March 10, 2020
No matter what you think of red dots on pistols outside of the competition arena, it is clear they are here to stay. Every manufacturer of pistols seems to be making an optics-ready model, and every maker of red dots seems to be offering one small enough to fit on those same pistols. One of the newest models on the market is the Acro P-1 from Aimpoint.
As red dots intended for pistols go, the Acro is pretty darn large, with an unusual shape. It is 1.9 inches long by 1.2 inches high and wide, and weighs 2.1 ounces with the integral mount. As a result of its size you get a big window. How big? The square window of the Aimpoint Acro P-1 measures 0.63 inch by 0.63 inch.
The housing is aluminum, and the lenses are glass. Currently, it is only offered with a 3.5-m.o.a. red dot. The Acro P-1 has been torture tested through 20,000 rounds of a .40 S&W pistol. It’s submersible to 82 feet and has an operating temperature range of -49 to 160 degrees.
The mounting system is unique and simple. On the bottom of the sight is a built-in crossbolt and a dovetail like you’d see for mounting it to the rail atop an AR, only reduced in size.
As I write this most people haven’t even seen an Acro P-1 in person, and yet Aimpoint has mounting plates for the Glock MOS, SIG P320, Walther Q5 Match, FN FNX, Smith & Wesson M&P CORE, CZ P-10 and Beretta APX. Chances are whatever pistol you want to mount it on, you’re in luck, and I’m sure aftermarket accessory companies will be making their own mounts for this sight shortly.
Aimpoint isn’t exactly a fly-by-night company. Its larger products are the red dots against which all others are compared when it comes to durability and battery life, and its Comp series red dots were adopted by the U.S. military decades ago as the M68 Close Combat Optic.
Looking at the specs for this sight it is obvious Aimpoint is hoping to win another military contract with it: aluminum housing, fully enclosed sight, night-vision compatible, no forward optical signature beyond 10 meters using night vision/night vision settings, a mounting setup similar to the Picatinny rail, submersible, etc. After all, the U.S. Army just adopted the M17 handgun to replace its Berettas, and that version of the SIG P320 has the ability to mount a red dot.
The sight has 10 brightness settings, and it always turns on at level 7. The simple plus/minus brightness controls are inset rubber buttons on the left side of the sight. Hit either one to turn the sight on; hold the minus button to shut off the dot.
Aimpoint says brightness levels 1 through 4 are for night vision devices, and settings 5 through 10 are for use in daylight. Per Aimpoint, the battery will provide more than 1.5 years of use on setting 6, and more than six months of use on setting 7. There is no auto-shutoff or motion sensor; it’s on until you shut it off, and vice versa.
Based on my own testing, I’ve observed that settings 3 and 4 are bright enough to be seen with the naked eye at night. Settings 5 and 6 are for use in very dim lighting, at dusk or indoors in a dark building. Setting 7, the brightest setting for which Aimpoint provides a battery run time, is bright enough to use at an indoor range or outside on a cloudy day.
However, if you’re using the sight outdoors on a sunny day, you will need to have it turned up at least to 8. At maximum brightness, 10, the sight is more than bright enough to be seen in any lighting conditions no matter how bright the sun is or the color of the target.
The Acro P-1 is powered by one CR1225 battery, which can be removed and installed without removing the sight from the pistol and screwing up your zero. The one that comes with the sight is made by Varta.
Never heard of a CR1225 battery before? That’s okay; neither has your local Lowe’s or Ace Hardware. I know, because I checked. I asked my U.S. contact at Aimpoint why the company went with a battery that’s not very common in the United States.
“We wanted to build the smallest enclosed sight possible and also a sight that does not need to be removed to change the battery,” I was told. “So the 1225 was the logical choice.
“The CR1225 is a commonly used battery for thermometers. I order my batteries off Amazon, keep extras on hand, and reorder whenever I’m low—that’s with anything, not just the Acro batteries. And FYI, we’ve found the Renata and Varta batteries are the best quality and last the longest.”
A quick search of Amazon showed the Swiss-made Renata CR1225 batteries are running $1 to $2 apiece. Pay attention when you’re shopping because you’ll see BR1225 and EBR1225 batteries out there. You don’t want those. BR and EBR batteries have a different electrical discharge profile than CR batteries, that’s why they have a different nomenclature. Walmart is selling “Energizer CR1225” batteries, but if you look at the packaging they are actually EBR1225 batteries.
After testing it, I can honestly say the Acro P-1 has the crispest, sharpest red dot of any red dot sight of any size I’ve ever tested. The glass on the sight is clear, without any tint, so there is no reduction in brightness when looking through the sight.
Both windage and elevation adjustments were as advertised in terms of how much they moved. However, on my sample the clicks on the elevation dial were faint, and the clicks on the windage dial were mushy and almost imperceptible.
While I didn’t go scuba diving with it to test that 82-foot submersible rating, my Acro P-1 worked just fine in the rain during a USPSA match.
A review of the Acro P-1 wouldn’t be complete without comparing it to its main competition, the Trijicon SRO. The window of the SRO is larger than that of the Acro P-1. Unlike the Acro P-1, however, the SRO is an open sight, so mud, water, whatever can get inside the sight and block the dot. Not so with the Aimpoint.
Also, Trijicon’s SRO was built for use on competition guns, whereas the Acro P-1 has the same submersion and temperature operating ratings as Aimpoint’s renowned Micro T-1 AR-15 sight and seems built to survive military testing. Finally, with suggested retail of $660, the Acro retails for $89 less than the Trijicon SRO.