Primary Arms Prism Scopes: ACOG on a Budget?

Since its inception a decade ago, Primary Arms has been a go-to source for reliable, cost-effective optics. I’ve published several reviews of their products because I’ve always been impressed with the value of their offerings. Their scopes and red dots might not be the fanciest, but they’re a great bang-for-your-buck.

That’s why I was stoked to get my hands on their new prism optics. In 2x, 3x, and 5x varieties, these tough, versatile scopes are just what the doctor ordered for your next hog hunt or trip to the range. Plus, they can be had with one Primary Arms’ innovative reticles tailor-made for your caliber of choice.

I had a blast testing these optics.

Here are the details for the models I tested:

Primary Arms SLx 5x36mm Gen III Prism Scope

Reticle: ACSS 5.56/.308

Click Value: 1/3 MOA

Eye Relief: 2.50 in – 3.00 in

Field View 100: 18.80 ft

Magnification: 5X

Night Vision Compatible: Non-Compatible

Weight: 18.4 Oz

Cost: $329.99

Check it out!

Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III Prism Scope

Reticle: ACSS 7.62X39/300BO CQB

Click Value: 1/4 MOA

Eye Relief: 2.72 in – 2.92 in

Field View 100: 31.50 ft

Illuminated: Illuminated

Magnification: 3X

Night Vision Compatible: Non-Compatible

Weight: 18.4 Oz

Cost: $329.99

Check it out!

Primary Arms GLx 2X Prism Scope

Reticle: ACSS CQB-M5 5.56

Click Value: 1/4 MOA

Eye Relief: 3.50 in

Field View 100: 42.00 ft

Illuminated: Illuminated

Magnification: 2X

Night Vision Compatible: Non-Compatible

Weight: 11.0 Oz.

Cost: $369.99

Check it out!

All models use a CR2032 3V Lithium Coin battery, mount to an M1913 Picatinny rail, and feature an illuminated reticle. You can also find all three options with different reticles designed for the 5.56/.308 or the 300BLK/7.62×39.

ACOG on the Cheap?

I want to be clear: the Primary Arms SLx ain’t no ACOG. Trijicon’s Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight has been adopted by military and law enforcement agencies around the world for its toughness, versatility, and brilliant design.

But all that brilliance costs money, money you might not have (I certainly don’t). So, if you’re looking for a fixed-power optic that’ll get the job done for a fraction of the cost, look no further than Primary Arms.

This 3x with the 7.62/300BO ACSS is perfect for medium-range hunting. And the 3x and 5x are compatible with ACOG mounts!

Their SLx line features prism optics in 3x and 5x varieties that come with all the necessary features for making hits in hunting and self-defense applications. The 5x reticle can be illuminated in both red and green (red only for the 3x), the package includes an AR height riser, and both models are compatible with ACOG mounts.

The SLx even has the ACOG beat in one area: the field of view at 100 yards for the Primary Arms 3x model is 31.50 ft while Trijicon’s is 19.3 feet for the 3x30mm and 28.9 feet for the 3.5x35mm.

The reticles on all three optics are illuminated. Here’s the 3x at 100 yards.

The reticle is illuminated with a CR2032 3V Lithium Coin battery, which is a step down from ACOG’s innovative tritium/fiber optic reticle. While these batteries are commonly available, you can’t forget to turn off the reticle when you’re finished using it. I forgot to turn off the illumination several times over the last few months, and the battery always died in the seven or ten days between uses.

(The 2x was a different story. I left that reticle illuminated for several weeks, and I was happy to see that it was still illuminated the next time I took it to the range.)

The 5x has five levels of red or green illumination, and the 2x and 3x feature 11 settings of red illumination.

Still, for a $329.99 MSRP, it’s hard to beat the SLx line. For that price, you could purchase four PA SLx’s for the price of one ACOG.

And you’re still getting a tough optic. I asked Primary Arms what kind of shock testing they perform, and they said that most of their optics (including their prism scopes) can withstand the recoil from the SCAR 17S chambered in .308 Win. The acceleration produced by the SCAR is known to destroy optics, but if the scope doesn’t pass that test, “we either figure out what went wrong and make it better or we don’t put our name on the side,” said Brand Marketing Manager Dina Sanders.

They also conduct drop testing from one meter on concrete using a weighted rifle to make sure the optic will hold up in the field.

“This all means that we create products that are durable and we are proud to put our name on,” Sanders said.

They’re tough optics, and they held up just fine throughout the course of my testing.

Are you getting the same toughness as an ACOG? No. But for those of us using their optics for hunting, range work, and (maybe) self-defense, the SLx is definitely worth a look. The SLx provides the same medium-range, both-eyes-open functionality as the ACOG for a fraction of the cost – and you’re still getting a well-built optic with an awesome lifetime warranty.

Reticles, Reticles, Reticles!

Plus, just like the ACOG, Primary Arms optics come with a variety of reticles tailored to your specific application.

The ACSS reticle has become an industry standard, and it’s so good Trijicon even adopted it into their 4x32mm ACOG. The 3x SLx comes with the ACSS reticle designed for 5.56/.308 and 300 BLK/7.63×39. For the 5.56/.308, the reticle includes bullet drop compensation (BDC) out to 600 yards, wind holds between 5-10mph, and moving target dots at 6.1 mph.

For the 300 BLK/7.62×39, the ACSS reticle includes BDC marks out to 600 yards for supersonic ammunition and 225 yards to subsonic ammunition, along with the same wind holds and moving target holds.

Here’s the reticle on the 3x. It comes in both 5.56 and 300BLK varities.

On a recent hunt, I found the chevron target on the 3x SLx to be perfect for my 40-yard shot on a 200-lb hog. The red of the reticle contrasted nicely with the green of my flashlight, and I scored a clean kill for some great pork.

I scored some Texas wild hog with the 3x. (In the Texas heat, I always forget to take a pic with my rifle before starting the meat processing!)

The 5x scope reticles are both designed for 5.56/.308. The standard ACSS reticle includes BDC for targets out to 800 yards, auto ranging out to 800 yards, holds for targets moving 8.6 mph, and 5 mph wind holds. The ACSS AURORA reticle also includes BDC for targets out to 800 yards, but it uses a simplified grid reticle with dots for wind holds between 5mph and 10mph.

This is the standard ACSS reticle available on the 5x. The numbers are easier to see in person than in the image.

The 2x is ideal for close-quarters work, and it’s currently mounted on my BRN-180. I also used it on my 10/22 when I took a new shooter to the range. The 2x provides the perfect amount of magnification out to 100 yards, but the eye relief is forgiving. Unlike the space telescopes we like to mount to most of our rifles, the 2x allows novice shooters to easily find the reticle and put shots on target. I’ve found that a few successful *dings* on a steel plate hooks many first-time shooters for life.

The reticle on the 2x is simple but also includes BDC marks.

I haven’t fully tested the BDC marks, but my experience with the ACSS reticle has always been stellar. For the most common loads, those marks will get you more or less where you need to be. Keep in mind, however, that bullet weight will play a big role in how accurately the marks reference holdover. Especially past 400 yards, a bullet’s trajectory can change drastically depending on weight.

The trajectory of any .223/5.56 is about the same out to 600 yards, but a 300 Blackout can have a vastly different flight paths even at 300 yards. Depending on velocity at the muzzle, a 110-grain supersonic 300 Blackout projectile drops about 25 inches at 300 yards while a 200-grain subsonic pills drops over 100 inches. For those counting, that’s a over a six-foot difference at only 300 yards. All this to say: you’ll want to do plenty of testing to determine which BDC marks to use depending on your ammunition.  

Chinese Made?

Each of Primary Arms prism scopes comes with the infamous “Made in China” sticker. Given the recent controversy surrounding China, COVID-19, and supply chains, I asked Sanders about this.

She pointed out that all of Primary Arms’ optics are designed in-house by their own engineering team and tested in their facility. They work with the best contract manufacturers (in both China as well as the Philippines and Japan) and inspect each of their optics to make sure it adheres to their standards. They also put their money where their mouth is by offering a lifetime warranty on most of their optics.

Primary Arms optics are well-designed and well-made.

So, while political considerations might come into your decision, you don’t have to worry about the quality of Primary Arms’ products. They’ll work, and if they don’t, the company will make it right. I’ve interacted with Primary Arms as a customer rather than a gun writer, and every interaction has been stellar.

Last Look

The functionality of the fixed-power prism scope isn’t ideal for every application, but it’s great for most of them. For short and medium-range work, Primary Arms’ new Gen III SLx scopes and GLx 2x are fantastic options. They’re tough, versatile, dependable, and easy to use. If you’re in the market for an optic for your next AR-15 or AK-47 but don’t want to break the bank, give these scopes a look.

I love the 2x on my Brownells BRN-180.

Click the links below to check out each optic:

Primary Arms SLx 5x36mm Gen III Prism Scope

Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III Prism Scope

Primary Arms GLx 2X Prism

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Charles Thomas November 3, 2020, 1:40 am

    Trump 2020

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