There was a time (8-10 years ago approximately) that
Schmidt & Bender and
USO were the only two manufacturers with scopes that had first-focal-plane (FFP) reticles, large elevation knobs, and the zero stops feature. Leupold did not have any FFP scopes at the time and its
M3 elevation knob with one-MOA click was their only zero-stop but you
could have Premier Reticles convert it FFP.
Times have changed, but the USO 3.2-17x ERGO SN-3 FFP zero-stop is still one
of the best options out there for long-range shooting. This scope is
directly comparable to the Nightforce 3.5-15x F1 zero-stop, Premier
Heritage 3.5-15x FFP zero-stop, the Schmidt & Bender 4-16x FFP
zero-stop, and the Hensoldt 4-16x FFP. On a sidenote, the Hensoldt 4-16x
does not have a zero-stop turret on it. For a tactical environment,
zero-stop turrets are definitely beneficial because they prevent the
knob from being dialed below the primary zero, thus preventing the
shooter from getting lost on their elevation knob, and giving the
shooter a quick way to get back to their zero without looking.
The 3.2-17x is great for shooting anywhere from 25 yards out to 1500-1600
yards on minute-of-man size targets. The USO 3.2-17x ERGO SN-3 is 16.5
inches long and weighs 2.10 pounds. It's three inches longer than the
Hensoldt and one inch longer than the S & B of comparable
magnification. Despite the greater length it is actually about the same
weight as the Hensoldt and S & B (note: The USO's weight can vary
depending on a customer's tube size preference and other options).
USO gives their shooters great glass. I'm not going to spend too much time
on glass clarity in this article. I believe once you a hit a certain
level quality of scope and do glass comparisons, you enter into a mode
of "splitting hairs" and "personal preferences." Some people have told
me they see better through their USO than their S & B and
vice-versa. Other people see better through a particular scope because
of the uniqueness of their physical vision. Others are filled with
personal bias and won't defend any other scope but their "favorite."
Most haven't looked through them all and regurgitate what they heard or
read from somebody else.
U.S. Optics is known for having great FFP scopes and the 3.2-17x ERGO maintains this reputation. Of course, one could expect nothing less when laying out $2500 for an optic and USO meets that expectation. If I didn't believe USO scopes were worth that kind of money I wouldn't purchase them for my own personal use. I use USO's on a GAP .308 and a custom-built .284 and have no problems what-so-ever. I see clearly in
daylight and lowlight situations and use them effectively in competitions. They've never let me down over the past several years.
One of the hallmarks of USO is their extremely customizable process that
allows a customer to choose his preference on a many number of features
including parallax, objective, tube, color, elevation, windage,
reticles, illumination and more. These options allow you to build a
3.2-17x SN-3 your way.
USO has the largest selection of reticle options you can choose from. From
your standard MILDOT to a custom reticle pattern, there's a lot on the
table for the pickiest of long-range shooters. You can also choose
between a red or green illumination for reticle lighting. If you wanted
an MOA reticle I would personally recommend the PCMOA. For the MIL scale
I would recommend the MPR. The G.A.P. reticle (G.A. Precision) or the
GEN II XR from Premier Reticles (USO is the only manufacturer now that
is able to offer the GEN II XR in their scopes, with the obvious
exception of Premier Heritage scopes by Premier Reticles) are two great
options as well. If you're curious, my USO 3.2-17x has the GEN II XR in
it. Their one of my favorites. That Christmas tree shape makes for a
great holdover reticle pattern.
Whatever reticle you select, it will be built in the FFP configuration. This
means the reticle feature will appear to grow and shrink, but what it is
actually doing is remaining the same size in relationship to the target
as you adjust your magnification. With FFP, you can accurately use the
reticle marks for holdover shots at any magnification setting.
With your elevation knob you also are going to have an array of options at
your disposal from a standard turret to a more exotic setup. The
elevation knob that I would recommend would be the EREK knob. EREK
stands for Erector Repositioning Elevation Knob. Most scopes start you
off looking through the center of the glass and allow you to zero your
scope using the turret. You can do that with USO's and with the EREK
Knob you can change the Erector System internally independent of the
actual elevation knob. This allows you to change whether or not you're
looking through the bottom of the glass to the top of the glass in the
scope. Meaning, you have the ability to get the maximum elevation out of
your scope. USO is the only manufacturer to offer this feature. The USO
EREK knob is also one of the most distinguishable elevation knobs out
there. It is the lowest profile zero-stop turret out of the previously
mentioned rifle scopes. It's unique, flat pancake design makes it stand
out from the competition from a visual standpoint and from a practical
standpoint: you're less exposed in a combat situation due to the
low-profile (granted, the difference is subtle), it's wider than most
knobs which makes it easier to turn, it gives you 45 minutes when in 1/2
MOA and 9 mils when in 1/10mil clicks, and clicks are very positive.
You can also get the turret with the USO patented "Milestone" knob
(heavier clicks at every full MIL). Long-range shooters know all too
well the importance of being able to dial out to 1,000 yards in one
rotation. The odds of human error always increases when dialing up and
down multiple turns, a concern you will not have with a USO EREK knob.
For your wind-age options the #3 wind-age with a wind-stop is good way to
go because the wind-stop will help prevent you getting lost on your wind
knob. I use the standard #1 windage with the cover because I don't dial
my wind much, rather, I use hold-overs for the wind calls.
Another hallmark of all USO's is their toughness. There are numerous videos
online of people bashing their USO's, running over them with vehicles,
using them as hammers to nail stuff, throwing them off cliffs and then
picking them up and then at the end, shooting through them effectively.
When you have a chance to, look at the front of the ERGO objective on a
USO and notice how thick it is in comparison to other scope objectives.
The tube walls in a USO have a lot to do with their toughness as well.
Their tube walls have a great deal of mass compared to other scopes of
equal tube size. USO gives you the options of 30mm, 34mm, or 35mm for
your tube size on an SN-3. Larger the tube the more room it has equaling
more elevation and windage in system, giving you more performance out
of the scope.
One of the perceived weaknesses of USO's is their weight. If you're looking
to build a lightweight rig, you might not want a USO. If you're looking
for a rig to take abuse, a USO is the way to go. I've had them for
years and haven't had an issue with them yet. Another criticism is that
the illumination knob currently 11 position rheostat that sits
underneath a threaded cap and the housing has been known to get knocked
off (one of the instances was a guy's rifle falling off a bench, not
recommended for any scope) yet the USO's still work fine despite this
rare occurrence. USO is currently working on a push-button illumination
system as an alternative.
USO's overall reputation is one of being established. Every year you go to
SHOT SHOW you see the same faces in the booth and each guy is
approachable, friendly, and professional. Their customer service record
is one of dedication. John and his crew give you top-notch support and
will definitely take care of you as a shooter.
Several years back, I actually flew down to So. Cal to their facility and got to watch them build a prototype ST-10S scope from start to finish (obviously not a typical customer experience that can be expected or requested). I wanted to learn more about what they do and how they do it. I watched them knock it out in stages from the parts, to the mid-section, to installing the internals, to finally putting the scope on the Quality Control Board . After many hours I was able to take it home (again, not a typical turn-around time, they rushed through it and were accommodating me as an interested dealer working on a prototype). I ended up nicknaming the ST-10S the "CSGW-ST10" for our customers (at the time our name was CS Gunworks, but now is CS Tactical). Again, John and his crew were great and I left more confident in their heart to serve you, the customer.
Overall, the 3.2-17x ERGO FFP zero-stop brings together all the basic needs of a
practical long-range shooter with the custom design savvy of U.S. Optics, culminating in a great rifle scope that will consistently perform week in and week out.
In closing, another common criticism of USO is the amount of time it can take from the scope order being placed until the time it is received. This can be anywhere from two to six months depending on a lot of different factors. For most guys that want a high-end piece of equipment done right the first time, a several month wait is not that big of a deal. For others though, several months is an eternity compared to microwaves, movies on-demand, and amazon.com. For this reason,
CSTACTICAL.COM regularly stocks popular USO models so interested buyers can eliminate the wait for this high quality product.