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M24 scope...allegedly! SH experts help!

molonlave

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I picked this scope up several years ago, but didn't have time to really look at it. I felt something was up when the camo paint covered everything including where the rings should be and the underside of the turret complex. If you've painted a scoped rifle, you don't really get the underside of the turret complex due to it's proximity to the mount or action. Anyway, I started carefully removing the paint and...turret housing is devoid of info (pic #2).

So, what do I have here? Is there another way to determine this is a legit L&S ultra M3a without using the serial number? Is this a legit M24 scope?

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molonlave

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Did that. Picture #2 shows bare aluminum. Logo, serial number have been removed by grinding/sanding/filing.
 

sirhrmechanic

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I thought that was paint on there, since they painted every thing else. The only reason I can think of for someone to remove the laser engraved serial number is to hide its provenance.
Or “sterilize” it for special operations or missions.

Or make sure no one can trace it back to you after it disappears from inventory and you signed for it... and it walked out in your BDU pocket.... not that those sorts of things ever happened.

knobs etc look pretty legit. Reticle, too.

Looks like no one would ever quibble if you put this in an M24

Sirhr
 

buffalowinter

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    1. using a Dremel tool, and buffs, polish the area to a mirror surface.
    2. clean area using dist water, and dry, using a lint free cloth or paper.
    3. mix Nitric acid at 3 parts water to 1 part acid. Remember to always add acid.
    4. using Q-tip saturate area where numbers are, and watch for the numbers to appear, they will be faint, and possibly hard to see, angled view is best.
    5. when you see the stamping, rinse off area with water, and follow with a soda rinse.
     

    Random Guy

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    Heavy patina via multiple paint jobs and a well used M118 BDC turret suggests a take-off scope. I don’t know of any way to discern date of production with the info grinded off on bottom, but replacement scopes were used during the M24s approx 22 year service life. Hopefully price paid was on the lower end as opposed to top end. As others noted, it looks legit based on patina and military BDC knob.
     
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    fng23

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    If the bottom of the turret housing was ground/sanded enough to remove the markings......I bet that area is getting pretty thin.

    Might be concerning......might not?

    Also why is there spray paint where the rings would be??? Was it camo'd off the rifle?.....seems odd.....and it would make mounting in rings fucked at best.

    I can't say dumb shit doesn't happen though.

    I once had a legit return stock that at some point been filled in and cut for a BDL then refilled/recut back to original spec. No doubt a "take this home" moment that ended up being a "bring that back" moment.
     
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    TurdFerguson

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    If the bottom of the turret housing was ground/sanded enough to remove the markings......I bet that area is getting pretty thin.

    Might be concerning......might not?

    Also why is there spray paint where the rings would be??? Was it camo'd off the rifle?.....seems odd.....and it would make mounting in rings fucked at best.

    I can't say dumb shit doesn't happen though.

    I once had a legit return stock that at some point been filled in and cut for a BDL then refilled/recut back to original spec. No doubt a "take this home" moment that ended up being a "bring that back" moment.

    Whoever OP got it from probably painted it to hide the fact the number was gone. It looks like underneath the onion sack camo is just sand. You can see ring marks in the bottom layer.

    Common with antique Briggs engines. Want to turn your model PB into a P and make a pile of money, fill in some bolt holes with jb weld, and grind off some casting numbers cover with shitty paint and your in like flynn, one almost unidentifiable P block. Just lie about the wrong carb and fly wheel being their so it will run. Every 12 year old nerd gets screwed that way.
     
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    ODCMP

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    Everything else looks correct. The down side is that without the serial number Leupold won't honor the warranty. I have an M8 CQBSS that had the serial number drilled out as a way of demilling and they said they would not work on it under warranty.
     

    molonlave

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    Good points from multiple people! Very intrigued by the forensic method proposed by Buffalowinter. Would this method only work for revealing stamped information or would it also disclose laser/chemically etched serial numbers?
     
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    308pirate

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    Good points from multiple people! Very intrigued by the forensic method proposed by Buffalowinter. Would this method only work for revealing stamped information or would it also disclose laser/chemically etched serial numbers?

    As sirh said, all these "forensic serial number reveal methods" only work to a certain point. That point depends on how much material was removed by whomever ground off the markings. Remove enough metal and there will be absolutely zero way to figure out what was there. Not even the FBI can tell past a certain point.

    The method used to make the markings doesn't matter. They all can be defeated.
     

    Rookie

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    I have one of those scopes as well. Not fubared like that one. I confirmed with Luepy that it isn't a clone. I have no indication that it was ever mounted on a military rifle. It came with a BDC turret for 168gr 308 round. Luepy makes other turrets so I ordered a couple. Always thought it was weird that the elevation turret turned clockwise to raise POI, just like yours.
     

    Random Guy

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    Always thought it was weird that the elevation turret turned clockwise to raise POI, just like yours.

    Lightbulb moment. That reminded me - the original M3A Ultra scopes made circa 1987-1992/3 had clockwise adjustment to increase elevation, per the US Army's request on the M24 SWS contract. This was unique among Leupold scopes, as they use/used counter-clockwise turrets for their other scopes.

    In 1993 Leupold introduced the Mk4 scopes which were sometimes used as replacements for damaged/unserviceable M3A Ultras. The Mk 4, fixed 10x with M3 turrets continued to use the odd clockwise elevation turrets for several years. I have not been able to get from Leupold exactly when they switched to the counter-clockwise turrets, as there was overlap b/t the two turret styles, but my understanding is that either 1998 and/or 2002 being the final cross-over date when they stopped making Mk 4s with clockwise turrets.

    Bottom-line: Given the unique turret orientation of the scope in this thread, I think its safe to say the scope was made b/t 1987 and either 1998 or 2002 at the latest. My guess is an old M3A Ultra that was 'liberated' when it was still an active weapon system optic. It's definitely correct on an M24 with the M118 dial and the unique clockwise turret orientation that Leupold used per the US military's M24 contract. I should have mentioned that factoid earlier.

    PS: Attached is a picture of a 'R' suffix, 2007-dated Leupold Mk 4, fixed 10x scope with M3 turrets. Note the orientation of the turrets is counter-clockwise to increase POI. In the past 15 years or so years, Leupold also added a small circular indent on the bottom of the scope's housing about 1/16" deep, that says "LEUPOLD TACTICAL". I think that little circular indentation is immune to grinding or sanding off without damaging the scope itself, and my guess is that little feature might have been done to differentiate it from the Chinese reproduction scopes that look like Leupolds. My 2cts.
     

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    molonlave

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    I appreciate the insight Random Guy! My gut feeling is along the same lines...a liberated Ultra M3a, SN removed and painted to obscure their activities. I do not feel this is a Chinese counterfeit. Every aspect of this scope is identical to other M3a scopes with verifiable SN in my collection. I wanted others opinion because should someone challenge if this is a true Ultra M3a that would be correct for an M24, my gut feeling means shit. There are a few other items that came with this scope that I purposely did not post as to not add more distraction.

    These are those items:
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    M4guru

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    Or “sterilize” it for special operations or missions.

    Or make sure no one can trace it back to you after it disappears from inventory and you signed for it... and it walked out in your BDU pocket.... not that those sorts of things ever happened.

    knobs etc look pretty legit. Reticle, too.

    Looks like no one would ever quibble if you put this in an M24

    Sirhr

    I did that for 16 years (and signed/accounted for hundreds of standard and non-standard weapons) and never, ever was a serial number removed from anything. It wouldn’t hide anything, and if you need to be that secret you won’t be using an USGI system anyways.

    Spot on for your second theory though: there are two reasons to remove them:

    1. So nobody knew where it was stolen from
    2. To replace one that you lost and the numbers don’t match.

    OP, that’s the scope my M24 had at SOTIC (I’m getting old). We had Mark 4 3.5-10s that replaced them that were issued as part of the PVS-22 kit along with the McCann rails. We still had to account for them by S/N because they were married to the M24 on our property books, but I could imagine some walking off around the Army pretty easily.
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    I did that for 16 years (and signed/accounted for hundreds of standard and non-standard weapons) and never, ever was a serial number removed from anything. It wouldn’t hide anything, and if you need to be that secret you won’t be using an USGI system anyways. There are two reasons to remove them:

    1. So nobody know where it was stolen from
    2. To replace one that you lost and the numbers don’t match.
    ^^^ This!

    Sirhr

    PS I was being tongue-in-cheek with the sterilize bit... Yes, you would just buy a German scope and be done with it ;-)
     

    M4guru

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    I wonder if they could have been neutered at the demil site? Anybody know if DRMO grinds off S/N's?
     

    shanejohnson2002

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    I wonder if they could have been neutered at the demil site? Anybody know if DRMO grinds off S/N's?

    Possibly. Do weapon systems / components survive demil intact enough to use though?

    I have a DRMO down the street, but I don't know if they would appreciate me asking lol.
     

    M4guru

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    Seems like a mixed bag. I know LE guys that were masters of the system and would travel the country getting gear for their departments. X facility didn’t destroy PEQ-15s and they’d get working ones, but Y facility drove a nail thru all the lenses, etc. I agree they probably wouldn’t have been this gentle or deliberate if they did scrub the S/N off something.
     
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    ODCMP

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    Here is a picture of the scope I mentioned above that had the serial number drilled out. When I spoke to Leupold's technical support they recognized it immediately. They said it was done by the military when they dispose of scopes.

    n1s50uI.jpg


    Demilled may be the wrong term, but I mean demiltarized to remove ownership identification not to make it non-functional. Like I said above Leupold will not warranty a scope with the serial number removed, so it may have been a requirement of Leupold as part of a procurement contract.

    That is probably not the case with the OP's scope since there are many old Leupold Ultra, MK4 and Vari-X-III military scopes around that have been sold without being demilled.
     

    molonlave

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    A few individuals have recommended forensic recovery of the serial number. I did some research and found some literature on the topic. One research article showed promise using NaOH for aluminum. The technique involves polishing the affected area:
    20210329_222156.jpg

    I polished the surface, but some spots were deep and I elected to stop at the point shown above.
     
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    molonlave

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    I ordered some NaOH powder and mixed the concentration referenced in the article. Unfortunately , the results did not reveal any markings. I didn't expect it to reveal much, as the markings on the M3a are very superficial. They almost appear laser etched or similar. Not sure how they where marking these in the late 80's. Examining other M3a scope I have, the serial numbers and other lettering do not appear to be stamped. Perhaps someone here can verify.

    Anyway, the mechanical deformation of the metal during stamping is what allows for this particular forensic technique to work. So, no stamping plus aggressive removal of the markings has resulted in failure.
     

    Huskydriver

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    I ordered some NaOH powder and mixed the concentration referenced in the article. Unfortunately , the results did not reveal any markings. I didn't expect it to reveal much, as the markings on the M3a are very superficial. They almost appear laser etched or similar. Not sure how they where marking these in the late 80's. Examining other M3a scope I have, the serial numbers and other lettering do not appear to be stamped. Perhaps someone here can verify.

    Anyway, the mechanical deformation of the metal during stamping is what allows for this particular forensic technique to work. So, no stamping plus aggressive removal of the markings has resulted in failure.

    Like I said last year... Looks like you have one that fell off the back of a 5 ton..... Still would be one of the last scopes I would ever run by choice
     
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    pmclaine

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    I’d never gotten close to one since I was a crayon eater. I was smart enough to know that moa turrets with a mil reticle was dumb as shit though.

    Hows it differ from a Unertl Day scope?

    BDC elevation to 1000 yds with an MOA fine adjust. MOA windage and Mil Dot reticle - Footballs early to make it fun.

    .Mil has enough retard for all branches.
     
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    molonlave

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    Huskydriver: I hear you and agree that it got unofficially "DRMO'd".
    Absolutely there are better scopes to run. But, if you're doing a period correct clone of an M24, this is the type.
     

    Swamppy

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    As sirh said, all these "forensic serial number reveal methods" only work to a certain point. That point depends on how much material was removed by whomever ground off the markings. Remove enough metal and there will be absolutely zero way to figure out what was there. Not even the FBI can tell past a certain point.

    The method used to make the markings doesn't matter. They all can be defeated.
    If it is stamped you can almost always reveal the serial numbers. The stamping slightly change the density of the metal considerably deeper than most people realize. Of course this varies with type pf metal etc.
     

    308pirate

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    Yes sir I misspoke in my haste to secretly be on the Hide while at work lol.

    You do realize that if the trouble is worth going through, the crystalline structure can be re-arranged to the point that not even that technique you're talking about will work.

    Cops win so much because most of the people they go up against are dumb as shit.
     

    Swamppy

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    Funny you say that my original post was going to be: If it is stamped you can almost always reveal the serial numbers. The stamping slightly change the density of the metal considerably deeper than most criminals realize. Of course this varies with type pf metal etc.
     

    sandwarrior

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    It could be expensive, but eddy current is a method of finding the crystal structure change. It may be enough to find a S/N. Or, not.

    I'm pretty sure that scope "fell off the back of a deuce-n-a-half/ walked out in someones cargo pocket/ met someones fingers and fell in love, etc. etc." Or, it could have been 'de-milled'. (any odds on that bet?) Funny thing is, the military moved on from it rather quickly and hasn't looked back.

    As much as I DON'T think it's a great scope to put on a rifle, IT IS CORRECT for early M24 series rifles. And, it is usable if you practice hard.

    This forum is Vintage. Not F/TR, what Bugout sniper rifle I'm gonna go with, or 'what's the best scope' I can put on a M24 rifle. It's about 'how it was, when it was.'
     

    NineHotel

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    Before Leupold called them Mark 4s they called them Ultras. That is either a 10X ultra or an early Mk 4 I would say. Theatre paint adds value in many instances. I'd hold off on stripping it.
     
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