This scope has a lot of history. Leupold made these in the 90s and for a long time, it was the standard scope that came with the Remington M700 police sniper rifle package sold to countless LE departments across the country. The scope is the Leupold VARX-III 3.5x-10X tactical with mil-dot . It has a one inch tube and comes with the target turrets used on most target and varmint optics from that time.
Adjustments are 1/4 inch per click with 60 clicks in one full rotation. Being a leupold, the adjustments are solid, repeatable and accurate.This scope is over 20 years old and it has not failed me. The turrets have set screws that can be loosened to reset the turret to have the index line and the “0” line up where you want to set it. You can also remove the turrets and replace them with a large version that can not be covered by the turret protective caps that screw on and protect the turrets. If you don’t like either of these, leupod will install the M1 tactical turrests for $130 yankee dollars.
The scope comes with the tactical mild dot reticle. The glass is clear as is usual for leupold.
The power is 3.5x at the low end and 10x at the max end. The power ring is also marked like all variX-IIIs in that you can use magnification and the reticle to range a target within hunting distances. Not needed with a mil-dot, but was marked anyway.
It is a long way from the ultra modern long range tactical optics found today with its once inch tube and no side focus knob or illuminated reticle. It does have enough internal adjustment for long range shooting. It has a reticle that is useful still especially for those of us older guys who grew up with it and not the various christmas tree reticles now popular. It is a tough and dependable optic so much so that I still use it on my MK12 MOD1 and have no plans of replacing it.
Mounted on the most excellent Larue SPR base it is a favorite combo for me. If you see one some where used at a good deal I give it my highest recommendation. Even if its too”cold” or not tactical enough for you, or you are ashamed to show it at the gun prom it would still serve you perfectly in any thing you see fit.
This week we are gonna look at the Diamonback 20x-60x 80mm spotting scope. One thing I notice about a lot of people who start getting serious about their precision shooting or long range shooting is they don’t realize how important a decent spotting scope can be.
Yeah, a lot of modern rifle scopes are pretty amazing. They have limits though. That’s when you need a spotting scope. You get more magnification, you get a clearer picture, you get the ability to see holes in targets at ranges you can’t discern with your rifle optic, you get the ability to have a spotter who can read conditions, spot your shot and make more detailed examinations of an area. Last but not least, you can look at something without having to point your gun at it.
I got the Vortex optic a few years ago because it was a great deal. It had features I wanted and I had been hearing a lot about optics from the company and wanted to give something from them a try.
Specs on the optic.
Fully Multi-coated-antireflective lenses
Nitrogen purged with O-ring seals
Dielectric Coating ( whatever that is )
The spotting scope is a 15.7 inches long and weighs about 46 oz. The eye relief is 20-16.5mm. The exit pupil is 4.0-1.3mm.
As you can see the ring and mount lets you attach it to camera type tripods and it can be loosened to allow you to turn the optic inside the ring. This way if you like the eye piece at the 6 o’clock position or 3 or 9 or some where in between you can. Most handy when shooting from prone and wanting to just lean over and take a peak.
The spotter doesn’t come with it’s own tripod but it does come with a carrying case that allows you to unzip each end and use the optic without removing it. It is nothing special though so I ain’t even gonna bother to show it to you. Think cheap black nylon and gun shows with beef jerky.
The top knob allows for focus and the rear eye piece is of course adjustable for magnification and the usual stuff.
The X range is right where I like it. More magnification in a spotting scope this size often is counter productive in my opinion. If you want or need more, you are gonna need something bigger. If you aren’t used to long range shooting ( 1,000 yards and beyond) then let me tell you, more isn’t always better when its just more. I think I have mentioned this in the past , but even with your rifle optics when shooting at extended ranges you will see a diminished return the more you go up in magnification unless you also get into hubble sized scopes to make the higher Xs useful. Long story short, just because you got your hands on a 36x rifle scope with a 40mm objective lens doesn’t mean you got yourself a practical 1000 yard optic. But that is another topic for another upcoming day.
Anyways. The scope very thoughtfully comes with two protective covers for the lens. The rear screws on and the front has the two latches. Over all it’s pretty nice .
So, yes it is clear. It compares favorably to the Leupolds and Redfields I have used over the years. I been really impressed by the detail I can view with it.
The Unertl rifle scopes are something most shooters know about today thanks to the web and videogames. Few of them know much about them otherwise. They know Hathcock used one on his sniper rifle during his first tour in Vietnam. They know it’s “old” and they know it looks ancient and complex. And if you ever looked into buying one you know they are expensive and no longer made. So this week we will take a closer look.
John Unertl Sr. worked in the optical field while in the service with the German army in WW1. In 1928 he and his family immigrated to the US. He was hired by the J.W Fecker telescope manufacturing company in Pitssburgh, PA where he later became the superintendent. In 1936, Unertl left Fecker to start his own company. During WW2 Unertl provided the USMC with the 8x rifle scopes most casual observers are familiar with then post war continued on with new models. In 1960 John Sr. passed away and his son John Jr. took over further expanding the line and company. Commercial production for rifle optics ended in 1985. I doubt many shooters would realize the external adjustment Unertl scopes were made as late as 1985. Maybe even later as various people bought the left over parts from the shop and turned out a few more, Then various people bought the rights to the company name and things get really muddy and fuzzy there and I won’t go into it.
Now lets finally get to taking a look. The Unertls set on target blocks common in the past. Basically target blocks are various sized and drilled metal blocks with a dovetail that the mounts on the scope slide over and secure to. The mounts have a bolt that tightens onto the block and the dove tail keeps it from coming out of place. Picture below shows a target block. The target blocks worked on iron sights and optics mounts.
Above is the rear mount with elevation and wind and below is front mount. Both are aluminum and came in a variety of styles I won’t go into here but will in comments if asked.
Also in the above picture you will note the spring.
The body of the scope set suspended between the two mounts. This allows the scope to travel freely during recoil as its adjustments are external. That is, they move the rear of the scope up.down/ left/right. The spring is set depending on recoil force of round used. and the tension of the spring will return the scope to its full forward position. If not you have to do it by hand. Not all Unertls came with this feature as it was an optional add on. You will have noticed the USMC 8x sniper scopes do not have these as the Marines feared sand would get between the spring and body and score the tube. At the front of the mount is a clamp that holds it all in place of course. This can be adjusted if you want the eye piece of the scope to come back further or to move it away from you. Unlike modern optics you can also notice the rib that runs on the top and through the mount. This makes sure the scope and crosshairs stay straight up and not canted.
Below is the rear mount. Here you can see the external adjustments and how they move the rear of the tube. The micrometer turrets are very precise and repeatable. And very tough.
On this model the objective lens can be focused by a pretty nifty system. Not as fast to use as modern systems but very precise.
The other setting are made on the eye piece. At one time a piece was sold to replace the rear of the scopes that would allow you to boost the magnification by a few Xs.
The glass on these optics are outstanding. Even with all the modern advances in modern optics, a full 2 inch ultra varmint model Unertl is super clear and sharp. The crosshairs on this model are the pretty standard fine crosshairs. I really regret that I did not have the right camera set up to show you just how clear and sharp a Unertl in good condition can be. Unfortunately trying to take apicture through a 20x target riflescope is not easy.
Lastly the scope come with a front and rear metal screw on protective caps.
Needless to say, these scopes are fine quality and old craftsmanship. Everything about oozes quality and I am not kidding. They were made to last.
The down sides now. The price for any of these is going up by the second. The internet has made more people aware of these and of course the price goes up. Also, unless you are close to a gunsmith, you are not going to be able to pop one on most factory guns made after the mid 1980s. And that is if you are lucky. Old Remingtons, Winchesters, and target guns will most likely have the correct hole spacing in the places needed to mount one. The down side is, most of those companies making factory guns in the 70s and early 80s also were prone to have barrels not straight and receivers not drilled in line and all manner of problems. If you over come that, you need to find the correct target blocks. They came in a variety of heights and thickness to account for barrel contour and hole spacing and models. Charts are out there people have scanned and put online and some small companies make blocks new. I don’t mean to discourage you, just do your research carefully.
The Matech sights that come from Colt have the Picatinny marking. I have not seen this marking on these sights from other sources.
Some time back, I’m not sure when, the U.S. Military adopted the Matech Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) as the new rear sight for the M16A4 Modular Weapon System and the M4/M4A1 MWS. That could lead one to believe that this was the best, most durable, combat ready rear sight around. Boy would you be wrong if you thought that.
Outside the military, many people have different desires for what they want out of the BUIS. Some people want a sight that locks in place and is as solid as a bank vault, those people tend to like the Troy sights. Other people want cheap, so they go with the Magpul BUS. There are a few sights that are adjustable for range with a micrometer type adjustment such as the KAC 2-600m BUIS. There are a wide variety of features available out there, and the Matech has a pretty unique combination of them.
The main draw to the Matech is that is had a lever on the side for changing the distance setting. This lets you quickly set the sight for settings between 200 to 600 meters, but you can not make fine adjustment for range.
An annoyance of mine is when I can not find detailed information about a product. I know this sight was designed for use with M855 on both the M16A4 and the M4/M4A1 Carbines but I have not been able to find out what the calibration on the adjustment is. It might have been set for the 14.5 inch barrel, or a 16 inch barrel, or the 20 inch rifle. It might be a blended adjustment meant to be close enough for the rifle and carbine. We just don’t know. But in any event, it should at least keep you on a Echo Target (40″x20″) out to 600 meters.
There is a line (with out a notch to lock it in position) between the 300 and 400m marks for zeroing a M16A4 at 25m. When zeroing a M4 at 25m leave the sight on the 300m mark.
The sight locks down, but it does not lock in the up position. This was chosen as to allow it to move should the rifle be dropped. Sights that lock open can be more likely to break when locked up. Unfortunately these sights tend to wear out and stop locking in the down position. Countless discussion and youtube videos can be found about this.
Downsides to the Matech BUIS are:
It is huge, much larger than most other BUIS.
If you over tighten the clamping screw and bar it will break! Snug it up and tighten 1/4 turn past that, no more than that.
You are suppose to replace the screw that is used to hold it on if it is removed from the weapon. Most of us won’t have multiple screws laying around.
It wears out! The rear aperture latch wears out and will not stay latched down.
Now I wouldn’t say it is a terrible sight, but I do not recommend buying one. If you already have one I wouldn’t bother to replace it unless it breaks or wears out. Just make sure you check the distance setting on it before you shoot.
The colt 3×20 and 4x 20 scopes have been around a long time. Almost as long as the AR15 it was meant for. It is one of the first optics to ever be designed specifically for the AR15/M16 and was used during the Vietnam war.
The optic attaches to the carry handle of the upper by using the hole in the center. A threaded post protrudes out the bottom and a lever is used to tighten the assembly to the underside securing it tightly into the carry handle slot.
Once the optic is installed, the iron sights on the rifle or carbine can still be used.
The optics have a BDC turret that can be used after finer zeroing at 100 is done. To do this you remove the top cover to gain access to the finer adjustment screw. Windage adjustment is on the right side of the scope body and can be adjusted after removing its cover. ll adjustment values are 1/4 inch per click. The rear of the optic is adjustable for parallax.
Once the optic is zeroed at 100 yards, the BDC can be used for fast and easy range adjustments.
The BDC does match and work pretty well and it is repeatable on all of the examples I have tried over the years. The optic is calibrated for the M193 military load which is the 55 grain bullet. At the time there wasn’t much else out there. Even later models can safely assumed to be matched for the M193 type load.
The crosshairs for the scopes came as a post of a duplex crosshair. I have never been much of a post fan myself. The glass is very clear on these optics. Of course you can find some that have been used and abused and see some narfed up glass. They are not ACOGs, so they can not take that kind of abuse. But that isn’t to say they are delicate. They did see actual combat use from Vietnam to the first Gulf War.
Except for a few very early makes, the Colt optic is usually marked Made In Japan. The 4x model is the same size as the 3x.
Other than the older models having a slightly shinier finish than the newer made ones, the y are nearly identical.
Like all carryhandle mounted scopes, there is the usual issue with cheek weld. It is something a cheek rest could remedy, but why bother. I think the days of this being your only choice for an optic for your AR/M16 may be over. Now they are too collectible and slightly rare to be out using for much more than fun anyways. And they are a lot of fun to play with. Or even hunt deer with. 3x and 4x are still usable and hunters and snipers of years and wars past used scopes not even as powerful as 3x for serious work. They can be used for some pretty decent precise shooting in reasonable conditions.
The copes came in a cardboard box with leather end caps to protect the glass. Inside was simple instructions on how to zero and use and take care of the optic.
The little scopes are a neat little piece of AR15 history and they are a lot of fun to shoot with. Especially on an older SP1 rifle or M16 clone. If you have ever wanted to hunt with your old SP1 or clone and iron sights won’t cut it for you these are just the thing for getting some real use out of the old retro AR15.