One of the really neat things about collecting Israeli firearms and accessories is that the Israelis surplused tons of neat stuff. While I haven’t seen any surplus Israeli reflex sights come on the market yet, there are a bunch of Eyal and Nimrod scopes floating around out there. I was recently able to get my hands on an El-Op Eyal scope. The Eyal is a “M16 carry handle”-style scope of the type that was popularized by the old Colt 3x and 4x scopes.
I’d like to share my thoughts about it!
The Eyal that I procured was from a private individual, and it was pretty beat-up. This is not uncommon for the Eyal, as they were only made available in the United States as IDF surplus, and the IDF is rather infamous for using their gear very hard. In spite of that, my Eyal is perfectly functional, with no scratches on the glass.
Mounting the Eyal to my Operation Nickelgrass Colt 603 clone was easy – unscrew the bottom of the mount mount, put the scope’s mount screw through the hole in the carry handle, and then screw the bottom mount back on. There is a stamped metal bracket on the bottom omount to tension the scope against the carry handle, so, in theory, it shouldn’t come loose while firing. The rifle’s iron sights are still usable due a hole going through the mount. Adjustments are via covered coin turrets (1moa adjustments), and there’s a BDC turret that goes from 100 to 900 yards.
The problem with carry handle scopes is that they sit rather high on the rifle. Besides the obvious issue of getting a decent cheek weld, such scopes tend to exaggerate the rifle’s recoil when firing. That said, I didn’t have any problems using this scope without a cheek riser. The eye relief is just right for carry handle usage. It uses a German #4 reticle, which is simple and effective… compensation for elevation is accomplished with the top turret. Windage is adjusted with the side turret. The reticle probably could have been improved slightly with mildots or BDC hashes for M193, but that’s a minor quibble.
There’s no illumination feature on the Eyal. As a military scope, this is not too surprising – for night operations, modern military forces swap over to night vision. It’s also a very small scope, so I’m not sure where they would have put the emitter anyways.
On the plus side, the Eyal is relatively small and light, and the field of view is quite good (probably owing to only being 3x magnification). This optic really puts me in the mind of the Nikon P223 3x scope, which has very similar characteristics (but can be mounted more easily on a Picatinny rail). It did not appreciably change the balance on my M16A1 clone, and the weight gain was easily outweighed by the additional precision I gained with the scope.
On the range using an M16A1 (“Colt 603”) clone, this optic was an unexpected pleasure. The scope mount was rock-solid, and the adjustments tracked perfectly. While it was a sunny day, and thus a best-case situation for shooting with a scope, I thought the glass was exceptionally clear, making hits on a bullseye target at 100yds very easy from a supported position. Ammunition used was in testing was Brown Bear lacquered 55gr 5.56×45 (the best of the Russian ammo, but that’s another post entirely).
All in all, I highly recommend this optic for fixed-carry-handle AR-15 variants, and maybe Galils with appropriate scope mounts. They can be found more cheaply than “real” Colt 3x/4x optics, yet perform every bit as well – perhaps even better.