She’s Beautiful, but Unforgiving – ELCAN SpecterDR 1.5-6x

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At first blush, the accolades come easily. And I’m not the first to struggle with involuntary drool here. Without a doubt, we’re talking about a real head turner in the ELCAN SpecterDR 1.5-6x. Like all true beauty, it starts inside. The field of view, the illumination, the reticle and the image quality are nothing less than utterly remarkable. When you’re not peering throughout the heart of the scope, it’s externals say “I’m rugged” yet well proportioned, nicely contoured. I’ve been meaning to check out this scope for years. What I discovered in getting to know her though caught me off guard: She is quite unforgiving.

The Elcan SpecterDR units are a great example of the crossover benefits military driven research and development can bring to the civilian hunting and shooting communities. In 2003, Raytheon ELCAN got spanked by competitors who scored substantial military procurement contracts. The innovative spark that flew from that experience resulted in a dual role (thus SpecterDR) optic. SOPMOD ordered 6,221 sights. That’s a pretty impressive success story in my book. That first version was the 1-4x model.

This review deals with the second iteration of the SpecterDR optic, the 1.5-6x. If you’re not familiar with this product line, note that the optic has only two magnification settings: 1.5x and 6x for dual roles. It makes a lot of sense. Many people run their variable optics at either their widest or narrowest setting, never even touching the middle magnifications. For the tactical hog hunter, many three gun shooters and plenty of preppers, this is an ideal set of ranges.

SpecterDR 1.5-6Power up your red dot at 1.5x by twisting your reticle illumination switch counter clockwise and you have a six MOA dot. With five user selectable brightness levels, the dot is easily effective in the brightest and the dimmest light. It’s a bigger red dot than what I’m used to, maybe too big for my tastes. It’s mitigated by a ridiculously large sixteen degree field of view (FOV). The reticle crosshairs may be of some visual reference value at the 1.5x setting, but the ballistic drop indicators and range estimating marks in the reticle are not meaningful.

Like all beauties, the SpecterDR optics have a magic move. At the base of the optic on the left side is throw lever. In the reward position, our optic is 1.5x magnification. A slight press down unlocks it, then forward movement switches it to 6x. It’s smooth and solid with the quality of movement reminiscent of closing the door on a new Mercedes-Benz.

Elcan SpecterDR 1.5-6 reviewWith the scope at 6x magnification, the dot is now 1.5 MOA. That amounts to covering an inch and a half on a hog or any other target at 100 yards, a fantastic set up for speed and accuracy in that setting. If you’d rather illuminate the crosshairs and not the center dot, no problem. Just twist your reticle illumination switch clockwise for two brightness settings. The four degree FOV is still remarkably large, allowing you to see plenty of area around your target. At 6x magnification, your ballistic drop indicators on your crosshairs are now accurate. Reticles are available in 5.56, 7.62 and .50 caliber. Since the reticle is etched in the optic’s glass it is still effective even if your battery goes down. As long as you have enough light to see it, that is.

At seven and a quarter inches, it’s compact, lengthwise. It’s the same length as a 30 round PMAG.  The three inch width allows for big beautiful glass inside. That glass that yields the superb light transmission making this an extremely bright optic. It’s perfectly capable when the sun is just the other side of the horizon. But it adds weight. The 1-6x scope’s 1.5 pounds might help justify the cost. Just holding the scope in your hand is convincing – it must be built like a tank! Or even better, maybe. It’s water proof and shock proof far beyond the demands of any civilian I’ve known.

Raytheon Elcan SpecterDRSo what’s not to love about this beauty? She is ruthlessly unforgiving.

The eye box is small. At. 1.5x, I have to really focus on holding just the right check weld with just the right eye relief to utilize the gorgeous field of view. I expect that somewhat at 6x, but to me, this is much slower to use than my Aimpoints, EOTechs or Trijicon kit. Sure, with enough trigger time and muscle memory you could overcome these, but that has it’s own price in time and money.

The 1.5-6x SpecterDR is unforgiving in price as well. $2800 or so of unforgiving pricing. Read enough forums on this optic and you’ll find folks who say that if you can afford it, you should get it; it’s the best of the best. In light of the strengths this optic brings to the table, they have a good point. But while I love so much about this optic, I find unforgiving types hard to live with. So I’ll continue to admire and appreciate her noteworthy attributes, just from afar.

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