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Posted: 10/11/2010 4:19:07 PM EDT
I'm going to tacticool my Tantal by putting a MI handguard on it that will have a short foregrip, andI want to go with the package deal from MI so should I do the SPARC or the StrikeFire???  Which optic is better, or what is the difference between them? Is it better to pay more for the SPARC or just stay with the strikefire?
They also have the new topguard rail that is specifically for an Aimpoint, would the Primary Arms red dot work well with that for co-witness?

Strikefire
SPARC
Palm Top rail system... kinda interesting
Link Posted: 10/11/2010 5:46:22 PM EDT
Get the US Palm upper handguard and a new generation PA micro. I have one I am sticking on now, I will report back in a bit.
Link Posted: 10/11/2010 7:39:34 PM EDT



Originally Posted By acr1:




I have one I am sticking on now, I will report back in a bit.


With pics...



 
Link Posted: 10/11/2010 7:58:14 PM EDT
I got tied up with the kids, it will be tomorrow before I can report anything other than the fact that the PA micro will fit it.  
Link Posted: 10/12/2010 5:00:05 AM EDT
I won't be able to respond until Saturday, but I'm really really excited to see this!!!
Link Posted: 10/12/2010 7:00:35 PM EDT
OK, I have spent the last hour and a half swapping the MI handguard with the new top rail onto several rifles.  I have tried it on a SAR 3, Bulgarian AK74, AMD 65, and a Romanian G rifle.  It will not fit on the SAR 3 without shims, it will co witness with the sights set to 500 on my Bulgarian AK 74, the AMD 65 and Romanian G rifle require at least 500, maybe a 600 meter sight setting to co witness. I would not know for sure on these settings until I did a 100 m zero which would raise the front sight to get on target at 100 m with the rear sight set so high.  This is all with a PA new Gen micro with the emitter at 4:00. I know the PA micro is slightly taller than the aimpoint, so it may zero at 100 m with it, but I am guessing it will need the battle sight setting or at least 200 m setting to work. You could improve the co witness a bit by shimming the bottom of the MI quad rail, but this would be limited by the gas tube and through my experiments at least, you can't get a 100 m co witness with the PA micro and this set up.
So...........................
Bad: Won't co witness with the PA micro without setting the elevation up to at least 500.
Good: It will co witness with the PA micro with the elevation set to at least 500.  This is good because it is at least possible to do this, with the old set up it was not possible at all.  
Good: The new top cover makes the whole thing look MUCH better to me. I never liked the top cover on the old version, but this one makes the whole thing look good to me.  I currently have this on an AK 74 and will snap some pictures tomorrow if my schedule allows. I think I will run it a bit and see how raising the rear sight works out. I would never adjust it anyway on the AK74, so it probably won't matter.
Link Posted: 10/13/2010 2:41:22 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/13/2010 2:42:17 AM EDT by Liquidmetal]


Good info.  Too bad about the less than stellar co-witness though.



Link Posted: 10/13/2010 11:05:50 PM EDT
If between the strikefire and the SPARC go for the SPARC.  The only knock I have for it is the markings on the turrets for adjusting the dot wear off pretty easily.  If you don't remember, or have the manual handy, which way to screw the knob to adjust up/down and left/right it could be a slight problem.  If you take care with it then it shouldn't be a problem.  I zeroed it in on my AK74 and it held after a hot day of beating on it and putting nearly a thousand rounds through, and a great deal of those rapid fire.  It's smaller than the strikefire and I like the dot better.  If I was going to use it on other weapons, like a handgun for example, it would also be preferred, so the versatility is nice.  Also Vortex CS is top notch.  I told them about the wear issue and they are sending a replacement free of charge and paying for the return... no receipt, invoice, box, etc.  

I also have the MI handguard/rail system and it is very nice.  The included instructions are awful and their CS is lousy.  The product is great though.  Once you figure out the install it's pretty easy and quick.  It is a solid and functional setup and doesn't move AT ALL.  The one bit of advice is be very careful in setting the gas tube set screws.  There are two set screws with no heads that you use to tighten the center of the mounting bracket to the gas tube.  It is impossible to match the tension from one side to the next, so if you tighten them down they will push the tube every so slightly out of alignment.  This is NOT good and will cause problems in the operation of the rifle.  Tighten one down until it just touches the metal of the tube, then do the same to the other... then maybe the slightest bit more to make sure it's a solid connection.  It's not meant to be tightened down, just setting the thing in place, and if you have problems it'd be better to leave them off than have issues with the operation of your rifle.  

I got mine before this new upper cover.  It takes away some rail space, but it looks nice.  The Sparc would bold right on which is good and bad.  It would require loosening 4 screws instead of one to remove it, but if it co-witnesses then you wouldn't ever need to take it off anyway.  I'd be really curious to know if the SPARC will co-witness with this setup.  If anyone has that setup can you please post your results?  It looks like it'd keep the optic lower which would help.
Link Posted: 10/14/2010 3:16:21 AM EDT
If the emitter is at the bottom of the SPARC I don't think it will co witness. I put a Gen 2 PA Micro on mine and it would require some really high elevation settings to work. However, I don't own a SPARC, so it may be lower, have a lower emitter, ect.  If you try it out let us know. I should be able to snap some pictures of my set up today.
Link Posted: 10/14/2010 2:21:50 PM EDT
I talked to MI and they are making a new upper cover specifically for the SPARC that is going to allow full co-witnessing, or so they say.  It's supposed to be released "soon".

The emitter appears to be at 6, but I swear I was able to co-witness with the lowest mount to some extent, and if they drop it further it should be OK.  I don't have it on the rifle now though so I can't verify at the moment.
Link Posted: 10/15/2010 1:16:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/15/2010 1:18:25 PM EDT by MAKAK47]
k, well, even though I don't care too much about co-witness, it would still be nice to have it, sucks that the PA didn't work out (perfectly i mean), that would have been one hell of a budget set up!

I need more confirmation on this SPARC mount because I will be allllll over that thing, I guess I could get the SPARC deal in the mean time and shoot for a while then get the co-witness mount when it comes out...

Hey ARC 1, got any pictures though? Especially on an AK-74 style rifle, I'm planning on mounting this on my tantal so I want a feel for what it actually looks like, MI's website is such a cock-tease and doesn't put up enough pictures
Link Posted: 10/15/2010 5:08:36 PM EDT
Here you go.



Link Posted: 10/15/2010 5:32:10 PM EDT
that's almost the exact set up I'm going for on my tantal! The vertical grip is different than what I want, but how well does it work for you?
Link Posted: 10/15/2010 5:40:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/15/2010 5:41:05 PM EDT by acr1]
That is a Magpul RVG.  I really like this grip.  It just feels right to me, it is cheap, can be cut down shorter if you want, and you know it is good if it is made by Magpul.
I am going to try and get to the range this weekend to see how the set up works.
Link Posted: 10/15/2010 9:54:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MAKAK47:
k, well, even though I don't care too much about co-witness, it would still be nice to have it, sucks that the PA didn't work out (perfectly i mean), that would have been one hell of a budget set up!

I need more confirmation on this SPARC mount because I will be allllll over that thing, I guess I could get the SPARC deal in the mean time and shoot for a while then get the co-witness mount when it comes out...

Hey ARC 1, got any pictures though? Especially on an AK-74 style rifle, I'm planning on mounting this on my tantal so I want a feel for what it actually looks like, MI's website is such a cock-tease and doesn't put up enough pictures


I talked to what I believe is the owner of the company (MI) and he said in about "the next month or so" for the SPARC upper cover.  I have the standard lower/upper and it works fine, but when the new SPARC cover comes out I think I'll drop the extra $30/40 for full co-witness if it is as advertised.  I'd really love it if it could co-witness and still have room for a QD mount.
Link Posted: 10/15/2010 9:58:11 PM EDT
I like my Magpul AFG, but I think I'd like one like that if it was lightweight and a solid bipod could drop out.
Link Posted: 10/17/2010 3:33:18 PM EDT
So I checked out the strikefire and the sparc at my local sportsmen's warehouse, and I really couldn't figure out which was better, the sparc when it was closer to my eye seemed to not even be there which was pretty cool when all your noticing is the red dot, but forward more where this would be on the rifle, it almost looks like it would too small of a view up front... but I still like its small size and function so I think I'll be going with that

if i mounted the piece further back I would actually go with the strikefire, which is something I will end up doing when I find a mount that is low and mountable to my scope rail on my nds-74, as seen in another thread
Link Posted: 10/17/2010 6:34:52 PM EDT
I just got home a bit ago from the range. I put 240 rounds through the rifle with this set up.  I ended up running the rear sight up to 700 meters and adjusting the front sight to match for a 50 yard zero. It would be possible to use it set at 300, but you would only see the tip of the front sight and the emitter at 4:00 would be more visible in the sight picture.  With things set to 700 I had a much cleaner sight picture.  Of course this can vary between rifles, so you may see something different.  Since this cartridge shoots very flat, I am going to be fine with this setting.  Once I had the optic and irons zeroed I shot the rifle at 25, 50, and 100 yards, both slow and rapid fire.  I have used this rifle with an Ultimak before and had great results.  The MI rail performed just as well.  Shooting from a bench made things almost boring as all that was required to hit what I wanted to hit was to put the dot on the target, squeeze and magically a hole appeared where the dot had once been.  I put up some paper plates at 25, 50, and 100 and did some rapid shooting off hand.  Each shot resulted in a dead paper plate.   So... this new upper rail makes the once stuck in a storage box MI rail a player after all. I do wish it would allow me to set my sights at 100m like I can with the Ultimak, but it really does not matter since I never adjust the sights anyway.  One thing I can say that this rail has over the Ultimak is that it does not get as hot.  The rail is clamped to the barrel via the handguard, but the gas tube does not touch it at all, so it remains much cooler. I shot 60 rounds quickly once and while the gas block would sizzle water, the upper mount was only warm + to the touch. Also, you can take the 4 screws out of the mount to remove the gas tube for cleaning. I did this once and when I replaced it I saw no shift in zero.
Link Posted: 10/17/2010 8:52:55 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MAKAK47:
k, well, even though I don't care too much about co-witness, it would still be nice to have it, sucks that the PA didn't work out (perfectly i mean), that would have been one hell of a budget set up!

I need more confirmation on this SPARC mount because I will be allllll over that thing, I guess I could get the SPARC deal in the mean time and shoot for a while then get the co-witness mount when it comes out...

Hey ARC 1, got any pictures though? Especially on an AK-74 style rifle, I'm planning on mounting this on my tantal so I want a feel for what it actually looks like, MI's website is such a cock-tease and doesn't put up enough pictures


I would get the regular MI setup and the SPARC upper cover separately later if you can afford the extra $40.  I say this because you may want to do a config someday where you want the rail on the upper as well as the SPARC (or maybe no SPARC) and will sacrifice co-witnessing or whatever, so it;'s nice to have the option by simply swapping the upper cover piece which is super quick and easy to do.  If you want more confirmation to to the MI page and send an email to their general info email.  Every time I've done it I get a quick response from Troy Storch and he confirmed for me they're releasing it.

Here is my Bulgarian AK74 with the MI handguard (not the SPARC cover obviously) and a SPARC on it.  I have no issues with it being so far forward, and even when I put the magnifier on it.

http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f83/slhaas/2010-07-22000711-1.jpg
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 7:46:26 AM EDT
boomstick, could you send me a picture of looking down the sight from the user's perspective????? I love your set up!
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 2:30:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/18/2010 2:36:38 PM EDT by Boomstick]
Originally Posted By MAKAK47:
boomstick, could you send me a picture of looking down the sight from the user's perspective????? I love your set up!


Sure.  It's hard to get a nice shot of this while holding the rifle and with the flash wanting to go, etc.  I have a killflash on the front of the optic and dust covers.  The killflash creates a honeycomb effect that is also making the red dot not look as sharp and clear as it really is.  You get used to the killflash and dont see it, and you may choose not to have one (kind of a waste anyway really).  Having the covers off is nice because if you're shooting with both eyes open you can see everything around the optic, but I keep them on for obvious reasons and at the range I dont need a full field of view to shoot a target.  If I was doing something fun I'd pop them off and you could see better around the sight.  I also looked again at the Palm cover available now and it says it's ok for the SPARC and I dont see why waiting for another version is necessary.  I guess I will because I am not in a hurry, but if you are it should work just fine.  The picture on their web-site looks like it's co-witnessing at the lowest range setting.  To cowitness with my setup I have to crank the front post up and set the rear sight to the furthest distance.  I also have a cheek riser on my stock.  You'll have to get your optic setup and see with your stock and configuration where you eye lines up.  You may or may not want/need a riser yourself.  The only other thing, besides the Palm cover, I'd like to do is run a wire/switch for the light to the AFG so I can trigger it with my index finger while holding the grip, or possible get a grip with a bipod that drops out and do the same thing to it.


http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f83/slhaas/DSC01039.jpg
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f83/slhaas/DSC01040.jpg
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f83/slhaas/DSC01041.jpg
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f83/slhaas/DSC01045.jpg
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 4:57:50 PM EDT
well, that's that, I'm getting that optic, dude thanks a ton for those pics!!!
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 5:11:17 PM EDT
If you want to spend the extra money for the SPARC over the PA Micro, why don't you wait till the dedicated US Palm upper is available for the SPARC.  If it were me, I would just pick up the PA Gen 6 Micro for less money and longer battery life.  I like Vortex stuff, but with the emitter on the bottom you are never going to see as much of the front sight as you are with the PA Micro. Just my .02
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 5:37:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/18/2010 8:18:58 PM EDT by Boomstick]
Originally Posted By acr1:
If you want to spend the extra money for the SPARC over the PA Micro, why don't you wait till the dedicated US Palm upper is available for the SPARC.  If it were me, I would just pick up the PA Gen 6 Micro for less money and longer battery life.  I like Vortex stuff, but with the emitter on the bottom you are never going to see as much of the front sight as you are with the PA Micro. Just my .02


You'll see enough of it to do full cowitnessing with the Palm cover that is out now, or the SPARC one when it comes out.  If it were me I'd get the MI handguard and the SPARC cover as well so I'd have the option to run a rail on top if I have the SPARC off for whatever reason... perhaps using a QD mount and ignoring cowitnessing for some setup perhaps.  Which optic is a personal call I guess.  I've read about tests, and have done my own on it, and it's solid and the performance is top notch for the price range, so for me the SPARC is the winner, especially with the Palm cover.  The battery life on the Sparc at the lowest setting (which is what I end up using 99% of the time as it is plenty bright enough) is 3400 hours.  The PA unit is 1000 at Medium.  I dont know what theirs is at the lowest and what level you'd need to have a bright enough dot to do a fair comparison.  The Sparc gives you the 2x viewer with an optional 3x, night vision mode, a lifetime warranty and awesome customer service, and the threads on the front and the back allow for adding other options (like the flashkill).  The PA unit has a nice price, a better emitter location and seems good in it's own right, but I think the extra $100 for the Sparc gets you more than $100 added value.  Whichever is in your price point wont do you wrong.
Link Posted: 10/18/2010 5:58:17 PM EDT
So I was looking at the difference between the two, I think I'll stay with the sparc, that auto turn off function is nice, and I want a both eyes open function, soon I will be able to co-witness it
Link Posted: 10/19/2010 2:04:51 PM EDT
hey, I was just wondering, on the Primary Arms website it says there battery lasts 1000 hours on medium settings, but on the vortex SPARC the low setting gets like 3400 on low and on high 120 hours... soooooo what does it get on medium then?
Link Posted: 10/19/2010 4:41:19 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MAKAK47:
hey, I was just wondering, on the Primary Arms website it says there battery lasts 1000 hours on medium settings, but on the vortex SPARC the low setting gets like 3400 on low and on high 120 hours... soooooo what does it get on medium then?


There are multiple settings not just low, medium and high, so it would be variable, and the times would be in between the low and high.  I always use the lowest setting because it's a nice size dot, clear and plenty bright enough even in the day.  If I ever need to go brighter I know I can, but I'll get close to the 3400 hours.  If I went up a notch or two it would still probably be around or more than 1000 hours, and it has an auto off function to save battery life, and you get a spare battery, so honestly, battery life is the last thing I consider with this optic.  They even have a little spare batter case you can attach to a rail and lock to the rifle with a cable so you always have one in the field.  It costs extra though.
Link Posted: 10/27/2010 10:37:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/27/2010 10:40:52 AM EDT by MAKAK47]
So yesterday my vortex SPARC and MI handguards came in at the same time, along with my magpul RVG foregrip, and I've got the thing put together on my Tantal but I'm going to do it again later with the locktite, just wanted to check it out first, here's my initial impressions:

THIS SHIT FUCKING RULES!!!!!  (sorry for the foul language)
-The red dot is very solid, and what was in the package made me very impressed, i plan on moving that red dot around to other rifles in the future since it has multiple mounts and a magnifier, plus extra batteries
-The handguards are build extremely solid, like someone attached a tank to the front of my rifle, very good looking too
-The vertical grip is very comfy and it doesn't interfere with mag insertion/extraction, it also solidly locks into place

Of course being in the military, I'm used to AAR's, so here would be my improves:
-Better instructions, if not step by step with pictures for the MI handguards instead of a piece of paper with written instructions and one picture, hell even the magpul vertical grip showed which way to twist the screwdriver when tightening it to the rails! But honestly it was still pretty easy to get the rails set up, if you've worked with tactical AK forends before its way too easy to get this set up. The SPARC has an entire manual which is in depth with some pictures, makes me assured Vortex actually cares.
-There is a noticable weight difference with all the goodies attached, however, given the fact that the previous handguards were extremely light bakelite (even my pistol AK seemed heavier than the Tantal with those on), and the fact I have better control and both eyes open red dot sight attached really make this point null, I can handle the extra weight, hell I love my 200lb SIG-556
-I would also have something that covers the front opening of the receiver , what I did to make up for that was I have spare parts from my UTG handguard I used on my Draco pistol I had laying around, so I took the piece that covers the receiver opening and put it there, and it actually worked out really well (I will get pictures of this when I post pictures of the rifle later)
-I absolutely love the way this looks, but the upper handguard leaves a bit of the Tantal's gas tube exposed, from an aesthetic point of view it makes me wish they had a version that extended back a bit further to cover it, but from a practical standpoint I could really give a shit less, it has no effect on the tube
-Unfortunately the red dot magnifier is useless where the red dot is mounted, its just too far forward, but with what type of shooting I'll be doing it wouldn't make sense to have a magnifier, if I move it over to my AR15 or a rifle where it is mounted closer to my eye, then yes I will probably add it, in the interm... no

Conclusion: I am now in love more than ever with my AK, I am EXTREMELY impressed with the strength of the parts and how I was able to install everything (SPARC and Magpul pistol grip) in less than 10 minutes.  If you are on the borderline, check out my review so far, but I really really really reccomend you get these handguards, or the sparc, or vertical grip, or all of them, best gun parts purchase I have made in a long time!

Pictures will follow soon


Link Posted: 10/27/2010 11:26:43 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MAKAK47:

Of course being in the military, I'm used to AAR's, so here would be my improves:
-Better instructions, if not step by step with pictures for the MI handguards instead of a piece of paper with written instructions and one picture, hell even the magpul vertical grip showed which way to twist the screwdriver when tightening it to the rails! But honestly it was still pretty easy to get the rails set up, if you've worked with tactical AK forends before its way too easy to get this set up. The SPARC has an entire manual which is in depth with some pictures, makes me assured Vortex actually cares.


-I would also have something that covers the front opening of the receiver , what I did to make up for that was I have spare parts from my UTG handguard I used on my Draco pistol I had laying around, so I took the piece that covers the receiver opening and put it there, and it actually worked out really well (I will get pictures of this when I post pictures of the rifle later)


-Unfortunately the red dot magnifier is useless where the red dot is mounted, its just too far forward, but with what type of shooting I'll be doing it wouldn't make sense to have a magnifier, if I move it over to my AR15 or a rifle where it is mounted closer to my eye, then yes I will probably add it, in the interm... no




The Vortex instructions were fine for me.  The MI handguard instructions were pretty terrible.  Vortex has better customer service as well, not that Im complaining about MI, it's just that Vortex is THAT good.  If you've never worked with your AK before, the handguard can seem very daunting out of the box with the provided (lack of) instructions.  When you sit down and look at it and start to fit it together and see how it must work, it's not that bad after all.

I would like to see more of this, as I've been looking for a solution to cover this as well.

I have my SPARC set as far back as it will go on the upper handguard.  At that position I thought the magnifier would be useless, but it wasn't.  I tried it at the range and it actually helped in sighting the optic in.  It worked.  Probably not the best in a tactical situation, but it worked.  I have a cheek riser on my stock though too, so maybe the natural alignment is a little better?

I couldnt agree more on this set-up though.  Looking forward to some pictures.
Link Posted: 10/28/2010 6:40:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/28/2010 6:41:30 PM EDT by MAKAK47]
Here's the new set up





Below is the piece I added from the UTG rail system, it looks silver but really it is just shiny black, the camera flash reflected off it quite a bit
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