The Newest Old Scope on the Market: Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC Sniper Scope

The Newest Old Scope on the Market: Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC Sniper Scope
The author made all shots with his Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics 8X Wm. Malcolm USMC Sniper Scope from the bench for this article. Targets were placed at 100 yards.
A new-old sniper scope.
The author made all shots with his Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics 8X Wm. Malcolm USMC Sniper Scope from the bench for this article. Targets were placed at 100 yards.

Introduced at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC sniper scope is the newest “old” scope on the market.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program develops and promotes shooting games featuring the US arms of WWI and WWII. The latest CMP game is the Vintage Sniper Rifle competition. Two-man teams compete in this rifle event; a shooter and a spotter who work together putting rounds on target at 300 and 600 yards.

Each team member fires 10 rounds at a target exposed for only 20 seconds per shot. When the shooter completes his 10 rounds, he switches places with the spotter. Now the next 10 rounds are fired within the time constraints, and finally the stage of fire is finished.

Then the teams pick up their gear and move to the final distance and repeat the routine. A total of 40 rounds for record are tallied and the event results determined.
And this is where the new Leatherwood Malcolm USMC 8X sniper scope comes in.

Introduced at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC sniper scope is the newest ‘old' scope on the market, and joins three other externally-adjusted rifle scopes in the vintage Wm. Malcolm line of sniper scopes. This latest model is actually more of a recreation of the 1940 WWII-era Unertl 1 1/4-inch Combination Target Scope, now nitrogen-filled and with modern multi-coated optics, than a replica of a particular Wm. Malcolm sniper scope. The Marines used the 8X Unertl in the Pacific during WWII, and later in both Korea and Vietnam.

This new Leatherwood sniper scope, approved by the CMP, is marked with the Malcolm name over the USMC-Sniper designation, and carries an individual serial number, as did the original USMC sniper scopes. When installed on a rifle with the optimum center-to-center mount spacing of 7.2 inches, the windage and elevation adjustment mechanisms deliver 1/4th-inch impact shifts at 100 yards.

The sniper scope I received for review was an early production specimen (#171) that had recently done tradeshow exhibit duty at the St. Louis NRA Show. The sniper scope had the recoil spring installed, verboten under the CMP sniper match equipment rules. Corbett Leatherwood tells me the sniper scopes are currently shipped with the recoil spring uninstalled, but in the box — perfect for the high-power rifleman and CMP competitor. However, down the road they may offer the sniper scope both ways — with and without the recoil spring installed.

The Leatherwood Malcolm 8X sniper scope mounted onto a Winchester Model 52B.
The Leatherwood scope wears the same type of markings as did the original Unertl WWII Marine sniper scope.

First Look: Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC Sniper Scope

Carefully read the instructions so you understand how the sniper scope works, and why. In the box you'll find a larger L-shaped tool with a Torx bit on one end that fits the rear mount's adjustment turret locking screw  — a very important item. Be sure to loosen the locking screw before you start cranking on the W&E adjustment knobs.

In the heyday of the externally-adjusted rifle telescope, high-power shooters generally did not use the recoil spring. They wanted the sniper scope to slide away from them as the rifle recoiled, which not only reduced the chances of a nice crescent-shaped divot in their brow, but also reduced battering on the sniper scope's innards that occurred when a tensioned recoil spring snapped the tube back into battery.

Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics 8X Wm. Malcolm USMC sniper scope adjustments.
The Leatherwood sniper scope is easily adjusted to be parallax-free from 50 feet out to infinity, a useful refinement for long-range riflery.

Besides, the recoil spring was not always reliable in fully returning the sniper scope tube to battery, so after each shot, the experienced shooter learned to reach up and giving the tube a gentle tug to the rear to properly seat the sniper scope tube. It's historically accurate and functionally appropriate that the CMP sniper match rules prohibit the recoil spring.

I installed the sniper scope on my old Winchester 52B target rifle fitted with factory-installed blocks 7. 2 inches apart.

Attaching the sniper scope to the mounting blocks is easy. Both the front and rear mounts are free to slide some distance along the 3/4-inch scope tube, so mating the mounts to the blocks is an easy task. Once installed on the blocks, the next step is to adjust the sniper scope for proper eye relief.

The factory specs say you have a little over three inches of eye relief, and I'd use as much of that as possible, especially if you plan to shoot the CMP sniper match, which can be fired off sandbags or from a tight-sling prone position. The Model 1903 is not a heavy rifle, and will bounce around some…especially if the shooter does not have a good cheek-weld and the butt tucked firmly into his shoulder.

Sniper Scope Sight In

The sniper scope's instructions suggest you start at 25 yards and work your way out. Because I was using my Model 52B in 22 LR as the sniper scope test vehicle, I did neither. It's much more fun to set up at 100 yards and blaze away at the pine cones and grass tufts on the backstop berm.

Since the sniper scope is intended for the CMP's sniper match using a rifle chambered for the 30-06 cartridge, let's run through a quick sight-in discussion, using exterior ballistic data for the Hornady Garand A-MAX 168 gr. 30-06 loading from the Hornady Ballistics Calculator program available on its web site, free of charge.

The CMP sniper match is fired at 300 and 600 yards, so we'll start with a point of aim/point of impact X-ring zero at 300 yards. At 300 yards, each quarter-minute click of adjustment moves the POI 0.750-inch, according to the table found in the instructions for my old Lyman Super Targetspot.

According to the Hornady tables, a 300-yard zero puts the A-MAX 168-gr. bullet about 67 inches below POA at 600 yards. At 600 yards each quarter-minute click moves the POI 1.5 inches, so some 45 clicks of elevation are needed to get into the black at 600. Not a problem, since the sniper scope has an elevation adjustment capability of over 125 MOA, according to Leatherwood.

Adjust turret on Leatherwood sniper scope.
Note the W&E turret lock screw on the rear mount at 2 o'clock. Use the furnished Torx wrench to loosen before turning either adjustment turret.

The Sniper Scope Hits the Range

All firing was done off the bench using my Winchester Model 52-B rifle and Winchester's 40-gr. round nose T-22 target ammunition, with targets set at 100 yards. I waited for relatively calm days to minimize wind effect on the light bullet's performance.

Zombie target and sniper scope results
Gearing up for the looming Zombie Apocalypse? The Leatherwood sniper scope worked just fine on this Lyman target. Click for a larger image.

Once dialed in to hit POA, the sniper scope proved a reliable performer over the course of a half-dozen trips to the range and a variety of W&E adjustment tracking exercises. When the W&E knobs were turned, the POI relocated as it should through various up-down/left-right and box-pattern tests.

Typically, there were other club members at the range with me. Most commented on the Leatherwood sniper scope and all were invited to look it over and shoot a few rounds. Without exception, they were impressed by the sniper scope's brightness and their ability to accurately place shots at 100 yards. For a few, it was clearly a new experience; a first-time look at a ‘vintage' pre-AR shooting platform and non-tactical optics.


At the 2011 CMP summer matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, the fledgling Vintage Sniper event registered 143 two-man teams. The just-completed 2012 matches had 241 two-man teams entered, and the new Leatherwood sniper scope was well represented among the top team finishers: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 11th place — and more at 20th place and below. Not bad for a new scope, especially in a field of 241 teams.

This is a good serviceable sniper scope that has clearly performed well in the high-power rifle competition for which it was produced. The optics are bright and clear, and the W&E adjustment knobs move crisply and deliver the stated adjustment values. The nitrogen in the sniper scope tube is a nice feature because high-power rifle matches don't necessarily stop for rain.

Specifications: Wm. Malcolm 8X USMC Sniper Riflescope

Model – M8USMC
Tube diameter – 3/4 inch
Power – 8X
Available mount adjustment: Elevation — over 125 MOA total; Windage — 60 MOA each side from center.
Objective Dia. – 31mm
Field of View @ 100 yards –  11 feet
Eye Relief – 3.16 inches
Length – 23 inches
Weight – 25.4 ounces
MSRP – $549


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