Most reading this have seen some crazy and almost painful to witness “torture” tests on various weapons and gear. Firearms, optics, and other accessories pushed past the point of failure. It makes for good reading, especially when it’s not your gear getting the beat down. There is another purpose served here, though, if you can see it. Allow me to demonstrate with the Primary Arms SLx 1x Microprism and Rise Armament Watchmen.
Torture Testing the Primary Arms SLx 1x Microprism and RISE Armament Watchmen
I’ve done a multitude of different torture/endurance tests on various firearms, optics and other firearms-related accessories. This started when I was a much younger deputy sheriff and was all in an attempt to see which “equipment” I could depend upon with my life. I must have trust issues because it was more of a need to see for myself.
Being that I was once a young, dumb Private E-1 Paratrooper, introducing Mr. Murphy into any given situation has been made into an art form. If a piece of equipment can survive that kind of punishment, it should be just fine for general issue.
For example, I once tortured a Krebs Custom PD-18 AK Pistol so badly that I dented the handguard, dustcover, and pistol brace, and I needed a file to remove all of the sharp metal burs. Every part of that testing process was legit, though. That AK still shoots today as it did on day one. Something to be said about Krebs Custom and their AKs.
Then there was the Primary Arms 3x Prism Scope (with ACSS reticle) that I just couldn’t kill regardless of the abuse. So, it found its way into a microwave for an improvised EMP test. Nobody expected the electronics to still work, but I was morbidly curious to see if the glass would cloud up and fog.
It didn’t, and in the end, the reticle being etched would have allowed its user to still engage in the fight. Therefore, the testing process was sound. Both torture test articles can be found in previous issues of Athlon Outdoors’ Combat Handguns and Tactical Life magazines.
Enter The Cyclops
Fast forward to today. I heard all of this hype about the new Primary Arms SLx 1x Cyclops Microprism Scope and knew I needed one for testing. Etched into the glass is the Gen 2 Cyclops (Advanced Combined Sighting System). It’s smaller than the original Cyclops prism scope and, according to Primary Arms, 20 percent lighter as well.
One can’t argue with 13 different daylight and three night vision illumination settings. The new PA Cyclops Microprism boasts a 20K-hour battery life using a single CR2023 watch-type battery. Correspondingly, it has what PA calls its “AutoLive” motion on/off battery sensing technology. This allows the user to leave the optic on a preferred setting and set the weapon down.
The optic will power itself down on its own, and as soon as it senses motion (grabbing said firearm), it turns itself on for instant use. Basically, it’s off, and by the time you bring your weapon up to your shoulder, the reticle is on and waiting for you to do your thing.
It’s shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof and comes with a bikini-type lens cover. MSRP is currently $250, and it is worth every penny, in my humble opinion. Red and green reticles are the offerings available for this little demon. To know more, just head over to the Primary Arms website and grab yourself a quick education.
A small sidenote, the PA SLx Microprism with illuminated Cyclops reticle has been thoroughly tested and vetted by the National Training Officers Association. That’s a huge, ringing endorsement, as that just gave a green light for police agencies everywhere to equip their officers with this optic on their patrol rifles. If our nation’s law enforcement sheepdogs are willing to trust it with their lives, so can you. I took it a step further.
Giving It The Business
Keeping this test as realistic as possible, I chose to mount the PA SLx Microprism to a rifle that I already know is sub-MOA and can take a beating (prior test). I chose the mighty Watchman LE (AR-15) from Rise Armament. It’s one of my all-time favorite direct impingement ARs ever made, and I trust it with my life.
To get things started, the SLx Microprism needed to be zeroed. I used a basic Federal American Eagle 55-grain FMJ load at 25 yards, confirming zero after each and every test.
Test #1 – A Sound Jostling
Placing the Rise Armament/PA Microprism in my truck bed, I headed out on the trails at a nearby farm. Taking hard turns and hitting moguls served to bounce the rifle and optic all over the place.
Back in the early days of AR-15 patrol rifles, the policy was to keep the rifle in the patrol car trunk. This is because it didn’t fit in the shotgun rack. One worry back then was if the optic would handle keeping zero when bouncing around on those ungraded dirt roads, fields, Mid-Western potholes and anywhere else duty took us.
I took it to the extreme with this test. The RA Watchman LE/PA SLx Microprism handled like a champ and held its zero just fine.
Test #2 – Cartwheel Test
This reminded me once of seeing a new paratrooper who dropped his M16A2 as he was getting in the back of a departing deuce and a half. So, I went out onto an old asphalt farm road for this one.
The rifle with optic was placed on the edge of an open truck tailgate. I slowly got up to approximately 25-30 mph when I hit the pedal and cut the wheel back and forth. It almost hurt watching the rifle slide off the tailgate and go cartwheeling and flipping around down the road.
What was left of the nice finish on that Watchman LE is now gone. It’s going to need a file and rasp before a new paint job. Part of the housing for the elevation adjustment on the PA Microprism lost its finish and was scraped up. I thought for sure the zero was gone. Well, think again, as the PA SLx Microprism held its zero just fine. On to the next beating.
Test #3 – Drop Test
I held the scoped rifle approximately 8 feet in the air and dropped it onto a solid concrete pad. This simulated accidentally dropping a rifle while climbing a tall fence or wall or any similar situation. Will you have optic-related problems?
Not the RA Watchman LE/PA SLx Microprism combo. Aside from some of the finish missing, the pre-established zero was still intact. There was still no shift in pre-established zero noted.
Test #4 – Freeze Test
The RA Watchman LE and PA Microprism were placed into a deep freezer with a temperature below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Literally, the whole rifle with optic attached was dropped into my deep freezer with the remainder of a cow. I left it there for just over 24 hours.
Some may ask, “WHY?” That’s an easy one. I was stationed in Alaska many, many moons ago and saw our M16A2 “Jamomatics” fail in harsh arctic conditions. That ought to be enough to ruin an optic that has already been put through hell.
The next day, I quickly took the rifle and Microprism out of the freezer, and the reticle was shining bright red and ready for duty. So was the RA Watchman LE. Immediately, it was placed into my trusty Kopfjager carbon-fiber tripod with Reaper Grip to launch a few freedom seeds. The Watchman LE from Rise Armament fired flawlessly, and the pre-established zero on the optic was just fine. There was no shift or change in POA/POI.
Test #5 – Block of Ice
This involved actually removing the PA SLx Microprism from the RA Watchman LE and placing the optic in a bowl of water. The bowl then went back into the deep freezer. After almost 48 hours, it was time to free this optic from the block of ice.
The reason behind this was to find out if the pressure of the water freezing could find its way inside of the optic and short it out. Not a chance. It was mounted in the exact same spot on the rail, and I hit POA/POI—no shift was noticed. This is even with it being in simulated arctic conditions.
Test #6 – Driving Over the PA SLx 1x Microprism and RISE Watchmen
The PA SLx Microprism and RA Watchman LE were placed on a medium-packed dirt and gravel country driveway. Then I took my truck with oversized 285/70/17-inch AT tires and ran them both over. To add insult to injury, I put my truck in reverse and went back over them again.
Then it was back into the Kopfjäger tripod to see how the pre-established zero was. I thought for sure this would have altered or completely shifted it. Much to my surprise, not a thing changed. Everything was just as it was when I started the testing process. Only much dirtier and in some serious need of a metal file to remove the burrs.
On a sidenote, all of the Magpul-equipped furniture on the RA Watchman LE made it out just fine as well. So, kudos to Magpul for making kickass furniture.
The Watchman LE Patrol Rifle from Rise Armament and SLx 1x Microprism with ACSS Cyclops Gen 2 Reticle from Primary Arms handled this beat down test without so much as breaking a sweat. This just goes to show you how Primary Arms has stepped up their game to compete with the big boys like Aimpoint, Trijicon and Eotech.
There never was a doubt in my mind about the Rise Armament Watchman LE patrol rifle. Especially since I’ve previously treated it like a possessed red-headed stepchild. The Advanced Combined Sighting System (ACSS) reticles make shooting at distance stupid simple. The Rise Armament Watchman LE is the direct impingement AR to have.
If you’re a copper that has to supply their own patrol rifle or your department wants to issue you the dreaded Mattel/Colt M16A1, then this is the optic and rifle combo to have with you on duty.
If you need an AR for personal defense because the zombie sheep are everywhere, everything around you is on fire, and it’s a life-or-death situation, this rifle/optic combo is where it’s at. Buy them both with extreme confidence and know that you’ll have the best optically equipped boom stick on the block. Enjoy!
This article originally appeared in May-June 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy or digital subscription at OutdoorGroupStore.com.