The Trijicon ACOG Buying Guide

Trijicon has been a leading contractor in advanced rifle scopes for the US Military, NATO, and law enforcement agencies, providing unique sighting solutions for combat operations around the world.

The Trijicon ACOG sight has become well regarded as the top fixed magnification optic available, becoming standard issue on some military loadouts. Available for civilian use, these scopes are a great option for any shooter who is looking to take their rifle to the next level with mil-spec quality optics.

Whats Maks Trijicon ACOG Scopes Unique

acog 1Trijicon is an American company through and through. Formed in 1981, Trijicon established themselves early by landing top government contracts with the Marines, Army, and law enforcement agencies. Now civilians are also using these these high-end scopes to upgrade their rifles.

The ACOG or, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, is Trijicon’s flagship model that they are best known for manufacturing. They have seen combat action around the world and have a reputation for reliability, accuracy, and effectiveness.

ACOGs employ a few different technological advantages that make them different from every other scope out there. We’ll cover a few of these features below and discuss why ACOGs are a great choice for dynamic shooting scenarios.

Tritium Powered

One thing that all sights with an illuminated reticle have to deal with is a power source. Reflex and holographic sights typically have an internal battery to accomplish this. In most cases this can be small 3V or even AAA batteries.

While they do have long power lifetimes (something on the order of 3-5 years), Trijicon has developed a system with a lifetime 5x greater than other sights using the power of tritium. This feature makes ACOGs different than any other scope on the market.

Each ACOG has a small amount of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, within it. It is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that reacts to the human body the same way as normal hydrogen does.

As the tritium decays it releases beta rays that illuminate phosphors responsible for illuminating the reticle. This is a totally natural process that follows the laws of physics, and is great for scope applications because it is a passive source of illumination. There is no off switch here, the tritium will provide constant illumination for its lifetime.

As with all radioactive materials it looses its decay potential according to its half life; which is 12.5 years for tritium. In that time span the tritium will lose half its ability to light up the reticle, resulting on that is half as bright as it was originally.

An ACOGs tritium levels pose no threat to humans due to the small amount that they use. In fact it would take the tritium of 10,000 ACOGs to pose any sort of health hazard for a shooter.

External Fiber Optic

Tritium power is used for night time use in ACOG scopes but they also have a unique way of adding additional illumination during daylight hours. This method provides a backup source of illumination that is guaranteed to never run out as long as there is exposure to light.

fiber opticThis is accomplished through an external fiber optic light pipe that is positioned across the top length of the scope tube. It works just as any other fiber optic does by transmitting light from one end of the fiber to the other. The part of the fiber exposed to the outside world collects incident light which is then passed into the tube to illuminate the reticle.

The benefit of having this is that is gives the reticle extra illumination to match the brightness of what is in the field of view. Typically the shooter will be in the same sun illumination setting as the target, so it is not a problem gathering enough light for this to happen. Extra illumination means that the reticle won’t get washed out against bright backgrounds.

Shooters may notice a decrease in brightness when they step into shadows or there is a lack of direct sunlight. In these cases the tritium should still provide plenty of illumination to still be effective.

The whole operation is passive and requires no work from the shooter for it to happen. Since this also requires no batteries it makes the ACOG the only scope with an illuminated reticle that is truly battery free. Beyond fiber optic, Trijicon is also creating sights that harness the power of the sun through external solar cells.

Military Build

Trijicon ACOGs were designed with US Military and NATO specifications to undergo the most extreme combat situations and battle conditions and still provide the accuracy and dependability expected under the pressures of war. They are used by the majority of US branches and our foreign allies.

acog 2These scopes are utilized by soldiers in the designated marksman role, whose capabilities fit in between infantryman and sniper. DMs support squads with precision shots that are further beyond the typical ranges for riflemen, but not at the extreme ranges of a sniper. In the Army, for example, 4×32 ACOGs are outfitted on each Squad Designated Marskman Rifle and provide the right magnification for the marksman.

Trijicon constructs ACOGs with an aircraft-aluminum-alloy housing that makes them nearly indestructible in even the toughest conditions, and pass all US Military drop test requirements. Scopes are dry-nitrogen filled to prevent fogging and beat the military’s waterproof requirement by 5 times with a depth of 100 meters.

ACOGs are designed to fit on military issue rifles like the M-16, AR-15, and M-4 but can also be used on any rifle with a Picatinny rail. They have a solid ACOG mount and will retain their zero after repeated firings. Shooters will often utilize a set up backup iron sights to be able to switch from their magnified ACOG to something that is better for CQC engagements when necessary.

Trijicon provides a lifetime warranty on its scopes and will replace any damaged parts that are caused by manufacturing.


reticleThere are a variety of reticle shapes that Trijicon provides for their ACOGs, and shooters should choose the one that is best for their own specific shooting situations. In all cases the reticle will be have the day/night illumination provided by the fiber optic and tritium.

One of the more unique reticle patterns that Trijicon uses is referred to as a ‘chevron’, which is an ‘upside down v’ where the tip acts as the aimpoint that should be zeroed. Vertically below the tip are bullet drop compensation holdovers that are precalibrated for 5.56 NATO (223) out to 800 meters.

Trijicon ACOG 4×32

trijicon acogThe 4×32 is the most ‘classic’ ACOG that is issued more than any other model. The 4x magnification is great for allowing battle rifles to be effective out to their true maximum range. With a proper zero it should not be a problem to shoot small groupings out to 300 yards.

A 32mm objective lens provides a large viewing window with a long eye relief. The whole thing weighs in at 9.9 ounces and is length of 5.8 inches.  This size is comparable to other 4×32 scopes on the market, but does not have the weight of additional batteries. At this length is should be a good fit on any top rail mounts.

Like other ACOGs this scope has a ‘chevron’ reticle that is employed in many Trijicon sights.  This is an upsidedown ‘V’ pattern that also include bullet drop compensation holdovers.

Trijicon has recently expanded their lineup of ACOGs to include a number of different magnifications that fill nearly every distance role. 1.5×24, 2×20, 3×30, 3.5×35, 5.5×50, and 6×48 options are now available. The all carry the same functionality but their size grows with magnification.

Also new is a battery powered version of the ACOG which trades out the tritium and fiber for a single AA battery to power its internal LED. With this version operators gain full control over the reticle brightness using an onboard adjustment dial. A single AA battery will last up to 12,000 hours at a medium setting.

Trijicon ACOG 4×32 w/ RMR Red Dot

trijicon acog dualThis scope is the standard 4×32 ACOG sight with an additional secondary optic mounted to the top towards the rear of the scope. This is Trijicon’s Ruggedized Miniatuer Reflex (RMR) sight, and makes for dual magnified/non-magnified options in one scope.

The purpose behind including the RMR along with the ACOG is to provide a sighting option that a non-magnified optics is better for, typically close quarter combat.  When a operator knows they will need to engage both close and distant targets they need a way to sight in on both.

With a 3.25 MOA red dot, the RMR would be utilized in shots within 100 yards, especially within 50 yards. It adds some additional weight pushing it up to 15.1 ounces, and is constructed from Mil-spec grade aluminum. There are both tritium powered and battery powered versions of the RMR.  Shooters should take special care to make sure that each sight is zeroed for their appropriate distance.

Shooters who are interested in fixed power sights should also check out EOTech’s G33 Magnifier, which has all the benefits of a scope but with the additional ability to quickly be switched into a non-magnified position.

Or, another option would be to look into variable magnification scopes like Trijicon’s Accupoint. The 1-4×24 version has the same maximum magnification as the ACOG and can also be brought down to 1x magnification. Also like the ACOG, these scopes use fiber optic and tritium as power sources.

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