Optics

Trijicon ACOG Comparison: TA11 vs TA31 vs TA33 vs TA44-C


*** UPDATE***  —  Now includes TA44-C 1.5×16

 

I often see questions on which ACOG to get. Being that I have had access to the 4 most popular models, I figured I’d do a write-up and comparison with pics to help those who are trying to figure out which one to get, or which one will serve their purpose best. The short answer is: It depends! Each, I believe, has a special niche which helps them excel in certain shooting conditions. All exhibit extremely clear, bright and crisp glass….some of the best there is. They are all very rugged and can take a beating.

The four models up for review and consideration are: TA44-C (1.5x), TA33 (3x), TA11 (3.5x) and TA31 (4x) and the TA44-C (1.5x).

 

Weight

Depending on what kind of rifle you plan to put one of these scopes on, you will probably want to consider the weight of each scope. The TA11 came in at the heaviest and by far the largest/longest of the four at 17.93 oz. 2nd place goes to the TA31, weighing 13.83 oz. The second lightest of the four goes to the TA33, with a small 11.74 oz. And finally, the TA44-C with a measly 7.67 oz! The TA11 and TA33 were measured with the TA60 mount and the TA31 and TA44-C both have American Defense RECON mounts, which are a little bit lighter……but not by much.

 

Eye Relief

The next thing to consider with these scopes are how vastly different they are in Eye Reflief. One of the biggest factors in choosing the correct ACOG is going to be whether you require long eye relief or if you don’t mind a nose-to-charging handle head position. Eye relief affects a number of other factors as well: Peripheral vision, typically field of view, head position forgiveness, general comfort, etc. The most popular ACOG is the TA31 largely due to it being the military issued ACOG. I am not aware of many other instances where a different model ACOG is issued…..MAYBE for machine gunners, but I believe MG’ers are mostly issued the Elcan M145 optic. Anyway, it is the TA31 that has the shortest eye relief: 1.5″ to be exact. In testing this, I found the practical distance is somewhere between 1.5″-1.75″ MAX. Going back any further cuts your field of view down and darkens the edges of the sight picture dramatically with small changes in distance away from the ocular lens when past the ideal distance. Below is a picture of the ideal head position and field of view for the TA31: It requires a nose-to-charging handle head position….this was the furthest back I could go before losing field of view and exhibiting darkened edges.

 

The TA11 has more generous eye relief. The exit pupil is also larger and more forgiving for head positioning. Trijicon claims 2.4″ eye relief and I found that to be exactly correct. To me, it felt much more natural and flat out easier to get on target with the TA11. With the scope a little further away from your face, you get a little better peripheral vision and it is easier to get your head/eye in the correct position to acquire your target, but these benefits come with two drawbacks: Scope weight and field of view. More on FOV later.

 

The TA33 has extremely generous eye relief, which has one major advantage: Speed. Trijicon claims a meager 1.9″ eye relief for this model, but I find that laughable. The practical max eye relief is actually about 4″! One of the cool things about this scope is that you can also get much close to the ocular lens (front glass eye piece) without having any negative effects on the sight picture….it will only give you a bigger black border around the sight picture. This, of course, gives you no benefit as the closer the scope is to your face, the less peripheral vision you have to see your surroundings. But the flexibility of mounting it further forward or back closer towards your face without any detrimental effects to your sight picture is there, unlike the TA31.

 

The TA44-C feels much like the TA33 in the eye relief department. If fact, it has a little bit more eye relief than the TA33, coming in at 4-5/8″. This lends to making this optic a very fast heads-up type of scope. In fact, it feels much closer to a red dot sight than it does a scope! But that’s due to the magnification…..more on that later. Just like the TA33, you can come in closer to the diopter lens and not have any detrimental effects to the sight picture. You’re only sacrificing peripheral vision.

 

Overall, more eye relief gives you more flexible mounting options and lends to an overall more comfortable shooting experience: It just generally feels better. However, the price of longer eye relief is shorter Field of View.

 

 

Field of View

I love a large field of view. It makes it feel like there is more magnification than is really there. You get to see more through the scope, you can ID your targets with better precision, and it’s just flat out pretty. Unfortunately, the trade-off for a larger field of view is **typically** shorter eye relief. At least in the ACOG series. This especially plays a big factor in the TA31. Field of View is measured in either degrees (which most people don’t understand), or in feet. In this case, I will use feet for ease of understanding. For example, at 100 yards the TA33 will show 19.3 ft (3.7 deg) across from the left side of the sight picture to the right side of the sight picture. So if at 100 yards you pound in two stakes into the ground 19.3 ft across, you can look through the scope and the stakes will be on the far left edge and the far right edge of the sight picture, with the reticle in the exact center between them. Everything outside of those stakes will not be visible in the scope’s sight picture. But everything in-between the stakes will be visible. Make sense? Basically, a wider field of view lets you see more sight picture.

Moving on, let’s compare the four ACOGs: As stated already, the TA33 is 19.3 ft @ 3x. The TA11 is 28.9 ft @ 3.5x, the TA31 is 36.8 ft @ 4x and the TA44-C is 39ft @ 1.5x. It might be weird to think about, but typically, the more magnification you have, the less you will get in field of view: They have an inverse relationship. However, when you mix in the eye relief specs, you can completely flip the equation.

For instance, you would think that going down in magnification from the 4x TA31 to the 3x TA33, you would get more field of view (33%) ….indeed it typically would, if the other specs stayed the same. But because Trijicon increased the Eye Relief of the TA33 266% over the TA31, the net result is that the TA31 has roughly 88% (33% of 266%) more FOV!

Another example: The TA44-C gives the widest field of view @ 39ft per the specs, but is only has 1.5x magnification, so it’s a bit of a ruse….since eye relief is very similar between the TA33 and the TA44-C, it’s an easy comparison between the two: When you double the magnification  from 1.5x to 3x), the field of view goes from 39ft in the TA44-C to 19.5ft  in the TA33 (assuming nothing else changes), and that’s exactly what we see in the difference between the two in the specs. So in this sense, the TA44-C is nearly the same thing as a TA33, only with half the magnification and a smaller, lighter footprint. Because of this, the both have the same “feel” when looking through the scopes.

The TA11 is a fair compromise between the extremes, coming in the middle of the pack with ALL the specs: Eye Relief, FOV and Magnification. If you don’t want either of the extremes, this is a good choice.

The TA31 is the other opposite end of the spectrum with short eye relief but massive Field of View. It’s really pretty to look through, but it’s also not the fastest of the bunch. However, I believe this can be overcome with practice.

 

At the end of the day, all of the specs play into the final result. You can’t discount one or another. You may not need to concern yourself with the specs….you can simply go off of how it feels for you, which will do more than any spec will. But at least knowing this information will help narrow down the options if your local stores don’t carry some of the models. I did the best I could trying to explaining how these specs affect the net result, but it’s really difficult to convey how numbers truly affect what you actually see and feel.
To better demonstrate what Field of View does, look at this animated GIF picture I put together: (TA44-C not included)

 

 

These pics were all taken at the same distance, which is about 25-30 yards from the fence. As you can see, looking through the TA33 is like looking through a small metal pipe compared to the other two. But also notice the peripheral vision outside of the scope: See how the TA31 nearly cuts everything on the side off, while the TA33 shows a lot more on the sides? That is one drawback of the TA31 and can play a critical role in CQB. One note: Please forgive the bad picture taking of the TA31…it is VERY difficult to get a non-blurry picture due to the short eye relief and smaller exit pupil…in person, it is very crisp edge to edge. Below is another animated GIF that shows the scope views at a further distance of an estimated 160-170 yards or so to the fence.

 

I’ll make a note here of the TA44-C because it is not included in the animated GIF’s. Due to the similar eye relief, the TA44-C feels exactly like a TA33, only with half the magnification and in a smaller form factor. However, looking at the specs alone wouldn’t tell you this. What’s crazy to me is that when you look back and forth between the TA31 (4x) and the TA44-C (1.5x), you see just about the same amount of picture in both scopes! The TA44-C sees an extra 1.5ft, but has nearly 1/3rd of the magnification. Quite a difference between these two options. Here’s a through sight picture of the TA44-C just to give you an idea. The picture below shows a house that is 340 yards away and gives an accurate “feel” for what it is like to look through the scope while holding the rifle:

 

All in all, field of view definitely has its’ advantages, and some of those may be really important to you. But the cons to having a large field of view may be more important not to have, so you have to decide what is more important to you. More on my thoughts on this in my conclusion.

 

Exit Pupil

Exit Pupil is one of those specs that doesn’t get talked about much, yet it can play a critical factor in speed and accuracy. The exit pupil is basically the size of the pipe that the light travels through. It is measured at the ocular lens and is measured in Millimeters. Below is a picture of the exit pupils of the three scopes:

 

The TA44-C comes in with the largest exit pupils, at 10.66mm, but is closely followed by the TA11 and the TA33, which measure in at 10mm. The TA31 measures comes in last at 8mm. In all honesty though, 8mm is still very generous, but it does seem to make a difference in the speed of acquiring proper head/eye alignment with the scope. Another benefit of a larger exit pupil is that it can alleviate eyestrain, but I haven’t found that this happens in any of the scopes. Overall, I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this attribute, but it can be a contributing factor…..namely eyebox forgiveness.

 

Objective Lenses

There’s not too much I have to say about this one that is not already obvious. To me, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Low light performance is often based on the objective size, but that usually only matters when you have a higher magnification levels or low quality glass. In this case, all four have amazingly clear glass, large exit pupils, and relatively low magnification…..all which contribute to them being good low light scopes. But I took a picture of them anyway:

 

The TA33 has a 30mm objective, the TA31 a 32mm and the TA11 a 35mm objective. Not pictured is the TA44-C, which comes in at the smallest level: 16mm. But no need to be concerned: 1.5x magnification is not nearly enough to cause low light issues. At 10.66mm, the average human eye has an additional 3mm+ of “wiggle room” when your eye’s pupil is the LARGEST. This basically means that at dusk, when your pupil is about 7mm wide, the scopes exit pupil would have to be smaller than 7mm before perceiving any light degradation (scope dimming)….and all ACOG’s exhibit larger exit pupils that 7mm, so they’re all good in this regard. Anyway, they all exhibit very bright glass and one would be hard pressed to notice a difference in light throughput between any of them based on the objective size alone. But since there is a physical difference between the scopes’ objectives, I put it in this comparison thread.

 

Glass Clarity and Resolution

Unfortunately, this section is something that is often in the eye of the beholder. There are tests that you can do to check for light transmission and so forth, but I do not have the tools for such an undertaking. I let my eyes do the talking. I have looked through a good number of scopes over the years and know what my eyes like. Trijicon products are definitely one of them. I should put out a warning first: If you are not used to good glass and are thinking about upgrading to an ACOG or other high quality scope, be prepared to not be satisfied with your medium quality or lower scopes from here on out! Having good glass really spoils you, and it doesn’t take long to become a scope snob. You’ll find yourself not liking to use your older, lower quality scopes. The difference between an ACOG and a budget clone or a “hold me over for a while” scope is, in my humble opinion, night and day. To me, it literally looks like someone put on a darkening filter or a tinted lens over the objective when looking through the cheap stuff. I guess I am a glass snob now….no, I am DEFINITELY a glass snob now. And it’s hit my pocketbook bad.

 

Nevertheless, the old saying, “you get what you pay for”, certainly applies here. ACOG glass is pretty much second to none. Some have argued that the Elcan Spectre Dr is better: I’ve only looked through one once and it didn’t blow me away, being that I was already used to an ACOG. But take that as a grain of salt because I didn’t do a side by side comparison or anything. All I know is that for the ACOGs I’ve seen, they all produce crisp sight pictures, super bright glass and high resolution so you can accurately ID and aim at far out targets. Then again, these scopes aren’t meant to be used on a sniper rifle or for any super high precision shooting. They are pretty much in the “Body MOA” niche of the military world, so it does very well as a standard issue optic.

 

I have tried to take high resolution photos looking through the scopes, but they just never do it justice. I have found very few on the web that really blow me away. For whatever reason, it’s just hard to take a picture that do these scopes true justice. Therefore, I will not post any pics attempting to show you the resolution or clarity. The ones you have seen already are pretty much the best I could get with my equipment. I would highly suggest that you see these scopes in person before you buy. Look through them, mount them, and get a good feel for how they would work on your rifle. That’s really the best way to tell which one will work for you best……not my words.

 

 

Reticle Color Choice

The reticle color choices are completely based on opinion. You have the choice of Red, Amber or Green. They all work well, but people generally have a preference for one over another. Some of that has to do with their local environment, having one stand out more over another. For me, I have recently been converted. I was a die-hard Red fan. I thought that because there wasn’t much natural bright red in nature that it would be a better choice. But now that I’ve recently tested out the Green, I find that it stands out very well even against bright green foliage (which was my initial concern), and does even better at night! Take a look at this picture: I took these side by side in a pitch black room and Photoshopped them together. Other than cropping and enlarging the pictures, I did not edit a single color, contrast or brightness setting. Both pics were taken with the same exact camera settings.

Now to be fair, I am comparing a brand new TA44-C to a TA31 made in 2010, so the tritium has degraded a bit. But even still….to my eyes, the red just doesn’t show up nearly as well at night. But look at how bright that Green is! When I brought the TA11 brand new, I compared it next to the TA31 and it really wasn’t any different. And they were manufactured 4 years apart. I now find the red to be practically unusable at night in extreme low light, whereas the green actually shows up very well. I have also used the amber color in the past (an old 1.5×24 TA45)….it was so dim that I decided to contact Trijicon about it and see what they thought. They evidently found that there was a problem with it and replaced the entire internal assembly and recharged the tritium….for free! Great customer service in my experience. For reference, you can see my thread about it here: (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=612855). Anyway, once I got it back it was the way it was supposed to be. But even then, I didn’t find that the reticle stood out as much as the green does.

 

 

Conclusion

Over all, all four of these scopes are very excellent. High quality construction, built like tanks, great clarity and definition, bright, automatically adjusts to ambient light conditions, etc. If there was one gripe I had about all ACOG products, it would be that the reticle doesn’t always work as intended in ALL lighting conditions. I love that it automatically adjusts the brightness to ambient lighting conditions, but sometimes you’ll find yourself in the shade looking out into a brightly lit area…..it’s conditions like this that cause a lack-luster reticle color: It can fade into the background and not stand out well. But that’s the worst of it. It’s hardly something that I concern myself with, and in my opinion it is worth the trade-off. The reticles are all etched into the glass, so they don’t completely disappear…..they’re just not as bright. And you don’t have to worry about batteries!
But deciding which one will work best for you will be determined by a number of factors: I won’t attempt to sell you one way or another because I don’t know your situation. But below I’ll tell you what I ended up going with, and will give you a quick summary and my opinion as a general guideline. I’ll let you go from there.

 

TA33

Pros: Fast, heads-up shooting with a light weight rifle, and also allows for fast target acquisition. It’s very small field of view helps take out distraction of the surrounding areas and lets you focus on what’s most important: Your target. The long eye relief and large exit pupil make for very versatile head positions, scope rail mounting positions, makes awkward shooting positions more comfortable, and gives the ability for great peripheral vision. Really is amazing to me how big the exit pupil is when the ocular lens is so much smaller than its counterparts. The TA11 has the same 10mm exit pupil, yet the ocular lens appears to have a 35% larger diameter. I also feel the lower magnification and small field of view also help with speed in CQB type shooting.
Cons: Small field of view hinders target ID’ing somewhat and decreases situational awareness through the scope. It also gives the “tunnel view” feeling, like you want to see more around the target but you cant. The small field of view also makes it feel like there is less magnification. The super long eye relief also makes it so that mounting it closer to your head **can be** problematic for proper sight picture: In my case, I have my rifle’s stock pinned in the first notch position for featureless configuration (ridiculous California rules) for proper head position with a TA31….because of the long eye relief with the TA33, I have to mount it further forward than I would like, which changes the weight/balance of the rifle. This is obviously a problem that is unique to my situation, so most of you guys outside of the PRK (People’s Republic of Kalifornia) aren’t going to have this issue.

 

TA44-C

Pros: Fast, fast, and FAST! TA44 has an even faster heads-up shooting ability over the TA33 (for me) due to the lower magnification. I’ve always found the Bindon Aiming Concept difficult to do; something about having different magnification levels for each eye slows me down. Maybe I haven’t practiced enough. But having the lower magnification really helped me speed up target acquisition. As for the magnification, I already mentioned that I feel the TA44-C is closer to a red dot than a scope….If you’re looking for a red dot type of sight but have astigmatism and have a problem seeing the dot clearly, this is THE scope to have if you’re looking to keep the weight down. Speaking of weight, this thing is not much more than an Aimpoint T1 in weight! Super light and a great option for those looking to keep their lightweight rifles “light” while having an effective and reliable optic.
Cons: What’s not to love? Well, if you’re dead set on having more magnification, then this one probably isn’t for you. It’s not going to help you ID target much better than your eyes will. Also, while having less magnification certainly helps have less of that “tunnel vision” feel, it still has a similar feel that leaves you wanting to see just a little bit more. If it was me designing this optic, I would opt for a little bit less eye relief for more FOV…..I’d dumb it down to around 3.5″ eye relief and something closer to the 50-60ft FOV.

 

TA31

Pros: Amazing field of view that lets you see the world. It’s just pretty to look through and impressive. For range purposes, this is my favorite scope to use because fast head position and eye relief are not critical factors…..I’d rather see the beautiful sight picture. Clarity is amazing as well. Large field of view makes it feel like it is more than 4x. I’d say that this scope is better for situations where distance is an issue. Slower shot making, ensuring hits are made, deliberate shooting and paying high attention to the details in the sight picture…..that’s what this scope does well.
Cons: Many can’t stand the short eye relief. I can understand that sentiment, but it doesn’t bother me too much. However, I can see where it could be problematic in awkward shooting positions. It also doesn’t make the scope particularly fast at heads up shooting. With practice, you can get used to it, but it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice in a 3-gun competition. Smaller exit pupil also means head position is more critical. In practice, it’s best if you get used to a consistent cheek weld so it is repeatable over and over. If you don’t do this, your point of aim can be slightly off. And if your heads gets in a REALLY bad position, the reticle will actually blur at best, or it will not be visible at all (because it is outside the exit pupil’s range). Going into a pitch black room with only the Tritium illumination is weird: Without a consistent cheek weld, you will find it hard to get the reticle in a position where it is not blurry with the TA31.

 

TA11

Pros: What can I say, this scope really seems to be the bees knees. Other than size, it is a perfect blend of TA33 and TA31. Middle of the road eye relief and field of view, it allows for fast shooting without getting lost on the sight picture, but also still allows you to ID targets and get on target fast. The eye relief is still good enough to have some mounting flexibility, and the exit pupil is a generous 10mm, making perfect cheek weld/head position not nearly as critical for proper sight picture. Picture is bright and clear, with high resolution detail. It also seems that the longer Fiber Optic line makes for a brighter reticle, like it can gather more light than the shorter ones. I don’t have anything scientific to prove that, just an observation. Cons: I don’t have too much in the negative here, other than weight and size. Feels like a mighty big scope for a tiny, lightweight AR15 like I have. I actually don’t use it on my AR15….my model is the TA11E, which has a .308 BDC Chevron reticle, and it is perfectly suited on my .308 AR battle rifle. If anything, my only complaint would be the relatively low magnification for a .308, but I knew what I was getting before I bought it, and I absolutely love it so far.

 

So is there a clear winner? I can’t definitively say so. Ultimately, it depends on your goals or expected usage. If I absolutely HAD to choose, I would choose the TA11 or TA44-C over the others. There, I said it. And I say it only because of their versatility between rifles, their “Middle of the Road”/”Pretty good at everything” kind of specs. Am I disappointed in the others? Not in the slightest. The TA33 and TA31 are better for other specific things, but IMO, are more specialized to those niches and have bigger pitfalls when it comes to the non-specialized uses. In other words, FOR ME, the specializations don’t outweigh the pitfalls. The TA11 works best for me, and being that it’s on a .308, its added weight isn’t much of a concern for me because the rifle is already pretty heavy. I need to say, however, that all of these scopes are very much interchangeable in roles. In other words, you could use a TA33 in place of a TA31 and use it for the same type of shooting, or a TA11 for a TA33….they can all be used for any of the roles that you choose, whether it be CQB, midrange distance shooting, 3-gun, pretty much anything other than precision or long range pinpoint accuracy. But I do believe that each one fills a specific role better than another, with the TA11 being closer to a neutral role than the other three.

I really don’t have anything more to add than what I’ve already said. There are some other things, reticle pattern, and looks/design that I could get into, but that really comes down to personal preference and I have no business telling you which one will work/look better for you anyway. I am personally a fan of the Green reticles and like the look of the TA31 or TA44-C, but as always, YMMV.

 

So which one did I choose? Initially I chose the TA11, but now having my goals changed with what my intended use is for my lightweight carbine, I went with the TA44-C. I love the green reticle, I love its small size and how light it is, and how fast it is at acquiring the target, and I think it looks amazing. This scope is effective out to 300-400 yards and is most effective inside of 200 yards in my opinion. But anything beyond that and I would opt for a 308 and a higher powered scope. Here’s the final outcome:

 

This one shows a picture of just a zoomed view of the sight picture. In real life, it is all 100% clear, but this picture for some reason shows some blurry spots and some clear spots…..it was raining a little when I took this picture so there might have been a few rain drops on my lens. This tree is 180 yards away: 

 

Anyway, I hope this review/comparison thread is helpful for those in the market for an ACOG but confused on which one to get.

50 Comments on Trijicon ACOG Comparison: TA11 vs TA31 vs TA33 vs TA44-C

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  4. David

    Awesome write-up! Pretty much confirmed my other findings on the TA11. Do you think you could compare the SpecterDr 1-4x and the TA11? Or at least throw out some pros/cons/differences from your experience? I am at a crossroads between these two.

    • admin

      Thanks for the comment!

      I really WISH I had time or experience with the Elcan optics, but unfortunately, I’ve only seen one in person for about 10 seconds and it was a long time ago. It was a 1.5x-6x model and seemed fine, but heavy. From what I have read and heard, they are pretty much on par with Trijicon, with maybe a very slight edge to glass quality and clarity going to Elcan. One of the bad things about Elcan, however, was the A.R.M.S. mounts…..apparently they were less than stellar and there are comments all over the place with people having issues with them.

      I cannot corroborate these issues as I don’t have any first have experience, so take my word with a grain of salt. But suffice it to say that I am very happy with all ACOG models I have used….I would see no reason to get rid of one and replace it with an Elcan.

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  6. Montana Billy

    Thanks for this great review. I’m going with the TA31 horseshoe with green reticle. Your piece REALLY was a major factor. Thanks and Semper Fi!

  7. elliot

    Outstanding review, man. I have a TA33 and wanted to make sure I was getting the proper sight picture. Trijicon doesn’t have any good source material on that, but your assessment of a 4″ max eye relief made me pretty confident I’m doing it right. Subscribed!

    FYI: In the Marines at least, the TA11 is used on almost all of their M249s and M27s, and the TA648 is used extensively on their M240s.

    • admin

      Thanks Elliot!

      Didn’t know that about the Marines….I thought for the 249’s they used the M145 Elcan. When did they transition to the TA11?

  8. Adrian

    Hands down this is the best and most informative ACOG comparison review that I have found on the Internet (video or written). Trijicon should seriously consider linking their site to your article. I first read this post over a year ago when considering against an Aimpoint T2 (which won out) but this week I’m buying a TA11H with even more confidence.

  9. Rick

    Thanks for this article… I have been trying to decide on a TA-11 vs TA31. Now that I know the eye-relief specs and saw the pics, I’ll probably go for the TA-11… despite the increased weight. And I think I’ll go for the horseshoe reticle over the standard chevron… but not sure I’ll go for green. Now… where to get the $$$ without the wife finding out…

    • admin

      Haha, well that’s the trick, innit? The wifey always finds out!

      I love the TA11. I think that would be the ultimate ACOG if it wasn’t for the size/weight. Make that scope in the same specs and optics but make it the size of the TA31, and I think they would have quite the seller.

      I now prefer the TA44C/SG on lightweight AR-15’s, but the TA11 on a 308 Battle Rifle is like adding a glass of cold milk to a fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookie. It’s a perfect match!

  10. Wow! What a great overview that I haven’t seen anywhere else! Fantastic work, just fantastic! I just happened to pickup a new TA31G-ACSS (delivery coming in 2 days!). Sounds like I picked the right scope for my needs, as I am an old Army shooter who was issued an M21 rifle on my tours, and I really value field of view on a tactical rifle, and I’m a stickler for mastering cheek-weld mechanics on all my configurations. Thanks again!

    • admin

      Thanks SoCalXD! I have not used the ACSS reticle, but it is a very interesting concept, and does have some great feedback from users who have purchased it.

      Being that you were issued an M21, I 100% agree that Field of View is an important and very beneficial spec to have on an accurate/deliberate weapon system. I occasionally found that the large field of view was distracting though in high stress, fast heads-up type of shooting. That is where the TA33 or my optic of choice, the TA44 comes in. There’s less in the sight picture to get distracted with, as well as an enhanced peripheral vision due to the longer eye relief.

      At the end of the day, it comes down to your opinion. My opinion is that wide FOV benefits target ID and situational awareness from longer shot-making, whereas small FOV is better for snap shooting and CQB work.

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. Troy

    Great review! I’ve been researching for over a month to pick an optic for my Tavor. I’ve always loved the ACOG but have been wanting a “Jack-of-all-trades” type of sight that is always ready. The ACOG was on my short list but this review helped me to decide on the TA44-C which should be here this week. I’m looking forward to testing it out. Thanks again for the review.

    • admin

      You bet Troy, glad I could help! I’ve had so many people say this has helped them decide to purchase an ACOG….I think it’s about time Trijicon gives me some kickback! Haha!

      Let me know how it works out on that Tavor. Sounds like a great match!

  12. It is a great review. I wonder if you can review our optics as well. We’re fairly a new red dot sight manufacturer in commercial market. But we have a history of supplying the machine gun sights to U.S. army in the past. You can visit our web site to see more products.
    I would love to send the RV1 and RV2 for your honest review. If you are interesting it, please contact me at philipk@diopticalusa.com

  13. Jason D

    Wow, what an amazing, in depth article, and literally EXACTLY what I was looking for! I had very little knowledge of acog scopes before this article and you wrote it out in such an organized way, it was easy to understand! I felt so overwhelmed before this article on the different Trijicon Acogs I was getting frustrated, it’s a lot of money do you want to know what you’re buying, is right for your specific needs. Thank you for helping me choose! I went with the TA11, as I hate such short eye relief, and also don’t like small FOV when looking through the scope, so the TA11 was exactly what I was looking for! Going to put it on a LWRC M6 A5! Thank you so much for this incredible article!!

  14. Dan

    Admin,

    Can I ask you why you chose the TA44 over the TA45 ? The TA45 has 50% more eye relief and a larger objective, theoretically allowing more light transmission.

    Your thoughts ?

    • admin

      No problem! I actually had a TA45 about 3 years ago for a short period. I sold it because it weighed more, has the same magnification amount as the TA44, and didn’t have the circle dot reticle option. Furthermore, I got the TA44 for $715 brand new 😉

      At the end of the day, I have a lightweight rifle and weight and size was a bigger concern than light transmission. I do not believe at 1.5x magnification that you will be able to notice any light difference: On the TA45, you have a 16mm exit pupil and the TA44 has a 10.66mm exit pupil. Generally speaking, the largest our pupils will ever get is about 7mm. Therefore, anything beyond that is unable to be used for additional brightness. What it does do though is allow for an easier or quicker cheek weld. So if you value that over weight and size, then a TA45 may be a better choice for you. In my case, I felt the 10.66mm was plenty generous and not lacking in the brightness department at all.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • DAN

        Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate your thoughts. BTW….I did order and receive a TA44 with green circle dot. Compared to my TA47 with triangle reticle the circle dot obscures the target beyond 100 yards. Regarding the 44’s green reticle, I found the amber of my TA47 more visible than the green. But, different colors work better/worse for different people. I wish there was a way to physically sample all the different ACOGS, their reticles eye relief, etc.

        Again, thank you for your reply. You’ve been helpful.

  15. Justin

    The TA33 is even lighter with a Larue mount. About 9 ounces. You should do an update with pictures showing what you would see in your peripheral vision with the scopes at the optimum eye relief. This is where the TA33 shines since it’s so thin.

    • admin

      Yeah, unfortunately I do not have the Larue mount for reference. I’ve always used American Defense mounts and have been very happy with them, so I’ve stuck with them.

      I’d love to update with better pictures, but unfortunately I no longer have the TA31 nor the TA11. I had to fund some other purchases 😉 The animated GIF’s were taken at the ideal FOV distance, so what you see is about what it feels like behind the scope. With all the scopes, you would typically see a bit more out to the sides, but I had to crop the pics a little bit to fit them in the frame.

      I agree that the TA33 shines in the peripheral vision department. Believe it or not, the TA44-C is even better! Although it does have less magnification. It’s a smaller scope, so naturally you will have a better peripheral vision.

  16. Christopher

    I’ve owned a trijicon ACOG and some of the the other brands. You can’t beat an ACOG. However, there are tons of other brands for $1000 dollars less which get the job done and I would base if off what your looking to use it for. If I was in combat, I’d bet my life on an ACOG but if I’m at the range or just hunting, the other brands get the job done for $1000 less. The most recent one I bought was the terminus Optics Scope off of Amazon. Great range piece and I use it for hunting. But like I said, if I was in the heat of combat, I’d for sure go with Trijicon. (Redacted cloned product link)

    • admin

      I understand the desire to go cheap. I used to be one who followed this mantra. But I’ve come to realize that, especially with optics, you get what you pay for.

      I once purchased a cloned TA01: Built like a tank, Japanese glass, looked exactly like a real ACOG, etc. But it wouldn’t hold zero, no illumination and the glass left much to be desired compared to the real thing. I wasted my money trying to skate by on the cheap.

      Further, I don’t like the fact that the manufacturer has attempted to copy the exact body style. It causes confusion for people who don’t know the finite details between the real thing and a fake, so some people end up get stiffed. Even if it is not advertised as the real deal and sellers are being up front that it’s not real, it’s still a clone and should be protected against patent infringement.

      I feel that people are much better served by getting non-cloned products and stepping down to lower tier brands if they cannot afford the Alpha’s: Primary Arms comes to mind with their lower-end 4x scopes, as well as a few Vortex options. They will withstand recoil, they will hold zero, they have a warranty, they are reputable, etc. They may not have German grade glass, but again, what can you expect for around $250? In this sense, I agree that you can get by with much cheaper than $1200 ACOGs. But I no longer support cloned products.

  17. Ralph Hashoian

    Great article, as an engineer really appreciate your data gathering and presentation. Read your EOTECH article as well. Nice body of work here.
    For an AR 5.56 under 100 meters and home defense, what would you choose the TA44-C or Exps-3+magnifier. I am an old guy with old eyes and some magnification is nice. Curious to know what optic you would recommend. Thanks

    • admin

      Hi Ralph, thanks for your comment! If I was shooting inside of 100m every time, I would absolutely choose an Eotech….but that is not my only consideration. Is the engagement known ahead of time? Will I need to have an “always on” illumination for extended periods of time? Are you needing fast, heads up shooting capability, or deliberate aim? These are the bigger considerations, in my opinion, than simply the length of engagement.

      If this is purely a range toy, then I would opt for the TA44-C, or even something with more magnification, like the TA11 or the TA31. But if you are shooting and moving and know when your engagements will happen, I’d be all over the Eotech. If maybe you’re on a patrol for a long period of time, battery life can be an issue with the Eotech, and the 4 hour auto-shut off is problematic, making the ACOG series or an Aimpoint/Trijicon MRO a better choice.

      In your situation, it sounds like I would go for the ACOG over the Eotech + Magnifier. The reasons are, you mention that you’re looking for magnification to enhance your visual acuity. By adding a magnifier behind another optic, you are increasing the number of panes of glass that you’re looking through, and that darkens the image (less light transmission). Furthermore, the benefits you get from a red dot/holographic are gone when using a magnifier behind it: It is essentially no longer “parallax free” because you cannot move your eye around behind the optic and have the reticle move with the position of your eye….the reticle stays static through the magnifier. Lastly, you have added a battery into the mix where one isnt necessary (versus a scope) when you can have an ACOG that illuminates in all situations without batteries.

      I might add that you will have a LOT more weight in an Eotech + Magnifier setup over an ACOG. I had this setup at one time and used a FTS mount. I thought it was the best of both worlds, but as it turned out, it gave me neither. It was heavy, inside of 250 yards the 3x mag didnt enhance my accuracy or hit rate, and looking through the many panes of glass darkened the image compared to the ACOG alone.

      Hope this helps!

  18. Bob Wilkins

    I just read this, AFTER ordering my first ACOG, to supplement my REAP-IR (which is a dandy 24/7 “optic” all by its lonesome, but at 20+oz, tiring after a bit). My choice was the TA33 green dot/semicircle for the reasons stated in your article as to its pluses, and I simply wanted more than 1.5x if scoping, and both the 44 and 33 seemed best for scout scope both eyes open peripheral vision. And I wish the 33 had not been made with the add-on bell, but all forged out front as traditional, my only real gripe.

    An excellent overview, still, and greatly appreciated, still as up to date as when first writ.

    • admin

      Thanks Bob, really appreciate the feedback! Hope you enjoy the TA33….it’s a great scope, but for my lightweight rifle and relatively short shooting distances, I chose the 1.5x TA44.

      I understand your gripe about the long bell, however it also adds additional protection for the objective lens!

      • Bob

        Well, if it makes you feel any better, the write-up continued to prey on my mind, especially since the 33 and 44 were so similar in unbelievable forgiving head positions and mounting positions, and a single lever mount 44 should be just under 7oz, while my double lever and 33 is 10.8oz, and the 44 about half the size….so, somebody had a great price on a slower selling red circle dot (i prefer green), and it is on the way. My gun is also a lightweight, 6.25lbs with 20rds, and compact, 6720, and a shame to spoil it.

        Something worth a write-up, but so many variables, is how these perform for us who formerly had excellent astronaut vision, but now must wear glasses. The type and amount of prescription has a vast influence on how useful is a scope with no diopter adjustment possible. For me, progressive lenses, and focused scope view, require tilting the head back to look through bottom, as if trying to get crispest iron sight picture, not possible from a bench or many shooting positions. However, the reticle is crisp. The bifocals work great with the ACOG simply looking thru top far vision part . But, progressives are the normal glasses and bifocals for detail work (wider FOV of sharp focus).

        This had an influence on trying the 1.5….yes, I can get 3x and crisp with some fiddling with head position and/or glasses position, but only with that fiddling.
        Otherwise, the thing is used primarily as a 1x dot, anyhow ( a dot which will outlive 3ea circuit driven/battery powered/static sensitive/battery leakage prone/circuit switch corrosion prone dots and still be a good scope when tritium dies), both eyes open, unlimited FOV, simply superimposing crisp dot the right eye sees, on the in-focus corrected left eye view (and why, until benching, no difficulty noted at all). So, if I am not primarily using the magnification anyhow, why drag it around everywhere?

        It actually is the same tired scope debate in another form…do i want the smaller, lighter, more reliable, less fiddly 1x, or, do i want the larger, heavier, more failure prone, adjustment required variable scope for that higher magnification potential.

        • Bob

          oh, a correction regarding your objective bell comment…the original ACOG and the 1.5 have a one piece forged body which protects the objective bell. On the 33, it appears to be nearly the back half of the 1.5, with a screwed in standard objective bell, and not as addition protection, but intead, the screwed in extention IS the objective….Now, that DOES offer one bonus….both ends can take off the shelf scope covers of correct size.

          • Bob

            and, duh, i dropped the most pertinent line, “the screwed in bell no stronger than anybody else’s bell”….it is quite thinner than the single piece housings, quite important on a carbine rattling around in a vehicle, as does mine.

      • Bob

        As noted in below/above, have gone with the TA44, and just a few facts and figures for the data banks. The TA33 with double lever Midwest QR mount is over 10oz, and the TA44 in single lever by same is 7.4oz, as just received/weighed. Can use the smaller mount on the larger ACOG, for what it is worth, but I prefer a larger footprint for the larger scope. The objective portion of the TA44 housing is far thicker than the TA33, and even a new scope in bargain red much more subject to loss of reticle in scanning across various lit objects in dimmer light. Green would have been better, but would have taken pink at price paid. The TA44 is staying on the gun, easier on eyes with both eyes open, suprising magnification at closer ranges, and one would be hard pressed in hefting a gun with eyes closed to note either scope added to.gun, and especially so on the TA44….if rugged is what is primary, the TA44 is the way to go, probably their strongest housing of all at the objective.

        • admin

          Bob, thanks for all of your input! Much appreciated.

          I completely agree with you on the TA44 over the TA33. The only thing the TA33 has is additional magnification. And to me, I’d rather go with the TA31 at 4x over the 3x TA33. But even still, on a lightweight carbine, I’d prefer speed and less weight over marginally better target ID capability.

          One last thing that I’d note is that at 1.5x, the TA44 over a red dot will enhance the sight picture and give the viewer a clearer, brighter picture with better resolution. Yes, it will slightly skew one eye over the other, but the Bindon Aiming Concept overcomes this anyway.

  19. Brian

    OUTSTANDING ARTICLE!!!
    Fast. Factual. To the point!

    I’ve been delving over website after website for WEEKS looking for the information you just provided so clearly and quickly….Thank You!!

    I will be going with the TA11 horseshoe reticle myself for a .308 rifle that I don’t care much to do any work outside of 400 meters.

    Reading this article will make me check out more of your reviews!

    Much appreciation from the Great State of Texas!!!

    • admin

      Thanks Brian, this was why I wrote this comparison review in the first place! I found it very hard to get all the information I was looking for in one place, and I ended up buying all of these scopes at different times (with the exception of the TA33…..my father purchased that).

      I just figured I would share what I found between these scopes so no one else has to buy 3 of them to find out which one they like best 😉

  20. Mike F

    Thank you… this ACOG guide has been needed by me and im sure others since there very first look at thr modeling number system. Thank you, thank you Sooo much.

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