Predictable and Exciting Married and Had a Baby: The Aimpoint ACO

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Predictable and Exciting married and had a baby. Predictable’s DNA contributed the red dot, familiar controls and mount. Exciting naturally delivered the surprises – the price point and availability. I’m not writing this off a press release, I’ve used this baby, and I think the parents must both be proud. It’s the ACO from Aimpoint. ACO is short for Aimpoint Carbine Optic.
My first red dot sight wasn’t an Aimpoint. In my mind, those were reserved for military and those who had incomes that dwarfed mine. Besides, I could only see them in magazines or online, and dropping the kind of coin involved without ever seeing one first hand was more than I could swallow. So like a lot of other people, I got a cheap Chinese knock off.

It was just a risk/reward decision. A few internet armchair commandos said nice things about the imitation sights, and it was probably half the price of a real deal Aimpoint. I rolled the dice and ended up with a nice enough toy. In retrospect, it would have been ideal for airsoft. It looked cool, and the sub par glass (was that really glass, I don’t remember…) wouldn’t matter substantively when just shooting plastic BBs at a friend. The somewhat less than perfect red dot was certainly good enough for blasting buddies at close range. And just like a real Aimpoint, battery life was measured in hours. The difference was that Aimpoint’s hours of battery life had five digits, while my wannabe sight had only single digits. All good for an afternoon of airsoft.

But I didn’t buy it for airsoft.

Aimpoint Carbine OpticThe old adage of “Buy once, cry once” was and remains valid. I defended my purchase in my own mind for a while. Most people would. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that Dad’s monetary advice to simply be patient, save your money, and buy what you really want would have been the better route. The imitation sight was sold, but I was still left wondering what the real deal Aimpoint might be like. There just weren’t many Comp M2 Aimpoints around, certainly not at the retailers anywhere near me, and Aimpoints were really a lot of money in my world.

That was years ago. Today, Aimpoint has a number of sights available, and I have several. I know others who have them. You can buy them online all day. Or all night. However, for the first time red dot sight buyer debating whether to pony up the $400+ dollars for the first Aimpoint, there’s still the risk/reward equation to deal with. Is it worth it? Sure, if you read enough stories like this one. But is it worth it to you, once you’ve had your hands on it?

That is the trick, still, getting your hands on one. It’s not like you can head to your nearest big box sporting/hunting/outdoors store and check it out. But that’s changing, and the change is brought to you courtesy of the new Aimpoint Carbine Optic (ACO). You’ll soon be able to walk in to a big box store stocked with ACO units, decide for yourself if it’s worth the investment, and walk out with the real deal Aimpoint sight for less than $400. Put it on your AR-15 and go run it the same day. Sweet! That’s what Excitement’s DNA did for the ACO.

ACO from AimpointLet’s see what predictable contributed.

The sight is rugged with a 30mm tube, giving a broader field of view than my T-1. It weighs in at 300 grams with mount, about the same as a human heart and less than a fully loaded 30 round AR-15 magazine. It’s water proof to 15 feet. I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about that, but I have been caught in torrential rains when hog hunting. Nice to know my investment in an ACO is good to go there. And should I fall in a creek, I know it will be okay. I don’t know that my old knock off sight could compete there. Battery life is predictably long, 1 year of constant on when set on power level 7 of 10.

I’m partial to Aimpoint’s 2 MOA (minute of angle) over their 4 MOA dots, and the ACO delivers. The smaller dot allows for more precise aiming at longer ranges. At Tac Pro Shooting Center I’ve shot using the 2 MOA dot at steel out to 400 yards without magnification and have done well enough to surprise myself. In the case of the ACO, that red dot is not night vision compatible. Windage and elevation adjustments are in half MOA clicks.

The glass is super clear. I can’t discern any difference next to my much more expensive Aimpoint T-1. Unlike the T-1, the design is akin to the Comp series of sights, using a single rotary switch on the back of sight to power up and adjust brightness. Its detents are solid and nicely spaced so you’ll have no trouble with it gloved or bare handed. It’s so easy to turn that I wondered if you might inadvertently turn the sight on when retrieving your rifle from a bag. I managed to do so, but I was deliberately trying to. Might be an issue, or it might just be me looking for one. That is kind of my job.

ACO AimpointIf you’ve run red dot sights for any length of time, you already know they are designed for “both eyes open” shooting. If you’re looking at jumping on board for the first time, you’ll find this excerpt from the ACO manual surprisingly well written and informative, and otherwise thoroughly predictable: “Aimpoint sights employ the ”both eyes open” method of sighting, which greatly enhances situational awareness and target acquisition speed. Thanks to a parallax-free lens design, the dot follows the movement of the user’s eye while remaining fixed on the target. This eliminates any need for centering the dot inside the sight tube. This also allows for unlimited eye-relief, so performance is not affected by the location of the sight on the mounting rail.”

There you have it, the spawn of Predictable and Exciting: A true Aimpoint optic priced a little lower than their previous entry level sight, but with unprecedented availability in local big box retailers. That’s a win for first time buyers, and could easily be the gateway to subsequent purchases of higher end Aimpoint optics like the T2 down the road. I like ACO. I believe I’ll hang on to this one for the long haul.

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