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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.

Optic of the Week: Trijicon RX01

This weeks optic of the week is the Trijicon RX01.  This particular model has the rail mount, they are also seen with a gooseneck mount for fixed carry handles.

I wouldn’t say that these old reflex sights are bad, but I do not recommend getting one.  I was under the impression they were discontinued and out of production, but I see that there are plenty new ones for sale for about $430ish.

I owned a RX01 back in 2005ish.  The main reason I bought it back then was that it did not use batteries, and most battery operated sights of the time use odd sized batteries and had poor battery life.  I had used it on M16A2s, M249s, and my personal rifle.  I later replaced it with an Eotech 512.

The RX01 Reflex Sight uses Tritium and fiber optic to illuminate the reticle.  There are two major downsides to this sight.  First is that the radioactive Tritium has a half life and the Tritium is not replaceable and dims over time.  Second is that due to the nature of how the sight works, there are many times when it can wash out.  Most noticeably is if you are in a dark room looking out into a bright area, the dim reticle will not be very visible.  My having that issue is why I ended up selling the RX01 I owned.

When I received this RX01, I took it out with a target at 25 yards for zeroing.

I don’t know why the camera didn’t pick up the amber reticle well, but it was very visible to my eye.

Windage and Elevation can be adjusted using a coin/screwdriver or Allen wrench.  The adjustments are very positive clicks that are suppose to be 1 MOA.  When I zeroed this sight I found the adjustment seemed to be closer to 3/4 MOA per click.  The housing is loose on this sight, and I don’t recall it being loose on the one I owned all those years ago.  I wonder if there is any sort of mechanical damage or issues with this particular sight.

I shot very poorly with this site when zeroing it.  I shot the same rifle with a difference sight that day and did much better so I rather like to blame this optic.  As I said previously, I wonder if this particular one is damaged.  I am tempted to contact Trijicon and see about sending it in for inspection.  Pictures of the zeroing target omitted to protect the embarrassed party.

After obtaining a zero I tried some rapid fire on clay pigeons on the berm at 25 yards.  In the sunlight the reticle was bright and crisp.  The reticle was easy to follow during recoil.  I would say that shooting the pigeons was easy, but the blue tint of the lens made the orange clay pigeons invisible against the dark dirt berm.  I had to use the Bindon Aiming Concept where I spotted the clays with my left eye and overlayed the reticle with my right.

*Mental note:  If the enemy is using a Trijicon Reflex wear orange.”

I tried using the RX01 with an Aimpoint 3X magnifier and they worked together excellently.

I found shooting with the RX01 in daylight very fun, easy, and it performed awesomely.  But I know that I have had issues with the reticle washing out in real world situations.  I don’t know the reticle size on this particular unit, but in the artificial light at my home it seems too tiny dim to spot well, and outside at the range it seemed bright and huge.  There is a polarizer available to try and deal with this issue, but the real solution is to use a different modern sight design.

The RX01 was pretty cool for its time, but it is obsolete now and there are far better options for the price.

RX01
Brand Trijicon
Magnification 1x
Adjustments 1 MOA Clicks
Weight 4.2oz
Power Source Fiber Optic & Tritium
Aperture Size 24mm
Reticle Options 4.5 MOA Dot/6.5 MOA Dot/12.9 MOA Triangle

And to wrap up, here is a teaser for a future optic of the week article: