The best thing that The Truth About Guns has done for me, other than introducing me to so many of you fine people, is make me appreciate budget optics. Or maybe it’s just how far budget glass has come. Because I’m here to tell you, the new Primary Arms Platinum Series PLx5 6-30X56 FFP scope with its Athena BPR Mil reticle has made me a believer.
The most important feature of any optic is the quality of the glass itself. The Platinum Series PLx5 rifle scope is made in Japan. It says so in big letters right on the front of the box. Decades ago, “Made in Japan” meant sub-par quality, and cheap. That’s hasn’t been true for a very long time. Now it generally means high precision, high quality, and relatively affordable. That goes double for precision machines, and triple for rifle optics.
The clarity of the glass on the PLx 6-30x56mm FFP is on par with any Vortex Razor, Nightforce, or many other optics of considerably higher price on the market. As I’ve noted in previous reviews, the differences between good enough to great glass don’t show up outdoors on a bright, clear day. You have to add a little darkness and/or fog, haze, and precipitation for them really pop out.
Take a look at the photo above. That was taken on a cloudy day between rains. That telephone pole is about 700 yards away. I’m not dialed all the way in, and you can clearly see the insulators on the line and details in the tree. I couldn’t line up my phone’s camera to either a Vortex Razor or Nightforce SHV (also made in Japan) in time for the same conditions, but the glass clarity is every bit as good as those brands.
My Schmidt & Bender PMII does have a slightly sharper image than this scope (at over twice the price). I don’t know if the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 image is any sharper, but it does manage the light at dusk and dawn a better, providing maybe 10 minutes more visibility on targets at dawn and dusk.
That’s pretty important, but until this year, I would have not seriously considered putting a Primary Arms optic up against those two brands. And yet, an optic that is almost half to a third of the money compared very well against what I would consider the best brands at any price.
The next question to answer on a precision optic is whether or not the turrets track, and return to zero. To test this, I first simply zeroed the scope, reset the turrets to zero, and shot a round at 100 yards on paper. I then ran the turrets all the way right, left, up and down, and returned to zero. I shot another round and then repeated the process four more times. I ended up with 6 rounds with about one inch of maximum dispersion.
I then performed a simplified box test. At 300 yards, I shot a round on a 4 mil square target, moved 3 mils up, 3 mils right, 3 mils down, 3 mils left, and shot a round. I ended up with two rounds about 3 inches from each other. The rifle and ammunition combination I was shooting, an FN SCAR 20S with IWI’s 175gr HPBT ammunition, shoots 1 MOA five-round groups.
One of the points where an optic like the Leupold Mk5HD 5-25×56 beats the PLx5 is the total amount of elevation adjustment. The 27.6 mils of total elevation adjustment on the PLx5 concerned me a little, until I sat down and did the math.
Using the shorter 20-inch SCAR 20S barrel, that IWI ammo, (or any NATO M118LR ammunition) I wouldn’t run out of elevation until after 1,600 yards. Better than 9/10th of a mile is plenty for any of the short actions, and most of the long action calibers as well.
Of course, by using the hashes and choosing your zero as something other than 100 yards, you could extend that elevation significantly. Still, if I was going to focus on farther than a mile shooting, this would not be the scope I’d choose.
Beyond clarity and precision, any quality optic needs to be durable enough for the field. Primary Arms advertises the PLx5 6-30x56mm FFP as waterproof, meeting an IP67 standard. That means that the entire scope should be able to be submerged in one meter of water for half an hour without ill effects. I put the whole thing in my kitchen sink for half an hour. No ill effects noted, other than a long time spent cleaning water spots off the glass.
I’ve had this scope all summer. I got this optic to try out on competitions that were mostly cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, I mounted it on my FN SCAR 20S in 7.62×51 NATO with a set of Seekins Precision rings. Before I realized how hard it was about to be to get either ammunition or components, I put a couple thousand rounds through that 20S with the Platinum PLx5 scope.
I’ve also taught a few DMR style courses with this rifle, and since beginners do what beginners do, the rifle and scope were knocked to the ground a couple of times. At no time have I experienced any issues of damage to the scope at all. The crosshairs never shifted, and the turrets never failed to track.
Beyond the basics, the Primary Arms PLx5 6-30x56mm FFP is well appointed with many of the features you’d expect from a high end scope.
The turrets are not a locking type, and I’d rather they not be. I want to move and mess with the scope as little as possible when I’m behind it. With a zero stop on the elevation, the windage is really the only concern, and it’s no real concern since it’s easy to set the windage turret back to zero as well. There’s a revolution marking hash on both the windage and elevation, so just return the windage to zero prior to your first shot.
The turrets are large, knurled, and easily gripped with bare hands or gloves. Each 1/10th of a mil click is crisp and recognizable by feel, but not very audible. As long as you are moving carefully, it’s hard to move too far in any direction or lose track of how many clicks you’ve dialed.
That said, I would highly recommend everyone not try counting clicks on any scope. It’s too error-prone when you are under stress. And even when you aren’t, it’s too slow.
Ignore the clicks entirely and move to the marks listed on the scope. For the Platinum PLx5 6-30x56mm FFP, those marks are large and clear. (As an aside, I wish scope manufacturers would make those turret marks in some kind of obnoxious dayglo colors, but nobody does.)
The magnification knob is also very well done. It moves easily and smoothly. There are no places during the turn that catch or slow. The knob itself is wide with one large raised section as a magnification indicator. That means that you’ll know right where the magnification is (far less important on a first focal plane scope) and it also doesn’t get in the way of anything.
The PLx5’s parallax control knob is on the left, closest to the one-piece 34mm tube body. Unlike some other budget scopes I’ve reviewed, the graduations are far enough apart on the PLx5 to fine tune the adjustment. A not so pro-tip: make sure you have properly set the reticle to your eye prior to playing with parallax adjustment. In the case of the Plx5, instructions on how to do so are included in the manual.
Just outside of the parallax dial is the adjustment knob for the illuminated reticle. This feature runs on a single common 3 volt CR2023 battery and can be replaced quickly with no tools other than a case rim, or quarter. What’s particularly appreciated is the “off” setting between each level of brightness.
Finally, the PLx5 scope also includes a screw-in aluminum sun shade as well as Butler Creek press open lens caps right out of the box.
I decided on this scope after a long talk with Dimitri Mikroulis. For those of unaware of this particular figure in the shooting world, he’s the genius behind the ACSS reticle, as well as many other specialized shooting reticles. His sighting systems have become ubiquitous in both military and competition-focused shooting. I mentioned to him that I struggled with complex reticles, but after some previous competitions last season, I certainly understood their value.
Dimitri suggested this particular scope for me, with this particular reticle. It was a solid recommendation.
There’s a whole lot of information present inside this system, and it takes some real dedication behind the gun to wring the most out of it. I’ve been shooting with it for months now, and I still don’t have all of the hashes and holds down to an instinct-like level. Then again, I’m a slow learner.
The center “dot” is a chevron, which is always preferable as it never obscures the target. To each side there are individual mil hashes, and below there is the now familiar “Christmas tree” of dot reference points for elevation and windage.
If you have multiple targets at multiple distances, this system is extremely helpful. It’s far faster to engage each target without dialing either windage or elevation (I typically dial elevation and hold for wind) by simply picking the corresponding dot to elevation, and then moving left or right to the corresponding wind dot. As this is a first focal plane scope, ranging can be made easily at any magnification.
I spent a couple of days at the Triple C Range in Cresson, Texas, with this scope mounted on the SCAR 20S. Targets were spread about 200 yards apart from 100 to 1,000 yards in 100 yard increments. On the second day, the wind was particularly gusty, blowing from 4 to 14mph. Using the Athena BPR reticle, I was able to hit 2 MOA targets at each yard limit between wind gusts. There’s no way I could have done that if I had to dial elevation each time.
Please also note the ranging reticle built into the scope, in the upper right quadrant of the image. Although a laser range finder would be more accurate, this allows for rapid measurement, assuming a 5’10” tall or 18″ wide target.
I found these types of ranging hashes OK for actual ranging, but really great to get general ranges of targets to relay to other team members. For instance, while serving in Afghanistan, hitting humans at 600 yards on the move with my M4 and a 4X ACOG was wishful thinking. Using the built-in ranging hashes to quickly identify the range for my teammate running the Mk19 was far more effective.
The Primary Arms PLx5 6-30x56mm FFP scope is a premium high power rifle optic in every sense of the word…and for under $1,500. That is impressive. Not very long ago I would have completely dismissed this brand as not being competitive in this market, but it is. For me, this is the optic that makes memorizing a complex reticle worthwhile. It’s good glass, has tons of features, is built well, and backed by a solid warranty from a company that’s known for their quality customer service.
Specifications: Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mrad FFP Rifle Scope
Battery Type: CR2032 3V Lithium Coin
Click Value: 0.1 Mil
Exit Pupil Diameter: Low: 8.20 mm / High: 1.90 mm
Eye Relief: Low: 4.00 in / High: 3.30 in
Field View 100: Low: 16.60 ft / High: 3.30 ft
Focal Plane: First Focal Plane
Maximum Magnification: 30
Minimum Magnification: 6
Night Vision Compatible: Night Vision Compatible
Objective Diameter: 56mm
Reticle: Athena BPR MIL
Reticle Type: MRAD
Total Elevation Adjustment: 27.6 MIL
Total Windage Adjustment: 13.1 MIL
Tube Diameter: 34mm
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * *
I have quite a few optics in the hopper for review, and frankly, getting to this one first isn’t going to help any of those reviews score well. This is a great scope, and an absolutely spectacular value at this price point. This optic has all the basics done right, and then some. There are very few high power optics — at any price point — that are markedly better than the Primary Arms PLx5.