ELCAN vs ACOG, two iconic medium range battle optic and which one is better?
In this guide, we're comparing these two awesome optics, and you will check out their specs, and we will break down on what makes each optic unique to help you make a purchase decision.
At the end of this comparison guide, you will understand the differences between these two optics and know what works for you.
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Who Use Them?
Image Referenced Trijicon / 3rd SFG
The regular military and special forces are definitely using these two optics on the battlefield. ACOG is American and the ELCAN is Canadian.
Both of these sights are combat grade optic for warfighting, and they're also great for civilian range use.
The ACOG is a fixed magnification optic that is built like a tank, and the ELCAN is a variable zoom optic between 1X and 4X, also built like a tank but it can be used for tight space CQB applications.
On the other hand, the ACOG 3.5X or 4X isn't optimal for the close quarters at all because it doesn't have optimal situational awareness that a 1X scope offers.
The ACOG scope is best suited for medium-range engagement distances, if you make it close quarter ready, then you have to add an offset red dot sight.
Check Out: Best Offset Red Dot Sight
Their Important Specs
When it comes to the magnification, the only difference between the ACOG and the ELCAN is that the ELCAN Specter has the 1X to 4X switch lever that can instantly change magnification power.
This feature allows the optic to be used for close-range and medium-range applications. However, 1X magnification on the ELCAN isn't exactly like a red dot sight because the shooter experiences scope shadow significant, which means the shooter must completely align with the scope.
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The ELCAN 1.5X to 6X version is the upgraded version of the 1-4X, where Raytheon made it capable for machine gunners to switch between close up and far away.
The ACOG's 3.5X is generally speaking is the better optic compared to the 4X, because it's only 0.5X less and with better eye relief.
Read More: ACOG 4X vs 3.5X Comparison Review
Eye relief distance is the most talked about when comparing the ELCAN to the ACOG. Both of these optics gives the shooter a large field of view when looking through the optic, and the image quality is amazing.
The ELCAN has the longest eye relief at about 70mm, which is identical in both 4X and 1X modes. The ACOG 4X only has 38.1 mm, which means the ACOG users really have to get close behind the scope to get a proper aim.
Warfighters have reported the ACOG 4X frustrations when wearing their helmets as they keep bumping into the scope, so the solution is to extend the eye relief distance just a little bit.
The ACOG 3.5X35 model is the solution, where the eye relief distance is 61 mm by reducing the magnification by 0.5X and enlarge the objective lens by 3 mm to retain image quality.
However, by doing so the ACOG 3.5X is slightly larger and it's 4 oz heavier than the 4X version.
Field of View
Anyone who picks up an ELCAN scope will go: WOW! this is amazing!
The FOV of the ELCAN at 4X and ACOG 4X are about 34.2 – 37 ft at 100 yards, which gives you that large view without feeling like you're looking through a tube.
The ACOG 3.5X only has 28.9 ft at 100 yards.
As far as the field of view goes… ELCAN is the clear winner with the best viewing experience at 4X.
Not only wide enough for better situational awareness but also felt good looking through it with great eye relief.
Low Light Performance
When it comes to low light performance, the ELCAN is way superior due to the large objective lens for gathering all the light source it can possibly get.
When you look through the optic, the image is much brighter and crisper than with the ACOG.
As you can see, the ACOG without illuminated reticle, it's very hard to see under low light and the field of view is smaller.
If low light performance is a deal-breaker for you, then ELCAN is the way to go.
ELCAN's Insane Scope Shadow At 1X
The ELCAN does have the capability to go between 1X to 4X very easily, but at 1X isn't the same as a red dot sight.
The scope shadow prevents the shooter from aiming clearly if their head position is just a little off.
To get a perfect sight picture, the shooter must perfectly align the optic, otherwise, scope shadow will make this less an effective CQB optic.
Both of these optics are old school combat-ready sights that are built like tanks, thus they're significantly heavier than the modern red dot sight with magnifier scope combo.
They have been proven in wars over the years, and the ACOG is definitely ~45% lighter than the ELCAN scope. So if weight is important to you for tactical reasons, then go with the ACOG.
If you stick with the lightweight ACOG, and you also want to enable it for close quarter shooting please consider either adding an offset iron sight or a red dot optic.
NOTE: If cost is the concern, please consider the modern-day red dot sight and magnifier combo setup for weight & money savings.
Both of these optics are phenomenal when it comes to accuracy. Once they're zeroed, wherever you aim is where the bullet is hitting.
The only thing to be aware of is that the BDC reticle holdover points aren't always accurate to the particular load you're shooting.
In testing, both optics can hold zero fairly well on semi-auto and full-auto fire. The rugged body construction is rugged and reliable enough to handle the recoil and backward recoil impulse.
The only improvement the ELCAN needs is a better mounting system, where its factory ARMS mount doesn't always hold tight on the rifle.
ACOG is the clear winner here when it comes to optic mount options.
As an ACOG user, you can pick many aftermarket mounts available such as LaRue, Geissele, American Defense, and many more.
Some of these include QD and keeper nut options to ensure the optic stay tight on the rifle to hold zero, which means you have the flexibility to adjust the screw tension as they work on mil-spec and non mil-spec rails.
The ELCAN's QD lever mount by ARMS isn't the best due to the fact that you can't adjust the tension, and sometimes it doesn't fit on non-mil-spec rail.
However, the solution to that is to upgrade the ELCAN QD mount to ARMS MKII lever, which allows you to adjust the torque tension to stay tighter on the rifle.
Read More: Learn ELCAN ARMS MKII QD Mount Upgrade Here
Both ACOG and ELCAN offer reticle patterns for the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm round.
The ELCAN gives you a basic crosshair reticle with a center red dot, and bullet drop compensator (BDC) calibrated up to 1000 meters.
The BDC reticle ONLY holds true if it's at 4X magnification, so when you zero the ELCAN be sure to zero it at 4X.
The dual role capability of the ELCAN specter provides fast target acquisition in close quarters, and long-range target identification.
It's one of the only combat optics on the market that can switch between precision aiming and close quarter – in the blink of an eye.
On the other hand, the ACOG offers various reticle patterns for a wide range of application, please see the illustration below:
The most popular go-to reticle is the Chevron as its inverted V fits a human-size target shoulder to shoulder at 100 meters. We actually have an in-depth discussion on the ACOG reticle selections on our website, check it out by clicking on the link.
When it comes to comparing the price, the ACOG wins!
The base model ACOG 3.5X or the 4X is under $1400, where the ELCAN is over $1800 – 2000. The questions you want to ask yourself from the price point of view is:
- Does it make sense to spend ~$600 extra just to have the 1-4X capability for an ELCAN?
- Why use the ELCAN 1X when you already have an offset red dot optic that performs better without annoying scope shadows?
Final Thoughts on ELCAN vs ACOG
Raytheon ELCAN and Trijicon ACOGs are iconic weapon sighting systems that warfighters rely on in the field.
ELCAN is the winner when it comes to dual role capabilities, and the ACOG is a dedicated medium-range combat scope.
Because the significant scope shadows the ELCAN has on 1X, it may not be suited for fast-paced CQB applications.
As far as choosing an optic for civilian use. We definitely recommend the ACOG 3.5X for better weight savings, quality and performance.
As the content creator of badassoptic.com, My background in the firearms industry and shooting sports gives me the experience to recommend tried and true products and keep away subpar ones.