Trijicon scopes - are they any good?


Bottom Gun
January 16, 2003, 10:09 PM
I need some help, Guys.
I've been considering buying a Trijicon scope for an AR15. I'd like to get one for general use. In other words, some close to moderate range shooting with an occasional long range shot.

I'm undecided as to whether to look at the regular full size or one of the compact models.
At first I thought the full line crosshairs would be the way to go since I would be able to take an occasional long range pot shot at a varmint, but lately I'm wondering if the donut or delta reticle might not be a better way to go.

Can anyone answer some questions for me?
Does anyone know what the tritium half life is? Does it vary with the color?
What is the best reticle/color combination in your opinion?
I'm thinking about a carry handle mount and would not always have perfect head position. Is parallex an issue with these?

I'd sure like to get some feedback from someone who has one.

Thanks in advance.


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Jeff White
January 16, 2003, 11:06 PM
I have a Trijicon TAO-1 that I bought new, direct from Trijicon in 1989. The red tritium in there still illuminates the reticule. A lot of people don't like the short eye relief, but I find it lets me shoot the dsame nose to charging handle cheek weld I've always used.

I had it mounted directly on the carry handle of my pre-ban Colt HBAR. I now have it mounted on a flattop using the TA51 mount.

I haven't found parallex to be a problem. The optics are very clear and the scope is almost bomb proof.

Are you putting it on a 20" or 16" barrel? The TAO-1 reticule is calibrated for bullet drop from a 20" and the TAO-1 NSN from a 14.5 inch.

I have heard some complaints about the amber illumination in the TAO-1 being too faint.

I've shot a friends TA-11 IIRC with the Bindon Aiming system and the donut reticle. Worked great for CQB, but personally, I like a cross hair for anything past 200 meters.



Bottom Gun
January 17, 2003, 07:47 AM
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the great info. I truly appreciate it.

I have a 16" A3 and a 20" A2 so I can scope either one. The 16" has a fixed front sight though and I'm not sure how that would work or if I could even leave the sight in place. Maybe the 20" would be a better choice.
I'm still kinda leaning toward the crosshair reticle.

You brought up a very good point on the amber reticle. I had wondered about that.

Thanks again,


January 17, 2003, 12:41 PM
I have a TA-31 that I like with the donut reticle. If you ever get up to Phoenix, let me know and you can shoot it/look at it.

The tritium is dim and really only useable in very low light conditions. It doesn't affect me though - any ambient light around the shooter illuminates the reticle throught the fiber optic.

The BAC is nice and fast once you've gotten used to it. The donut does ok at distance and you use the top edge, middle of the donut (2 moa hole) and bottom edge for a precise aiming point at 100/200/300 yards. The 4-800 aiming points use small crosshairs.

You'll need to mount it on a flattop. The carry handle mount is too high.

Overall, I like it for what it is. It doesn't do any one thing great, but it does a lot of things fairly well.

January 17, 2003, 12:53 PM
I don't own one personally, but have a few friends that do. Response has been mixed and I believe the other posts represent the arguments I've heard.

Bottom Gun
January 17, 2003, 01:27 PM

Actually, I'm working a contract in Chandler right now. Maybe we can get together some weekend.

Will I have to remove the front sight if I use it on my flattop or will it ghost out?



Bartholomew Roberts
January 17, 2003, 01:38 PM
I've got the TA11 and have played with the TA31, TA01, and TA01NSN as well as a few compacts.

Does anyone know what the tritium half life is? Does it vary with the color?

Tritium half-life is 12.39 years. No variation in color. Also remember that this isn't the end of the sight, it just means that in about 12 years the brightness of the reticle will be about half what it is now.

What is the best reticle/color combination in your opinion?

I went with the red donut. If you like shooting groups, you may not care for it. The reticle is a very subjective thing. If you want more precision the crosshair is the best, followed by the chevron. However, you can still put your shot within a 6" circle at 300m with the donut and I find it to be faster close in. Outside of 300m, the donut uses a crosshair ranging reticle and is just as accurate as any other crosshair.

I have a real problem with amber reticles. They tend to fade out against brown/tan backgrounds for me. This is a real problem on the Reflex, Reflex II, and CQT for me but not as bad on the ACOGs (just gets dim). Some people like amber, some don't. I really recommend you try before you buy and if that isn't possible red is the safest bet.

I'm thinking about a carry handle mount and would not always have perfect head position. Is parallex an issue with these?

I have the TA11 mounted in the carry handle right now and parallax isn't a problem. Some people don't like the cheek weld but I haven't had any problems with it personally.

The only issues I have seen with the carry handle mount is that you need to remember to hold over about 3-3.5" on close-in shots (under 10m) and the rifle is generally too wide for gun cases, cabinets, racks etc. with the scope mounted in the handle. On the other hand, it keeps zero well even after dismounting it as long as you remount it the same way (with the included special washer oriented correctly tighten the screw hand tight and then give a quarter-turn with the included 1/8" allen wrench)

Andrew Wyatt
January 17, 2003, 06:37 PM
I reccommend the Tao-1 or the tao-1NSN.

I dislike the donut reticle, and i like the non donut reticle much better.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 18, 2003, 10:47 AM
Well reticle choice is fairly subjective; but there are a few things to keep in mind about the TA01 and TA01NSN.

These are non-BAC scopes. BAC scopes feature a fiber-optic tube that automatically adjusts the brightness of the reticle and gives you an always illuminated reticle. This allows you to use the scope with both eyes open and binocular vision will superimpiose the illuminated reticle over the unzoomed image from the non-scope eye. Once the scope is on target, your mind will automatically switch to the clearer, zoomed image (and the location of the dot will jump a bit due to the distance between eyes and other factors such as whether you have phoria or not) provided by the scope.

You can use this on the non-BAC scopes too but it is incredibly difficult as the unilluminated crosshair reticle doesn't lend itself well to this.

You may also find a brief time period towards dusk when the reticle on the TA01NSN fades out entirely in those lighting conditions.

TA01 may be just the ticket for you; but I really recommend you try it first before you make a decision. If most of your shooting is close to moderate range and you have to have a crosshair, a crosshair BAC reticle (available only on the compacts) might be more to your liking.

I ultimately went with the donut because like you, most of my shooting was going to be in the close-moderate range category and the BAC feature and donut lended speed for this type of shooting. Naturally, using the top or inside of a round circle as your point of aim doesn't lead to precision. If you need to place one shot on top of the other, the donut is unlikely to satisfy your needs. If you need to place a shot very quickly into a several inch circle up to 300m, then it does nicely.

Another reticle I would look at is the chevron. The tip of the chevron allows for better precision than the donut and obscures less of the target than the triangle at longer ranges. It has the BAC feature and is probably the most precise of the BAC reticles in the full-size ACOGs. The downside of the chevron is it is smaller and finer compared to the donut and triangle. This can make it harder to pick up on fast moving shots for some people.

Here is another link that goes into more depth on the BAC ACOGs

January 18, 2003, 03:37 PM
Ken - missed the front sight question, but it's not an issue. You can keep the sight.

Bartholomew - well said

Bottom Gun
January 20, 2003, 12:57 PM
Thanks for all the good information, Guys. I really appreciate it.

Looks like the red donut is the way to go. Now I need to decide upon magnification.

January 20, 2003, 01:38 PM
This thread has been very helpful. I've always wanted to know exactly the pros and cons of each ACOG. Plus I had no idea what the BAC was.

Navy joe
January 21, 2003, 12:44 AM
I've got the 2x compact carry handle mount with fiber-optic and red crosshair. It's the only scope ever on my AR, I don't need any other. Very fast, completely reliable.

Tritium as pointed out has the same half life, because there is only one molecule. The colors come from whatever it is filtered through. Through plain glass it gives the familiar night sight green glow. Don't know about natural color since it's a gas, if it weren't in something we wouldn't see it.

January 23, 2003, 10:39 AM
I've got a TA47-2 (2x20 w/ amber triangle). I use mine mainly for close range and the triangle is really quick to pick up. My eye naturally reaches for the tip of the pyramid. Haven't tried it at over 50-60 yards (it's on an 11.5/5.5 upper). Another thing I like about the ACOG series is that no battery is needed.

I just picked up one of the Russian Kobra sights (ECS-8-15) from It has a choice of four reticles, chevron, chevron with a dot over the chevron, dot, and open T. This is going on my .50 Beowulf upper. This unit is built like a tank. From friends who have these units I have received good reports. Hopefully I'll get a chance to try it out in the next month or two.

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