What happened to USO?

pbgunrunner

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About 20y ago I was looking to upgrade our departments aging Leupolds on our SERT team's precision rifles. USO was reputed to be the top of the line. I called and spoke to a VERY knowledgeable guy who turned out to be the owner. He explained alot of specifics to me and even offered me a very substantial discount on one of his scopes so we had one to compare against what we were using. I regret to this day not taking him up on it, but my focus shifted to K9 when an assignment opened and I left before they decided to go w newer mk4 leupolds (price and known brand to the brass).
Anyway, fast forward to now, I'm getting back into long range shooting and it seems like the top dogs are high end euro brands, nightforce and Vortex Razors. I did a google search and found the USO page, is it the same company? Do they still have the reputation they once had? I'm not looking for anyone to bash or play fanboy, I'm just looking for honest opinions. Thanks!
 

Dthomas3523

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Still make good optics, but they don’t offer the full custom stuff they used to.

They definitely aren’t the top of the heap anymore as you’ve observed. They are good, but there are quite a few better choices now.
 

rth1800

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Never were up to competition. Once the hype died reality set in.

Some wondered if it was all a UPS scam to promote shipping activity due to warranty work. ?
 
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mikey geester

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USO was known for their custom designs being color, tube size, objective size, reticle and color made unique per the shooters specs with the SN3 ergo and less on the TPAL models. I had a few of these.
The company was sold and they moved to Montana during the release of the new B series scopes at shot show 2017.
If I’m not mistaken Between that time and now the company was sold again and moved to North Carolina and the New outsourced scopes were introduced. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Not to mention a lot of good scopes came Down in price on the private market when Mile High liquidated those Schmidt Pm2’s for $2450. You can get a PM 2 for 2200-2300 on the private market now. Before then PM2’s sold for no less than 2800 on average on the private market.

This brought the USO’s down too as well Especially to the TPAL models.

You’ed Be lucky to get 1650 for an ER25 these days. IMO

A lot of other scopes and MFG’s have come out too and the market is saturated so competition is high.

Zero Compromise, Tangent, Vortex, Nightforce, Leupold, Schmidt, USO, Steiner, the list goes on. Everyone is making quality scopes these days so USO isn’t the only option any more like it used to be back then.
 
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FrankinND

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I enjoyed the Tpals on the 3-17 models I had a couple of. They were very durable scopes but the QC left a little bit to be desired for.

I do know RSR a fun wholesaler stocks
Certain models but my friend who works there said they are prettt stripped down scopes. Had no idea the company was sold that many times but one thing I do know ....... they died off of
Snipers Hide like a cancer.
 

DustBun

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I am neither a fanboy nor a basher. I have no loyalty or disloyalty to USO. I do own a B-17 with the H102 reticle and internal bubble level that I purchased about 2 years ago. I have sent it back a couple times, once for a materials issue and another for workmanship. Since then no issues. I like the EREK turret and the repeatability of the turret, crisp and solid. The glass is very good quality in my opinion, but of course this is very subjective. I like the H102 reticle and the internal bubble level. One other item to add is that I like the aesthetics but again this is subjective.

Generally speaking, every scope uses the same types of components, e.g. tubes, glass, reticles, turrets, etc. What differentiates the scopes is the quality of the components and the accuracy/repeatability of the turrets and configuration, e.g. FFP, SFP. I struggle to understand statements that imply USO, or any other brand, has not kept up with or has fallen behind the others. For example, there are only so many advancements/features you can implement into a turret.

As important, or maybe more so, is the reputation, customer service, warranty and quality of the company. To that point, I would be surprised if any top shelf scope manufacturer has not had a problem with a scope or has a dissatisfied customer. What sets the companies apart is how they deal with the problems and help their customers. To that point, yes I had a couple problems with my scope but USO took care of it. First time not so well, great the second time. I don’t hold the entire quality of the scope against them because of a QC issue. I am not one that rates something I buy on Amazon as a 1 because UPS delivered the box next door.

I made the decision to purchase my USO partly because of the posts here on SH a few years back but mostly after seeing some. I do not regret my decision. I believe some brands fall out of favor because they are not trendy anymore. I have looked at the ZCO ZC420. It really is a beauty, in my eyes. However I did not see where the glass was any better than the USO. Turrets were just as crisp and solid as the USO. The MPCT 2 reticle was very similar to the Horus H102. All in all, a beautiful piece but I can’t say it is better, others would.

I do not see how you could go wrong with USO or any other comparably priced top shelf scope. It so subjective when comparing the same level of any product. Some will be better in some areas that are important to you and others will be better in other areas. Look through the different scopes at matches and see how the turrets feel and what you like. If it helps, I created a spreadsheet and Zipped it and also a PDF comparing some scopes here. Best of luck.

BTW, should I get a MRAD or MOA reticle? Which is better? :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: JUST KIDDDING!!!
 

mikey geester

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I am neither a fanboy nor a basher. I have no loyalty or disloyalty to USO. I do own a B-17 with the H102 reticle and internal bubble level that I purchased about 2 years ago. I have sent it back a couple times, once for a materials issue and another for workmanship. Since then no issues. I like the EREK turret and the repeatability of the turret, crisp and solid. The glass is very good quality in my opinion, but of course this is very subjective. I like the H102 reticle and the internal bubble level. One other item to add is that I like the aesthetics but again this is subjective.

Generally speaking, every scope uses the same types of components, e.g. tubes, glass, reticles, turrets, etc. What differentiates the scopes is the quality of the components and the accuracy/repeatability of the turrets and configuration, e.g. FFP, SFP. I struggle to understand statements that imply USO, or any other brand, has not kept up with or has fallen behind the others. For example, there are only so many advancements/features you can implement into a turret.

As important, or maybe more so, is the reputation, customer service, warranty and quality of the company. To that point, I would be surprised if any top shelf scope manufacturer has not had a problem with a scope or has a dissatisfied customer. What sets the companies apart is how they deal with the problems and help their customers. To that point, yes I had a couple problems with my scope but USO took care of it. First time not so well, great the second time. I don’t hold the entire quality of the scope against them because of a QC issue. I am not one that rates something I buy on Amazon as a 1 because UPS delivered the box next door.

I made the decision to purchase my USO partly because of the posts here on SH a few years back but mostly after seeing some. I do not regret my decision. I believe some brands fall out of favor because they are not trendy anymore. I have looked at the ZCO ZC420. It really is a beauty, in my eyes. However I did not see where the glass was any better than the USO. Turrets were just as crisp and solid as the USO. The MPCT 2 reticle was very similar to the Horus H102. All in all, a beautiful piece but I can’t say it is better, others would.

I do not see how you could go wrong with USO or any other comparably priced top shelf scope. It so subjective when comparing the same level of any product. Some will be better in some areas that are important to you and others will be better in other areas. Look through the different scopes at matches and see how the turrets feel and what you like. If it helps, I created a spreadsheet and Zipped it and also a PDF comparing some scopes here. Best of luck.

BTW, should I get a MRAD or MOA reticle? Which is better? :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: JUST KIDDDING!!!
Agreed, great explanation.
 
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7WSMShooter

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I and my family used USOs (SM3s) for years. When the company was sold and they moved to the new B series I went all In. QC has went to hell. Customer Service a thing of the past. I was a loyal USO user but that has changed. There are too many
other good scopes out there for you to spend your money on IMO.
 

BigJimFish

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About 20y ago I was looking to upgrade our departments aging Leupolds on our SERT team's precision rifles. USO was reputed to be the top of the line. I called and spoke to a VERY knowledgeable guy who turned out to be the owner. He explained alot of specifics to me and even offered me a very substantial discount on one of his scopes so we had one to compare against what we were using. I regret to this day not taking him up on it, but my focus shifted to K9 when an assignment opened and I left before they decided to go w newer mk4 leupolds (price and known brand to the brass).
Anyway, fast forward to now, I'm getting back into long range shooting and it seems like the top dogs are high end euro brands, nightforce and Vortex Razors. I did a google search and found the USO page, is it the same company? Do they still have the reputation they once had? I'm not looking for anyone to bash or play fanboy, I'm just looking for honest opinions. Thanks!
What happened is that the founder died. If memory serves it was a tragic motorcycle accident. Since then there have been several re-organization periods, a switching of business plans from direct to customer sales of individually specked custom scopes to a mix of direct and retailer sales of standard models, at least one modernization of the production system for an ISO certification and to improve QC, and lately a sale of the company and relocation to a different state. They are also now importing some scopes OEM'd overseas as well as the U.S. made product. So, a lot has happened.

As for if it is the same company, it has some of the same employees, some did not move with the company, and it has different ownership. As for reputation, I am not so sure. In the past, USO and S&B shared a time of co-dominance of the SH crowd with little competition. There was little available with the ffp, mil / mil, zero stop set of features that is so effective. There is much competition now. Years ago I reviewed the U.S.O. SN3 3.2-17x and that was, and is, a very excellent optical platform. At the time it was released it was years ahead of the curve. There is still one on my brother's rifle. After the 3.2-17x I reviewed the now discontinued 1-8x which was optically poor. I have not reviewed their current offerings.
 

TEUFEL820

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They also lack marketing...
All these new successful scope brands may not be the best or comparable to USO but they sure know how to promote and keep their customers happy.
 

koshkin

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I tried to reach out to them several times asking some questions both via their website and via their Facebook presence. Never got a response, so I stopped trying.

I'll go talk to them at SHOT, but my expectation are low.

ILya
 
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HolyCity73

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I tried to reach out to them several times asking some questions both via their website and via their Facebook presence. Never got a response, so I stopped trying.

I'll go talk to them at SHOT, but my expectation are low.
Good luck. The company has been under the ZRoDelta umbrella for a few years now. After the initial move, they were relocated yet again to NC. The QC issues were primarily due to the previous owners lack of business abilities. The current QC issues are due to an apparent case of apathy.
When the acquisition was first proposed, I was asked about and confirmed the known issues with them. Hoping there would be a change, I was disappointed when the decision was made to introduce another line at a lower quality manufactured in China, rather than addressing existing issues. I remember the Chinese prototype well...
Although I own a B17, it will be my last.
I will have nothing to do with them.
Their business practices IMHO are less than.

As a side note, my optic runs well and has never been an issue. It does not, however, receive the same amount of usage or abuse as other optics I own. I simply don’t trust it as much as other offerings in my stable.
 

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Bluedeacon

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Excellent information everyone, I appreciate it. Sorry to hear the owner passed, but everything makes sense as far as a slide on popularity. Thanks for the education!
The owner did pass years ago. After that his son, John Williams III took it over and ran the ship. He's a helluva good guy. I know the new b series etc is under someone else running the company. I'm not sure if JWIII still owns it or not, but the website says they are still made in the USA. (Which is a big plus for me) I've had ONE issue with a USO but they made it right. What I like about them the best? Toughest scopes I've ever had. Period!
 
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5RWill

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What happened is that the founder died. If memory serves it was a tragic motorcycle accident. Since then there have been several re-organization periods, a switching of business plans from direct to customer sales of individually specked custom scopes to a mix of direct and retailer sales of standard models, at least one modernization of the production system for an ISO certification and to improve QC, and lately a sale of the company and relocation to a different state. They are also now importing some scopes OEM'd overseas as well as the U.S. made product. So, a lot has happened.

As for if it is the same company, it has some of the same employees, some did not move with the company, and it has different ownership. As for reputation, I am not so sure. In the past, USO and S&B shared a time of co-dominance of the SH crowd with little competition. There was little available with the ffp, mil / mil, zero stop set of features that is so effective. There is much competition now. Years ago I reviewed the U.S.O. SN3 3.2-17x and that was, and is, a very excellent optical platform. At the time it was released it was years ahead of the curve. There is still one on my brother's rifle. After the 3.2-17x I reviewed the now discontinued 1-8x which was optically poor. I have not reviewed their current offerings.
I never did dig up what happened to USO but i didn’t know that John died. Sad to hear. Certainly explains the falling of the brand because despite QC issues i absolutely loved my SN-3 for the 10 years i had it. But i got it back when it was white box and they very much were a custom scope company first with pre-fabbed configs at some retailers second
 

Bluedeacon

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I never did dig up what happened to USO but i didn’t know that John died. Sad to hear. Certainly explains the falling of the brand because despite QC issues i absolutely loved my SN-3 for the 10 years i had it. But i got it back when it was white box and they very much were a custom scope company first with pre-fabbed configs at some retailers second
John's dad died. 2004. John III took it over from then. Youre probably thinking of John III. He's still alive as far as I know
 

koshkin

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Good luck. The company has been under the ZRoDelta umbrella for a few years now. After the initial move, they were relocated yet again to NC. The QC issues were primarily due to the previous owners lack of business abilities. The current QC issues are due to an apparent case of apathy.
When the acquisition was first proposed, I was asked about and confirmed the known issues with them. Hoping there would be a change, I was disappointed when the decision was made to introduce another line at a lower quality manufactured in China, rather than addressing existing issues. I remember the Chinese prototype well...
Although I own a B17, it will be my last.
I will have nothing to do with them.
Their business practices IMHO are less than.

As a side note, my optic runs well and has never been an issue. It does not, however, receive the same amount of usage or abuse as other optics I own. I simply don’t trust it as much as other offerings in my stable.
Interesting.

I have never used any ZRO Delta products, but they are supposedly well made.

The decision to introduce a Chinese-made line is a bit odd, given the company name, but if it is combined with a properly worked out high end US made product line, it is workable.

Now, the question is whether they are quietly updating their US made product to be competitive.

I do not know the answer to that.

ILya
 
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elmuzzlebreak

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I like the people at USO, I think they are a great team who care about their customers. I do hope they manage to turn the ship around and get the company back on track. The precision rifle world is unforgiving and poor QC will get you on the shit list pretty fast. I had multiple USO scopes that failed continuously and the issues never were 100% fixed. Until more of their scopes are fielded their issues resolved I would say avoid them.
 

Rookie

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I have 2 of their older gen custom scopes. Back then you told them every feature you wanted and they would even ceracoat prior to assembly. 1 is an SN3 that I used for competition for many trouble-free years.

The other is a compact 1.8-10, internal bubble level, blue illuminated reticle. Mounted on a custom 300wm hunting rifle. Sometimes bad stuff happens hunting and I managed to run over that custom rig with a 4wheeler on a crazy steep grade. Fortunately the USO was mounted in Badger base and Badger USMC rings and was fine after rezeroing.

Both scopes are FFP, IPHY/IPHY, and bomb proof. I love them both. I wouldn't give up that compact for anything. Too bad what happened at corporate. I have no first-hand knowledge of all that.
 

6.5 GUY

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That's too bad USO didn't stay true to their business plan building great scopes that would track 100% and take a lot of abuse. I have two and love my older TPAL 1.8-10x37 GAP reticle, the glass in this scope I'd put up against anything for how clear it is. Kahles, S&B PMII, NF, Premier.... Everytime I pick it up it the sight picture is perfect out to the edges and just pops. It's been used lately on my Vudoo and even though I have a NF 7-35 I just mounted up I can't say @ 10x it's better glass IMO.

That said, I've had more then a few other scopes go AWOL....... A check scope light would be great when they go Rogue.
 

Bluedeacon

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I have 2 of their older gen custom scopes. Back then you told them every feature you wanted and they would even ceracoat prior to assembly. 1 is an SN3 that I used for competition for many trouble-free years.

The other is a compact 1.8-10, internal bubble level, blue illuminated reticle. Mounted on a custom 300wm hunting rifle. Sometimes bad stuff happens hunting and I managed to run over that custom rig with a 4wheeler on a crazy steep grade. Fortunately the USO was mounted in Badger base and Badger USMC rings and was fine after rezeroing.

Both scopes are FFP, IPHY/IPHY, and bomb proof. I love them both. I wouldn't give up that compact for anything. Too bad what happened at corporate. I have no first-hand knowledge of all that.
I hear you Rookie! My ST10 took a hit so hard it sheared both rings off at their bases! Slapped new rings on, zeroed and went!
 

lowlight

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Wasn't John Unerl the patriarch of USO?

No John Williams

USO Was in line to buy Unertl until it was determined there as nothing to buy, it was a barn with a few parts and hot plate with a pot for coatings. John Unertl was PA, USO CA

I went to John Sr, Funeral in 2004. When I first started SH I was connected with them, and John Sr made me work there for10 days assembling scopes because I could talk about the stuff.

It's a shadow of its former self with just about all the original players have gone and the product line reduced to Made in China
 

Rancid Coolaid

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All that sucks. I interacted several times with JW3 and always appreciated the efforts - though there was more effort than I wanted to keep the scopes running.
EREK is still my favorite turret, but I doubt I'll ever own a USO product again.

The beginning of the end was their spotter, everything went to hell thereafter.

In my humblest of opinions.
 
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Rookie

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I thought USOs connection to Unertl was how they got licensed to build the MST100.
 

lowlight

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No,

Unertl Died long before that, and the USMC wanted to refurbish the scopes vs replace them at the time

There as no connection to the Unertl Company as there was no Unertl Company it was a barn and parts. It would have been bought from the Widow, who herself was approaching 90.

I did the Due Diligence for USO as that was my job then.

There was no connection, it was a USMC Decision
 

LoneWolf_052713

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No John Williams

USO Was in line to buy Unertl until it was determined there as nothing to buy, it was a barn with a few parts and hot plate with a pot for coatings. John Unertl was PA, USO CA

I went to John Sr, Funeral in 2004. When I first started SH I was connected with them, and John Sr made me work there for10 days assembling scopes because I could talk about the stuff.

It's a shadow of its former self with just about all the original players have gone and the product line reduced to Made in China
Frank are you saying even the B-Series is being made in China?