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Paul Austin reviews the new Arken EP-5 5-25x56 FFP scope, a relatively new player on the scene offering fantastic value for money in the hunting optics market.
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Arken are a relatively new name in the scope market but they’ve been making huge inroads in the US, especially with their latest release, the EP-5. There have been some very long lead times over the pond but they seem to have finally geared up manufacturing to meet demand and now the Arken EP has finally made it across to this side of the Atlantic.
A quick glance at the scope should give you a fair idea what the EP-5 is all about. It’s very much a dedicated long-range/PRS scope, with its 5-25x mag range and general design. It’s a dialler by design and a damn good one for the asking price.
Before looking into the finer details, let’s take a look at the key specs. It follows recent dialler trends with a 34mm tube, which courtesy of the extra room for the erector tube means there’s plenty of elevation on offer, with 32 mil in total, so you can definitely reach out with this scope regardless of calibre.
Like a lot of its long-range brethren it also features an FFP illuminated reticle along with a AZS zero stop, which in this case is both unlimited in terms of rotations and straightforward to configure without disassembling the turret. An Allen key applied to the oversized elevation turret is all you need to reset both zero and zero stop.
It’s no lightweight at just over 1.1kg but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in a long-range target scope, although perhaps a slight disadvantage for PRS shooting. There’s 3.4" of eye relief, which it maintains well over the mag range. It’s fussier at the high-end as you’d expect in terms of eye box, but no more so than most high-mag diallers.
Field of view is decent at 25.3m at a 100m 5x base mag, closing to 4.9m at 25x – again very comparable to scopes of similar spec. As mentioned earlier, the ret is illuminated with six power levels, with an ‘off’ between each level. There isn’t a huge amount of variation but for a daytime dialler it’s adequate.
The reticle itself, and indeed the illumination style, is nicely implemented. It’s a VPR ret, a fairly standard Christmas tree design, but it’s not too cluttered and would be ideal for PRS shooting. The real high point is the implementation of the illumination, which consists of a centre dot flanked by a disconnect crosshair, which forms a very neat aimpoint. Centre dot illumination is always my preference and this is an excellent example.
When it comes to build quality there’s very little to complain about. The fast focus dioptre is smooth and yet stiff enough to hold its position. The turrets are tall and chunky, to say the least, so there’s no excuse for a miss-dial, offering 10mrad per rotation with figures indicating your dial for the first two rotations – 0 to 10, followed by 11-20 up top.
The windage turret is sensibly marked with 5mrad in each direction, with left/right shown on the turret itself. You can dial past the 5mrad to 6.5 in both directions if the need arises. There are three grub screws on both turrets for resetting zero, plus a fourth top screw for zero stop, which is accompanied by a small brass screw on the barrel of the elevation turret to let you set it.
The left-side focus turret is exceptionally smooth and ranges from 25m to infinity. Protruding from that sits the adjustment dial for illumination, which is numbered and has a very solid clunk/click between each power level.
Perhaps the only slight niggle with the scope is the clicks; like the illumination control they’re more of a clunk. But this is really a matter of preference; I find them a little too harsh but others might love the firm grip required to attain an accurate dial. On the plus side there is no sloppiness on either turret, and both are identical in terms of feel and function.
Moving forward we arrive at the all-important objective. At 56mm it gathers plenty of light. ED glass for this kind of money is something of a revelation and I really cannot fault the scope optically. Its Japanese glass could hold its own with anything in and around this price point and indeed a good bit beyond. Optically there are no complaints or indeed chromatic aberration. It’s bright and sharp edge to edge and there’s no sign of milkiness as you increase magnification.
So where does this scope sit alongside its peers? A close contender is the Vortex Strike Eagle, which retails slightly lower, but for PRS applications I would give the Arken EP-5 the edge.
For long-range precision shooting the EP-5 has some very stiff competition in the form of the Delta Javelin 4.5-30x56 FFP, which to my mind is the premiere long-range precision scope at the £1,000 mark. Like the EP-5 it has a 34mm tube and similarly expanded dialling because of it, but as a long-range precision scope it’s unmatched in terms of glass. A plainer scope, for sure, but optically outstanding.
Having said that, if I were a dedicated PRS shooter I think I’d probably go with the EP-5. It’s a tough optic that could take some knocks and it has all the toys any PRS shooter could want, an excellent reticle and illumination, great optics plus a simple and flexible zero stop. And it’s a fair bit cheaper as well.
The EP-5 passed a box test with flying colours, dialling around accurately for windage and elevation and returning to the original zero with ease. On a tracking test it was very slightly off at the extremes but only by a fraction, and this could be easily corrected with proper scope validation in a ballistic app, so no real complaints.
At £899.99 it’s great value. However, it would have easily been the best value scope on the market if it had crossed the pond at a dollar-to-the-pound price, as most products do. In the US the same scope retails for just $564.00. No wonder they’ve been struggling with back orders!
Objective diameter: 56mm
Type: First focal plane (FFP)
Eye relief: 3.4"
Field of view: 25.3-4.9ft @100yd
Tube size: 34mm
Turret adjustment: 0.1 mil
Reticle details: VPR mil
Zero stop: AZS zero stop system
Zero reset: Yes
Elevation range: 32 mil
Windage adjustment range: 16 mil
Adjustment per revolution: 10 mil
Parallax: Side parallax adjustment 25yd-infinity
Illuminated reticle: Red
Battery included CR2032
Supplier: Highland Outdoors
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