Review: Aimpoint Acro
December 12, 2018
A closed-emitter red dot that's purpose-built for pistols – and great for everything else
Photos by Mark Fingar
Announced from Aimpoint’s factory in Malmö, Sweden, “ACRO” stands for “Advanced Combat Reflex Optic.” Though it will likely be referred to solely by its acronym, the ACRO also possesses the suffix “P-1,” which indicates that it was developed specifically for use on pistols. However, when fitted with an optional Picatinny rail adapter plate, it could be just as effectively used on carbines, shotguns or in tandem with magnified scopes.
The ACRO P-1 is a small, nonmagnifying sight design. Given a suggested retail price of $660, the ACRO will battle directly at the counter with the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro ($520) and the Trijicon RMR with an adjustable LED ($700).
The big difference between the ACRO and other mini red dots is that most are open-emitter sights. The ACRO is a closed-emitter system, which means the LED projecting the red dot being reflected on the lens is not exposed to the environment. The ACRO’s system is encapsulated within a rugged housing in the same way that Aimpoint’s other red dot systems have been.
Interest in the use of mini red dots on pistols remains on the rise as they improve a shooter’s precision and speed of engagement. This especially benefits those of us with aging eyes. However, with any release of new technology, camps are already being formed in a debate pitting closed-emitter sights against open-emitters. We’ll explore the points of that debate later.
First, those interested in trying a red dot sight on a pistol require a method for mounting it. Red dots, albeit much larger models, have been mounted on revolvers and pistols since Aimpoint’s ground-breaking introduction of the Electronic in 1975. By the early 1980s, to win a serious open-class action pistol championship, you had to have one.
Tactically, some law enforcement officers have since sought the services of machine shops to mill out the rear of a pistol’s slide to properly position a red dot sight. As back-up to the red dot or as a point of reference to find the dot when aiming, a set of suppressor-height sights are often sourced and installed.
With interest and acceptance of red dots on pistols spiking, manufacturers are offering pistols specifically designed for mounting them. These include the FN 509 Tactical, Glock MOS models, several SIG Sauer P320 pistols — and others.
Though many shooters have equipped their pistols with an Aimpoint Micro H-1 or T-1, pistol manufacturers are not making pistols to accept those sights. It was smart for Aimpoint to develop a red dot that would compete on the same footprint as the most popular open-emitter sights including the DeltaPoint Pro and RMR.
Open-emitter sights utilize an LED that projects a dot against a glass or plastic window through an exposed environment. This allows the sight’s overall weight to be reduced, but it also leaves the lens unprotected against weather and collecting debris and dust. With little maintenance, an unprotected lens can reduce the visual quality and compromise sight picture when needed. Additionally, there’s always a chance for an object to interrupt the path of the projected LED with an open-emitter-type red dot sight.
Closed-emitter sights such as the Aimpoint Micro H-1 and T-1 have been an alternative that many have turned to. However, new technology has afforded Aimpoint to scale down its closed-emitter sight, giving us the new ACRO P-1.
The ACRO addresses the consumer’s need for a small, enclosed red dot sight that mounts on a handgun. With a smaller footprint than the Micros, the ACRO P-1 protects the emitter between an enclosed aluminum case and sealed, flat panes of glass at both ends. This translates to increased durability when compared to open-emitter sights, which was found when the ACRO was tested for the unusual shock and vibration that a pistol uniquely subjects an electronic sight. A pistol’s short-duration energy transfer is brutal torture on red dot sights and mounts. The ACRO P-1 was tested beyond 20,000 rounds on a .40-caliber pistol slide without failure. This included environmental stress conditions that ranged from -49 F to 160 F. During the process, Aimpoint observed that the ACRO P-1 is submersible to 25 meters and offers continuous operation in position six for more than 1 year on a single, 3-volt, lithium CR1225 battery.
Of note, the battery in the ACRO is accessed on the right side of the housing. Aimpoint provides a combination tool, but many straight or cross-edged objects could be used to unscrew the battery cover that’s sealed by a protective silicone O-ring.
The red dot can be adjusted for one of 10 intensity settings by pressing the up/plus or down/minus arrows on the left side of the housing. For those equipped with night-vision devices (NVD), the ACRO P-1 is compatible. Dot intensity settings number one through four are used with NVDs and settings five to 10 are for use in daylight. It’s not only quick and intuitive, but it’s arguably the best integration of an adjustment pad that we’ve seen on any mini red dot sight. The dot can be quickly tuned to zero by using a T10 Torx wrench (also provided as part of the included combination tools).
Aimpoint red dot sights are designed to support the two-eyes-open aiming method, which affords us improved situational awareness. The optical design means that the red dot follows the movement of the shooter’s eye while remaining fixed on target, thus eliminating any need for centering.
The Aimpoint ACRO P-1 features a 3½ minute-of-angle (MOA) dot, low-mount position for direct integration on pistol slides. The ACRO P-1 may also be used as a back-up sight for variable-power scopes where close-range sighting capability is required. Though developed for rugged use on a pistol, the ACRO P-1 could also support a personal-defense-weapon (PDW), rifle and shotgun platforms equally well. The compact design ensures that excessive weight and profile is not a negative factor when configuring a firearm for use in tight environments.
G&A received one of the first two ACRO P-1 sights in country, as well as an adapter plate for mounting on a Glock MOS pistol. Attaching the ACRO P-1 to a G17 MOS Gen4 took only a few minutes and was extremely easy. However, we recommend changing the factory-installed sights for taller, suppressor-height sights so that the dot cowitnesses with the pistol’s backup irons. With standard sights, the alignment is out of view and below the red dot’s visibility.
Two screws are used to mount the adapter plate to the pistol, and a single crossbolt Torx-head screw attaches the adapted ACRO P-1 to the slide plate. Aimpoint provides the necessary tool with a Torx T20 bit in a red, plastic T-wrench.
Perhaps the most underrated feature of the ACRO P-1 is that the profile fits squarely with the profile of the G17 slide. The intensity adjustments are flush to the unit and won’t get unintentionally pushed as we’ve experienced while using other make’s and model’s buttons that are raised above the surface profile.
The ACRO offers a great sense of confidence as a rugged sight. The electronics are completely insulated against hard use, which should give everyone peace of mind about its durability.
Lastly, the overall length of the slide is compact at 1.9 inches. We anticipate that a pistol mounted with an ACRO P-1 will still insert in most holsters designed to accommodate the same pistol mounted with an open-emitter red dot. (Awesome.)
We are really excited about the introduction of the Aimpoint ACRO P-1. Currently, it stands alone as the smallest, fully enclosed mini red dot sight. It offers many possibilities.
Aimpoint ACRO P-1
Length: 1.9 in. (sight only)
Width: 1.2 in.
Height: 1.2 in.
Weight: 2.1 oz.
Finish: Anodized, matte black
Adj. Range: .6 in. at 100 yds. (1 click)