The ELCAN Specter DR 1-4x is a switch-power prism riflescope that looks like a love child between Sigourney Weaver’s Alien and a steampunk bullet train.
ELCAN is based out of Ontario, Canada, and is part of the Precision Weapons division of $25 billion technology juggernaut Raytheon. The Specter DR 1-4x is in the inventory of most NATO countries and is preferred by many users over the ACOG, Aimpoint or EOTech weapon sighting systems.
The Specter DR 1-4x tested in this article is the recently updated version with lighter weight, a lower-profile illumination switch and a 50 percent increase in battery life—due to the change to a CR2032 battery. The color is Flat Dark Earth, and it has the 7.62 reticle. It is submersible for two hours at 66 feet.
This riflescope came with a removeable kill-flash and excellent Tenebraex flip caps. A friend’s PTR 91 was a fitting platform for this optic.
INSTANT SWITCH CAPABILITY
The most remarkable attribute of the Specter DR is the DR. “DR” means “dual role.” That’s because you can instantly switch from a 1x CQB sight to a midrange 4x sight with the flip of a lever. No intermediate magnification settings are available between those two magnifications.
Initially, such an attribute might seem a bit unsure and hokey, but when you have the sight on your rifle and you deploy the lever, you feel this is a well-made, quality product that does what it is designed to do: play dual roles—close and midrange.
The lever has a throw of about 2.5 inches and has a spring-loaded lock on both ends of travel. Mechanically unlock the lever by pushing down about 3/16 of an inch and smoothly slide it in the opposite direction until it locks into place. You can also accomplish this silently by easing the lever into its place.
Looking into the objective of the scope while turning the lever allows the unique view of the two prisms changing position. This is a second plane riflescope, and the reticle does not change sizes while switching magnifications. The reticle has its own place and is not related to the movement of the prisms. There is no change in impact, regardless of what power you are on.
Another remarkable attribute of the Specter DR is that the elevation and windage controls are not in the scope body but outside of it. The sight’s mechanical adjustments are controlled by the elevation and azimuth zeroing mechanisms in the A.R.M.S. mount itself. There can be some movement when it gets banged around, but the anti-backlash springs ensure the optic always returns to zero. The overall appearance of the adjustment mechanism is impressive in its simplicity and sturdiness … and it looks like nothing else.
Clicks are listed at ½ MOA. The elevation wheel has a lock on it that must be disengaged before attempting to rotate. A bullet tip will do. There’s 60 MOA of adjustment available.
The 32mm lens allows for a gaping 8mm exit pupil, providing as much light as a pupil can accept. Your eye cannot see a brighter picture. Eye relief is truly a constant 2.76 inches. No change in head position is needed when switching from 1x to 4x. The optic lens quality is excellent.
The reticle illumination with the CR2032 battery can last up to 1,730 hours, and the large dial allows you to use gloved hands to manipulate it. There are two reticle
illumination modes to choose from. One is a red dot in the center of the crosshairs; the other is a range-estimating and drop-compensation reticle. There are five brightness settings for the dot and five for the stadia line reticle. Two settings on each are for use with night vision. The Specter DR was designed for use with the AN/PVS-22 in mind.
At 1x, the wide field of view and the illuminated dot are as fast as any other 1x or reflex sight used with both eyes open. For emergency defensive use or during severe rain, there is an integrated front and rear sight on top of the optical housing (yep, backup iron sights that can be replaced or slightly repositioned). The sights are parallel to the sight optical axis and do not require separate zeroing.
The VSOR rangefinder in the lower left of your sight picture allows you to estimate the distance of known targets. Match the lines to a known 30-inch target. Then, use the ballistically compensated stadia lines in your reticle to aim.
“The Specter DR is a voluptuous, go-fast tank of an optic that takes “dual role” to the most compact and simple level.”
I wish the sight had an auto-off, and I would prefer if the illumination positions had more-tactile and positive detents.
Nevertheless, the Specter DR is a voluptuous, go-fast tank of an optic that takes “dual role” to the most compact and simple level. It does dual role arguably better than an ACOG with an RMR on top or an Aimpoint or EOTech with a flip-to-side magnifier. It compares well to a low-magnification, variablepowered riflescope, because when using one, you usually use the highest and lowest powers of the optic only.
When you make that cost comparison, the street price of around $2,350 for the Specter DR 1-4 seems a bit more reasonable.
Magnification: 1x or 4x
Field of View: 26 degrees @ 1x/6.5 degrees @ 4x
Objective Diameter: 32mm
Eye Relief: 2.76 inches
Optical Axis Height: 39mm
Zeroing Range: 60 MOA
Weight: 23.6 ounces
Dimensions: 6.8 L x 2.8 W x 2.8 H inches
Armament Technology Incorporated (master distributors for ELCAN)
Steven K. Ledin is a former U.S. Navy nuclear gunner’s mate and current director of a prominent online optics retailer. He’s a CCW and NRA instructor and has been a sponsored competitive shooter and private investigator. He has hunted (and gotten lost) from Alaska to Africa.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.