Saturday, May 14, 2016

ACOG versus FACOG - Deciding mission needs vs. Cost

Just so that we can sort out terms here and for those new to the world of combat optics, the Trijicon ACOG series is a fixed magnification rifle combat optic that is widely used in the American forces and is quite a combat multiplier.  The FACOG (FACOG = FAKE ACOG) is typically a lesser cost Chinese knockoff of the same.  It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Trijicon must therefore be highly flattered indeed.  The in house counsel at Trijicon must be working overtime on protecting their intellectual property, patents and trademarks against a veritable tsunami of slave Chinese labor that can produce ACOG-like devices that mimic the shape, profile and even some of the functionality of the timeless original.  There are not many products out there that have such desirability that they provide an online means to check the authenticity of an ACOG, which you can do here.

TA31RCO-M4CP: Trijicon ACOG 4x32 BAC Rifle Combat Optic (RCO) Scope with Red Chevron Reticle for the USMC's M4 and M4A1 with Thumbscrew Mount


     That being said, it is an interesting question if an actual ACOG is demonstrably better than the legions of FACOGS out there.  One point where there is NO comparison is in customer service.  There is no way that you are realistically going to get your FACOG factory serviced when (not if) it breaks.  You probably need to speak Chinese and be willing to ship it back and return postage included with insurance.  At some point, it becomes utterly uneconomic.  A wise man (Kenny) once (actually, often) says "buy once, cry once".  The Trijicon warranty can be seen here and is pretty comprehensive.  All that post purchase support and expertise is not cheap. Plus, they speak English.

As close as you get with a FACOG (no, not linking to it, if you buy one, don't blame me)
So, what of the FACOG?  You can buy them retail at any place that sells consumer grade material for the AirSoft community.  You can cut out the middleman and buy direct from China through Aliexpress. There is so much available from China, not just sights. The prices are absurdly low, but quality tends to follow.  In optics, as in so many things, you get what you pay for.  It is worse if you pay for something that you don't get in quality, or even receive altogether.  That happens from time to time with Aliexpress.

The price for a Chinese FACOG seems to be between $49 and $109.  The example above lists at $109 and has a reticle mildly resembling an actual ACOG.  Compare the crudely etched glass reticle on the FACOG above with the crisp design of the real item:
From Trijicon website
The difference in quality is night and day.  The variances in fit and finish are also a dead giveaway that what you have in your hand is real or fake.  The real item also is powered by Tritium, a radioactive isotope that illuminates the reticle.  FACOGS do not have that, and rely on batteries and/or fiber optics to provide a simulacrum.  There are many online forums discussing the fake/real issue, if you are interested in that detail, try Calguns.  Above all, remember... it is impossible to "take" an honest man, if it looks too good to be true, it probably IS too good to be true, etc.

Reach out and touch someone:  there is no substitute for quality when it comes to NPTs.

ACOGS were the subject of some SJW (Social Justice Warrior) agitprop a while ago.  Read about that in an article by Robert Farago at TheTruthAboutGuns .  The U.S. military, paragon as it is of martial virtue and testicular fortitude, ended up grinding off the "offensive" bible numerical notations.  One must wonder if they would have done the same if there were Koranic verses indicated.  I am of the belief they would NOT.



Trijicon makes a range of other products besides the ACOG series.  One place I go to to read up on professionally done reviews by a subject matter expert is SniperCentral.  Here is a review that he did on a Trijicon offering that may interest some of the readership here.


The issues with going cheap are numerous.  Many cannot afford $1,350 or thereabouts for an optic.  It all depends upon your mission analysis and what the discretionary income is.  What are you willing to sacrifice for quality optics?  Yes, they can save your life.  However, if your rifle just sits in a security container, not receiving your tender loving care to tend to corrosion and periodic lubrication, what good is an expensive scope going to do you?  Does it make a person feel better?  I don't know how to answer that one for you.


Still my favorite way to clean firearm barrels. Fits in a pocket, works GREAT!


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  StopShouting contributor and #FAB50 Blog Award Winner Partyzantski, retired Mustang, former FID embedded military Advisor, SASO trainer and scenario developer, Electronic Warfare Aviator, PME instructor, certified Force Protection and Anti-terrorism officer and combat seasoned USMC (0202) field grade intelligence officer. When not blogging or maintaining weapons proficiency at the range, he enjoys cat herding and travel to off-the-beaten-track locales. You can follow him on Twitter @Partyzantski

1 comment:

DTG said...

Been running ACOGs on both M-14 type rifles and now AR's for the last 6 or 7 years. Only one complaint: Eye relief is too close. Other than that, superb optics!