Last year, I previewed the prototype of the WOLF Optics (WPA) PSU 1x/4x variable zoom optical gunsight for TFB. That write-up is available here. WOLF Optics sent me the final production model of this optic after the Spring 2015 Big 3 East Event.
The WOLF Optics PSU is the only switchable zoom prism sight alternative availabe to the renowned ELCAN Specter DR 1x/4x dual role combat sight. I will be comparing the WOLF Optics PSU to the ELCAN a lot in this article. Just to be clear, I’m a huge fan of ELCAN optics and I have three various models of them on my rifles.
As part of my testing process, I took the PSU sight to a training course hosted by SMGLee. He ran the PSU sight on his FNH FAL Para during most of the Intermediate Carbine Tactics course, while providing constant feedback to me on the optic. I really appreciated his help.
A similar feature between the WOLF Optics SPU and the ELCAN Specter DR is the use of a internal 4x power magnifier at the front to cancel out the fixed 4x prism sight located at the rear part of both sights. The difference is that the ELCAN uses a rotating prism design for its built-in magnifier, the WOLF Optics PSU has a sliding conventional lens in its magnifier part. Another big difference is that the WOLF Optics PSU uses the common internal adjustment system, while the ELCAN has the unusual and sometime controversial external adjustment.
One interesting fact that I found out after I wrote my preview piece last year is that the WOLF Optics PSU 1x/4x uses German SCHOTT glass for its lens and prism. SCHOTT optical glass is the best in the world and most of the high-end optics use it. The WOLF Optics PSU sight itself is made by NPZ (Novosibirsk Instrument Plant), which was founded by Carl Zeiss in 1905. NPZ has been making combat optics for the Russian military since World War I.
A good addition on the production model is the set of nice included flip-up lens caps. This is a big deal to me. Compared to the lens cap option on the ELCAN, which is either the rather unconvincing $25 bikini rubber covers or the Tenebraex flip covers that must be used in conjunction of the screw-on Killflash filter. While the Tenebraex lens covers are top notch, the total cost with the screw-on Killflash anti-reflective lens filter would bring that up to $173. The only thing that I don’t like about the WOLF Optics PSU lens caps is that it only folds down to about 40 degrees instead of folding flat to decrease the amount of peripheral vision they are blocking.
There’s a major redesign of the PSU’s reticle. A larger and very thick half-horseshoe replaced the smaller full horseshoe with the thin line found on the prototype. The redesigned thicker half-horseshoe allows a very quick pickup of the reticle at CQB distance in either 1x or 4x zoom range.
Like I mentioned in my preview, the Eastern Bloc military optics generally have a warmer lens coating color. It a design preference and has nothing to do with being cheaper. The warmer tint increases the image contrast a bit and it works just like some shooters prefer yellow or orange color shooting glass.
At 4x the image clarity and contrast is exceptional. The BDC is calibrated for the 62 grain M855 NATO round to 800m. On the lower left is the target height (1.8m) based stadiametric rangefinder with markings also up to 800 meters.
The PSU’s reticle is illuminated by a single common CR2032 lithium battery. However, the illumination is not daylight visible, unlike the daylight bright center-dot on the ELCAN’s reticle. The redesigned thick half-horseshoe somewhat compensated for that on the WOLF Optics PSU. The ELCAN’s bright center-dot is still superior on a darker background.
SMGLee runs his FAL like a pro. He did mentioned that the WOLF Optics PSU 1x/4x sight added a substantial amount of weight to his already heavy FNH FAL Para. While the ELCAN is a heavy sight at 23.32 ounces, the WPA PSU is even heavier at 24.6 ounces. The ELCAN Specter DR is also a good 1.4 inch shorter than the WPA PSU. The conventional optic design in the WOLF Optics PSU’s internal magnifier requires longer length than the 2nd prism used in the ELCAN.
So, what’s my take on comparing the WOLF Optics PSU 1x/4x sight vs. the ELCAN SpecterDR 1x/4x sight? Optically both are about equal with maybe a tiny advantage to the ELCAN, that’s no small achievement on the WOLF Optics PSU since the ELCAN is the best combat optics available. Using the premium German SCHOTT glass in the WOLF Optics PSU has probably helped that a lot. The WOLF Optics PSU has a slight advantage in offering a half degree wider field of view at 4x. The ELCAN has great daylight reticle illumination and digital power control, but the WOLF Optics PSU has a more contemporary tactical focused reticle design. Lastly, the WOLF Optics PSU is about $850-900 cheaper than the ELCAN SpecterDR.
WOLF Optics PSU 1x-4x Variable Zoom Optical Sight Specification:
Magnification: 1x or 4x
Objective size: 32mm
Length: 7.5 inch
Weight: 24.6 ounces
Eye relief: 2.76 incn (70mm)
Exit pupil: 8mm
Elevation Adjustment: 10 mils
Windage Adjustment: 10 mils
Power: 1x CR2032 lithium battery
Est street Price: $1399