Gear Review: Primary Arms Deluxe AR15 Scope Mount

 

It was time to upgrade the scope mount on my AR. Some months back, I’d gotten behind my (self-imposed) schedule for finishing a review of the Leupold VX-R Patrol 1.25-4 scope shown above. I had some 30mm Warne steel rings but they weren’t tall enough to even partly clear the A2 front sight post, and without much time for online research I settled for the sturdy, bulky and fugly UTG riser rail shown below. It worked, but it just wasn’t working out

For one thing, it set the scope way too far back over the charging handle. It also messed up the gun’s balance, and it didn’t allow the forward ‘nose-to-charging-handle’ shooting posture I’ve started to use. It was hella strong, it was in stock (for a measly $10) and I was in a hurry.

It worked okay from a bench rest, but it was uncomfortable for offhand shooting and it was goddamned heavy. How heavy was it? I’ll spare you my favorite ‘Yo’ Momma’ joke and just show you:

A rail and rings for 10.4 ounces? That’s an ounce more than an empty Ruger LCP! Fancier mounts from LaRue and American Defense are solid and reliable and even a hair lighter than the Primary Arms, but they cost three times as much money as I could justify spending. I thought I was stuck…

And then I read Nick’s review of the Trijicon Accupoint, last week. I asked him what mount he’d used, and his answer was pure Foghorn:

$60 is a pittance for this type of mount, and Primary Arms generally sells some pretty solid kit. Sure, their 3-9 illuminated scope committed seppuku on Nick’s .308 Weatherby Vanguard last summer, but Nick still runs their Micro-Dot on his trick AR. I’ve had an older Micro-Dot clamped to the gas tube of my AK-74 for a couple of years. Despite bumps, drops, and rapid-fire strings that leave it too hot to touch, the $80 scope has performed like a champ.

After mulling it over, I figured I couldn’t go too wrong giving the Primary Arms scope mount a try. It shipped the same day (for about $5), and arrived in my mailbox two days later.

Size & Weight

With weight like this, it’s easy to keep shipping costs down. The 7.3 ounce Primary Arms mount is 3.1 ounces lighter (!) than the rig it’s replacing, and it’s in the same weight range of almost all similar offset mounts. Only the $150 GG&G FLT mount weighs substantially less, and it costs substantially more.

The Primary Arms mount is 5.2 inches long overall, and there’s 2.5 inches of clearance between the front and rear rings. The forward offset and the ring spacing allow it to comfortably mount just about any scope for a NTCH hold unless it has a really long illuminated eyepiece. For my Leupold (and for Nick’s Trijicon, and most other logical AR scopes) it’s just perfect.

It places the center of the scope exactly 1.5 inches above the rail, which means your front sight post will be just barely (and fuzzily) visible in the bottom of your scope at low power. It also places the eyepiece high enough that most BUIS will fit neatly under it. It’s not a QD mount, but BUIS are a good idea and it’s nice to know that a coin or Leatherman will get your AR back in action in a jiffy if your scope craps out on you.

I’m not a featherweight rifle fanatic (my AR has a bull barrel and an A2 stock) but what’s not to like about better fit and lighter weight at a bargain price like $60?

I’ll let you know when I find something I don’t like. The only aspect of this mount that didn’t impress me was the ease of installation of the supplied Torx screws, and I’ll be replacing them for less than $2 at the hardware store down the street.

Installation

If you have the gunsmithing skills to successfully open and consume the contents of a soda can, you can install this scope mount. No installation instructions are provided, since none are needed. After the invoice, the only printed document in the box was a small sheet warning you not to overtorque the mounting screws.

Unlike some overly-snug rings which demand lots of lube and patience to mount properly, my scope slid right into the Primary Arms mount’s integral rings. Tightening said rings was a bit of a chore, because I discovered that the freebie Torx wrench didn’t fit the ring screws quite perfectly. The screws fit rather tightly and seemed to have shallow heads, and the wrench slipped out a few times while I was tightening them. The next time I’m down at Ace Hardware, I’ll replace the lot of them for less than two bucks.

The scope mounting screws were a little frustrating, but the rail mounting hardware was spot-on. The slotted hex nuts are gently dehorned, and you can tighten them with a socket wrench, a broad-bladed screwdriver or simply the spare change in your pocket. Lock washers keep the nuts from loosening up during use, and I’ve found that these work just fine for AR or AK scope mounts. I’ve never had to use Locktite on such mild-recoiling rifles, but if your AR kit includes a .50 Beowulf upper, feel free to use as much blue Locktite as you can find.

Ergonomics

In addition to its cool (IMHO) looks, this mount keeps the scope’s eyepiece out of your eye socket and allows a ‘nose-to-charging-handle’ (NTCH) cheek weld. AR stocks aren’t known for their excellent cheek welds, but putting your nose against the charging handle will at least put your head in the same position relative to the rifle and scope, shot after shot.

Consistent head placement is critical to consistent (accurate) shooting, and it also minimizes the negative effects of scope parallax. Parallax is where the crosshairs seem to wander around the scope’s visual field when you move your head around behind the scope, and a proper cheek weld (or nose weld, in this case) prevents your head from moving around much.

Summary:

If you’ve got a fancy AR and a quality variable-power scope, it may seem penny-wise and pound-foolish to cheap out on the scope mount. But don’t confuse ‘low price’ with ‘cheap’, because $60 is a steal for a well-built AR mount of this type. If you don’t need the bells and whistles of quick-release levers or the cachet of high-end name brands, this mount’s for you. If you’re even more of a minimalist, check out their single-clamp basic AR scope mount for $25.

Overall Rating: ****
That’s a lot of stars for $60. If you absolutely must have five stars, remember that that last star will cost you another $100.

comments

  1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

    Tyler called me Captain Cheap the other day, a reference to James May’s nickname on Top Gear for his famed somewhat indolent pace. I think it’s an apt description of my miserly habits.

    And this just proves that you don’t need to spend $butthurt to get quality stuff.

    Damn fine review, Chris!

    1. avatar Chris Dumm says:

      LOL! Joe Grine has been calling me a ‘Cheap Bastard’ for 15+ years. That’s partly why I wrote some ‘Guns for Cheap Bastards’ reviews.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    Holy moly. I’m also using a UTG mount on my flat top and have been intent on replacing it. Now I know what I’m going to buy. Thank you Chris and Nick!

  3. avatar ChainsawWieldingManiac says:

    Calling the UTG a “mount” seems generous. It’s a riser with a couple rings. And, I, too, have never had an issue with a PA mount, excepting a QD lever mount that the springs fell out of (oops!). They fixed the latter issue free of charge, so no harm no foul.

  4. avatar Todd says:

    If mounting this unit on a flat top AR-15 what is the biggest objective size scope you can use ? also what are the limits on scope length minimum and maximum to be able to use this scope effectively? THANKS GUTS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. avatar Wes Crockett says:

    Planning on picking this up for an AR 308 for my Nikon Prostaff 4-12×40. Have you removed this mount and remounted it? Does it return trued?

  6. avatar Robert Salmon says:

    I’ll just say this. I live near Ft. Hood. We have more than a few LGS’s. PA is in Houston and about a 3 hour drive from me, but PA IS my LGS. No question about it. If they don’t have it, I will generally try to wait. Not only because like you said their kit or parts are really good quality for what you pay, but their customer service is bar none. I mean BAR NONE. I just finished getting the parts in for a very solid build for a friend of mine who has never built an AR. It was important for me that this weapon have solid parts, I didn’t necessarily need them to be the biggest name, but I wanted it to be a quality build and I didn’t want him to say, “I’ll never build another AR again because I had to take out a 2nd mortgage.” So cost was a factor, even though I pretty much had carte blanche to spend what I wanted. So I went to PA for MUCH of my parts. Parts like like Ballistic Advantage barrel (Owned by Aero Precision, who incidentally does some mill work for Ranier Arms.) and parts like that. ALG trigger, DD fixed sights, Troy Alpha rail, etc. etc.
    I love Primary Arms. I’m going to send them a Christmas card this year.
    Oh get this. I contacted them about my military service, how I spent 15 yrs in but dont have an AKO blah blah blah. They emailed back that morning and asked for a copy of my VA ID card and set me up to receive a military discount automatically. They even went back to my last order and adjusted the price to reflect the discount.
    How freaking awesome is that??? SERIOUSLY!?!?!?!!

    Pure Awesome Sauce my friend. Pure Awesome Sauce.
    Thanks for the review of my LGS and their scope mount!

    p.s. I’m not related to anyone there, I just really like my LGS.

  7. avatar rdsii64 says:

    I don’t run BUIS’s on any of my AR’s. If this mount put the center of the scope at 1.25″ above the rail, like the Armalite mount, I would put it on every rifle I own. The only reason I have this mount is it came with my Primary arms scope ( I love Primary arms optics, they don’t cost much and they work). The only thing I don’t like about the Armalite mount is its $30.00 more expensive than this one. I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing the Primary Arms mount. Its solid, cheap, and (even though its not quick detach), I never have a zero shift taking when it needs to come off. Its only problem is I have to run an adjustable butt stock to get a proper cheek weld.

  8. avatar Eddie says:

    I’m thinking about getting this mount. You said you will replaced the ring screws. Did you ever get replacements? If so, what thread size/length are they? I’d like to get them before I get the mount so I have everything at hand when it comes in.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email