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Herbert W. McBride

“Born on October 15, 1873 in Waterloo, Indiana to Robert W and Ida S. Chamberlain McBride, Herbert had a long family tradition of military service. His grandfather was killed in the Mexican War, and his father served the Union cavalry during the  War of Northern Aggression. His father had a distinguished legal career, becoming a judge on the Indiana Supreme Court.”

“While not much was is know about his youth, Herbert was very interested in military service and small arms.  He was also very involved in the Indiana National Guard before WW1 and by 1915 had over 21 years of service  and held the rank of Captain. There he  also coached a highly successful  rifle team.”

Fond of hunting as a youth he would accompany his father on hunting trips to the area around Saginaw Michigan. He said he remembered  at about this time that he placed about 10th in the local shoot match where his prize was a can of oysters. The top prizes being hams and turkeys. He declared ” that no medal or other thing  have I won since by shooting ever game me the thrill that that did ”

During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 he said he caught gold fever and spent more than 2 years in northern Canada. On his way back he hoped to go with a bunch of recruits to  South Africa to see service in the Boer War, but was not able to, for regulations were such that only British subjects were eligible. This was in 1900.

Returning to Indianapolis he rejoined his old guard outfit., Company D, 2nd Infantry. His commanding officer believed that individual proficiency with the rifle was the very highest attainment of the doughboy. McBride said that this that if a man could not qualify as a Marksman in his first year he had to get out, if not a sharpshooter by his second year he was gone, and finally after three years he must qualify as Expert or he could not reenlist. McBride became the captain of his company in 1907 and shot with them at the National Matches up to and including 1911.

In March of 1914 while working for the railroad on the Grand Trunk railway, he learned of events in Mexico. Believing that this would mean war and being “double damned if i am going to miss it” he started  out on ST. patricks day , 1914 after  ” a good feed and a bottle of johnnie walker I hit the trail”  Ten hours later he was at the nearest telegraph office.  He  sent a telegram to his father asking him if he though this would mean war?  His father’s reply was yes and for him to hurry back.

Returning to Indianapolis he was frustrated with the reluctance of American politicians to become involved in the Great War. He decided to resign from the Guard and once again go back to Canada to enlist in the 21st Battalion at Kingston as a private.  He was assigned to a machine gun platoon, but was happy to report “we also carried rifles”The men were issued Canadian built Ross Mark 3 rile in .303 british.  The men were carefully coached in marksmanship  by the time they shipped to England  and had a reputation as riflemen.

After a period in the machine gun platoon McBride was promoted to section leader, whose  job it was to find suitable positions to emplace the machine guns to give protection to the crews and fields of fire into no man’s land. He was well suited to this work from his hunting experience. This work enabled him to move around the battlefield unobserved by German snipers. Soon he was offered excellent opportunities to scout and to use the rifle he carried to fire on the enemy.

According to McBride “ up until this time I had taken the war more as  a more or  less impersonal affair and had not gone out of my way to look for trouble or for someone to kill, but on November 14th, a German sniper killed Charlie Wendt, one of my boys. This put me on the warpath right.”

On that day “the weather was setting in the bad and during the worst of it very little sniping went on, so we often went in and out by the overland route in broad daylight. This November 14th came  on a Sunday and it was just such an occasion for over land travel. The rain delayed the 20th battalion from reliving  us until about noontime. The trenches were crowded with troops and the going so bad that I talked it over with my crowd and we decided to save several hours time by going out down the open road. Al hands for it, so I started first  and had the others follow at fifty yard intervals. Our route  was in plain sight of the German lines, and we got well out under cover of a small hill without a single shot being fired at us. From here on out we were practically safe. as the ground was partially screened with bushes and the trees, so the bulk of the party went right on out across this covered ground, But Charlie Wendt and I stopped at the small hill to arange about the relief of a gun crew I had stationed there, Charlie stayed with me  few minutes and then went on by himself, saying he would meet me at the redoubt farther out, I continued t my walk with Endersby, the man in charge of the gun, and all at once Heard Charlie calling,m “oh Mac.” and looked to see him lying on the ground about a hundred yards back off, shot through the abdomen.”

McBride and Endersby  both rand to help him. Endersby then ran back to call for stretcher bearers, while McBride bandaged Charlies’s wound. While McBride knew of the seriousness of the wound, he thought Charlie would pull through, but Charlie didn’t think so. ” Finally he told me to get about ten of them for him and I  told him I would do so “

According to McBride the sniper continued to fire but that it was a miserable display of shooting and he told Charlie that he ( McBride) would be ashamed to have such a rotten shot in our  outfit. McBride felt it was a stroke of luck that the sniper had managed to hit Charlie at all. The bearers came up and took Charlie away, but the next day McBride learned that he had died.   Not long after this , in the same area McBride felt that the same sniper was responsible for shooting down several unarmed stretcher bearers attempting to bring in a wounded man from an exposed area behind the British line. A total of six men were shot, 2 soldiers and 4 stretcher bearers who were clearly marked with red crosses, from a range of about a hundred yards. At that distance McBride felt it was plainly visible that they were bearers and not to be shot at while bringing in the wounded. Of the six shot five died from their wounds, Angered by this event, McBride vowed to Charlie Wendt and these men “should  go to their God in state: with fifty  file of Germans to open Heavens gate”

With permission from his commanding officer Colonel Hughes, McBride went back to a newly organized sniper school at the village of La-Clytte to be issued a Ross rifle with a Warner& Swasey telescopic sight and a spotting scope with a tripod stand,  McBride thought the best feature of the scope was this it mounted on the left side of the rifle, which left  the iron sights to be used for close up work. He had some trouble with the mount screw becoming jarred loose from the rifle recoil.  So he used safety razor blade salt water to rust the screw tight. He later said this it worked so well  that “I was nearly court martialled as the armorer couldn’t get the mount off!” The Ross rifle that he was issued was one that had been built for the Canadian Army rifle team to use to compete in the American National Matches shot at Camp Perry Ohio in 1913 and was extremely accurate.

McBride now teamed up with a friend, one William Bouchard, who with his sharp eyes was to be McBride’s observer on the spotting scope. The US Army and Marines  in WW2, Korea and Vietnam later used many lessons learned by these two in the trenches of the Western Front of the first world war.

McBride was not in favor of the “lone” sniper, he thought a man on his own would bot do as well as a proper,paired team of two, the sniper and observer. Not so far away in their sector was a small hill behind the Canadian trenches where there were the shelled ruins of a french farmhouse and barn. When the Cananians had arrived in this sector they found a dead French sniper in the barn and 8 dead German soldiers nearby in the front of the farm assumed to have been killed by the sniper.  His Lebel rifle still protruding from a window. So the place became known as “sniper barn.”

The barn was some 500 yards from the German lines and being slightly higher gave good observation. McBride knew it would be foolhardy to sniper from the buildings, as the farm was shelled almost every day. But a few well protected  areas in front of the buildings  in a hedgerow offered a good view. This tactic of using a “hide” in an area close to the obvious  place or building that would draw the enemy’s attention without being too near that place  would become a tactic used by snipers in wars to come.  McBride reported that “fortunately, although the shrapnel bullets cut off two legs of the tripod and one buried itself in the stock of my rifle, neither one of us was actually hit, although we both had one or more holes through our caps and tunics. That was before the advent of the tin hat. We were all the time working on new nests and, eventually  had six all well concealed and offering good fields of fire””

When the two built a new sniping nest, they would immediately sight in after finding the ranges to all prominent objects in the area. The information was noted in a book that McBride carried for the purpose. Oright in front of that big tree just to the right of number 4 post, see him”? McBride  spotted him, he was apparently a German officer observing their lines though  binoculars.  “He was standing upright with the large tree right behind him. McBride said he had looked over the officers several times and only the kids’ keen eyesight had found him but when Bouchard pointed it out, McBride saw him quite clearly. Finding him again through the rifle scope. McBride fired and the officer dropped, shot int he chest.”   The two lay motionless for  a long time  while looking  for something else to shoot when suddenly a bullet hit in their nest. At first both thought it a stray round fired that happened to come there way as strays came across the front lines all the time. Then a short time later another came into the nest and went through McBride’s cap barely missing his head. Then a third shot came hitting his spotter. This was not random stray rounds, a German sniper had found them. Both men carefully crawled out  backwards and escaped to the ruins of the farm for cover. After checking Bouchard’s wounds , the bullet had skimmed his head and shoulder and continued to hit the calf of his left leg.   After dressing the wounds they wisely decided  to try it again from another constructed hide site on the opposite side of the farm ruins.

The nest they used next had been constructed at night since it was about 100 feet out from the corner of the furthers building out.  This nest was in an open field that was reached by  a tunnel like trench about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. They  had removed the earth back to the barn setting the sod aside the trench which when covered with boards and the sod put back on appeared to heave never been disturbed. This took many nights of hard labor to finish. The rest was large enough to hold them both, with two holes in front for the rifle and spotting scope with brush and glass in front to screen them from the Germans.  After being finished, they left it unused for over a week to wait and see if the Germans had detected it. Since it had not been shelled it apparently had not been discovered.

They entered and waited. Nothing was spotted that day, until they were readying to leave. Then Bouchard noticed some activity on the German side. It seemed some construction of a new machine gun emplacement was going on behind a mud covered cloth whose purpose was to hide the work being done. These  clothes were used up and down the trenches to hide  construction as they blended in with the muddy terrain to make observation of the work parties behind them  difficult. Taking a shot through the middle of the cloth, McBride made the Germans scramble out of the trench climbing over one another. Bouchard thought one was hit”

As time passed, McBride and his spotter racked up over 100 German kills,more KIA  than most infantry companies.  By 1916 the British and the Canadians had put together their own organized, official sniping programs.  These turned out many of the desperately needed snipers. When it was discovered McBride had been a Captain before the war, he was quickly promoted and finished the war as a Captain.  Sad to say Couchard was transferred to another unit and was killed on September 15, 1916  by enemy shell fire.  McBride finished  his service with the Canadian Army in Feb 1917. He was wounded a total of seven times while in the service of the Canadian Army. After being retired from the Canadian  service due to wounds, he reentered the Indiana National Guard as a Captain in 1917 and was assigned as an instructor to the 139th Machine Gun Battalion, 38th Division. He served out the rest of the war at Camp Perry teaching marksmanship  marksmanship and sniping.  He resigned from the Army in  October 1918 and spent several years  after the war in the lumber business around Portland Oregon. Much of the 5 years  before his death writing his classic book on sniping in WW1 and his experiences , ” A Rifleman Went To War”  which was published in 1935.  He died in  1933.

 

On November 9, 1935 McBride’s former commanding officer , Brigadier General W.S. Hughes wrote about the author of “A Rifleman Went To War” as follows.    The Author of this book, the late Herbert W. McBride , served in my Battalion as a private, non commissioned officer and officer. He was one of the best fighting men I knew and was promoted and decorated on my recommendations.    He was considered one of the best machine gunners in the allied army. Also  one of the best with a rifle.  Herbert McBride was outstanding as a fighting man, fearless. untiring , a genius for invention and always seeking authority to be given opportunity of damaging the enemy. I had the greatest admiration for Captain McBride as a soldier and with an army of such men it would be an easy matter to win against any troops. It was such fighting ability that enabled my 21st Battalion to come home with the record of never having been given a black eye in the over four years of active participation in the war. They never went after anything they did not take, and they never gave up anything they captured.  Of the original 1058, less than 150 are  now still alive, most of them buried in Flanders’  Fields and in the Somme.”

 

The Emma Gees- H.W McBride

A Rifleman Went To War- H.W. McBride

PS Magazine – Bill Bentz 

The Complete Book Of US Sniping  – Senich

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ALL THOSE M16s LEFT IN SOUTH VIETNAM ?

 

After the fall of Saigon to the communists of North Vietnam , the crowning achievement of the U.S. Democrat party of the day. There was a lot of equipment and arms left over, much of it US made and supplied to the Army of the Republic  of South Vietnam for their for their survival in their fight to hold off the Peoples Army Of North Vietnam, China, the USSR and Fellow Travelers in the US.  After the final fall, that left a mountain of war material left over.    Most of it ended up  piled up  in stacks and left to quietly rust to nothing in the tropical jungle climate.

Not. Pretty.

Some however were saved by the victors to be re purposed  and modified for their own uses, a very common thing for the Vietnamese  people to do.   The AK may be in the minds of millions as the signature gun for the Vietnamese communist but  even they recognized its virtues and more modern concepts.

The lighter handier and more accurate M16 and M16A1 certainly had an impact on the Communist forces ( no pun intended) but the one that really must have made an impression was the Colt  “CAR15”  otherwise known officially as the Xm177 mostly used and identified with US Special Operations forces  and MACVSOG  in particular.  With most of the world not using an AK pattern rifle going with the M16 family and now the M4 or M4 like carbine, the Viets  knew a good thing when they saw it.

After cannibalizing parts,  sourcing other parts from various countries and using non licensed Chinese rip off parts, Vietnam developed its own take on a CAR15.  They call this carbine the M18 reportedly.

 

While it is obvious that the upper and lower receivers  are 60s era Colt made originals, the collapsing  stock is the current M4 pattern, as is the hand guards.    If those new parts are made to original specs or are pure knock offs from a Chinese airsoft company I have no idea.

The M18 is issued to at least  some special units and the coast guard. The carbines pictured above appear to have a newer finish  and a suppressor, It is curious that the Vietnamese updated the buttstock and HGs but chose to retain the original smooth A1  pistol grip.  Many people would agree with their choice over the A2 grip.

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You can read a little bit about it here if you can read Vietnamese. It has very, very little technical  details about the M18 and is more of a fluff piece with some CNN level knowledge on  the AR15 system but  I link it for those interested and able to read it .

https://laodong.vn/vu-khi/viet-nam-san-xuat-phien-ban-viet-cua-sung-tieu-lien-my-172961.bld

 

Some More Vietnam USMC Sniping History

Lately  my mind has been  stuck on Vietnam war era sniper optics and rifles.  Friends keep asking me about the subject and it has come up a lot this month.    It is an evergreen topic for most people interested in US martial arms , sniping and long range shooting  anyway so I thought I would touch on it a little more today before my longer article on the Unertl 10X USMC sniper optic some times next week( hopefully).

I like to think most of our readers are already familiar with the M40 and Redfield 3x-9x optics since I’ve covered it a few times already.  When the M40 came from Remington originally the rifle. the optic and mounts were all marked with the same serial number.  Remington had very carefully zeroed the optics to as to nearly bottom out at 100 yards with only a few clicks lefter over.  This gave the scope its 40plus  minutes left over and allowed the scope to dial up to shots at 1,000 yards. Of course once the guns got to Vietnam, things got taken apart and mixed up and precious kept the scope/base/gun matching.  As a result  most of them could not be dialed up to 1,000 yards. Or much past  500 really.    Below is an example of how things got mixed up.

The Redfields were had a range finding capability. The reticle was standard crosshairs but there was also a range ladder to the right side with two extra  horizontal stadias.   As you can see below the idea was to adjust the zoom ring until the two top stadias  fit with the top on a man’s shoulders and the bottom on his belt.  The ranger scale would then show the yardage.   The redfields ranging scale and measuring stadia  worked well with the average measurements of an adult  asian male. Now if that was done on purpose  or not I have yet to find out.   One you had the range you could either dial in the DOPE ( usually never done as it took too much time) or you held off.  This system was also incorporated as part of the US Army’s  ART system used on the XM21. But that is another day.  Word has it few Marine snipers used the scope’s ranging ability very often.  The  range finding stadia and ladder  often  melted when the sun came through the objective lens after a  relatively short amount of time so care was taken to keep it covered or out of direct sun.  Because of that a lot of the scopes are minus the range finding  ability.

And here we have a picture of The Master Sniper himself  with the M40 he used on his second tour as a scout sniper.  The picture is noteworthy not only for being who it is but for he gear he is carrying.  What  Hathcock carried with  him on most missions has been recorded multiple times.   He noted many times he usually took nothing more than his rifle, binos a belt with two canteens, a pistol, a poncho ,   a knife, a compass and a bandoleer of 30cal match in cloth  bandoleer tied around his waist.  This was done in case he had to drop his pistol belt  to run, he still had “all he really needed.”  Yes, a gun and some ammo is truly the only thing Hathcock really needed if you  had the idiocy to chase him through  the countryside.   The rest he carried in his pants cargo pockets.  Here is is wearing the M56 belt with what appears to be two M56 ammo pouches, a flak vest and his  NVA pack.  I found it interesting that  Carlos appears to have a lanyard  attached to his 1911.   Hathcock wears his signature 3rd pattern  ERDL jungle fatigues and his boonie with his white feather in it laying on his back.

Here is a photo taken from where Hathcock took perhaps his record breaking 2,500 yard shot.  If you have seen this photo before else where claiming that is Hathcock in the image beside the gun, it is not .  That is SSGT Roberts, his spotter on that mission and the picture is from Carlos’ own collection so I think he knows who was in the picture.    You can see the 8x Unertl mounted to the M2 Browning he used to make his famous shot and the terrain beyond. Perfect position to make a shot like that.

Back to the 3x-9x sniper Redfield.  Few seem to know but it was also used on the M2 browning.

Back to the Unertl 8x for a bit.  The scope is forever tied to Carols in the minds of many when it comes to USMC sniping and of course the gun Carlos used in his first tour  during the time he made most of his most celebrated accomplishments of combat sniping. Below is pictured a real USMC Model 70 sniper rifle with USMC contract Unertl 8x.   I’m sure many younger people would look at that and see ancient gun tech and wonder how they did what they did with it.  Truth is even today that combo would wreak havoc  as a sniper rifle in capable hands.

The Unertl was used  on the model 70s and the M2 browning, but some imaginative snipers managed to mount it on other rifles they  wanted to snipe with.  I’m don’t think I need to say how much I would love to try that out.

The Mil-Dot reticle used by the USMC was made by Premier reticles and sent to Unertl to be installed into the Unertl 10X USMC sniper scope.    Below  is a  tray of the mildot reticles ready to be shipped out to J. Unertl.

 

Scattered Shots 7-30-2018

Due to having to take my Father to a doctors appointment today and some other things, there won’t be any detailed technical article or historical  writing.  Instead   I will be letting my mind wonder a bit and share a few things that have caught my interest over the years.  I hope it will be a fun post for all.   If there is any “theme” for today’s post it wold indeed be scattered shots.

A few years  ago I ran across the pictures taken during the  war in SE Asia.  They are from a news article reporting on the young girls of RVN training to fight the communists.   When ever I rear or see a video on youtube of some hot, big name expert firearms trainer ex-marine SF trooper advising people about how hard it is to control the recoil of  the .45ACP and the M1911. I think of these pictures.  Having spent  many years around Vietnamese, I can safely bet you not a one of them is over 5foot 4 inches tall  or barely break 100 pounds. ( apologies for not using the metric system for all of you who do and have yet to land a man on the moon).

Speaking of Vietnamese ladies using big bore handguns we have a great picture of Trần Lệ Xuân. Maybe better known to you as “Madame Nhu.” She was the sister in law to RVN’s first president, Diem and in this man’s opinion, both of them got a bad rap.  Had the left in the US not had their way and Diem was not allowed to be killed, the country would still exist to this day.   In the picture Xuân is putting on a shooting demonstration   and she was well known at the time to be an excellent shot capable of rapid and accurate shooting and pulling off some impressive trick shots.  She always used a large bore or magnum powered pistol for her shooting and would turn down offers for something less powerful. It was said she was a big fan of the .357 magnum.

There has been a lot of talk hereabout the M1903 Springfield rifle  in the last month.  Many aren’t aware of the M1922 training rifle.  Developed to  closely feel and look like the’03 but in .22long rifle. It has an interesting history that will have to wait for another day. Some very fine sporter rifles have been made with its barrel and action.   That action by the way is ultra slick.

The RIA post about the trench guns the other day reminded me  another US martial shotgun.  This one used during the Vietnam war.  The Remington 7188. The 7188  is/was a select fire combat shotgun used in small number mainly by the SEALS.   Based on the 1100 the shotgun was of course full auto.   It suffers all the usual drawbacks of using a shotgun in combat,  lack of range show to reload, limited capacity and empties too fast.   It would have been an amazing wall of lead while it lasted though. Combined with the “duck-bill” shot spreader, it would have wreaked havoc in close range jungle fighting..for a few seconds.  Which may have been all that was needed in an ambush or to break out of one.   Reliability may have been an issue in the jungle with ammo at the time.  Below some one has posed the shotgun with some ERDL uniform,  a Vietnam era shotgun shell pouch and bata type boots.  All things that would have been used by the people who carried the 7188. While the 7188 had to bow out from history, the 1100 went on to be a classic shotgun and developed into the 11-87.

With shotguns now on my brain, I have to talk about my personal favorite sporting use shotgun.   I could only be talking about the most excellent Remington Model 31.

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Like many  good things in this world the M31 owes its existence to John Browning.  An altered version of JMB’s Remington Model 17, the Model 31 was brought out to compete against the Winchester model 12.  It didn’t quite  match the  popularity of the Model12 and so the M870 came about and we all know how that  turned out. The Model 31  action went on to be changed slightly and used as the base for the very reliable Ithaca Model 37 and  a cheaper simplified version known  as the mossberg 500.     The model31 is in my opinion the ne plus ultra  of pump shotguns.   It is hard to describe to you how smooth and slick the action of a 31 is. It almost cycles itself.  Mine is a 16 gauge because I don’t think it gets much better than the 16 for most hunting uses.  The model 31 can be found in 12, 16 and 20. If you ever run across one, my advice is to buy it.

I don’t recall where I found this picture  below. Obviously  taken on some island in the pacific in WW2.  Two Marines pose with their newly acquired war trophy, a Japanese officer’s chest. The now dead man’s wife in a variety of pictures stuck to the lid. The level of hate both sides had for each other in the Pacific theater is probably hard for many  of current generation to understand  when thinking about how close an ally Japan has been since then.  I have often wondered if  anyone who was shown that chest at the time paused for even a second over those pictures of some Testsuo’s wife and thought maybe they were just people too.  Even monsters can love their wives.  It is fascinating to me that the same military that raped or killed everyone in china it could find had officers that had such tender pictures of their own women.    Just goes to  show the ability of many ( and you better believe it is MANY) humans to be loving and tender with some and on the other hand still  commit atrocities against other people and their loved ones as if they aren’t anything other than insects.

I have always loved the idea of the “assault kit”or the “deployment kit” when it comes to guns.  You can’t take everything you have with you as bad as you wish otherwise.  But, thanks to the unlimited modularity of the  AR15 you can take one gun and some carefully chosen accessories with an upper or two and have  the ability to tailor a rifle for several needs.

Thanks to modern tactical optic mounts, you can now have optics pre-zeroed for  an upper, or just left on an upper and swap them as needed. Then, with a choice of uppers you can have a  plan for several mission needs.  Going inside a mud hut? Put the MK18 upper on.  Maybe need to take a long range precision shot?  Put your MK12 upper on.  Or just swap optics around before you leave.  Maybe even possible to swap optics  hours or minutes before  needing it depending on circumstances.  Add to that kit a handgun or two, a suppressor and some odds and ends and you could put together a kit you could grab and travel with that would  be very versatile.   I know some like the barrel swap but this never had much appeal to me. It is a lot faster to swap uppers and changing the upper doe not require tools nor re zeroing the optic or iron sights.   No one in the real world swaps barrels on a rifle/carbine or swaps uppers in the field on a “mission” anyways so size and ability to carry a spare upper compared to a barrel is irrelevant.

In the1980s  it was still possible to buy some pretty neat stuff from other countries.  One of those I wanted but never got my hands on was the semi auto imported Valmets.

I saw and handled a couple back then but this was before I had the money to buy one. It was the M76FS.  Which is to say the folding stock model.   They are as rare as hen’s teeth now a-days and I have given up on owning one unless I win the lottery but I still think back fondly on them and how close I came.  I have said to Howard a few times  how back then we had a much larger selection of  foreign rifles, the Ar15 options were  a small fraction of what we have today.   I would give up those options from other countries gladly for the development that went into  the AR15  and the result of it today.

 

Last is a picture of my assault wheelchair.   I sometimes write reviews for movies at grindhousefilms.com and one of the guys over there  asked if I could make him a machinegun wheel chair.   I took a stab at it and produced this.   Any gun person knows it is absurd and is completely non-functional but it does look cool if I do say so myself.

 

Sorry for the lack of a normal article or review today as I said.  But I hope this was some what enjoyable for  you and a fun few minutes while you are goldbricking at work.  Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow.

Optic Of The Week Unertl 20x Target RifleScope

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.

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