“In Fallujah, Iraq Marines with ACOG-equipped M16A4s created a stir by taking so many headshots that until the wounds were closely examined, some observers thought the insurgents had been executed.”Venola, Richard. “Iraq: Lessons From The Sandbox”. Combat Arms.
“The ACOG® mounted on the M16 service rifle has proven to be the biggest improvement in lethality for the Marine infantryman since the introduction of the M1 Garand in World War Two.”
Major General J.N. Mattis Commanding General, 1st Marine Division
As noted above, there has been some extremely high praise for the ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight), over the years. Some of that praise is more credible than others. However, most of that praise was from a time before the widespread popularity of the Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO).
The simple fact is this: An LPVO is more capable for shooting. As proof of this fact, consider that the US Marine Corps has begun the process of replacing the 4x ACOG with the 1-8x Trijicon VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight). There is more magnification for distance shooting, and there is the ability to have a true 1x for close-range.
However, we don’t spend all of our time shooting our rifles. Even though shooting is the main purpose, I am here to tell you some reasons why The ACOG is still praiseworthy.
#1. The optical quality is extremely good. This is an area that is subjective to each individual eyeball. However, what is not subjective is the widespread agreement among ACOG users that the optical quality is bright, distortion-free, and very high-quality. Among the complaints about the ACOG, the “glass” is not one of them.
#2. The size and weight are unbeatable by an LPVO. A TA31 ACOG in a Laure Q.D. mount is 13.2 oz. Conversely, a Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 E, in a Midwest Industries Q.D. mount is 30.5 oz. That is more than a pound heavier for the LPVO. The sizes are also significantly different. The ACOG is 6 inches, and the LPVO is almost 11 inches, in length. In summary, the ACOG is impressively minimal in both size and weight, compared to an LPVO. While it is true that there are smaller and lighter LPVOs than the Vortex Razor, none of them are smaller or lighter than an ACOG.
#3. Durability. The durability of the ACOG is absolutely legendary. If you dig under the surface, you can find that perhaps this reputation has become exaggerated over time. However, it seems fair to say that the ACOG is more durable than an LPVO. I’m not going to test this on my gear, but the military history would seem to back up the popular notion.
#4. No batteries required. This could be an important aspect to a rifle, depending on the circumstances.
In summary, if all you are doing with your rifle is shooting, then an LPVO might be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you are carrying, bumping, stowing away, and looking through your optic, then the ACOG is still a good choice. If a person had to, “Head for the hills,” for an extended time, the ACOG might be the best choice, even after all these years.