I’ve always liked red dot optics. Coming into the Army about the same time the M68 was becoming standard issue, I grew to like the speed that a red dot afforded. Later on down the road I started running them on the AK, and grew to like Aimpoint’s T1 for a sleek, ultralight setup. That said, there’s always a ‘but’… that being the question of having a battery-only optic. While we’ve come a long, long way since the heyday of the M68, and battery life over a decade and a half later is far beyond the technology of that era. ‘But’…no battery, no reticle.
Throughout the years since I was first issued an ACOG, I always placed a high value on having a permanent reticle not dependent on a battery. Not only that, the 4x magnification helped with PID (positive identification) of insurgents during engagements and made precision work much easier. Over the years I’ve always thought a 1x prismatic optic like the ACOG would do very well on weapons intended for close contact.
The Russians experimented with this idea in the 1990s with the PK-AS, and after owning one, the concept was solid even if the execution was a bit clunky. But during the second Chechen War the optic was used to good effect on the VSS 9×39 rifle. Burris built a 1x based on their excellent 336 optic, and its main drawback was its size. It was just two big for what it was. Finally someone over at Primary Arms paid attention and made a compact 1x prismatic optic with a version of their intuitive ACSS reticle system. And after getting several months of hands on with it, including feedback from students in class, I think its a winner.
The body of the optic is somewhere in between the ACOG and the Aimpoint T1. Its small and light, right at home on top of the Palmetto State Armory 10.5in Pistol I’ve been working with for the past several months. The reticle is quick and easy to pick up for snap shots. If there’s one drawback to it, its the fact that its small- very small- but then again, anyone who’s run a red dot knows what they’re getting into with this. And while its size may be a drawback for some, the fact that its an illuminated reticle certainly is not. Having developed a minor astigmatism in my right eye, most red dots turn into splintered blobs for me. Not unusable, but not a precise as I’d like them to be. That’s not an issue with this optic and for that reason I think it is its strongest attribute.
The Cyclops is everything I’ve come to expect out of Primary Arms’ products. Bang for the buck far exceeding the cost of the optic. There’s no blurring around the edges, no clouding in the glass, and no noticeable parallax issues to report. The glass certainly outpunches its weight class given the price as well, and while its compact in size, nothing about it gives me an indication of any potential points of failure. Time will tell on that, but after running it through several classes and using it as a loaner in class, its stood up to being a beater quite well. Like the other optics I’ve reviewed from them, I have no reservations about running this as a primary optic. It won’t replace my ACOG atop my go-to AR, but then again, this is built primarily for speed and its right at home on an AR pistol or SBR.