My Experience With Primary Arms Optics



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Four different Primary Arms ACSS optics that I have on some of my firearms.

There are a few writers out there that love to say a piece of tactical kit is “Duty Grade”, when the writer/individual (an “expert” I’m sure….) in question has never even done “Duty” any where or at any time. Those “experts” will “poo poo” those of us that select items based on what we believe is a serious need, but also have to consider our pocket book in the process.

A while back I read some drivel from a “Wanna be Tactical but Never Has Been” concerning a recommendation towards selecting Primary Arms optics for self defense firearms. This author’s “claim to fame” is taking classes from some tactical trainers, giving his “Range day accomplishments” in blog form and being a self described “Anarchist”.

Having not only owned, but used, a number of Primary Arms optics for a bit now. I figured I’d give my impressions of several of their optics, and whether I feel they are “Duty Grade” for the average Survivalist looking to equip their self defense or “game getter” firearms with decent scopes. Keep in mind, I have to outfit several weapons with optics that not only can’t break the bank, but still need to perform up to my standards, and having a similar reticle across the array of weapons is important.

My standards take into account what I know about the combat optics I’ve used in actual combat conditions and their short comings. I also consider what I also know will “cut it” in severe environmental and difficult task oriented activities as a civilian, and for that, I considering the failures I’ve seen in those environs.

The Primary Arms 1-6X ACSS

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The 1-6X ACSS reticle

The FAL type action is one of the hardest actions to find optics for. This is due to the recoil impulse being very hard on the internals and the reticle of any given scope. I have had failures from Tasco, Bushnell and Leupold optics on different FAL’s I’ve owned. They weren’t the low end $25 “Walmart Specials”. They were some of the better $250-500 models. Up until the PA 1-6X ACSS scope, the only one I found the FAL didn’t break, was my Valdada IOR 4X M1 (a $500 scope in 2000). I hated that scope (M1) on a .308 (the M2 works fine on my 5.56 M4) because just like an ACOG, the eye relief is too short.

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My normal “Go To” weapon when I train is my 11″ ParaFAL with the PA 1-6X ACSS optic.

So along comes Primary Arms with their 1-6X ACSS reticle. What’s not to like? It has awesome clarity, good eye relief, an etched reticle that is similar to the ACOG I used in Iraq, and not only has one scope survived 800 rounds through one of my Para FAL’s (a 16″ barrel), but a second has cleared 500 rounds through another (an 11″ barrel).

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I liked the PA 1-6X ACSS so much that I bought two more. One for my 11.5″ SIG M400 AR, and one for my “House Rifle”, a 16″ SAI Socom. Those four optics together, would cost what one of the high end optics so many of the “Experts” out there are pushing (Of course they don’t have a “Company Rep” agenda……right?). What’s the excuse of the “expert” we were talkin’ about earlier? He is just a “Float rider” who is “waving his hand”, hopin’ he’ll be seen by someone so he feels relevant cuz…..trainin’.

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The rifle that is on standby in my home.

On a side note. Some might think a .308Win is too powerful for home defense use. Normal mil ball would definitely be too much. I’ve found in studies that the 110gr Federal VMax retains plenty of .308 power, while not going through numerous walls in a dwelling. This rifle also has the added advantage of being very well suited for use as a blunt force weapon, due to the hand positioning on the stock. Setting the ACSS scope to 1X and turning on the illuminator helps it perform much like the M68 Aimpoint red dots I used in the military.

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The ammo I use for home defense in my Socom is the 110gr Federal VMax. With the ACSS zeroed for this load, my hold for 149gr LC Ball is the 350 meter point in the reticle.

Primary Arms Orion 4-14X ACSS

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So after deciding that I really liked the ACSS reticle and system, I decided to look for something for my primary deer rifle. After weighing the pros of the power level and the now familiar reticle BDC, with the cons of more weight than my 3-9x40mm Sightron MilDot, I took the leap and bought a PA Orion 4-14x44mm. This optic is phenominal. I have a higher magnification power for the really long shots (I’ve shot deer out to 627 meters at my regular hunting spot), and at the same time, I also have an easily understood, quick to use and accurate reticle.

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With my .308Win Ruger Scout, I was able to shoot a 1 inch group at 200 meters at the conclusion of the zeroing process. I used 168gr. Fed Match. The glass is very clear. The reticle BDC is easy to use and be accurate with (obviously). Finally, although it hasn’t been run through hard conditions yet (I put 200 rounds through it on “sight in” day), I’m confident in it’s durability because of the other Primary Arms products I’ve used and been very satisfied with. I did not feel a need for an illuminated reticle on this rifle, considering the primary purpose of that gun is for hunting.

The Primary Arms 1X Cyclops

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As with the above mentioned PA Orion, I’ve only owned one PA Cyclops 1X so far, but I have used it on three different rifles, one of which was an 11″ Para FAL. it has done well on all three rifles, and the only reason it ended up on the Keltec SU-16C was due to me putting PA 1-6X ACSS scopes on the FAL and 11.5″ AR. As of right now, the SU-16C with a loaded 10 round mag, as it appears in the pic, weighs 6lbs. 6ozs., and with this weight and an overall length of 27 inches, this is just about perfect as a Bug Out Bag rifle.

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I put about 400 rounds through the ParaFAL while I had the Cyclops on it, and there was never an issue with damage to the reticle or failure of the scope. As a Survivalist, I can appreciate that this optic is as quick as a red dot, but does not need a battery if the balloon goes up. You can’t say that about most red dot optics.

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If you are looking for a rugged and economical red dot sight for a self defense weapon. look no further than the PA Cyclops. it will never go down, due to battery issues. Like it or not, battery life is only part of the equation. If the electronics take a dump (like the high priced EOTech I used to own did in extremely wet weather), you are up the creek unless you have an etched reticle in the optic.

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The Primary Arms 6X .22 ACSS

I’ve shot a lot of .22’s over the last 40 or so years, and I’ve used a ton of different scopes on different rifles over the years. One of the things I found I usually did with a variable power optic on a .22LR was leave it set on 6X. So a while ago, here comes Primary Arms offering a compact 6X scope with an ACSS reticle geared towards the diminutive .22LR caliber. The PA 6X ACSS is one of the most convenient and squared away little scopes I’ve seen in a long time.

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I put that scope on my old Ruger 10/22, and together, they make a super light and compact system that will be the doom for many a squirrel and groundhog this hunting season. Having a bullet drop reticle in a .22LR takes a lot of the guesswork I had to put in when using a mildot reticle. Range, Hold, Squeeze and the rest is history for whatever game or target you are shooting at.


On my recommendation last year, my Son bought a PA 3xACSS for his Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47 in 7.62x39S. I would never have recommended something to a family member, especially for a defensive weapon, unless I believed it would be 100% reliable. Especially when he is just starting to earn a living as an adult, and a $200 and something optic is still a stretch on the finances.

Over the years I’ve bought and used a lot of scopes. Some fell short, some didn’t. From the examples I own of Primary Arms scopes, buying a PA optic (especially the ACSS models) is “winning” for the economically, challenged Survivalist who is just trying to “kit up” as best they can. You are not sacrificing quality for savings in this case. I would never sacrifice the well being of my family for any amount of money, especially by buying cheap crap for my defensive weapons. In this instance, I fortunately didn’t have to.


"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.




6 thoughts on “My Experience With Primary Arms Optics

  1. JC

    I’ve had great experience with PA over several years. Good company that stands behind what they sell.

    I had one of the 6x .22 scopes. Loved the reticle. Never could get it to zero on either of my 22s. It didn’t have enough elevation for standard velocity ammo. PA authorized return and issued me a credit, no questions asked. Great company.

    I’ve had much poorer experiences with EO Tech and Leupold red dots. Neither company makes a durable red dot. They both have great warranties because you will need to use them.

    Lesson learned: Low Power Variable Optics for Rifles. Red Dots are great if you can afford 3: one on the gun, on in repair, and one standing by as a spare

  2. Great info, thanks. Especially approve of the no-battery-needed aspect of the Cyclops. This should be standard with all illuminated optics out there, but I guess most scope manufacturers never heard of someone leaving the battery on by mistake.

  3. I’m likely in the minority here. I have no military grade optics at all. I have a few good – great sporting optics (Leupold – Burris – etc.) and only one IOR Valdada fixed 6x scope I purchased for a good all around hunting scope for our area. I have mainly variable scopes, but leave them set on 5x 99% of the time, so the 6x was chosen on that basis.

    I have only one red dot sight, a Bushnell TRS-25 on a Savage 24 30-30 Winchester / 12 Gauge combination rifle. About as good a feral hog rifle as you can think of in our area.

    • How’s about you kiss my ass Dan. I didn’t see your comment because it went to the spam folder for some reason. It happens. Since you wanted to ASSume I purposely didn’t post it because……Asshole, you can sit in the “Commentariat Time Out Corner”.

  4. Pingback: Firearms For Freedom and Forage-Part 3, Hunting Long Guns – Mason Dixon Survivalist Association

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