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U.S. Optics S.P.R.O. Print
Product Reviews
Written by Dave Bahade   

U.S. Optics S.P.R.O.
(Special Police Rifle Optic)

by Dave Bahade
copyright 2004 Sniper's Paradise

 

Background:  

Since I am providing some representation for U.S. Optics, and this is the first such review I have completed on their products, I felt a little background was in order as it pertains to this review and this scope. My actual position with USO is a little different, so the usual circumstances do not apply, begging the need for some explanation.

Although I act as an outside representative for U.S. Optics I am not a paid representative in the normal sense. I am not in the employ of U.S Optics, or on staff, as much as I choose when possible to assist in any way I can John Williams the III, and the rest of the fine people at this company. At times I am paid, at times not. It really depends on the situation. I am a private contractor, and my primary objective is listed on my website www.sslswat.com (Sniper Sustainment and Logistics.) U.S. Optics just happens to be the company I devote a great deal of my time to right now. I do the same thing for TTI Armory, and Jet Suppressors. My primary responsibility is to represent U.S. Optics at trade shows, competitions, and law enforcement demonstrations. I sell stuff when I can if it is leftover from shows, and I provide service and sales to Snipers Paradise Paid Members. Most of the sales rep stuff is handled by my friend in Mississippi , Billy Powell and there are a few dealers out there, and their numbers are going to grow as time goes on. I also am tasked with testing and evaluation of their products, mostly as it pertains to their use and deployment. There are others with vastly more knowledge on the scientific side. I am a trigger puller, and that is where my focus lies.

I have had a long standing relationship with U.S. Optics and John Williams the II. My first experience with this company was in the 1990's, when I purchased my first U.S. Optics scope. It was used, and it had some issues that I was fully aware of, but I had heard of the lifetime warranty so I tried it out. I called John II and told him of my dilemma. He had me ship the scope out for repair. The scope had a stripped elevation knob. John not only repaired that knob, he essentially rebuilt the scope with the exception of the glass. He replaced both mechanisms, and refurbished everything else. All of this with a turn around time of less than a week. I was impressed to say the least. I moved on to an SN-3 a while later, and have since owned three SN-3's in various configurations, and ST10 and an SN12. I have been using and deploying U.S. Optics scopes almost since they started building them. I have had a disappointment or two, but never with anyone that works there, or really with any of the products I have owned. It is a piece of equipment, built by humans, so mistakes get made. When made aware John always handled them promptly. I had a number of very pleasant conversations with John II both over the phone and in person. John helped out a working police sniper, who at the time had little money, and I have never forgotten that. More importantly to me, the U.S. Optics scopes to this day remain as one of only three brands I have not been able to break during operational use (the others are IOR, and now Schmidt Bender)

As to my present position, it was just a few days before John II's passing that I had worked out an arrangement to test and evaluate U.S. Optics scopes, and assist at trade shows and the like. Once the smoke had cleared from his passing, I hooked up with John III and set out to do what I promised to do for his father. This is the first in what will follow of a number of pieces as it pertains to the U.S. Optics Scopes, and products. U.S. Optics is in a very progressive mode right now, and many exiting things will be coming. I will do what I can to bring these things to the attention of this community in as fair and uncompromising manner as I can.  

The Scope  

This particular scope is the genesis of a few conversations that involved at the least John II, John III, Billy Powell, and myself. I am sure there were others, but these are the individuals I had the most contact with. We (the users) all lamented that the U.S. Optics ST-10 was priced affordably for Law Enforcement use, but the fixed 10 power was a limitation for most police snipers. The 1.8 to 10 power SN-3 was the ticket for most, but its sticker price was a bit out of reach for many officers, and most agencies. We wanted a compromise, so we started talking, and tried to see what we could do. We started with a decked out SN-3 and worked backwards to see if we could bring the price down. The first to go was the parallax adjustment. This subject is often argued, but it was my experience, and many others as well, that at 10 power it simply was not an issue as a general rule. There was also the consideration that this scope was designed primarily for a profession that seldom deploys at ranges over 100 yards, and often less. Next we limited the options. That is often what adds to the cost of the U.S. Optics scopes, so we made the choices fewer. You could get standard or M40 knobs, and a choice of the Mil-dot or MOA reticle. It was lighted, or not. The idea was to build as close as U.S. Optics gets to a stock scope, with a couple of choices. What we ended up with is the SPRO scope. What this article does, is deal with the applications, and differences between this scope, and a full blown SN-3 Optic. In this review I am really only dealing with the things that are not there, and the affect it has, or does not have on the scope. The internals, and basic components of these scopes have been reviewed before, and opinions are pretty much set. U.S. Optics scopes have had a reputation for ruggedness, clarity, and accuracy for years. Sure they have had their issues as has every other scope out there, but most agree the glass is excellent, they hold up as well or better than anyone else, and their adjustments are precise and accurate.

Scope Features

  • 1.8 to 10 power with the GAP slim-line ocular lens and rapid focus

  • 30mm tube with parallax set at 100 yards

  • 4” shade with Honeycomb and Butler Creeks

  • Standard knobs with ¼ moa adjustments (96 moa) total elevation adjustment

  • Lighted standard Mil-dot Reticle.

Mounting  

This particular scope is my demo scope, and is used for those who want to see it, or use it at any school I teach, or show I attend. It spends most of its life on my Smith Enterprise M21 rifle. It is mounted in a set of Arms #22 low rings on a Smith Enterprise mount. This system has proven to be very accurate, very reliable, and a down right pleasure to shoot. I deploy this rifle on a daily basis, and it is primarily used for active engagements. I shoot it pretty much every week, so the scope and the rifle get a pretty good workout. This particular system is known for its harshness on scopes, so it is a good test of the scopes ruggedness in my opinion.

Parallax

I have had the opportunity to use this scope from 25 yards, out to 1000 yards on various powers. I also have been shooting with it next to my Schmidt and Bender PMII 3-12 lighted reticle scope on my AWP for comparison. Both have no Parallax adjustment, both have some of the best glass on the market. The SPRO is fixed at 100 yards, the S&B at 300 yards. The idea here is to deal with the parallax issue, not a comparison of the scopes. They are simply both top end glass, both designed for operational use, and both fixed parallax scopes.

With both scopes, anything that is 100 yards and out, was as clear as can be. I found this interesting as the fixed parallax is 200 yards different, but it certainly was true. I had no difficulty with clarity, definition, or any shifts in impact due to any parallax. As I moved in from 50 yards, the S&B came “out of focus” a bit quicker, but I could remove most of it by adjusting the power to compensate. That can be attributed to its fixed parallax of 300 yards I am sure. The SPRO was a joy to use at these distances, and even at under 20 yards, it was easily deployable. I really found the 1.8 power range useful at closer ranges. I have deployed as close as 15 yards before, and even 3 power can be an issue at that range. Was it as clearly focused as a scope with a focus knob, of course not, but was it a problem, not for me and these 45 year old eyes. Everything remained very clear and pretty crisp, just slightly out of focus as I moved very close. I am not sure that matters, as although deployments at 10 yards certainly occur, they are pretty rare, and discerning the fine details at that range is not a matter for the scope. I could clearly identify any target I would need to. From 50 to 100 yards, which is the most likely deployment range for a police sniper, the scope was about perfect. I certainly felt no loss by not having a knob to turn. Once again, please remember the focus of the scope, it was designed for the typical LEO and if you want very fine definition at longer, or shorter ranges, get the parallax adjustment and maybe even more power. What this particular test did for me at least, especially using both scopes, was to confirm in my mind the lack of any need for a parallax adjustment on a ten power scope, for this application, despite the sniper worlds cry for another knob to turn. I deploy both of these scopes with no issues at all having no parallax adjustment. Both scopes, and both systems will drill little holes at 100 yards, which is the basic requirement for a police scope. The third knob proved to be anything but a necessity to me at the very least. I enjoy the simplicity of the scope, and its ease of deployment, but I have always been a minimalist in this arena. As is always the case, others will surely disagree, but I much prefer this to a scope that I have to dial in every time I move. The simplicity, with variable power, and the outstanding USO glass makes this a very useful piece of equipment for its intended purpose.

Longer Ranges

One of the typically held beliefs is that barring a parallax adjustment at longer ranges, there will be a shift in impact if you do not “remove” the parallax. Well, I have read all the science, but I have yet to get that result with either of these scopes. I have used both on paper out to 500 yards, and unless I grossly change my position they all seem to hold the same. With ten power, there is little shift in my position, in fact I shift none at all. I have my “sweet spot” marked on these guns, and never had any issues getting a good scope picture staying on that sweet spot. I have seen that with the higher powered scopes. As you increase the power you have to change your cheek-weld causing a change in POI. I just don't have these issues on the SPRO and anything else that is 12 power or less. I was rather boringly able to hit steal (12”x18”) out to 700 yards with the SPRO, so I am not sure how much more you would need. Any changes I did make were due to wind, and that is just part of the game. Once again, I just have not seen any “need” in this application for the parallax adjustment.

The rest of the scope

The rest of the scope is vintage U.S. Optics. They have what I think is the best lighted reticle in the business, and I am one of those guys that advocates them for police snipers if at all possible. The glass is the usual incredibly clear glass, and the scope is as rugged as they get. I have put upwards of 500 rounds through this system, with this scope in the last month and it is still holding its zero, and tracking well. Use in low and failing light was excellent, and the ability to dial down to 1.8 power really helped with that. The clicks on this scope are positive, and accurate, and I find these knobs amongst the easiest to use. I like having covers for the knobs. In my operational world I never touch them, it is nice to know that no one else will either. They simply stay where they are no matter what happens in the bag, or while taking it out. That is a personal thing, but on a police scope I think they are an asset. If they bug you than get the scope with the M40 knobs.

I performed a couple of box drills and they were spot on. It held many cold bores, and the scope is as repeatable as it gets. I performed a number of drills dialing dope out to 1000 yards and back, and it always returned to zero. It is easier to mount without the ERGO adjustment, and it fit easily on this system. The difference with the newer ocular is small, but it is enough to make a difference for sure when it comes to mounting the scope. You still have an issue with the bases that protrude past the receiver due to the abruptness of the bell, but not such that I could not get it squared away on the M21, or an LTR with a badger on it. It tended to keep the scope a bit closer to the bore than when I mounted my older scopes with the ERGO adjustments.

Conclusions

Remembering the target market for this scope, I found it to be as advertised. The retail price on the scope without the lighted reticle is about $1500.00 and you can add $185.00 for the lighted reticle. Department and LEO price is a bit lower, and puts it pretty close to the Nightforce, and not too far way from the top end Leupold scopes. It is quite a bit less than the Schmidt Bender and I find the glass to be about the same if not a bit better at low light conditions. U.S. Optics has of late demonstrated some of the best customer service there is, and some of the fastest turnaround on issues they do have. Having had a unit scope go down before, that is certainly a valuable plus. For a working police sniper, especially an urban one, this scope is about perfect. Our world generally exists between 50 and 100 yards, and may reach out to 300, but that is pretty much it. That is the sweet spot for this scope and I am not sure you could really find better. It has what it needs in the way of magnification, field of view, ruggedness, and repeatability. It is simple, and effective, and that can be a plus. If you want bells and whistles, you can surely get them in a regular SN-3, but if what you want is a strong, reliable, simple, and serviceable scope for duty use, this would be an excellent choice.