Primary Arms 5x ACSS Gen 2 Prism Scope Review

Primary Arms 5x ACSS Larue Upper
The Primary Arms PLX 5x Prism Scope is available in both black and FDE. IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A. -( When it comes to combat optics, there is a misconception that shooters need to spend big money to get a quality scope. This is partially fueled by the legendary durability of Trijicon ACOGs that normally run around $1,000 since they were among the first combat scopes to gain widespread use among civilian shooters. And while offerings from Trijicon is very nice, they’re often outside the financial means of many shooters.

One optics maker that made a name for itself debunking this myth, is Primary Arms. Based in Houston, TX, Primary Arms makes some of the finest weapon sights for the money, on the market today. One such optic is their SLX 5X Compact Prismatic scope. Before going into all the features of the optic, let’s take a closer look at what prismatic scopes are, and why shooters should (or should not) buy one.

Primary Arms 5x ACSS Compact Prism Scope in Black or FDE

While a traditional scope utilizes a series of lenses to focus light (AKA magnify an image) to a shooter’s eye, a prismatic scope foregoes the extra lenses and uses an internal prism instead. This in effect makes the optic itself more compact. The downside is that this normally results in a heavy optic relative to its size.

But if prismatic scopes are heavy despite their smaller size, what’s the point?

There are a number of reasons, but the two big ones are increased durability and better weapon balance.

That said, the virtues Primary Arms SL X 5X are not simply limited to those of any old prism optic. Indeed, the SLX is practically dripping with features and quality despite its relatively low price tag. Let’s take a closer look.

SLxP5 Compact 5x36 Gen II Prism Scope ACSS Reticle
Deceptively simple, the ACSS 556 reticle is brilliant! It provides a BDC for known distances and even has holdovers for moving targets built-in.

ACSS Reticle

Even if tomorrow, Primary Arms changed their scope bodies to laminated cardboard and their lenses to saran wrap, their ingenious ACSS reticle would still make their optics worth a look. Yes, it’s really that good!

What makes the ACSS so great, is its combination of visual simplicity and incredible versatility. At first glance, it seems like your basic BDC crosshair with subtensions marking the proper holdovers out to 800 meters – but it’s much more than that. For instance, the illuminated horseshoe at the top functions as a two-eye red dot crosshair for rapid, close-quarters shooting while simultaneously providing quick, useful holdovers.

In fact, the outer edges of the horseshoe are meant as approximate windage holdovers to running targets. This makes rapid acquisition and engagement of moving targets much easier. What’s even more interesting, is that the dots on either side of the range subtensions offer the same function on targets out to 800 meters!

ACOG Compatability

Clearly, the Primary Arms Prismatic optics take inspiration from the ACOG, but what some shooters don’t know is that they can use many ACOG components. For instance, underneath the scope, the 5x ACSS Prism uses the same mounting screws as an ACOG. This means any QD mounts designed for the ACOG will function with the PA scope. Furthermore, this also means any special adaptors like those for the AK, also function with the optic. Which brings me to the next point of interest.

Primary Arms 5x ACSS Larue Upper 17 Lower Saker 762 ASR SilencerShop
The Primary Arms 5x pairs well with a quality rifle like this Larue Tactical carbine and SilencerCo Saker 762 provided by SilencerShop. IMG Jim Grant

Multi-Caliber BDC

That’s right, while the ACSS reticle on the 5x Prism scope is designed for the 5.56mm cartridge, it still works with other calibers like the 7N6 5.45x39mm. So shooters with AK-74-pattern rifles can either use a dog-leg Picatinny mount or ideally, the direct AKOG mount by RS Regulate. Either way, this gives AK fans a high-quality optic for their Soviet lead-slinger, without having to sacrifice the added functionality of a cartridge-specific BDC.

In my experience, this setup makes hitting targets out to 400 meters with my Arsenal SGL-31 an absolute breeze. Giving shooter’s a perfectly adequate Soviet-style ranch rifle. Now if we could only get cheap imports of 5.45mm ammunition…


Though one of the most appealing aspects of the Primary Arms 5x ACSS Prismatic Scope is how you get all that functionality, excellent durability, and great image clarity at a price that won’t make most shooters balk – around $330.

Sure, it’s not as cheap as your no-name optics on Wish or from questionable Amazon sellers, but with the added cost shooters are getting quality backed by a lifetime warranty. And right there is the big point. Yes, the ACSS is a relatively inexpensive optic, but it is by no means a cheap scope. And if a shooter wants to buy a quality, compact prismatic optic that won’t fail them or destroy their bank account, the Primary Arms 5x Prism is an excellent choice.

Jim GrantAbout Jim Grant

Jim is a freelance writer, editor, and videographer for dozens of publications who loves anything and everything guns. While partial to modern military firearms and their civilian counterparts, he holds a special place in his heart for the greatest battle implement ever devised and other WW2 rifles. When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

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Jeff H.

Where do we start? The article is dated today. The reviews are stale by 2 years. The hot links taking everyone to Primary Arms takes you to a different product than the one written about.(The SL, not the 5x). Flat dark earth is not even available in the 5x.

As they say: Nobody proofreads anymore. Poor articulation and execution. Missed the mark. If it was a used car it would be a bait and switch tactic.

Charlie Foxtrot

This is simply a repost of an old article. Ammoland does that from time to time with articles promoting products. I guess they get some advertising money.

Ansel Hazen

And 2 years later I still wish it was available in 1X


I’ve heard the prismatic and holographic systems are good choices for eyes with astigmatism – no more smeared dots or doubled reticles. But I haven’t found a reasonably priced prismatic yet to try myself, and I can’t afford to breathe the rarified air near a Trijicon or a Holosun.

Can anyone with misshapen eyes comment on this scope’s performance?

Charlie Foxtrot

I don’t have this scope! I do have a severe astigmatism, though! Any prismatic optic is better than any non-prismatic optic for my eyes. The big difference between both, however, is that a prismatic optic has an eye relief range, while a non-prismatic optic does not. A prismatic optic is a scope, typically with an edged reticle/dot/chevron that is illuminated. They just work like any other scope. Even the 1x Vortex Spitfire is technically a scope. They do not work in conjunction with those flip-to-side magnifiers. If you have an astigmatism, just get a 1-4x or 1-6x LPVO and stick… Read more »


Since this article is getting a re-run, I’ll reply to my own question. Yes, a prismatic optic is a godsend for my astigmatic eye. I bought the PA SLx 3x32mm Gen III and experienced a clear, single reticle for the first time. It now lives on the .223 carbine I use for 3-Gun. It’s useful for quick both-eyes-open close range CQB-style stages, all the way to stabilized shots reaching steel out to 450 yards. My lovely bride is delighted to take over my Lucid 1-6 LPVO because her eyes see only a single reticle through its refractive lenses. I’m planning… Read more »


I have bought Primary Arms scope with this reticle for my AR. You get more bang for your buck. How about a review on the Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm FFP Rifle Scope – Illuminated ACSS-Apollo-6.5CR/.224V

Wild Bill

@Arny, If this scope was made in China, you may get more bang for your buck than you think. All of China’s profits from trading with the world, and particularly the U.S., go into the Chinese military and intelligence apparatuses.

Unlicensed Bozo

Eye relief is usually bad on these types of optics. I got an LPVO for this reason

Unlicensed Bozo

How does it work? What does the internals look like? Inquiring minds want to know. Could be a good article!

Unlicensed Bozo

Yikes! I commented on this two years ago. Rerun articles eh?

Unlicensed Bozo

Gen three now also!


Where is the scope made?

Ansel Hazen

WB and myself will give you one guess.


Screw primary arms! They are a bunch of arrogant twits, offering up Chinese Communist made goods, all the proceeds of which go to destroy America! However, another problem I have with primary arms is that they are elitists who believe that unless you accept what they offer, in other words a red dot instead of a Green Dot, you are being unreasonable. Further, only the horseshoe is illuminated the rest of the reticle is not. If the Chevron needs to be illuminated why not the rest of the reticle? Primary Arms can keep their elitist mindset, and their arrogance against… Read more »


Primary Arms are not ‘makers of optics’….they’re importers of this Chinese made unit. Your article is misleading.

Buy a Vortex or another brand that’s made in the USA folks.


My 4 Vortex scopes are Chinese.