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  4. Primary Arms GLx 3-18x44mm Review: A High Precision Scope At a Not-So-High Price
Primary Arms GLx 3-18x44mm Review: A High Precision Scope At a Not-So-High Price preview image
Aug 24 2023
12 min read

Primary Arms GLx 3-18x44mm Review: A High Precision Scope At a Not-So-High Price

Introduction

Primary Arms (PA) has been a huge name in the shooting scene for many years. Part of what makes Primary Arms so relevant is its ability to cater to shooters’ needs with excellent products that don’t require taking out a second mortgage.

Primary Arms has recently released a new scope in its GLx line of scopes, and today we will be taking a look at it; the Primary Arms GLx 3-18X44mm FFP rifle scope.

jeff wood hands on with the primary arms glx 3-18x44m review mounted on desert tech srs m2
It’s hard to beat the view through a scope.

The GLx line of scopes seems to be the mid-series, but don’t tell the kids that. A few GLx scopes have been out for some time, but the 3-18x is a new development.

The 6x magnification of the 3-18x model gives a nice spectrum of usable capabilities, but this little scope has far more features that will earn its keep in your collection.

I’ve used a few PA optics before, but this would be the first one of my own. My previous experiences had been great, so I had no reason to expect this one to be different. I’d also heard good stories from many other shooting professionals I trust.

Primary Arms GLx 3-18X44 Review

Primary Arms GLx 3-18x44mm

When I opened up the black and orange box, I was struck again by that old familiar feeling. I had a good feeling that this scope and I were going to make some serious hits.

The scope is built on a 34MM tube, which is fast becoming the mainstay for tactical scopes over the more traditional 30mm. Its 44mm objective soaks up as much light as possible to give you the best image of your target.

Locking turrets and a hard zero-stop are great tactical features, as is the ACSS Athena reticle, which can be used for measuring and hold-overs on target.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m review mounted on desert tech srs m2
I also tried the GLx 3-18X44 on a Stag Arms 308.

And yet even for those who are accustomed to high-tier optics, the GLx 3-18 will feel very familiar and comfortable. It provides most of the features professional shooters would be accustomed to, making it ideal for activities like PRS shooting, hunting, long-range, or any other precision rifle application.

It may be a little much if you are hunting bean fields in Ohio, but I prefer to have more scope than I need for many hunting purposes.

Specifications

AttributeDescription
Battery TypeCR2032 3V Lithium Coin
BrandPrimary Arms
Click Value0.1 Mil
ColorBlack
Exit Pupil DiameterLow: 9.3 mm / High: 2.4 mm
Eye Relief3.50 in
Field View 100Low: 36.70 ft / High: 6.10 ft
Focal PlaneFirst Focal Plane
IlluminatedIlluminated
Length13.66 in
Magnification3X – 18X
Objective Diameter44mm
Optic SeriesGLx
ReticleACSS ATHENA BPR MIL
Reticle ColorRed
Reticle TypeMRAD
Total Elevation180 MOA
Total Windage120 MOA
Tube Diameter34mm

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Great value for the price
  • Excellent warranty
  • Great optical clarity
  • Locking Turrets
  • Zero-stop
  • Included throw-lever
  • 180 MOA elevation
  • Front focal Plane
  • Illuminated reticle
  • ACSS Athena reticle
Cons
  • Slight fish-eye effect
  • Reticle might be a little busy for some

How We Tested

I figured there was no better way to test the GLx than to mount it to my primary rifle and take it on one of my high country Marmot hunts. This would give me a great opportunity to truly test the PA GLx. Shots can frequently be very long and require quick identification of often tiny targets and perfect shot placement.

Several days of shooting high country Marmots was an excellent test of the function of the scope. Aside from that, I also shot the rifle through a training session on a rifle range, shooting out to 1,200 yards.

I used the scope to find and engage target after target and moved back and forth from different target zones. The GLx was quick to adjust and right on with the measurements.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m review mounted on desert tech srs m2 in mountains
Not many things escaped us while shooting with the PA GLx.

Field Testing the GLx 3-18X44

First, I would need to mount the scope up to my Desert Tech SRS M2; for that, I used a ZroDelta 34mm scope mount. With the scope settled in and level, I torqued down the ring caps.

The next step was to zero the rifle and set the zero-stop under the elevation turret. After that, I did a quick bore-sight job to align the crosshairs with my bore’s centerline.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m review close up
All mounted up on the SRS M2.

I’d brought a .223 Remington barrel and a 6GT barrel for the SRS, but since I’d planned on shooting mainly the GT, I figured I’d zero it for that. I loaded a single round, centered the Athena reticle on my target, and pressed the trigger.

The impact was easily noted a few inches from the target’s center bull. With the reticle again held center on the bullseye, I measured the elevation and windage distance from the crosshair to the hole in the paper. I dialed 1.3 up and .4 left based on the estimates I could get on the reticle subtensions.

After loading another round, I aimed this time for the black hole in the paper and pressed the trigger again. The second 112-grain Barnes Match Burner ripped through the paper, leaving an egg-shaped single hole in the paper.

With zeroing out of the way, it was time to get serious about shooting the rifle and putting the GLx to work finding furry little targets scattered across the beautiful landscape.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m reticle clarity and review
A view thru the GLx 3-18X44.

We spent the whole day chasing after Marmots using the SRS and other rifles with comparable scopes mounted. Over and over, I saw the action through the Primary GLx, watching both my impacts and the other’s shots.

Switching back and forth from one rifle to another gave me a great appreciation for the features of the GLx. The built-in throw-lever made it quick to find different targets and quickly zoom in on them without taking your eye off them.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m review by jeff wood
At 3X, the GLx quickly transitioned between various close targets.

Adjusting for different distances was straightforward using the turrets; I could count the clicks without losing track of small moving targets. Or I could hold over or under using the reticle. And the zero-stop made it easy to blindly dial back to my hundred-yard zero without even thinking about it.

The parallax adjustment was easy to keep in line with targets, mainly since we would only move incredible distances a few times. The image was always clear and detailed, and only the hiding skills of our quarry made identifying them a challenge.

The one “not so good” thing I noticed was a bit of a fish-eye phenomenon. It was mostly visible when I panned the rifle from one side to the other. A slight optical aberration around the edge of the lens makes the image feel slightly convex.

It was just enough to grab my attention. I took the time to look for it in the other scopes I was shooting that day, and to my surprise, they also had a little bit of the same phenomenon. But I never noticed it until I looked for it.

I don’t consider it a huge problem, as it didn’t affect my ability to shoot the rifle well. And considering the price point, I wouldn’t consider it a dealbreaker.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m close up with dials
The throw lever adjusted the magnification ring quickly.

Reliability & Accuracy

As far as scopes can be reliable, this scope was. All mechanical components of the scope are built very robust and feel like they’ll stand the test of time.

The turret values are reliable and match up with the reticle values inside. Cranking up and down on the turrets through several days of hunting show that the erector inside was consistent in its movement.

The accurate movement of the scopes internals translates into reliable corrections. This is extremely important for accuracy.

Overall Feel

The Primary Arms GLx feels excellent in the hands, and the controls have all the right feels. The clicks are clean and audible, and the tension on all the controls have a nice level of stiffness.

The built-in throw lever is nice, but there is also a flip-up version of the throw lever, which can be folded down when not needed. The turrets have great texturing for a good grip and are also a good height. This makes them more snag-proof.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m long range test
The GLx mounted to my SRS M2.

Features

First Focal Plane

The GLx is a first focal plane scope, meaning that the reticle is magnified with the scope’s power setting. This means the reticle and its details will be smaller at low power and fill the whole scope at maximum power. This is done so that the reticle values remain constant regardless of the magnification setting, which is very valuable to shooters who frequently switch magnification settings with time constraints.

In the past, FFP scopes have commanded much higher prices, sometimes prohibitively expensive. But modern market competition has made them more and more affordable, which is where we find the Primary Arms GLx 3-18X44.

Athena BPR-MIL reticle

The ACSS Athena BPR-MIL reticle incorporates a great deal of technology. If you haven’t taken the time to learn weaponized math, I recommend it.

The Athena reticle has several valuable tools built right into it, like a chevron center, a target-ranging ladder, and a MIL grid for rapid measuring and engagement. With subtensions as small as .1 MIL, you can measure just about anything you need to.

The Athena reticle does a good job of walking the line of being detailed but not overly detailed. It has an incredible amount of details and subtensions, but it is also fine enough not to overwhelm the eye. It may be too much for some shooters, though. The reticle is far more pronounced at the very high end of magnification.

Zero-Stop

The zero-stop on the GLx scope is a fantastic design but one I needed to familiarize myself with. After zeroing the rifle, setting the zero-stop wound up being quite simple to engage.

With the scope zeroed, you loosen the turret screws around the top until the turret can be lifted. Underneath, you will find a red anodized stop, with three screws holding it in place from three raised bosses on the erector housing. Once loosened, you can raise the red zero-stop until it contacts the bottom of the internal turret hub.

After retorquing the screws to support the stop, you can reinstall the turret by lining up the zero with the centerline and retorquing the turret screws. It is pretty simple, and as soon as I had it back together, the elevation turret lock button engaged as designed.

primary arms glx 3-18x44m turret review
A closer look at the zero-stop internal parts.

34MM tube

The large 34mm tube of the GLx allows for its broad elevation adjustment. The larger tube gives more space for erector movement, translating into more elevation potential.

The turrets are 10 MIL per rotation, which is better than most scopes that fall in the economically priced category. For me, 10 MIL turrets are great; even better if they have more like 12 or 15 MILs. With the rifle zeroed and the zero-stop set, my GLx had 38.5 MIL of travel, which is pretty significant.

Score Card

Reliability (10/10)  

I experienced no reliability issues or problems with the Primary Arms GLx scope. The nature of mechanical things means they can suddenly break, but time will certainly show if that happens. As it stands now, there is no evidence or experience I’ve had that would suggest any impending issues.

Ergonomics (9/10)

All the controls of the GLx were easy to handle and adjust. The tension set on each turret and ring was adequate to prevent accidental movements but still be easily adjusted when needed. Added benefits like the locking turrets and throw-lever only added to the easy operation. I was initially worried about whether I’d like the turret lock, but the fact that it only engages on zero makes it just right in my book.

Customization (8/10)

While scopes aren’t exactly customizable, there are many different options to select that will customize the scope to your purpose. Selecting MOA vs. MIL is a handy option for those shopping for scopes, and other little things like included scope caps and interchangeable throw levers give the user options.

Appearance (8/10)

The GLx 3-18 is a sharp-looking scope. It has all the right curves right where I want them and all the right textures in the right places too.

Value (9/10)

I recommend this scope to someone looking for a good precision rifle scope under $800. I remember it wasn’t that long ago that I would have expected to pay twice that much for a scope with similar features.

Accessories

ZRODelta Scope Mount

ZRODelta DLOC-BA Scope Mount

Any good 34mm scope mount would be a solid match for this scope. I used a ZroDelta mount and didn’t regret it for a second. A good mount like this allows for rapid transition from one rifle to another or simply to take the scope on and off for cleaning the rifle.

Scope Chaps

A good set of Scope Chaps will help protect your scope from scratches or other damage when moving around or transporting it. The chaps velcro to the bell of the scope and give a layer of protection. They also provide a place to put your favorite PVC patches.

Alternatives

Leupold VX6HD 3-18X44

Leupold VX6HD 3-18X44

For a significant step up in price, you could also look at the Leupold VX6HD. That extra money will be spent getting the scope’s weight down slightly and increasing optical quality. After shooting with it, I don’t think many would be upset with the price jump.

Riton 3 Primal 3-18X50

Riton Optics 3 PRIMAL 3-18x50mm Rifle Scope

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Riton 3 Primal is another similar-sized scope to consider.

The Riton has 5 MIL turrets and stiffer knobs than the PA, though. It also has a much simpler reticle that I find a smidge thick at 18X. But the Riton is also a few “C” Notes cheaper, which may hit your budget.

See our Riton 3 PRIMAL review for more information.

Conclusion

After shooting the PA GLx over the last few months, it has given me plenty of experience to judge the little scope.

As a lower-cost precision rifle optic, the GLx stands out against its competition and offers its users some refined features and benefits for a surprising price. The scope gives a superb optical performance and robust mechanical function for those that shoot on the move. It’s light enough to not be eliminated from a hunting rifle project too.

If you find yourself looking for an affordable optic that won’t leave you squinting into the distance, consider pulling the trigger on the Primary Arms GLx 3-18X44.

What rifle would you mount this scope to? And for what purpose? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Jeff Wood
Jeff Wood photo Jeff Wood is a self-described "Freelance Sharpshooter", with a passion for precision rifle shooting, particularly as it applies to hunting. When not at work, he is likely to be tinkering with the next gun-related project or likely in the nearby mountains, either shooting or fishing with family. Jeff has shared his extensive knowledge of firearms through several well-known platforms, including Guns.com, Gun University, American Firearms, Desert Tech, and ColdBoreMiracle.

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