Is the ACOG Worth it for the Average Joe?

Is the ACOG Worth it for the Average Joe?

I would like to start off by saying the ACOG was hard to justify. We all have bills, and $975 dollars was hard to justify, so I decided to put the ACOG on the credit card and make the leap. Was it worth it? While there are many cheaper options, the ACOG has been an eye opener. Yes, overall the money was well spent for my goal: I want to learn the art of the rifle. The question is… is such an expensive optic worth it for average Joe?

Average Joe AR15

I have been in the AR15 community for 11 short years. If your average Joe has caught the black rifle disease he may have obtained 3-4 (sometimes more) ar15s. He may have chosen accessories with a primary basis of cost concerns. When primary arms launches a new red dot, they receive a lot of buzz. It’s clear that costs are an issue in the community. Lets call the Average Joe AR15 owner someone who runs, at most, a mid range budget for accessories.

I will make an short argument that your average Joe AR15 owner needs at least one high end optical product. By high end I mean optics like the Trijicon ACOG, or a Vortex Razor HD, or a ELCAN Specter, or a Nightforce Variable. Just one. At least one. Why?

1) With a high-end optic like an ACOG, you are buying something that’s well made and will last decades. Just like a rifle, I intend to hand down my ACOG to my children because I know it will last that long.

2) If you are building a SHTF gun let me say this: without a quality optical aid, you won’t be able to identify a threat until it closes in to an uncomfortable distance. The simple addition of 4x ACOG with its fantastic resolution allowed me to see my silhouettes clearly at 400-500 yards. This was something I struggle with when using irons. Trying to focus on a front sight while keeping things centered on a tiny, blurry target at 400 yards is extremely difficult.

3) The high quality of a top end product means you will less likely to trade and will be more likely to trust it. After holding on to an ACOG for a few years it would be hard to not trust it. You will begin to know its limitations.
4) Ultimately, a high quality instrument will give you something to fall back to if other accessories fail. Keep in mind if average Joe buys just one high-end optic… and then goes right back to buying low-end to mid range components for his /her other builds the ACOG will be there if things ever go south.
Trijicon ACOG


An ACOG Alternative for the Average Joe?

I could barely afford that USED ACOG. Car broke down the next day and cost me an extra $600 dollars. True story. Even though I would encourage people to spring for a high end piece of kit, there are a few products coming that might give us quality at a more affordable price.

Wolf Performance Ammunition has announced a 1x to 4x optic with a function similar to the ELCAN which can be seen over at TheBangSwitch along with a few WPA night vision devices. I have also been waiting to see the Mepro 4X make its US debut. The Mepro 4X is another prism based fixed optic, but in so far it has not made it to our shores as of yet. I am hoping both of these optics can come to market at more “everyman” prices. They would be a major step up over the other low-end compacts and hopefully they can mix good quality with a bit better affordability. I am putting my coins on a Mepro 4x and, if I can, will compare it to the ACOG if it makes it to our shores this year. Keep your eyes peeled at SHOT for me.

Wrapping Up

There are many quality optical instruments available from many other manufacturers then what I have shared here. I hope I have made a simple argument to encourage others to have at least one high-end optic in their arsenal. Think of it as another rifle purchase. It will increase your hit percentage by the way.

For some readers, the cost of a 1k scope doesn’t seem worth it. That price is out of touch with their budget. I wanted an ACOG for… oh, about ten years. In that time I have spent OODLES of money on stuff that wasn’t an ACOG. Let’s see. Cavalry Arms AR15 build. Surefire rail for my first AR15. A 9mm AR15 project that I never finished. Two more rifles. At one point I had 6 lowers in various states of completion. Purchased a Daewoo DR200. Purchased a low-end junk 1911. Eventually all that stuff got sold or traded. None of that stuff helped me become a better shooter.
I was average Joe AR15 owner.
I wish I would have had my TA31F ACOG  YEARS ago. just posted an article on ACOG revisions which is quite relevant, check it out!


Written by lothaen


  1. Recce Rifleman · January 11, 2014

    Best post on the topic I’ve ever read!

    The only AR15 owner who would *not* benefit from the ACOG is the guy (girl) that buys the rifle on credit… never really shoots it… then sells the setup a few months later because of financial strain.

    The ACOG is ideal for SHTF, and functions “well enough” for range use and hunting. The people who survive Day 1 of SHTF, if they do not have ACOGs, will be picking one up from the ground soon enough. 🙂

  2. Shawn · January 12, 2014

    to help soothe the cost of the ACOG I will mention the fact that the BDC crosshairs on ACOGS are good for a lot more then the adverties M855 trajectory. testing will show they will match various other loads with little complication. the TAO1B was meant to work with a 762 gun, but it is calibrated for the 168 match load. the 77 grain 556 load has an almost identical trajectory to the 308 round so the TAO1B is an excellent choice for some one wanting an ACOG but intend to shoot the 77 grain loads through it and wants a BDC to match since trijicon does not actually sell a dedicated MK 262 matched ACOG per se. other ACOGS also have utitily beyond the spec’ed M855 BDC

  3. Blehtastic · January 13, 2014

    Don’t ACOGS need new tritium after like five years? The $1000 price tag is doable if you’re serious about optics. I can’t decide which is better, an Aimpoint and stocking some batteries, or an ACOG and getting it refurbished every five years.

    • lothaen · January 13, 2014

      The ACOG will be half as strong as the day you purchased it in 12 years. They make a battery powered ACOG if you really want batteries. I really see the benefit of magnification now as I used to run a COMP-M4 and it was great, but seeing the target so clearly unlocks the rifles potential at a distance.

    • Recce Rifleman · January 13, 2014

      As lothaen said, the half-life is 12 years. Most ACOGs have a filament which gathers light and makes the optic useful in daylight. The only “need” for the tritium is shooting at dark. So the “loss of use” if you do not replace the tritium is minimal. Also, Trijicon will refill the tritium for you (for a fee, of course).

    • Andy · April 11, 2015

      Tritium lasts 10-15 years. I had a ACOG on both my deployments and wouldn’t use anything else besides a EOTech. You don’t even need the tritium to use the reticle. I taped mine up because it was too bright.

  4. Primary Arms · January 13, 2014

    We couldn’t agree more which is why we always ask what the purpose of the optic is before recommending one. We also sell Trijicon, Nightforce, EOTech, etc. because if you are staking your life on it, then it is worth the extra money.

  5. Larry · January 14, 2014

    Exactly what kind of “SHTF” situation are you expecting????

    I have used ACOG’s in the military and they are great in desert where its basically flat with basically low cover. The power of the ACOG gives you OK CQB and good enough long range in that situation (300-450meters).

    In an more urban environment give me a Eotech all day long, at half the price. My kind of “SHTF” is a partial breakdown of the government where criminal types are running around un-contested at times and I have to protect my family. I can’t imagine trying to take shots much past 200m in a urban SHTF and even then would I want to? Do I want to draw the attention?

    There are so many other things I think people should have like the ability to make clean water. A good portable water filter for a partial SHTF situation will cost you $250. $1000 will buy you two Glock 17’s. Pistols, concealed are a must in a SHTF. Rifles are great but they draw serious attention by just having them.

    • lothaen · January 14, 2014

      If the rifles came out in SHTF it would be a bad one. Look at the Mexican Vigilantes… they are bringing out long arms to fight back against the cartels. That’s a modern day SHTF situation where rifles (though illegal) are coming out to play.

      I might have a few gallons of water in the basement somewhere and a couple months of food, but you know the mice might have gobbled it all up. Gotta go take inventory. 🙂

    • Tim · March 8, 2015

      A planned collapse of our currency is in the works and has been for quite sometime. The Central banks and billionaire Oligarchs who fund the Democrats and the Republicans will then buy up our Nations resources at fire sale prices and will complete the debt enslavement they have been working for. The Nation has said enough yet they keep spending us into default. Shutting down parks during shutdowns yet paying double to have security keep veterans out of their own memorials. Laughable.
      This is why they want to ban guns here in America. An armed society can not be enslaved. They have failed in this so the idea is to chip into our 2nd Amendment as much as possible to degrade the resistance when they come to confiscate weapons.
      Rex 84 outlines this scenario and it was Beta tested in Katrina. They have foreign military training for this.
      Long story short a couple of flashbangs and the element of surprise will take out 99% of those who choose to hold out in their homes.
      When they intentionally collapse our system we need to unite in Washington and peacefully though assertively demand these globalist Oligarchs resign. We can then hold an election of a citizen based Constitution abiding and bound government.
      Term limits are imperative to head off corruption. Lifetime politicians have become a viral infection in our Nation.
      I should hope you all stand with us.
      Few can stop a force from confiscating their weapons when blinded by flash bangs.
      This would only happen in full shtf power and communication down scenario…
      An ACOG is priceless.

  6. Matt · January 22, 2014

    I might opt for this if I need to replace my Eotech or add another optic for a similar gun.I had my Eotech fail and had to send it in for repair. It was the worst failure mode – moving POA/POI with every shot with no indication of failure. Turned out to be a mirror came loose I was told. Then on my recent move, my Eotech magnifier lost its calibration and I had to reset it. It was in a foam case no less! I am ready to try something else with less electronics. I just wish it didn’t require sending back to replace the tritium.

  7. jf · October 15, 2016

    If someone wants an ACOG try the Primary Arms ACSS it runs on batteries and only costs $200 . This optic is made in China but it’s quality and plenty durable checkout for torture tests done by some Russian dude, he drags it down a road behind his truck and beats up pretty bad, I’ve also seen pics of active duty service men using them and seen one get shot then still function. …defiantly worth a look,my buddy says it’s not as nice or refined as the ACOG but it’s still about 80% of an ACOG at 1/4 the price

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