Tavor Optic Quest Continues – ELCAN SpecterDR

My quest for the perfect optic for my Tavor continues. So far I’ve not been happy with anything I’ve tried and I’ve tried most of the popular high-end solutions. This includes the EOTech EXPS-2, EOTech 512, Aimpoint T1 Micro, Aimpoint Comp M4, Hi-Lux CMR, Trijicon ACOG and even a Aimpoint PRO. Each of these sights are outstanding sights, but I’m not going to settle for anything but the best this time around. What am I defining as the best? Here’s a few things I would like to have in an optic.

The SpecterDR is a big sight, but it has most of the features I'm looking for in an optic.

The SpecterDR is a big sight, but it has most of the features I’m looking for in an optic.

  • Red dot sight with 1x (non-magnified)
  • Ability to go magnified if I choose to
  • Capable of both CQB and precision shooting out to 200m
  • Battery powered with some sort of backup (solar like the SRS or etched glass reticle)
  • Light weight
  • Durable – this might be my go to rifle/optic
  • Has quick release mount
  • Looks like it belongs on the rifle

I’m not asking for too much, right? In essence I want what typically takes two or more sights or accessories to do. Sure, you can magnify a EOTech or Aimpoint, but it requires an additional magnifier that I’ve found to be clumsy at best and down right painful to use at worst. While my beloved Aimpoint’s have batteries that will out live my yellow Labrador, they can still die unexpectedly and at the worst possible moment, then what? If this is a SHTF rifle I may not have access to batteries and now I’m stuck with back up iron sights.

The reticle is etched so it doesn't require batteries to work.  It can illuminate either the entire reticle or just the center dot on battery power and is user selectable.

The reticle is etched so it doesn’t require batteries to work. It can illuminate either the entire reticle or just the center dot on battery power and is user selectable.

That leaves me with one very expensive option, the ELCAN SpecterDR. The SpecterDR is a U.S. military approved combat optic that is capable of 1x or 4x magnification with the flip of a lever. There’s no need for side folding 3x magnifiers that make using a weapon clumsy. The SpecterDR has an illuminated reticle that can either illuminate the entire crosshair or it can illuminate just a dot in the center. When used with 1x magnification the sight operates just like any other red dot sight out there except if you need to quickly switch to 4x magnification, you can without taking your check off the rifle. The reticle is calibrated for the M4 rifle using M855 ammo so the ranging stadia marks will work perfectly with my Tavor. At 1x power the center dot is a 6MOA aiming point but when switched to 4x the dot becomes 1.5MOA in size for more precise shots. If the battery dies? No biggie because the reticle is a standard black etched system that requires no power to be visible. It even has ARMS quick detach throw levers. The SpecterDR literally does everything you would want in a rifle sight. The only down side is the weight of the thing. It’s 1lbs 7oz! Talk about a tank!

Well, and the price is uncomfortable too… $2,000, that’s as much of my rifle!

Ouch.  Yeah, that’s going to leave a mark in the wallet.

Well, here I sit looking at my FDE Tavor with the SpecterDR mounted and I’m thinking it’s sexy, purposeful, offers almost everything I want in a sight… now all I have to do is see how it works for me on the range. Stay tuned to these pages to find out if the ELCAN SpecterDR is the sight I ultimately go with for my Tavor.

Read the follow-up article here:  http://www.thebangswitch.com/shooting-the-elcan-specterdr/

MAC

MAC is an avid shooter, former MCSF Marine, NRA member, Oath Keeper and is commissioned as a Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky. Known for his videos on the Military Arms Channel, he also writes for The Bang Switch, for Shotgun News (Be Ready!) and freelances for Guns & Ammo. MAC has been a life long shooter who has an interest in all things that go "bang" but gravitates towards military type firearms.

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  • Mike Oliver

    Looking forward to your observations on this one. When building a new Army battalion, this was the optic we chose for our M4s. We compared it with the Eotech with magnifier and the ACOG. This optic was much more versatile and very accurate, but you pay for it.

    • MAC

      I’ve read a lot of comments from guys that used them in the military and the feedback seems to be a mixture of love and hate. For those that hate it, they mostly criticize the weight and bulk. I’ve read a few reports of wandering zero and breaking QD mounts too.

      Most of the civilian reports tend to be far more favorable. Since this is clearly a civilian rifle I figured what the heck, let’s give it a shot because it really is peerless on the market.

      • Jon

        We moved them to the saws and they are perfect for that weapon system. They can be used at 1x for room clearing or at 4x with the bipod for long range.
        It isn’t the best 1x, but it is far from the worst.
        There MGO machine gun optics have been abused all over the Middle East for a decade with hardly any problems. It should make a good SHTF sight.

  • BD05

    What about the modo, “Keep It Simple and Stupid”?

    • MAC

      As far as I can tell this is the more simple of the solutions. If you want a RDS and magnification, this system has it integrated into one unit vs. having to run a RDS and a separate magnifier. It’s also based on a standard etched glass reticle which is far simpler than the electronics of any conventional RDS. About the only thing that can break is the mount or the throw lever to select the magnification. If you leave the mount on the gun and don’t mess with it, there’s little chance of breaking it. If you break the throw lever the worst that will happen is you’re be stuck in 1x or 4x, both totally survivable.

  • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Sol

    an almost 2 pound optic? holy hyenas batman! that’s crazy! it should be able to clean your rifle after the day is done … and the price is no joke. if this might be your SHTF rifle then how are you gonna make the weight gain jive with your intended application?

    • MAC

      Right now that’s my primary concern. The SpecterDR on a rifle like the AR where it sits forward of the pistol grip on a rifle that already had a forward weight bias is a non-starter for me. It would be clumsy to use. The Tavor, on the other hand, has most of its weight in the rear and the SpecterDR sits just above or behind the pistol grip. Carrying the rifle in the low ready or even shouldered for extended periods is still quite comfortable, as far as I can tell so far. I need to spend some time with it in the field before I pass final judgement, but that certainly seems to be the case.

      The Tavor is already a heavy rifle at over 8lbs. So sticking a 2lbs optic on there takes it up over the 10lbs mark which is less than desirable. But for some reason the Tavor doesn’t feel that heavy. The balance of the Tavor unique, I’ve never handled a rifle that was as comfortable to carry or hold than it. So we shall see. Before the SpecterDR I was leaning back towards the T1 Micro or an EOTech in FDE.

  • Mike

    Tim, yeah. Agree on the weight. It is rugged as heck, though, and built like a brick. Hadn’t heard anything about the QD mounts breaking or the wandering zero. Both would be extremely bad, particularly for an optic that runs $2K.

  • http://twitter.com/MrozowskiJesse Jesse Mrozowski (@MrozowskiJesse)

    I know you don’t like the RMR because of wash-out but have you considered the Mepro M21? It was designed for the rifle from the get go.

    • http://theplatypusmanifesto.blogspot.com/ Lord Platypus

      I too am interested in your thoughts on the Meprolight. I had a bullseye reticle but didn’t like the large 4.5moa center dot. I switched to a Triangle reticle and think its the best of both worlds. The large triangle can be used as a dot a close range and its point is fine enough for long range shots.

      I would be interested in your opinion on one or both of them.

  • ghostwheel

    Main problem with the Tavor is I CAN”T FIND ONE TO BUY AT the MSRP!

    They are all like $3,500 for FDE on gunbroker, so unless you live in Pennsylvania, all you can do is druel.

    No way I am spending $3500 for it. Maybe in about 2 years supply will catch up with demand.

    Why is IWI still paying money to promote these rifles if they can only make 1,500 rifles a month and demand far outpaces supply?

  • Brian

    Leupold makes an etched glass prism sight. i don’t know how it performs, but it’s advertised as a red dot that doesn’t need batteries. look into that. please please please do a table top review of it if you do decide to get one.

    • MAC

      I don’t do “table top reviews”, Nutnfancy that does those. I do field reviews. :P I haven’t seen one of the Luppy prism sights anywhere locally. I don’t like ordering expensive accessories without first having the option to inspect them before purchase.

      • http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.com/ Sol

        well said Marine!

  • Ryan

    Why not something like a Burris XTR 1-4x-24mm? That would achieve everything that you want and a reasonable price. Including an illuminated center reticle, 17 oz, and I think it’s very durable. I use it in 3-Gun and beat the crap out of it and it has done great.

  • armando

    Have you looked into the GSRC 1-6? I love in on my Tavor.

    • DAN III

      Armando….one sits on my TAVOR, also.

  • http://N/A Dave Carey

    Hey MAC, have you looked at the Leupold H.A.M.R. in your “sight quest?” I only ask because it’s a 4x magnification fixed scope with etched glass (thus being workable without a battery) with a Delta Point red dot on top (admittedly, no good without a bettery.) Supposed to be quite light, along with having a pretty generous eye-relief. At least, that’s what some of the reviews I read said about it….

    • MAC

      I have. I’m not impressed with the reticle, not enough to buy it given its price. The SpecterDR has a far superior sight picture, it’s brighter and more refined and it’s capable of being either 1x or a 4x magnification. The SpecterDR isn’t dependent on a separate micro reflex sight being attached in a somewhat precarious position on top of the primary optic for a backup either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Malleus Gil Vietor

    I’ve come close a couple times, but the weight is what turns me off, I will be following your review quite closely.

  • Rone

    I have Eotech w/ magnifier but only because I got a screaming deal on it. It is solid but not the perfect system. The best that is out there for its price point and battle field proven. I like everything the Spectre has to offer but waiting for aimpoint, Trijicon, Leupold, and Eotech to close the gap and come out with something that has all in one……..it is hard to want to spend the money when you cant find everything you want in one package……..companies have to be listening and that means it is only a matter of time before Spectre has more direct competition which is a good thing for us consumers.

  • cheznag

    Did you consider buying the tavor model that comes with an in-built site? Why didn’t you choose to get one of that model?

    • MAC

      I want one, but I’m not able to get one at the moment.

  • Col H

    Another interesting article. Your site is a very worthy competitor to the printed firearms media.

  • PeterK

    Welp. That’s some optic, haha. Can’t wait to see how it performs.

  • Ronny in MT

    Tim, if you can look at the Vortex Viper PST 1 – 4 x24. Very nice piece of glass that seems well made, and won’t brake the bank.

  • Ross

    Me… I’m going with an EOTech, $2000 would get me a second Tavor, that being said the DR does look at home on the Tavor.

  • Matt

    How about the ACOG with a different reticle. Such as the horseshoe, or chevron? These models seem to be easier to use with both eyes open than your ta01nsn.

  • Brian Saunders

    Hey MAC,
    I’ve been following this topic since the beginning. I think if I were i your position; I would just use whatever the Israeli’s use. They have the most experience maybe; they know something we don’t.

    • MAC

      They’re using the MOR sight and I’ve considered picking one up… but it doesn’t meet all of my requirements listed in the article.

  • Ross

    Tim,

    With all these Tavor videos/ blog entry’s I’m beginning to think you have found the Holy Grail (same country of origin too)

    • MAC

      I’m leaning heavily towards adopting it as my go to rifle. I’m giving myself time before I make that decision… I don’t come by such decisions easily. I’ve thought about it in the past but couldn’t walk away from the AK.

      • Ross

        Change… embrace it.

  • ghostwheel

    Finding a Tavor @ MSRP = holy grail

    • Ross

      I guess, I paid cost for mine and two months later I’m still waiting for it.

  • DAN III

    Well Mr. MAC, if you are ignoring the First Focal Plane,1-6x, Norden Performance GRSC, you are doing yourself a disservice. For less than $1100 you can have this scope which is calibrated for M855 Green Tip. The reticle is amazing as is the glass. Battery backup. Etched reticle. Glass quality on par with Trijicon glass.

    I have one sitting on my FDE, 16.5 TAVOR.

    Go here: http://www.nordenperformance.com

    • MAC

      I can’t say I’m ignoring it, what I’m saying is that I’m looking to other options first. I’ve never heard of Norden Performance until recently and thus they aren’t at the top of my shopping list. If someone had one locally I could inspect before spending $1k I might be more inclined to give them a try, but none of my LGS’s have ever heard of them and so don’t carry their products.

      • Defiant

        Contact Ed Verdugo (creator) from the web page.. If you request a unit for review, he will likely send you his personal unit already in a mount ready to go. I tried his out and then ordered my own! On a scar now until my Tav arrives… Thanks for the awesome work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.t.yan Timothy G. Yan

    Let me try to answer those that comparing the Elcan to the 1-4x24mm traditional scope. The specter is actually lighter and shorter. Considering that the average 1-4x24mm scope weights in 17-18 oz added a 8 oz. LaRue or ADM scope mount and the total weight will be 25-26 oz.

    The Elcan is about 6.5 inches long vs the average 1-4x24mm scopes at 9-11 inches length.

    Optically, the Elcan has about double to 50% wider field of view as in most of the 1-4x24s. None of the sub-$1000 1-4x24s can matches Elcan in optical performance. The Elcan uses German glass and has an illumination system that few can match.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • http://gravatar.com/tierlieb Tierlieb

      A question: Why would you compare the Specter to the sub-$1000 scopes if it costs twice as much? But even then:

      I agree with you regarding the length. That one is obviously a clear advantage for the Specter. Never cared much about this, as long as I was able to fit it on my rails together with BUIS.

      But weight-wise, 25-26oz (Bushnell’s 1-6.5×24 weights 18.5oz) compared to 23oz is not much of a difference. And a Leupold VX6 only weights 14oz, making it even a little lighter.

      As for the field of view: At 1x magnification, FoV does not matter much since we are working with both eyes open.
      At 4x, the FoV of the specter is impressive 34yrds, beating Trijicon’s Accupoint which has 24yrds. But that’s not top-of-the-line anyway. Bushnell’s 1-6.5×24 and Leupold’s vx6 1-6×24 do not give values for 4x and lose out at 6x (of course), but a Swaroski Z4i (way cheaper than the Z6i, which would be in the same price class as the Specter) claims 31yds already.

      Personally, I am not convinced that the Specter is attractive when looking at the specs. It does have other advantages (the lever to switch zoom levels beats any cat tail) and it looks impressive and tactical. But every time I had the money to buy one, I chose to buy something different instead.

      If I was looking to put a scope on a really small mounting area (like a railed cover for a vz58), I’d chose the Specter (putting a $2000 scope on a $1000 gun). But other than that, I tend to look at the Bushnell Elite Tactical, Leupold VX6 or even the Vortex Razor 1-6x, because I don’t see the added value for the Specter.

  • ghostwheel

    MSE – AQC-1 Multi Reticle Red Dot Sight

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0KvBrHLd3s

    This IDF guy’s sight. Any opinions?

    Looks like it is mounted on an AK or Galil. Must be a pain to sling a rifle with that thing sticking way up. Still worth a look see.

  • ghostwheel
  • http://www.thenewrifleman.com lothaen

    I seem to be wanting lighter equipment and as a civilian my first choice will be a micro ACOG to compliment my AR15′s. As much as I want the hot equipment my budget will probably never justify a Elcan Specter… it can more handily accept a Trijicon sub $1000 dollar product though.

  • Joel

    Years ago I put a Leupold CQ/T on an M4 pattern carbine. As you likely know, the CQ/T is widely derided by the cool kids of the black rifle crowd. Anyway, the more I use it, the more I like it. So, it’s something you may want to consider. I have used it for the close in stuff and also for 300 yard shots on gongs. It’s been fine on the former and great on the latter.

    If I didn’t have that optic, I would probably look at the new 1-5 (Weaver or Burris) or the 1-6 Leupold. That said, the CQ/T works well and has a decent reticle. Oh, and it’s built like a tank but barely over 1 pound. If you haven’t tried one, perhaps now is the time.

  • Admcamino

    I have experimented with a few optics, returned more than my fair share of them. One thing I have discovered is that I cant ever get everything I want in one. I second the motion for the Burris XTR 1-4 though, I love it. If money was no object I would try the Mark 6, but for that much I’d probably get more mileage out of a used car.

  • surgeon591

    Have you considered the U.S Optics SR-8C? Its a FFP 1-8 power variable with a true 1x and push button SFP red dot. I recently got a chance to try one out on a SCAR 17S and I was throughly impressed with it.

  • 993mike

    Any chance of doing a review of the Leupold HAMR scope and red dot combo on your Tavor? I’d really like to hear how it compares.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samuel.harsha.5 Samuel Harsha

    Hey MAC did you see Trijicon just announced their VCOG? Thing is SEXY (and pricey) but I think it’s pretty much everything you’re looking for.

  • Brandon

    now that you have had more time with the optic on the TAVOR what do you think about the set, adn the rifle itself?

  • Tony

    Mac I have a FDE Tavor coming this week and also have a FDE Elcan Specter Dr sitting on my LMT MRP piston gun. I was thinking of switching it to the Tavor also prior to seeing your posts on it. I don’t think people realize the weight of the Elcan is less or equal to any 1×4 scope with a mount and is definitely less weight then a Eotech or Aimpoint with magnifier setup except the Elcan is cleaner and less cluttered on the rail. I have not experience any focal shifts when going from 1 to 4 at all and the scope has been flawless. I think when people talk about this scope and bag on it, it is because they have never put one on top of their guns and used it. Once you use it you can see why it is in a class of its own. I agree if you don’t need the magnification Elcan is to much for the money but if you want 0-800 yards accuracy it is a great scope. BTW I saw your bad experience with the Keltec KSG. I bought a 3rd Gen platinum colored one on 9/10/13 and it is one of my all time favorite guns to shoot. 100 percent reliable, accuracy is amazing, equal to or better than my Benelli M4. I sold it to get money for the new FDE Tavor. In my book if SHITF I would use my new KSG, Tavor and couple of my AKs from RD.

  • Ron S

    Mac how is the hunt for a functional light setup going? I am still trying to figure out a light setup. I am not big on tape switch. Currently I have a steamlight TR1-HL mounted at 12:00 behind the backup sight and a tape switch below the rail on the side. I have seen some with a inforce WML at 12, but the reach seems long with small hands. Like to see what light options you are thinking about in youtube or here.

  • Tony

    After testing all my sights on the Tavor including the aimpoint micro, aimpoint M4, Eotech XPS2-2 and Elcan, I think I am gonna use the Eotech XPS2-2(8.5lbs), the Elcan with the heaviness of the Tavor made it to heavy (9.55lbs) and I do not need the magnification. The hold over of the XPS2-2 is really good enough for 0-300 yards which I think the Tavor is designed for. I loved how light the Tavor felt with my aimpoint micro but for 2 more ounces the Eotech had the better reticle. Plus the weight savings will let me add a light which should bring it under 9lbs.

    • https://www.facebook.com/aaronwilliamsco Aaron Williams

      I run a block ii setup on all my emergency rifles to match my work setup. If you have never used an elcan you need to. I’ve run everything from straight irons, m2, ta01, ecos, and now the elcan. Yes there is more weight(get off the couch and get those push ups going) but even trooping with the rifle 18 hours a day for months on end it’s still my favorite combat optic. I run a su-230 on my 14.5 hk416(personally owned) and on my 10.4. In both cases engaging a man sized target out to 600m+ is relatively easy. 300m rapid fire from standing is ridiculously easy.

      • colnago31@yahoo.com

        ^^oh dont get me wrong the Elcan is my favorite scope, I am just gonna keep it on my Scar 16 and use the aimpoint micro T1, now on the Tavor. I am 5’6 and race bicycles so I weigh 140lbs I dont plan on bulking up with muscles. I am built for speed so weight matters. I played around with my Acog 31F on the Tavor but still liked something quicker for cqb.
        So far the aimpoint micro is the only scope I have kept on the Tavor for more than 2 weeks. So it looks like it will stay. Elcan is the best scope I have seen and use.

  • Matt Moorman

    Hey Tim, any thoughts on a perfect optic for a SCAR-17? I know the SpecterDR is set for 5.56 but I held one at a gunshow and its amazing.

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      Perfect? I don’t know… it depends on what you want to do with it. I think if I had unlimited funds I would put a SpecterDR on it though.

  • Joe Fahy

    Has anyone compared the 1-4x to the 1.5-6x for subjective ease of target acquisition speed? As the 1x is more like 1.1x, is 1.5x much slower, more disorienting with both eyes open? As my eyes age, 6x feels better than 4x, and buy once cry once.

    Thanks

    Joe

    • http://www.military-arms.com MAC

      I haven’t yet only because of the cost. I can’t justify the expense right now.

      • Joe Fahy

        Thanks.

        Joe

      • Joe Fahy

        I decided to K.I.S.S. . Went with the Mepro M21, without a magnifier. I can hit targets out to 300m standing with an unmagnified T1, from the prone its much easier and more reliable. I need to lick more icing and stop trying to bake the cake. This is self defense rifle and the most lethal bad guy is generally the closest. The non telescopic sights tend to solve that problem the fastest with the least drama. A set of 45 deg offset buis will be installed as well. I do carry a compact 8x mildot bino, so I can get a better look when I need to.

    • ty

      im getting the 1.5-6 because i have a 308 but the 1-4 should do perfectly fine for 556

  • Cody G.

    How about an update on the Specter DR? The last two videos in which a Tavor made an appearance had other optics mounted on them (MOR and eotech)

  • Mike Lynch

    Mac, you did a review of the Lucid HD7 awhile ago. I’ve had my Tavor for about 6 months and now that I’m settled in with the rifle, I’m looking at red dots. I dont want to break the bank and I see that Lucid offers their gen 3 and a quick release mount for the HD7 now. What are your thoughts on pairing the Tavor with the HD7? Any input would be great, maybe even a review at some point. Big fan of the blog and of Military Arms Channel.

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