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(NOTE: I added 20 pictures to go with this thread, 12-10-18).

Chronological history of military M14 daytime sniper rifle scopes

Over the past few years I have collected several scopes for my replicas of military M14 sniper rifles, and I decided to post some ‘group pictures’ of these optics for anyone interested in this particular aspect of M14 rifle history. As far as I can tell there were about 15 or 16 different official or ‘quasi-official’ daytime optics that the U.S. military used on the M14 sniper rifles and/or designated marksman rifles over the past five decades. That said, please note that this is not an exhaustive list - various odd-ball optics have been seen in pictures of M14s in military service that were used on an ‘ad hoc’ or unofficial basis during its 50 year service life. Pictures of some of these ‘ad hoc’ or ‘quasi-unofficial’ telescopes on M14s appear during the early part of the Vietnam War, and especially during the war in Iraq circa 200Xs, where thousands of M14s were unexpectedly pulled out of storage in an effort to meet the urgent operational needs of that conflict.

Anyhow, with the exception of the experimental use of USMC Unertl 10x scopes on ‘prototype’ M14 DMR type rifles during the 1990s, the following ten scopes are generally considered to have been used in some quantity on precision U.S. military M14 rifles from the late 1960s until the early 201xs. Also shown are the scope mounts and rings that are typically (but not always) associated with these daytime scopes. They are listed in chronological order from earliest to almost newest, as I don't yet own the proper NightForce scope. (and to the extent possible, information regarding rough order production estimates has also been provided):

1. M84 (2.2x) scope w/ AWC base and G&H scope rail and rings. There was an urgent request in 1966 for a telescope-equipped sniper rifle for use in Southeast Asia (SEA). U.S. Army Weapons Command (USAWECOM or AWC for short) responded by developing a telescope mount for use with the M14 rifle. The adopted system utilized a side-mounted steel scope mount, leftover WWII-era M1C-based Griffin and Howe (G&H) scope bases with 7/8” rings, and the M84 (2.2X) telescope. (Note: G&H base & rings in this picture is a reproduction part, but the M84 scope and AWC mount are original/vintage pieces):

This scope was a design finalized back in April 1945 for use on the M1C (Garand) sniper rifle, but WWII ended in the summer of 1945, and M84s were not put into commercial production until the early 1950s during the Korean War era. (The commercial manufactures were Libby-Owens-Ford, and Leupold & Stevens). Notably, I have read production estimates suggesting that “approximately 30k” or “up to 40k” M84 scopes may have been produced during the 1950s.

Reticle of M84 scope:

The M84 scopes were rather outdated by 1966 due to its low magnification compared to other military scopes being used at that time, but they were relatively robust, and readily available in large numbers within the Army’s supply system. So, several hundred M84 scopes, WWII-era G&H scope bases, and the newly designed AWC M14 scope mounts were shipped to Vietnam in 1967. This optical system was immediately pressed into service, and presumably used until the end of U.S. combat operations in the Vietnam War. They are often seen in vintage pictures on M14 rifles equipped with the M1C/M1D type leather cheek piece pad installed.

Production note: According to Peter Senich’s book, The Long-Range War, Rock Island Arsenal shipped 125 ‘match-prepared’ M14 rifles equipped with the AWC/M84 optic system to Vietnam in March 1967, and an additional 425 loose mounts and 356 M84 scopes were also subsequently sent. So reportedly 550 of the AWC scope mounts were shipped to Vietnam. Rifles equipped with this optical system are sometimes called ‘pre-XM21’ sniper rifles. Today, M84 scopes are easy to find for sale, but original AWC mounts and USGI G&H scope bases are much scarcer.

2. AR TEL (3-9x) scope with integrated base and rings. Field tested in late 1968 and subsequently adopted in September 1969 as part of the XM21 sniper rifle system. The ART or Adjustable Ranging Telescope system was somewhat unique as it utilized a reticle with small horizontal and vertical “stadia” lines to assist in range estimation, and a concentric ‘cam’ attached to the rear of the scope calibrated for use with M118 ammo, along with a special spring-loaded mount, that allowed the operator to quickly adjust the scope’s mounting angle and thus adjust the bullet’s trajectory for ranges between 100 and 900 meters.

AR TEL reticle (Reportedly it subtends 60 inches at the horizontal stadia and 30 inches at the vertical stadia):

Along with accurized M14 rifles and M118 match ammo, the XM21 system was successfully used during the Vietnam War, and remained the standard optical system on U.S. Army M21 sniper rifles until the early 1980s, when the newer ART II scopes replaced the Vietnam era AR TEL scopes. Sometimes referred to as an “ART 1” scope, but historically speaking, I think the more correct terminology in the nomenclature is the ART or AR TEL telescope.

As shown in Peter Senich’s book, The Long-Range War, three different ballistic cams were initially developed for the AR TEL scope: “CAL 7.62 M-118 Match”, “CAL 7.62 M-80 Ball” and “CAL 50 M-33 Ball” (e.g., .50 BMG). I think the M-33 ballistic cam only reached the concept stage of development, and I have never seen an AR TEL scope with an M80 ballistic cam installed, but I included this interesting information for historical purposes.

Production note: Approximately 1400 to 1600 XM21 sniper rifles were authorized during the Vietnam war, but the exact number actually produced is not known. The AR TEL scope was not available to the general public until after the M21 system was declared obsolete in 1988, and the AR TEL and ART II scopes were transferred from the Army to the DCM/CMP for disposal. In the mid-1990s the DCM sold all of their surplus AR TEL sniper scopes to the general public. Other obsolete optical sighting systems were also sold-off during this time, including M84 and Weaver K4 scopes and misc M1D scope mounts too. The AR TEL scopes can be found for sale on eBay or other forums, sometimes with the original aluminum transport case. Some NOS/unissued AR TEL mounts have also come up for sale.

3. ART II (3-9x) scope with integrated base and rings. Adopted in 1981 as part of the M21 sniper rifle system, as an upgrade/replacement of the older AR TEL telescopes. They worked similarly to the earlier AR TEL system, but the ART II allowed the magnification of the scope to be set independently of the range estimation ring. In other words, there are two independent adjustment rings on rear ocular portion of the scope, one for magnification, and one for range adjustment. The reticle design was updated to subtend distances in meters instead of yards, and the horizontal and bottom cross hairs were thicker, similar to today’s Duplex reticle.

ART II reticle (horizontal stadia represent 1 meter in width):

In addition, the mounting system was updated to utilize two attachment points instead of the single attachment point of the original Vietnam era mount, which was prone to loosening. The ART II optical system was used until the M21 was deemed obsolete in 1988, and gradually withdrawn from active service in the early 1990s. They were replaced by the bolt-action M24 sniper rifles. However, some M21s continued to be used by National Guard units well into the 1990s, and a few M21s with these obsolete scopes were apparently sent to Iraq as late as 2004.

(Note: There are two basic ways one can tell if an ART II scope was a former military scope - or if it was a commercially sold ART II scope. First, the standard M14 rear clip guide part was manually drilled and tapped by military armors to attach the rear mounting bolt to the M21 rifle, whereas the civilian version of the ART II scopes came with a replacement commercial rear clip guide part that was already pre-drilled with a threaded insert for the rear attachment bolt. In addition, sometimes the military armor would stamp or electro stencil the side of the scope mount with the full serial number, or the last 4 digits, of the serial number of the M21 rifle onto which the scope was to remain with during its service life).

Production note: According to Blake Steven’s book, the first order of 1,275 ART II scopes was delivered to the U.S. Army in December 1981, but it is unknown how many scopes may have been subsequently ordered by the U.S. military beginning in 1982. Surplus ART II scopes were sold-off by the DCM/CMP in the mid-1990s time period. Today they can be found for sale on eBay and other forums, sometimes with their original large green fiberglass transport case.

4. Unertl 10x scope (no mount or rings shown) Adopted in 1980 as part of the USMC M40A1 bolt-action sniper rifle system. The USMC Unertl 10x sniper scope is clearly not an M14-based optical system. That said, anecdotal reporting by Marine Corps veterans’ state that during the 1990s some Unertl 10x scopes were used on an ‘ad hoc’ basis for M14 DMR type rifles for use by anti-terrorism units such as FAST Company, and/or used during the testing of early ‘test bed’ or ‘prototype’ M14 DMR rifles at Quantico, VA. The BPT scope mount was used on some of these early DMR rifles. (Note: The final DMR rifle specification utilized the Leupold Mk 4, fixed 10x optic; scope #8 in this thread. The scope pictured below is a "T" Series Unertl scope, which was a civilian scope sold in the early 2000s, so it is not an issued "USMC SNIPER" scope, but other than markings is identical to the USMC issues scopes).

Unertl 10X Tactical scope (same as the 'USMC SNIPER' except the markings):

Regardless of its historic association with the M40A1 bolt-action sniper rifle, I included this unique scope in this thread as it was a transformative military optic system — it was the first scope to use a Mil-Dot reticle, and thus it bridges the gap between the old AR TEL & ART II reticle system and 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. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of this scope mounted on an M14, only a couple of anecdotals from Marine veterans who were active in the 1990s and 2000s. (Please contact me if you have pictures of the USMC Sniper scope being using on an M14 in service).

As an aside, 100 Unertl 10X scopes were made with a special ballistic cam calibrated for the .50 caliber BMG cartridge that included range estimation markings out to 1800 yards. (Source: Chandler, Death From Afar, Vol 1, pages 18-19) They were somewhat famously used during Operation Desert Storm, circa 1991, on the USMC’s long-range, Barnett M82A1,.50 caliber sniper rifles.

Production note: According to Chandler’s book Death from Afar, Vol I, approximately 650 of these scopes were delivered to the USMC from 1980 to 1988. An additional 100 scopes were ordered by the USMC for their .50 caliber rifles, and small numbers additional scopes were likely provided as replacements by both the original Unertl Optical Company and later US Optics. Issued scopes were marked “USMC SNIPER”. These former USMC-marked sniper scopes are generally only available via the CMP auction site. A very small, unknown number of these scopes were marked “10X SNIPER” and sold to the FBI and other law enforcement entities during the 1980s for hostage rescue and/or tactical units.

A small number of T-prefix scopes were made in the early 2000s for commercial sales (‘T’ for Tactical). Such examples will not be an issued “USMC SNIPER” marked scope, but they are otherwise identical, and I hope to use one of these on a replica M40A1 project…once I can find a nice M40A1 return stock. U.S. Optics refurbished original Unertl scopes for the USMC, and also made limited runs of the MST-100 scopes in the 200Xs, and other than markings, look just like original Unertl 10X scopes.

5. Leupold M3A Ultra (10x) scope with BPT scope mount and Leupold Tactical rings. Adopted in 1988 as part of the bolt-action M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS). This scope had a National Stock Number (NSN: 1005-01-260-2642) and was listed in the Army’s formal supply system. Hence it was subsequently utilized on some ‘product-improved’ M21 sniper rifles made by the Army’s 10th Special Force Group (SFG) XM25 and M25 rifles (and possibly the 5th SFG too). The M3 turrets had a BDC (bullet drop calculator) elevation dial marked for ‘M118 NATO’ ammo, which allowed coarse elevation adjustments from 100 to 1000 meters. Here's my 1990-dated example with the early Leupold Ultra Tactical 30mm steel rings with a parkerized finish:

The Brookfield Precision Tool (BPT) scope mount was innovative when it was introduced in the late 1980s, as it appears to have been one of the first M14 mounts that utilized 3 attachment points. It was adopted for use by various branches of the military as well as some law enforcement agencies that were using M14s. The M3A scopes were used until approximately 2010, at which point the M24s were returned to the Army and re-built into the newer XM2010/M2010 configuration. The original M3A scopes were replaced at that time with the Leupold Mk4 6.5-20X50mm ER/T M5A2 scopes.

Production note: Reportedly up to 15,000 M24 rifles were made, but they were used by over a dozen foreign countries, and I think the total production for the U.S. military was roughly 7,000 to 10,000 rifles. These original M3A Ultra scopes were made from 1987 to either 1992 or 1993, and their replacement Mk 4 scope entered production in 1993. The scopes with the M118 military M3 turrets can occasionally be found for sale on eBay and other forums.

(Note: Unlike basically all commercial scopes made in the U.S. over the past several decades, the original Leupold M3A 10x Ultra scopes made from the late 1980s to the early 1990s have elevation turrets that rotate in a clockwise orientation for up elevation adjustments. The military specified this format along with the special M118 BDC elevation dials. In addition, the windage knobs when turned in a clockwise fashion moved the point of impact to the right. The use of these unique ‘clockwise’ turrets continued with the early Mk 4 scopes made in the 1990s. However, in either the very late 1990s, or according to one source, 2002, Leupold reversed the orientation of the elevation turrets on the Mk 4 scopes with M3 turrets so that the newer scopes use the ‘traditional’ orientation. (e.g., upward elevation adjustments are done in a counter-clockwise orientation, and moving the point of impact to the right is also done in a counter-clockwise fashion).

What this means is that the original military elevation rings marked for “M118 NATO” cannot be used on the newer Leupold Mk 4 scopes that have made since reportedly 2002. So, while the ‘older’ and ‘newer’ fixed Mk 4 fixed 10x scopes with M3 turrets may look alike, the distance markings on the old military M118 BDC turret dials (e.g., 100, 200 meters, etc) are printed in the wrong orientation for the newer Mk 4 scopes. Just an fyi).

6. Bausch & Lomb (B&L) Tactical 10x scope with BPT scope mount and Leupold Tactical rings. Adopted circa 1989 as part of the Navy’s M14 Physical Security Sniper Rifle, which has also been referred to as the M14 Port Security Sniper Rifle. According to a contact at Crane, he recalls they had “hundreds” of these B&L scopes on site at one point in time. In fact, this optic has also been seen on a wide variety of Crane-built precision rifles for Navy personnel and/or U.S. Special Operations Command (or SOCOM). During the 1990s-2000s these scopes appeared on precision 5.56mm and 7.62mm semi-automatic rifles, and also on the Navy’s early 300 Win Magnum bolt action sniper rifles (M91A2), as used by SEAL teams and SOCOM operators.

This long-time Crane employee also mentioned that the Navy had used a small number of the Japanese-made Tasco 10X Tactical scopes on some rifles, presumably once the B&Ls were no longer available. (It appears the design of that particular Tasco "SS 10x42mm" scope later became known as the SWFA SS 42mm10x Tactical scope. Here's history according to the vendor's website: History | SWFA).

FWIW: In Peter Senich’s book, The Long-Range War, one of these B&L scopes is shown in a circa 1992 picture of what is presumably U.S. Army personnel training in Kentucky with an XM25 or M25 rifle, but it is unclear if the rifle and scope in the picture came from an Army Special Forces Group, or if it was actually a Navy/SOCOM weapon. FWIW, a long-time National Guard M14 armor who supported the Guard’s M14s from 1990 to 2011 told me it is doubtful that the Army would have procured the B&L scopes given they had formally adopted the Leupold M3A scope in 1988, which met the same basic technical requirements. The Leupold scope had a standard NSN number as part of the M24SWS system, and it was in the Army’s supply system.

In contrast to the Army, he noted that the Navy’s Surface Warfare unit at Crane makes a lot of low-volume, specialized weapon systems for both Naval Special Operations units (SEALs) and for SOCOM, and as such, Crane has a lot more flexibility in procuring non-standard items that do not have NSN numbers. Long story short, Crane creates a unique ‘local NSN’ that has an “LL” in the number sequence for these unique items that Crane procures.

My research indicates that the NSN for the B&L scope was indeed a unique Navy ‘local’ NSN: 1005-LL-LT4-095, so I consider the B&L scope a Navy optic — but they may have been used by SOCOM special operations, which can involve various branches of the U.S. military, including Army Special Forces. Anyhow, I suspect most of the old B&L Tactical 10x scopes have likely been removed from service as of 2018, but perhaps a few remain for ad hoc or ‘test bed’ projects.

Production note: These scopes were offered as commercial items by B&L as the Elite 4000 10X Tactical scope. Production volumes for its commercial sales are not know, but they are not exactly rare scopes. Regarding government purchases, based on Navy documentation that states up to 320 of the Navy M14 Physical Security Sniper Rifles were funded in FY89, one can assume at least 320 or more B&L scopes may have been procured by the Navy in the 1989-90 period. Today these scopes can occasionally be found for sale on eBay and other forums.

7. Leupold Mk 4, M1 (10x) scope with Navy SSR mount and late 30mm Leupold Tactical rings. Adopted circa 1996 as part of the Navy’s M14 Sniper Security Rifle, or SSR. This optic has also been seen on some of the early Navy/Crane-built 300 Winchester Magnum precision sniper rifles (e.g., Mk 13 Mod 0, and L91A2 sniper rifle, both are based on a long action Remington 700 receiver). This example has the later Leupold Mk 4 tactical rings that have a circular shape on the top, which would be correct for the later SSR's built with the tan McMillan M3A stocks. The earlier SSR's with gray stocks built in 1996 had the older Leupold "Ultra" rings with the rectangular surface on the top.

Note: Unlike the earlier Leupold M3A Ultra scopes that were based on the military’s technical requirements for the M24 SWS system, the M1 turrets on these commercial Mk 4 scopes operate in the ‘traditional’ manner: adjustments are counter-clockwise for up elevation, and turned counter-clockwise to move the point of impact to the right. To the best of my knowledge, these were off-the-shelf commercial scopes and had no BDC marking on the turrets.

The SSR scope mount is a unique design, as it requires some of the shoulder of the barrel to be machined away to accommodate the front scope collar, and the rear attachment point for the scope rail completely replaces the rear sight on an M14/M1A receiver. The original SSR scope rails had only 4 slots for scope rings and was utilized on the Mk 14 Mod 2 rifles circa 2011, but the Navy subsequently replaced the original 4-slot scope mounts (called the ‘Leupold rail’) for a revised scope rail that included the more modern M1913 Pictinny design, which provides more flexibility in ring placement. (Note: Springfield Armory Inc. copied the basic design of the SSR mount when they released their top-of-the-line M25 ‘White Feather’ rifle back in 2001, but the SAI M25 mount sits about a ¼” lower and required a small section of the stripper clip guide on the receiver to be milled off to clear the scope rail).

Production note: A small number of the earlier version of this scope, the Leupold M1A Ultra 10X, dating from the mid-1980s, were used on the original Navy M14 Physical Security Sniper Rifles in the late 1980s/early 1990s. They have the tallish M1 style turrets, and other than Leupold’s markings on the bottom of these earlier scopes, they are otherwise identical to the later Mk 4 scopes made in the mid-1990s and 2000s.

Regarding the SSR rifles, I have not been able to find information regarding actual production volumes, but McMillan Fiberglass Stocks did provide Crane with “about 200” of the tan SSR stocks in the mid-2000s, so my best guess is that roughly 200 to 300 Leupold Mk 4, 10x scopes with M1 turrets were likely procured for the Navy to be used on SSR rifles - but that is a rough order of magnitude estimate based on the Navy’s order of tan McMillan M3A stocks. The Navy also used these scopes on their early 300 WinMag Remington 700 bolt action rifles. These particular Mk 4 fixed 10x scopes were recently discontinued by Leupold, but can still be found for sale in excellent condition on places like eBay.

8. Leupold Mk 4, M3 (10x) scope with SEI mount and 30mm Badger Ordnance Tactical rings. The USMC’s original M14 Designated Marksman Rifle or DMR, as adopted circa 1998/2000 used GG&G-supplied scope mounts and GG&G 30mm rings. (The NSN for the scope was adopted in January 2000, NSN: 1240-01-470-6548. It appears correlated with Marine Corps Logistic Command. Not coincidentally, the USMC DMR rifle itself became a standardized item in the year 2000, with NSN: 1005-01-458-6235). The issued GG&G scope mount was marked ‘USMC.’ The diagram of the DMR rifle in the original 1998 Technical package shows 4-screw rings for both front and rear, but the later Technical Manual with a color picture of the DMR rifle shows a larger 6-screw scope ring front ring up front, and the regular size 4-screw ring in the rear. So the front ring choice changed slightly early in production, and the pictures I have seen of the DMRs in service all seem to show the larger 6-screw scope rings. Here's the "mid-200Xs" era DMR with SEI mount and Badger Ordnance USMC DMR rings:

Anyhow, some issues were later reported from the field regarding the GG&G parts, and as a consequence some of the DMR rifles returned from the fleet for servicing after Sept 2003 were updated with an SEI scope mount and Badger Ordnance DMR rings. So, the pictured SEI mount and Badger Ordnance rings is only correct for a post-2004 era DMR.

The Leupold Mk 4, fixed 10x scopes were initially specified back in 2000, however, as early as 2003 some DMRs seen in Iraq had variable power scopes (e.g., Leupold 3.5-10x, 40mm Mk 4 tactical scope). Presumably these variable power scopes — when used at the lower power setting — may have been better suited for urban warfare experienced in the cities within Iraq, as it gave the marksman a wider field of view for observation purposes — when compared to a fixed 10X optic. So in theater DMRs used both fixed 10x scopes or variable 3.5-10X Leupold Mk 4 scopes. Some DMRs also used night vision devices, but that topic is beyond the scope of this thread.

Production note: According to Lee Emerson’s book, M14 Rifle History and Development, Vol 1 (2016 edition), back in mid-2007, 381 USMC DMRs were listed in their inventory, so that is the best estimate as to roughly how many of these scopes and mounts were procured during the 200Xs. These particular scopes are now discontinued by Leupold, but can be found for sale on forums and eBa, but the USMC marked GG&G mount is rather scarce…I’m still looking for one.

9. Schmidt and Bender ‘M8541 USMC Scout Sniper Daytime Scope’ (3-12x50mm PMII LP GenII MTC CCW) scope with SEI mount and 34mm Badger Ordnance Tactical rings. The USMC’s M39 rifle, as adopted circa 2008 with the SAGE International chassis system, was typically seen with the same scope the USMC used on their bolt-action M40A5 sniper rifles, a 3-12X50mm Schmidt & Bender (S&B) scope with an illuminated generation II Mil-Dot reticle. The rear ocular of the issued S&B scope mount was marked ‘8541’ (NSN: 1240-01-533-1854). The M39 used the same SEI scope mount that was used on the late M14 DMR rifles, but with 34mm diameter Badger Ordnance rings to accommodate the larger diameter S&B scope. (Note: There were two variations of the S&B M8541 scope used by the USMC, differing mainly in the way the elevation turret operated, but a detailed description of that difference is beyond the scope of this thread. The later style turret is what is what is int the below picture. Scope mount is correct SEI, along with Badger Ordnance 'USMC' marked 34mm rings).

S&B PMII 3-12X50mm scope ('Gen 2' Mil-Dot reticle has adjustable illumination):

Production note: A very small number of ‘USMC 8541’ S&B scopes were apparently released to the public in the mid-200Xs, but the vast majority of S&B scopes on the market will be the civilian version as seen above, and is otherwise identical except for the special USMC markings. The item number for the correct civilian scope with the unique counter-clockwise (CCW) turret is: 644-911-972-89-64A38. The correct SEI scope mount and Badger Ordnance 34mm rings are widely available.

10. Premier Heritage (3-15x50mm) scope with SEI mount and 34mm Badger Ordnance Tactical rings. I don’t own one of these scopes, but in addition to the more common S&B scope, it should be noted that a few M40A5 and M39 rifles were also deployed with a Premier Heritage 3-15X scope. The issued Premier scopes had an “A” suffix added to its nomenclature, and was marked ‘M8541a.’ (NSN: 1240-01-586-9839) Marty, the owner of Badger Ordnance, is a proud owner of one of these rare USMC marked Premier Heritage scopes on his M39 replica. Both the S&B (M8541) and Premier Heritage (M8541A) scopes are listed in the January 2014 Component list for the M40A5 rifle, but Marty's specimen is the only one I have ever seen on an M39 type rifle:

USMC issued Premier Heritage scope on M39:

Military markings (note "M8541a"):

Production note: I have not seen any data regarding how many Premier Heritage scopes were purchased by the USMC, but that company went out of business shortly thereafter, so I suspect the number of scopes issued was relatively small. I have never seen an 'M8541a’ marked Premier Heritage scope for sale. The civilian version of this scope with the correct 22 MRADs adjustment on the elevation turret can occasionally be found on eBay and online forums, etc.

11. NightForce NXS 3.5-15x50mm with SSR scope mount and NightForce rings. As far as I can tell, the final M14-based sniper rifle officially fielded by the U.S. military was the Navy Mk 14 Mod 2 sniper rifle. Reportedly 250 of these rifles were made at Crane around 2011 for use by Navy SEALs. They were equipped with the NightForce NXS 3.5-15x50mm Mil-Spec scope.

This picture is from a 2012 online ad for the small number of "overrun" Mil-Spec NightForce 3.5-15x50mm F1 scope with 0.1 MRAD adjustments with zero-stop turrets. These scopes sold for $2290 back in 2012, and were engraved on the bottom "ARMY-SPEC F1." I think these scopes were overruns for the Army's M110 sniper rifle.

Broadly speaking, NightForce has made various ‘mil-spec’ scopes that went through extensive additional testing and were engraved on the bottom of the turret housing with “NAV-SPEC”; ”MIL-SPEC” and “ARMY-SPEC F1”. Some of these scopes were used on Navy Mk11, Mk 14 rifles and US Army M110 type rifles.

Rare Navy "NAV-SPEC" engraving. This is a unicorn Navy scope, but probably the most correct for a Mk 14 Mod 2 replica.

The Mk 14 Mod 2 scope mount utilized the old SSR scope mount system. Initially the rifles were issued with the original scope rail with 4 slots (referred to as the “Leupold Rail”), but the rifles were subsequently updated with an M1913 Picitinny rail system, which offered more flexibility.

For Crane-based weapon systems like the Mk 11 and Mk 14, a scope marked “NAV-SPEC” on the bottom would be the “most correct” choice. Given the rarity however, a discontinued commercial version of the NightForce scope is probably more realistic for a Mk 14 Mod 2 replica project.

Production Notes: NightForce has provided the U.S. military with hundreds (if not thousands) of tactical scopes over the past decade plus, but actual production volumes of these Mil-Spec scopes are unknown. Personally I have seen only one “NAV-SPEC” marked NightForce scope for sale, and that was an old post from 2011. A small number of the “ARMY F1 SPEC” scopes were sold as ‘military overruns’ for the civilian market back in 2011-2012, but they are quite rare. I would like to find a ‘NAV-SPEC’ scope for my prospective Mk 14 Mod 2 replica, but doubt I will ever see such a unicorn one for sale.

Optics not shown but also used on precision military M14s:
On this list I would include the Leupold Mk 4, 3.5-10x, 40mm scope with M2 turrets and Mil-Dot reticle as used on both US Army EBRs and USMC DMRs as well. In the late 2000s the Navy Mk 14, Mod 0, 1 and 2 used various optics from Leupold, Nightforce, and Schmidt & Bender; ranging in size from the Coast Guard’s M14T rifle with a 1.1-4x S&B PM ShortDot scope, up to the Navy SEAL’s Mk 14 Mod 2 sniper rifle with the large NightForce NXS 3.5-15x50mm Mil-Spec scope.

Since the early 1990s, various red dot (zero magnification) sights have also been seen on M14s used by Navy SEALs in Desert Storm, and in Somalia, etc, but it appears those were likely ad hoc or user-specific configurations. Obviously M14s with red dot sights are close quarter weapons, not precision sniper rifles, which is the focus of the optics in this thread. Lastly, I have also seen a few pictures of M14 rifles fitted with 4x ACOG scopes, but again, that configuration appears to have been an “ad hoc” or unofficial set-up, and it is unlikely that such rifles were used as formal sniper weapons. Perhaps an ad hoc DMR.

Although not a US military optic, but definitely a distinct variant of an official military M14 sniper rifle optic is the Israeli Defense Force-issued ‘Nimrod’ (6x) scopes, and its matching Israeli M14 scope mount. I don’t know a lot about the Israeli/IDF Nimrod scopes, other than two versions were manufactured; originally the scopes were made in Japan, and reportedly the later ones with slightly larger objective bells were made by Kahles of Germany. I do know that they had an interesting reticle with range estimations stadia similar to the Russian Draganov’s reticle, and apparently some of the scopes made by Kahles for the IDF had a BDC elevation turret marked; ‘M118’ or ‘M852’ with range markings from 100 to 800 meters (I think). That said, several Nimrod scopes I have seen for sale do not have any BDC markings on their turrets.

Early Japanese-made IDF Nimrod 6X scope with IDF M14 mount (source: eBay):

IDF Nimrod reticle with range estimation marks:

Other than Israel, who received ~ 35,000 M14 rifles from the US in the early 1970s, I am not aware of any other foreign militaries that developed a unique optical system specifically for the M14 rifle like the Nimrod scopes and mounts used by the IDF.

However, I would not be surprised if Taiwan may have developed a basic sniper optic system for their ‘Type 57’ rifles, which was their domestically-produced M14 type rifle made with former U.S. machinery and tooling. Here’s one vintage picture probably from the 1970s or 1980s suggesting an M14 sniper optic system may have been adopted by Taiwan, but I have not found any additional information.

Obscure Taiwanese optic on an M14 (picture is probably from 1970s-1980s era):

Lastly, various night vision devices have also been used on the M14 going back to the Vietnam War (i.e., AN/PVS2 Starlight and later the PVS-4 night vision optics, etc). However, I don’t own any of those units, and generally speaking, those devices are beyond the scope of this thread regarding M14 daytime sniper optics.


During the 1960s and 1970s the U.S. military experimented with different scopes and different reticle patterns on their military optics, and by 1968 the U.S. Army and USMC settled on 3-9X scopes that were based on the very popular Redfield scope of that era. (e.g., USMC, U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force all used 3-9x scopes on the M40 and M14 type sniper rifles). The Leatherwood system as seen on the AR TEL scopes from the late 1960s was innovative and effective once understood by its operator, but the scope and its elevating mount were somewhat complex to maintain given that the design utilized some ‘moving parts’ inside the scope mount. In particular, I read that the leaf spring inside the mount that provides tension for the ‘canting’ feature was a somewhat problematic part. In addition, the single point mounting system of the AR TEL scope mount was reportedly prone to loosening over time.

In 1980-81 the U.S. Army adopted a newer version of the 3-9X AR TEL scope with the product improved ART II scope, along with its more robust two-point mounting system, whereas the USMC broke new ground and adopted the famous Unertl 10x sniper scope for their bolt-action M40A1 sniper rifle. This robust Unertl scope with its simple but revolutionary Mil-Dot reticle, and built-in BDC elevation turret - more or less transformed military sniper optics. Indeed, over the next three decades (1980s-200Xs), the U.S. military somewhat standardized its sniper rifle optic systems around fixed 10 power scopes with Mil-Dot reticles, and often a BDC feature on the elevation turret (calibrated for M118 ammo).

The main design change during this time period was moving from the 1” diameter main tube of the Unertl 10x to the larger 30mm tube that Leupold introduced on its then new M1/M2/M3 tactical scopes, which provided more light transmission. A user-adjustable parallax to compensate for different distances also became a new feature on tactical scopes. In addition, the late-1980s era BPT scope mount introduced a three-point mounting system for the M14 that was a step forward in robustness when compared to earlier designs. The heavy-duty, steel, Leupold Ultra tactical scope rings also represented progress over earlier designs.

After a couple of decades with only incremental changes, U.S. military sniper optics began to undergo real change in the mid-to-late 200Xs/early 201Xs, when the military started using variable power scopes with larger objectives and increased magnification levels. Illuminated reticles also became a standard feature that the military required on its sniper rifles. The three scopes that were ‘officially’ used on precision military M14s beginning the mid-200Xs to early 2010s followed this general pattern, which include the 3-12x50mm Schmidt & Bender M8541; 3.5-15x50mm NightForce NXS, and the Premier Heritage 3-15x50mm scopes.

Not surprising, the contemporary designs of these military-spec tactical scopes do outperform the earlier military scopes seen in this thread regarding both optical quality and overall features (along with commensurately higher prices I might add). Contemporary features include: advanced coatings on the lens to enhance image brightness, larger 34mm main tubes, more granular ‘generation 2’ Mil-Dot reticles located in the first focal plane, reticles with adjustable illumination levels that can work in conjunction with night vision devices, larger and more ergonomic adjustment turrets with .1 MRAD increments, and the NightForce scope also featured ‘zero-stop’ turrets for enhanced adjustability, etc).

The last of the fixed 10x sniper scopes were replaced around 2010-2011 when the U.S. Army finally retired their 20-plus year old Leupold M3A scopes and went with the advanced Leupold Mk4 6.5-20X50mm ER/T M5A2 scopes (but not for Army’s EBR-RI M14-based Squad Designated Marksman rifles, which continued to solider on in a SAGE chassis, and typically fitted with the older Leupold Mk 4 3.5-10x40mm scope with a basic Mil-Dot reticle). Indeed, during the 201Xs, the U.S. military retired many of its M14 rifles and adopted various SR-25-based semi-automatic precision rifles (i.e., Navy Mk 12 and Army and USMC XM110/M110 semi-auto rifles). The military is now in the process of adopting the H&K G28 type semi-automatic sniper rifles with even larger and more advanced daytime and nighttime optical systems.

Anyhow, that’s my mini-dissertation concerning the various daytime optics that were used on precision U.S. military M14 sniper and DMR rifles from the late 1960s thru the late 201Xs. It was difficult and expensive acquire these optics and related scope mounts, but as a collector, I find the progression of these optical aiming systems somewhat interesting, especially when analyzed in chronological order.

(NOTE: On 12-10-2018 I posted 20 pictures to go with this thread, which is the maximum allowed per post...but may add to subsequent posts).

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
FWIW, I'll mention one other vintage scope that was apparently recommended for adoption, although no military procurement took place...

Footnote/Honorable mention: Stith/Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x scope

While never adopted by the U.S. Army, it should be noted that the Stith/Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x Telescope with crosshair reticle and the Pachmayr ‘Lo-Swing’ Telescope mount, was evaluated in 1953 and was formally recommended by the U.S. Army Infantry Board (USAIB) as the replacement for the M84 scopes on the M1C sniper rifles of that era. As noted in R. Blake Steven’s book, U.S. Rifle M14: From John Garand to the M21, (1982), page 274:

“Office, Chief of Army Field Forces approved the recommendation of the USAIB and recommended that the Stith Telescope and Pachmayr Mount be classified Standard Type (STD A in today’s phraseology) and issued to replace the M84 telescope and M1C mount. However, no procurement action took place.”
My guess as to why no procurement activity took place? Well, around that same time period circa 1953, the Army decided to replace the M1C sniper rifles with the less complex, simpler to manufacture M1D rifles, and thus procuring new mounts and scopes for the soon-to-be obsolete M1C rifles may have been deemed as superfluous. Moreover, in July 1953 the Korean War ended in a more-or-less truce, and perhaps the demand for upgraded M1C sniper rifles dissipated after the cease fire.

Regardless, the Korean War appears to have been the last time M1C sniper rifles were widely used by U.S. Army forces. Pictures of post-1953 Army personnel show the M1D type sniper rifles with M84 scopes. (Note: The USMC was also not satisfied with the M84 and its limited 2.2X magnification, and around 1952-53 they adopted a modified version of the Stith-Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x scope that used large click-adjustable turrets. It was designated it as the ‘MC-1’ telescope. The Marines continued to use the M1C rifles with MC-1 scopes model until the early-1960s, before designating their inventory of M1C rifles as obsolete).

Although not adopted in 1953, the military’s interest in using the Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4X scope apparently continued into the M14 program. Blake Steven’s excellent book shows pictures of several experimental Pachmayr ‘Lo-Swing’ mounts that were tested on prototype M14 rifles at Fort Benning, GA circa 1958. Of the eight telescopes and experimental Lo-Swing mounts that were evaluated in this Nov 1958 report, one of them is listed as the “Hinged Scope Mount Assembly (SAD 40577) for Kollmorgen Bear Cub telescope.” (Source: Blake Stevens, U.S. Rifle M14: From John Garand to the M21, page 275.)

Fast forward to 1966, in an order to satisfy the urgent requirement in Southeast Asia (SEA) for a telescope-equipped sniper rifle, the U.S. Army Weapons Command tested a hinged version of an M14 scope mount with the M84 scope. The experimental hinged mount apparently had some deficiencies was not adopted, and AWC subsequently developed a simpler, fixed scope mount that was used in quantity in Vietnam, beginning in 1967. However, the U.S. Army’s 1966 report again determined that the M84 scope was the “least suitable element” of the proposed M14 sniper rifle system, and made a reference to the previous recommendation regarding the Bear Cub 4X scope:

“As a result of a test conducted by USAIB in 1953 (the last conducted by USAIB on sniper scopes), it was recommended that the Stith Bear Cub 4X Telescope and the Pachmayr Lo-Swing mount with minor modifications, be standardized and that they replace the M84 telescope and mount. The results of this current product improvement test led to no change in the USAIB’s previously stated conclusions regarding the M84 telescope…

Conclusions: US Army Infantry Board concludes that: The hinged telescope mount for the M14 rifle will not be suitable for sniper rifle use in SEA until the deficiencies and as many of the shortcomings as feasible are corrected...The M84 telescope is unsuitable for use as a sniper rifle telescope, except under some low light-level conditions…A variable power telescope or one with a minimum of 4X magnification is needed in the sniper rifle role. Provision for adjustment of the telescope to obtain proper eye relief is also needed.”
Given that interesting history, I have included a picture of the commercial Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4X scope on this thread, as it was apparently almost adopted as the replacement for M84s scopes around 1953; it was again tested by the Army on prototype M14 sniper rifles in 1958 at Fort Benning, and it was even mentioned in a 1966 report on the inadequacies of the M84 scope.

Note: The base on the 1950s era Pachmayr ‘Lo-Swing’ mount required drilling and tapping 4 threaded holes on the side of the receiver for mounting screws - but obviously I’m not interested in drilling holes into any of my M1A receivers. Instead, I modified my old “angled” Bassett mount by relieving the sharp bottom corners with 45 degree angled cut, and had my local gunsmith refinished it via Cerakoting with a flat black finish, thereby giving it a slightly more military look. The rings at a 45 degree angle look kind-of like the old Pachmyer mount. This set-up is easily installed and removed, so I can use it on my iron-sighted M1As on an ad hoc basis.

Anyhow, I’m giving the Kollmorgen 4X Bear Cub scope an afterthought/honorable mention, given that it was formally recommended by the U.S. Army Infantry Board as the replacement for the M84 scope. I suspect that if it had been procured back in the 1950s, it may have been subsequently used on M14 sniper rifles in the Vietnam – perhaps in a slightly modified form similar to the USMC MC-1 scopes based on the 4X Bear Cub scope.

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Great write up RG! To pick nits, I suspect some of the "pre-XM21" variants saw more use on M14 type rifles than the Unertl 10X did later. In addition to the Stith/Kollmorgen of course there was the illusive "Marine" brand scope, the Weaver K4 and commercial Redfields. Granted, none of these were standardized but neither was the Unertl.

I strongly suspect the B&L Tactical 10X was used by elements in the army and was not only a navy scope but I have no evidence to support that aside from the one picture you mentioned.

While the ART II was the standard upgrade for M21 rifles in 1981, by the mid 1980's it seems a variety of L&S scopes were used as well on late M21's and "product improved" M21's. Not sure if the was unit / operator preference or a short supply of ART II's.

As mentioned in your other post, I am very confident that the first XM25 rifles built for the 10th SFG at Fort Devens sported the ULTRA M3 rather that the 3A despite the logic that the 3A was already prevelant in the supply chain by then.

Just my random thoughts on the matter, worth exactly what they cost. Thanks for the write up.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Majikani, thanks for the feedback.

Well, I agree that the USMC Unertl 10X was used only on a few prototype M14 DMRs (supposedly a few at Camp Pendleton in the 1990s, I recall something about FAST company DMR rifles? And a few used at Quantico during DMR development in the mid-1990s, per my local retired 2112 who was stationed there at the time). As I emphasized, "The USMC Unertl 10x sniper scope is clearly not an M14-based optical system." However, as also noted, it was a transformative sniper optic and influenced subsequent military scopes used on the M14 and other platforms, hence its inclusion as a scope used on some precision USMC M14s for possible combat missions, but on a very limited scale.

I strongly suspect the B&L Tactical 10X was used by elements in the army and was not only a navy scope but I have no evidence to support that aside from the one picture you mentioned.
Well, I have searched high and low, and never found any NSN number in the US Army Property database for a B&L scope. I am convinced it was only the Navy/Crane that likely bought 320 of those scopes at a minimum, circa 1989-1990. Here's what I have found, if interested:

NSN for original Leupold M3A scope (established in 1987, for the M24 SWS system):

(Note: I have not found any Leupoold scopes with an Army NSN prior to the July 1987-dated NSN created for the M24 SWS scope, hence my impression that the M1, M2, and original M3 scopes used in very small quantities were likely Test & Evaluation items (or military "trial scopes") provided gratis to the US military...Indeed, the historical record of NSNs suggests that Leupold had to wait a few years, but they got their financial reward with the formal adoption of the M24 SWS and what I think was the procurement of somewhere b/t 7k to 10k M3A Ultra scopes for the US, and several thousand more scopes to foreign militaries who adopted the M24, etc.)

NSN for original Leupold Mk 4 M3 scope (established in 2000, for the USMC M14 DMR rifle):

NSN for the original Leupold Mk 4 3.5-10x scope used on the Army's EBR-RI rifles (established in 2007, the same time as Rock Island starting making them)

BTW, if you (or anyone else) can find a US Army NSN for the B&L Tactical 10X scope, I'll gift you $20 via PayPal, as I simply can't find any such unicorn NSN...;-p)

To reiterate, if a small part on a multi-million dollar weapon system doesn't have an National Stock Number (NSN) assigned to it - the US Army simply can not formally or informally purchase said item. Those are the DoD rules that Big Army must follow in order to spend tax payer money, and that goes back to the 1950s. No NSN = no purchase allowed. An exception I suspect exists for full-scale Army mobilization in preparation for a major war, as may have been the case in the pre-invasion mobilization phase of the Iraq War circa 2002/early 2003, but I digress...

In contrast, Crane as a small specialized DoD entiry has authority to create its own local NSNs for small procurements. In the words of a long-time NG amoror whose service began in 1990, "The Army doesn't have the purchasing flexibility that Crane has, especially when it comes to non-standard items that don't have an assigned NSN . That's how Crane gets to buy and build all that cool stuff for Navy SEALs and the SOCOM guys."

....Anyhow, after talking to a long-time Crane employee who explained that they can provide 'local' NSNs with an "LL" number for small volume Navy weapon systems purchased by Crane, and the only NSN I have seen for the B&L scope has that unique "LL" in the sequence. Thus, I am about 99% sure that it was a Navy only procurement, and not procured by the U.S. Army. My Crane guy remembers having hundreds of them (probably early 1990s era?). Like Leupold, could B&L have provided the US Army with some T&E scopes hoping they might adopt them? Yes, but the Army requires NSN for anything they purchase, and I can't find any evidence of a non-Crane NSN for that B&L scope. Just an fyi.

(Note: All Army items require an NSN, all the way down to the small tissue paper used to clean the lens of an M24 sniper optic - which gets its own NSN 6640-00-663-0832.) BTW, the XM25 and its BPT parts reportedly never got NSNs, as they were "unofficial systems" built at Ft. Devens. My guess is the original M1, M2 and M3 scopes were also "unofficial" scopes that were provided as T&E samples by Leupold in the mid-1980s. They wanted the military to test these scopes, provide feedback, and thus better position themselves to win their first military contract with their new tactical and law enforcement scopes....which indeed happened in 1987 re the M3A Ultra scope.

While the ART II was the standard upgrade for M21 rifles in 1981, by the mid 1980's it seems a variety of L&S scopes were used as well on late M21's and "product improved" M21's. Not sure if the was unit / operator preference or a short supply of ART II's.
I wish I had a copy of the M21 Technical Package that was adopted in 1984, as I would like to see if it included any scope other then the ART II. (Ted Brown - you have that TM, correct?). Again, I still think the small volume of Leupold tactical scopes on US military/Special Forces rifles in the mid-1980s were likely Test and Evaluation (T&E) items provided by Leupold at not charge - unless someone can show me an actual NSN number(s) that prove they were formal procurement items. I have searched NSN databases and asked old-timers, but I can't find any procurement documentation.

I even asked Leupold's Custom Shop a similar question about the M3A vs Mk 4 M3 scope on the M24, but they have over 600 employees and the folks I spoke to don't know what was given, or sold to the military - way back in the 1980s or 1990s..

As mentioned in your other post, I am very confident that the first XM25 rifles built for the 10th SFG at Fort Devens sported the ULTRA M3 rather that the 3A despite the logic that the 3A was already prevelant in the supply chain by then
ON EDIT: Leupold in 2018 is celebrating their 30 year anniversary of providing the U.S. military with tactical scopes. They imply that the first military contracts for their scopes began in 1988 with the M3A Ultra, which comports with the federal NSNs data regarding Leupold's military scopes: https://www.leupold.com/leupold-core/stories/30-years-of-service

...so Leupold proudly considers 1988 as the first year of their military scope sales. I don't have any reason to dispute their 30th anniversary celebration of winning U.S. military optic contracts circa 1988-2018. I only wish them more success. Anyhow, I hope that made sense.

ON EDIT: I talked to an old timer who supported the M14 and he said the mid-1980's Leupold M1, M2 and M3 scopes were referred to as "trial scopes" in the military. That makes sense to me.

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Random: great thread. Information compiled from multiple sources in a time chronological application for the M14 platform makes for an outstanding read as well as historical documentation for collectors. As I have said, your research needs to be published....Also, I do not think you will find an Army assigned NSN for the B&L scope. If you need the s/n range for the EBR-RI Leupold 51850 scopes, I have 4 examples, came thru DRMO Anniston. You are correct about how the Army procures weapon system components.....in my early career I was a Army civilian employee NICP item manager at the Missile Command.

3,314 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks Harry, appreciate the offer re EBR scopes and feedback. As noted, the B&L was clearly a Navy procured optic based on its Crane specific NSN (1005-LL-LT4-095), and its procurement history was validated by two long-time Crane employees who provided me with the quick history.

As for the Army procurement topic, I have talked to others about this process as it relates to the M14, hence my elaboration and skepticism regarding certain non-standard items. Peter Senich wrote excellent books, but even he had a minor error or two re his reference to "Navy M25" rifles, and I wish he would have provided more explanation of his description of the M25 as a "transitional system", and more info re the optic systems used...but hopefully my thread will provide a little more context for those interested in this arcane topic.

Thanks again for the feedback (I'll send you an email later today).

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Finally added some pics for anyone interested in this topic (Each post is limited to 20 images on this website, so those are the 20 pics that I was able to put on my original post)

Here's the picture of the 1990 Leupold M3A Ultra turret with M118 BDC dial (with clockwise orientation), and early Leupold Ultra rings with the rectangular surface on top:

Anyhow, I hope others may have found this aspect of M14 history interesting. I might post a few additional pics to this thread if I acquire another pending scope.

216 Posts
Outstanding post, great to have all this info so well presented. Thanks, Random Guy.


757 Posts
Excellent write-up! Thanks for posting the information.

There is one minor point I noticed in the Unertl section. The photo caption is "US Optic refurbished Unertl USMC Sniper scope" but the scope shown is a USO built MST-100. The USO refurbished scopes retained the Unertl logo and markings as shown here:


3,314 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Cass, thanks, you are right about the captioning that I used as per the picture that I found. I used that picture of the scope due to the lack of rings that shows the scope unadorned, but you are right about it being a US Optics marked scope. I didn't go into serial numbers in this thread as I have not researched it with respect to US Optic scopes, and its out of scope re the content on this thread. That scope was only listed due to its historical significance that impacted all subsequent military scopes designs, and its reported ad hoc/unofficial use on a small number of prototype M14 DMRs in the 1990s, and apparently a few in the 200Xs as well (per observations of danthman114, etc).

Anyhow, I'm glad you found the thread interesting.

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)

397 Posts
Thanks Random Guy, a great write up and I’m awed by your expertise. You had mentioned briefly the SS 10x42 scope in item 6 of the original post. If I may expand on that a little – In 2004 I was a member of an infantry brigade that was mobilized for OIF III. The mobilization was for 6 months at Ft Hood then another 12 months in Bagdad Iraq.

While at Ft Hood some weapons shortages were identified in the infantry teams (mostly designated marksmen but some sniper positions also) and eventually around 40 M14’s were drawn from stocks at Anniston. These were not match grade weapons, but the Brigade Property Book team evidently acquired SS10x42 scopes, Warne rings, Springfield mounts, and Springfield cheek pieces for these rifles. I don’t recall exactly, but seem to remember that the scopes were assigned “Z” numbered LINs and an interim FSN on the property book and then issued to the various infantry companies (but that might have been the rifles I’m thinking about and not the scopes – memory fades as I get older). I’m told that the Tasco name was on the box that the scopes came in, but I failed to find any identification on the scopes other than the stamped info that you can see in the photo.

There’s an interesting history of the SS 10x42 at SWFA’s website http://swfa-ss.com/index.php/history. In it they make the statement that “In 1993 The Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center sent out a solicitation contract for a 10x sniper scope with very specific mil-spec features. Several companies (including Tasco, B&L and Leupold) submitted scopes specially built to the contract specifications. The Navy bought a large number of the Tasco product under the contract #N00164-93-C-205. Many people did not take the scopes seriously because of the Tasco name. But you have to understand that Tasco is and was just a name, they own no factories. Normally Tasco would just buy off the shelf products from several factories in the orient and have them branded with their name. The SS scope was built from the ground up to the United States Navy's very specific specifications. All the specs are extreme in regards to durability, resolution, adjustment travel, etc.”

Back at Ft Hood, there was a scramble to secure magazines, FM’s and TM’s. I had been on the Match Rifle shooting team and had once been issued an M14 that I kept at home in the safe, and shot in matches. Although these match rifles were all turned in around 1995 after the shooting team focus shifted from Match to Combat shooting, I still had all the tech manuals and a small stock of magazines that we were able to get out to the end users.

Upon return to the state, scopes were removed and stored, and rifles were returned to Anniston. Attached are photos of some examples. I retired shortly after that and lost contact about final disposition.


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Thanks for posting this...

I have been debating on what scope would "look right" on my M1A. I have 5 of the scopes that you listed... I may go with the Unertl 10x (CMP return), the USO Mst-100, or the Mk4 M1 10x.
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