Ever seen a first focal plane scope for less than $300 that doesn’t feel cheap? It’s pretty rare, especially if you’re browsing budget optic reviews and looking for durable scopes that can hold zero well with such a low price tag.
Well, here’s the Primary Arms SLx 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope, and it’s one of the most innovative first focal plane scopes that you can find at a competitive price.
It’s a great scope for hunting, tactical applications, target leading, and long-range shooting around the 100 to 600-yard mark.
When I first saw the price tag, I was kind of shocked. After a while, I saw what the FFP scope offers, and I had to snag one.
In this Primary Arms 4-14×44 review, I’ll talk about the scope’s main characteristics and its unique reticle, where it flops, where it exceeds expectations, answer some common questions, and show you how to get the most of this Primary Arms scope.
The Manufacturer’s Idea Behind the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope
The folks at Primary Arms, the Texas-based manufacturer for firearms and optics, had obviously thought about low-cost rifle scopes and red dot sights that retain high-end durability.
Their cost-efficient SLx and Micro Dot series with mid-range prism scopes and red dot sights have been turning heads for almost 10 years now, and they’ve proven themselves as healthy competition on the scope market.
Though some of you might have heard of it, Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III prism scope is one such optic, and it’s a part of the same SLx line that keeps the price low and optics quality high.
Why Is the Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP Scope So Cheap?
I can still see hunters and tactical fanatics that fail to wrap their heads around the fact that these new Primary Arms optics serve their owners well for years and years with no problems despite the low price.
Seriously, how in the world could a sub-$300 retail scope cross swords with mid to high-tier optics on the market, ranging from $500 to $1000?
Well, Primary Arms outsources their scope production in China, and usually, the cost of lenses and reticles is really low. The trick is, they conduct QA and product testing at very rigorous and unforgiving criteria. Best believe that many products have been declared dud and unfit for packaging.
I would strongly recommend the Primary Arms 4-14×44 scope if you’re looking for a cost-effective mid-tier optic for hunting. The functionality of a first focal plane scope and unique reticles make the SLx 4-14×44 a solid choice for any long-range shooter or hunter.
Just to be clear, even though you’ve heard that the SLx 4-14×44 FFP scope is for the AR-10 platform, you can use this PA scope on any other bolt-action or AR-15 rifle to your liking.
The Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope – Overview
The Primary Arms 4-14×44 scope is a part of the SLx optics line that undergoes absolutely rigorous field testing. Best believe it’s a scope that’s focused entirely on durability and the lenses are well worth the money.
Many folks can find the best scope version for their own range estimations, as there are 5 different Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP rifle scopes, and the difference is just the crosshair type. There’s the Mil-Dot, the ACSS HUD-DMR-308/223, the ACSS R-Grid 2B, the ACSS-Orion, and the ARC 2 MOA.
I’ll cover the reticle on all of them, but we’ll keep our focus on the one I went for – the ACSS HUD-DMR that’s tuned for both the .308 Winchester and the .223 Remington caliber.
The intuitive ACSS-HUD-DMR-308/223 reticle stays true throughout the entire magnification range, and it’s great for both .308 Winchester rifles and long-range shooters.
It’s PA’s first delve into the FFP optics business, and it has garnered immediate attention on the market with its cost-effective value and essential features. The lifetime warranty that they offer on this scope is evidence enough.
With the scope, you get lens covers, a lens cleaning cloth, and an Allen wrench for the adjustment knobs. There are no rings with your purchase, so you need to grab some scope mounts for the 30mm tube diameter.
Let’s check it out in detail.
Design and Construction
The SLx 4-14×44 FFP is constructed of heavy-duty aircraft-grade 6063 aluminum that offers excellent durability and feels rock-solid and sturdy. Not only that, but Primary Arms are ballsy enough to grant us a lifetime guarantee.
The scope is 12.9 inches long, weighs 25.2 ounces, has a 44mm objective diameter, and has a 30mm main tube. The main tube is compatible with lots of Picatinny mounts.
It’s waterproof, shockproof, and fog-resistant with nice and tight O-rings, and it makes for a great AR-15 platform scope for harsh weather. What you get is solid clarity even in humid weather, while the nitrogen-purged tube guards are a nice touch against corrosion as well.
You’ve seen all the SLx torture tests, right? The 4-14×44 scope is designed to withstand damage and really heavy recoil from calibers like the .308 Winchester calibers, some .223 Remington loads, and .223/5.56 AR-15 calibers.
The scope shouldn’t lose zero from such recoil. Though, keep in mind that you’ll need to calculate your own ballistics if you mount it on a, let’s say, a .270 Winchester rifle.
Other than that, the construction of the Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope houses a true first focal plane reticle that can be leveraged at almost every magnification level with versatility and effectiveness.
Parallax, Windage, and Elevation Adjustment
The Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP is very easy to adjust for windage and elevation. It has a side-adjustable parallax adjustment knob that goes as low as 15 yards and up to infinity. It also has a fast-focus eye-piece for a crisper field of view (FOV).
The generous eye relief is set at 3.2-inches, which is decent and comfy.
The most expensive scopes are either ¼ MOA, or ½ MOA for each click, but the PA 4-14×44 scope is fancy and uses 0.1 Mil clicks. The click is audible and crisp, but it doesn’t have the positive bearing lock. No big deal though.
The zoom, focus, and rings are smooth and very easy to use. Just quickly sight it in, remove the screws on the dials, pull off the caps, and set them to zero.
Other scopes in this price range almost never have a zero stop, but I won’t complain. You just have to use an Allen screw to remove the turret and zero-stop this model.
While we’re talking mods, check out our list of best rifle bipods for 2021 if you’re interested.
Quality Lens for a $300 Scope
I’m very impressed with the clear glass of the SLx 4-14×44. The glass quality is excellent for an optic as cheap: it’s clear all the way up to the edges and the multi-coated lens manages light transmission well.
To see the difference in clarity, I broke out my Vortex Viper, Bushnell Engage 4-16×44, and the Nikon Monarch Gold. Although the difference can be felt, it’s still impressive how the 4-14×44 keeps its great glass clarity for such a price when compared to these high-end scopes.
I personally don’t like how the glass isn’t scratchproof. There’s no sunshade on the optics, and not only that—there’s no night vision compatibility either. But that’s what you get for a sub-$300 scope.
With an objective diameter of 44mm, the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 has great illumination and lets in all that good light from all ranges. It’s an FFP scope with a reticle that stays true at all magnification adjustment levels. It’s illuminated red with six different brightness settings that are powered by a CR2023 3V lithium coin battery.
Note that the horseshoe and center dot are illuminated, not the whole vision. That’s common stuff with an illuminated reticle, but what makes it so special is the ACSS uniqueness from Primary Arms.
The 5 Different Reticles of the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope
Primary Arms could have just gone for a standard duplex reticle for the 4-14×44 scope and called it a day, but no. They went all out with this one and brought us five different reticles: the Mil-Dot, the ACSS HUD-DMR-308/223, the ACSS R-Grid 2B, the ACSS-Orion, and the ARC 2 MOA.
They’re wire etched, instead of glass-etched standards, but they’re still crisp and clear. A little thing to note here is that the reticles are illuminated on all of the models except for the Mil-Dot and the ACSS-Orion.
Here’s what the ACSS looks like:
The reticles offer top-notch accuracy and precision with very little distortion through the 30mm tube. Be mindful though, that the features and specs of the reticle are convenient, but they could teach you bad habits if you’re not careful.
You see, some hunters quickly get used to just using the reticles for windage and leading. They neglect their muscle memory of adjusting the knobs, so they rely solely on the reticles and marks.
Avoid this practice. You’d be surprised how many hunters overlook this otherwise damning habit.
Here’s the Primary Arms method of how to use the ACSS reticle:
The whole point of the ACSS reticle design is to minimize adjustment and estimate range. That’s why it’s suitable for long-range hunters; it emphasizes first-hit ratio in hunting instead of tactic operations like target leading and semi-auto follow-up shots.
The Mil-Dot vs. the ACSS HUD-DMR
Some riflemen have no problem adjusting the wind holds and elevation on the turrets at any range, while others are perhaps too reliant on just the crosshair. Keep in mind that the horseshoe is great for target leading, and the chevron fine-tunes the shot.
This all depends entirely upon you, and that’s why Primary Arms went for multiple reticle models for this scope: for you to pick out your standard or try out a new one rather easily. This allows you to build confidence.
I kinda like the bullet-calibrated Mil-Dot version with hash marks that allow you to calculate a precise range estimation and wind hold, measure distance, and height. It’s a bit of a learning curve for this ballistic or graduated reticle, but it’s fine.
Some might find the Mil-Dot really for varmint hunting, though it doesn’t exactly work like that. Many of us are used to calibrating the settings without relying much on the marks of the reticle, and everyone has their own preferences and their own preferred learning curve.
But, I personally am a huge fan of the ACSS HUD-DMR reticle that’s tuned for .308 Winchesters, .223 Rems, and most importantly, the AR-10 platform. The ACSS HUD-DMR is unobtrusive and intuitive, and it makes it much easier to estimate range without a rangefinder.
You can also take a look at our roundup of the best .308 Winchester rifles here.
|Construction||Heavy-duty, aircraft-grade 6063 aluminum|
|Finish||Matte anodized black finish|
|Focal plane||First focal plane (FFP)|
|Objective diameter||44x, multi-coated lens|
|Night Vision Compatible||No|
|Exit pupil diameter||Low|
|FOV||27.2 to 7.85 feet at 100 yards|
|Focus/Parallax Adjustment||10-yards to infinity|
|Adjustment click value||.1 MIL|
|Total elevation adjustment||17.4 MIL|
|Total windage adjustment||17.4 MIL|
Pros & Cons
- Quality ACSS FFP reticles with 5 models to choose from
- Excellent glass quality and light transmission at 14x
- Great value at a sub-$300 price range
- Long term durability with recoil tolerance for .308 Winchester calibers
- Decent 3-inch eye relief
- Waterproof, fogproof, and shock-resistant
- Not suitable for under 100-yard applications
- No night vision compatibility
- Glass isn’t scratchproof
What Do Others Have to Say?
Here are some interesting testimonials and full review snippets from customers that bought the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope.
Why Should I Go for First Focal Plane Rifle Scopes?
An FFP reticle is usually affordable and remains true-to-size, meaning it gets smaller as you zoom out, and bigger when you zoom in. That’s why it’s more useful for long-range shooting, instead of close range.
That’s why the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP rifle scope is somewhat of a novelty item—you rarely see FFP reticles on budget optics or optics with 9x magnification.
Second focal plane reticles are usually suited for short-distance shooting.
The FFP reticle works great on 14x rifle scopes because the reticle covers the target with precision, no matter which magnification you’re at.
The math can be difficult to explain why this works for long-range magnification power and clean, ethical kills.
Does The Primary Arms 4-14×44 Have An Illuminated Reticle?
You can always check out the Primary Arms 4-14x44mm FFP with an illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR 308/223 crosshair.
Is an FFP (First Focal Plane Reticle) Better Than an SFP (Second Focal Plane) Reticle?
Depends on what you use it for and how you like to modify and adjust your scope. FFP reticles aren’t exactly inherently better than SFP reticles, and you need to decide if you want to use it for hunting or tactical applications.
The main difference between them is that an SFP reticle won’t change its size, regardless of zoom magnification, while an FFP changes its size to fit the scope’s magnification for convenience.
FFP reticle optics with high power are made for long-range applications because you can see more of the crosshairs and can easily determine wind hold points.
SFP reticles require that you calculate the holdovers (usually the highest magnification setting) for every power setting adjustment. That’s why you see hunters carrying data books with their range estimation and calculations for each spacing increment that allows them to achieve precision.
Would the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 Work on a 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle?
The Primary Arms 4-14×44 is primarily for the .308 Winchester calibers, and the .223/5.56 AR-15 platforms, but it could certainly work well with a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle.
Rifle calibers like 6.5 Creedmoor or even the .300 Magnum have a flatter trajectory than the .308 Winchester, so keep that in mind.
Check out our roundup of the best 6.5 Creedmoor rifles for 2021.
Alternatives to the Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope
Here are some great rifle scopes around the same price range, and maybe a bit costlier. They are all solid options for hunting around the 200 to 800-yard range.
Want an even cheaper rifle scope with high-quality features? The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a second focal plane riflescope. What this means is that the reticle doesn’t change when you adjust the magnification.
It offers a slightly longer range and a larger objective diameter than the SLx 4-14×44 FFP with a larger magnification range of 6x to 24x. It’s fog resistant, has multi-coated lenses, and its illuminated BDC reticle is really good for long-distance shooting.
The reticle is adjustable in minutes of angle, so you can adjust the precision based on yardage. You also have the other duplex reticle, which is much simpler to use.
Here’s a high-end FFP optic for you. The Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40mm is no doubt a premium option, but it offers long-term durability, unmatched optics quality, and accurate aiming points up to 500 or 600 yards ideal for large game hunting.
It’s a lightweight 4.5-14x40mm scope that provides you superior optical clarity and light management, thanks to its unique Leupold Xtended Twilight Lens System.
The VX-3HD is an option best suited for those who like to enjoy elite-level light transmission and glare reduction with a strong long-range resolution and balanced day/night clarity.
Conclusion – The SLx 4-14×44 FFP Rifle Scope
To sum it up, the Primary Arms 4-14×44 scope is a top choice if you’re looking for budget first focal plane optics for your AR-10 or AR-15 rifle.
All of the model’s reticles like the Mil-Dot, the ACSS HUD-DMR-308/223, and the ACSS-Orion offer something different, whether you’re looking for target leading or long-range hunting. As long as you’re a fan of the unique ACSS reticle, it’s definitely worth it to start learning the adjustments and tweaking.
It’s always a good idea to calculate and record the shots you take at different levels and ranges. This will allow you to quickly get used to the feel of the scope, and you’ll be sure that the reticle serves you as a trustworthy indicator of precision.
I recommend you try it out around the 200 to 500-yard range, work around the adjustments and windage, thoroughly check the eye relief, and keep a notebook by your side.
Overall, I’m seriously impressed with Primary Arms and their SLx series, and with their 4-14×44 FFP scope, they really have a strong budget contender on the market.
With a cost below $300, PA proved that all you need from an FFP riflescope is a high-quality, durable aluminum body, a multi-coated lens with excellent low light transmission and clarity, as well as a unique and intuitive reticle.