Remember those videos showing an Airsoft replica of the ELCAN Spectre DR going through a vibration test and purporting to be the closest you can get to the real thing? They were impressive… I can’t find a link though, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Well, it’s been something that I’ve wanted to get my hands on since that video. Unfortunately it just wasn’t something I wanted to take a big risk on, being a relatively expensive item and having heard mixed reports as to the quality of the products offered by Evolution Gear/Loken Replicas, I didn’t want to spend a few hundred quid and be left raging at a company the other side of the world.
So, why Evolution Gear (EG)/Loken Replica? Well… They’re the same product.
The OEM is most likely EG or a closely related business (possibly Model Work Co./MWC), Loken offer the same products within a Russo-European distribution network that might be more appealing to those of us within Europe or even the US.
Let’s start with the promise… An Airsoft optic that’s durable enough for real steel shooting, with a clarity and overall quality that you just don’t find with Airsoft clones, with the desirable US inventory markings to enable the perfectionists among us to build a clone correct rifle.
So how did I get my hands on this? Well, I’ll be very honest… It’s not mine. The sight I’m reviewing is a short term loan from a good friend of mine. Ideally I’d have liked much longer to get a more in depth idea as to it’s worth (including use on a real firearm) but I feel that the experience I’ve had (along with the owners own thoughts and experiences) gives me enough to work with for a short but hopefully useful review.
Let’s start with the colour and the markings, this model being in FDE, some of you might feel that this is far too grey. However, this grey tone is very much within the spectrum of what the SU230 Spectre is commonly seen in. As for the markings, they’re reproduced very well, although I’m not a rivet counter, I’d need someone far geekier then me to tell me they’re wrong.
The mount is a double lever ARMS type mount that locks the sight into place on the top of the rail, this is easy to mount/remove and appears to hold it’s zero very well when replaced.
The windage and elevation adjustment is accomplished via the front windage screw, found at the very front bottom of the sight. The elevation is via a very simple to adjust, captive adjustment wheel. The windage will require a tool such as a flat blade screwdriver or even a coin to zero, but the elevation is tool-less.
The reticle is illuminated, with a Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) reticle calibrated for 5.56 (well, that’s how it appears anyway). The illumination adjustment is via the battery cover, simply turn the wheel to adjust the level of brightness in the reticle.
There is also the option of choosing g between 1x and 4x magnification with this optic, much like the real one, it is dual role (DR… as in, Spectre DR). The throw lever is simple to use, located in the left hand side, simply pull down and move forwards for 4x and rearwards for 1x, it will then snap up into a recess and lock the sight into place at the desired magnification.
The case itself feels rugged and durable, far better than my cheap ACM Spectre DR. The profile looks and feels like a real steel optic, not something that can be said of the cheaper repro. However if using this in an environment where it’s likely to get shot out, you will need to invest in a Loken/EG killflash cover as I have been reliably informed that neither a real nor any of the cheaper replica killflash will fit the Loken/EG model.
The top of the mount is designed to accommodate a small red dot sight such as a Docter or Trijicon RMR, you will need an adaptor plate and again… The thread and spacing might not fit with some Airsoft clones, so check before you buy.
I’ll round up with a brief overview of how I found it in use, some negatives and also what I really liked. Let’s start with what could be improved… The point of aim from 4x to 1x varies far too much to be of any use, unfortunately when the optic is zeroed in at 4x, the item I reviewed had a distinct point of aim about a foot to the left at 25yds, in optic terms, that’s appalling… Unfit for use actually and rather dangerous.
You might think “it’s only Airsoft” but it actually led (in part) to a horrible instance of me shooting up a friend in the back at close range, whilst trying to put shots over his left shoulder. I’ll take responsibility as the guy pulling the trigger, but on an Airsoft gun it’s one thing, if I’d taken up Loken/EG’s promise of this being ready to stick in a firearm? That’s a significant deviation from point of aim to point of impact, you could end up in serious shit (even just at the range). It’s knocked the confidence I had in this sight and if I was using it long term, I’d be keeping it on 4x which is a shame, and something that would really bug me.
Secondly, there were a few components that appeared to have oxidised/rusted. Whilst again it’s not something that you’d consider uncommon for low end replicas, it’s rather poor for a sight that appeals to those wanting a high quality optic. I’ve also noticed that the illumination only appears to hit one side of the etched reticle, the left being significantly brighter than the right side.
On the good side? The glass is superb. The light transmission and clarity is fantastic, almost no noticeable distortions or issues and the eye relief is also very good. Maybe not the 70mm they advirtise, but not far off it. The difference between this and my generic ACM Spectre is night and day, I was able to spot and engage targets to the very edge of the weapons performance envelope, in poorly lit areas of woodland and within the dark undergrowth it enabled me to pull off some shots I’d be hard pressed to do with any other optic I currently own.
Would I buy one? I’m literally on the fence for this. Whilst it has some really annoying problems with the point of aim shift between 4x and 1x being a massive red flag, I still think that this is by far the best reproduction ELCAN Spectre DR I’ve shot through. If I could guarantee that every single optic leaves the factory in the same condition as the one I used, I’d keep it on 4x and plink away happily.
The biggest concern is that of the unknown, would another optic have the same glass quality, would it hold its nitrogen? Would the point of aim shift further or would it simply not hold zero at all? For £100 I can buy and sell a cheaper ELCAN without any expectation of quality. For circa £250/300, I’d probably expect more than this could offer me.
Can I recommend it to a friend? I’d say “read the review and weigh it up for yourself”, I’m still thinking about grabbing one, but I’d have to really want it for a specific build before throwing down my hard earned cash.