Letter Re: Trijicon — What’s the Right Color for a Color-Blind User?

I live in the hinterboonies — hours from anywhere where I can ‘try-out’ the different colors of Trijicon ACOG sights.  God willing, I’d like to purchase one for my .223.  Since I’ll have to purchase by mail-order I want to specify the right one the first time.  I’m hoping for help from you, or one of your experienced readers.

In my early 20s I had to take a flight physical.  Boy was I surprised to learn, for the first time, that I had a degree of red/green color blindness.  I can see red.  I can see green.  I can match my clothes.  But, the charts don’t lie — I am color blind.  I’ve been told that 10% of men have the same condition.

So, here’s my question.  What’s the best color ACOG for a heavily-forested (conifer) environment for a user such as mine?  I’ll bet the military has done the research, but I don’t know how to access it.  I’m not looking for an ‘I like this’ answer — I want to know what the research supports.  Again, I’m not profoundly color, just mildly so.

I would also appreciate a recommendation on reticle style.  There are so many to choose from.  What would be best for dynamic defensive work?

Thanks, – C.K.

JWR Replies:

ACOG scopes are presently available with red-, green-, or amber-lit reticles. Generally, red is the best all-around color for lit reticles, regardless of red-green color blindness issues. Nearly all military contract ACOGs have red reticles specified, after extensive testing by Natick Labs, and in the field. There is a good discussion of military ACOGs (U.S. Army and Marine Corps) archived at The Highroad (THR).

It is noteworthy that back before 1995 Trijicon made a 1″ traditional tube (pre-ACOG) scope with a selector ring that switches the reticle from daylight-gathering (a deep orange-red), to three different tritium-lit colors: red, green, and amber. Finding one of those scopes would be ideal, to provide greater flexibility for lighting conditions and background foliage colors. I have three of these scopes that I purchased around 1991 and I have used them extensively. They are still quite serviceable, even given the half-life of tritium. (Tritium is a glowing radioactive gas–a hydrogen isotope–with an 11.2 year half-life. Thus, a tritium element is about one-half as bright as when new after 11 years, one-quarter as bright after 22 years, and so on.) The elements in my 1991-vintage scopes are starting to get noticeably dim, so I will soon to ship the scopes to Tooltech (the factory authorized smithy) for new tritium elements. They then should be be good for another 20+ years. To the best of my knowledge, ACOG scopes have never been made with selectable-color reticles. (Changing colors necessitates a trip back to the factory.)