A Marine’s Combat Optic: Reviewing Trijicon’s VCOG 1-8×28 Scope

To test out Trijicon’s VCOG 1-8×28 riflescope and to see how well the controls tracked, I did my version of “shooting the box.” My very short version of the longer story?

The Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28 riflescope was and is an amazingly good and functional optic.

Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28 riflescope is now the combat optic for the Marine Corps, but we civilians can have one, too.

I mounted the VCOG on the new Christensen Arms CA5five6, an AR-15 platform chambered in .223 Rem. Easily done, as the VCOG has its own built-in mount that attaches right to a Picatinny rail.

At my local shooting range, I zeroed the VCOG and the CA5five6, first at 50 yards and then at 100 yards. My ammunition for the final 100-yard zero and my subsequent controls test was Federal Premium’s American Eagle Varmint and Predator .223, firing a 50-grain jacketed hollow point bullet.

Built on a tube made from rugged 7075-T6 aluminum, the first-focal plane VCOG 1-8 scope is rated as waterproof to 66 feet.

I drew a rectangle on a large piece of paper and tacked up the paper at 100 yards. Shooting from a rest, I put my first shot into the bottom of that rectangle. Then, I started spinning the controls and firing.

The elevation and windage controls on the VCOG sent for my review are set for 1/4 MOA of movement at 100 yards or approximately 1/4 inch per click. (NOTE: The VCOG 1-8 is also available with MRAD controls.) After my first shot, I clicked the Elevation control UP 16 times and fired. That shot hit almost exactly 4.0 inches above the first one.

Next, I gave the Elevation six clicks Up and the Windage control 12 clicks to the Right and fired. That shot hit 1.5 inches higher than the previous shot and 3.2 inches right.

Then, four clicks UP and four to the Right and I fired two shots. They hit side-by-side 1.1-inch higher than the previous shot and 1.2-inches to the right.

That was the pattern throughout the tracking. Every four clicks moved the bullet’s point of impact Up, Down, Right or Left 1.0-inches just like it was supposed to.

The VCOG’s elevation and windage controls are ultra-precise, as McCombie found in his testing.

No, it wasn’t always exactly 1.0 inch. My range is situated outdoors, and the wind was gusty; although I was shooting from rest I was still shooting, pulling shots a bit as I went.

However, as I discovered—you click the controls on the VCOG 1-8, the bullet hits in the new place it is expected to hit.

Very damned impressive! 

That precision explains in part why the U.S. Marine Corps selected the VCOG 1-8 to be the Corps’ Squad Common Optic (SCO). Trijicon announced the SCO contract earlier this year and has begun delivery of units, all of which are manufactured at the company’s Wixom, Michigan factory.

Trijicon specifically designed the VCOG 1-8×28 for Close Quarter Battle and long-distance marksmanship. The clarity and precision of the optic aid in the longer-range shooting, as does the 8x magnification, while the segmented red circle and red dot reticle make for fast target acquisition up close.

The VCOG features a universal segmented circle/MOA crosshair dot reticle with 11 brightness settings.

The scope tube is forged from an extremely sturdy 7075-T6 aluminum and is rated as waterproof to 66 feet. The first focal plane reticle allows subtensions and drops to remain true at any magnification.

Featuring ruggedized electronics, the VCOG is powered by a single lithium AA battery (provided), offering a battery life of 633 hours at setting 6. The shooter can select from 11 brightness settings, 2-night vision settings, 8-day settings, and 1 super-bright setting. Of course, the VCOG can also be used without illumination.

One AA battery will power the VCOG 1-8 for up to 633 hours (26.4 days) when placed on the 6 brightness setting.  

The scope sports an integrated dial fin that allows easy rotation through the magnification range, and a near-constant eye relief means no head or stock position adjustments are needed.

An integrated dial fin allows easy rotation through the VCOG’s 1-8 magnification range.

The VCOG’s a combat optic, and combat means shooting fast. Well, I have no way to replicate combat. But what I did was set up human-type silhouette targets at 50 yards, specifically the Bad Guy Targets from Birchwood Casey.

I put the VCOG’s magnification on 4x, and the illumination of the reticle and circle at 4, which made the segmented circle pop nicely in the overcast conditions during which I shot.

With a magazine loaded with 15 rounds, I faced the target with the Christiansen CA5five6 held at low ready. I counted “One, two, three” out loud, shouldered the rifle and put the segmented circle and reticle onto the target as quickly as I could, and pulled off three shots, pausing in between shots only long enough to get to circle back over the silhouette.

VCOG versus Bad Guy at close quarters. Winner, VCOG!

Then, I went back to low ready, caught my breath, and did it all over again, until the magazine was empty. I completed the whole process twice.

Accuracy on my first target was semi-pathetic. Only five of those shots were true center mass hits, the rest low or wide of the center.

I did much better on the second Bad Guy, though, with eight shots landing right between the strings of the bad guy’s hoodie. One round went into the neck, four were in the trunk but low, one impacted the thug’s pistol, and one I don’t know where.

Next, I loaded the rifle’s magazine with nine rounds. I dropped to one knee, used my right knee to support the elbow of my shooting arm, and pulled off three quick shots to the target’s head area. I took more time than I did on the standing shots, but still fired fairly rapidly.

I also did this exercise twice.

My best target was the second one and I placed seven of the nine shots into the head area.

The segmented circle certainly got me on target fast, and whenever I had more than a split-second to line up the crosshair, I popped the round into a more or less fist-sized area. The shooter—that is, me–could’ve used more practice of course. But the point of the exercise was to see how quickly that segment circle can actually get a shooter onto the target.

Very quickly, is the answer, and quite accurately.

At 31.5 ounces, the VCOG 1-8×28 is no lightweight optic and that weight may be off putting to some shooters and their applications.

I am actually not a fan of the thumbscrew knobs used to secure the mount to the rail. Really, I’d prefer the half-inch nuts Trijicon uses on other one-piece mounts, but that’s a personal preference (and for all I know the thumb screws were a military requirement for the Marine Corps contract).

I had no problem with the red illumination of the VCOG, but my eyes do like green LED better. So, I hope green illumination will be a feature we civilians can opt for one day.

And, let’s admit, the VCOG’s $2,800 suggested retail is a hefty price for glass. At the same time, I believe that VCOG’s rugged build and high-quality glass mean anyone who purchases this scope will be able to pass it on to their children. I wouldn’t doubt these children will also be handing it down.

Individual shooters, of course, will have to decide what this level of precision and potential longevity might be worth.

Obviously, the VCOG 1-8×28 us built for tactical applications. Hunting? Yes, but not on a mountain rifle rig where less weight is the point. With a bolt action or semi-automatic and shooting from a tree stand or a fixed position, the VCOG and its 8x magnification should take a good shooter out to 300 yards on deer-sized game without a problem.

Trijicon sent most of the 2020-produced VCOG’s to the Marine Corps per its contract. But by the end of the first quarter of 2021 Trijicon expects to have the VCOG 1-8×28 on the shelves for civilians like us. Those VCOG’s that hit the gun store shelves, I suspect, will get snapped up very quickly.

Plan accordingly.

The VCOG’s integrated mount is held in place via these thumb screws.
The VCOG 1-8 boasts 11 brightness settings, which include two for night vision gear.

SPECS: Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28 riflescope with MOA Reticle (as tested)

Magnification: 1-8x

Objective Size: 28mm

Reticle Pattern: Segmented Circle / Crosshair

Day Reticle Color: Red

Night Reticle Color: Red

Focal Plane: First

Length x Width x Height: 10.8 in x 2.8 in x 2.8 in

Weight: 31.5 oz.

Illumination Source: LED

Illumination Settings: 11 Total Settings: 2 Night Vision, 8 Day, and 1 Super-Bright Setting

Power Source: One AA Lithium or Alkaline Battery

Battery Life: 633 hours (26.4 days) at setting 6

Adjustment: 1/4 MOA Per Click

Adjustment Range: 120 MOA Total Trave (20 MOA per revolution)

Eye Relief: 4 in. – 3.9 in. (101.6mm – 99.06mm)

Exit Pupil: 0.40 in. – 0.14 in. (10.16mm – 3.56mm)

Field of View (feet): 109.2 ft. – 13.1 ft. @ 100 yds. (36.4 – 4.37m @ 100m)

Mount: Flattop Thumbscrew Mount (TA51)

Housing Material: 7075-T6 forged aluminum

Finish: Matte Black

Submersion Depth: 66 ft. (20m)

MSRP:  $2,800

For more information visit Trijicon website.

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Johnny January 4, 2021, 3:41 pm

    I always enjoy and appreciate reading Brian’s reviews. Not many guys out there that will get a freebie and not just call it the best thing since sliced bread. We heard the pros, heard the cons, and even some personal preferences. Not just “It’s simply the BEST EVER!!!!” Just was saying this last weekend I’d sort of like to throw a new 1-8 on my coyote rig (something lower powered than I currently have, and that 1-8 seems awesomely perfect. But, $2800 for 31.5oz???? YIKES. I think I’ll wait for a used one to pop up somewhere:) Heck, it’s a Trijicon…they don’t make anything cheap… Price or quality wise, and that’s why their stuff still sales like hotcakes.

  • Mark Mata January 4, 2021, 9:31 am

    I love that John 1:6 is on the tube. Be true.

  • JohnL January 4, 2021, 7:59 am

    The scope weighs 2lbs and is 2800 bucks? “caught my breath” Yeah that sums it up.

  • Jeff January 4, 2021, 7:29 am

    Must be a hunter not an AR guy since scope mounted too far back for a AR.Resulting in head leaned back for eye relief not as he should be leaning forward into the gun.

    • JohnL January 4, 2021, 8:04 am

      Yeah your right, scope is way to far back? He is holding the magwell which tells me the scope and rifle combo are heavy! I might add he doesn’t look weak? So why the traditional CQB hold?

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