Red dot or ranged scope? These do both!
There was a time when AR-15 users had to make a choice between an unmagnified red dot for close targets or a ranged optic for shooting at distance. Magnifiers are available for red dots but add considerable size and weight to any rifle.
With these new 1-6x24mm offerings from Vortex and Primary Arms, the shooter can have the best of both worlds. They operate both as an unmagnified red dot, and then with a quick turn of a dial can have up to 6 times magnification for targets down range. But which one is better?
Scope Description and Features
The Vortex Strike Eagle is a great multipurpose red dot scope for any shooter. The aircraft grade aluminum body is weatherproof and shockproof to protect the internals from wind, rain, and recoil. The coated lenses offer a clear sight picture, and the unique AR-BDC reticle offers quick shooting at close ranges and precise targeting at a longer distance.
Power comes from a CR2032 battery which can last up to 150 hours on full intensity. There's a convenient storage space for a spare battery under the windage cap. The 30mm tube size is compatible with a wide range of mounts depending on your preference. Magnification is control by a simple dial just in front of the eyepiece, making it easy to set the power you need quickly and easily.
- Height: 1.2" - front, 1.7" - rear
- Length: 10.5"
- Weight: 17.6 oz (without mount)
- Eye Relief: 3.5"
Primary Arms has been around for a few years now as a manufacturer of affordable red dot scopes and accessories based on other makes and models. The Primary Arms 1-6x24mm scope appears to be a durable sight, but the information about its construction are not detailed by Primary Arms. The unit is both waterproof and fog proof.
The scope features Primary Arms "Kwik Intelligent Shooting System" reticle, or KISS. This reticle has a large illuminated red chevron flanked that is easy to pick up and quick to use. It is a fantastic reticle for close up shooting, and while it does not offer the Bullet Drop Compensation built it, it is still useable at higher magnifications. Illumination is powered by a CR2032 battery.
- Height & Length not disclosed by Primary Arms
- Weight: 15.52 oz(without mount)
- Eye Relief: 3.5"
Head to Head Comparison
Both scopes are very similar in form and function. Both have standard windage, elevation, and magnification controls in the same layout. Both are waterproof and fog proof, though the Vortex Strike Eagle is also listed as being shockproof. Vortex provides many more details of their scopes than Primary Arms, and it appears that the Vortex is the more rugged of the two scopes.
The Primary Arms is slightly lighter in weight, and I would attribute this to differences in construction. The reticles are pretty different. The Strike Eagle has the AR-BDC reticle designed particularly for both close up and distance shooting with the AR-15. The Primary Arms KISS reticle is reminiscent of what you may see on a Trijicon ACOG. It's a superb reticle for close up shooting but won't be as precise as the Strike Eagle at a distance.
Strike Eagle Pros
- Durable, Rugged Construction
- Weather and Shock Proof
- Precise Reticle
- Fast Focus Eyepiece
Strike Eagle Cons
- Reticle not as quick as close range
Primary Arms Pros
- Lighter Weight
- KISS reticle is quick and easy at close ranges
Primary Arms Cons
- Construction materials not detailed
- KISS reticle not as precise at distance
- No mention of lens coating
Cost and Value Comparison
Both of these scopes can be found on the market today for under $300. Both have the same basic design and use. The Vortex provides far more detail on the materials used to make the Strike Eagle. Primary Arms does not present any details on materials, coatings, or general size of their scope for comparison.
It appears that the Vortex is built to a higher standard based on the information provided, but the Primary Arms is quite well-known and generally has positive reviews. Both are 30mm tubes that are compatible with many different mounts. The reticles are quite different, but both are effective. Both companies offer lifetime warranties to protect against defects and failures.
The Strike Eagle would be best suited for use on a competition style AR-15. The variable magnification and quick adjustments allow for easy shooting at both close targets and distance, and the AR-BDC reticle assists the shooter when distance or wind is an issue. The durable construction will withstand any environmental condition. This is a great scope for the user who shoots at close and long distance targets an equal amount.
The Primary Arms scope can also be used as a competition sight, but with its different reticle I would tend to use it more for close range targets rather than at long range. Because of this, it would also serve as a better defensive scope than the Vortex, but just slightly. It is lighter in weight, and every ounce counts if you are using a rifle in any capacity.
Both of these 1-6x24 red dot scopes are exceptional, but the Vortex Strike Eagle is the superior choice. Primary Arms just does not provide enough information about their construction to convince us that they have a better scope. The Vortex has a rugged body, fully multi-coated lenses, and the reticle is protected between two layers of glass for extra protection. The AR-BDC reticle fills many roles.
Both are waterproof and fog proof, but the Vortex is also shockproof to better withstand round after round of recoil without losing zero. Primary Arms makes some fantastic products, but in this scenario, the Strike Eagle is the better option.
Perhaps if the pricing were different, we would make a different choice, but they both cost about the same. With Vortex's robust build, reliability, and lifetime warranty you just get a better product for your money.
There are several different options available for small, variable powered rifle scopes. Vortex makes a less expensive choice, the Crossfire II, that will cost you about half that of the Strike Eagle. It is not as powerful or durable as the Strike Eagle but is a quality optic that is a great entry-level option.
If you are looking for something higher end the Trijicon AccuPower scope may be a great option. It has 1-4x24 magnification and Trijicon's legendary build quality and clarity. While not as powerful as the Strike Eagle, the 1-4x magnification can still put rounds on target downrange with ease. Trijicon's come with a hefty price tag, and the AccuPower can cost twice and much (or more!) as the Strike Eagle.