The synergy concept says the sum of any given combination is greater than the sum of its individual parts. When the Law Enforcement Technology testing team mounted a Leupold 1x14mm Tactical Prismatic Riflescope on a Kel-Tec SU-16, the result was synergistic. The lightweight, compact package proved that a fast-handling carbine combo is neither expensive nor complicated. It is simply a matter of putting good optics on a good carbine.
The Kel-Tec SU-16 rifle is a self-loading, gas-piston operated carbine designed for the .223 Remington cartridge. It uses a receiver made of high-impact, reinforced polymer with a breech locking mechanism that resembles (and functions like) the proven AR-15. The rifle folds in half, pivoting just forward of the trigger guard. The two pieces of the forend fold down to make a bipod. The stock holds two 10-round magazines, which came with the rifle.
The Kel-Tec SU-16 comes in several variations. The model we used for this test is an SU-16A, which has an SKS style prominent hooded front sight. Several variants include shorter versions with compact front sights and lightweight, compact versions. The test version weighed 5 pounds and was 26.4 inches closed, which is light and compact already. For law enforcement use, we recommend Kel-Tec's compact forend conversion kit and 2-point sling kit, which gives officers more rail mounting surface for accessories.
Kel-Tec rifles use AR-15 magazines interchangeably, which allows officers to take advantage of the variety of products available. Our testing team liked Kel-Tec's polymer magazines but preferred metal ones with metal feed lips.
The Leupold Tactical Prismatic Riflescope is a 1x14mm optical system with one of the thickest main tubes in the business. Its etched circle dot reticle is more accurate than other projected reticles, which are inherently fuzzy.
The Leupold Tactical Prismatic Riflescope is designed for viewing with both eyes open. When adjusted correctly, officers are able to see a floating reticle, almost unaware of the scope tube. This gives officers an unrestricted field of view and depth perception while scanning and engaging. It is not a simple tube with a reticle. Users will quickly figure this out as it does have a specific range of eye relief.
It is completely compatible with the A.R.M.S. (Atlantic Research Marketing Systems) #22-34mm mounting systems, GG&G cantilever rings and a variety of low-light options.
The optic uses an etched reticle with a concentric dot and circle. This is an advantage over the projected reticles, which have less clearly defined edges. The reticle is adjusted for windage and elevation by incrementally decentering the objective lens, a feature completely distinct from standard optics.
The windage and elevation adjustments are raised, for easier access. Leupold suggests that they can be adjusted with a fingernail but they have rather stout clicks; we suggest using a coin in a pinch. We ran the adjustments around a few times and they always returned to zero. There is a floating zero dial where the officer can tailor his or her zero to the tactical situation. This design allows for confirmation and adjustment by feeling the instrument, making it an ideal low-light tool.
Leupold engineers designed an optic that can be illuminated by any light source. Although it comes with a simple illumination module that includes an LED lamp with a clamp assembly, virtually any source can light up the etched reticle.
The advantage of the etched reticle was quickly evident in low light. Projected reticles have fuzzy edges, particularly when the human eye is using more rods than cones. The Leupold reticle remains unchanged and is not battery dependent, keeping the objective in focus at all times.