How to Pick the Best ACOG Scope for Your Rifle (Reviews)

Why buy an ACOG scope for your rifle? For starters, it'll boost your accuracy when you're hunting or target shooting. Photo of hunter in tree.

Getting the right scope for your rifle is essential for any hunter. Having precise visibility of your target is crucial to making the shot. Without having the proper scope, how are you supposed to hunt? Why buy an ACOG scope for your rifle? For starters, it'll boost your accuracy when you're hunting or target shooting. And since law enforcement and the military use them, you know they're reliable. So how do you pick the right one? We've made it simple because we've reviewed the top three in detail.

The advanced combat optical gunsight (ACOG) device includes an eyepiece and a reticle with fine lines or crosshairs for taking aim. In addition, it may feature a fiber optic cable for illumination at night.

Trijicon first invented the ACOG scope in 1981 for M4 carbine and M16 rifles. Now they, along with other optics manufacturers, make them for other firearms as well. This type of scope works best with fast, light carbine rifles. When it comes to zeroing in on fast-moving, distant targets -- like deer and caribou -- ACOG Scopes are ideal.

But when you choose one, it'll come down to a variety of factors. Not only do you need to think about the features you need for your terrain, quarry, and weather conditions. You'll also need to factor in weight and bulk if you tend to range far afield.

Top 3 Best ACOG Scope Reviews - Comparison Table

Product Name

Magni-fication

Objective Lens

Eye Relief

Our Rating

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope

4x

32mm

1.5"

#1
​Editor's Choice

Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Riflescopes

3.5x

35mm

2.4"

#3

Acog 2 X 20 Scope Dual Illuminated Crosshair Reticle

2x

20mm

NA

#2

Main Features and Inner Workings of an ACOG Scope

An ACOG scope consists of several parts. While they vary depending on the model, of course, most include a basic set of features. These include a reticle (crosshairs and other ), an illuminating device, and (on some models), a bullet drop compensator (BDC).

ACOG Scope Reticles

Diagram with various ACOG scope reticles, including: Fine Crosshair, Duplex crosshair, German reticle, Target dot, Mil-dot, Circle, Old rangefinding, MOdern rangefinding, and SVD type.
Image: CC0 Public Domain via Jellocube27

Reticles are the aiming point in the crosshairs of your scope. The image above shows some of the most common ones, but there are many reticle designs and colors available. When it comes to the types of reticles for an ACOG scope, each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Here's an overview for the most popular ones.

  • The "original" is the classic crosshairs most of us imagine when we see a hunter peering through a sight.
  • A dot reticle's just what it sounds like: A single dot for those who like to keep things simple.
  • Duplex crosshairs are the most popular among hunters for good reason. The design is simple, yet it draws the eye towards the center.
  • The mil-dot was designed for snipers but works great for long distance hunting as well. The markings even show the distance and size of the target.
  • The red chevron (shown below) also shows distance so you can zero in on a target.

Image of ACOG Scope red chevron reticle.

Here are some more things to think about when it comes to reticles for your ACOG scope:

  • Amber can be hard to see against a brown background. The green option may be tough to spot in reduced light.
  • Use common commercial loading or NATO spec to get best results from the reticle. All ACOG scope reticles are made for use with one load per cartridge.
  • Choosing a semi-circle or horseshoe reticle will result in foggier situational awareness and take up more of your view.

Watch: Midway covers the traditional crosshair reticle, along with the duplex and dot types.

Watch: a comparison of the chevron vs. "donut of death" reticles.

Illumination

Illuminated reticle scopes give you a huge advantage in low-light situations, and they don't add much to your cost. The reticles on these accessories use an internal phosphor to light up at night. Some models feature reticle lighting for daytime use. Models with daytime illumination feature a light pipe made with a passive external fiber optic or battery-powered LED lighting.

Bindon Aiming Concept

The Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) was invented by Glyn Bindom, the founder of scope manufacturer Trijicon. This technique uses the rear eyepiece and the illuminated part of the reticle as a collimator sight.

A collimator sight lets you look into it and see a lit aiming point aligned to the attached device, regardless of the position of your eyes. These sights may also be called an "occluded eye gunsight" (OEG) or collimating sight.

You don’t look through a BAC sight, but you keep the collimated image of the reticle’s illuminated part in range of your dominant eye. View the field with your other eye to focus on your target.

This technique allows your brain to superimpose the reticle on the target and shift concentration after acquiring the target in sight to the dominant eye for a better shot.  The Bindon Aiming Concept eliminates the centering problem common to fast moving targets.

Here's a video that explains the Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) in greater detail.

Bullet Drop Compensator

Bullet drop compensation (BDC), also known as ballistic elevation, is included on some scopes. BDC compensates for the bullet drop, or the effect gravity has on the bullet at certain distances. Bullet drop compensation needs to be modified for the trajectory of the gun/cartridge at a predetermined air density and muzzle velocity.

What is Eye Relief?

You will occasionally see the term “eye relief” in product descriptions or reviews. It refers to the distance from the lens in the rear eyepiece to the exit pupil. You must position your eye behind the eyepiece at a certain distance, so you can see the target without reducing the image brightness. This image is referred to as "unvignetted."

An eyepiece with excellent focal length will provide more eye relief. Use a telescopic sight with long eye relief to reduce the chance of eye or facial injuries, or at times when it is hard for you to keep the eyepiece stable. This feature is essential if you wear eyeglasses since the eye is farther away from the eyepiece than other users. The manufacturer has ensured with its product that you not only get the best hunting experience with its scopes but also that your eyes and face are protected.

Miscellaneous Features

ACOG scopes provide military-approved strength and resilience. You won't need to use a battery with most models or worry about turning on the optic. These scopes were originally designed for the military so that they will resist any thrashing from a hunter or target shooter.

The ACOG includes an integrated mount for a Picatinny rail, so you won't need to worry about buying one separately.

These scopes have fixed magnification to save you adjusting time. The magnification ranges from 1.5x to 6x. The 4x and 6x magnification settings are way more than you’ll need for field hunting.

The original power source for ACOGs is a fiber optic cable running along the top of the scope. The cable collects light, and the scope still works in low and no light because of the piece of tritium inside the scope. There are also LED and combination scopes to provide light, and they are second only to red dot models.

Heavy-duty ACOGs use RMR (Rugged Miniature Reflex) mounts which allow magnification and a red dot sight included in larger scopes. A red dot lets you hit your target at closer than 100 yards, and the magnification lets you focus on targets up to 800 yards.

RMR units sit on top of the scope, and it may sit too high to be comfortable. Mount the RMR in a low position on the unit to get an accurate picture and utilize the red dot effectively.

Best ACOG Scope Reviews: The Top 3

An ACOG scope is reliable and hard to break. It will last as long as you own your gun. However, if you are on a budget, the price may be a drawback. There’s only one downside to these rifle scopes. If you shoot at different distances all the time, instead of a few regular ones, the fixed magnification on these optics won’t give you what you need. You’ll probably need a variable magnification device.

Here are our three top picks for ACOG scopes.

#1 Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 8-34 x 56 First Focal Plane...
  • FULLY MULTICOATED OPTICS: Fully multicoated optics effectively reduce reflected light and increases the transmission of...
  • FIRST FOCAL PLANE RETICLE: First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the...
  • FIRST FOCAL PLANE RETICLE: First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the...

This scope has an illuminated reticle with a fiber/tritium optic. It automatically corrects the brightness according to the light or lack of it the surrounding area. The scope doesn't need a battery.

The bullet drop compensation on the ranging Chevron reticle goes out to 800 meters for a .223 cal (5.6). It has] Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) stands to increase aiming accuracy via the illuminated reticle.

This magnified optic has aircraft-grade aluminum alloy housing for a tough sighting system. You can use it as a CQB sight for "both eyes open" shooting along with [G14] BAC.

The 4x magnification is one of the system’s main selling points, along with the tritium insert and the green calibrated reticle made for the .223 cartridge. The illuminated reticle should last for at least 15 years.

Pros
  • First-class optics
  • Clear lenses
  • Solid, consistent mount
  • Helps reach your target fast
  • Ballistic reticle easy to use even for people with eyeglasses
Cons
  • Some online merchants sell replica items
  • Reticle somewhat blurred toward the edges
  • Some scopes may come without flip caps
Trijicon ACOG 3.5 X 35 Scope Dual Illuminated Crosshair .308 Ballistic...
  • BATTERY-FREE ILLUMINATION: Features a tritium/fiber optic illuminated reticle that automatically adjusts the brightness...
  • RUGGED ALUMINUM-ALLOY HOUSING: Forged 7075-T6 aircraft-aluminum-alloy housing provides for a nearly indestructible...
  • “BOTH EYES OPEN” DESIGN: The ACOG can be used as a CQB sight when shooting “both eyes open,” utilizing the...

For hunting serious game, such as coyotes, this high-caliber scope is designed for all kinds of .308 rifles and has LED illumination. It has six light settings, including sunlight and low light. Use one double AA battery for 12,000 hours of illumination.

The 3.5 by 35 fixed magnification helps you aim in on hogs, deer, coyotes or other big game. Aim for targets up to 600 yards with this scope. You can attach this scope to a Picatinny rail and hunt game in the woods.

It is available in 11 styles, including Chevron, Horseshoe/ Dot, ARMY Chevron, Crosshair, Triangle, and Doughnut.

The glass lenses on this model are multi-coated to provide better clarity and illumination without distortion.

Pros
  • Available in 11 styles
  • Has aluminum-alloy housing
  • Includes bullet compensating and ranging reticles
  • Features "both eyes open",BAC design
  • Multi-coated glass lenses
Cons
  • Check for authenticity if you buy from a third-party seller
  • Style choices may be confusing to new users
  • Uses a battery, which may be bothersome for some users
Trijicon ACOG 2 X 20 Scope Dual Illuminated Crosshair Reticle, Green
  • Magnification: 2x
  • Objective size: 20mm
  • Illumination source: fiber optics & tritium

This scope has the same features as the 4 X 32. Its object size is 20mm, and it comes in amber, green or red. The ACOG 2 X 20 includes a TA30 screw and washer set, a carry handle, a TA62 scope coat, Pelican case and one Lenspen.

It works well on an AR-15, and lasts 15 years or more, like other ACOGs. Too bad it's only available in amber, which makes it hard to see against a mostly brown background. Not so great for hunting in woods and forests during winter or late autumn.

Pros
  • Mounts easily
  • Crystal clear picture
  • Tritium and fiber optic illumination
  • Comes with manual and warranty card
  • Available in several colors
Cons
  • Some sellers may not include a mount
  • The reticle may be foggy near the sides
  • May cause eye discomfort for some users

The Verdict

An ACOG scope is one of the best optics you can buy. It’s also the most expensive, but it’s well worth the money for game hunters and people into serious target practice. For strength, longevity, and accuracy, this optic will help your focus better during hunting season. For more info, see "The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Rifle Scope."

We have gone into depth about the three main ACOG rifle scopes so that you can have all the knowledge necessary to determine which one will work best for the job that you want to accomplish. The review was comprehensive because we didn't want to leave any gray areas. The pros and cons of each rifle scope will help you to weigh up the scopes against each other and decide the perfect one for you. 

Let us know which one you chose or if you still have any concerns before you make up your mind about the one that's best for you.

Featured image: CC0 Public Domain Steve Maslowski U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

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