Product Review: Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP ACSS HUD/DMR Rifle Scope

You know me. I have a longstanding disdain for BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticles. Most of that disdain is drawn from the unending habit of people that don’t know any better to try and use them for things they’re not meant for. BDC’s are for making super fast shots with greater accuracy than a guess and less accuracy than a ballistic firing solution. They’re wildly fast to use but lose a lot of precision to that speed. When I say “a lot” what I mean is that last fraction of a miliradian or minute of angle. Worst case, maybe 1 minute at the longest possible ranges and negligible amounts at closer distances.

Messy bench and all. That scope looks weird on that rifle. Gotta admit.

So let’s twist the discussion a little bit. At what point can you as a shooter say to yourself, “The level of precision I need for this is totally BDC territory. I don’t need pinpoint accuracy. Combat effectiveness will suffice.”? You might think that while hunting as a generic selection. You might think 3-gun competition. You might think actual combat is the territory of a BDC. You might be a smart ass and say it’s at conversational distances. The truth is more complicated. Whatever your target is and what you’re shooting at it dictate the answer.

Removed the Razor2 to test the 4-14×44. Removed the SWFA SS to install the Razor2.

If your gun shoots flat enough to land inside the lethal zone even if you misjudged or mis-held for the range despite you messing up, you can use a BDC there. In combat you just want to put metal on meat so the enemy’s people are spent treating his wounds and not fighting you. For hunting you’re looking to be as nice about killing that animal as possible. You want quick and clean kills with no suffering. For PRS competition you need fast and accurate. For screwing around shooting pop cans and eggs at long range you don’t “need” anything. That’s a completely optional activity and nobody’s keeping score.

Stage 5 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:

Stage 6 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:

Stage 7 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tacical Rifle Match:

I recently decided to try out a Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their nifty ACSS HUD/DMR reticle in it at my monthly long range precision tactical prone match. I did this because I was curious not because I’m a glutton for punishment. As it turns out I put in my 2nd best score ever with a .223 (within 2 hits of my best score) and I crushed my previous best high wind .223 score by 5 hits. The weather was mild but winds were from 5-35mph and constantly changing directions.

I started out on stage 1 by counting mil-dots and calculating DOPE for the 600-1000yrd shots. Bad idea. That’s not how this scope works and it showed. I only hit the targets that I used the BDC on. That’s fine, over 600yrds right out of the gate and scoring any hits at all, I was happy to do it. Stage 2 I was still calculating based on MV and mil-dots but I was also comparing my real hit locations to the point of aim and the BDC. By stage 3 I gave up the calculating bit and just shot by the BDC and while I wasn’t hitting on stage 3 I was only missing on wind holds. The rest of the 8 stages I did ok on. Stage 4 was ok but while it started well it went right to hell on shot 3. By stage 5 I’d found my stride and started trusting the reticle with really good results. We went from stage 5 to stage 8 and then back to stage 6 and then stage 7 because some shooters are ridiculously, infuriatingly, heart rending slow (Byron, I’m looking at you particularly).

At the end of the day I’d posted a great .223 score landing me in the middle of the pack of everyone else who were shooting 6mm/6.5mm/7.62mm stuff from much bigger cases. Nobody ran the course clean, like always. The reason for my success? Wind holds and drops are on and it’s easy to use. 5mph or 10mph or in between or over or under… no worries. I had little problem doing it once I actually started doing it. Drops are really easy to use and against a man size target, boy I mean the bad guy is in a world of hurt. My misses were measurable in fractions of an inch mostly with the occasional several feet as well. In a military context I’d have one of these reticles on every battle rifle and triple the engagement range of my grunts. See how the bad guys like an army of designated marksman equipped with machine guns.

Oh yeah! “How about the scope itself?” I hear you saying. Well, simply: Great glass. Superb glass. You really won’t expect it to be that nice and you’ll be surprised. Good glass comes with weight and it’s not as light as you might think. Turret feel is plain ol’ shit. They’re rubbery as hell and vague and uncapped turrets aren’t necessary with a BDC. Tracking is actually ok. Wouldn’t rely on the tracking but it was accurate as hell for zero’ing. Eye box is really tight and unforgiving. Zoom and focus and parallax is all great. All in all I’d expect to pay a bit more. If they put more into the turret feel then I see a price twice as high coming with it. Leave the turrets for zero’ing and use the reticle for everything else and the scope is still a real bargain. Seriously, the glass is exceptional. As for durability? Well, I hauled it around a mountain all day, dropped it repeatedly on the ground and shot a match with it. Zero problems. So, not saying it’s battle ready but it’s certainly field conditions resistant.

I have to thank Dimitri and all the guys over at Primary Arms (http://primaryarms.com) for letting me use one of these amazing little scopes. The guys at the match started out with a little light hearted ribbing and by the end of the match they were plumb out of humorous jabs and were instead astonished at how well I was able to do without ever spinning a turret while surrounded with multi-thousand-dollar custom match rifles with multi-thousand-dollar scopes on top. There were a lot of compliments by the end of the day. Next I’m going to try it on my .308. Betcha I clean up.

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