Unertl Optical Company

It is amazing the things you discover meeting people. Previously I had posted about Keith Biddle and his machine shop. While talking about guns with him, he showed me this rifle that belonged to his Uncle.


The rifle is a 6mm bolt gun and it even bears his Uncle’s name. Ok, the gun doesn’t but the scope does. Keith’s Uncle was John Unertl Jr. To be honest I have not heard of the Unertl Optics Company before as older guns are a little outside my wheelhouse. Looking them up, they were based in the next town over in Mars, Pennsylvania and supplied a lot of scope for the USMC Scout Sniper program.

MIles V told me that the scope on Jackson’s sniper rifle, in Saving Private Ryan, is an Unertl scope.


This scope is a little different. The first thing that jumped out at me is the recoil spring. Almost like Nielson device, the scope sort of free floats as the rifle recoils rearward.


The scope covers are machined steel and screw into the scope.

Unfortunately after Keith’s Uncle passed away they found out that most if not all of the scope designs were never committed to paper. The designs were all in his Uncle’s mind. Interesting local history with an unfortunate ending.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Carlos Hathcock used a Unertl scope.

    • Giolli Joker

      Yep, mentioned several times in Marine Sniper.

    • John

      I was wondering when I’d see someone mention this!

  • MrBrassporkchop

    “It’s junk.” -Aimpoint guy #321

  • oldman

    Forgotten Weapons did a vid on older sniper scopes a while ago. It is always great getting more information thanks.

  • Jeff Smith

    “Oh, that Hi Power in the background? That’s just to tease you a little.”


    • Anonymoose
      • weasle94

        I have a Hi Power laying around the house . Would not want to come here uninvited The high power is a good shooting accurate pistol .I do wish they came in 45 acp but newer 9 mm are a lot better than before

        • Anonymoose

          The closest you’re going to get is a FEG GKK, unfortunately.

          • Well, he could get a CZ 97B. Not exactly a Hi-power, but very similar, and IMHO, an improvement on the HP.

      • Jeff Smith
      • Laserbait

        Hi Point is the same thing, right? 😀

    • Nicholas C

      LOL. When I told him I’ve never shot a Browning Hipower before, he said “here, borrow it and shoot it.”

      Really a great guy.

      • Jeff Smith

        They’re fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to own two: a FEG Hungarian copy and a FN made competition model. The competition model may have been the nicest firearm I’ve ever shot. A 6″ barrel and muzzle weight made it shoot like a dream. I got it for a song and sold it when someone offered me nearly triple what I paid for it.


        • gusto

          that you guys in the US sell guns is offensive to us in less gun friendly nations ):

          I have to prove activity with my handguns and renew my license every 5 years

          • Jeff Smith

            That’s a bummer, dude. Facebook gun trading groups were AMAZING while they lasted. We still have gun shows and gun forums, but Facebook groups were the best.

  • Have one of these on an Anschutz .22 I inherited from my father. Great optic, for what it is.

  • AlanHan

    The protagonist Llewelyn Moss had an Unertl on his mauser in No Country for Old Med.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Is this a comment on the US health care system?

      • atmar


  • codfilet

    Those “old” Unertl scopes usually cost more than whatever rifle they are mounted on, even today. Those scopes are highly sought-after.

    • comatus

      Senior Masters Anysight classification in Precision Smallbore Prone is, universally I think, referred to as the Unertl Owners Club. They have some pretty nice cases for them, too.

  • weasle94

    great looking scope . I like the recoil spring . I guess it works or the Marines would not have used it .Wonder what it costs

  • B. Young

    Unertl also made a modern scope for the US military not too long ago. Some are USMC marked.

  • MrPotatoHead

    Leatherwood/Hi-Lux makes a replica of that scope called the

    Wm. Malcolm 8x USMC. I’ve seen one custom mounted on a 1903 Springfield. It was a beautiful setup.

  • Geoff Blake

    Years ago in Peoria, Il there was a man known as the “Gunsmithy” and he operated a gun shop housing a shooting gallery on the first floor, and a rifle range in the basement. That store displayed close to 1,000 long guns and pistols, including some rare pieces: a Russian 20MM anti-tank gun, a break-down .308 with Unertl scope, a Colt .264 magnum rifle, etc
    Bill Hiser was his name…and he used to brag about the accuracy of that Unertl scope all the time.

  • gusto

    how does that scope retain zero?

    • DwnRange

      It uses a micrometer click external adjustment system and yes it holds a zero just fine and the spring returns the scope to it’s correct position after firing. One must be careful with the spring tension screw though and use as little tension as necessary – it only needs enough to return the scope into position after the recoil of firing the rifle. I have heard of it’s use without the spring at all, in which case the shooter simply pulls the scope back into position before firing the next shot himself.

  • Jake

    I’ve got a similar, externally adjusted scope that I inherited. It’s a Lyman STS, 20X. Same metal lens caps, similar adjustment setup, no return spring. Waiting for the right Winchester M70 to put it on.

  • a_b704

    I have a Unertl like that on an old Remington 700 in .243 I have not shot in in twenty years, at least, but perhaps I should do so. The gun is a bull bbl, quite accurate, if I recall – but I would never hunt with it, since I do not trust any Rem 700.

  • uisconfruzed

    I’d thumb this post up if I could.

  • l2a3

    Like you, I have a 14 power, Sr. # 84xx, prewar, with just “J. Unertl” markings on my 52B. A great scope for its time, don’t think It has been used it since the early ’70s, just stored in its LYMAN Target Sport box with the 52B accessories.

  • Raymond Miller

    I have had several Unertl scopes in my long, so far, life. They are top of the line scopes and it has broken my heart to sell them and the rifles that they were on. Rifles like .219 Donaldson Wasps, .219 Ackley Improved Zippers, .22 Hornet Win. High walls and Win. low Walls. not using them and old age meant getting rid of them while I was still upright, just so I could make sure that they went to people who appreciated what they were getting. All in all I had 8 Unertl target/varmint scopes on an assortment of really cool rifles, in my collection.