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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an Armscorp M21 clone that is almost finished and want to put some optics on it. It was built to represent one made in the mid 80’s. I also have the “early” Brookfield Precision Mount and am learning towards an ART II scope. Also considering Nightforce. I will be using this for target shooting but want to keep it as correct as possible to the era. Please give me your thoughts, opinions, and constructive criticism. Thanks
Bubba
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I will be using this for target shooting but want to keep it as correct as possible to the era
Well, if historical accuracy is the goal for an M25 type rifle (ie, Fiberglass stock w/ BPT scope mount), you really have only 2 or 3 scopes to consider:

First option: The Leupold M3A Ultra fixed 10x power (w/ standard Mil-Dot reticle). These scopes were made roughly 1987 to reportedly 1993. These were used on the M24 sniper rifles and had an NSN as of July 1987, the downside is they have become somewhat more pricey with guys using them on their M24Rs. The original evaluation or "trial scopes" that Leupold provided free to the military circa mid-1980s (M1/M2/M3) included the M3 Ultra (made approx 1984-86) and it had 1" windage adjustments per click, but the military requested 1/2" MOA windage adjustments, and that design change resulted in the M3A Ultra model, which was adopted in 1987/88 and used until 2010. I have three of the M3As, one dated 1989, and the other two are dated 1990. A good, solid military scope.

Second choice: Old B&L 'Elite 4000' or more often called the '10x Tactical' scope. These were made in the 1980s and I think until the late 1990s. SOCOM bought a bunch of them and they were used on the Navy M14 snipers and I have seen them on US Special Forces M25s as well. I have only one of these scopes at this time, but wouldn't mind one more.

Third choice: Leupold M1A Ultra fixed 10x power (with the M1 turrets which are taller than the M3 turrets). A small number of these were apparently used again on Navy M14 DMR rifles in the early 1990s and I consider it "correct enough" but options #1 and #2 are more often seen. I have the contemporary Mk 4 version of this scope on my Navy SSR replica.

I encourage you to read this thread I did a few years ago regarding less expensive scope alternatives and a suggestion re substitute rings given scarcity of the original rings.

Top is a Leupold M1 scope with M1 turrets (tall turrets w/ 1/4 clicks, discontinued but show up on eBay)
Middle 3 are vintage M3A Ultras, and later Mk 4 version of the fixed 10x with M3 turrets (discontinued)
Bottom is a vintage B&L 10X Tactical (the current SWFA 10X HD version is a good option and easier to find)

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Note: I do not recommend the 3-9x ART II scope with that BPT mount - as the ART II requires its own unique spring-loaded mount that cants up and down for range estimation. A fixed 10x is much more correct for your rifle and scope mount. I hope this info is useful.

FWIW, I used a 1990 dated M3A Ultra on my XM25 replica, along with the BPT scope mount and vintage Leupold Ulta 30mm tactical rings (medium height):
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...and for my early 1990s (Desert Storm era) Navy M14 sniper rifle replica, I used another BPT scope mount, vintage Leupold Ultra rings, but the w/ the old B&L 10X Tactical scope:
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My 2cts.
 

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ART II would be correct for an M21 but then that nice brookfield probably wouldn't be used. The ART II has a special mount for camming and there is a chance it wont fit. However I could be wrong I don't have one to try at the moment. Iron Site usually has a few in stock or could answer questions about the mount (Iron Sight Inc.)

If you want to use the brookfield mount and be era correct you can do more of an XM25 and use a Baush & Lomb 10x Tactical. They would have a model number of 62-1040 (Military) or 40-1040 (Civilian). Exactly the same scope just a different number. They pop up here on the forum and ebay every few weeks.
 

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I love ART scopes but you will have trouble with the mount Unless you get really lucky or have patience. even with modern options, I’d stick with 10x fixed that doesn’t use batteries. Look for a B&L
 

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maybe an original art 2. I wouldn't buy another leatherwood scope again.
 

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This is a 1988 picture of the original prototype XM25 rifle made at Ft Devens, MA at 10th Special Forces Group (SFG). Mitch Mateiko (owner of BPT) is holding the rifle, and the Leupold M3 or M3A fixed 10x scope is clearly visible. So this is why I think these scopes are most accurate from a historical perspective - at least for US Army 10th SFG rifles. (Vintage pics from Operation Desert Storm show the B&L 10x scope, and those rifles were made at Crane for both Navy SEALs and SOCOM usage).
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Re ART II scopes - This document from a 1994 Sniper Locker Proposal for 1st SFG which advocated for 36 M25 rifles to be built - clearly highlights that by the early 1990s the ART II scopes were obsolete and many were broken. I think Jim Leatherwood no longer had an active military contract at this time, and the ART II scopes were basically viewed as unrepairable. This along with the antiquated reticle (not Mil-Dot based) is why they asked for funding for the Leupolds. This proposal was rejected, but its an interesting window into the M25 era.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have an M21 marked receiver and I thought they were still used until the mid 80’s. My mount is an “84 vintage as I have the sales receipt. I am pretty sure my mount was designed for the ARTII but I could be wrong.
I appreciate all the help but still wonder what scopes would be best and correct for an early 80’s M21 ? I am not trying to make it an M25 if at all possible. Why all the negativity towards the Leatherwoods, are they that bad?
Bubba
 

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the rifles we had in our armory (marines) all had ggg mounts and unertl 10x glass but in wood stocks...
 

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I appreciate all the help but still wonder what scopes would be best and correct for an early 80’s M21 ? I am not trying to make it an M25 if at all possible. Why all the negativity towards the Leatherwoods, are they that bad?
I have cognitive dissonance based on the rifle seen w/ McMillan stock and the BPT mount being used in reference to an "M21."

My mount is an “84 vintage as I have the sales receipt. I am pretty sure my mount was designed for the ARTII but I could be wrong.
I think the first sentence in the 2nd paragraph explains what the BPT scope mount was designed for. Did BPT mill a slot in the rail for the legacy ART II scope?, I think so, but that mid-1980s era was when the military was actively testing the new Leupold M1/M2/M3 Ultra ‘trial scopes' to replace the ART II. Anyhow, a mid-1980s M21 would have an ART II scope and its unique ART II scope mount, along with a wood stock. Here's a pre-Kevlar helmet pic with an M21 w/ ART II, probably early-to-mid 1980s.
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Here's my replica M21 with a 1983 medium weight barrel. Please note that both the Vietnam era AR TEL scope and the replacement early 1980s era ART II scopes - physically cant upward or downward based on the friction-based eccentric cam on the rear ocular (see small white arrows). The ART II scope is designed to be used in this integrated mount - and this mount only. The spring-based canting mechanism inside the mount allowed Leatherwood's "auto range correction" to adjust trajectory w/ M118 ammo from 300 to 900 meters without using the elevation knob - at least in theory.
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What you have is a McMillan M1A stock and a BPT mount, which were not used on M21s per se - at least not officially - as the M21 was built to a standard configuration as seen above. Again, the BPT scope mount will not work correctly with an ART II scope as it lacks the proper mechanical canting mechanism built into the ART II mount that rubs against an eccentric cam as it turns on the rear ocular. As you turn the elevation ring on the rear ocular, you can see the scope canting up or down.

Fwiw, here's an M21 circa December 1989 during the operation in Panama (wood stock + ART II scope/mount). My understanding is the first time an XM25 was used in combat was also used in that same operation in late 1989 - but I don't think any pictures exist of that rumored Special Forces rifle in the field. Based on what I have read, presumably it had a Leupold M2 or M3, fixed 10x scope, a BPT scope mount, and a McMillan fiberglass stock... That's all I know, hope that helps.
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Lastly, I will note that a $1000 Leupold 10x Mk 4 scope easily outperforms a vintage $1500 ART II 3-9x scope (I have used both scopes at 600 yards on my replicas in vintage sniper rifle matches). The Leupold gathers more light, has better glass, has much better turret clicks, has a Mil-Dot reticle, and are likely way more robust/simplier - that's precisely why the military (esp Special Forces) sought to replace the ART IIs in the late 1980s with the newer, higher performance Leupold tactical scopes. I will note that M21s did remain in service through Operation Desert Storm circa 1991, but shortly thereafter, most were withdrawn and replaced with the M24s. DCM sold-off all of the US Army's obsolete AR TEL & ART II scopes in the mid-1990s. Are they collectible? Yes. Are they comparable to the overall performance of a vintage Leupold 10x Mk 4 scope? Nope, technology has marched on....
 

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I have cognitive dissonance based on the rifle seen and the BPT mount being used in reference to an "M21."



I think the first sentence in the 2nd paragraph explains what the BPT scope mount was designed for. Did BPT mill a slot in the rail for a BPT scope, I think so, but that mid-1980s era was when the military was actively testing the new Leupold M1/M2/M3 scopes as 'trial scopes' the replacement for the ART II. Anyhow, an early 1980s M21 would have an ART II scope and its unique ART II scope mount, along with a wood stock. Here's a pre-Kevlar helmet pic with an M21 and ART II scope, probably early 1980s.
View attachment 453128
Here's my replica with a 1983 medium weight barrel. Please note that both the Vietnam era ART TEL scope and the replacement early 1980s era ART II scopes - physically cant upward or downward based on the friction-based eccentric cam on the rear ocular (see small white arrows). The ART II scope is designed to be used in this integrated mount - and this mount only. The internal spring-based canting mechanism inside the mount allowed Leatherwood's "auto range correction" with M118 ammo from 300 to 900 meters without using the elevation knobs - at least in theory.
View attachment 453127

What you have is a McMillan M1A stock and a BPT mount, which were not used on M21s per se - at least not officially - as the M21 was built to a standard configuration as seen above. Again, the BPT scope mount will not work correctly with an ART II scope as it lacks the proper mechanical canting mechanism built into the ART II mount that rubs against an eccentric cam as it turns on the rear ocular. As you turn the elevation ring on the rear ocular, you can see the scope canting up or down.

I will also note that a $1000 Leupold 10x Mk 4 scope performs WAY above a $1500 ART II 3-9x scope (I have both, and have used both scopes at 600 yards on my replicas in vintage matches). The Leupold gathers more light, has better glass, has much better turret clicks, has a Mil-Dot reticle, and are likely way more robust/simplier - that's precisely why the military (esp Special Forces) sought to replace the ART IIs in the late 1980s with the newer, higher performance Leupold tactical scopes. I will note that M21s did remain in service through Operation Desert Storm circa 1991, but shortly thereafter, most were withdrawn and replaced with the M24s. DCM sold off almost all of the US Army's old ART II scopes in the mid-1990s.

Fwiw, here's an M21 circa December 1989 during the operation in Panama (wood stock + ART II scope/mount). My understanding is the first time an XM25 was used in combat was also used in that same operation in late 1989 - but I don't think any pictures exist of that rumored Special Forces rifle in the field. Based on what I have read, presumably it likely it had a Leupold M3 Ultra, fixed 10x scope, a BPT scope mount, and a McMillan fiberglass stock... That's all I know, hope that helps.
View attachment 453129

Damn this is some awesome history with wonderful pics to boot.
 

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Why all the negativity towards the Leatherwoods, are they that bad?
Bubba
Unfortunately, yes. The Leatherwoods from the 1990's weren't high quality. Then when HiLux took over, the ART scope really went crappy. Cheap low quality optic with mediocre mount. I have a review somewhere of the early 1990 Leatherwood Camputer scope, which was the following version of the ART I I scope. Looks cool but not really good.

The ranging in the reticle was correct and so was the cam calibration for drop at distances from 300 up to 600 yards.

The bad: Cheap optics and some slop in the pivot point allowing an additional 1-2MOA to the group size. Also, there is no easy way to accurately adjust windage with the capped hunting type of turrets when shooting at distance.
 

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Skip the ART scopes and go for a Leupold if you really want to have something that functions as a scope should. If you really wand a side mount for your scope sell the Brookfield to a collector and get a Sadlak which is a much improved and more stable model of the Brookfield.
 

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Bubba,, I have always LOVED my Leatherwood ART ll scope. Now, in order to use your Leatherwood scope AND the Brookfield Precision scope mount, you have to remove the "goverment" model scope mount and use the Leatherwood "quick detachable" scope mount. Then IIRC, one of the grooves in the BPT mount had to be filed just a tad wider to accommodate one of the QD screws. < This is how mine was set up from about 1990 to a few years ago when I made my rifle a more correct XM21. I was never a "precision" shooter, more a "fun time plinker", and with that setup, regular old military surplus ammo, I was consistently hitting a 1 gallon paint can lid at 600 yards, and My shooting eye was always 20/40. In the hands of a real shooter, I know she would do better.
Here's the "historic" kick. I personally have not ever seen any info showing that the military used the Leatherwood quick detachable mount. I "think" I remember reading somewhere that they tried them on either a Remmy 700 rifle, or a Winny M70 at one point.
That all said, there has been info showing that XM and M21 rifles served all the way thru and past Gulf War 1.
If I was in your boat, just use the Leatherwood with the Gov't mount, and save the Brookfield for when your ready to do one of the XM/M25 replicas with one of the scopes mentioned by members above. Just my 2 pennies... Hope it was worth the read.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is great information, thank you everyone. Random Guy you are a wealth of knowledge. I think I’m going to look into a Leopold M2 or M3 as was suggested as well as the others. Not sure about the mount yet, I was really hoping to use this one. We will see.
Bubba
 

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Skip the ART scopes and go for a Leupold if you really want to have something that functions as a scope should. If you really wand a side mount for your scope sell the Brookfield to a collector and get a Sadlak which is a much improved and more stable model of the Brookfield.
What makes the leupolds better then then the ART? I have been mad at leupold ever since they deleted there 10x40 fixed scope.
 

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What makes the leupolds better then then the ART? I have been mad at leupold ever since they deleted there 10x40 fixed scope.
Start with 50 years of advances in technology and add current production and fantastic customer service and you have a reasonable answer Ben.

The ART scopes were not the best at the time, just available.
 
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