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Elcan SpecterDR 1x/4x Review

Primal Rights reviews the Elcan SpecterDr 1-4x Scope. If you've been at SHOT show within the last few years, you'll notice a trend among night vision and thermal sight manufacturers. Almost all of them have an Elcan on display with their flagship unit.

Elcan is a name that many of you may not be familiar with.  They are a division of Raytheon which is a global defense contracting powerhouse.  One of the largest companies of its kind in the world.  Elcan is their "optics" brand which can be found in dozens of industries from medical, measurement, and of course optical sighting systems.  They have a very deep and distinguished pedigree in the combat optics world.  In 2009 Elcan developed the Specter DR 1x/4x combat sight.  Since then, SOCOM, Navy Seals, and more other special forces and regular troops than I could mention have adopted Elcan's as their primary battle rifle sights.  A simple google search will reveal a plethora of reviews on these optics, most of which will find the reviewers gushing praises.  Normally at Primal Rights we typically are reviewing products which have not even been released or have just released.  This is new, in that this product has been out there in the world for over five years.  Despite that fact, we still encounter folks that have never seen these units before.  So without further ado, lets dive in and take a detailed look at the Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x optical rifle sight!

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The Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x is a modestly sized optic which is both low profile and compact.  The full specifications are listed on the left side of this page, so I won't bore you with stats.  Give them a glance and you'll see it is a leader in nearly every category when compared to other sights of this nature.  You can see it pictured above on an FN SCAR 16S CQC.  This optic is at home on any AR or similar type rifle.  I have used it on this SCAR as well as several other AR's from various manufacturers and found it to be a perfect addition to any semi automatic which was to be used for a "run and gun" type application.  3-gun events as well as any defensive/offensive training are all well within this optics scope of operation.  Get it? "Scope" of operaaaaa nevermind.  :) 

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Here is the most interesting and defining feature of the Elcan Specter DR:  It is not a "variable" power optic as most traditional rifle scopes are these days.  It is a dual power optic.  This means that rather than a traditional magnification ring, it has a magnification lever.  You switch from 1x magnification to 4x by pulling down on and then throwing the lever to the desired magnification.  The nature of this behavior has lead to the Specter DR being classified in a category all it's own, which has subsequently been expanded by the Elcan Specter DR 1.5x/6x and the 1/3/9 optics which behave similarly.  They are truly the only purpose-built "dual role" optical sights on the market which operate in this manner.  When you consider the number of people running MRD's (mini/micro red dots) mounted on top of or to the side of their traditional rifle scopes, you can immediately see the benefit of having 1x operation as well as a magnified optic.  

The lever itself is easy to operate with gloves on or with bare hands.  With a little practice, it becomes second nature and very fast.  I find it most efficient and natural to use my left thumb to hook and manipulate the lever when switching either direction.  The fact that you have to pull the spring-loaded lever down before you can actuate it results in it being nearly impossible to accidentally move.  The lever is nicely tucked away so as not to get caught on pack webbing, but is not so buried that it is difficult to actuate when you want to.  Very nice job done here all around with size, shape, and methodology.  

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The zeroing mechanism on the Elcan Specter rifle sights is possibly the most recognizable aspect of these optics.  You can recognize them from afar at a single glance, and that is a testament to the extraordinary market penetration Elcan has achieved.  Nearly every action movie or military documentary has these things on full display atop everything from 240 and 249 machine guns or grenade launchers, right down to the M4's.  It is very unique, but it has earned its place among the most trusted and capable combat sights currently available.  

The elevation control, pictured above, has 1/2moa clicks which can be felt as well as heard.  A total adjustment range of 120moa is available, which is so far beyond what most users will need it borders on absurdity.  It does however speak to the versatility of this rifle sight however!  You'll notice a small tab embedded in the inner circumference of the wheel.  That is the positive lock tab which ensures you can not accidentally adjust the elevation control.  After zeroing is finished, you slide that lock tab downward, which causes the cylinder to slide into a hole in the elevation wheel.  You'd have to take a wrench to it, and a large one, to get that wheel to move after that lock has been engaged.  

The windage adjustments are located in the front left of the housing and are clearly marked.  A coin or flat head screwdriver are called for here, but you can use just about anything to adjust them.  I've used the back of a casing a few times.  The knob itself is recessed into the housing, so it is nearly impossible to get it to move accidentally.  When adjusting windage you are met with the same 1/2moa clicks as the elevation which are audible and tactile.  Some have commented that 1/2moa adjustments are too coarse for their liking.  I haven't had any difficulty getting a very solid 100yd zero on the rifles I've used it on.  The adjustments work like a champ, and I can't feature being much more precise than 1/2moa at 4x.  

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The observant among you may have noticed there is a set of basic iron sights bolted to the top of the Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x housing.  Pretty excellent feature considering the already adaptive nature of the optic.   They can be moved to 3 positions to accommodate your chosen setup.  These sights are very basic, and should be considered a "last resort" type of option.  However, I did achieve some pretty good success when in a 3-gun type environment where I left the optic on 4x, and raised my head to these irons to snap shoot some super close silhouettes.  Worked like a charm and was faster than throwing the lever.  A great option if you clog up your optics with mud also!

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The illumination controls on this optic are extremely versatile.  There are two basic modes of operation.  If you turn the knob counter clockwise, a red dot will illuminate in the very center of the crosshair.  At maximum brightness it is daylight visible even in the brightest of sunny days.  The lower settings are night vision compatible.  If you turn the knob clockwise, the entire crosshair is lit, again having daylight visible settings and night vision compatible settings.  This leads to a tremendous amount of options when it comes to using the optic in sub-optimal lighting conditions.  The unit is powered by a single DL1/3N battery and is good for a minimum of 600 hours of continuous operation at its brightest settings.  They send one battery with the optic, but it's kind of an odd battery, so make sure you have some extra's!  

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The attachment method is in the form or ARMS QD levers.  If you look close you can see a metal tab  which is in between the lever and where the pic rail would sit.  This is to keep the levers themselves from scaring up your rails and to ensure consistent leverage is applied by the cam on the levers themselves.  There is a steel cross bar embedded into the top of the rail slot to ensure solid and reliable return to zero interface with the pic rail.  You'll find  a hole machined through the mount where each lever contacts the housing.  This is so you can run some paracord or a zip tie around the levers to ensure they do not accidentally detach.  Since this is a combat optic, they left nothing to chance.  Other mounting solutions such as the GDI or ADM units that have an integral lock are nice, but they also add bulk and more moving parts.  This seems a very clean and workable solution.  

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Most optic mounting interfaces consist of a branded mount which is screwed onto the optic and offered as a combo.  The Elcan's are built around the ARMS system, so there are no screws to break or other manufacturers to deal with when servicing the mounts.  I've done some RTZ testing with this unit and it has performed admirably during all use and testing.  They clamp on tight and hold their position well.  

Some of you may know this, but for those that don't; taking pictures through rifle scopes is notoriously difficult.  The image shown is never representative of the actual user experience when looking through the optic in person.  With that said, I thought it was important to give you a glance through the optic at 1x and 4x settings, with 1x being the top photo above and 4x being beneath it, respectively.   The photo's do an incredible injustice to the actual optical resolution of these units.  I cannot overstate that.  

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If you've been at SHOT show within the last few years, you'll notice a trend among night vision and thermal sight manufacturers.  Almost all of them have an Elcan on display with their flagship unit.  This is due to the Elcan leading the industry in light transmission, optical resolution, and field of view.  They choose the Elcan's because it shows off their own products in the most positive way possible.  That should be a clue!  They absolutely crush the competition when it comes to optical performance.  

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A variety of BDC style reticles are available to suite your specific cartridge and reticle preferences.  The stadia they provide has proven to be quite accurate as long as you have some basic ballistic knowledge to match your chosen ammo or handloads to the correct reticle.  This isn't designed as a precision rifle sight, so if you are expecting first round hits at 1000yds without putting your work in, you will be disappointed.  The reticles are designed to subtend correctly at 4x magnification, yet the zero holds between 1x and 4x modes.  

One very noteworthy thing about these sights is the eye relief.  It is very forgiving when compared to other optics it is frequently compared against.  Plenty of room between your eye and the optic, and it isn't too picky about where your eye is behind it.  Very forgiving eyebox indeed.  The FOV is also very large when compared against other options out there.  

Another outstanding aspect of this optic is the 1x magnification mode being truly 1x.  There are a tremendous amount of optics out there that advertise 1x magnification but in actual use you find that they are extremely finicky regarding eye position and almost never result in a truly magnification-free experience.  That is not the case here.  You can run the Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x with both eyes open with a natural target representation just as you would for a non-magnified red dot.  This results in unparalleled speed when engaging close targets on 1x mode.  Point in fact, when the red dot center is illuminated, it behaves very similarly to an aimpoint or other red dot sight.  

The Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x and Specter 4x optics have replaced the optic on nearly every semi-auto I currently own.  They have proved to be the most capable units that money can buy and have not disappointed me in any way since adopting them.  As a result, we are happy to be able to provide them to our customers in their various configurations.  We always keep them in stock.  If you are in the market for a bomb-proof multi-purpose optical sight for your rifle, we'd love to talk with you about it!  Give us a call anytime!

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Primal Rights, Inc

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Huron SD 57350

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