Wednesday, June 27, 2012

XLR Evolution Chassis

With the US Army adopting the Remington MSR system for the new 300 Win Mag version of the M24, I decided to give one of these new “modular” chassis systems a try.  Having shot a M1A in a JAE stock previously,  and liking the concept, I considered their R700 model.  The AICS is well received within the community and very popular and then I found the XLR.  While similar in price to the AICS but with a forearm like the MSR, it got my attention.  After doing some research and kicking around the options, spring around the corner,  I ordered up a XLR for a Rem 700 short action.   I’m not a sniper school grad, F-Class champ, 3 Gun wizard, or anything of the sort.  I’m just a retired combat Vet that enjoys the shooting sports.
I knew there was a 10 week lead time so I wanted to have the stock in time to get some testing done before I took it to any events this summer.  With the calendar set for the summer I should have a good month to get familiar with it before putting it on the line.  Well, at the 11 week mark I still didn’t have a stock so I shot an email off to Kyle at XLR.  He responded in a timely manner (under 24 hours) and informed me he was out of stock tubes and waiting on parts.  I still had a few weeks till my first “test” outing I had scheduled so no big deal.  Another week goes by and I email again asking for an update.  Basically saying, if the chassis isn’t going to be ready in time, no big deal but I need to know so I can get that barreled action back in my old stock and setup for an upcoming event.   Things don’t look good so I broke out the trusty HS Precision PST025.  Once remounted,  I hit the range to zero, and confirm data before the first tune up shoot at 1000 yards.  This was a F-TR match I was attending just to get some data at that area/conditions/elevation because we had a steel match near there 3 weeks later.  So after coming off the line at the range zeroing and packing up stuff in the vehicle to head home, I notice a voicemail.  It’s Kyle and my XLR is ready to ship.  So I give him the low down on the situation and ask if he can overnight it so I can get it mounted and zeroed prior to the tune up event.  He overnights the chassis on his dime and it’s in hand by noon the next day.  I promptly set to the task of mounting up my barreled action.
Assembly / Mounting
You read a lot of product descriptions that say “drop in” or the like and they usually aren’t even close.  The XLR is precision machined and fits like a surgical glove.  The design is pretty straight forward but giving the directions a read before you start bolting things in place is worth the few minutes it takes.  I use crazy large recoil lugs so I had to have that cut to oversized spec.  I also had the bolt handle notch cut to accept straight bolt handles.   Both non-standard specs I requested were spot on and the barreled action dropped in nicely. 
Scope Rail / Optics
The next big obstacle with the XLR is scope mounting.  During my research I figured out I would have to cut my scope rail back, knew this going in.  After doing my homework I also knew that shortened rail was going to get crowed fast.  I was hoping to keep my USO 6 screw rings on the rifle but wasn’t sure if I would have to switch to 4 screw rings to get my cosign and swing level to all fit.  The scope rail has to be cut back because of the design of the forearm tube.  The forearm tube is clamped into place over/around the recoil lug and a standard length scope rail hits the top portion of the clamp.  So I put the rail on the end mill and cut it back.  I then slide my front ring back and mounted up the scope.  I was able to get my Cosign and Swing Level all on the rail in the arrangement I have become accustom to.  I was surprised by this given the rather large erector box the USO SN3 line has.
The tube forend is extremely light weight and gave me some concern early on.  It clamps in place with 6 screws and has another screw and offset to hold it in place/ keep it from rotating.  The external optional rails bolt on simple enough.  With a heavy barrel like I have (#7) you can’t put the rails all the way to the rear as the internal keepers on the inside of the tube will touch the barrel.  I was able to mount the 5 inch rails up front easily without a problem.  I stuck a 9-13 swivel Harris bipod on it and ran with it.  I also mounted a QD sling point on the forend rail.  This was the area that gave me pause.  So I have a rifle that comes in at almost 18 pounds with a loaded 10 round mag … and I’m gonna body sling it on that lightweight forend …. 12 inches out from the 6 screw clamp system.  I just knew I was gonna trash this thing the first time I tossed it on my back and climbed a hill and smacked my barrel on a tree branch or whatever.  I was sure it was gonna crack or I was gonna tweak that forend.   Well, about 350 rounds later, 3 comps, even took a digger with it slung across my chest, and its still rollin.   I’m pleasantly surprised and pretty stoked at how tough that little tube has turned out to be.
I opted for the tactical buttstock for one reason, built in QD sling point/flush cup.  All three options would work but the included sling point and ambi check riser made the choice easy.  The whole rear of the chassis is very adjustable and I found even being Yeti sized I was able to get setup in pretty short order.  A few minor adjustments over a few range trips but now that I have it where I like it … I don’t see any changes until winter when I slide the whole stock in a ¼ inch due to thick jackets, etc.
Magazine / DBM
On my old HS Precision I had Badger bottom metal and AICS magazines.  The magazine well in the XLR is nice and snug, once the mag is inserted, the thing feeds smooth and clean.  The latch is easy to use and removing the mag with one hand is done easily.  I have not tried Alpha mags with the XLR.
Pistol Grip
The stock XLR grip is a ambi ERGO, while not my grip of choice, I ran it for a while to see if it would grow on me.  It didn’t and I modified a ATI grip to fit.  It’s a cheapo grip compared to the fancy Magpul / ERGO / etc models out there but it’s the one I like.  Any AR grip will work but if they have any type of web rise on the back, it will have to be cut down to match a standard A2 profile.
Field testing
F-TR Match at 800/900/1000 in Missoula with nothing but a 100 yard zero and dope on the barreled action from the old stock.   Long story short … took second place in F-TR.   For the first time shooting the chassis at anything other than 100 yards … I was pretty happy with how it performed.  Next was some UKD testing prior to the steel match.  Nothing to say except all was smooth and the chassis was holding up fine.  Next was a UKD Steel match and the rifle was beat on a bit.  Body slung and beat around moving form point to point while on the clock.  Shot from various positions to include, Offhand, Prone off pack, Prone off Bipod, Seated off Shooting sticks, in a Bunker, and it performed fine.  We had some ejection/extraction issues but that was no fault of the chassis.  The old non-riveted extractor was pretty much wore out.  The Castle nut on the AR style stock tube came loose at the end of the Long course during the steel match.  Easy fix straight away with the proper AR wrench.
After beating on the XLR Evolution chassis for a while and using it under various conditions, I am impressed with its performance.  If performs on par with my old HS PST025 and weight is about the same.  If has pros and cons next to a conventional stock like the HS PST 025 it replaced.
True Drop in (no inletting or smith work)
DBM system built in (no inletting or smith work)
No need to reglass after rebarrel
Folding stock option
Tools required for field adjustments to LOP and Cheek Weld
Optics mounting options limited

The overall cost to get a quality Manners, McMillan, HS Precision, etc stock, DBM bottom metal, inlet and glassed is about the same as a fully setup XLR.  The end user and the desired application will make that call.  I wouldn’t setup a hunting rig with this, but for a tactical/comp rig it’s not a bad way to go.  The customer service I received from Kyle at XLR was outstanding and adds another plus in my book.  
Check out their products HERE .

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SIII 6-24x50 vs PST 6-24x50

I Recently added a Vortex PST 6-24x50 SFP to the safe for use on my Varmint AR.  Lately, a lot of questions have been asked about this scope versus the Sightron SIII so I thought lets put them head to head.  I have already done a review of the Sightron HERE, but when you put two different scopes next to each other in the same conditions for various tests, things tend to stand out.  I’m not a sniper school grad, F-Class champ, 3 Gun wizard, or anything of the sort.  I’m just a retired combat Vet that enjoys the shooting sports.

Both scopes are second focal and have a mil based reticle with Mil turrents.  Both are available in MOA models and the Vortex PST is available in FFP.   Both are 6-24x50 with side focus and 30mm tube.  For a test mule I used my Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite Accurized Rifle with Seekins medium Rings.  A Badger 22 MOA rail was also on the rifle and a USO swing level was also used.

Overall Fit and Finish
Neither of these scopes are true “heavy duty” tactical scope and compared to a true Tactical scope like a SN3 or PMII they are light.  This is not a bad thing depending on your use and/or application.  Both come with a sunshade included and have a matte finish.  Both have exposed target knobs, fast focus eyepiece, and one piece tubes.  The Sightron is made in Japan and the Vortex is made in the Phillipines.  Side by Side the scopes are similar and the PST is longer, due to the Illum control on the eyepiece.  The Vortex Sunshade is longer also. 

Magnification and Parallax
Both are 6-24 power and work as expected.  The only difference is the Vortex has detent stops at the relevant powers (24/12/8/6).  Because this is a SFP scope and the reticle is setup to be accurate for the milradian system at 24x, the detent stops make the reticle accurate at the multiples of 24x.  Pretty cool feature and when tested on a 5 mil object at 100 yards the detents proved accurate.  Both use side focus and both work just fine.  The Vortex has ranges listed from 50 out to 500 then infinite.  Bringing objects into focus out to 1100 yards was not difficult.  The Sightron has an expanding scale graphic that isn’t numbered, but again getting objects into focus out to 1100 yards has been trouble free.

Elevation and Windage
I put both scopes on the test mule with the same ammo and zeroed them.  Then I cranked in 5 mils and fired a round, cranked in 5 more and fired a round, cranked in 5 more fired a round.  I then went back to zero and fired a round.  This was repeated several times and the groups were measured.  Both scopes tracked true but elevation ran out on the SIII at about 28 mils and 20 on the Vortex. On both of these scopes when I speak of useful/useable elevation I am speaking in terms of total elevation not what I had left after I zeroed it.  Once I found the repeatable top end I dialed down to the stop on the bottom and shot a group.  I then measured the total distance to come up with the “useable” value.

Sightron – 5 mils per turn, .1 mil per click, works as it should, have extensively tested this scope on several occasions and it tracks dead on.  A single screw holds them in place and slipping the turrents is a simple affair.  According to Sightron this model has 100 MOA of internal adjustments.  While I haven’t been able to get the full 100, I got about 94 MOA of useable adjustment.  This is dialing from bottom to top.  When mounted on my 338 Edge I got more up elevation than when on my AR Varminter but that has to do with adding more space between the bore due to the AR platform.  While not as much as listed on the spec sheet … more than enough to get to a mile with a 20 MOA rail.

Vortex – 5 mils per turn, .1 mil per click, works as it should, and tracks dead on.  3 allen screws hold the knob in place and you can use a shim system as a zero stop, of sorts.  You can’t get it exact unless you really lucky but you can get it in the same turn to find your elevation zero quickly.  According to Vortex this model has 65 MOA of internal adjustment.  I found about 70 MOA of useful elevation in this scope.  While not as listed on the spec sheet, Ill take the extra with no complaints.

Do NOT take these pictures as a representation of glass quality or clarity.  I took them with my phone and a big asphalt parking lot is below that window kicking crazy mirage.  They are intended to show the reticle difference.  I tried for some time while at the range to get decent pics of a target board but failed … 600 yard building window from the back deck is what you get.  As you can see … I can’t hold the camera straight either ….

Sightron – Standard mildot accurate at 24x, while functional I would like to see it accurate at 12x.  I think Sightron needs a hash type (think Leupold TMR) reticle on there milradian line.  This would be a big improvement in my opinion.

Vortex – Mil based EBR reticle accurate at 24x.  This reticle was one of the main selling points for me on the scope.  Its simple and easy to use, nice for holds, and well laid out for ranging.  The also offer a MOA version and both Mil and MOA in FFP models.

I don’t normally get into this area due to the subjective nature of it.  If I didn’t have both scopes right next to each other in the same conditions you probably wouldn’t really notice it as much.  However, in this case, it warranted mentioning.  The Sightron glass was much better, and above roughly 18x, it was no comparision.  The Vortex is functional and getting a sight picture is not a problem, but looking at a Handicap parking sign at 600 yards on 24x the difference was pretty significant.  I don’t have a way to get high quality through the scope pics, I tried for quite a while to get side by side pics that show the difference in glass at 24x but was unable to represent it even remotely. 

Illumination and Lowlight
The Sightron doesn’t have it but the Vortex does and it works very well.  As I was sitting on the back deck with the sun setting and light fading, the illum in the PST really surprised me.  Since I couldn’t compare it with the Sightron I went and grabbed a USO and SS HD 5-20 for reference.  The Vortex illum was on par with a USO SN3 and much better than the SS 5-20 HD (more on that in another review).  While the illum was outstanding on the PST the glass held it back some on the higher magnifications.  In the fading light the Sightron glass really shined and was much better.  If I kept both SIII and PST at 12x the PST was much closer but still not on par.  When we switched to artificial light once it was dark, the PST Illum really showed how good it was as long as you stayed on 12x or lower due to the glass.

If I could combine the SIghtron Glass with the PST features and stay in the $800 price range … oh man would that be a winner.  Their price point is pretty much the same and the only real negative I found on the Sightron was the reticle.  The only real negative I found on the PST was the Glass above 18x. 
Glass = SIII
Tracking = Tie
Total Adjustment = SIII
llum = PST
Zero Stop = PST
Reticle = PST
Parallax = Tie
The SIII has less features overall but it’s not really lacking in any area it does have skin in the game.  Yes the PST has more tick marks but only because the SIII doesn’t even rate for illum or zero stop.  When both scopes are priced the same you have to give the PST credit for those features.  I keep coming back to my catch phrase for optics, “Application will always dictate proper optics.”  Im going to take the PST on P-Dog safari this summer and crank on it for a while and see how it holds up.  The SIII is going back on the EDGE and im sure will keep performing.  If you’re looking for a bare bones scope with good tracking and solid glass, the Sightron SIII will do nicely.  If you’re looking for more “tactical” on a budget, with more bells and whistles, the PST will do that with a compromise in glass.  Vortex gets a lot of praise for good no hassle customer service, big plus in my book.  I haven’t had an experience dealing with Sightron, haven’t had to, so I can’t speak to that.  The devil is in the details and application.  Both are good scopes for the money, depends on what you’re going to do with it.

Vortex PST total internal adjustment factory spec edited from 75 to 65 MOA. Good catch by 42769vette over at

SWFA SS 5-20x50 FFP HD

I picked one of these up on the Hide group buy when they were released, ended up letting it go in a trade and never really got a lot of time behind it.  A friend I shoot with has a couple and I snagged one as a loaner while he had the rifle down for some upgrades.  I was looking forward to some more time with this scope.   SWFA has a promotion going on right now that includes a 5-20 and there new 1-6 model for under $1600, great buy if you’re in the market.  I’m not a sniper school grad, F-Class champ, 3 Gun wizard, or anything of the sort.  I’m just a retired combat Vet that enjoys the shooting sports.

 As SWFA expands their SS line this model was much anticipated and the group buy on its release was pretty large.  For the FFP tactical market this scope jumps in at a midline price point.  While it is a couple hundred above the Vortex PST line (for the non illum model) its considerably lower than a FFP F1 NF or SN3.  This scope also has the new HD glass which is some nice stuff.
Overall Fit and Finish
Normal stuff here with a 5-20x50 setup and a 30mm tube.  Comes with a nice reticle subtension card for reference.  The finish is matte and the scope has that hefty tactical feel, being heavier than a Sightron SIII or Vortex PST.  In comparison the SIII and PST are both 50mm objectives like the SS but not as big and beefy..  Its not a tank like a USO or Premier but on par with a Nightforce.

Magnification / Parallax / Diopter
The rear mag ring is clearly marked but can’t be read from behind the scope.  SWFA offers a switchview lever that is a nice addition for some.  The rear eye focus/diopter is a locking ring style.  Loosen the locking ring, adjust till the reticle is nice and crisp, tighten up the locking ring.  Simple and effective design that was adjusted and set in short order.  Most parallax side focus scopes have intervals marked up to 500 and then jump in infinite.  The SS model has a 1000 mark and I found the parallax to be picky in that 500 to infinite range.  While it was not unusable, it was just finiky.  Once set on a 900 yard target it worked very well but a few extra drinking bird moves were required to ensure it was dialed properly.

SWFA came up with the “MilQuad” reticle that is Mil based.  Instead of mildots it has diamonds that have a dot in the middle.  On 20x the dots can be used as a hold point.  Half mil hash marks are included and the scope comes with a nice reticle subtension card.  The reticle was the reason I traded the scope I had because the diamonds just weren’t for me.  I know a couple guys that really like them and have several of the scopes.  It’s a new twist on the EMD and if you like the reticle, roll with it.  As with all scopes that are First Focal, on higher powers the reticle can get pretty thick.  Side by side with a USO SN3 the SS MilQuad reticle was slightly thicker than a gap on 20x.  If you were trying to shoot a ground squirrel at 600 it would be to much, but it wasn’t designed for that.  In a tactical use setting it will work as it should. 

Elevation and Windage
The adjustment knobs on the SS are 10 mils per turn, .1 mil per click, and beefy.  A single allen screw in the center is used to slip the turrents and set your zero.  No zero stop system is built into the scope but elevation has lines that are provided for reference.  With 10 mils per turn its harder to get lost.  The adjustments are firm and tactile.  I found the scope tracked accurately but only had 27 mils of useable elevation, spec sheet says 30.  When I speak of useful/useable elevation I am speaking in terms of total elevation not what I had left after I zeroed it.  Once I found the repeatable top end I dialed down to the stop on the bottom and shot a group.  I then measured the total distance to come up with the “useable” value.

Illumination and Low Light
The illumination control is well designed and has off settings between each intensity level.  The HD glass in the scope and 50mm objective perform well in fading light.  The biggest disappointment in this scope however, was the illumination.  It is designed to be a center dot only illum but even on the lowest setting, it bleeds over pretty bad and makes the illum all but worthless in lowlight.  I contacted SWFA about this and was told some are worse than others.  They offered to “hand pick” one for me if I wanted to send it in.  The scope I was using was not mine, but a loaner, so I will leave that up to them.

Field Testing
This loaner scope came off a friend’s 338 EDGE, that has roughly 150 rounds down the pipe.  The scope has held up fine and performed well for him.  He also has one mounted on a 7mm, that has been performing great since the scopes release.  I mounted it to my test mule, Colt CR 6724 HBAR, In Seekins Rings on a Badger 22 MOA Rail.  I then proceeded to run some tracking tests.  Once I found the upper limit of my usable elevation I began running box tests.  I also ran reticle tests randomly placing dots on the target board.  I would then mil the elevation and windage correction from my POA at the bottom of the board and shoot a group.  I found the tracking to be trouble free and accurate.  We have also used these scopes to shoot steel from 200 to 1100 yards on numerous occasions and they have performed well.  I sat on the back deck one night with a pile of scopes as the sun set for lowlight testing. 

If you’re looking for a really nice FFP tactical scope, the SWFA SS 5-20 HD is a good buy.  I would highly recommend the Non-Illum model, in its pricepoint its very competitive.  The only negatives I found were the Illum and the picky, but usable parallax.  The online forum community often asks if the SS 5-20 is worth the extra $$$ over the PST.  Well, I have found both to be repeatable adjustment wise, which is very important in this style scope.  The SS glass is much better and a big selling point for me personally.  The SS beats the PST in low light also.  The PST has better illum and a form of a zero stop.  Reticle choice is personal preference, I prefer the hash style EBR reticles the PST line has.  If you want a solid FFP tactical scope and illum is not a feature on your checklist … a SS 5-20x50 FFP HD would fit the bill nicely. 

SWFA is the only vendor for these scopes, visit their site HERE to see the entire line.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cheap Scopes ....

Lately there has been a lot of chatter about cheap scopes, more than usual it seems.  It seems a lot of the "great deals" purchased a few years ago are now falling apart.  While at first glance the feature list on some of these scopes is impressive ... don't be fooled.  They are chinese JUNK and if you expect long term high end performance ... your kidding yourself.  Brands that come to mind .... WOTAC, Falcon Menace, Osprey, NC Star, Counter Sniper, etc.  If you want quality optics, you have to pay for it.  Trying to do the long range game "on the cheap" is a waste if you go with these chinese junkers.

One of the most important features in a scope for long range work is repeatable turrents.  The turrents on these cheap chinese scopes are far from that.  Both a Falcon Menance and a Osprey broke down with low round counts and minimal abuse.  Getting them replaced was laughable and EVERY opportunity to find a reason to delay and/or not replace the item was attempted.  We did get an Osprey replacement finally, which was used as a target in short order out of principal.  The Falcon never got replaced and was also used as a target (50 Cal) because it was such a pile.

Due to this current trend of people with ruffled feathers, because they can't get a new POS chinese scope, Im doing a scope tracking test on various price points.  If you think your going to get a decent scope for under $650-700 your pretty much kidding yourself.  At this price point your sacrificing some features, maybe its SFP, maybe it doesn't have illum, maybe the reticle isn't quite what you want.  If you want to improve your feature list, you guessed it, your now up in the $1000 plus range.  You want all the bells and whistle and you want them a certain way, its gonna cost you, $2000 or more.

Longevity is also something that comes with paying for quality.  I have a six year old scope that was very spendy and has been on everything form a 223 to a 50 cal.  It has north of 5000 rounds down range and has never once missed a beat.  On two occasions the rifle(s) it was mounted on have failed while been run hard at schools or comps, but that scope just keeps on running.

Comparing a $3000 scope to a $300 WOTAC is like comparing apples to oranges, I know this.  My intent is to simply convey this ... stop being cheap bastards ... BUY ONCE SUFFER ONCE!   The next thing I hear is ... I can't afford that ... ill never pay that ... etc ...

Well if you can pay $300 for a POS chinese paper weight, you can save an extra couple months and pay $700 for something that will at least be worth the effort.  You will save that much in ammo cost and barrel life when you know your scope tracks properly. 

More to follow with the scope tracking test ....

**rant off**

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spotter Cam R&D

We have been doing some Spotter Cam testing lately.  Not the best Video footage but some decent trace can be seen if you go full screen.  The Hero Cam II with HD is very nice but without a view finder hard to use with the spotter.  The original Lipstick Cam method seems to still be the best.   

1100 Yards with the 338 EDGE

600 Yards with a 24 inch 308

400 Yards with a 18 inch 308

More to come as we refine the system for the 1760 / Mile shots.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Current Reviews In Progress

As I like to have a lot of hands on time with a firearm or optic before doing a review, I thought I would give you heads up on what is currently in the pipeline. The following are currently being tested ...

Trijicon TR-20-2G (3-9x40 Mildot /w Green illum)
Trijicon RX-06 (1x24 Reflex)
SWFA SS 5-20x50 HD FFP MilQuad

Colt CR6724 HBAR Elite
Spikes ST-22 AR Upper
Advantage Arms Glock 22 Conversion
XLR Remington 700 Short Action Chassis System

I am also waiting for the following to be released...
US Optics new 1-8 model
SWFA new SS 1-6 model
KelTec's KSG (won't go into the delays on that ...)
Black Ops new 605 action

Just keeping you updated .... check back again soon

Monday, February 20, 2012

US Optics SN3 3.8-22x44 ERGO

US Optics is out of Brea, California and they make a top notch scope. In all of my dealings with them I have received good customer service and they stand behind their product. I am in NO way affiliated with US Optics and do not speak on their behalf. This review is my own personal opinion. The "Glass" questions ... I won't be comparing glass quality/clarity/etc as I'm just an end user, function and features is my focus. I’m not a sniper school grad, F-Class champ, 3 Gun wizard, or anything of the sort. I’m just a retired combat Vet that enjoys the shooting sports.

I make no attempt to hide that I’m a US Optics fan …however … I have a lot of time behind this model on a couple rifles in various applications. Everything from Steel out to 1320 to Prairie Dogs in Montana. After a couple hours behind the scope, I thought I would share my thoughts. The specs are as follows …

SN3 3.8-22x44
Adjustable Objective Parallax (ERGO)
1/10 Mil EREK Elevation
1/10 Mil #1 Windage
GAP Reticle
34mm Main Tube
11 Position Rheostat Illumination (RED)
Fast Focus Eyepiece

Body and Main Tube
This scope has a 34mm Main tube and is by no means a little scope. It’s long and built in typical USO tank like fashion. Has a big robust erector box that will prevent some one piece mounts from fitting. If you’re looking for a light compact 7x tactical FFP scope, I would recommend a March. The magnification ring is well marked and knurled, easy to manipulate even with gloves. I went with standard matte black but you can have your scope duracoated or anodized a variety of colors.

Parallax Adjustment (ERGO)
This model uses the ERGO or Adjustable Objective style, which is my preference. US Optics also offers the TPAL or side focus as an option. I have found the AO style to be a little more forgiving at range if you transition from 400 to 650 and forget to adjust it. It’s not as "tactical" as the side focus, requiring more movement on the shooter's part to adjust, but I'm retired from the two-way rifle range so that was not one of my considerations when configuring this optic. The whole bell is knurled and easy to turn, but the scope is long so short people might have an issue reaching it from behindthe rifle.

Erector Repositioning Elevation Knob (EREK)
The EREK system is a trademark for US Optics and that didn't happen by accident. This system allows the end user to reposition the Erector assembly so once properly aligned the scope's full range of elevation adjustment is available. This feature is not a "zero stop" per say but many use it in that manner. The first time you attempt to setup an EREK equipped scope you will pull your hair out. Once you wrap your head around it and get it dialed in ... the light will come on. The next time you do it ... it will take 5 rounds and 10 minutes. For a video tutorial on the EREK system go HERE. The real benefit of this design feature is for the long range community. If you want to shoot to a mile ... most tactical scopes only have 75 MOA of internal adjustment and once you zero, you have lost some of it. If you prefer a standard target elevation knob US Optics offer several other options. The windage knob is a #1 and capped. If you want your windage to “match” the EREK you can get it that way and not capped. You can also have US Optics configure you EREK in MOA, or a Milestone configuration with every 10 clicks having a heavier “Click” to aid while counting in the dark.

Reticle and Illumination
I went with the GAP reticle on this scope and all my USO's for that matter as I prefer how simple it is. They offer numerous options for you to choose from if you prefer a hold over reticle, like the Gen2 XR or Horus. They also offer MOA based reticles if that’s your preference. I prefer the KISS method and have found the "busy" holdover reticles like the Horus, not my style. I spend more time counting ... then counting again to check to make sure I didn't mess up ... I could have dialed my elevation and sent the round already. The GAP is numbered clearly and making quick holds is accomplished easily. Being a First Focal Plane scope the reticle does get thicker on higher magnifications. When a Prairie Dog is 550 yards away, its starts to get real thick. The illumination is the older style 11 position rheostat model. It functions as it should and does not bleed over when using it in low light. Only the 0 or off position is colored on the dial to help indicate the off position. USO now offers a push button control with more intensity settings and also a memory so it saves your last setting and defaults to that setting next time. I may have to send the scope in for that upgrade, better than spinning a dial back and forth and no cap to remove.

While I have mounted this scope on several rifles, it has spent the whole of it in US Optics 34mm rings. Like everything USO does these rings are six screw and beefy. US Optics sunshades and Anti-Reflection Devices (ARD) are quality pieces and I like the bigger style honeycomb they use. Doesn’t seem to hinder light gathering or blur the scope in any way. US Optics flip covers, similar to Butler Creeks, work fine and are simple and effective.

Field Testing
Where to begin … how about Prairie Dogs. So I mounted it on a Colt CR6724 and went on Prairie Dog Safari in Montana. For two days we burned up ammo and tried to dent the P-Dog population in the Bitterroot Valley. While on the trip I got some of the other guys wives to hit clay pigeons at 500 yards, and we cranked on the EREK knob the whole trip. A prairie dog at 600 yards looks small, even at 22x, and the First Focal GAP reticle does start to get a bit thick for that small of a target. It’s a good thing the glass is good and picking them out in the weeds was easy. The whole trip and probably a dozen shooters behind it, it never missed a beat and everyone as hitting their target. One the same trip I managed to bag a couple Badgers. One was at roughly 425 and partially obscured, quick hold splitting my 400 and 450 yard dope on 12x and done.

It has spent a LOT of time on my 26 inch 308 custom. Some paper punching but mostly ringing steel. Longest on that rifle was 1320, at that range the reticle starts to get a bit thick again but I was able to quarter a 16x16 inch target fine. At a shoot in Montana we were shooting steel out to 1000 and I had a rifle go down. My backup rig had a smaller scope on it so at lunch break I swapped out and put the 3.8-22x44 on it, Reset the EREK and zeroed. After lunch the 20 inch backup gun got a workout and the scope just kept on performing. While there I put the illumination to the test, with a lowlight and night shoot. The low intensity settings were outstanding and the light gathering was impressive. We were hitting 400 and 500 yard E Type steel in extremely low light. The targets were painted white so that helped a bit.

Put it on a Cobb 50 at one point and beat on it for a weekend and it never missed a beat. I have box tested this scope at least a dozen times and it always performs. It has spent time on other rifles as well but I think you get the picture.

US Optics only makes Fixed and FFP scopes so I can’t really say the thick reticle on the higher powers is a negative. I knew that was the case when I bought it and it does come into play on very small long range targets. Putting a center mass hit on a standard 36x20 silhouette at long range is done with ease. Shooting to a mile with this scope would not be a problem. Trying to shoot P-Dogs at 850 yards … yah wouldn’t work as well but the scope was not designed for that. The scope is heavy and big, but again, it’s designed to be a tough and durable. If you’re looking to keep weight down and want a compact optic, look elsewhere. The eye relief isn’t amazing but unless you’re a free recoil guy, not a problem. The areas I can’t complain about are numerous. The EREK system is kickass and the adjustments were always repeatable, return to zero without a hitch. The Illumination was effective in lowlight and didn’t bleed or wash the scope at all. The Adjustable Objective is pretty forgiving and if you’re going to shoot from 300 to 600 yards … dial it in at 450 and run the table. I like the simplicity of the GAP reticle a lot and it has become my standard reticle choice. Focusing the reticle takes all of 3 to 5 blinks. US Optics has outstanding customer service and warranty transfers to the new owner if you sell it. I lost my EREK kit (the cover with the hole, rubber grommets, allen wrenches), called up Becky at USO and had a new set in my mailbox 4 days later, no charge. I have put a couple thousand rounds down range with this optic … and will put a lot more. If I run out, I have a hell of a club to use. At some point I will be sending this scope in for an illumination control upgrade and internal level. I can’t afford five of these scopes so I am seriously considering a DTA SRS so I can have this scope on multiple rifles.

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