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Thread: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

  1. #1
    Rifleman
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    Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    Well, I have been wanting a Unertl 10X scope for a few years in the hopes of building a prospective USMC M40A1 replica. The 3 hardest parts for such a project are the Unertl scope (available but pricey), USMC return stock (rare and pricey), and original Unertl scope mount (really rare). I told myself if I can find one of those three parts, I will undertake such a project. Here's a picture of an iconic M40A1 rifle:



    First, here's a brief history of the Unertl 10X USMC sniper rifle scopes. As far as I can tell, there are about 6 US military versions of the Unertl 10X sniper scopes, 1 Canadian version, and apparently 3 versions of the same Unertl tactical scope for commercial or law enforcement customers. (Note: The scopes are basically the same, other than some minor improvements that US Optics performed internally; the BDC dials were either calibrated for M118/7.62 NATO or .50 caliber BMG, and slight differences in markings were applied to these variants).

    US Military issued
    1. USMC issued scopes marked "USMC SNIPER" as used on the M40A1 rifles. (Original serial numbers for deliveries b/t 1980-1988 were 1006 to 1651 - but other orders took place in the 1990s so the serial range went higher).
    2. USMC issued scopes marked "USMC 50CAL." as used on the big 50 caliber M82A1 rifles. (These seem to have serial number range of "5XXX" - but I have not studied this in depth. One source says 100 scopes were ordered. The range markings extended out to 1800 yards for the 50 BMG, instead of 1000 yds on the original scope for the M40A1).
    3. USMC issued scope originally made for M40A1/M118 vartidge, but rebuilt by Unertl for the .50 BMG cartridge. Markings manually removed and replaced with "50 CALIBER" nomenclature (This info per post 11 on this thread).
    4. USMC issued scopes made by Unertl but refurbished by US Optics. They improved the seals and made a few minor improvements to make them more durable in the field. I think these had the upgraded coil springs rather than the original leaf-springs in the turrets. (In the year 2000, US Optics won the contact to service the Marine Corp's Unertl scopes after the founder, John Unertl, had passed away).
    5. USMC issued scopes made by US Optics, marked "USMC SNIPER" but with a "USO" logo instead of the original Unertl logo. I am not sure about serial # range, but they seem to fall into the 2 to 3k range...but I have not studied this in depth yet either). USO Optics made a slight design improvement and used coil springs instead of leaf spring in the mechanism, and the finish was also improved somewhat.
    6. Same as above, but USO made some "MST-150" scopes for the Marine Corps' M107 and M107A1 50 caliber sniper rifles.

    Foreign military issued:
    7. Canadian issued military scope marked "C3 Sniper." It was apparently used on the Canadian Sniper C3A1 rifle (an upgraded Parker-Hale M82) and the scope's BDC is in Metric format (meters)

    8. Non-issued but original Unertl scopes sold to the FBI and other federal law enforcement/security agencies in the 1980-90s, marked "10X SNIPER" (appear to be serial # range: 2XXX). I am not sure how many of these scopes were made, but they are quite rare.
    9. Non-issued Unertl scopes sold commercially in the early 2000s, after the original company had been acquired. They are marked "UNERTL - 10X" and have a "T" prefix serial number (for Tactical). That scope is what I now have. I am not sure how many were made.
    10. Non-issued US Optics scopes sold commercially as MST-100s in a couple of small batches in the late 200Xs and mid 201Xs. I think USO made 100 scopes at a time for these small batches, often at the behest of former USMC snipers who hang out at snipershide.com. I think the last batch was 2 or 3 years ago, and price was $3000 or so. US Optics was recently sold to new owners, and I don't think anymore 'retro' MST-100s will be made.


    Regarding the former military issued scopes, CMP has been auctioning off the USMC SNIPER and USMC 50CAL marked Unertls for a few years, and the prices have come down some, but many of those scopes are rough and need repair work. The couple of super nice USMC issued examples that I would want condition-wise sold/sell for $4k+...and that's too much given my competing M1A projects.

    As it turns out, another forum member/collector had a nice T-prefix Unertl scope that was surplus to his needs, so we worked out a trade. I decided that a "T"-prefix scope would be fine with me given the condition (it doesn't need work, and it came with some goodies, as seen below):





    Tools: Left is newish US Optics tools for MST-100, and on the right is a vintage set probably from the 1980s-1990s.
    The large flat tool was used to adjust the parallax on the front the scope's objective, manual recommended this be done at 300 yds.



    As I noted on my thread re the history of M14 military optics, the Unertl 10X was not intended for the M14 - but it was a revolutionary scope. It the first scope to use a Mil-Dot reticle and that design concept has impacted all subsequent U.S. military sniper scopes that utilize a Mil-Dot reticle, or a next generation derivative of the original Mil-Dot system.

    It was also somewhat advanced with a BDC (ballistic drop calculator) built-into the elevation dial for use with M118 match ammo, marked from 100 to 1000 yards. Here's how the marking on the turret correspond to the trajectory of M118 ammo:



    Here's the coarse turret setting at 1000 yards:


    Lastly, I will mention one "urban legend" I heard at Quantico regarding the Unertl 10X sniper scope. Supposedly back in the late 1970s or very early 1980s when John Unertl was working with the USMC sniper school on his scope, he wanted to demonstrate the strength of this all-steel scope. (It weighs in at a chunky and robust 2 lbs 3 ozs). He reportedly took one of his test scopes and used it as a hammer to drive a small nail into a light/telephone poll out at Range 4 on the USMC base. The scope got scratched up, but it reportedly drove the small nail into the pole, and the glass did not crack and the scope was still functional even after this abuse.

    The old timer (I think he was a former USMC sniper from the late 1970s or early 1980s) who relayed this story to me and several others, pointed to one of the wooden telephone/light poles at that range and said "In fact, it was that pole right there." He also said that the snipers who were issued the scope back in the early 1980s considered it to be "Star Wars" technology at that time. Obviously I can't validate this urban legend, but I found his story interesting and kind-of humorous, so I thought I would share it.

    Anyhow, I consider this my Christmas present for 2018. Happy Holidays(!)

    PS: If anyone has any leads on a USMC M40A1 return stock, that would be much appreciated. (I have a few friends with them, but they were all built into rifles and none are currently for sale).
    Last edited by Random Guy; 22nd December 2018 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Command Sgt Major budster's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    This is an excellent read, random guy.
    Thank you!

    Is the Remmy bbl 24" or 26" ?

  3. #3
    Owner / Administrator Hawk's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    Would love to have one....too rich for my pocketbook....lol
    I will gladly keep my eyes open for a return stock for ya.
    Semper-Fi! Hawk
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  4. #4
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    "Is the Remmy bbl 24" or 26"

    The M40A1 has a 24" barrel.

  5. #5
    Command Sgt Major budster's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Moderator pitbulz21's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    Thanks! I enjoyed the read.
    Winning White Team Member 2015 Winter Solstice M1 Garand / AR15 Postal Shoot

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  8. #7
    Sgt Major VanHahner's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    I like 10X
    No mess, no fussing with parallax adjustments. Great for medium long ranges !

    U.S.M.C. Scout Sniper 67-68

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  10. #8
    Administrator Tarheel Trooper's Avatar
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    Re: Finally got a Unertl 10X scope for a prospective M40A1 replica

    Very good read...
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