Test Optic #3: U.S. Optics SR-4c

Sadly, I didn’t remember to take a bunch of photos of this optic, and none that show the scale as compared to anything useful.  I was too busy trying to get things done and expedite the actual testing of the optic.

The next optic up is the U.S. Optics SR-4c, 1-4×22.  Like the SR-8c, it has a red dot in the second focal plane and the reticle in the first focal plane.  They call this illumination “dual focal plane”.

The SR-4c is very similar in character to the SR-8c.  They feel very similar.  The controls are nearly identical.  They are styled in the same manner.  The main difference is, as the model designators would indicate, the power range.

The other big differences between the SR-8c and the SR-4c are the size and weight.  The SR-8c is 12” long and 25.6 ounces, while the SR-4c is 9.25” long and 19.8 ounces.  The SR-4c doesn’t seem like it’s that long, as it has a stout, compact appearance.  An additional significant practical difference is that the SR-4c allows for more flexibility in mounting.  I was able to use my Nightforce Unimount, which I like because it is significantly lower than a standard height AR mount.

4x_138_mil_scale Resized

The reticle on the SR-4c, which again is in the front focal plane, is a very simple arrangement.  I have found out in my travels that simple is good.  I have also found out that cramming things up with features is not always good, which I’m happy to report is not the case with this scope.  What I have noticed with these scopes is that at close range and low magnification, what I want to see is the illuminated dot and not much else.  Something else that I’ve found to be the case with these lower power scopes is that when using the reticle to hold for elevation or wind at longer ranges, fine graduations in the reticle can be confusing and seem to be unnecessary, which is also not the case with this scope.

Something I noticed when I first received the scopes was that the SR-4c had a more forgiving eyebox.  I don’t know of a way I could objectively measure this attribute, but as I initially inspected the scopes I had on hand it seemed to me that the SR-4c might have had the easiest eyebox to acquire.  When I mounted the scope to test I did not notice the SR-4c to be different in this attribute from the others.  When one has the ability to take a good position, and is trained to establish a consistent cheekweld, eyebox ease is probably not that noticeable.  We’ll see if the numbers show a difference in performance.

The illumination on these scopes is, in my opinion, the best I have seen.  It’s a clear, bright red dot.  There is no “bloom” to the illumination, as I see in the Aimpoint and EOTech sights.  The dot is about as bright as with the Aimpoint (I actually found that I could see the SR-8c’s dot in snow where the Aimpoint was washed out).  I’ve been told that the U.S. Optics illumination robs the image of brightness, and it is evident that these scopes are both less bright than the other two I tested.  As with the SR-8c, the illumination isn’t visible from the objective end.

Two things come to mind with this scope, one of which will apply to the SR-8c as well.  I wish the turrets, in addition to being finer in adjustment, would have the customary arrow with the “Up” or “Right”, because evidently some people (namely me) get confused on where I am and what direction I’m going.  I turned the knobs the wrong way twice when zeroing this scope, which should have been (and would otherwise have been) a very cut and dried affair.

Secondly, the big advantage of matching turrets was nullified with the maximum of 4 power magnification.  I couldn’t see my hits at 100 to read the reticle and adjust the turret without having to walk downrange.  This meant that I had to actually go back to doing range math.  Not only that, but I had to do it in mils, which adds an extra conversion step for a brain that was trained early on to think in MOA.

I’ll cover the testing process briefly in the next installment, which is coming up shortly.  Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “Test Optic #3: U.S. Optics SR-4c

  1. Great reviews so far, can’t wait to see the comparison write up to get a proper frame of reference. Keep up the good work.

    Do you find the 4x magnification sufficient for the AR-15 ranges? I understand that more power is always nice to have, but it usually comes at the cost of weight. As an example, I had to spend a month with a phone that did not have all the latest gizmos and gadgets (just basic phone, text, and internet browsing functions). By the end of the month, i really did not need any of the other features that i was paying an additional 60$ a month for. Yes, they were nice to have when i had them, but in retrospect not worth the extra cost. Is the 8x or 6x worth the extra cost in weight and $$$ when looking at the engagement ranges with an AR-15?

  2. As I gain experience in life, I start liking the answer “it depends” more and more. In this case I think it depends on terrain, target, and mission. In my case, the 4″ target is indicative of a certain requirement, and I did see objectively measurable differences in performance as I increased the distance, still remaining in the commonly accepted effective ranges for the 5.56.

    On the other hand this particular scope demonstrated some clear advantages over other scopes at closer ranges. This might be a bit of a spoiler, but this might be the optic for a solid rifle shooter expecting to operate within distances associated more with urban terrain, room distances, “yard” distances for lack of a better word, and street distances, especially if the target size requirement were relaxed.

    I’m sure one could make due without the extra magnification of a 6x or 8x, but some other capability would have to increase, because everything else being equal you are definitely losing something.

  3. 4x is still better than GI irons. And GI irons still work pretty well anyway, for their intended GI purpose.

  4. I’m enjoying the optics reviews RS. I’ve had another come up on my radar recently.

    The Burris XTR II.

    I’m trying to do my due diligence and get all the info I can but the anecdotal word is that they’re very good. I have my eye on the 1-5×24 for 3 Gun. Maybe the 1.5-8×24 for my intermediate range rifle.

    Price point for the 1-5 should be in the $700 dollar range which puts it in the kinda sorta affordable category.

    • There are some optics I would have like to have tested, but it would be a full time job to do a complete comparison. A few that I would have like to have tried are the Sightron 1-7, the Vortex Razor 1-6, one or more of the Leupolds or Bushnells. I’ve had a couple friends with Burris scopes that broke, so I’m a little wary, but not so much that I wouldn’t consider one.

      I’m to the point where I’m considering selling rifles that I use on a seldom or never basis to get money to make the ones I do shoot more usable.

  5. I have been looking very seriously at this optic for my M4 as it’s perfect for my urban/suburban AO. Question: how does this optic compare in lower light conditions? I’m asking because I’ve only come across one other real review (dating back to January) in which the poster estimated a 20% reduction in glass brightness compared to other optics, concluding this one issue was a show stopper. Thoughts?

    • I wish I had done some low light testing. The SR-4c and the SR-8c were dimmer. I don’t know if I’d say 20% is accurate, but it was noticeable. I think whether that’s a show stopper or not depends on some things.

      A hunter who needs to make the most of twilight probably benefits from a bright optic and suffers somewhat from a dim one. There’s probably not much artificial ambient light for him and a light on his rifle isn’t going to be useful.

      I think an AR carbine, depending on its purpose, may not suffer so much with a slightly dimmer optic. The rifle will probably be equipped with a light. In the urban/suburban area there is probably some ambient artificial light.

      I did some sighting on random objects for a few nights with the SR-8 and did not feel wanting for more image brightness. I did a night time course with that scope and felt much better served with it than with the EOTech I’m used to.

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