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Trijicon’s ACOG For LE

Trijicon’s ACOG For LE

The Magnification Advantage.

The Trijicon brand is well known in the LE community for tough, reliable red-dot optics like their RMR, Reflex and recently introduced SRS. These red-dot sights are at home on rifles, shotguns and handguns. A Trijicon device not so frequently encountered in law enforcement — despite it being their flagship product — is their ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight). It’s frequently found affixed to SOCOM and Marine Corps weapons, and even within specialized law enforcement tactical teams, but they’re rarely seen on patrol rifles.

I recently visited Trijicon’s training area outside of Fredericksburg, Va., where I learned the science behind binocular (both eyes open) aiming concepts during some hands-on exposure to seven different models in their ACOG line. This training has forced me to reevaluate the viability of magnified optics for patrol use.

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Being able to handle all the variations of the ACOG sights
allowed us to see which might work best in given situations.

Not Standard — Yet

There are various generic reasons why the Trijicon ACOGs, or any other magnified optic for that matter, are not standard equipment for patrol rifles. These reasons range from budget, perceptions of officers being issued “sniper” rifles and their effectiveness if used in close quarters. While each agency (and individual) needs to find their own way, I came away convinced magnified optics, specifically the Trijicon ACOG thanks to its own unique features, can be appropriate for patrol use.

A Marine Corps leader gives the ACOG credit for increasing lethality on the modern battlefield in the same way the legendary Garand did in WWII. While this is a powerful military statement, Trijicon remains well-grounded in their presentation of the ACOG in a law enforcement role. It’s more about better decision making and averting lethal force incidents, due to more complete information seen through magnified optics.

The ACOG allows for a stand-off capability and accurate engagement at longer distances if warranted, without having to close-in for verification if a weapon is present. Hands-on learning is always the quickest way to get a point across. After a concise presentation of what the ACOG offers in terms of increasing proficiency at making hits on a threat, we conducted an exercise where individuals observed four different silhouette targets placed 15 to 55 yards away. Each target had something in their hands, but many times (mostly, actually) the naked eye or red-dot optic-equipped rifles couldn’t identify what it was: badge, knife, gun or bottle of wine.

The rifles equipped with ACOGs helped determine threat status much sooner and with less drama. This proved a simple, teachable moment with the point driven home. The negative connotation of possibly sweeping an innocent with the patrol carbine was addressed. If the situation demanded for the responding officer to have his patrol carbine deployed, it would be better deployed equipped with ACOG giving the most feedback possible and perhaps avoiding unwarranted use of deadly force.

Another advantage with a magnified optic is it enhances ambient light, offering a superior view compared to the naked eye in low light conditions. Unlike the military arena where rules of engagement are more generic, law enforcement deals in specifics like identification before resorting to lethal force, needing what the ACOG offers in terms of performance.

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Fast, close-in work was easily accomplished,
especially using the Bindon 2-open-eyes technique.

trijicon 1

Surprisingly, hands-on testing showed the ACOG magnified systems handled close-in chores as adeptly as longer-range precision shooting.

Both-Eye Advantage

We conducted some range drills with AR rifles equipped with seven different Trijicon ACOGs to provide support for what was offered in the classroom. The Bindon concept (shooting with both eyes open) was driven home by taping-over the front of the ACOGs thus blocking the image from the eye behind the ACOG making it an absolute necessity to have both eyes open. Sure enough the off-eye provided a clear image with the illuminated reticle locked in place for a solid aiming point — as if there was no tape blocking the objective lens!

Firing on the move with ACOGs taped-over, as well as clear, further supported the veracity of using two eyes. Even 4X ACOG models had no issues engaging targets as close as 5 yards away thanks to the Bindon concept and the ACOG illuminated reticle. The brain blends the images in a way having to be experienced to fully appreciate.

With the close-in engagement concerns related to using magnified ACOGs addressed neatly, the seminar also addressed the benefit of the ACOG optic during building searches. Schools and office buildings have long hallways, easily exceeding 50 yards, and can place a premium on magnified precision and assessment capability. This condition is combined with low-light areas that can be checked more thoroughly before moving through or choosing to enter.

Another drill experienced at the Trijicon facility involved engaging over a dozen steel and paper targets arrayed from 10 yards out to 300 yards. The ACOG-equipped ARs had no issues with the close-range targets and proved much superior to 1X optics once ranges extended past 100 yards, no matter how small the steel popper was. This training scenario brought home the full gamut of what the Trijicon offers in terms of performance.

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The Trijicon ACOG series of magnified sights
deserves a hard look for police work.

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Trijicon supplied a cross-section of their ACOG lineup for testing.

Should You?

When compared to iron sights or red-dot optics, an ACOG-equipped patrol rifle has the potential to seriously enhance the performance of a rifle in the hands of a cop. This is especially true when an officer is provided even a minimum amount of training in its capabilities beyond strictly providing longer-range accurate fire. Also, while larger departments often have dedicated tactical teams, most jurisdictions have officers who serve in a dual role. The Trijicon ACOG supports this multirole approach well.

An ACOG-quipped patrol rifle offers any officer better threat-assessment, decision making opportunities and situational awareness compared to a red-dot optic or the naked eye. The ACOG gives up nothing in close-in work, and with training can really enhance officer performance. It does seem the patrol rifle, equipped with a magnified ACOG, is a valid tool offering many real-world applications.
By Todd Burgreen

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  1. The Trijicon Agog is an awesome optic and has been proven to save American lives. I realize that the AR15 has been given a bad name by the anti-2nd ammendment crowd, but it should really be considered a tool, just like a hammer or screw driver, when used in the line of duty. If it helps you to save lives, then I say use it.

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