Elcan OS3.0B Scope

Elcan 0S3.0B Scope

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I acquired my Elcan scope in November of 2012, so as of writing this review I have been using it for a little over 3 years. It’s been mounted on two different rifles during that time though primarily atop my Colt Canada SA20 since the summer of 2014. It has been employed in Service Rifle (including National Championship 3 times), Precision Rifle and CQB matches as well as carbine training courses. It also travelled with me to Michigan in 2015 for a Project Appleseed event. It has basically been my go to optic on my go to rifle since I paired it with the SA20. For the type of shooting events that I have been involved in, this little optic has proven to be nothing but reliable and effective in enabling hits on targets from 10 yards to 500 metres.

Okay, so you may be saying at this point “Why have I not heard about this scope before?”. Yeah, that confuses me as well. If you do a search for Elcan you come up with the web site for the parent company Raytheon https://elcan.com/Our_Company/Directions.php. They make more than optical weapon sights so you have to do a bit more of a dig to get to their fixed magnification weapon sights http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/fixedmag_ws/index.html. Here finally you will find the OS3 line…….ummmm……..oh yeah…….no. It’s not listed their either. Weird.

However the Elcan Distributor is Armament Technology out of Halifax Nova Scotia. Google to the rescue and eventually you can find their scope product page http://www.armament.com/products, and voila the OS3.0 line.
Why Raytheon/Elcan keeps this optical sight under wraps I don’t know. There seem to be several fixed magnification scopes on the market now (Vortex and Burris come to mind) that have some degree of popularity. From what I have seen the Elcan, particularly the B model offers somewhat more features, specifically in having external sight adjustments for elevation (distance) and windage.

Speaking of Features, from the Armament Technology website:
Magnification = 3.1x nominal
Length = 135 mm nominal
Width = 65 mm nominal with bumpers (which are removable but so handy why would you)
Height = 77 mm nominal with bumpers (of course if these were actually aluminum, they could be used to mount addons such as lights, micro red dot sights etc)
Weight = 415g nominal (which includes the integral base, no rings to buy)
Illumination source = Battery-powered LED
Illumination settings = 11 visible, 3 night vision
Reticle = Dual-thickness crosshair with Rapid Aiming Feature and range finder
Eye Relief = 66 mm Field of View = 6 degrees Exit Pupil = 8 mm
Fixed Focus Range = 20 m to infinity – I have found 10 yrds to be the min distance
Battery Type = CR 123 (3v Lithium)
Battery Life = 3.1 years average – (who knows, I never use illumination)
Exterior Finish = Black anodized aluminum

Ballistic calibration
Model A = 5.56 NATO (in reticle)
Model B = 100m-600m external adjustment for 5.56 or 7.62 NATO (others available) – model tested
Adjustment resolution = 0.5 minute of angle
Adjustment range = 120 minutes of angle (9MOA windage, 19MOA elevation with turret covers in place)
Base requirement = Mil-Std-1913 ‘Picatinny Rail’or AR15/M16 carry handle
Attachment = Single wing nut with return-to-zero repeatability – never really checked this.

Environmental
Waterproof = 66 ft for 2 hours min – (yeah, not tested)
Shockproof = 450 g’s (good for 1m drop on concrete at least, opps. Trust me)
Options = Rubber bumpers, Mil-Std-1913 rails, lens covers, ARD (len’s covers? yeah not so much)

Cost
Doing a quick Google search I have fund pricing in Canada to be generally around $1,100 for the A model (no adjustable turrents) and $1,200 for the B model being reviewed. My scope as actually second hand when I got in through a private sale so I only paid $800.

Using the scope

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Mounting the scope is pretty simple. There is a single thumb screw that secures the optic to the picatiny rail on top of the rifle. Eye relief is on the short side so the optic needs to be mounted well to the rear. For some people this will be an issue because they can’t mount a rear BUIS sight in the optimal location to provide the longest possible sight radius and thus most accuracy. In my mind that is not a real issue because a Back Up Iron Sight is just that, a BACK UP! It’s not a primary sighting system. It likely will never be used. If havening an iron sight mounted at the back of the rifle is a primary consideration for your primary sight stop reading, this isn’t the sight for you. As you can see in the pictures above, I have mounted a BUIS in front of the optic. If it ever goes down, I can quickly remove the optic and flip up the Troy rear sight (that came with the SA20). I zeroed this for 25 yrds several years ago and, well, have never bothered to go back the re-check it. I also shoot competitively, not in life or death situations. Honestly if the BUIS I have didn’t come with the rifle, I wouldn’t have one on the rifle.

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Okay so back to the scope being reviewed. As said above, a single thumb screw locks the optic to the rail. The manual says to not use any tools and the screw inside the thumb not is shaped to discourage use of a screw driver. When I initially started using this scope in it was mounted to a DPMS rifle and I do not recall the thumb screw backing off at all. With my SA20, I have to check the screw every once in a while. I occasionally find that it needs a little bit of tightening, say 1-16th of a turn or so. I’ve never traced this back to any inaccuracy downrange but an honest review needs to mention it.
Return to zero? Yeah I have not checked that. I’m just a bit lazy that way. I figure no matter what, once I take the optic off I will have to re-zero it no matter what and I’m lazy that way. I’ve never been one to understand the want to be able to switch out optics for different uses. I’d rather just have different rifles personally. I suppose it may make sense for “TEIR 1 – special operators” but I am not one of those. I would also expect that those types would have the budget to just have different uppers or complete rifles that are mission specific. They probably check their zero before being deployed as well.
As far as holding zero, as long as I am using consistent ammunition, once I confirm zero at the start of the season I don’t have to re-zero it as I go along. Consistent ammunition is a key here. 55 gn, 62gn and 68gn all hit to different points of aim from the same rifle just based on barrel harmonics. If you are going to be switching between ammo types you should expect to have to re-zero your sights if you are expecting to hit with a relatively high degree of accuracy (say 2MOA) in my opinion. YMMV.
I have found the scope to be able to reliably hold zero throughout a shooting season. It’s not something I worry about which in itself is confidence inspiring. I have another scope, on a different rifle that I can’t say the same for. I defiantly have less confidence in that optic from a competition perspective.

Sight Adjustments

I’m a dial spinner. I have gotten used to dialing in adjustments for distance and windage. It just makes sense to me. Trying to remember which line or dot to hold on for varying distance has not worked for me in the past. I tend to fall back on holding the middle of the reticle on the target. So for me at least, having external adjustments works well. This feature is actually unique to this particular Elcan offering. All of the other Elcan scopes have no adjustment internal to the scope itself. Instead the base is adjustable for windage and elevation. I have zero experience with this system so I can’t comment. For the shooters who are used to it, it works well (Canadian Forces come to mind). For me, having a scope with relatively conventional adjustment turrets is just simple.

Both windage and elevation are in 0.5 MOA increments. To zero, take off the turret covers and adjust as necessary to centre the group at 100 yds. Then put on the covers. They are held in place on the actually adjustment dial by two set screws turned with a hex key.

The windage is marked in MOA left and right of centre with a stop. You get 9.5 MOA of adjustment with the covers in place (there are stops on the turret to prevent you continuing to turn and add windage past this). I’ve yet to need more than that adjustment but I don’t shoot long distance (over 500m) very often. I will comment that the windage dial on my particular example is not quite as tactile as I would like. I prefer to feel the adjustment “clicks” rather than relying on just seeing them.

Elevation adjustments on my sample are positive however. With the zero stop turret cover in place, you get 19 MOA total vertical adjustment from the 100m zero stop. According to the range markings on the cover, this is good to get the shooter out to 650m using 62gn Nato ammo. I’ve found this to be generally true. The range adjustments work pretty well to 500m at least though I sometimes have to add or subtract a couple of clicks to deal with environmental factors (temperature, humidity). That is physics though, not the scopes fault. Having the ability to add or subtract a couple of MOA from a distance setting is another advantage over a BDC reticle in my mind. One limitation here is that the 100m zero stop is a hard stop. You cannot turn the elevation dial down below this to help account for different ammo say. Other optic zero stops actually have a bit of give here (Vortex comes to mind) based on the way the zero stop is set using shims or washers.

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Note: small silver rod limits the travel of the turret cap by engaging the small nub inside the bottom of the cap
A note here for context – The type of shooting competitions I am involved in most (Service Rifle) involve firing at silhouette targets from fixed, known distance firing positions under time limits. There is ample time to dial in elevation for distance before we start shooting, even when moving from one mount to the next. The targets themselves have a 3 MOA +/- centre circle for full points value and a 1.5 MOA centre “V” used for tie breaking. Being able to centre your group on that target pays point dividends. If the type of shooting you are doing varies from this, say shooting as fast as you can or with any hit on the silhouette counting the same (like knocking down steel) then being able to centre your group exactly may not matter is much and BDC reticles such as provided in the A model may be better suited.

A valid question for elevation and windage adjustments is “are they true and repeatable?”. In my experience this scope does have true and repeatable adjustments. I may have run a box test at one point (shoot a group, add elevation- shoot, add windage – shoot, subtract previous elevation – shoot, subtract previous windage shoot. Final group should back on top of first group and each group should form the corners of a square) but if I did I can’t find record of it. However consistently over the three shooting seasons I have used the scope all my adjustments have been right on in terms of moving the centre of the group where the dial said it should move (usually that has been where I intended, but if I dial on left windage when I meant to dial on right – it ain’t the scopes fault).
Just the other week I was at the range shooting a postal match at 100 yards. I was using a 68gn load where the scope had last been zeroed with 62gn. My rounds hit 3 MOA high. Slip off the elevation cap, dial down 6 clicks and bang on for elevation.

A concern some users have about having adjustments that they can finger adjust is having them bumped inadvertently. The turrets are actually pretty stiff to move and the caps themselves are kind of rounded. Moving them takes conscious effort and pretty firm grip. The caps are partially shielded by the rubber bumpers bolted on the side of the scope too. For my usage, I have never found them to be moved on their own but I pretty much shoot in the relatively sanitary environment of a range so the chance of rubbing up against something that could move the turrets is limited. A quick look at the turret position can confirm they are in the position you intend and because they are zero stop it is easy to return them to their start point. You can’t get a full turn off and thus get lost like with non-zero stop turrets.

100m zero? But I zero my sights at (25, 33, 50 yds/m)
Many shooters like to have zero other than 100yds or metres for close range shooting. For the 5.56 in an AR type platform (where the bore and buttstock are in line vertically) the 100 yrd base zero works really well because all of your adjustments for distance (close or far) are up. Adjust for 200, 300, 400 etc logically you adjust the elevation dial up. Same thing for short distance. Beside Service Rifle, I shoot Service CQB frequently as well. This involves shooting from 10-35 yds and the various zeros for each distance are all upward from the 100 yrd base zero. I keep a chart on the side of the scope that has my close range zeros. By dialing the adjustments, I can always just hold for the middle. I’ve done this with other scopes as well so it’s not a function specific to this Elcan. Physics and trigonometry governs here, not the sighting system.

However, I do find the OS3 bumpers to be really useful for mounting a range chart. They are mounted to the body of the scope with a pair of hex head screws. Easy to take on and off. I printed out a chart for close range and laminated it. Then I cut the chart to fit the space between two bumpers and left a tab that I tuck under between the two screws. The just tighten them down and my chart stays in place. My chart is shown here. You will note that I have both clicks and distance marked. The distance markings correspond to the range markings on the turret caps and have been accurate enough for my use. By noting the clicks however, I know the MOA change for each distance that I can apply to other optics that I am using or other users who need to know.

 

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Glass and Reticle

Elcan glass is, well, Elcan glass. Pretty darn fantastic to me and I have never read anything to the contrary. Apparently some Canadian forces scopes have started to show wear but hey, glass gets scratch and military users USE their equipment, they don’t baby it. Edge to edge clarity is great with no distortion at the outer limits. Colors transmit true I think. Being colour blind I am not the best to judge.

The OS3 features an illuminated etched reticle. It’s always there and does not depend on batteries. Illuminated or not it is crisp to view. I have astigmatism and I find dots to really be indistinct blotches of light. I could learn to live with that I suppose but for now I prefer the crisp edges of an etched reticle. There are lots of options for this.
Below left is the B model reticle. The A model with BDC is shown on the right. It has hash marks for elevation out to 800 m. The B model does not have range calibrated markings, rather mil dots at 18MOA spacing. Why 18MOA? I have no idea. I tried getting information from Armament technologies about this but no response.

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The only way I know it’s 18MOA is that is what I found by shooting it. Using the nearest dot, the group centre was 18 inches from the aim point at 100 yards. The manual does not discuss the reason for the spacing of the dots either.

Consistant between each reticle is the range finder in the lower left. This corresponds to a 30 inch sustention. For military use this is roughly equivalent to the distance from waist to top of helmet of an average human. Best fit the 30in high target between the lines and read the distance off. For my use at known fixed distances this has no practical purpose. However if I were shooting at 30in high targets at unknown distance this would be valuable. There are competitive environments where this makes sense and the use for martial purposes is pretty self-evident.
Also consistent between the two reticles are the “fingers” at 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock. Elcan calls this the “Rapid Aiming Feature” which is intended to allow for quick target acquisition when required without sacrificing the precise aiming capabilities of the central cross hair. This makes sense in theory but my experience with quick snap shooting in a dynamic environment (say 3-gun) is limited so I cannot comment.

Field of View

Elcan states the field of view is 6 degrees. I’ve never checked. I’ve always found it ample for the type of shooting I normally do. The only time I’ve found it to be limiting is in transitioning rapidly between widely spaced targets. This is something I hope to work more with in the future however. I really need to force myself to shoot with two eyes open more often so that I take better advantage of the Rapid aiming marks and I am not so limited by the tunnel vision of the sight.

Illumination

The illumination dial is a glove friendly interface at the back of the optic. It has 14 settings (3 night vision, 11 visible. My battery may be getting weak as I have to turn the dial 8 times to see any light). It’s not really a feature I’ve had use for. For the purpose of the competitive shooting I have done, illumination is not really needed nor is this scope daylight bright. No worries, as long as you can see your cross hair against your target you can aim. When the illumination is turned on, the cross hairs are illuminated as well as the tips of the “fingers”.

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Note on the picture: The illumination appears to “bloom” in the photo. In fact this is not the case, the reticle stays very crisp, just glowing red. Kind of like Vader’s light saber (yeah, Starwars reference – get over it)

Magnification

This scope is simple and straight forward, fixed magnification. Nominally 3X, specifically listed at 3.1X. Slightly less than the 3.4X of the more famous C79 scope used by the Canadian forces. This user group has been using their 3X scopes since the early-min 90’s including an extensive length of service in Afghanistan. It seems to be a useful magnification range.

There is not worry of varying zero as you adjust magnification. Similarly ranging features and BDC (A model) are always true vs being correct only for one magnification. There is only one magnification to use.

Between Service CQB, SR and Precision I have used this scope to shoot at targets from 10 to 800 yards. Provided the right light and a sufficiently sized (man sized) targets it’s enough magnification to centre the target. No, it’s not enough to identify friend or foe, or pic the right eye from the left but it will getyou reasonably on target using a modern sporting rifle with average accuracy.
Shooting at CQB distances the magnification pays dividends. At 35 and 25 yards it’s possible to see 5.56mm holes in the target and make corrections if needed. At 10 yards I can still clearly resolve the smallest target box on a Figure 11 target. I’ve also used this scope at a Project Appleseed event in the US where all shooting was done at 25m. Similar results, it was easy to see my hits at make corrections if needed or verify that that last shot the felt good, really was good.

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Accessories

The Elcan accessory list posted above is, well, wrong. I have yet to find flip covers for this scope and given the design of the body I can’t see how you could fit them regardless. Even if you did, they rear cover would obscure the adjustment dials or block peripheral vision on the left side of scope. Probably more trouble than they are worth.
A kill flash is available for the ocular lens. From a martial sense these have a use but I don’t shoot on a two way range and have no enemy to detect my presence from light reflected off my scope. I’ll skip it for my purposes.
The scope comes with two rubber bumpers and a space for a third. After I got the scope I contacted Armament Technologies and they sent me out a third with screws. It seemed only to make sense to have all three. For protecting the scope, they work. When I got my current rifle and switched the scope to it at the range I did mistake and let the optic roll off the waist high shooting bench onto the concrete floor. (words got blue at that point) The end result was no damage to appearance or function. My relief was audible. I’m an armature shooter with a wife, two kids and a mortgage. Tossing $800-1,200 away on breaking an optic would not be a small thing for me.

So, for protecting the scope from impact the bumpers work….but they are shaped funny. Like accessory rails. Why Elcan decided to go this route is beyond me. Being able to mount an accessory optic like a micro red dot would make sense but I’m not really included to do this on a rubber mount. Seems like it’s zero would be fairly random. Similarly something really mall ninja like lights or aiming lasers would not seem to benefit from rubber mounting rails. Now it would seem logical to manufacture aluminum mounting rails to replace the rubber for mounting accessories if desired, but then you lose the benefit of the shock absorbing rubber. It would all depend on what the user wanted I guess. One aluminum rail on top for a micro RDS with side rubber would be a decent compromise in my opinion. That being said, the rapid aiming fingers are supposed to do the job for snap shooting and aiming with both eyes open would open up peripheral vision such that the net benefit of a top mounted RDS would be pretty limited I think. I’ve also been wrong before so the reader’s mileage may vary.

End Result

So this review has been completed in January 2016. I’ve had the scope since November 2012. Over the past three years it has been pretty much my exclusive competition optic for the AR platform shooting 223/5.56 ammunition. I’ve shot it in the cold (-20C), the heat (+40C with humidity) at close distances and far at ranges across Ontario, New Brunswick and Michigan. I have total confidence in this optic. It has proven time and again to give a clear view of the target, to hold zero over extended periods of time and have true and repeatable adjustments. I don’t worry about this scope at all. When I settle behind it I give a quick look to make sure that dials are where I intend them for distance and wind. Then I focus on breathing and breaking the shot when the cross hair is centred on the target. I don’t worry about the optic being out of adjustment or zero wandering. The only limitation I can think of is close distance rapid transitions between widely spaced targets. It’s not going to outperform an RDS or Eotech in those regards…but then if I would just learn to shoot with two eyes open that may not be a factor either. It’s also not a limitation to this specific scope, but rather an issue with any fixed 3X optical sight.

Should you, the reader be considering this optic for your rifle? Well that depends on a lot of things. What is your budget? What is your intended use? I’ve tried here to give context to how I have used the scope and it certainly has excelled in my particular applications. It will be up to you to judge if this optic is something that would suit your needs.

Just so we are clear though. Mine is not for sale.

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