Last November I had the opportunity to test out the new Aimpoint ACO red dot sight for a month-long evaluation period. Alongside EOTech, the Swedish optics company is considered one of the best reflex sight manufacturers in the world. Soldiers, law enforcement officers, and recreational shooters alike depend on and utilize Aimpoint sights on a daily basis. First announced last fall, the ACO (Aimpoint Carbine Optic) further builds upon the reputation Aimpoint has established with their previous products and offers some excellent features at an affordable price point.
I previously had the opportunity to test out an Aimpoint PRO over a five-month period, and I was thoroughly impressed with it. Individuals familiar with Aimpoint’s products will immediately recognize the ACO’s external similarity to the PRO. The ACO lacks some of the extra bells and whistles of the PRO, but the ACO sells online for about $40 to $50 less. In lieu of wasting space and time with a spec list, check out the ACO’s page on Aimpoint’s website for specifics. I’m going to highlight some of the more notable differences between the ACO and PRO below.
- The ACO has an estimated battery life of 10,000 hours (a little over a year) while the PRO has an estimated battery life of 30,000 hours (over three years) on brightness setting 7 out of 10 at room temperature.
- The ACO is not night-vision-compatible, while the PRO is.
- The ACO comes with a minimalist Picatinny mount that is not adjustable for height. The PRO’s QRP2 Picatinny mount is quite larger, is capable of using risers, and features a large tightening knob. Though it is not height-adjustable, the ACO’s mount is designed to provide absolute cowitness with standard AR-15 iron sights (using the supplied riser, the PRO should also offer the same cowitness).
- The ACO is fully waterproof, while the PRO is submersible to 45 meters.
- The ACO does not include flip-up lens covers, while the PRO does.
- The ACO retails for about $390 online, while the PRO lists for approximately $435. The latter can be had for even less on sale, while I have yet to see the ACO on sale.
Other than those stand-out differences, the ACO and PRO very similar. Both utilize 30mm tubes, project 2 MOA dots, have 38mm objective lenses, use the same 3V Lithium 2L76 or DL1/3N battery, and weigh under 8 ounces without mounts. Both sights’ elevation and windage are adjustable in ½-MOA clicks with the appropriate dials. I was unfortunately unable to weigh the ACO with its mount, though presumably it weighs slightly less than the QRP2 with a riser. For reference, the PRO weighs 11.6 ounces with a spacer-equipped QRP2.
Given my evaluation period’s time constraints, I was unable to properly test the ACO’s touted 10,000-hour battery life, though I did turn the sight on to brightness setting 7 the moment I removed it from its box, and left it on for the month. It did not dim, nor did it fully drain the battery.
I assumed that most reviews of the ACO would likely focus on its performance on AR-pattern guns, so I decided I’d break from the pack a bit and test it out on my AKs (before doing so I did mount it to an AR and it does indeed furnish an absolute cowitness with standard irons). I removed the ACO from its mount and locked it up in an RS Regulate AKM mount paired with an AK-303 lower. With an optic like the PRO or ACO, the AKM mount allows a lower one-third cowitness with an AK’s iron sights.
I tested out the ACO on three different Russian-made AKs, one in 5.45x39mm, one in 7.62x39mm, and a third in 7.62x54mmR. As expected, the ACO and RS Regulate mount held up just fine to the recoil of each round. The high-quality glass and wide viewing angle of the ACO yield a clear, unobstructed sight picture. Dialing in the dot on each gun was dead simple, and the 2 MOA dot is just about the perfect size for blasting targets out to 300 yards.
My brief review period with the ACO left me impressed. If I had $430 and the option of choosing between the PRO and ACO, I would likely purchase the former. I mean, who doesn’t plan on owning a night vision device at some point if they don’t already have one? However, if you’re looking to save some money and still have a well-made and reliable red dot on your firearm, the ACO is an excellent choice.