Carlos Hathcock USMC Sniper Scope – Hi-Lux 8X Malcolm

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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEFoll_3h4k
The Hi-Lux/Leatherwood 8X USMC sniper scope is an exact replica of the one used by Carlos Hatchock, legendary sniper and sniper trainer from Vietnam, who had 93 confirmed kills with his Winchster Model 70, as well as 1903 Springfields and even a .50 cal. Browning BMG. He used a scope on all those rifles just like this.

There are no internal adjustment turrets on this scope. These external turrets control those two pins, that cradle the scope tube.

You may recognize this scope from the tower scene at the end of Saving Private Ryan, where the sniper uses the incorrectly mounted Unertl to take his last shots.

The difficult thing about this scope is mounting it. This requires a competant and experienced gunsmith. Jack Landis from the American Gunsmithing Institute graciously agreed to make a video on how to mount this scope. It is a feature on their Gun Club of America DVD magazine called GunTech, and it is free here from their Youtube, above.

The video is a step by step, detailed instruction on every step of the process.

Just be aware that whoever is doing the work should watch the video from beginning to end before drilling your rifle. The instructions incorrectly tell you to mount that rear base you see against the rear sight base. This is incorrect.

You can see here that the base will not center on the mount, and this important because there are notches inside the base that are supposed to line up. We shot this rifle successfully the way it is, and it won’t be a big job to grind the front of the base off, but you should be aware of the descrepancy.

Jack explains in the video how to deal with the recoil spring. We were told that CMP matches don’t allow them for whatever reason, and the front eyepiece and reticle have to be removed in order to assemble and take off the spring. It sounds crazy, but this scope actually slides back and forth when you shoot, yet maintains perfect zero.

Jack also explains how to safely route the front handgaurd without cracking it. It will save you having to buy a new one.

The scope held zero perfectly through over a hundred rounds of surplus .30-06 from Greece bought from the CMP.

Our groups hovered around an inch at 50 yards with the setup you see here on the patio table.

The Malcolm 8X USMC sniper scope from Hi-Lux/Leatherwood is a really nice piece of gear, and each scope is serial numbered. Their aren’t a lot of them out there, and they will dry up. If you want one use the links above to buy them from the retailers we found, then find a competant gunsmith to mount it for you. It’ll get your old rifle out shooting again for sure.

Hi-Lux Optics:
http://hi-luxoptics.com/malcolm-8x-usmc-sniper/
American Gunsmithing Institute: http://www.americangunsmith.com/
$521 On Optics Planet: http://www.opticsplanet.com/leatherwood

$549 Creedomore Sports: http://www.creedmoorsports.com/shop/Hi-Lux

Carlos Hathcock is probably the most famous sniper of all time. He had 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam, and until recently held the world record for a sniper shot at over 2500 yards, using a Browning M2 .50 cal. machinegun. During his entire career as a sniper, Carlos Hathcock used a U. S. Marines version of a Unertl precision riflescope. This was standard issue on his Winchester Model 70 sniper rifle, and he even used the same scope on the .50 cal. for his record shot. It is an odd scope by today’s standards. There are no internal adjustments to zero these old style Unertls. The scopes adjusts with turrets integral to the rear scope mount, and the tube of the scope floats inside adjustment pins. To buy an original of this USMC scope today would cost you thousands, but Hi-Lux/Leatherwood this past year released an exact replica, called the 8X Malcolm USMC, and the scope really great, but hard to mount. It has an MSRP of $549 and the internet and street price is slightly below that. Hi-Lux sent us one, with the mounting hardware, and we were able to have it mounted for a full range test. Our friends at the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) agreed to help us and you by making an instruction video on the difficult mounting process, included here, in the style of their monthly magazine and DVD subscription called GunTech that is available to their Gun Club of America gunsmith student members. If you have any interest in mounting this scope, the video will save you or your gunsmith a lot of headaches.

We mounted our Malcolm USMC scope on a mismatched mutt of a 1903 Springfield that had been languishing in the safe for years. It is a perfect choice for this project, because this style of scope was standard issue for Army snipers throughout much of World War II, mounted on the 1903 platform sniper rifle. Many of these guns also saw service in Korea, and some even returned for the battlefields of Vietnam. Apparently the Marines by that time had moved to the M70 platform, and this is why Carlos Hathcock is nearly always but not exclusively seen with a Winchester. If you watch the movie Saving Private Ryan, as we mentioned in our previous article on a “no drill” scoping of the 1903 Springfield, the sniper character in the movie, who is left-handed, uses the Unertl scope on his right handed 1903 Springfield at the end of the movie, in the tower scene where he is killed. That scope is mounted incorrectly, in standard scope mounts, but the moviegoers didn’t seem to mind at the time. It shows you that the producers wanted at least the look of a scope that was actually used in these famous battlefields, and that scope was more than not the Unertl.

As you can see from the pictures and the video from AGI, the forward mount for the Malcolm scope is supposed to mount not in a standard scope mount set up, but instead toward the front of the rifle, drilled and tapped into the barrel. This is how all of these Unertls used to mount, and it does give a wide and stable base for the scope. The only problem is, you really have to cut up your gun. Some may have a problem with this, because theoretically every gun has a “history,” but that really isn’t true. This rifle had been re-arsenalled at least twice by the government, and not one part matches. It has also been completely re-parkerized, and we paid $295 for it on GunsAmerica a few years ago from one of the regular sellers here. It was bought specifically because it wasn’t a collectible gun. Granted, the various parts of the gun all have a history, but each part has a different history, and not one part on the gun besides possibly the receiver could ever be documented to have done anything. Drilling and tapping the receiver and barrel don’t remove the history from the gun. They give the gun a new life. It used to languish in the safe. Now it will be shot regularly and probably will take a deer or a coyote in the coming year. A used gun is a happy gun, and this makeover made this gun happy.

If you watch the video, AGI instructor Jack Landis takes us through some basic drilling and tapping tips, and he explains how the measurements need to line up between the bases. But beware, there is a correction at the end when Jack discovers that the sparse manual that comes with the scope is actually incorrect, and that the rear mount should not be butted directly against the rear sight base. You can see on our test rifle that the base overhangs the mount slightly, and that the base on our rifle will eventually need to be ground and polished to fit correctly. Jack also explains how you must route out the top front handguard to accommodate the barrel mounted front base, and how to not only line everything up correctly, but also cut it to the right depth so as not to mess up your rifle.

If you have any interest in actually purchasing this scope, the AGI video is gold. They discovered all of the issues for you by experimenting with our test rifle, and you should be confident that your gunsmith can do the work now. Otherwise it would have genuinely been a crap shoot. The directions that come with the scope are poor and confusing and all but a master gunsmith would screw this job up for sure on the first pass. If you are yourself a gunsmith or tinkering addict, you should sign up for the AGI Gun Club of America. GunTech is the monthly publication and you get a DVD with several features and a video gunsmithing column like this every month. We can’t suggest this enough. All of the AGI stuff is extremely well done, and by experts in the field. We would have boogered this rifle with a local quasi-gunsmith, and it was an undertaking for them to help us with this project for which we are grateful.

The scope itself is fantastic. This is our third scope from Hi-Lux, and yes, blah blah blah they are made in China, but the quality is as good as any German or Japanese scope we have tested in these pricepoints. Complain to your politicians about EPA and OSHA and maybe we’ll see more of this stuff made in the U.S., but for now we can enjoy inexpensive scopes made by those fools in China working for three bucks a week. We did have to test this scope with the rear mount not centered on the notch, as Jack explains, but it didn’t seem to matter. With no Loctite and only hand screwdriver tightening, not one screw on the scope loosened after more than 100 rounds of surplus .30-06 from Greece sold through the CMP. In informal shooting at 50 yards the rifle easily held into an inch using the surplus ammo, which puts it at roughly 2 MOA, perfectly acceptable for informal shooting matches and hunting. This was from a HySkore Black Gun Machine Rest on a patio table, using surplus ammo, so most likely, with match ammo or careful handloads, from a solid rest, you can do much better. You may ask, why do we sometimes shoot at 50 yards? It is hot here in Florida! You try walking back and forth 100 yards.

The important point is that the scope held zero perfectly, and it was repeatable. You will find the Unertl system a little freaky the first time you see it in person. It will make you wonder how it could possibly have withstood battle conditions, but it must be tougher than it looks. On this scope it certainly is more stable than it looks. You will see in Jack’s video that the scope actually slides back and forth on that spring when you shoot it. If anything so far has made us want for a high speed video system, it was this scope. Note, however, that Hi-Lux told us that the spring is not legal for CMP matches. Why? We have no idea, except that the somehow the geezers decided that it somehow gave someone an unfair advantage and ruined the fun. As Jack explains in the video, our guess is that you just move the scope back after every shot. Geezers! Go figure. But be careful to watch Jack’s explanation of how you get that spring on and off the scope, because it doesn’t come with the spring mounted on the tube.

I am not sure that the original Unertl had crosshairs like the Hi-Lux replica. Back then the most popular reticle was a post. Many people still prefer this, but we can’t find an answer to what came on the original scope. The crosshairs on the Malcolm are serviceable at 8X, and the eyepiece is adjustable to your vision somewhat. On the far end of the scope is a focus ring with ranges on it, up to 200 yards. In Saving Private Ryan you can see him twist the front of the scope to adjust to his shot. Some would call this a parallax adjustment, but it isn’t really that on this scope. You do need to adjust the focus between near and far shots for the reticle and the target to be in focus. Many modern scopes eliminate this by setting the focus on infinity, so close shots are always blurry. With the older scopes you at least had a choice.

The only other real quirk of our test scope was that it doesn’t have a lot of adjustment left to right. It just made it to the zero point on the target using the side adjustment turret. It is difficult to drill and tap scope mounts exactly in line with the bore, so I would put your gunsmith on notice to take extra care in this regard so you don’t end up dead stopped at the end of your adjustment range, wishing you had four more clicks to get to point of impact. We didn’t, by the way, test to see if the clicks were actually 1/4 or 1/2 MOA. But they do work well and are 100% repeatable, which is more than I can always say for many of the internal adjustment scopes in this price range from the usual suspects.

The decision to drill and tap a rifle that is in many cases close to 100 years old is a hard one. Ultimately your responsibility to preserving history is no greater than the government that has cut up and mismatched almost all of these rifles ad-nauseum, but the decision is up to you. A rifle that sits in the safe and isn’t shot is an unhappy rifle, and no collector is ever going to want an undocumented mutt of a 1903 Springfield. There really isn’t a huge loss in giving your rifle a new life and purpose. The Hi-Lux/Leatherwood Malcolm 8X USMC riflescope has waaay too long a name, but it is a pretty long scope, and a good scope for the money. It is an authentic replica of the scope Carlos Hathcock used to make his career as the greatest sniper of all time, and to set the long distance sniper record that held for decades. History is what you make it, and Hi-Lux is making history with this really nice scope. Thanks to Jack Landis and AGI for the sweat equity and the great video. It made this article the most useful you will find on this unique scope.

{ 34 comments }

{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Jon August 19, 2012, 6:06 pm

    I have the 10x Varmit version of that Unertl scope after 60+ years it still holds zero and has never failed.

  • Michael W Perkins August 20, 2012, 4:18 am

    I bought the Leatherwood ART M1000, for my AR, & MAN is it a AWESOME scope.

  • Daniel August 20, 2012, 7:37 am

    “and yes, blah blah blah they are made in China”. Well I hear crack dealers give you a great price at first too. Chinese junk is Chinese junk even if you make it look like an Unertl. As a former Marine, I’m pretty sure good old Carlos Hathcock might have some choice words for you for even mentioning his good name in the article.

    Respectfully,
    Daniel

  • Bud {Griz} Miller August 20, 2012, 2:21 pm

    I argee with Daniel. As an x Sea Bee I don’t think Carlos Hathcock would want his name in that commercial. I understand that if you could find an original you probably could’nt afford it. I’m sure it’s a fine scope but it sure would be fine if it was made in the good old usa. I guess AMERICA can’t compete with the imports in price and quality, I think we can and I think we have to. Sorry, I know it’s about the scope. Griz.

    • Administrator August 20, 2012, 3:37 pm

      No, Americans can’t hire Americans because of EPA and OSHA, and some unions. He would be far more disgusted with what America has become than he would be with his scope being made in China.

      • mtman2 December 10, 2014, 9:53 pm

        Exactly right, and this all must be changed ~!

    • geoffbeneze August 20, 2012, 8:18 pm

      Griz, until we eliminate Unions in this country, we will continue to be totally uncompetitive in the world market.

      The problem doesn’t lie with China, but with our very own Business Terrorists.

      • Crankshaft September 24, 2012, 7:15 pm

        Eliminate Unions ??? You need to have your head examined ! America is a union … people fought and died to have better wages and living conditions. We are totally ” uncompetitive ” in the world market you say ? If it weren’t for unions,we’d be working for $7.00 an hour and a bag of rice ! Unions are Great ! It’s our government that sucks.They allow this shit from China,Mexico,etc. to be imported by the tons ! Try to sell an American flag in China…they’ll make Gen. Tsaos chicken out of you ! Buy American and when it’s time to vote, get rid of these scumbags in office. In 2004 I bought a brand new Dodge Viper… $ 91,000.00 . I’ve been Union my whole life. God bless America and our unions.

        • Dan December 15, 2012, 6:59 am

          America was supposed to be a republic. Your Dodge Viper SHOULD cost 15-17,000. Unions however killed that prospect. Viper features are now standard fare. We used to have the tool and die equipment to make sweeter tool and die equipment, but unions forced it to be farmed out for sloppy tolerences that redefine the term wobble shaft from China. Our government sucks and Carlos would misfire if he could witness the joke we are today, but unions suck too, they had a good idea, but like our government, screwed it all up.

        • John December 17, 2012, 6:44 pm

          $91,000….someone got snookered.

    • R king January 14, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Oh, it’s the Unions? Not corporate greed? You are very wrong!

  • Arnie August 20, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Montanna Vintage Arms makes a similar scope and it is American made . Arnie

  • M(KLR) BEES August 20, 2012, 8:03 pm

    Early in the year the CMP auction site, auction ed a vietnam era Winchester with scope. The last bid I saw was $44,000 with two hours left.

  • geoffbeneze August 20, 2012, 8:13 pm

    I have two, one 10x and one 12x, both manufactured before I was born (late 40’s). My dad used one for smallbore competition for many years. I purchased mine for the same purpose.

    They’ve both still going strong.

  • geoffbeneze August 20, 2012, 8:15 pm

    Respectfully Daniel?

    Is that supposed to be a joke?

    Marine or not, your mouth is out of line with the real world.

    • H.R.I.M. August 21, 2012, 1:27 am

      So tell me, young man, what exactly is the “real world?” Does your r.w. include buying ChiCom crap made by slave labor?
      Sorrie Charlie, but you can take your idea of a r.w. and shove it. There are still a few of us left who want nothing to do with it. jms

    • Daniel August 21, 2012, 6:38 am

      No sir, no joke. It may be my former Marine status making me too dense, but I don’t understand why you’d say my “my mouth is out of line with the real world”. I’m just tired of excuses being made for buying cheap slave labor produced Chinese products. I think my point is simple, we should try to buy products from free people in democratically controlled countries.

      Respectfully,
      Daniel

  • lloyd August 21, 2012, 11:21 am

    To someone who is more familiar with the scope than me. I see in the pic of the tower scene from Saving Private Ryan the scope looks like it was mounted with the windage on the left. Could this have not been incorrectly mounted, but mounted that way because the shooter was left handed. I don’t know enough about the scope to decide myself?

    • Administrator August 21, 2012, 11:36 am

      As explained in the article that scope was mounted into standard redfield bases. The adjustment and would not work at all.

  • Kevin August 21, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I have a Unertl 24x that is mounted on an Anshutz. I used this combination for a long time in smallbore competition. It was probably the most popular scope for 22 competition back then. They had a few different models besides the target. A friend had the varmint version. It had a much larger tube and objective lens.
    As much as I’m not crazy about it being made in China, at least the attempt is being made to revive it.

  • Lee Ames August 21, 2012, 7:56 pm

    I still have a 16X Unertl Super Varmint ‘scope (2″ AO Objective) mounted on a Win Model Bull barrel (.22LR) super tack driver. I’ve used it on a custom 6mm Remington varmint rifle, and it has never lost zero. In that case (6mm Rem), I do not use the recoil spring, but I return the ‘scope to battery manually after each shot. It shoots 1/2 min groups easily with 65gr BTHP fodder. The ‘scope has had it’s reticle replaced once! These things must cost a fortune these days…

  • Lee Ames August 21, 2012, 8:09 pm

    I failed to mention that I used the Unertl ‘scope on a Win Model 52 Bull Barrel (.22LR) target rifle. I also seem to recall that the ‘scope mounting blocks were commonly included in the target rifles of that era (’50’s-’70’s). Adding the m to another rifle required a good gunsmith who must mount them on 7.2 ” centers in order for the windage and elevation turrets to give the shooter inch (or frations thereof) adjustments at 100 years (MOA).

  • Matt September 22, 2012, 5:52 pm

    I can’t help but be offended that you would use the name of a great Marine like this to promote some cheap Chinese product. The title of this article reads like an e-bay airsoft ad “USMC SEAL DEVGRU SNIPER SOF DET 1 RECON SCOPE”

    Have some honor and quit using Carlos Hathcock and the Marine Corps as attention grabbing tactics for your articles unless you’ve received permission from the family of Carlos Hathcock or a Marine Corps Public Affairs Office.

  • John December 17, 2012, 6:41 pm

    This scope just tesifies to the unbelievable skill that Carlos had when you compare the scopes and weapons of the snipers today – Absolutely amazing!!

    A quiet, soft-spoken laid back guy doing his best to save American and Vietnamese lives.

  • Jack December 27, 2012, 8:53 am

    When thinking of how skilled Hathcock was since childhood, it makes you think about the conditions of his childhood in poor Arkansas, where a kill meant something on the dinner table.

  • Paul January 18, 2013, 6:13 pm

    I think the comments given are all great. The only problem is that neither side has taken their opinion to the inevitable conclusion. If the unions think it is so easy to own and operate a “Greedy” corporation, than why don’t they own one? If the “Greedy” corporations think it is so great being a union, why don’t they start their own. The simple truth is, they all ready have!

    China does own us until we decide they shouldn’t. Quit buying & quit selling their crap for them.

  • Tom January 26, 2013, 3:24 pm

    I’m with Daniel and Matt! Forget pushing China mad products with Carlos name attached without permission from his family and a payday for them as well.
    My sincer hope is that China produces the same junk for their military as they send us. And as for the unions and business, they both are to blame. When the unions wanted more, the corporations just bumped their price per unit and passed it along to the consumer. Both the union and corporations made out fine and we got the shaft. It’s all about greed on both sides.

    Also a Marine!

  • ermest February 7, 2013, 10:13 am

    I have only seen one long scope, it was brass an mounted on an M-1…did not find out how it shot, but, would like to acquire a long scope for distance target shooting …am working up a TC encore with 30.06 barrel, 26in for fun an to see just how accurate I can get it up to 800 yards…I did accquire an M-1 in excellent condition, H&R made, same years as i was in the USMC. It looks perfect inside an out, an has a heavy stock on it, also, perfect condition…I am hesitant to work on it with a scope an do not know of any gunsmiths about to even mount a sniper scope on it properly an I sure would hate to mess it up…it has been placed in trust to my youngest son who I hope will appreciate it in time as a collector item with photos of me with one…I loved shooting it on the range an missed range record by 2pts that week…I have the 5 rd clips for it to use in hunting,but, I prefer to keep it in perfect condition an use it only sparingly…I know, many think it should be fired all the time, but, it had it’s day, now, it should be appreciated an preserved, mho…I enjoy the sgl shot rifles for target shooting…I believe all vets should have rights to acquire first choice when military rifles are offered, at least one of them….semper fi

  • Irwin December 7, 2013, 3:01 pm

    It’s interesting that these scopes are being reproduced. I’ve seen the original Unertl USMC sniper scopes and they do not have the spring that this one does. All were marked “USMC Sniper, J. Unertl”. So these may not be as authentic as they are claiming. In fact my father has one of the scopes on his Winchester Model 70 Van Orden USMC sniper rifle.

  • R Wagner March 9, 2014, 5:11 pm

    I own a win Mod. 70 Van Orden Sniper Rifle 30-06 w/o Scope What is Its ValueSer#3251##

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