I remember when, if you owned an AR-15, there was a pretty good chance it had an ACOG installed on the top rail. While red-dot sights have come a long way, there was a time when they weren’t as reliable, and those who trained seriously didn’t want to be left out in the cold with a busted optic or dead battery. Plus, we wanted to follow in the footsteps of our brave warriors overseas. So the iconic ACOG became a no-brainer for many of us.
Trijicon Optics Advancements & Breakthroughs
The ACOG was first released in 1987. Glyn Bindon, the founder of Trijicon, was an aeronautical engineer with a vision to create a more compact rifle optic by moving the prism within a half pair of binoculars. Needless to say, his idea was farfetched at the time, and many people poo-pooed it, saying it wouldn’t work. But in the end, Bindon would have not only the last laugh, but the millionth one as well.
He went on to create his compact optic and even added tritium to it so that the reticle could be seen at night. In an effort to make it tougher, he developed a 7075-T6 aluminum housing—the same material for M16receivers—to protect it. What Bindon then created was one the toughest optics in the world. Though it didn’t become a hit overnight, the world would steadily get wind of the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight.
It wasn’t until Operation Desert Storm that the ACOG really started to take off, with orders ramping up thanks to U.S. Navy SEALs who bought several for testing. Still, no official adaptation came. Bindon then updated the ACOG with a fiber-optic-illuminated aiming point. Next, he launched the “Bindon Aiming Concept” (BAC), where you keep both eyes open for shooting, allowing the brain to process one single image for easier targeting.
The Rise of the ACOG
In 1993, the German GSG 9 adopted the 3.5x35mm ACOG, and in 1995, USSOCOM purchased 12,000 4x32mm ACOGs. This was Trijicon’s largest order to date, and a big move by the military to optically enhance the M16. More orders came from the Israeli special forces in the late 1990s. Then in 2004, the 4x32mm ACOG became the official “rifle combat optic” (RCO) of the Marines after it proved to significantly enhance the effectiveness of our riflemen and the M16 platform.
From 1987 to 2005, approximately 100,000 ACOGs were produced. Trijicon then produced 100,000 more in a year and a half. Fast-forward through countless upgrades, like custom ballistic reticles and new models, including the Gen2 ACOG in 2015, and eventually Trijicon produced its 1 millionth ACOG in 2017—an extraordinary achievement.
While the ACOG is amazing, that isn’t all Trijicon has to offer. In fact, the company produces the ever-popular tritium-powered “night sights” many of us use on our EDC pistols. Trijicon also produces fast-targeting reflex sights like the Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR) for long guns and pistols, as well as riflescopes like the VCOG (which recently won its own $64 million contract from the U.S. military) and AccuPoint. But Trijicon knew that it could do more in that last arena.
So the company recently decided to storm back onto the playing field with a product launch of astronomical proportions. According to Chuck Wahr, Trijicon’s global vice president of sales and marketing, “We’ve invested a considerable amount of resources into bringing customers groundbreaking, quality riflescopes that cater to their needs across the spectrum—and that will place Trijicon decisively at the top of this segment for some time to come.”
That’s evident with six new product lines and more than 50 new SKUs being added to Trijicon’s armament. The six new lines offer various options and features for specific end-users. The lines include the Ascent, Credo, Credo HX, Huron, Tenmile and Tenmile HX.
The Ascent line offers two models that are designed so shooters can get the most from their AR-platform weapons without breaking the bank. Dubbed “tactical” riflescopes, the Ascents feature reticles that are fast and intuitive. The 1-4x24mm version is very lightweight at 15.9 ounces, and the 1X setting is truly free of distortion. The 3-12x40mm Ascent offers more magnification as well as a BDC reticle. Both scopes retail for $650 and $669, respectively.
The Credo and Credo HX are separate lines that borrow the same technology from Trijicon’s success in the military space, creating optics that are extremely rugged and can take a significant beating while holding their zeroes. They also use some of the reticle technology that you’d find in the VCOG, for instance, for rapid target acquisitions, ranging and holdovers. The Credo models are tactically focused, while the Credo HXs are more hunting focused. Both lineups feature incredible glass like you’d expect from Trijicon as well as illuminated reticles.
The Huron series was unapologetically created for North American whitetail deer hunters. Lightweight with durable construction, each Huron scope is all that it needs to be and no more. Four different models are available, including a 1-4x24mm, 2.4-10x40mm, 3-12x40mm and 3-9x40mm. The windage and elevation turrets are designed to be exact and easy to adjust. The glass is premium, as with the rest of Trijicon’s lineup, and the scopes feature an extra-wide field of view.
When it’s time to push the distances, the Tenmile line is where you want to look. These scopes are built for serious precision shooters with a higher range of elevation and windage adjustments. The turrets feel crisp and reassuring, and the movements are precise. The housings and internals are also extremely durable, since these scopes are designed for heavy-recoiling guns. Being tactical/target focused, mil and MOA versions of these scopes are available with first- and second-focal-plane reticles in various configurations. The Tenmile HX is hunting focused, with the same durability and magnification ranges but hunting-centric reticle options.
As Trijicon moves to take over the optics throne, it has also made moves to secure itself as a technological leader by introducing a product that no other manufacturer has. This product will help precision shooters defeat one of the greatest obstacles—reading the wind.
The Ventus is Trijicon’s latest and possibly greatest advancement to date. It’s a handheld wind finder that uses laser Doppler velocimetry. In other words, it uses a series of lasers to send out signals. Those signals interact with dust particles in the air. The information is relayed back to the device, which displays the winds and can provide hold solutions.
We tend to think about wind in a two-dimensional state, moving left to right or right to left, but in reality, it moves up and down and swirls—not only at the shooter’s position, but at multiple locations between the shooter and the target. All these wind movements have a different effect on the bullet’s flight. Only the most knowledgeable shooters know how to read and judge the wind accurately, but the Ventus looks to be a technological answer that could level the playing field.
The Ventus also acts as a rangefinder. The onboard air-pressure and temperature sensors help gather the necessary factors for solid ballistic solutions. As you might expect, the Ventus reads incline information as well. All this data can be overwhelming, and that might be Trijicon’s greatest challenge. How do you present all of this information to the shooter? The company is working diligently on that and is also creating an app that will allow the user to interact with the Ventus in a practical and meaningful way. If executed properly, the Ventus will be a true game-changer in the precision shooting space, and you can bet that it’ll be used in military and law enforcement circles.
Whether you find a product in Trijicon’s lineup that works for you or not, there is no denying that the company is doing what few will choose to do: innovate and reinvent. Trijicon could easily rest on its laurels and ride on the historical success of the ACOG until it closes its doors one day. That’s an easy tactic. Instead, it has chosen to invest in technology and capabilities and bring those results to the shooting community. That’s an investment in each of us as end-users. For more information, visit trijicon.com.
This article originally appeared in a previous issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your print or digital subscription at OutdoorGroupStore.com.