Archive | September 2016

US Optics ER-25 5-25x58mm Rifle Scope

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Well if you were looking for the biggest and heaviest bit of glass you could top a rifle with, this is it. If I recall correctly from Precision Rifle Blog’s it’s in fact the longest and heaviest of the huge lineup they tested. Street price varies. Some vendors appear to be going below MAP and selling them on E-bay for $2400-ish bucks but those are the standard SKU’s and you don’t get to customize. If you want custom then you’re probably going to pay full price unless you can find one of those angels that has the hookup and can do custom orders.

Like all US Optics scopes, it’s a heavy beast. Like all US Optics scopes it’s not exactly brimming with the most modern specs, it’s still a 5x zoom range and it’s still heavy as neutronium and there’s no true zero stop, no more tactile clicks and it’s a multi-piece scope (meaning the main tube and objective bell are not one homogeneous piece but 2 of them screwed together). What it does have going for it above all other scopes in its class is dead nuts rugged durability. If you’re planning on falling out of a helicopter 30ft onto the ground while (stupidly) still holding onto your rifle, this is the scope you want. It’ll probably live through that if you don’t actually smash the glass and good luck doing that.

Not only is it heavy but the length is almost comical and adding a 4-inch sunshade/ERD to it only exacerbates the issue, somewhat dramatically. Mounting it on my .308 Savage 10FPSR looks pretty silly. That’s fine, it’s not meant to be there forever. I have another USO scope, an SN-3 35mm 3.5-22×44 ERGO, that is meant to go on the .308. I just wanted to take my ER-25 out for a match and there isn’t one that I wanted to shoot my 7mag at anywhere close enough. I also have still to finish load development on those 7mags. There’s more in there, I know it. But, I digress.

My particular scope came out of the box with a now rare but, all too familiar to longtime watchers of USO, immediate RMA. The image was perfect except for at the top of the FOV and it was big enough for me to be annoyed by and the turrets were being inconsistent and something in the turrets felt like it might be wrong. This is not what you expect of 3 grand worth of scope. I got it back from RMA and went shooting and found that something was still buggered in the erector and it wouldn’t pull clicks out reliably when at certain extreme combinations of wind and elevation. It wasn’t that it was at its limits, it’s that the limits were inconsistent… felt like a return spring was busted or a detent slipped. Since I only really shoot in extreme conditions (judging by empirical data) I wanted that fixed. I sent it back again and it’s just been returned. I’ve get it mounted and will get it zero’d soon enough and if the stars align we’ll see how it does mid-next month on some match work. If everything is fine then I’ll also use it for an upcoming special video I’m doing. If not, then the .223 and the USO ST-10 will be the star of the show.

US Optics Scopes, MDT LSS chassis and Burris Signature Series rings.

US Optics Scopes, MDT LSS chassis and Burris Signature Series rings.

Optical quality from any USO is pretty darned good by any standard. Some will argue but I’ve not been any more impressed by any other manufacturer than I have been with USO. Their coatings might not be as advanced as S&B or Zeiss but I don’t know anyone that can tell the difference, certainly not me. There is tunneling at the lower powers because USO doesn’t use a mask. A mask effectively cuts off some of the image to eliminate tunneling but at a cost. The parallax knob has markings which are in my experience, meaningless except at 50m and infinity.

Where the ER-25 normally shines is in dead nuts precise click values and I experienced that within the central 15mils but outside that my specific scope had some trouble, that’s what got it sent back for repair. My ST-10 which is USO’s cheapest (if you can call it that) scope has the same turret setup and is disturbingly accurate and repeatable. Every independent test, review and anecdote I’ve ever heard or read about USO’s click values is, they’re always accurate. Clicks are not hugely tactile but they are at just the right audible level to be heard without being loud like Vortex and some others seem to me to be.

I got the ER-25 because they no longer made the SN-3 ERGO models and because I had the money, US Optics is my preferred scope vendor and I really wanted one. I’m satisfied with the purchase and with the support so far.

The process to get warranty work is super easy:
1. Have a US Optics scope. This is key.
2. If you have a problem call them and explain.
3. Send it back with the RMA number they give you.
4. Wait a month.
5. Receive your scope back and check it out.
6. Repeat if necessary.

Hey, I said it was easy, not that it was not operated by humans. On the upside, I’ve spend time with a good number of ER-25’s in the last year and mine is the only one anyone reported any problem at all with so I’m going to chalk this one up to the curse of Tahquiz. Don’t take this as a rip on USO or the ER-25. I’ve looked through enough of them to know they’re a rock star optic and optically this one is no exception. I just happened to get the one that needed immediate repair put into it and that sorta happens with manufactured goods. It’s custom, not bespoke.

Burris Signature Series XTR Rings

34mm Rings & Fancy Packaging

34mm Rings & Fancy Packaging

In the tradition of Burris’ excellent Signature Series rings come the XTR line. They’re designed for tactical applications and built tough and you can tell right out of the box. The Pos-Align inserts that users of the Burris Signature Series Zee rings are used to are there but no longer made of the slick polymer used in their 1″ and 30mm Zee rings. Instead the inserts appear to be a fibre reinforced polymer of much duller sheen. Possibly meant to provide greater friction against the scope tubes of the giant scopes normally mounted in 34mm tactical rings.

They’re packaged in a water tight case reminiscent of those from Pelican that’s made by Plano. It’s a hell of a lot of case for a set of rings that are more or less impervious to water in the first place but whatever makes the little cars go round and round right. If nothing else it provided me with a neat little case to keep all the tools and parts for my optics in my normal match kit.

US Optics Scopes, MDT LSS chassis and Burris Signature Series rings.

US Optics Scopes, MDT LSS chassis and Burris Signature Series rings.

A cross bar lug machined into the bottom and made to slot into a Picatinny rail and six screws holding down top halves mean your scope won’t be shifting in the rings and the rings won’t be shifting in your mounting base.

Note the machined in lug.

Note the machined in lug.

These rings are designed for use with bases having a Picatinny slot size. That’s necessary to accommodate the lug. I haven’t tried to fit it in a conventional Weaver base and I’m not going to either. The fibre reinforced ring inserts being clamped down by 6 torx head screws means even the largest and heaviest scopes will be very securely set against the forces of recoil. My rings are hugging a US Optics ER-25 which is one of the heaviest tactical scopes you could possibly find to hang on a rifle so I’m glad for the holding power. The inserts also help prevent damage to the scope finish or pinching of the tube but this by no means is meant to assert that extreme care should not be taken while mounting the scope in the rings. You have to do it evenly and consistently and be careful to not over-tighten them.

Thick and tall, thick and tall. I went with a taller ring than I should have which means either replacing them with a shorter set of raising the comb on my rifle. Guess which one won out in the short term. Hey, at over a c-note a set, it’s non-trivial to keep lashing out greenies. That is what will happen though in the end. The ring caps are pretty thick on their own though and on my ER-25 with it’s relatively short back half of the main tube and super low profile EREK elevation knob means that I can’t see squat of my knob settings (elevation or windage) without having to come slightly off the rifle. It does break up my position which means I have to rebuild the position. It’s right here where MTC and a proper zero stop on the ER-25 would be good. With something like a Vortex Razor with taller knobs the thickness of the ring shouldn’t matter as much. They’re also kinda heavy for aluminum. I didn’t toss them on a scale but they’re certainly not light other than perhaps being light for their size if you’re familiar with the weight of steel rings.

Each ring set includes one set of the +/- 0 MOA concentric, one set each of the +/-5 MOA and +/-10 MOA, and two sets of the +/-20 MOA. With these inserts, it is possible to make 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 40 MOA of cant in the scope mount without a canted base. This means 2-piece bases are a possibility which can allow lower mounting of the scope relative to the bore but they’d have to have Picatinny slot size to work. All of the 2-piece slot-type bases I’ve seen are on the similar but very slightly different Weaver pattern which has slots that are too narrow to accommodate the recoil lugs on things meant for use with Mil-Std-1913 rails and mounts.

Cost is not heartwarming but not heart stopping unlike the cost of, say, US Optics rings. The Burris XTR Signature Series are over $100 on the street. Mine were $134 + shipping. I only use Burris Signature rings on my rifles for a reason. They’re top quality and they don’t mess up my scope finish which helps to retain value on my pricey optics. If you have room in your weight budget and you’re using any scope without an EREK knob then you’ll probably love them. Definitely get your scope in your hands with your rifle and base before ordering your rings and then measure 3x and order 1x.

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