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ELCAN vs. ACOG: Which Optic is Better? [2023 Review]

1_ELCAN vs. ACOG- Which Optic is Better-

Choosing between the ELCAN vs ACOG combat optics? Not sure which sight is right for you?

I’ve reviewed both scopes, their features, pros, cons, and performance. In this review, I’ll be comparing each scope and giving a verdict on which is better.

ELCAN Specter Overview

ELCAN Specter

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The ELCAN Specter is made with forged aluminum to make it more RUGGED and durable. The weight of this optic is 23 oz.

It’s a variable zoom scope, with magnification levels from 1-4x. It has a quick switch lever to quickly transition between the two zoom levels.

The eye relief on the ELCAN Specter is 70mm or around 2.75 inches, which is good for a compact scope like this.

The FOV on this optic is 34.2 – 37 ft at 100 yards. This, coupled with the good eye relief, makes it a COMFORTABLE hunting scope to use!

The ELCAN scope offers different reticle options, but the reticle used by ELCAN is a basic crosshair BDC reticle.

However, the BDC reticle on the ELCAN is calibrated to the 4x magnification level, so make sure it’s ZEROED using the 4x zoom if you decide to purchase it.

Additionally, the ELCAN optic has battery-powered illumination, which is convenient for shooting in low-light situations.

Unfortunately, the ELCAN Specter has a less commonly used QD mount mounting system that doesn’t have tension adjustment and sometimes doesn’t fit on mil-spec rails.

You might have to buy an upgraded mount that works on the ELCAN, which is an additional cost.

The ELCAN optic is priced at around $1,800 to $2,000.

FUN FACT: Both scopes are being used in special forces. ELCAN optics are used by the Canadian military, while the United States military uses Trijicon ACOG optics.

  • Variable magnification from 1-4x
  • Generous eye relief at 70mm
  • Wide field of view at 4x magnification
  • Good low-light performance
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 1x lens has strong scope shadow and parallax effect
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Mounts using a non-conventional mount system

Trijicon ACOG Overview

Trijicon ACOG

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The Trijicon ACOG is a 3.5x or 4x single zoom level scope made with 7075 T6 AL material for combat-tested durability.

The eye relief is different depending on which model you choose. It can either be 38.1mm (1.5 inches) for the 4x optic or 68mm (2.67 inches).

The short eye box can be problematic on higher recoil weapons like the FN SCAR.

This optic has a field of view of 34.2 – 37 ft at 100 yards for the 4x magnification scope and 28.9 ft at 100 yards for the 3.5x magnification scope.

The good eye relief and field of view, at least on the 3.5x zoom, make the ACOG a COMFORTABLE scope.

The Trijicon ACOG scope offers different reticle options, including a triangle, chevron, doughnut, horseshoe/dot, crosshair, and MGO for the wide ACOG reticle.

  • The chevron is the most popular reticle type used in ACOG sights because the inverted V shape perfectly fits human shoulders at 100 meters.

Reticle illumination is only through tritium for the 4x, while the 3.5x is fiber-optic-capable.

The Trijicon ACOG has a traditional mount system that works on any standard mil-spec rail.

Therefore, it can accommodate many aftermarket mounts from LaRue, Geissele, and American Defense.

The ACOG sight is priced under $1,400.

  • Weight is light and compact
  • Good light transmission
  • Multiple reticle options
  • Mount system works with most aftermarket systems
  • Holds zero well for accuracy
  • Durable through proven combat testing
  • Cheaper than other optics with similar features
  • The 4x magnification optic option has a short eye relief
  • No low power magnification level for close-range CQB engagements
  • Low light capability is mediocre at best

ELCAN vs. ACOG: Performance Breakdown

elcan specter vs trijicon ACOG

Now that I’ve discussed each optic individually, the next step is comparing them head-to-head.

I’ll compare the build quality, magnification, eye relief, field of view, and sight picture of each scope.

Build Quality and Durability

Shield icon

Build quality is SUPERB on both; both are built like a tank!

However, there are some differences between both.

The ACOG’s weight ranges from 10.9 to 14 ounces, while the weight of the ELCAN ranges from 23 to 24.8 ounces.

I can sense this difference when hiking with them, and it is quite noticeable.

The ELCAN scope is durable in its own right.

However, being made of forged aluminum and combat tested, the ACOG has much more capability here.

It’s been tested in more real-world scenarios, and the lighter weight means it can tank hits better.

While the ELCAN is durable and has a decent build, I have to give the win to ACOG for its lightweight.

Winner: ACOG

Ease of Use

Hand icon

I tested both scopes and could use them with no issues, so it comes down to specific benefits that one has that the other doesn’t.

The one thing the ELCAN optic has going for it is the zoom switch lever, which can toggle between 1x and 4x zoom with a simple flick.

This feature makes it easier for me to use in a pinch at close range without scoping out.

However, the ACOG has an underrated benefit – the mount system.

The mount system is compatible with a lot more aftermarket mount systems, even with rifles with mil-spec rails.

The ACOG worked with any of my rifles and mounts!

Winner: ACOG


magnifying glass icon

This category is a win for ELCAN, with some caveats.

The ACOG is more limited, with only one magnification level available for the 4x or 3.5x option.

The ELCAN, on the other hand, has a switch lever toggling the 1-4x zoom, which saves me a ton of time.

I found this switch lever really useful when I want to change to a close-quarters-ready optic.

However, it comes with two drawbacks.

The scope is heavier than the ACOG due to more lenses. Additionally, there’s heavy scope shadow when using the 1x lens.

This means it’s not the same as using a red dot due to the limited image you can see from different angles.

Additionally, you can choose to mount a canted red dot or iron sight on the ACOG, as it’s lighter. 

Adding it to the ELCAN punishes the heavier weight more.

In the magnification category, the ELCAN still wins, but the implementation isn’t perfect.

Winner: ELCAN

Eye Relief

Eye relief icon

One scope stands out like a sore thumb here – the 4x ACOG optic.

It only has a 38.1mm eye relief (or a measly 1.5 inches), which any shooter can struggle with, especially on a higher recoil rifle.

The other ACOG optic, the 3.5x, has a 61mm (or 2.4 inches) eye relief, which is greatly improved over the previous generation 4x, but still not enough, in my opinion.

The ELCAN optic, however, has generous eye relief at 70mm (or 2.7 inches). This stays the same from the 1x to the 4x zoom level.

It offers an advantage when trying to scope faster in close-quarters situations and from a farther distance.

While the ELCAN wins here, the ACOG isn’t far behind.

Winner: ELCAN

Field of View

Picture icon

The field of view on both optics is decent.

However, the field of view is slightly worse on the ACOG option that most people will choose.

On the 4x, the field of view is equal to the 4x lens from the ELCAN. However, most people will choose the 3.5x for better eye relief.

The 3.5x only has a 28.9 ft at 100 yards field of view, while the ELCAN has a 34.2 – 37 ft at 100 yards field of view using the 4x zoom.

Winner: ELCAN

Sight Picture

Target icon

The glass quality on both optics is good at the higher zoom levels. 

Fortunately, getting your shot on target isn’t an issue with either the ELCAN or the ACOG!

However, the ELCAN has a disadvantage when using the short-range 1x optic.

It has a noticeable scope shadow when aiming down the sights, which can be disorienting and reduce accuracy.

It just isn’t the same as a dedicated CQB optic like a red dot, which is much faster to aim in without any scope shadow.

The reticle illumination capability on each scope is different. The ELCAN has full reticle illumination, while the ACOG’s is only tritium or fiber optic.

Couple this with the better low-light capability of the ELCAN Specter, and you have an optic that’s more reliable for any shooter in low light.

However, the ACOG battles back with BETTER reticle options.

You can choose from different options like the triangle, donut, chevron, horseshoe/dot, crosshair, and MGO.

The chevron is an especially popular choice on the ACOG optic because the chevron on the reticle matches up with the shoulders of a target at 100 meters range.

Meanwhile, the ELCAN only has a BDC reticle option.

Additionally, the reticle is calibrated to the 4x zoom, meaning shots with the 1x may not be accurate.

I say these are evenly matched in this category.

Which one you choose depends if you prefer having more choices in your reticle for the setup OR having a better image in darker situations.

Winner: Tie


Price tag icon

The ELCAN is more expensive than the ACOG, in this case, by $400 to $600.

The ACOG has a price point of $1,400, while the ELCAN has a price tag of $1,800 to $2,000.

The only clear advantage the ELCAN has over the ACOG is the 1-4x variable zoom modes for the CQB range.

However, aiming with it is a hassle with the scope shadow.

If you want to save money, go for the ACOG.

Winner: ACOG

Frequently Asked Questions

Man looking through optic ready to shoot

After reading this comparison, you may still have questions about the ELCAN or ACOG rifle optics. I’ve answered the most commonly asked ones below.

Is an ELCAN an LPVO?

No, the ELCAN isn’t a Low Power Variable Optic, although they do similar things.

The ELCAN is much MORE COMPACT but can only change between 1-4x zoom.

The LPVO is heavier in weight than the ELCAN but has more precision in changing zoom levels.

Many LPVOs have different reticle options and have an illuminated reticle too.

If you don’t use a bullet drop compensating reticle, you might want to go with an LPVO instead.

What Range is an ACOG Good for?

The Trijicon optic is best used for shooting at targets 400 yards out.

A shooter may struggle with anything closer because it only has 3.5x or 4x zooms.

Mount a canted red dot if you want to shoot at closer range, as this will help you aim at closer targets without adding too much weight to your rifle.

What Distance Do You Zero an ACOG?

One hundred meters is a good range to zero an ACOG, as it maximizes the zoom level.

My Final Verdict

Man pointing rifle

I must say, the battle of the ELCAN vs. ACOG rifle scopes is close.

Both are built like a tank and have great image quality. Any midrange shooter will appreciate their compact and low-weight nature!

My final thoughts on which one I’d pick is the ACOG because I like having a side mount or canted red dot for close quarters, and it costs a lot less.

However, if you prefer a more traditional dual zoom optic and don’t want to mount a canted one, the ELCAN will fit your needs better.

Either one is sure to fulfill your needs!

  • Get the ELCAN Specter if you need a rifle optic with two zoom levels in one sight image and don’t mind the weird parallax on the 1x.
  • Get the ACOG if you want to have more reticle options, a universal mount, and a cheaper option.


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