Dutch Military Rifle Optics from the 1950s and 1960s

By R.H.G. “Kick” Koster, Pictures by Bas Martens

The Dutch city of Delft is mostly associated with its world famous pottery. “Delft and military optics” doesn’t naturally come to mind, yet that was a major combination.

The former Dutch State Arsenal Artillerie Inrichtingen had an optics division in Delft, which was involved in the production and development of military products. In the late 1960s, this division was acquired by Philips USFA which, in turn, was absorbed by the Holland Signaal conglomerate, which became part of Thalis. There is often confusion with another company, Old Delft, also in Delft, which also produced optics. Old Delft merged in 1990 with Enraf-Nonius, an instrument factory, to become Delft Instruments. This company specializes in optics for camera’s and medical instruments. Old Delft also supplied Optronics (the combination of optics and electronics) to several military organizations, such as night vision equipment for the Dutch armed forces.

However, these are developments of the last 20 years. We are going back to the period shortly after World War II to review the historical items.

The Beginning

We begin in 1957, when the Artillerie Inrichtingen (AI) closed a license agreement with the ArmaLite company for the production of AR-10 rifles. ArmaLite claimed this gun also had excellent abilities as a sniper weapon. It was, therefore, clear that one of the accessories for this new weapon had to be a rifle scope.

In the autumn of 1957 ir. Friederich Jungeling, director of the AI, commissioned the development of such a rifle scope from the head of the optics department, engineer Van der Poest Clement. Van der Poest Clement and his department already had extensive experience in the field of scopes for all kinds of artillery and weapons. In 1951, the Dutch Ministry of War had ordered some 600 scopes for use on the Lee Enfield Mk 4 (T) sniper rifle. The Dutch scopes, called Riflescope No. 32 on a 1950 factory drawing and Riflescope Nr. 32 M3 on an existing specimen from 1951, were copies of the British No. 32 Scope, Mk III. However, they were easily distinguishable because the Dutch production version had the AI logo in a triangle engraved on the tube, and the serial number was followed by a letter H (Holland?). At an unknown time the AI factory even made a lightweight aluminum version. The pictured prototype weighs only 350 grams compared with 710 grams of the original version. For the AR-10 scopes, however, a different starting point was chosen.

A “Dutch” ZF4

Van der Poest Clement was impressed by the German ZF4 scope. The short length of the scope made it ideal for mounting on the carrying handle of the AR-10. In the then-existing study collection of the Army in Delft, he borrowed a ZF4 for analysis (which is the point of such collections). In November 1957 the AI company made a detailed drawing of a “Scope for German rifle (Fallschirmjägergewehr M42).”

The size of the ZF4 was handy, but its optical performance left much to be desired. The lens system had an unacceptable image distortion along the edges.

However, Van der Poest did like the mechanism for windage and elevation. Analogous to this, he developed a model with both the properties of the Lee Enfield scope and the ZF4. A dimensional model was made, without optics, which may be the aluminium 3x25 scope pictured here.

Before a working prototype was made, Van der Poest Clement had a bright idea: instead of the traditional adjustment of the reticle with two central knobs perpendicular to the optical axis, he developed a system for windage and elevation with two concentric rings around the optical axis. This resulted in a unique design without protruding parts, which was easy to operate as well.

Following the FINABEL requirements, elevation could be adjusted in steps of ½ ‰, or 5 cm at 100 meters. The optical engineers opted for a lens system with 3x magnification and a lens diameter of 25mm. This gave greater sharpness and extremely good twilight factor (an indication for the ability to be able to distinguish anything in unfavorable light conditions). The pointing mark was a broad line ending in a point, which ran from the top of image to the center. This system was used by the Russians as well. The idea was that thin cross-wires would be less visible under certain circumstances than the pointed line, while the position of this line in the upper part of the image would not impede the view of the target.

To test this in practice, some scopes were made with a conventional cross-wire. The tests showed that the “thick arrow” worked well and this was further applied to all viewers. The AI management was enthusiastic and was immediately ordered to make 20 specimens for a first test.

When the first Dutch-made AR-10 rifles were sent to Germany, Austria and Sudan in January 1958, there arose an immediate demand for a version with a rifle scope. AI-management therefore increased the initial assignment to 100 pieces.

In April 1958 there was first talk of two rifles for Finland with a scope. Shortly afterwards, it was decided to send 5 to 10 guns with telescopic sights to the United States, as part of a total of 51 pieces. The agent for North America and the Far East, Cooper McDonald was very impressed with the new scope.


Trials in the latter part of 1960 show that the scope is susceptible to moisture in tropical areas. The solution is to create a model which is filled with an inert gas and thus will be waterproof and dustproof. In February 1961, the optical department proposes to create such a gas-filled scope, incorporating several other refinements.

The 3x magnification is found to be too little by many customers. It is generally thought that 4x is a minimum. To retain the quality of the optics, Artillerie Inrichtingen proposed to increase the magnification to 3.6x. One finds that 4x is not feasible, without sacrificing sharpness and twilight factor. Customers also have a preference for a more conventional cross-wire reticle. This is incorporated in the new scope.

The then AI sales manager Dick Deibel had one of his demonstration rifles fitted with a mounting, consisting of a spring-loaded catch. This was quickly detachable, and allowed the use of the iron sights. This mounting worked so well, that is was generally introduced. All new rifles got a provision for this sight. Furthermore, it was suggested to bisect the adjustment of ½ ‰ per click to ¼ ‰ per click, corresponding with an adjustment of 2.5 cm at 100 meters. However, only some experimental scopes got this new adjustment.

The new type 3.6x25 scope is serial numbered. The first prototype gets number 1000. After the initial test models is the one shown with number 1009 as one of the first scopes to be actually delivered.


Of the scopes with a 3x magnification, a total of 1107 were made. Most of these were delivered to Cooper McDonald in the United States.

The 3.6x magnification scopes started at number 1000. The highest known serial number is 1140. That would mean that no more than about 140 pieces of this type were made. There is a slight overlap in serial numbers of both scopes. Fortunately, in all cases, the magnification is marked at the left side of the scope, so that the two models are easily distinguishable.


After the Dutch chose the FAL as their standard infantry rifle, interest in the AI rifle scope was revived. On August 30, 1962, the Department of Defense ordered 885 pieces, adapted to the FAL.

The magnification is 3.6x, and the scopes are gas-filled. They are equipped with the screw connection of the old 3x scope. But this time the screw serves to mount the scope on a universal base plate according to the now widely accepted NATO STANAG standard. The scope is equipped with a hood and rubber eyepiece. The corresponding metal canister has a special key with which the shooter can zero in his scope?

Essentially, this is still a 3.6 x 25 scope, but the designation has been changed. The engraving on the scope is K.R.R., meaning Kijker Richt Recht (Scope Aim Straight–a rather peculiar name). The letters are accompanied by the serial number, the letters “AI” and the year 62. The trademark of Artillerie Inrichtingen, the famous AI triangle, has disappeared. Until 1965, Portugal, France, Israel and Germany showed interest in the AI scope.

None of these contacts, however, materialized into a contract. After 1965, the AI optical department was sold to Phillips USFA. This company also provides maintenance and repair of the scopes already in use. Later this was passed on to the Naval Electronics and Optical Division (MEOP) in Oegstgeest.

When the FAL and all its accessories were declared obsolete and disposed of, a large number of scopes were destroyed. It is only through the effort of several private collections, that some specimens have been preserved. Occasionally, they can be found on the collector’s market.

*FINABEL was a military alliance consisting of France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Luxembourg. It presented a list of demands on military weapons. This specification can be regarded as a precursor to the NATO STANAG requirements.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017


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