Previous Post
Next Post

The M16 A4 is the U.S. Marines’ standard-issue combat rifle. RCO stands for Rifle Combat Optic. Trijicon manufactures the AN/PVQ-31A [above] for the Marines’ M16 A4 rifle. In case that’s not enough to decipher our headline, explains: “The AN/PVQ-31 is a fixed 4x optical aiming sight designed for use with the service rifle configured with the MILSTD-1913 Rail Adapter System. It attaches to the rail to provide the user a targeting tool to engage distant daylight and near low-lit targets with increased identification certainty.” The bottom line arrives via Lance Cpl. Francisco Abundes: “The first recruit training company on Parris Island to qualify with a Rifle Combat Optic device graduates today with 30 percent more rifle experts than the average company . . .

Bravo Company recruits were issued the AN/PVQ-31 RCOs for the M16-A4 rifle June 15 as part of a study by the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity . . .

The initial basic marksmanship qualification rate was 9 percent higher than the 10-year average at Parris Island, Corns said . . .

Corns said Bravo Company also had a 55 percent expert rate, which is unheard of at recruit training.

While the recruits still get training with iron sights (in case the RCO is RIP), it seems that we have a winner—after God knows how many years of Special Force and yes civilian adoption. But don’t get to thinking that RCOs are gun sights for idiots . . .

“With the RCOs, recruits have to focus more on the fundamentals of marksmanship than they did with the iron sights,” Kurre said.

Corns said the reason for this is because looking into a four-power optic magnifies every mistake.

“You have to be more fundamentally sound with the optics than the iron sights,” Corns continued. “It’s not point of aim, point of impact.”

Some people are saying “recruits aren’t going to understand it,” Kurre said. “No, they got it.”

With today’s video games and fast-moving technology, these recruits adapt quicker to the RCO, Kurre added.

So much for all those videogame nay-sayers. In fact, they’ve been pwned!

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. The military’s reluctance to embrace general-issue rifle optics is as obstinate and foolish as their long resistance to infantry body armor. They’re finally starting to understand it, one retirement party at a time, as the hidebound obstructionists leave to take up golfing.

  2. Is there a poor man’s version of this optic made by someone? The $1000 that Trijicon is asking at retail for these is a little steep for Average Joe.

    • I’m currently testing a Leupold ‘Patrol’ 1.25-4x variable with a 30mm tube. It’s bigger and heavier than the ACOG but it has an illuminated red-dot reticule and the adjustable magnification makes it useful from dining-room distances all the way out to 200 yards and beyond.

      As such, it seems perfect for the 3-gun match crowd. It’s also a Leupold, which pretty much speaks for itself.

      It should be available on the street for about $550, which is almost 50% less than the ACOG. I was loving it big-time until its test platform (the ill-fated VK-22) took a terminal trip to the crapper.

  3. I’m surprised it’s not more of an improvment, really. I’d suspect that in combat, versus at the shooting range, that number is much higher than 30%. That said, the Marines have been using this optic (TA31RCO-A4P) for a long time on their M16A4s and were using the TA31F before that. The Aimpoint Comp M2 and M4 have also been in use for quite some time as well as the M68 CCO in Army parlance.

    The ACOG is expensive, but in no way over priced. There is only one rifle optic in it’s class that is superior and it (Elcan SpecterDR) is significantly more expensive. I really wish that Trijicon would develop a 1x/4x version of the RCO that would compete with Elcan’s optic. Trijicon optics have a wider availability of mounts and I prefer the fiber optic and tritium illumination to batteries.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here