Earlier this year when we paid a visit to US Optics we were impressed with where the new company was going and we liked their new facility up in Kalispell Montana. We have since reviewed their B-Series B-17 scope and liked the new design, but that was not their latest scope. For that, you have to turn to the SVS 1-6x24mm scope that we have here for review. The SVS is a scope intended for an SPR (Special Purpose Rifle) and not a true sniper focused scope. But here at Sniper Central we do cover SPR, DMR, SSR and other rifles that may not be sniper rifles directly, but they relate to the sniping role and felt that this scope would be a worthwhile review. The scope we have for our evaluation is the SVS 1-6x with the SVS MIL Scale reticle.
As we mentioned in the B-17 review, the US Optics scopes arrive in a plain and simple white box with some basic documentation, an Allen wrench and a US Optics sticker. Nothing fancy, but everything you need. Our test scope also came already mounted in a ZroDelta mount which sets it up nicely for any of the MSR/AR rifles may want to use it on. Typically on a SPR the scope tend to be more compact, the initial impressions of the SVS are that it is large for its purpose, and seems to carry some weight to it as well.
The eyepiece is very large, both in diameter and in length and is very similar to the eyepiece on the B-17. The rear has the fast focus eyepiece that will cover the entire diopter range in about 1.3 rotations. It rotates smooth through that range, but becomes more stiff the further “in” the eyepiece is rotated and there is no indicator mark to keep track of where the lens is in that adjustment range. There is also no rubber ring to help protect the eye in case of a scope kiss. Though on a light recoiling SPR rifle this should not be a problem, and the 3.5″ of eye relief should be enough.
At the front of the large eyepiece is the zoom magnification adjustment ring which covers about the first half of the eyepiece in terms of length. There are some knurling indentions in the ring, but the large throw lever style tab is what will get used the most when adjusting the zoom power. The zoom goes from 1x through 6x and it is smooth through the entire range with moderate force required to rotate it. It is interesting to see that there literally are only two markings on the ring, 1 and 6. There are no numbers in between, so it is just a matter of guessing what the zoom power is on, which typically the guess will be off since scopes will have different spacing between each zoom power as you go up the scale. The reticle is also a 2nd focal plan reticle, which means it does matter what power you are set on for the MIL SVS reticle to be accurate. The good part is that for this scope, it is calibrated to be accurate on the highest magnification setting of 6x. So it makes it easy to just crank it up to the max power and use it there for the MIL markings.
The SVS is intended to be a compact SPR style scope, and with the large eyepiece, it reduces the amount of available tube in front of the eyepiece to be a relatively short 1.80″ to use for locating the rear scope mounting ring. The tube is 34mm diameter, which is perhaps a bit of overkill for a scope that is not intended to use or need a lot of dial in adjustments, which is what the larger tubes really give you. Of course, you do get some added weight, size, and heft with the larger tube as well. But there are no other advantages beyond “maybe” being a little stronger and providing a larger housing for which to place the objective lens while keeping a straight tube at the front.
The shoulder where the controls are located is a rounded design with elongated large flat spots on top of each location. The knobs for both the elevation and windage have dust caps on them, and like we have indicated already, an SPR optic is intended to use the reticle for most of its adjustments by holding off of the point of aim. This means after the initial zero is set on the knobs, they are generally left alone. This is good because the knobs on the SVS are not setup for pure sniping work.
Under the dust cap, the elevation knob is a flat design that is finger adjustable, though the setting cannot be seen from behind the scope. Additionally there are no indicator arrows showing which way is up, but just follow the numbers, they count up. There is some mild serrations on the knob to help with grip in inclement weather and there are markings on the very top of the knob. Each click is .2 MIL, which is an odd number, but again, the scope is not intended to have precision knobs for accuracy work. Just zero and then wing it from there. The clicks themselves have no slop, though each one is perhaps not at pronounced as we would normally like, but they are muted and should not accidentally move, especially with the cap on. Obviously, there is no need for a zerostop capability.
The windage knob is identical to the elevation knob, just mounted on the side. The clicks have the same feel and the markings are even the same. They likely are interchangeable in every way. Again, there is no direction indicator and we guessed that counting up was “RIGHT”, and we were correct in that assumption. There really is not much more to report than that. The knob works, and it is simple. The scope is a non-adjustable parallax scope, so there is no focus control.
Instead of a focus control on the left, there is an illumination control knob. The scope features an illuminated 2 MOA dot at the very center of the reticle. The controls for the brightness is a rheostat style control. The control does not have specific clicks for brightness but rather just clicks in the off position and then rotates freely without clicks up to the highest brightness, which is visible in full daylight. It is a pain to have to rotate the knob all the way to where you want it every time you want to use the illuminated reticle, but the control is very smooth through its entire adjustment range. There is a cap on the very top of the knob that is the battery cover.
In front of the shoulders the tube is straight until the very end, which is what we prefer for these SPR style scopes. The tube extends another 3.00″ that can be used for locating the forward mounting ring. As we mentioned, the scope is somewhat large with its 34mm tube and large eyepiece and the weight is a substantial 1.4 lbs, but the construction quality appears to be high and the size and weight gives the impression that the scope is very durable. Sitting on top of a small carbine length M4, it looks rather significant, but sitting on a long gun with 26″ barrel, not so much.
Because this scope is not a true sniper type optic, our normal testing procedure, which you can read about here, is not as relevant. But we needed a way to test the quality of the manufacturing so we decided to move forward with the same lineup of tests, but somewhat abbreviated since the intended use of the scope is different. Keeping in mind the designed purpose of the scope is to zero, and then hold off for engagements, we tried to tailor our testing for that mission. Since the reticle plays a prominent role in this scope, let us take a moment to discuss it.
With the SVS MIL scale reticle, each of the hash marks on the left and right stadia represent 1 MIL increments. Extending down below the horizontal stadia the first two hashes do the same, representing 1 MIL each. Then the next hash down is an additional 2 MIL, making it 4 MIL down from the horizontal crosshair. Finally, there is another 2 MIL before the fat part of the stadia begins, giving 6 MIL of total vertical measurement that can be used. This allows for some basic MIL ranging capability if needed, but the full intent is to use those MIL marks for holding off if you know your ballistics. Additionally, the width of the two hashes below the horizontal stadia is to hold off in a 5 MPH or 10 MPH wind, though US Optics does not indicate what cartridge those wind hold offs are for. In reality, the reticle does not offer any real advantages over a basic reticle and we would probably even recommend the MIL Type 2 reticle that is also offered on this scope.
With the reticle being located on the 2nd focal plane, it means it must be set at 6x to be accurate. For a scope that is intended to be used in a SPR role where a rifle can be used for close-in engagements where you will want a lower magnification, and then may be used for holding off using the reticle at distance, it probably really should be located on the first focal plane where the magnification setting would not matter. A scenario where the rifle is being used during a patrol and the zoom is set at 2x or 3x and then a target pops up at 400 meters out and needs an immediate engagement, you would want to just use the optic without changing anything and hold your 3 MIL mark and engage. You may not have the time to change the power, or even may not remember to do it in a stressful environment.
For our shooting evaluations we used the scope on two different rifles to determine suitability. We used our normal 700P test rifle to do the testing of tracking and we mounted it to a M4 style platform to see how it worked on a more appropriate platform for what the optic was designed for. Our testing was done on a cold Montana morning with clear skies and the temps 5 above zero (Fahrenheit). The tracking on the scope worked well and showed good repeatability, but the knobs continued to baffle us a bit. Not only are there no direction indicators, but the markings on the scope did not correspond to the amount of adjustments being dialed in. The knobs showed 5 hash marks between each number, which in our mind seemed logical as each click was .2 MIL. The problem was that there were actually two clicks per hash, putting 10 clicks between each whole number. Obviously, doing the math, there were 2 full MILs of adjustment between each whole number, making the those numbers pretty much irrelevant.
Once we figured out the clicks per number, we fired one group, measuring about .75 MOA, and then dialed in 6 MILs of left and fired our second group, which was about the same size. Finally we dialed in 6 MIL of right and fired a confirming shot showing the tracking came back to where it was originally, which it did. Measuring the distance between the two groups we came up with 23.3″. At 100 yards, 6 MILs comes to 21.6″ which means we had 7.9% of error for the click sizes. This is larger than we like to see on a scope used for sniping, but for a scope designed for this application where it is zeroed and then left alone, it is not nearly as important, but still not the results we like to see either. To be transparent with the results, the group sizes were a bit larger than we typically see, which was likely due to the lower magnification, so there was certainly some added error in the results.
The optics on the scope are actually quite nice. We were able to see bullet holes on paper at 100 yards with only 6x of magnification and the glass was clear and bright from edge to edge. Mounting the scope to an M4 style rifle proved trickier than it should have been due to the attached rear sight aperture and the very large eyepiece on the SVS. We had to move it forward one additional notch on the rail than we would have liked, but that did give a micrometer of clearance to allow the rear sight to remain attached as well as the SVS. In this capacity, the scope does work well with good capability and durability. The built in throw lever is nice for quick magnification adjustments from just about any position. With the scope on lower magnifications, the front sight post of our test rifle does appear, but it is not a distraction and can aide in rapid target engagement.
With the SVS being the first of the new scopes designed under the new US Optics company, we wanted to see a solid design matched with excellent quality. The price puts this scope into a field with very strong competition and it needs to stand out in order to impress us. While the scope is well made, we see room for improvement in the design decisions. The SFP scope, knob layout and markings, illumination control and even the large size of the scope could all use improvement. Functionally, the scope will get the job done, we were just hoping it would lead off the new US Optics with some more wow than it did.
Sniper Central 2018