Optic Review: WOLF Optics PSU 1x/4x Variable Zoom Optical Gunsight

WPA_PSU_001

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.

 

WPA_PSU_002

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.

 

WPA_PSU_003

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.

 

WPA_PSU_004

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.

 

WPA_PSU_005

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.

 

WPA_PSU_006

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.

 

WPA_PSU_007

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_FAL01

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.

 

SMGLee_FAL04

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

 



Writer and gear editor with articles published in major gun publications. A five year combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, Tim is also part of Point & Shoot Media Works, a producer of photography, video and web media for the firearms and shooting sport industry. Tim’s direct contact: Tyan.TFB -at- gmail.com


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  • Tassiebush

    Fascinating reticle!

    • JumpIf NotZero

      That’s one word for it 🙂 Fascinating that it made it through anyone’s better judgment. It wasn’t bad enough some engineer made this, but that layers of people above him approved it. Clearly lens makers and not shooters.

      • Tassiebush

        I’m conflicted. I like heavy reticles for hunting but their downside is they can cover too much target and lack of precision. This seems to allow a balance of both. If the illumated reticle wasn’t on and it was low light then that heavy horseshoe would make a good reference point around a target but it’s illuminated so that’s a moot point. If I was using that for fast shots under normal conditions I’m pretty sure I’d tend to wrap the arc around the target and shoot low.

      • iksnilol

        What’s wrong with the reticle? Curious here.

        Rangefinger is a plus IMO, the horseshoe I dunno, chevron is again a plus (doesn’t cover the target), the BDC I guess is a plus if you actually use that kind of ammo. For me personally it is useless since I use 7.62×39, so if they had a version calibrated for that I would be all over it.

  • Aaron

    Great review, noticed a typo in first paragraph “variable zoom optical gunfight”

    • Timothy G. Yan

      thanks for catching that. Sometime auto-correct has issue.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        “Estemated Price”

  • avconsumer2

    Threw money at the screen back in September re: the other article… still throwing money!!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I wish they would start putting the price in the headline so I know when to skip it.

    • KestrelBike

      lol snarky, but I like it.

  • Turner92

    Tactical jelly belly!

    • Dillon

      Natural trauma padding? 😀

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Fat guy in tac vest. Surely a SME.

  • Drew Coleman

    How would this stack up against an ACOG?

    • Pretty close but I do like the reticle on this one.

      • Drew Coleman

        The lack of daylight illumination kinda kills it for me unfortunately.

        • El Duderino

          Yeah…variable magnification is nice but no batteries and all-conditions illumination means the ACOG is probably still king of the hill in this price range.

  • El Duderino

    “Wolf, the unarguable world leader in high end, precision ammunition that most definitely won’t make your rifle smell like the back end of a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300D with catalytic converter problems, now has a $1400 optic to add to their product line…”

  • Eh make it 800 USD and we got a deal

    • Ben

      This

    • iksnilol

      You really don’t understand how optics work?

      • I’m just stating an opinion

        • iksnilol

          But it does sound a bit silly, don’t you agree? I mean, they offer you something really similar to a +2000 USD scope for only 1400 USD and then you complain because they didn’t bring it down to 800 USD.

      • Tierlieb

        This is not about how optics work. This is about how pricing works. Which is completely unrelated.

        • iksnilol

          Optics in general are a pay-to-play system. You can’t really expect a high end optic for a third or a quarter of the price of other comparable optics.

  • Joshz

    That’s and awful reticle.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Yes. It is horrible. I had trouble processing that anyone thought that was a good idea and it wasn’t just a very dark art piece in the horizon.

  • toms

    Buying Russian weapons, gear, maybe we can get some ISIS brand too for posterities sake. I mean if were going to prop up anti american countries arms industries we might as well go all out.

  • iksnilol

    Question: Why is he called SMGLee when he is always using a FAL? Isn’t that like the antithesis of a SMG?

    This has been confusing me for longer than I will admit.

  • MidGasFan

    Timothy, you state that this is the only alternative to the Elcan, but what about the IOR Pitbull 1/4 scope/optic?

    I don’t know why people are hitching about the price of this. Street price will probably be around 1k and with all the tech, R&D and quality packed into this, that seems like a more than fair price. Quality optics and glass do not come cheap and they do make a difference in your shooting, especially when the light starts to go away.

    Nice review and this would be killer on an SLR or Rifle Dynamics AKM build!

    • Timothy G. Yan

      From the limited time I have play around a IOR Pitbull, it is not a prism sight but a cleverly designed very short 1-4x32mm conventional scope that only focus at 1x and 4x. Not a bad scope, nice reticle and it also features all Schott glass. The drawbacks are the battery life is very short and the 1x has too much edge distortion. Btw, IOR is coming out with a 1-6x Pitbull. If the TFB folks want to, I could see if I can get a review sample when it’s available.

  • gggplaya

    when are they going to start selling this?