I have a fun side gig.. there is no doubt about it. I get to do what I love and am able to test out new optics fairly regularly. For the past 2 months I have had the pleasure of using the new Arken 4-14x44 FFP mil scope. Initially, I was very curious with this new brand, as its marketed price point of $349.99 and included features (more on that below) caught my attention. It is not every day you see a scope that touts HD glass, a turret tracking guarantee, a first focal plane reticle, and a lifetime warranty, all for under $400. So I took the bait and bought one.. Here is what I found..
1. Initial first impressions: The Arken 4-14x44 comes in what I would consider a standard box in line with what you would see from any reputable optics company. Well packaged, and an added bonus I was unaware of is that the optic comes with a Sunshade ( nice!). Feel and finish wise it is your standard 6061-T6 matte black finish. I talked to the guys at Arken and they told me that the final version will have a look similar to what the razor HD has currently color wise. I am excited to see what that looks like!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
2. Glass: Probably up there with the most important feature when I look at an Optic, Arken touts its Lanthanum Multi Coated glass as " providing better optical performance than similar products" ( took quote verbatim that right from the box). Now I don't know a whole a lot about Lanthanum glass, but I do trust my eyes to pick out good glass when I see it. So, I mounted this SOB onto my 6.5 Grendel and had some fun. First test was a basic test out in the arid desert near my house during mid day shooting hours. I wanted to see what the optic garner clarity wise out in the field. To my surprise, the glass was as advertised. The edge to edge clarity was as good as many optics I have seen costing twice this much, including the vortex viper gen 2, and the Midas/Ares line from Athlon ( more on that shortly). Good first pass... but I wasn't done!
I have a Midas TAC ( HD glass, comparable to a Nikon FX1000, PST GEN 2) and wanted to line these up at dusk to see what the low light level gathering was like. I felt like this was a good comparison as the Midas Tac has a similar setup ( 4-16x44, 30 mm tube). Side by side I focused on the same cactus at 500 yards later that evening... Here is what I saw:
15 minutes til sunset: No real difference in the clarity or light gathering, and not shocking, as light was still very available
Sunset: Oddly enough, expecting to see some difference, as I am get impressed with the Midas tac, the clarity of the object in focus and the amount of light both scopes produced was virtually identical.
10 minutes past sunset: With light almost gone, I rotated looking through both scopes back and forth for a good five minutes, and they both provided the same amount of clarity and light as the other. Now this is to say they are not on par with a S and B or other high end optic, but I expected the Midas to give me more since it retails for $590.. This left me intrigued.
3. Eyebox: In a phrase, very comfortable. Even at full zoom I did not have to fidget a whole lot to line up my target comfortably and fire away. The only downside I see for now is that Arken only has one reticle and one increment choice ( mil). For me this is not a big deal, but for some it may be a deal breaker. That being said, Arken tells me there are other scope configurations in the works, and I am excited to see what those look like. the SHR MIL reticle is simple to use, and I really enjoyed it, as I am not a huge fan of the Xmas tree style reticles that have become so popular.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
4. Turrets: Arken touts itself as having a "turret tracking guarantee". I inquired a bit more about this, and the fellas over there tell me that the turrets will track to a 99% degree of accuracy. Now I did a simple box test, as well as some range time dialing from 100, to 300, and 500 yards respectively, and the scope performed just fine. Also I will add that the turrets are very tactile and crisp.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
5. Price: If you are like me, you are always looking for a good deal on an optic that will perform without having to sacrifice your child's college fund. The $349.99 price point Arken offers is what had me intrigued. I was skeptical that the quality of the optic and available features would actually stack up to other optics in the same general price range. To my dismay, it performed neck and neck with my Midas Tac, and having spent plenty of time behind mid tier optics ( $600-$1000 price range) from Burris, Leopold, Sig, Vortex, among others, I truly believe that this scope will hold its own against any of them. Compared to optics in the same sub $400 price point? There isn't anything I have looked through that I would purchase other than this. I know, sounds crazy right? To my eyes, this is my stance.
Summary: All in all, the Arken SH-4 exceeded my expectations in every category. For $349.99, I have yet to see an optic with this kind of clarity, eye box, turret crispness, and overall quality in this price point. Is it a S and B or Nightforce? No.. But they aren't trying to be either. I will be using more of these in my line up with out any doubt.
To learn more about Arken Optics go to there website: