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A Tale of 4 ACOGs: Trijicon Optics That AREN’T the TA31 [Review]


– Crystal clear glass,
solid ass construction and illuminated reticles
that literally harness the power of the goddamn sun, today we’re talking Trijicon ACOGs. They’re also slightly
radioactive or whatever but I’m not a scientist. (light electronic jazz) What is up guys, my name is John with Pew Pew Tactical.com, your definitive source for gun reviews, gear guides and all things that go bang. Well the term ACOG itself actually refers to a whole line of optics produced by Trijicon and not
any one optic individually. What comes to mind when
you hear the word ACOG is most likely the TA31 RCO. And realistically, it’s also
one of the most iconic models of rifle optic out there. Due in no small part to the
fact that they’ve been adopted by both the US Army and Marine Corps and was included in the
SOPMOD Block 1 package, seeing extensive use in
the Global War on Terror. For the unfamiliar, the
vast majority of ACOGs are going to provide a
fixed level of magnification through some really stellar glass, and most don’t actually use batteries. Instead, they rely on a
combination of either the radioactive decay of
tritium, or fiber optics to capture sunlight and
illuminate your reticle. However, while all of
that is cool and neat and interesting and fun, I’m
sure you are all wondering how they actually stack up
against the competition, considering the pretty hefty
price tag all of these carry. Trijicon was kind enough
to send us a couple of different ACOG models
to play with and test out, and we decided to opt for some of the more interesting variants. Considering it felt sort of
boring to review a gun sight that the military has been
using to clap dudes from afar for close to two decades at this point. First up we’ve got the Trijicon TA02, which actually does utilize
a single double A battery to illuminate the 223
reticle inside of the optic. It’s actually the first
Trijicon optic to allow the user to select a level
of brightness themselves. Although not a massive problem,
an occasional criticism of other ACOGs that use
tritium or fiber optics to illuminate the reticle is
that direct light or shadow on the optic can occasionally give you a mismatching illumination,
compared to your environment. Obviously being able to select
that illum level yourself works around that. Right of the bat, you’re
going to notice that most models of ACOG have
pretty shallow eye relief. Essentially that means that you’re going to need to find the right
standoff distance between the optics eye relief
and the length of pull of your gun itself to be able
to use this thing correctly. Gets a little bit weird
for me, I actually run my carbine stocks all the way out so, you just need to kind of play with it and find that sweet spot. As a result, close
range target acquisition isn’t super fast, but
again it’s a 4X optic and that’s not really what
it’s meant to be used for. That being said, the reticle is bright in daylight conditions. And the brightness adjustment
knob has a super handy feature where each click between brightness levels actually turns the optic off. We actually prefer that setup as compared to a lot of other optics on the market where you might need to
scroll all the way from one to eleven to get to your
highest setting of brightness. The reticle itself is sort
of the classic ACOG chevron and it includes bullet
drop calculations for 223 all the way out to 800 meters. The TA02 includes a
thumbscrew Picatinny mount that’ll mount directly to your gun’s rail. Though it can be removed,
if you need or want to mount it to an AR carry handle, for whatever probably stupid reason, the optic also includes an RMR mount that actually sits a
little bit further forward than what you’re going to
find on most other ACOGs. But it does give you
the opportunity to mount a backup red dot for
those close-range shots when 4X is overkill. Trijicon also advertises the TA02 as being night vision compatible, though we suspect that’s
probably more for setups where you’re going to mount something like a PVS14 behind the optic itself as trying to crane your neck
over to aim through this thing when you’re wearing NODs sounds terrible. With an MSRP of about $1500 or so, the TA02 is a bit brutal on the wallet though thankfully there
is a pretty clear step up in terms of both the
clearness of the glass and overall construction quality that does come with that
price tag thankfully. Up next, we’ve got the super chunky TA648. It’s a 6X rifle scope that utilizes both tritium and a fiber
optic scrolling wheel thing to illuminate your reticle. Using the same type of
chevron found in the TA02, the 648 is apparently specifically tuned to the ballistic trajectory
of the issued M855 round, and indicates via a tiny
A4 in the optic itself that it’s meant to be paired with the 20-inch barrel of an M-16A4. The illuminated reticle on the 648 is actually a little bit more
dim than the rest of the ACOGs that we’ve got here,
but it is still visible in bright conditions. You could actually scroll
the fiber optics wheel completely upside down and that’s going to allow you to just
utilize the tritium glow to illuminate your
reticle, which is useful if you’re shooting in darker conditions. That way the reticle itself is
not going to be overpowering. But if you’re shooting
in anything close to bright midday sun, you
definitely want to keep it completely opened up, like I
said, it’s a little bit dim and you need that extra
illumination fiber optic. It is worth nothing that this is probably one of the heaviest optics that we’ve ever had the chance to play with, coming in at a quite
thick 2 pounds 6 ounces. However the optic’s own
weight does itself mitigate the already minimal recoil on our PSA AR. Picking follow-up shots while stationary quite nice considering the
reticle doesn’t move much. You’ve also got a massive
amount of rail space on the top of the 648. Enough to mount a full size micro red dot on the optic if, for whatever reason, you want something a
bit bigger than an RMR. The 648’s reticle is also
specifically designed to be used while aiming
with both eyes open, which is known as the
Bindon aiming concept, apparently named after the
founder of Trijicon himself. While we’ve pretty much
always been taught to aim with both eyes open no
matter what optic we’re using it is a cool little bit
of trivia and history. With an MSRP of approximately $3000, the TA648 is obviously not
going to be for everyone considering the vast majority of us probably don’t spend anywhere near that on our army of poverty pony AR15s. But, if you are inclined to
pick up a fixed 6X rifle scope with a dope reticle and a level of bomb-proof construction that feels like you can beat someone to death with it, maybe take out another
mortgage and grab one. One that’s worth noting
is, because of how far back these optics generally sit, with the mounts that they come
with from the factory you may have a little bit of trouble accessing your charging handle. Just a little bit kind of weird to get to when you have a massive optic sitting practically right on top of it. Next, we’ve got the TA11F,
which is a 3.5X ACOG specifically tuned for the M193 cartridge. Again, you’ve got the same chevron reticle that we’ve seen in all
the other ACOGs thus far, but notably, the fiber optics sort of runs at a diagonal down the
plane of the optic itself. If you compare that to
the fiber optic on the 648 where it’s sort of perpendicular
to the rest of the scope, this feels like it picks
up a lot more ambient light and in turn gives you a brighter reticle. It’s about on par with
the battery-powered TA02 in terms of overall brightness. There’s actually not a ton to say about this individual model,
and we’re not entirely sure why you would want a 3.5X optic
when the vast majority of ACOGs are 4X, but it does it’s job just fine. It’s got just about the same eye relief as all of the other models
above, with maybe just a smidge faster target acquisition
speed considering the slight reduction in magnification. You’ve got your standard mounting brackets for an RMR adaptor plate right
at the back here as well, and we wish that we could show
you what that looked like, however our RMR unfortunately
is permanently affixed to this Gray Ghost Glock slide, because of some rounded out Allen screws. I don’t want to talk about it. The TA11F comes in at close to $1600 and realistically, it’s
pretty no frills for an ACOG. However, a no frills ACOG
is still a pretty damn cool and high quality optic. Lastly we’ve got the TA44C.
It’s a 1.5X zoomed tiny boy that sort of sits in a weird middle ground between a true rifle
scope and a true red dot. Honestly, the 44C is kind of out there. The green reticle and
fiber optic are really cool and way brighter and
clearer than any other optic with green reticles that we’ve fired. But it’s still an ACOG and
it has an ACOG’s high relief. For us, this feels a bit
odd, as the 1.5X zoom and super low profile for
an ACOG would mean that it’s obviously intended more
for fast target acquisition and close up shots. But the fact that you’re not
going to have a clear view through the optic unless your eyes are in the exact right spot means
that it doesn’t do that job quite as well as your standard holographic or red dot sight in our opinions. We also mounted the 44C on
a Bobro throw lever mount which gives it just enough
height to be used comfortably on a standard AR flattop rail. Well this is one of the
lightest ACOGs around at just 4.9 ounces, we’re not actually sure
what you might use this for. Trijicon themselves say
that it’s for CQB teams or for competition
shooting, but honestly… With an MSRP of $1200, we
would probably pass on the 44C. However, if any of you
out there are using them we would love to know
exactly why we’re wrong in the comments section below. So, overall are ACOGs worth the money? As with almost every
optic review that we do, that’s going to depend a
lot on you and your level of personal investment in this hobby. If you’ve got the spare cash to burn, and you’re in the market for an optic with some really incredible glass, honestly take a look at
it, especially if you have the means to play around with one before you actually commit to buying it. It’s really hard to do
the level of workmanship on these optics justice
even with our views through the optics themselves. If you’re more on the casual
side, honestly you can probably skip out on an
ACOG and be totally fine. You can settle for something
that is a little bit less expensive and is
probably going to give you a similar level of performance for where you’re at as a shooter. But these four were a blast to play with and shoot through and
we hope that you guys will stick around for
our ACOG torture test because we’re definitely
going to explode one. All right guys that’s
going to do it for us today thank you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this
content please go ahead and subscribe to the channel as we’ve got lots more reviews on optics that we will eventually murder on the way. Once again, my name is John,
as we will see you next time. – [Man] My rig chafes on my nipple. (laughter) (light electronic jazz)

28 thoughts on “A Tale of 4 ACOGs: Trijicon Optics That AREN’T the TA31 [Review]

  1. The 44c is for people with bad astigmatism. Or pretty much who ever cant clearly see a red dot. It definitely has its place.

  2. Did anyone else jump and scream like Kevin McCallister trying on aftershave when that brass hit the camera? It's not October anymore. Stop spooking me.

  3. Fuck me Freddy!!! Lol I completely forgot about the insane price tags that came with an actual ACOG haha Man I really thought by now they'd come to their senses and join the rest of the scope market. With awesome scopes and red dots by primary arms and other like companies I just can't imagine ACOG being in business if it wasn't for the military spending millions on red dots that yes are bomb proof but suck when it comes to actual combat Lol PLEASE do a torture test on these, dammit man got me all excited there at the end!!!! 😉 For the video too, WINK WInK

  4. Take a solid metal torx head and hammer it into the softer exposed metal on that rmr hex screw then unscrew it. Had to do it on an aero m5e1 bolt catch roll pin before….

  5. Did you even really use the ta44? The eye relief I have experienced with those is definitely not the same as “any other acog”

  6. TA31/TA02 have super short eye relief, not so much for 308. The TA11 have longer eye relief just like normal rifle scope, TA 648 is majority for mounted machine guns

  7. I'd love to see John. on The Gun Collective's weekly podcast, and I'm sure Jon from TGC would be happy to host that. Hit 'em up!

  8. Thanks for the Video….. Nice to know about, but Waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my price range…..Now if there is ever a dumptruck load on the side of the road of them….I will be having me one.

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