If you have ever seen a soldier or law enforcement officers tactical weapon, chances are you saw an ACOG scope. If you look around at civilian tactical weapons chances are you saw an ACOG clone.
The ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) were designed and built with the purpose of a scope that increased hit potential in the lowest of light settings. The ACOG clone is a financial easier decision to make, and there are still some good performing ACOG style scopes on the market.
In this scope review article, we will take a look at the best ACOG clones that are affordable but will still perform well in the field and discuss the features that make them worth your time and money.
What is an ACOG Scope and ACOG Clone?
These scopes were designed and made popular by the optics company Trijicon.
These are mostly fixed scopes although you will sometimes come across variable power models. ACOG are extremely compact scopes designed to function in bright to low/no light conditions. They also utilize a Bindon Aiming Concept which allows a both eyes open aiming concept where you can maintain a full field of view while utilizing the scope optics.
The real deal Trijicon ACOG scopes utilize an illuminated reticle that is powered by a phosphor system. This involves the radioactive decay of tritium which offers incredible lasting power (tritium has a half-life of 10-15 years). During the day, these scopes utilize a fiber optic light pipe that captures and funnels the natural sunlight for reticle illumination and help match the brightness of in the scope with surrounding light.
If you look at a Trijicon ACOG replica, the illuminating power usually comes from a battery source. Your ability to use a both eyes open aiming concept is also limited with a Trijicon ACOG clone.
There are hundreds of Trijicon ACOG clones that are on the market. Some are completely worthless although, as we will see, there are several ACOG alternatives worth looking at and considering for your ACOG scope.
You might be wondering why you would even bother with a Trijicon clone when the name brand models obviously offer superior body construction and technology.
Well, the reason is an actual Trijicon ACOG scope is going close to a grand for the cheapest model. If you want the best, you better be ready to drop close to 3 grand.
That’s a steep price for most tactical weapon users, especially for those not having to take their weapon into the rigors of combat. Because of this, you might be better served looking at a replica ACOG, and our next section is a short buying guide for what components and features to look for in an ACOG clone.
ACOG Replica Buyers Guide
- Material: ACOG scopes, regardless of Trijicon or some ACOG replica, are designed to be compact and rugged. If you are mounting an ACOG scope on any tactical weapon where the chance of the scope getting knocked around is possible you need a material that is going to stand up to the abuse- including weather abuse- while remaining relatively lightweight. Aircraft grade aluminum alloy or magnesium alloy are the only materials you should ever consider your ACOG clone to be built from.
- Magnification: Most ACOG clones are fixed magnification given their intended role as an all lighting environment combat scope. The magnification level on most ACOG clones is 1X. There are several models out there that have higher power magnification, but it hardly ever goes beyond 5X. What you will want to purchase all depends on the situations you think you and your firearm will find yourself in. If shooting is going to be up close and personal, a 1X is best to give you a wide field of view. If medium to longer range shots are going to be the majority of the shots taken, you will probably be interested in higher magnification ACOG.
- Brightness/Battery Life: ACOG replicas are not going to be using tritium as their power use to adjust brightness levels. Their power source is usually supplied by some form of a lithium battery. It’s a good thing if you want to save money. Just be aware of the manufacturer’s listed battery life. Most clones worth buying have a battery life between 100-500 hours when managed properly. Battery life is extremely important as the illuminated reticle is one of the most important features of the ACOG. If the clone does not have a reticle with a range of brightness settings that lasts for a reasonable amount of time they are not worth buying.
- Rail Compatibility: There are several different rail styles that are used on rifles, shotgun, and handguns. Some of these scopes come with integrated bases for mounting, or you may have to shell out some extra cash for a base not offered with the scope. Be sure that the ACOG knock off you are looking to purchase will mount to the type of railing on your weapon.
- Price: As we have mentioned, these are ACOG knockoffs, and you shouldn’t be dropping more than $500 on any ACOG other than the real deal scope with the Trijicon label. If you’re paying more than that for a clone, you might as well splurge and get the real thing.
The 5 Best ACOG Clones And Alternatives
In the following section we will review a few great options and let you know what in particular makes them a good buy.
This ACOG replica is a 1X magnification optic that was designed for incredibly fast target acquisition in the field. You have the ability to pick and to switch between a 3 MOA red or green illuminated T-dot reticle.
This scope features five different brightness settings for effective use in any lighting condition. This scope is battery powered with a high battery life with proper and responsible power usage. Obviously, if you leave it on high power settings at all times, you’re going to have to change out the battery a lot more often.
The Bushnell AR also has an integrated rail mount for quick and easy installation to any weaver style railing. The base provides a secure and durable locking system that keeps the scope zeroed and on target throughout its use.
It utilizes a 32mm objective lens that has been amber coated for high contrast visual ability as well as excellent light transmission and quality sighting. This contrast is extremely important in low light environments where colors and outlines begin to blend.
This Bushnell model features a useful zoom dot option that allows the reticle to zoom in from 1MOA to 10MOA for long to close quarter shooting accuracy.
The scope housing is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. All three are characteristics needed in a workhorse ACOG scope.
The scope is 6.75″ in overall length and has a weight of 15.6oz, which is a little on the heavy end, but not enough to throw off the balance of your rifle.
The FOV (field of view) is rated at 44ft at 100 yards. This is a fantastic FOV for a scope designed for fast target acquisition.
- Excellent brightness adjustment settings
- Integrated rail mounting base
- Excellent lens technology
- Zoom dot option
- A bit pricier than other models
- Little heavy
The overall weight of the Sightmark SM26021 is just 10.3 ounces, making it one of the more lightweight red dot sights on the market. Despite this fact, it’s also built out of 6061-T6 aluminum with additional rubber reinforcement to help with shock should the sight be dropped. While there are more durable red dot sights on the market, that’s still not at all bad, and it will be suitable if you’re going to be putting your red dot sight through poor and adverse conditions.
Furthermore, the lenses of the Sightmark come with a scratch resistant coating. This is a major plus, because scratches on the coating of any red dot sight can dramatically throw off your aim. Furthermore, the interior of this red dot sight is purged of all nitrogen and is also fully fog proof, which is another major benefit.
The Sightmark is also designed to be attached to a Picatinny rail system, which is one of the most common rail systems in existence and is commonly found on many modern day tactical rifles such as the AR-15.
The main plus to the Sightmark SM26021 Wolverine Red Dot Sight is the 4 MOA red dot reticle it comes with in the twenty three millimeter objective lens. The adjustable digital switch on the side also makes it easy for you to adjust the brightness controls.
Power consumption of the Sightmark is also designed to be very low, which extends the overall battery life greatly. Speaking of the battery, the SM26021 utilizes a single AA battery. This is another plus because not only are AA batteries very cheap, they are also very common and can be found just about anywhere. This stands in stark contrast to many other red dot sights that only use proprietary batteries that are both expensive and difficult to find.
The waterproof rating of the Sightmark SM26021 is set at IP67, meaning that it can resist water when submerged up to a maximum of three feet. Finally, this red dot sight can also function in temperatures from negative twenty two to one hundred and twenty two degrees Fahrenheit.
Overall, the Sightmark Wolverine CSR Red Dot Sight is a great sight for any AR-15 rifle, in addition to other shorter barreled rifles and even shotguns. It’s a compact and lightweight and yet high quality red dot site that offers you a good overall value for the money.
- Low Power Consumption
- Variable Brightness Levels
- Scratch Resistant Coating Over Lenses
- Nitrogen Purged
- Fog Proof
- Has Night Vision Mode
- Uses Common AA Batteries
- Designed To Work With Picatinny Rails
- Overall Good Value For The Money
- Not The Most Durable Red Dot Sight On The Market
- Compact and lightweight design
- Unlimited eye relief
- Digital switch brightness controls
While this is not an exact ACOG clone, it is built with similar functions in mind, so we will place it on our list because it’s a great ACOG alternative that is ruggedly built and is affordable.
Like all ACOG style scopes, the BARSKA IR M-16 is designed and built for fast target acquisition and tactical shooting situations.
This scope offers seven reticle illumination adjustments for excellent sighting in any light condition and is battery powered. The battery life on this scope is excellent if managed properly. Adjustments can be made quickly, and the scope holds the setting well. The reticle is a crisp red IR cross reticle that is clearly visible for any brightness settings.
This scope uses multi-coated ruby lenses to cut down on reflection and optimize light transmission for the best possible picture. The housing has an extended lip over the objective lens to help cut back on unwanted glare.
This scope is set parallax free up to 100 yards, which is more than enough for shots most often taken with ACOG replica scopes. It also features easy to handle windage and elevation adjustment turrets.
This is a compact ACOG style scope that only weighs 13oz and can be mounted to any weaver style base. It is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof and can withstand punishing recoil.
- Parallax corrected up to 100 yards
- Easy to adjust brightness settings
- Crisp reticle
- Sucks up battery power quickly
This ACOG replica features both windage and elevation adjustments. It is made from a lightweight aluminum alloy that is perfect for extended use in the field and is perfect for AR flat top rails. This model is a true Trijicon replica and has a very similar design to the real thing.
The illuminated reticle is battery powered, but the fiber optic cable serves as a backup energy source that also helps adjust the brightness in the scope sighting to match the surrounding light. Unfortunately, the brightness setting is not adjustable on this ACOG replica.
The glass is treated to have anti-reflective properties to optimize light transmission in low light settings. The elevation and windage adjustments are easy to handle and adjust quickly while in the field.
This scope is rated and zeroed for .233/.556 calibers and comes pre-molded for quick installment to your weapon. Because of this, the reticle can be used as an on the fly elevation adjuster.
The reticle for this scope is a 4MOA green dot. This scope can utilize a 1MOA click adjustable setting at 100 yards.
- Very affordable
- Zeroed in for common tactical ammunition
- Backup fiber optic cable
- Not as durable as other models
- Brightness not adjustable
- Suitable for any 20mm RIS weaver standard rail.
- Illuminated aiming dot that automatically adjusts the brightness based on available light
- Full metal casting with rubberised matte black finish.
This ACOG replica features a higher magnification than other scopes on our list at 3X power. The reticle illumination is controlled by an easy to adjust dial, is battery powered and can have upwards of several hundred hours of power supply.
This is one of the best ACOG clone scopes and is designed to be an ultra compact tactical scope for close to mid range shooting. The housing is made from durable and high strength aircraft grade aluminum and will hold up to abuse and high power recoil.
The Monstrum Tactical features an integrated rail mount that can be easily and quickly mounted to any Weaver or Picatinny rail. This scope features a long and comfortable eye relief giving you a lot of options on mounting along the rail and leaves room for other accessories.
You have the option to switch between a red or green duplex dot reticles. The reticle also features a rough elevation estimator for quick shooting adjustments at long range targets.
The scope is 6.3″ long and only weighs in at 14oz. It has an excellent field of view with 36′ visible at 100 yards. This ACOG alternative might be considered the best on the list even though it is the least expensive model we have discussed.
- Very very affordable
- Very Compact
- Excellent reticle with drop adjustment markings
- Ocular lens focus can be knocked off easily
- High optical clarity at 3 times magnification and 30 mm objective diameter
- Glass range finder reticle for on-the-fly range estimation and long distance targeting
- Dial controlled reticle illumination in both red and green with multiple brightness intensities, for clean sight picture regardless of lighting or environment
You can call these scopes an ACOG knockoff, and you would be correct, but don’t raise your nose at them. These scopes do not offer the features and performance of the Trijicon models, and you shouldn’t expect them to.
These models are a great ACOG alternative and will keep a lot of cash in the pocket for other firearm accessories. I mean, with all honesty, unless you are going into combat, you don’t need the Trijicon brand name.
In this article, we looked at four of the best ACOG style clone scopes that are more than able to perform in any shooting setting outside of actual combat. We hope that this article provides a great and clear resource for those looking to purchase an ACOG style scope.
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