January 06, 2017
By Jim Grant
Russian scopes aren't worth the zinc they're cast in. At least, this has been the prevailing opinion of optics aficionados since the West gained access to surplus Warsaw Pact scopes. Modern imports are better, but haven't been on par with contemporary offering widely available to the American shooting public. At least, this was true until the recent arrival of the Wolf PSU 1-4x optic, now offered by Wolf Performance Ammunition.
WPA is best known for their economy-priced ammo but also handles the imports of VEPR shotguns and rifles. The addition of the PSU to Wolf's lineup reflects their continued push to offer affordable high-end shooting and hunting products to the West.
Similar to how its VEPR rifles flatly outclass Saiga's, Wolf's new PSU destroys the POSP and other ex-Soviet optics in terms of clarity, usability and light reception. Yes, the glass itself is much much better, but it also has to do with the fact that the scope itself is a prismatic one.
This means that the inside of the optic features a pair of glass prisms set at 90 degree angles from one another. The premise is deceptively simple: bounce light between them to properly orientate the image without the added bulk and length of additional standard lenses. The tech sounds revolutionary, but has been around since the Renaissance. Most binoculars use this tech, which is why people don't use spyglasses to go bird watching.
Prismatic scopes offer such a tremendous advantage in terms of design compactness, they've become all but ubiquitous in the US military. Both the ACOG and the Elcan series of optics rely on prisms. The latter is both visually and functionally similar to the Wolf PSU.
Though there are some clear differences. Both optics are not variable magnification, but dual magnification, and changing between the two takes only the throw of an external lever. Inside the two optics, though, something very different occurs.
While the Elcan rotates an internal multi-sided reflecting prism to switch between magnifications, the Wolf PSU takes a simpler approach, shifting a traditional magnifying lens forward to cancel its 4x magnification, or back to enable it.
These differing design philosophies drastically alter the construction and appearance of the optics. The practical differences? The Elcan is heavier, and wider; the Wolf PSU is lighter, longer and has traditional windage and elevation controls. Both are ruggedized combat scopes and produce mystifyingly clear images.
Canadian scope similarities aside, the Wolf PSU utilizes a proprietary crosshair with a BDC set for 62-gr. 5.56mm ammunition. Additionally, the reticle has a range-finding feature on the left side, that shooter simply places over their man-sized target to get a rough estimated range. With the data in hand, they use the BDC under the crosshair to engage that target without adjusting the elevation.
The other unique feature about the Wolf PSU's crosshairs are the horseshoe-style rapid engagement portion above the main reticle. It allows shooters to rapidly engage targets as if using a red dot in those instances where either rangefinding or high precision are superfluous. This combined with the fact that PSU's 1x setting is a true, unmagnified 1x, results in a solid do-all optic with influences by PSO SVD scopes, the Trijicon ACOG the Elcan Specter and traditional red dot sights.
Additional niceties include quick-throw mounting levers, heavy duty construction and AR15-centric mounting height further sell the PSU as a quality tactical product with militaries in mind.
In testing, the Wolf PSU was mounted on the author's personal Bravo Company DI AR-15, zeroed and ran for close to 300 rounds where it held zero perfectly and was tremendously effective out to 250 yards.
The PSU was then mounted on a C308 rifle from Century Arms, where it was subjected to a 200-round rapid fire string through 10 magazines before remounting on the BCM carbine. If a zero shift occurred, it did so with such minutia to be inconsequential.
During these strings of fire, the PSU's weight was only an issue if mounted too far forward, which according to my digital scale is 26.65 oz. Not exactly light, but ruggedized optics rarely are. Especially if they feature adjustable magnification.
Shooters looking for a high-end combat optic might not consider Wolf Performance Ammunition when searching for glass, but if Wolf continues to ship scopes like the PSU, that will certainly change.