We are headed back to the range for more testing with another Vortex red dot scope and a competitor. This time we are looking at the Vortex SPARC AR vs Aimpoint ACO. SPARC stands for Speed Point Aiming for Rapid Combat and ACO for Aimpoint Carbine Optic. These are both excellent red dot scopes.
This test is our first encounter with an Aimpoint scope, mainly because of the price point on the Aimpoint products. Aimpoint is a Swedish company and, while they advertise the Aimpoint ACO as an affordable model of red dot scope, the Aimpoint ACO typically comes in at almost twice the price of most other comparable red dot sights.
The adage, “you get what you pay for” may not exactly hold true in this case. The reputation and our experience with Vortex optics certainly have left us thinking that quality and performance don’t have to cost twice as much.
Vortex SPARC AR vs Aimpoint ACO Review
Aimpoint ACO Review
There is no doubt that Aimpoint builds some of the finest red dot optics equipment in the world. Aimpoint doesn’t design or build traditional optical scopes. Their entire product line, including their line of hunting scopes, are strictly red dot style sights.
Aimpoint is proud of its parallax-free aiming system and the quality of the construction of both their business and professional scopes. Features that are standard across the entire line of Aimpoint red dot scopes are:
- Unlimited field of view
- Parallax-free operation
- Unlimited eye relief
- Weatherproof construction
- Durable and rugged for extreme conditions
- Ho hazardous materials used in the construction
- No laser emissions
- Years-long battery life
Those are tall claims, but the market and the professionals and civilians who use Aimpoint sights bear out the claims by Aimpoint.
Getting to the Basics – Features and Specifications
When dealing with optics, especially optics closely matched in features and specifications, it is vital to compare carefully. Like many things, the details can make a difference.
- 2 MO red dot allows fast sight acquisition
- Expected battery life – 10,000 hours of constant use
- Battery – DL1/3N
- The package includes a fixed height mount designed to co-witness with AR sights
- Ready to mount to any Picatinny rail
- Anodized high-strength aluminum housing with a matte black finish
- Ten dot intensity settings providing use in any light situation
- 1x magnification
- Parallax free optics
- Temperature operating range from -20 degrees F to +140 degrees F
- Waterproof to 15 feet
- Weight 6.7 ounces alone or 10.6 ounces with the mount
Technical Details – For the Geeks
- Optical magnification – 1X
- Aiming Dot size – 2 MOA
- Dot intensity – dot remains visible against a background luminance of 0.1 to 55,000 1X
- Dot Color – 655 nm plus or minus 15 nm
- Night Vision Compatible – No
- Optical Coatings – Anti-reflection on all surfaces, multilayer style
- Clear Aperture – .9 inches
- Eye relief – Unlimited
- Battery type – 3V lithium type 2L76 or DL1/3N
- Battery life – 10,000 hours
- Length – 4.8 inches
- Width – 2.2 inches
- Height – 2.2 inches
- Weight (with mount) – 6.7 ounces
What Users are Saying – The Pros and Cons
Across the board, no matter where you look or who you ask, Aimpoint products get high marks. As with anything, there are a few comments and opinions to the contrary. Overall, Aimpoint products and the Aimpoint ACO receive above-average ratings.
- Awesome features and quality.
- Accuracy and toughness is unparalleled
- The crisp and clear red dot is easy to bring on target
- Durable Sight. Rides on my LEO patrol rifle and is always zeroed and working
- A bit pricey for a sporting optic
- No lens covers and the mounts are a little cheesy
What is Included in the Box?
- The Aimpoint ACO red dot sight
- AR-15 ready mount
- DL1/3N battery
Last update on 2020-09-17 at 18:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Vortex SPARC AR Review
Vortex is an American Company. Vortex manufactures their optics overseas but this not unusual and is the case with most other optics companies. Vortex builds a wide range of optics from high-end long-distance shooting telescopic sights to compact red dot sights for pistols. If you need an optic, there is a product in the Vortex line that will fill your needs.
The Vortex Optics SPARC red dot sight is one of the more popular red dot sights in the Vortex product line. The SPARC is an AR ready red dot sight intended for those shooters who compete in combat style matches or LEO’s and others who need an affordable but dependable sight for professional use.
The Vortex SPARC red dot sight is sleek and unassuming in its appearance. The compact sight is designed from the mount to the lens caps to be ergonomic and durable. Looking at the features of any Vortex optic reveals a well thought out set of options.
Vortex SPARC – Features and Specifications
Perhaps the most noticeable feature for most people who are familiar with Vortex Optics is the lifetime warranty that comes with each Vortex product. The other features are just as impressive.
- Fully multi-coated lenses to increase light transmission
- Unlimited eye-relief for comfortable shooting
- Parallax free optics
- 2 MOA red dot for quick target acquisition
- Ten illumination settings for any light conditions
- Housing machined from high strength aluminum
- The included mount is adjustable for a 1/3 co-witness or absolute co-witness on AR sights
- 300-hour battery life on the highest setting
- 500 hours of battery life on the lowest intensity setting
- Lightweight at only 7.5 ounces
The Technical Details – Vortex SPARC Red Dot Sight
- Multi-height mount for customized fixed sight co-witness
- 1 x magnification
- Objective lens diameter – 22mm
- Dot Color – red
- Dot size – 2 MOA
- Eye Relief – Unlimited
- Adjustment Graduations – 1 MOA per click
- Maximum elevation adjustment – 90 MOA
- Maximum windage adjustment – 90 MOA
- Parallax adjustment – Parallax Free
- Length – 2.9 inches
- Height – 1.09 inches
- Width – 1.09 inches
- Weight – 7.5 ounces
Listening to the Users – The Pros and Cons of the Vortex SPARC
Overall, the Vortex Optics SPARC rates as high as any red dot sight on the market. Vortex users are overwhelmingly favorable in their comments about the Vortex Optics Sparc red dot sight.
- The SPARC is my choice for my patrol rifle. It has never let me down.
- Holds zero despite the abuse it gets on my AR
- Mounted on my 300 Blackout without a problem through thousands of rounds
- Affordable price for a great optic
- The controls can be a bit hard to manipulate when wearing gloves
- Short battery life compared to other red dot sights
What’s included in the Box
- One Vortex SPARC Red Dot Sight
- Multi-height mount system – AR ready
- T-10 Torx wrench
- AAA Battery
- Rubber coated Cover with Flip Caps
Last update on 2020-09-17 at 18:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Side by Side – Aimpoint ARC vs Vortex SPARC AR
For ease of comparison, let’s put some of the features and technical details side by side.
|Vortex SPARC||Aimpoint ACO|
|Length||3.1 inches||3.0 inches|
|Weight||5.9 ounces||6.7 ounces|
|Adjustment Graduations||1 MOA per click||½ MOA per click|
|Max elevation Adjustment||90 MOA||66 MOA|
|Max Windage Adjustment||90 MOA||66 MOA|
|Battery Type||1 AAA||1 DL1/3N|
|Battery Life||300 – 500 hours||10,000 hours|
|Warranty||Unlimited Lifetime||Limited ten years for personal use|
The Warranty Issue
The warranty offered on a red dot scope can be a significant point in the decision process, especially if you are expecting to put a rifle scope into extreme conditions. The importance of this decision is no different with a red dot scope.
Vortex Optics Warranty
Vortex offers an Unlimited Lifetime Warranty on the Vortex Optics SPARC red dot scope. The warranty is fully transferrable, and you don’t need to keep track of a receipt to make a claim. The warranty specifies that:
- If the optic becomes damaged the warranty will cover the repair or replacement
- If the optic is defective, the warranty will cover the repair or replacements
- The warranty is no-fault coverage.
- The warranty doesn’t cover theft, loss, or cosmetic damage that does not hinder the performance of the optic.
Aimpoint’s warranty is less generous and more restricted. Aimpoint differentiates the warranty based on the use of the optic. The two categories are personal use or professional use. If you use the optic in competition, it is considered professional use. The specifics of the Aimpoint warranty are:
- The Aimpoint warranty covers manufacturers defects and workmanship for ten years when used for personal use and two years if used professionally.
- Personal use is defined as use in a way that implies less exposure than professional use.
- Professional use includes use in frequent competitions or daily exposure to military or law enforcement style situations.
- The warranty offered by Aimpoint is not transferrable and must be accompanied by the original receipt showing the date of purchase.
Our take on the Warranty Issue
Vortex comes away in this category as the hands-down winner. Users of the Vortex sights report that when a warranty issue arises, Vortex is quick to respond and helpful in meeting the expectations of the customer. The unlimited nature of the warranty makes the Vortex SPARC a much better choice if warranty issues are your concern.
Construction – The Proof is in the Product
Both Aimpoint and Vortex use air-craft grade aluminum in the construction of the sight body. It’s a dead-even tie in this category.
The next concern is the fit and finish of the sights. Examining both sights gives no clear advantage to either. The machining is precise, and the finishes are flawless—another tie.
Both sights use O-rings to seal the scopes and both companies nitrogen purge the scope during assembly—no clear advantage to either sight.
Batteries and Battery Life
The Vortex SPARC uses a single AAA battery for its power source. Many people prefer the readily available AAA battery over smaller button style batteries. The use of the AAA battery does reduce the expected battery life, but the availability of replacement batteries makes this a small tradeoff.
Aimpoint chose to use a DL1/3N battery. The DL1/3N can be a problematic battery to find in the US. There are substitute options on the market, but it is unclear how this will affect both the operation and the warranty if you substitute batteries. The upside is the extended battery life of 10,000 hours of continuous use.
Who Gets the Nod on Batteries?
For me, the choice is the Vortex SPARC. I like the convenience of using a AAA battery. The shorter battery life is not a concern for me. I typically remove the battery from any powered scope before it goes back in the gun safe and a fresh battery goes in with the next use.
On the other hand, if I were carrying a patrol rifle in a locked mount or in a remote and hostile location where batteries may be a premium, the long battery life in the Aimpoint ACO is a definite plus.
In this category, it is a toss-up depending on how you use your optic and where you may be at the time.
Accuracy – Putting Rounds on Target
Both red dot scopes will allow you to put rounds on target at reasonable distances. Both feature a 2 MOA dot, excellent visual characteristics, and a good field of view down the tube. However, the Aimpoint does gather a slight edge when it comes to adjusting your point of aim.
The Aimpoint AOC features ½ MOA clicks on the adjustments versus the Vortex SPARC 1 MOA clicks. For this reason, we give the Aimpoint ACO a checkmark in the accuracy department.
Our Overall Takeaway
From a performance standpoint, either of these red dot scopes will perform admirably in the field. We can find no appreciable difference in the capabilities of these two red dot scopes. At this point, we have a neck and neck race
The significant differences that we consider are price and warranty. From the price standpoint, the Vortex SPARC takes a considerable lead. At about half the price of the Aimpoint, the Vortex SPARC delivers comparable performance and a much better warranty than the Aimpoint ACO red dot sight.
Based on our research and the comparisons, the Vortex SPARC sight is a definitive better choice. We won’t disparage the Aimpoint ACO, but I can’t recommend that anyone spend two times the money to get the same features.
With That Said
It is still a personal choice that must make when choosing what red dot sight to mount on your AR platform. I hope that this review and comparison helps you make the best decision possible. If you have any comments, suggestions, or personal experience with these optics, please leave your comments below. Our knowledge and experience are vital to broadening the understanding of others.