Hands-On: Primary Arms 1-6x Scope Review

primary arms 1-6x

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Low power variable optics are awesome. The ability to go from a true one-power magnification all the way up to 6x is a range that is wide enough to cover so many different situations. If you shoot 3-gun competitions or are looking for a versatile scope for home defense, hunting, or even a duty rifle, an LPVO might be the way to go.

The SLx 1-6x24mm is an LPVO made by Primary Arms to meet the same niches that LPVOs typically appeal to. In this article, I’ll go over my thoughts and impressions on the SLx 1-6x24, what I think it works well for, and what I think it struggles with. No scope is perfect, so let’s dig into the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24.

We’re talking specifically about the SFP Gen III model with the illuminated ACSS reticle. There are other versions of the 1-6x so make sure we’re talking about what you’re looking for.

Primary Arms 1-6x Riflescope Review Summary - If You’re Short on Time

The SLx is an awesome riflescope, especially for the price. It stands toe-to-toe with the Vortex Strike Eagle for an even lower price, and if any LPVO will work in your situation, then the Primary Arms 1-6x is a safe bet. The ACSS reticle can be a turn off for some shooters, so you’ll want to make sure you’re aware of it and learn how to use it if you want to purchase the SLx.

Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm

Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm

The price of Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm varies, so check the latest price at

It’s not made of the strongest aluminum, but it’s strong enough and will stand up to the recoil of most small and medium bore rifles. The image brightness really takes a hit when you zoom in to 6x, which is expected to a degree but could certainly be better than it is. Overall, it’s a fantastic, usable scope for 3-gun matches, hunting, and defense.

A number of small improvements were made over the 1-6x Gen II. Keep reading to get all the details on what is great and not-so-great about the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x.

Our Review of the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm SFP Riflescope Gen III

primary arms 1 6x scope

What It’s Designed For

This scope is intended for 3-gun competitions, hunting, and defense. It is also designed with law enforcement and potentially military use in mind. LPVOs in general are designed for what most of us would consider everyday shooting; usually under 200 yards, definitely under 300, and often close range. They pair well with a carbine, but can also work with a longer rifle.

Not all LPVOs go all the way down to true 1x which makes the SLx specifically a good fit for CQB and 3-gun competitions.

Is It Good? Why?

Overall, the SLx is a good scope for what it’s intended for. The zoom range is flexible and the ACSS etched reticle makes estimating holdovers for longer shots a lot easier than it usually is low magnification. Some shooters may not like the design of the ACSS reticle, but I find it to be fairly easy to use and helpful.

There are two main things that make the SLx not as good as it could have been. First, it’s constructed out of 6063 aluminum, which isn’t (strictly speaking) aircraft-grade, so it’s not going to stand up to the same punishment as some other scopes, and the image quality isn’t at the head of the pack either. The image gets dramatically darker when you get to 6x.

A dip in brightness is expected as you increase magnification, but the drop on the SLx is more severe than you see on a similar scope like the Strike Eagle. Overall, though, you can still see fine in good lighting conditions and the scope should be able to handle the recoil of most small and medium-bore rifles.

What’s In the Package?

The only thing in the box is the scope itself, along with a little user manual and a lens cloth. You can purchase a scope mount or a throw lever for the magnification ring separately on the PA website if you want, but if you just purchase the scope you’ll need to get all the mounting hardware elsewhere.

Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm

Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm

The price of Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm varies, so check the latest price at

Design and Features

The ACSS (Advanced Combined Sighting System) Reticle

The ACSS reticle is pretty sweet, once you learn how to use it. In the middle is a chevron with a horseshoe around it. For close-range shots, you can just put the target inside the horseshoe and you’ll most likely get a hit, and for longer shots or ones that you can take a little more time for, you can put the tip of the chevron where your aimpoint needs to be.

But that’s only the beginning. You can use the horseshoe to do a target lead, use the BDC (bullet drop compensation) ladder underneath the horseshoe to estimate holdovers out to 800 yards, wind holds up to 8 miles per hour, and the rangefinder on the right-hand side for range estimation based on how large a 5’10” person appears.

Last but not least, you can also use the two large black dots to estimate a target lead for faster-moving targets.

The main portion of the reticle is illuminated, which maintains a lot of the functionality even in low-light situations, and you have 11 brightness settings.

The reticle is a second focal plane, which means that the BDC reticle and the rangefinder is only accurate at 6x. Considering you only use those features for shots beyond 100 yards, in which you probably want the 6x magnification anyway, this is not a big deal. In fact, a first focal plane (FFP) reticle would probably need to be so small at 1x magnification that it would be difficult to use.

Build Quality

The SLx 1-6x scope is built with a single piece 30mm tube out of 6063 aluminum. 6063 aluminum is tough and strong, but it’s not what most people mean when they say “aircraft-grade”. 

The SLx can handle recoil just fine and it should stand up passably well to normal abuse, but if I had to guess whether it would survive long enough for me to pass it on to my children...I’d say no.

primary arms 1-6 scope

The basics are all there; the anodized matte black hardcoat, shockproofing, etc. It’s waterproof and fog-proof, weighs just over a pound and is only 10 inches long, which makes it fairly compact and easy to maneuver. It’s not going to survive a nuclear blast but it should handle normal situations just fine.

Primary Arms also offers a lifetime warranty, which should take good care of you if something does happen to the scope. Overall, I felt like the build quality was fine, and worst-case scenario you can always take advantage of the warranty.

Image Quality

Image quality is good but not great. The image is plenty bright at 1x, but it’s not the sharpest and the colors aren’t as nice as they could be. As you zoom in to 6x, I didn’t notice a drop in sharpness (if anything it gets sharper as it zooms in), or a shift in the colors, but the brightness goes way down.

It wasn’t so bad that it becomes unusable or anything, but the drop was noticeably lower than other scopes at 6x. It’s possible that the one I used was faulty, but it wasn’t bad enough for that to be likely, in my opinion. The reticle gets really bright and is absolutely usable in daylight if you want red instead of black.

General Performance

The adjustment clicks for windage and elevation are .5 MOA and work well. They’re solid, smooth, and seem to work exactly as they’re supposed to. The scope does really well at long range, largely thanks to the ACSS reticle, which you can use for holdovers specifically with 5.56, 5.45, and .308 ammo.

You can use the reticles for estimating bullet drop and windage for other calibers as well, they just won’t be as accurate. The illumination takes a CR2032 battery type, and the scope ships with one included as well as having a second one tucked away inside the windage turret cap.

primary arms 1-6 acss review

Eye relief is pretty standard for this range and is between 3.5 and 3.3 inches. That’s close enough that you often don’t have to shift your stance even when you go all the way from 1x to 6x, which makes target acquisition lightning fast. At close ranges the parallax is pretty noticeable, but other than that it behaves much like a red dot.

The eye box is more forgiving at 1x than 6x, as you might expect, but with the parallax fixed at 100 yards, most of the time you’ll want to be locked into place as consistently as possible. The same will be true of any scope with fixed parallax. Your field of view at 100 yards is between 110 feet at 1x and 19.3 feet at 6x.

Considering that this is a high-quality scope at a price-point a fraction of a Leupold or Trijicon, it’s hard to think of an option that gives you more bang for your buck.

Adjusting Zoom

Moving through the zoom range is quick and smooth, with no visible breathing or other issues. Going from a 25-yard target to a 100-yard target is almost as fast as going between two targets at the same distance. Overall, very impressive performance, especially considering how much cheaper this scope is compared to others in its same class.

Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • ACSS reticle
  • Red illumination with 11 brightness settings
  • True one-power
  • Shockproof, waterproof, and fog-proof

Cons:

  • Brightness drops noticeably at 6x
  • No parallax adjustment (not a big deal)
  • Not as strong of an aluminum alloy as some other scopes

If you’re convinced that it’s time to pick up the SLx 1-6x for yourself, you can do that by heading over to the Primary Arms website.

Alternative 

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24

The Vortex Strike Eagle is the most often-compared scope to the SLx 1-6x24mm, and for good reason. They are similar in purpose and design, and they’re even relatively close in price. The Vortex is more expensive, and the illuminated reticle is not as tacticool, but it’s built with aircraft-grade aluminum and the image quality is superb.

The image is razor sharp at all magnification levels and while the brightness does go down a little bit, especially between 4x and 6x, it doesn’t dip nearly as much as the SLx does, so if you’re planning on shooting a lot at 6x, especially in low-light situations, then the Strike Eagle is worth considering as an alternative.

There is also a 1-8x scope version of the Strike Eagle, that is almost identical to the 1-6x version.

The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm

The price of Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm varies, so check the latest price at

Want to know more about that scope? Check out our detailed vortex strike eagle 1-6x24mm review.

Conclusion

So let’s do a quick recap: The great things about the SLx are the ACSS reticle with the red illumination, opening up all the way to one-power while still giving clear, sharp imagery at 6x, and being fantastically affordable for the quality that you’re getting.

The drawbacks are some aspects of the image quality are lacking and it may not be quite as indestructible as something like the Vortex. I would say for most shooters who are looking at the 1-6x range, the SLx is a good choice unless you know you’ll be doing a lot of shooting in low-light conditions at 6x magnification, in which case you’ll want to look at something else.

If you’ve used the SLx or the Strike Eagle, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with them in the comments. If you are in the market to pick one of these up, you can grab the SLx at the Primary Arms website, or pick up the Strike Eagle at Amazon or Optics Planet.

Looking for more scope options for 1-6x magnification, then check out our guide on best 1-6x scopes

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