Primary Arms 4x Prismatic 7.62×39 Optic Review

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As part of the ongoing Vz58 obsession I’ve suffered from for the last few years, I’ve been hunting for the right kind of optic for these rifles. That led me onto the Primary Arms 4x Prismatic. Primary Arms is a budget manufacturer producing a number of red dots, magnified scopes, and prismatic sights. While the optics are made in China, their design team seems to consistently put together good ideas. I’m talking about things like “lets give the 4-16 optic a dedicated .308 reticle” or “lets make sure the 1x on the variable optics is a true zero magnification.”

When the opportunity came up to try out one of their 4x Prismatics with a dedicated 7.62X39/300BO ACSS reticle, I knew I’d found my Vz58 optic.

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This is a fixed 4 power optic, with a 2 and a half inch eye relief, and an illuminated reticle. They generally cost $399 CAD ($299 USD) and a 3x option is also available. The turrets are capped, adjustable in half MOA clicks, require a screwdriver to adjust (or a dime if you’re a heathen) and produce a solid click sound, but are not as tactile as some turrets I’ve used. I would not wear gloves and hearing protection while counting your adjustments.

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I’ve been burned by Chinese optics before, but the thing that really won me over on the Primary Arms was the level of standardization and adjust-ability. So if you look at the mounting base, that’s a standard Trijicon dimension.

That means you can buy yourself a fancy Larue mount if you so choose and use it with the Primary Arms. Or abandon the picatinny system all together and jump to a side mount RS Regulate system. Which makes a lot of sense if you’re shooting AK or Vz58 variants where receiver side-rails are a common feature.

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The adjust-ability part comes from what Primary Arms puts in the box. If you look at the marketing images of this scope, Primary Arms ships it with a picatinny rail on top, so that you can mount a piggy-backed red dot. I hate piggy-backed red dots. I can’t stand the massive height over bore, floating chin weld, and “peek-a-boo” transition to get your face behind them. I understand why some people choose that system, and why in a standardized big-army world they could be settled on as an appropriate solution, but personally I’ll always choose offset over piggy-back.

I love that Primary Arms makes it very easy to remove that top pic-rail if I choose. The screws are obvious, and there’s an appropriately sized allen key in the box. It’s worth noting that there is a recoil lug on that pic-rail, so if you are mounting your RMR/Deltapoint/Shield/Razor/etc up there it should be retaining zero.

Also, there’s a second set of screws in the box. Because this isn’t necessarily a standard AR-15 optic, you might find yourself looking to mount the optic a little lower than the standard AR-15 height. The spacer comes right out, and the right length screws are there and available if you want to bring it down.

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That might not sound like a big deal. But I was frustrated to no end when my Aimpoint Pro only came with long screws, and attempts to source short screws from several local Aimpoint dealers went no-where. It’s not a hard concept that if you’ve got a spacer in play, you should include the hardware to work without it, but it’s not something everyone does, and something I appreciated in the Primary Arms.

I’m afraid I do not own a .300BLK rifle to test that side of things. Being almost exclusively an AR cartridge, it has limited popularity in a country where ARs are relegated to the range only. But, I did mount the Prismatic on my 5.56 AR-15 and my Tavor, mostly to confirm that the eye relief still functions on those rifles without cheek risers and in the case of the Tavor, without LOP adjustment.

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Lets come back to the reticle for a minute. Primary Arms clearly takes great pride in their reticle design, opting for fast shooting solutions based on yards rather than Mils or MOA subs-tensions.

The 7.62×39/300BO ACSS system is designed to work with either caliber, features elevation hash marks for out to 600 yards with 7.62×39 and 200 yards with 300BLK. The reticle illuminates using a CR2032 battery and has 11 levels of illumination plus an “off.” I found the lower settings were good and visible in low light on dark targets, while the brightest settings still put a distinct red tint into the reticle even in the extremely sunny visit to Colorado Springs.

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The optic comes with a reasonably plain written manual that will hold your hand through the zeroing process and use of a reticle. No formal ballistics theory is required. They recommmend a 50 yard zero with a 16″ barrel, or a 100 yard zero for a 20″ barrel. I have an 18.5″ barrel (Canada eh) and opted for the 100 yard zero.

I was able to make hits out to 400 yards using the reticle hashmarks, but found with the 500 yard gong my 7.62×39 surplus just wasn’t up to the task. Hit high, hit low, hit left. The 500 and 600 yard targets were outside that particular rifle-cartridge-shooter combination’s capability. Which doesn’t necessarily surprise me. I thought a 600 yard hashmark was quite ambitious for the 7.62×39 round, but if you look around the youtube world there are evidently a few AK shooters who can pull it off.

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You’ve also got lead dots on the left and right side of the main crosshair, which Primary Arms says are spaced for “average target speed spring and holding a weapon 8.6mph.” I was not able to test the effectiveness of these lead dots.

And finally on the right side of the reticle you’ve got a set of quick ranging hashmarks, where measuring an average 5’10” shape will identify your ballpark range from 300-600 yards. I generally prefer ranging reticles in optics 8x or higher, but its an interesting feature that definitely fits the concept of a do-it-all & do-it-easy kind of optic.

Easily my biggest criticism of the 7.62×39/300BO ACSS system is that there’s no published MOA values to the hash marks available. Maybe it doesn’t need to be in the manual (KISS) but I think anyone putting this kind of time into designing a reticle aiming system should make the hard numbers behind it visible. That sort of additional ballistic support would mean that those shooting handloads or unconventional barrel lengths could take the ACSS reticle and really tune it for their rifle.

Overall though, the 4x Prismatic is a rarity. I’ve never seen another dedicated 7.62×39 optic in Canada, and certainly not one that can be so flexible in it’s firearm compatibility.



Edward O

Edward is a Canadian gun owner and target shooter with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Crawling over mountains with tactical gear is his idea of fun. He blogs at TV-Presspass and tweets @TV_PressPass.


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  • valorius

    Primary arms used to be a budget manufacturer. I was just checking their prices last week, and man have they gone way up.

    • Big Daddy

      So has the quality of their glass.

      • valorius

        Problem is i was looking for a budget red dot with decent quality. If i’m dropping ‘big bucks’, it won’t be on a primary arms.

        • Christopher Henry

          They have a budget line and a premium line. I have several budget items and they are great quality. Very happy so far. The FFP 308 scope is a monster. Love it. Worth double what it 1st went for for sure. The 6x 22LR scope is awesome for bet shots at the range or bush. It basically tells you where to hold. The red dots sights are good. I have yet to have a failure with any of my 4 products from them.

          • valorius

            I gotta tell ya, i’ve had some fantastic luck with some of the sub $100 “junk” red dots. One of the best red dots i’ve ever owned was a $79 Walther(Umarex) PS-22 unit. It used 1 AA battery and that battery would last for months on a good low light home defense illumination setting with regular old alkaline batteries. Another one I and a few of my buddies had good luck with are the 4 reticle red/green HUD type units that you can get for anywhere from $40 (no name) to $80 (Truglo). Those things hold zero great, and are really perfectly fine for plinking or even home defense (I wouldnt try low crawling through a swamp with one, of course)

            I have a couple high end scopes, one of my prized possessions is a Swarovski rifle scope, but for hobby guns i just don’t see the need for high dollar optics.

            In my recent search i already referenced, i ended up getting a UTG 3x9x32 green/red illuminated compact AR scope. I have yet to test it, but i’m guessing (based on past experience) it will be perfectly fine for fun range/plinking and home defense type use.

          • kreatin

            Primary arms advanced microdot 170. Works well, retains zero and I’ve beat the ever loving hell outta mine.

        • Nocternus

          What do you consider big $. Their red dots are still sub $200 that seems pretty reasonable to me. They recently introduced a high end line of scopes that might be what you are seeing. They still offer the budget one though.

          • valorius

            I was just looking at them and many were well over $200, some over $300. A couple were nearly $400.

            When they first came out they were in the mid $150’s, IIRC. PA made sense at that price point.

          • Sgt. Stedenko

            PA red dots start at $90 and go to $170.
            Troll elsewhere.

          • iksnilol

            400 bucks isn’t “big bucks”… that’s basically crap tier when it comes to optics.

            So that PA has good quality for such low prices is nothing short of miraculous.

        • roguetechie

          Lucid are also pretty nice.

          I hear mostly good stuff about holosun too.

          Really as compared to any other time EVER there’s an embarrassment of riches in quality bargain glass and other optics.

          • valorius

            Thanks for the heads up on those brands.

  • Darkpr0

    Ed: the POSP series has one with hash marks for 100, 200, and 300m with a 400m rangefinder specific to 7.62×39. I have one mounted on my Yugo SKS, and they’re pretty much dead on. Eastwave Scope has them, Westrifle sometimes has them, and there’s at least one more I’m forgetting. The prices are very reasonable, and despite people grumbling about Eastern European quality I’ve seen nothing but good things from my ex-Soviet goodies.

    • roguetechie

      I know what you mean… IDK what I’d do without my PK-AS.

  • T C

    You forgot another great feature of PA, their customer service! With other cheap optics, there is no hope of support. If you got a dudd, too bad. I had an issue with my PA scope, they got back to me that day! Replacement was in the mail a few hours later!

  • thedonn007

    So, do you recommend it? 4 stars out of 5?

  • Bill Jordan

    FYI this reticle is in the Strelok+ app. So if you want to hand load and know values, you are set.

  • YZAS

    Man, I absolutely love Primary Arms…..but you lost me at the 2.5” eye relief. I’ll just stick to their MD ADS red dot, or even a Holosun w/ ACSS reticle because I dont want to get all scrunched up behind a scope like that honestly.

    • RSG

      What’s funny is that primary arms products are manufactured by…….holosun. The same with the new Sig Rome dots. Also Holosun.

  • Anonymoose

    This is why we need .300 Blackout conversion kits for the Tavor (and the X95, and we’ll need a intermediate-cal conversion kits for that .308 X95 when it comes out). You can get a Tavor in .300 Blackout from the factory, but I have yet to find a kit for people who already have a Tavor, and since the rifle available in the US has a 16″ barrel it’s not legal in Canadia.

  • LumberJaq

    Edward,

    Your only criticism for a scope is the lack of ballistic info for the reticle in the user manual. That means you have no complaint about the scope itself, that’s good news Dude. I’d say it’s less of a criticism and more of a question you need answered. I for one, wouldn’t mind seeing that ballistic info too.

    I definitely agree that PA has great service and ships fast.
    Any suggestions on mounting this to an AK style rifle that doesn’t have a mounting rail on the side?

  • Bradley

    What hand guard is that on the vz58?

  • Blake

    You’ve missed a few features of the reticle (and the fact that Trijicon decided to put the ACSS in a model of the ACOG). First off are the 5 MPH wind leads all the way out to 600 yards. Then the fact that the vertical hash marks at each range are for shoulder-to-shoulder ranging of an average sized male. Also (in this round’s case) the width at the middle of the horseshoe is shoulder-to-shoulder of a male at 100 yards and the width at the very bottom is the same at 200. Last thing (that I can remember, this reticle has so many freaking features) is that if all you can see of a target is their upper half you can still use the vertical range estimation from their belt line to their head; just find which mark they line up with then cut that range in half. so if their head is sitting at 600 their range is 300.

    I have the PA 1-6x w/ ACSS reticle and absolutely freaking love it. I can get accurate range estimation out to 800 yards regardless of the view I have on the target.

  • RA

    The only down side to these scope is eye relief. I would pay $100 more per unit to have a range out to 3.5″ of relief.