The lenses are made in America, a nice change from many others. The objective is adjustable for Parallax, but only by use of a special wrench. The USMC sets the scopes initially for five hundred yards. The scopes to sell on the open market will have the wrench included. The adjustment is very simple to make and requires no more skill than to zero the rifle. I would like to see a future model with an adjustable Parallax feature and variable power, without the use of special tools. In field use, I cheat and leave my adjustment ring hand tight so I can change as the range changes.

After a few days field-testing this scope, I can honestly say if you want a M40A1 riflescope, this is it. It worked flawlessly. Its a tough and capable as the originals. All USA made and original design!

I finally have my USMC Sniper Scope.

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