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[Review] Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS Gen 3: Budget LVPO

I love 1-6x scopes…or LVPOs (low power variable optics) as the cool kids call them.

Testing the PA 1-6x ACSS
Testing the PA 1-6x ACSS

I run them in my general purpose and competition AR-15s since they do well up-close and out to several hundred yards.

Best 1-6x Scopes
Best 1-6x Scopes

Now there’s a decent amount of 1-6x scopes on the market…so what’s the best budget one?

My pick goes to the Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS.

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This video review goes over everything (with some nice view-through footage).

If that helped, please sub to our YouTube Channel where we upload every week!

Now…onto the written review!

Table of Contents


Why a 1-6x Scope?

First off…why even look at 1-6x scopes?

I kind of alluded to it in the beginning…because they are great for both close shots and going out to distance.

Exactly what you’d see in rifle competitions (or real life for you badasses out there).

PA 1-6x in Action
PA 1-6x in Action

The 1x is clear and usually has a big reticle to hit A-zones. While 6x is enough for several hundred yards.

I can do 400 yards semi-easily while other better shooters can go further.

Now what sets the Primary Arms 1-6x apart?

ACSS Reticle

I love this thing.

That big 3/4 circle reticle with a pointy chevron for close shots. And great bullet drop compensation for longer shots.

ACSS Reticle
ACSS Reticle

Plus ability to estimate height of a target, wind holds, and moving targets.

ACSS Reticle Extras
ACSS Reticle Extras

It’s also illuminated…but it’s not desert-noon rated. Most likely only usable at dawn or dusk.

ACSS Reticle, Illuminated
ACSS Reticle, Illuminated

All of these things place it ahead of my previous favorite budget 1-6x scope…the Vortex Strike Eagle (full review).

PA 1-6x vs Strike Eagle 1-6x
PA 1-6x vs Strike Eagle 1-6x

One of the things I didn’t love about it was the lack of a definite point of aim…

strike eagle 1x
Strike Eagle 1x

You had to mentally think…”ok, let’s find that intersection of the vertical line with the first horizontal line.”

Give me the ACSS chevron any day of the week.

Second Focal Plane

It’s also second focal plane (SFP)…which means the reticle stays the same size at 1x through 6x.

It makes it…more affordable, and for small zoom ranges a full-sized reticle still doesn’t take up too much real estate even at max 6c zoom.

ACSS Reticle, 6x at 200 Yards
ACSS Reticle, 6x at 200 Yards

Glass Quality

Another category where the Primary Arms wins against the Strike Eagle is in glass quality.

It’s clearer at 1x but where it really shines is at 6x…where the Strike Eagle has very apparent lens distortion.

6x Magnification, Primary Arms vs Strike Eagle
6x Magnification, Primary Arms vs Strike Eagle

This video shows how clear it is…and a camera doesn’t do it justice compared to your real eyeballs.

For a scope under $300…the glass quality is insane.

Shooting with the PA 1-6x

In short…it’s really easy to transition from target to target at close distances.

And easy to shoot farther targets once you get your bullet drop down…

ACSS Reticle, 6x at 200 Yards
ACSS Reticle, 6x at 200 Yards

Here it is in action at 200 yards…

The magnification ring is easier to turn compared to the Vortex Strike Eagle…but not so light that it feels cheap.

Primary Arms 1-6x Scope Magnification Ring
Primary Arms 1-6x Scope Magnification Ring

You can get a throw lever for really quick transitions too.


I opted for the Primary Arms Deluxe Extended mount. You can add it on the main product page and some a few bucks.

You can see that it really pushes the scope forward, which I like on the AR-15 platform.

Mounted Primary Arms 1-6x
Mounted Primary Arms 1-6x

It’s a hefty boi though but it’s great for an additional $49 or so.

If you want to save some weight…I’m a big fan of the Aero Ultralight 30mm rings which is currently on the Strike Eagle.

Primary Arms 1-6x vs Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x
Primary Arms 1-6x (R) vs Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x (L)
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Primary Arms also offers a QD (quick-detach) option but those are much pricier at around $170.

For me…I usually leave my LVPO on my competition rifle so I don’t need to worry about minute zero shifts. And so I go with a fixed option over the QD ones.

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

We’re up to over 2000 rounds with this thing…mostly on 5.56 platforms but a few hundred in .308…and it’s held up great. And if it didn’t…Primary Arms’ warranty will make sure it gets fixed.

Ergonomics 5/5

No complaints here…the magnification fin is large and doesn’t require too much force to change.

Looks 4/5

Personally I’m not a fan of Primary Arms’ chop-sticky font…but I know that’s a dumb nitpicky thing.

Customization 5/5

Ok…there not that much to customize about a scope. But it’s no less than any other one. Scope caps, throw lever, and lots of scope mounts.

Glass Quality: 5/5

For the price I’m amazed at the glass quality. Manufacturing affordable scopes has really come a long way.

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

Again…my pick for the best Bang-For-The-Buck LVPO scope out there right now. Even more brownie points for the ACSS reticle.

Overall: 5/5


Overall a glowing review from me for the Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS Gen III scope.

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you’re starting out…or even if you are a pretty decent competitor…you can’t go wrong. The next level up is double the price.

And if you still haven’t seen the video review…do it. It’s such a visual thing.

What’s your take on the PA 1-6x with ACSS reticle? Want to see more options (such as our next-level pick)? Check out Best 1-6x Scopes. Or if you want to go the distance…Best Long Range Scopes.

9 Tested Long Range Scopes
Oh yes…we love optics!

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7 Leave a Reply

  • Paul

    Have you tried the new ACSS Aurora reticle? How do you like it compared to the original ACSS 5.56 reticle from the review? I like that the original has the large circle with small center chevron for quick acquisition of targets. However, the Aurora seems to have some greatly improved features for measuring distance and moving targets. Do you think just having the large Chevron on the Aurora, instead of including the large circle, is a disadvantage for quick target acquisition? I’m looking to buy my first AR15 optic. I’m hoping by getting a version of the ACSS reticle it will be close to as fast of a target acquisition as a red dot. Is that unreasonable? If not, do you think the large circle of the original ACSS will make quick acquisition easier? If the Aurora’s large Chevron is just as good, some of the extra measurements on the Aurora seem pretty sweet. Can you give any advice as to which of the two you like better? Both are on backorder and I can’t find a comparison online. Any advice on which to get would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. Your articles are insanely helpful.

    May 8, 2021 2:05 am
  • Steve B.

    Received a PA 1x6 ACSS scope 2 mos ago after researching another two months for best option for a 6.5 Grendel conversion. I usually buy fairly expensive scopes but was impressed even more after I received the Primary Arms. The glass is very good for the money. I like the on/off every other click function in the illuminated reticle turret. Reticle tracking is not as precise as more expensive scopes but, heh, it's a combat sight system, I'm using the holds and experimenting with them for hunting. The ACSS .308 version is what I was told by PA to purchase for 6.5 Grendel as the ballistics are very similar. Very rugged scope so far and the ACSS reticle is a breeze to acquire and engage very naturally.

    September 4, 2019 7:38 am
    • Eric Hung

      Great to hear! I'm a little snobby with higher magnification scopes...but for the money and purpose it's great.

      September 4, 2019 9:52 am
  • Jim

    I bought a PA 1x8 and it was crap. Reticle was blurry making it impossible to zero.

    Bought a Strike Eagle 1x6 and it’s been great. Glass is clear.

    I returned the PA scope for warranty and have not had a chance to remount it.

    Maybe I got a lemon-but a google search shows a lot of people had the same issue with PA.

    September 4, 2019 3:13 am
    • Eric Hung

      That sucks to hear...I haven't tried out the 1-8x one.

      September 4, 2019 9:51 am
  • Mike M

    The FFP version is only about $100 more. Have you tried it? Do you not find it worth the difference in price?

    September 3, 2019 6:31 pm
    • Eric Hung

      For this low range of magnification I go with SFP since I'm not ranging or holding over too many things...and if I am I'm doing it at max (6x), not something in the middle.

      September 4, 2019 9:51 am