Optic of the Week: Elcan Specter DR


I was going to review the Glenfield 4×15 scope.

But when I went to remove the cap on the elevation adjustment, the whole set of adjusters broke right off the old scope.  Guess that means I don’t have to say that I could see better with out this old cheap scope than with it.

So, I guess I’ll have to review some other scope, something less interesting.

The first thing people tend to notice about the Elcan Specter DR is the price tag.  With a MSRP a little over $2200 it puts well above the cost of the majority of carbine optics.  What isn’t as obvious until you pick it up is that is fairly heavy.  That said, nothing else offers quite the same capability.

The main draw to the Elcan Specter DR is the ability to quickly switch between 1x and 4x with the throw a of a lever.

It is very easy and quick to flip between the two settings.  A spring pushes the lever up and holds it in place.

Zeroing is easy, adjustments are in 1/2 MOA.  A coin or screw driver can be used to adjust the windage screw on the left front of the scope, elevation is adjusted via a dial that has a lock on it.

 The lock on the elevation wheel slides up and down to allow for adjusting elevation.

Glass clarity and brightness are excellent.  Raytheon Elcan uses great glass in these optics.  While the eye relief is longer than an ACOG, it is still rather unforgiving like an ACOG.

There is a combination reticle, 1-600 has hash marks for either 5.56 or 7.62 depending on the model.  700-1000 marked for use on squad automatic weapons.  On the civilian and military models the reticles differ slightly as the civilian models add circles in the 700-1000 markings.  The civilian Elcan Specter DR is also a different color tan than the military model.  The calibration is only accurate on 4x.

Using the scope at 1x with the red dot illumination it feels very much like using a reflex sight.  But if you move your head away from the sweet spot, it becomes very apparent you are not using a reflex sight.  Yet it is still quite usable with out ideal head positioning.  Keeping the optic on target during rapid fire is easy in both 1x and 4x.  The added weight of the optic even helps reduce recoil slightly.

It even comes with emergency sights for use in case the optic is damaged or heavy rain.

I found at 25 yards the iron sights hit on for elevation, but about 4 inches left.  I don’t know if they are adjustable for windage or not.  It looks like the front sight might be adjustable.

The reticle can also be illuminated, I found this illumination option photographed poorly doing the day, so I put my hand over the object lens so it would show up in the photo.

So many awesome features are stuffed in the Specter DR.  I owned a Gen 2 Military Model in the past, and got rid of it over 2 reasons.  First were the built in ARMS throw lever mount, the second the Elcan base.

In the past I’ve seen the levers on ARMS mounts break, and have had multiple issues with ARMS mounts not fitting on various firearms.  The first ARMS scope rings I had would either be too loose or so tight they couldn’t be mounted on my various firearms.  When I asked about this, I was told that my firearms were out of spec.  So I asked if my Armalite, Bushmaster, CMMG, Colt, Daniel Defense, S&W, and etc stuff was all out of spec.  Now this was some years ago, and I had this issue with several different ARMS mounts including the Elcan Specter DR I owned.  Now I own a set of ARMS rings that work fine on multiple brands of uppers, and I tried this Elcan Specter DR on multiple brands of rail (including some Russian stuff) and it has worked fine.  While ARMS thrower levers would not be my first choice, I could settle for them now.

I really don’t like the external adjustments on the Elcan.  It relies on a spring to take up all the slack.  I worry that grit or debris could get in the external adjustments throwing off your zero.

This is a really cool optic with a couple of built in weaknesses.  Price, weight, ARMS mounts, and external adjustments are what I could say are the downsides.  It is up to you if the capability of the Specter DR are worth it to you, but I’d bet the majority of people do not be using their carbines in a way that would get them their monies worth from the Specter DR.


  1. I really like the Elcan, but I can’t justify the purchasing of one.
    The Elcan seems like it was the height of technology about a decade or so ago and needs some serious generational improvements to stay relevant in today’s market*. It’s heavy, expensive, didn’t know about the unforgiving eye relief, and tops out at 4x. Today’s new crop of scopes are much lighter, cheaper, offer more magnification, better eye relief at 1x, or some combination of those factors that make them very hard for the Spectre to beat.

    *The same could be said about every Glock since gen 4

  2. I have an Elcan Spectre. I also have some very light 1-4 and 1-6 scopes. Once you add a good mount, the weight is about the same or more than the Spectre with its built in mount. Another nice thing is you don’t have to go out and buy a mount.

    I used an early Elcan (M45 ? I think) with this outside type mount, in the Marines. Also later in law enforcement, working out in the desert, I had a thermal scope issued to me that used the same Elcan mount. I never had issues with their mounts. Except in the Marines. We had no instructions with them and did not understand how to zero or adjust them. So there was a little learning curve at first. So I don’t think we got the best use of them, that we could have. Still that was all user caused not a problem with the item, or design.

    The Canadians and Dutch military use Elcan mounted sights, along with a few other countries. I believe one country had a problem, way back in the early days, when first fielded. I think it was a spring issue, some of the troopa used heavy rubber band on them, till the issue was fixed. I am sure someone, has more and better info on that.

    All said, I like the scope, I think it’s more than rugged enough for the civilian use on my Colt 901 308 Win. I can bounce back and forth between the 100, 200, and 300 yard steel targets I have on the range I use with ease. The hold overs on the scope makes it easy.


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