The EP-5 has been one of the most sought after scopes since its release in early 2022. Unfortunately it’s been sold out for most of the year due to post-COVID supply chain issues and the high demand. I got a sneak peak at one at Shot Show this year but like all but a lucky few, I’ve been waiting six months to get one.
First let me be up front with reality. No, these are not AS GOOD as a $3000 Nightforce, Zeiss, or [INSERT HIGH END BRAND HERE]. But for a scope that retails for under a $1000, this comes much closer than one could hope for.
For a small Texas optics company less than Arken has earned an outsized reputation. About 5 years ago, thanks to reviews by YouTubers like Iraqvetran8888, Affordable Optics, and Cyclops Joe Rhea, reports of their high quality turrets and surprisingly good optics called this brand out. The $600 EP4 quickly became THE “budget” scope to buy in ELR and NRL22 communities.
The scope uses German ED glass which is bright and sharp, easily resolving down to Element 6 in Group -1 in the USAF optical resolution chart (if my eyes were better I’d even say Element 1 in Group 0). That’s better than man x45 spotting scopes!
The eye box did get a bit smaller at higher magnification but the eye-relief did not reduce appreciably. The overall image was sharp with a hint of softening around the edges. Best of all there was no noticeable chromatic aberration at its highest magnification.
The EP5 replaces the EP4’s EPR Horus style reticle for the SH4’s more efficient VPR reticle, by far my favorite Christmas Tree reticle design used. Designed by former US Navy S.E.A.L., Arken’s reticle strikes a perfect balance between data and reference points for long range adjustments at high power, while keeping the center clear and focused.
The tube has an illumination dial stacked on the parallax focus turret. The dial has 6 levels of illumination with off between each brightness setting. Only at the the very center cruciform is illuminated, which functions like a red dot at low magnification. It is visible at twilight conditions without being annoyingly blooming like lower end optics which light up almost the entire tube.
The best part of the EP5 are high-quality turrets that Arken is famous for. Adjustments were audibly clear and extremely tactile positive. They built in zero-stop was well designed and precise, using a set screw to engage and stop-bar inside the elevation turret. The turrets do not lock; a feature favored by ELR shooters.
Some shooters complain about imprecise range markings on the parallax focus. But you shouldn’t be using them as a range finder. Focus depends on multiple conditions like the reticle/ocular focus, magnification and not just the parallax.
Arken’s scope prices are going up slightly but they are still an excellent value for anybody getting into competitive ELR or NRL22. And should you be concerned with buying from a company you may not have heard of, they offer no-hassle returns and lifetime warranties. They also sell their Precision Pack which is an accessory bundle which includes high quality 34mm scope rings, a throw lever, bubble level, and high quality weatherproof lens caps.
Does the EP5 live up to the expectations of my 6-month long wait? Yes. Yes, it does.
OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Holds Zero: +5
Box Test: +5
Eye Box: 4
Objective Diameter: 56 mm
Eye Relief: 3.4 inches
Field of View: 25.3-4.9 ft @100 Yards
Tube Size: 34 mm
Turret Adjustment: 1/4 MOA / 1/10 MIL
Reticle: First Focal Plane
Reticle Style: VPR MOA
Zero Stop: AZS Zero Stop System
Zero Reset: Yes
Elevation Adj. Range: 110 MOA 32 MIL
Windage Adj. Range: 55 MOA 16 MIL
Adjustment Per Revolution: 25 MOA
Parallax: Side Parallax Adjustment 25Yds – Infinity
Illuminated Reticle: Red
Length: 14 inches
Weight: 39.2 oz