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Old November 29, 2012, 04:20 AM   #1
Polinese
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Vietnam scopes comparison.

My friend was asking me about the scopes used during Vietnam on the M40, Model 70 etc. One of his questions was how the scopes compared to those in use now. Namely say where would the scopes fall in the price range and quality of modern scopes. Would say the old redfield be in the same class as the current ones. Would it be up there with Night Force. I can't seem to find it (can't even remember if it was just a post on a forum or an article) but I remember reading something where some Vietnam vet was saying that even the lower end scopes we have now (Leupold vx-1's, prostaffs) are superior to the scopes in use during the 60's and 70s.
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:47 AM   #2
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I don't know the inflation rate between the late '60s and now so I can't address the price comparison.

I do know a bit about the Vietnam Era Scopes. The Models 70s for the most part used the Unertial target scopes. The Marines and Army both looked at this system in trying to find a decated sniper rifle. Both decided that the target rifle would not hold up to the riggers of combat.

The army went with the ideal of putting a scope on an M14. (M21) The M-14 had already proved to be a reliable rifle in the jungles and rice paddies of SE Asia.

The Scope they chose was the ART Leatherwood. It was a heavy durable scope. (I have the MPC version and it still works today). The ideal is the rifle can be used with the scope or without.

Based on my experience going to sniper school and teaching sniper schools with the M14/ART is they do hold up, they do keep their zero when you take them off and put them back on.

The M14 used was a match version, meaning better barrel, 1/2 MOA sights (instead of the 1 MOA), opened up the flash suppressor with a #7 taper reamer to keep rain drops from gathering inside the suppressor interfering with the bullet.


The main advantage with the Match M14 was impregnated stock. Basicly the stock was put in an oven and all the moisture was removed. Then the pores of the wood was impregnated with a sort of glue that made the stock immune to moisture, which was a big problem in Vietnam.

The M21 also had the ability to be used as a battle rifle without the scope so the soldier didn't have to pack another rifle. The M21 could also be used with the Startlight scope.

The Marines with with the Rem 700 Varmint in 308 and the Japanese made Redfield Accurange Scope. Calling it the M-40. The Rifle was accurate enough but at first the stock had an oil finish, and unlike the M21 (Impregnated stock) was subject to the effects of moisture. Also the Accra range scope wasn't as positive with its range finding as the ART. With the redfield one had to get the range estimate, then adjust the elevation knob where as when you got your range with the ART, (Automatic Ranging Telescope) you automatically adjusted for elevation.

Most Marines would zero the rifle at 500 yards and hold over/under.

A few years ago the NRA American Rifle Mag had an article about the two systems, reporting the M40 spent more time in the maintainance shops then the M21.

Both services went to the Remington after the war. The marines up graded the M40 keeping the short action and no means for iron sights.

Several other combinations were tried in Vietnam, but these are the two that made the grade and came out of that conflict.

The Army adapted the Remington, called the M24. It was a long action so eventually it could be modified to accept the 300 WM Round. Also the Army kept the ability to use iron sights on the M24.

Both Services went to the Mil Dot system for range estimation, one version or other of the Leopold scope.

Now several high grad expensive (Nightforce etc) scopes. They work but I don't know how well in a jungle environment. Too many moving parts. Scopes now are also battery dependent. I've had bad luck with batteries in Arctic conditions and I'm not sure how they would hold up in several weeks exposed to extreme sub zero temps.

The more moving parts one has, the less "soldier proof" it is. Another concern I have with the new systems is weight.

A simple ridgid fixed 8-10 powder with Mil Dots would be hard to beat.
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Old November 29, 2012, 09:52 AM   #3
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The 2011 inflation from 1968 is 6.37x. $100 in 1968 would be equivalent to $637 in 2011.
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Old November 29, 2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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The Redfield 3-9 was a pretty good scope in it's time. Scopes today have lesser optical loss with coating improvements. Mechanically, I think it'd still be a pretty solid scope and would be above average in that respect.
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Old November 29, 2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Oh yes, don't discount those old scopes.

The CMP GSM Vintage Sniper Matches prove those old girls sitll have it in them.

I bought a Weaver K.5 El Pasco Scope with a Post redical w/horizonal cross hair. Made God knows when. (it has the gold rings on the end indicating its an older model.

That pupply works great, and accurate positive clicks.

Hard to beat the old Weaver K Series scopes. Pure Classics.
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Old November 29, 2012, 12:28 PM   #6
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Some on line info on Hathcock's stuff:

http://www.americanrifleman.org/arti...iper-rifles-2/

http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/carl...ux-8x-malcolm/

I believe his scope was a Unertl 1-1/4 inch target/varmint version that the military bought by the dozens. This is what Erik England ('nother sniper) told me at a match in the early 1970's.

http://unertl.alexweb.net/unertl1819.htm

In the late '60's, the US Navy Small Arms Match Conditioning Unit put Redfield 3-9x scopes on the Remington 700's they built. Watched 'em testing those rifles with a 20-inch silencer on the muzzle at 600 yards. A good lot of M118 match ammo shot about 6 inches; not bad at all with a silencer.

Too bad those scopes had half a minute or more slop in their zoom optics as well as their adjustments; they were put hard into 9X on zoom to keep the zoom lens groups from shifting from recoil when used by SEAL teams. I borrowed three of them from the Unit to test on my collimator. Sure enough; they had that much slop in W & E adjustments, almost 1 moa in their zoom optics. Redfield never fixed this in their last target scope Lones Wigger brought me one to test about 10 years ago; it was just as sloppy as all their previous ones. I uses to shoot matches with a Redfield employee; he said, with much dismay, the company was more interested in profit than quality and most of their customers would never notice it anyway.

Last edited by Bart B.; November 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM.
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Old November 29, 2012, 04:05 PM   #7
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So sounds like optically the lower end scopes of today like the redfields and prostaff are superior with their coatings. Internally and mechanically the old scopes are probably on par with say like a FX-3?
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Old November 29, 2012, 04:37 PM   #8
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I have gotten to look down the tube of a number of 70's/60's era scopes.

The midpriced scopes today are clearer than the midpriced scopes of yore.

I am using a couple of Redfield 3200 scopes in small bore prone. These are scopes from the 60's. Everything is clear to the edges and these are fine scopes. These were expensive scopes in their day, and still are over priced on the used market!

I have a couple of Unertl spotting scopes, the 65mm ones with 45 degree offset. The new one I paid $800.00 in 1999. I cannot tell any difference in clarity between it and this $100 Celestron 65mm scope. Maybe a teenager will see something.

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Old November 29, 2012, 04:56 PM   #9
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So, what did a high-end scope cost in 1968?
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Old November 29, 2012, 05:53 PM   #10
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My wife bought me a new Unertl 1.5" 20X target scope for Christmas in 1969 costing about $120 as I remember. It was near the pinnacle of target scopes and on par with the Lyman 20X Targetspots.

The very best target scope of the late 1960's was a 20X one hand made by a retired USN Chief Warrant Officer (formerly chief petty officer opticalman) Al DiSimone (smallbore shooter) who made his own steel tube and lens mounts, used excellent glass from American Optical Company and Unertl external mounts. No other target scope made then was as clear, sharp and bright. The DiSimone cost about $200 back then. The Unertl external mounts/adjustments were better than Lyman, but the Lyman Supertargetspot had better optics than the Unertl.

In the summer of 1971, the USN Rifle Team training for the Nationals in Annapolis, MD, was shipped one of the new Redfield 3200's to test on a 7mm Rem Mag I was to shoot in 1000 yard matches. Mounted that scope on the rifle and fired two shots to refine the boresight. Made a correction, loaded the third round then shot it. Coming out of recoil, I noticed two wires twisted into the field of view. The reticule had broke. I shipped that scope back to Redfield in Denver at their request as they sent another one to us. The second one broke its reticule on the first round from the 7mm Rem Mag. We gave up and used a DiSimone scope.

I replaced my 20X Unertl with a Weaver T20 in 1981 after John Unertl (yes, the man himself) told me of a test made that compared all the target scopes used on high power rifles showing the Weaver Micro Trac system was the best by far for repeatability and not shaken loose from recoil. A couple dozen were tested on an M1A for 50 shots of recoil punishment, then tested ona 1/3 MOA rifle/ammo system at 300 yards. He said he was working on something to equal what Weaver had done.

A friend bought a Redfield 6400 in the late 1980's, it was the replacement for their 3200. He showed it to me at the first long range match he shot with it. Lasted about a dozen shots on his .30-.338 before the reticule broke.

Last edited by Bart B.; November 30, 2012 at 08:37 AM.
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Old November 29, 2012, 06:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart B.
My wife bought me a new Unertl 1.5" 20X target scope for Christmas in 1969 costing about $120 as I remember. It was near the pinnacle of target scopes and on par with the Lyman 20X Targetspots.

The very best target scope of the late 1960's was a 20X one hand made by a retired USN Chief Warrant Officer (formerly chief petty officer opticalman) Al DiSimone (smallbore shooter) who made his own steel tube and lens mounts, used excellent glass from American Optical Company and Unertl external mounts. No other target scope made then was as clear, sharp and bright. The DiSimone cost about $200 back then.
Alrighty, well that would be equivalent to about $765 and $1275 today.

Does $765 or $1,275 come close to buying that comparative quality today?
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:33 AM   #12
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????

Hey Kraig,

You commented "the Japanese made Redfield" .

I didn't think that Redfield became Japenese 'till after 'Nam, when the whole company went under.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:39 AM   #13
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I ordered a new Leatherwood in the late 70's ( I think?) and it was around $800.00. I sold it with a rifle at an auction not long ago and it went low. Leatherwood started messing with foreign junk and now has a bad reputation.
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Old November 30, 2012, 07:37 AM   #14
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Brian, you asked if $765 or $1,275 come close to buying that comparative quality today. I say maybe, maybe not. Here's a decent "Consumer's Guide" to rifle scopes.

http://www.6mmbr.com/optics.html

Well, almost decent. It suggests the "box" test for checking a scope's mechanical repeatability. To me, if you want to trust the numbers derived from box testing a scope, you gotta use something you can shoot no worse than 1/10th MOA at 100 yards if you want your data to be accurate to 1/4 MOA. If you shoot your stuff no better than 3/4 MOA, your box test accuracy will be no better than about 1 MOA or a bit more. But it will let you find out if your scope's adjustments and zoom lens positioning are bad or horrible; nothing any better.

You'll get very accurate results putting an optical collimator in your barrel's muzzle, then setting the scope's reticule on it and boxing the adjustmenss 5 or 10 MOA on it. Also watch the reticule figure 8 about the collimator as you zoom power from limit to limit. But nobody puts this method anyplace on the internet except me. Surely, I'm not the only person who's figured this out.

Note the Weaver T36 still has excellent adjustment s but still's a bit weak in the optics. If one doesn't need to count the hairs per square centimeter on an animal or dots per square inch on a picture, both at longer ranges, that's a good scope.

Nightforce scopes seem to ride a lot of rifles used to shoot good scores and groups and the get rave reviews. That's good because I tested one back in the early 1990's. I'd called Nightforce to ask a question on their scopes' optical and mechanical qualities and the man said he would send me one to test; totally free of charge. On my home-made scope tester, it had 3/4 MOA hysteriesis (figure 8 movement of the reticule when zooming power from limit to limit), 1/2 MOA adjustment slop and looseness from simulated recoil in both E and W (as seen on the collimator in my scope tester) and focus was sharp at about 200 yards and no further when the objective lens was set at its infinity stop. So I returned that scope with a letter detailing what I had observed. Never heard back from them.
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Old November 30, 2012, 07:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 30Cal
The Redfield 3-9 was a pretty good scope in it's time. Scopes today have lesser optical loss with coating improvements. Mechanically, I think it'd still be a pretty solid scope and would be above average in that respect.
+1

I recall a informal scope test at Elk camp in the early 70's. We had Redfield, Leupold and Weavers. All fairly new models, the Redfields would add 30 minutes plus of hunting time due to the superior light gathering capability.

Todays scopes have higher magnification spreads, a 6-22 zoom has unheard of back then.

Nightforce is very well received with the local long range shooters, followed by Leupold, Vortex and many others.

When you account for inflation todays scopes are a bargain, There are some very good ones starting around $350, or about $50 in 1967-68 dollars.
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:55 AM   #16
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In 1970 a Leupold 3x9 sold for $89.50, their 2x7sold for $79.50 and their M8 12 power sold for $99.50.

Redfields 3x9 sold for $109.95 to $129.95 depending on the options you chose to have on it.
Their 2x7 sold for $99.95 to $119.95 again depending on the options you chose. ( I still have a USA made 2x7 Redfield).
Their Master 12 power sold for $119.95 to $129.95 depending on the recticle you chose.

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Old November 30, 2012, 08:59 PM   #17
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I was not a sniper nor did I have a scope on my M-16, but talking with snipers in my company, I was surprised to hear that a few guys actually brought there own scopes from home. A popular one was Redfield because of it's light gathering ability. The eye piece was not round, but sort of oval shape. Weaver and Leupold come to mind also but I can't be 100% sure. It's been a long time. I left there in 1968 after the TET offensive.
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Old December 1, 2012, 12:09 AM   #18
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After the adoption of the M24 the Army still kept the M21 in the inventory, using a Bosch and Lomb 10x40 mildot scope. You can get the same look with the Bushnell Elite 3200 10x40 scope. Do a little history of Bushnell/Bosch and Lomb and you'll figure out why.

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Old December 1, 2012, 08:55 AM   #19
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Quote:
A popular one was Redfield because of it's light gathering ability. The eye piece was not round, but sort of oval shape.
That was the Redfield "Widefield". I put on on a Rem 700 BDL Varmint in '78 and for LE Counter Sniper Carry. Mine was a fixed 6X.

Still have that combo now and it still works, holds a zero.



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Old December 1, 2012, 09:04 AM   #20
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I have a small collection of vintage Denver-made Redfield scopes. I prefer the ones with the "tombstone" ranging retical. In good shape, they are still excellent scopes, although light-gathering technology has moved on. Still, for $100 for a used Redfield, they still compare favorably with scopes costing several times more.
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Old December 1, 2012, 10:00 AM   #21
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Quote:
I have a small collection of vintage Denver-made Redfield scopes. I prefer the ones with the "tombstone" ranging retical. In good shape, they are still excellent scopes, although light-gathering technology has moved on. Still, for $100 for a used Redfield, they still compare favorably with scopes costing several times more.
I don't have any with the "tombstone" ranging recticle mine has the fine crosshair.
I've never seen one with the "tombstone" ranging recticle.
I assume this is the Accu-Range recticle, the description I have for using it sounds very interesting.

One of the main features I like about mine and some of my other older scopes is the capability to lock the eyepiece with the locking ring once the scope is focused.
I hate the fast focus eye piece feature that seems to be on most scopes made now.

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Old December 1, 2012, 11:09 AM   #22
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I found this scope at a garage sale and picked it up for $40 dollars. It is like new and the optics are as clear as can be expected considering the scopes age, in fact the optics are quite good.
It is a Davis Optic Spot Shot, 20 power. I have heard that a lot of snipers used these king of scopes, but I really don't know much about this scope!

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Old December 1, 2012, 11:55 AM   #23
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The 1970's Redfield 3-9 was the best scope I'd ever looked through at that time. I don't presently own any of the very high dollar scopes so don't have anything to campare. I think the older M70(30/06) had the Unertl target type scopes. Much too cumbersome and delicate for my liking in the environment of SE Asia.
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Old December 1, 2012, 04:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
I don't have any with the "tombstone" ranging recticle mine has the fine crosshair.
I've never seen one with the "tombstone" ranging recticle.
I assume this is the Accu-Range recticle, the description I have for using it sounds very interesting.
It was Maj. John Plaster's favorite reticle when he wrote the first edition of The Ultimate Sniper.
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Old December 2, 2012, 11:37 AM   #25
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Mostly FWIW, but some forty years back I had a Redfield 3x9 on a Swift. No problem for 3/8 MOA or feral cats to 300 yards at dusk.
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