One of the most expensive, and also highest quality AR-15 sights is the famous Trijicon ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights) scope. Proven in battle all over the world, these self illuminating sights are so advanced, their export from the United States is forbidden without special government paperwork. However, other than cost, there is nothing stopping you from owning one inside the US, and discerning shooters all over the nation have learned to love their ACOGs. Aside from crystal clear optics, fiber optic and tritium illumination, and a rugged military grade design, the ACOG is really one of the finest, most efficient optics to ever grace an AR-15 or really, any other rifle. They are the pinnacle of low powered optics design and command respect wherever they are used.
The genius of the ACOG is it’s use of slightly radioactive tritium to provide a battery free source of illumination which ensures an illuminated reticle at all times, and guarantees the illumination will work even at critical moments. Some models do feature a traditional battery powered illuminated reticle and some have a fiber optic illumination feature as well. No matter how you slice it though, the ACOG sight is an impressive piece of kit, and one well worth investing in. We found three of the best ACOG scopes for you to take a look at, see what you think!
Often counterfeited but never truly duplicated, the TA31F is a tritium and fiber optic illuminated 4 power scope that will allow you to command the battlefield or shooting range. With a built in .223 chevron ballistic reticle, this ACOG is perfect for those who need a fast zero and an efficient optic tuned around the .223 or 5.56 NATO round. Designed to mount on a standard Picatinny rail, this rather affordable ACOG is perfect for anyone who needs an advanced optical sight and doesn’t mind paying for it.
On the other hand, it is a $1200 plus sight and for as perfect as it is, it does have it’s shortcomings. For one thing, not everyone likes the chevron reticle. If you do, it’s great. If not, then eh, not so much. Further, it is calibrated around the common 55 grain bullet, so if you shoot lighter or heavier bullets, it isn’t as useful. Really this is a combat optic, and lacks certain refinements that might make it more attractive to the sportsman or precision target shooter. Bottom line, if you are building a tactical rifle, this is a great ACOG. Otherwise… eh, there are others to choose from.
- Inexpensive compared to some ACOG models
- Rapid target acquisition with chevron reticle
- Designed around the most common .223 ammo
- Strictly a tactical optic
- No battery illumination
- .223/5.56 NATO use only
One of the most exciting rounds used in the AR-15 is the .300 Blackout, and if you need an ACOG for an AR15 in .300 Blackout, this is the one. Calibrated for both supersonic 110-125 grain bullets and subsonic 174-240 grain bullets, this battery illuminated ACOG is one of the best choices for .300 Blackout AR’s. Built with an aircraft grade aluminum alloy body, and made to the same combat proven designs as other ACOG’s, this unit can run thousands of hours on a single AA battery when used at the lowest illumination setting.
However, if you want an ACOG that has the famous tritium or fiber optic illumination, you are out of luck here. This is a strictly battery powered illuminated unit, and while that shouldn’t be a problem, there are reasons why the non electric units exist. However, considering how few high end .300 Blackout optics there are, this shortcoming should hardly be a major consideration. As always, price is an issue, and of course the reticle is built more for combat operations than precision target shooting, although it would be quite suitable for hunting. If you are a professional door kicker, hunter who likes the best possible gear, or building a tactical carbine, this is your optic. Otherwise, keep looking.
- It’s an ACOG. Calibrated for .300 Blackout. What’s not to love?
- Runs practically forever on a single battery.
- Easy to use calibrated reticle
- Requires battery for illuminated reticle to function
- Not ideal for precision target shooting
- Only calibrated for a handful of common bullets
This may be the ultimate setup for an AR-15 with an ACOG. Not only do you get a battery illuminated ACOG, but it is also fitted with the high grade RMR RM06 red dot as a close quarters or backup sight. Think about it, take an ACOG, put a standard reticle with bullet drop compensator inside, and then top with with Trijicon’s famous RMR RM06 red dot, and you are literally ready for almost anything you need a battle ready carbine for. The fixed four power scope with 32mm objective lens is perfect for any reasonable use you can put most AR-15’s and similar rifles to, while the red dot gives you a quick transition for close range shots or simply serves as a backup sight. Either way, this is a killer ACOG combo that simply cannot be beat.
But boy howdy is it pricey. You get what you pay for and $2,000 is a lot of money for a fancy scope and red dot combo, even if it is one of the best AR-15 sights you can get period full stop. But like with anything this epic you have to take a rational pause and consider just what good will this setup do for you? Sure it’s great for most hunting, but a lot of fixed four power scopes are. The red dot setup is nice, but do you need it? This is something you buy for bragging rights, because you demand the best possible gear for your money, or because your life literally depends on it. Choose carefully, because while this is a great setup, it’s also a professional grade setup.
- Works with any rifle or cartridge
- Red dot is perfect for close quarter use.
- Perfect pairing of scope and red dot
- Not everyone needs a red dot on top of their scope
- Battery operated
- Needlessly complex for some situations
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What is an ACOG Scope?
To put it simply it is an industrial marvel that is quite likely the finest optical sight ever fielded on a rifle in combat. Or an overrated piece of gear that isn’t anything special. It all depends on who you talk to. The reality is the ACOG is in fact such a highly respected rifle sight, the Marines purchased one for every rifle and carbine in their inventory. With an endorsement that powerful, it’s clearly obvious this is also one of the best scopes for the AR-15. However the real question is just what makes the ACOG so great? Well, we can sum it up with a few key points.
- Illuminated reticle. While not such a big deal now, this was a real game changer when the ACOG was first introduced, especially in this compact format.
- Fixed magnification. Not only does making a fixed power scope simplify construction and make for a more durable optic, most carbines and rifles used with the ACOG are used at ranges where low power magnification is more that ideal.
- Multiple configurations and power sources. Some ACOG’s are illuminated through passive fiber optics and tritium vials. Others can be had with AA battery power. All are very reliable.
- Adjustable brightness settings. Illuminated reticles are great. Being able to adjust the brightness is also great.
- Battle proven. The ACOG has proven its worth during the global war on terrorism, and is standard equipment in many armed forces and special units.
- High end construction. These are optics meant to be used in harsh, unforgiving situations and still function. For the average consumer, they are nearly indestructible.
Reasons For An ACOG Sight
Let’s consider a few reasons why you would want to buy an ACOG even if you are not in the military. As outlined above, these are hardcore scopes built for extreme duty, and in my mind, that alone is a compelling reason to use them. There are millions of AR-15’s in the United States, and they are configured for every form from casual plinking to self defense, to tactical purpose. Some are built to be paragons of their kind, some ride in police cars, some are carried by ranchers and farmers and outdoorsmen against the threat of predators, and some are just plain cool. All of these AR-15’s can benefit from the addition of ACOG sights, and for much the same reason as the military has chosen them.
We are fortunate to live in a nation where much military grade gear is available to the public, and the ACOG is no exception. Take a look at your AR-15, or maybe your AK-47, or some other similar carbine. What sits on it now? Iron sights that are acceptable for as far as your vision works? Some red dot or other optic? If you are like many shooters and gun owners you probably have a carbine of some sort, in more or less stock configuration and you’d like to take it to the next level. You’ve probably fiddled with the iron sights, put on a free floating handguard, changed the furniture around to suit you, but it’s not quite all there yet. Here is where an ACOG comes in, because that is the last and greatest step towards transforming your AR-15 from “meh” to “awesome!”
Fakes And Clones
However, it is crucial to be aware of fake ACOGs. These are expensive, precision instruments that are in high demand by private citizens and government agencies, which means there are often not enough to go around. There is a lively market in cheap fakes from overseas and they sneak into legitimate listings sometimes. Beware of any ACOG that is too cheap. As tempting as a $3-400 price tag might be, you can’t even get used ACOGs for that price, let alone a brand new one. Our product recommendations take you to legitimate, real product, it it is easy to get suckered if you aren’t paying attention. Even worse, some fakers will sell at near full retail and bilk you for a cheap airsoft grade ripoff.
There ARE functional similar looking scopes if you just want the ACOG look without the ACOG function and price tag, but that is beyond the scope of this article. Just be careful what you purchase. If you are openly shopping a knock off, they are out there, but if you are looking for the real deal, you can get severely burned with counterfeited goods.
Buying an ACOG is a commitment that requires a noticeable outlay of cash. It isn’t something to be entered into lightly or on a whim. But it is a commitment to purchasing a high end piece of equipment that should last you a lifetime and probably more. It will add a new level of functionality to your favorite rifle or carbine, improve your ability to take accurate, quickly aimed shots, and help you get the most performance out of your favorite modern sporting rifle. These optics were designed around certain firearm concepts and excel at enhancing those concepts. A long range target shooter probably won’t benefit from an ACOG. A person engaged in three gun competition shooting most likely will benefit from one. Hunters can sometimes benefit from an ACOG as will persons building a tactical carbine or even AR style pistol in some cases. Certainly law enforcement and security professionals will benefit. No matter how you slice it, there is a huge user base that can benefit from using an ACOG, and the trick then is in picking the best one. If you’ve got the cash, then there is no real reason not to grab the best ACOG you can find.