Identifying Counterfeit Shooting Products

Trijicon counterfeit

Even though it says Trijicon ACOG, $39.99 plus free shipping will probably not get you the real thing.

Counterfeiting was limited to currency and Rolex watches when I was growing up – or so it seemed anyway.  In today’s global market, nearly any brand name product can be counterfeited and sold online.  This includes items of interest in the shooting market.

Now, more than ever, there are a lot of people looking to take advantage of the unwary trying to get a good bargain.

Fortunately, there is a website that documents counterfeit products and how to spot them.  The Counterfeit Report covers a lot more than just shooting products, but there are quite a few firearms related products documented.  For example:

If you are buying from eBay or any unknown source, it might be worth your while to check the site before sending your money.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is


  • Lance

    No its not a bad thing on some scopes make sure its real rifle rated. Since Trijicon is run by Jerks who over price a scope for more than a whole AR its good you can buy a copy which is still 4x much much much cheaper. In some cases the scopes are just as good w/o the night vision tritium in the scope so if its for a hobby gun its no deal. Trijicon did this too themselves after 2004 shot show stopped NC STAR scopes because they looked like a a ACOG despite there ACOG is not worth $1200. So buyer beware but study them and what there rated for and you can get a nice knock off.

    • Hi Lance,

      I’m not sure I agree with you. Regardless of how reasonable you may think Trijicon’s prices are, theft of their work is still theft.


      • Lance

        Its not theft if its sold as a copy not a real McCoy. I dont see it theft if you want a none radioactive 4x Scope and want it to look like the USMC battle optic. Now if they are selling it as a real ACOG and dont say in sale its a none Trijicon than yes i wrong. BUT I dont see that happening much on Ebay so no real problem at all.

        • LJK

          So you don’t think that slapping Trijicon(r) ACOG(r) on a scope body isn’t intentioned to make the buyer think they’re getting a genuine Trijicon(r) ACOG(r) instead of getting shit in a tube?

          I’m guessing that thing isn’t necessarily going anywhere since the brand is probably “ACOG Type” (as in, the “Type” is part of the trademark), and thus they can claim that they never meant to imply that it was an actual Trijicon, but it’s still dishonest and stealing someone else’s work.

          • Lance

            No most is made for airsoft to began with and many want band names to look authentic for airsoft events. Now they made real rifle quality scopes soon after.. And yes its not Kosher to slap Trijicon on it but at the same time they still sold them as just a 4x scope. They are much better than you think. Bet you own a real ACOG and like to brag about your very very very expensive scope and think money matters for all. No for just a 4x day scope for a AR that looks the part of a Mil scope the Chinese ACOGs did well saw them in 3 gun matches doing just as if not better than the real McCoys in competition.

        • Scurvy Dog


          Only morons care about how it looks. I don’t care about looks, I want the functional capabilities. Cheap Chinese knockoffs don’t have the functional capabilities the real thing does. If you are outfitting a weapon based upon looks you have been playing too much Call Of Duty.

          Trijicons are expensive stuff. That’s OK by me, it keeps the riffraff out.

          • Lance

            Ohh by your anger and defense just for spending thousands of dollars on a 4x power scope. Bet your have one and think money mean everything. No if you want a real tritium scope fine spend thousands for many they want a ACOG for shooting in matches or on the range just for talk. IN competition and ranges Ive seen both Chinese and real McCoy ACOGs and they do the same in accuracy and stability so unless your want night fights a ACOG isn’t worth thousands more. I figure your one who must have all expensive things and think that means you can out shoot every one because of your money. No for the decade Ive shoot 3 gun all over Ive seen ACOG knock offs and $50 Bushnell scopes make rings around your crappy thousand dollar ACOG. Money dont cut it, skill dose. Many like the ACOG looks and small size BUT dont want the tritium and Trijicon’s over bloated price on a scope so they buy a look alike, and in many way show Trijicon is full of crap sticking it to gun owners.

        • Lance,

          You may not have a moral objection to stealing other people’s designs and trademarks, but it is not legal to do so. Most, if not all, states in the USA have criminal penalties (typically felonies) for the sale of counterfeit products. The federal government of the USA has similar laws. Additionally, international treaties are in place for the purposes of stopping the sale of counterfeit products. Some countries, like China, ignore the treaties.

          Trijicon can charge whatever price they want for their products and that’s fine by me. I can choose not to do business with them if I believe they are asking too much for their products, just like they can choose to sell them at whatever price they like. It is called a free market system.

          The ACOG optics are expensive when compared to other optics on the market. But, for that money the consumer is paying for all of the R&D that went into their development, the cost of the equipment to make them and the skilled labor required to build them.

          The ACOG is a specialized tool that is more than just a “tritium scope.” They are ruggedized units designed for the piss-poor conditions of combat. That doesn’t come cheap.

          In my estimation, you are right in suggesting that most people don’t need an ACOG. I’m sure the folks at Trijicon would say the same thing. That is one reason why there are so many alternatives on the market with some starting below $100. You just don’t need to steal Trijicon’s work to offer a competing product.

          • gyrfalcon

            There is a difference between a counterfeit product and a clone that looks like it. We currently don’t have a true free market system with patent trolls and government ITAR restrictions.

          • Trijicon, Leupold, Magpul, etc. are not patent trolls. These companies design and produce actual products, not merely try to obtain broad patents for products never produced. Wikipedia does a fairly good job of explaining what a patent troll is:

          • gyrfalcon

            Wikipedia doesn’t get everything right. I consider a patent troll any company that’s abusing the patenting system to prevent fair competition in the marketplace.

            For example Microsoft is a patent troll; they have tried to use their patents to sue non-profits who have pre-existing works that are well documented. Simply for the fact they know these organizations don’t have the money to fight it in court.

          • Feel free to address the counterfeiting issue in the firearms industry, but Microsoft suing non-profits over patent infringement has little to nothing to do with this article.

      • mikewest007

        Now what do you say about an ACOG knockoff that has a nice big WALTHER logo painted on it and is sold by an authorized Umarex dealer?

        • If the company owning the trademark(s) and patent(s) license their use to another company there is no problem.

          • mikewest007

            Even if the “trademarked” scope costs nowhere near as much as an ACOG should, being a knockoff with jacked up price?

          • I’m not trying to be dense Mike, but I don’t understand the question. Could you rephrase it?

          • mikewest007

            OK, I may be a little mumbly. 😉 My question is: what about ACOG knockoffs, costing nowhere near as much as an ACOG should, with nice big Walther logo, sold by an authorized Umarex dealer? It would seem bizarre that a very lawsuit-happy corporation deals in shoddy knockoffs of another corporation’s products.

          • I can’t say that I am familiar with the exact product you are referring to. However, if Umarex/Walther/whoever wanted to offer a product that looks like the real ACOG, but is not ruggedized or whatever, they could secure a license to do so from Trijicon. That is how a lot of companies sell airsoft guns with another company’s logo and design.

            It would be up to Trijicon to select who (if anyone) they would offer a license to. Personally, I would only license my designs and trademarks to other companies that I thought would produce quality products. Others may not make the same choice.

            If a company (Umarex/whoever) uses another company’s trademark or patent -without- a license, they can be civilly liable (and in some cases criminally liable) for the wrongful use of their intellectual properties (i.e. theft).

            For example, Magpul is currently suing four different companies (ProMag, Plinker Tactical, others) for alleged infringements on their magazine patents.

            Additionally, Magpul filed suit last week against a person for allegedly selling counterfeit MBUS Pro sights. If law enforcement was involved in this one, criminal charges could possibly be brought if Magpul’s allegations are accurate.

            Does this answer your question? If not I’ll try again. 🙂 Sometimes text based communications are tough.

          • mikewest007

            Yep, perfectly clear. The product I had in mind is the Walther PS44 dot sight that is curiously unavailable in the US (they sell it all over Europe, though), and what differs it from the ordinary China-made crap is the stenciled logo and scalper’s price. What I found odd, though, is that Umarex’s Aimpoint M2 knockoff, the Walther PS22, is sold in the US.
            And the situation with Magpul is so bad they shut down their licensed airsoft gear manufacturer in China to stem the tide of fakes coming from there. Curiously, I looked for Magpul knockoffs on Aliexpress (a humongous China-based online store) and could hardly find any. Last year Aliexpress was chock full of that stuff. I could have gotten knockoff Magpul M4 furniture for half of the licensed airsoft parts’ price.

          • gyrfalcon

            Maybe Thermold and the hundreds of other companies that have made resin based magazines should sue Magpul. Our Patent system is completely hosed.

          • What cause of action would Thermold have against Magpul? Simply because both companies use a polymer product does not create a cause of action.

          • gyrfalcon

   <-Thermold has a patents on polymer magazine construction.

            So you think Thermold wouldn't have a cause of action against Magpul, but Magpul does against other companies….riiiiight.

          • First, the article is about counterfeiting, not about lawsuits on patent infringement.

            Second, it is unlikely any patent would stand up in court that restricted the use of a common material from being used in an object (i.e. plastic in a magazine) on the sole basis of the common material being used in that object. For example, Ford is not likely to obtain a patent on using steel in cars. Patents have to be more specific than that, and even then, they are not always defensible.

            Third, the patent you reference is not the first instance of a polymer magazine patent. You can go back to the 1960’s if you like with patent #3,453,762 View it here:,453,762&hl=en&sa=X&ei=W2c-UrfoBJGA9gT6soCQDQ&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAA There may be polymer mags and/or patents on similar magazines before even then.

            Fourth, the design and construction of a Magpul magazine is significantly different from that of the Thermold magazines. Even if the designs were similar/identical, Magpul could still (and may have for all we know, though I doubt it) licensed the rights to the designs from Thermold.

            Fifth, I’ve offered no opinion on the merits of Magpul’s lawsuits against other companies for patent infringement. However, based on the filings I’ve read in the Magpul v. Mayo ( ) and Magpul v. Gotlieb, et al ( ), those cases, on their face, appear to have merit. Those, by the way, are based on trademark infringement, not patent claims and deal specifically with the sale of counterfeit products.

          • gyrfalcon

            “For example, Magpul is currently suing four different companies (ProMag, Plinker Tactical, others) for alleged infringements on their magazine patents.”

            If you sell a product as something it’s not, you should be prosecuted.

            Promag is not misrepresenting their products. Neither is a seller on Amazon if they tell you it’s not a real ACOG.

            Bell Helicopters should sue these guys:


            They’re obviously selling a counterfeit product!!!

          • You have a fundamental misunderstanding: patents and trademarks are two different things. Please refer to this document for an explanation of a trademark: Information on what a patent is can be found here:

            I have not stated Promag is selling a counterfeit product, and I have not seen anything from Magpul where they have taken that position either. Magpul is alleging the company infringed on their patents. Huge difference.

            Consider the Kahr v. Diamondback case ( ) No one claimed the Diamondback DB380/DB9 was a counterfeit copy of a Kahr pistol. Rather, Kahr alleged Diamondback infringed on a patent that covered the company’s “…locking, firing, and extraction systems.” (See: ). A jury determined the patent was valid and Diamondback had infringed on it.

            Counterfeit products are a totally different subject.

            Someone knowingly selling a counterfeit product, even when they state it is not the genuine product, is committing a felony under both state and federal laws. By stating the counterfeit product is not the real thing will only serve to help the prove the prosecution’s case. Feel free to peruse the hundreds of cases made by I.C.E. here:

            Regarding your odd reference to models of Bell helicopters, feel free to look at the literature included with the model that plainly states:

            “Bell, Huey, emblems, logos and body designs are trademarks of Textron Innovations Inc. and are used under license by Revell Inc”

            In other words, Revell paid Textron for a license to produce a likeness of their product. It would appear that there is no trademark infringement, and obviously there is no counterfeiting going on.

  • Clodboy

    “Counterfeiting was limited to currency and Rolex watches when I was growing up – or so it seemed anyway.”

    *cough* Khyber Pass Copies *cough*
    Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if some less talented arquebus maker in the Renaissance period tried to get away with using the hallmark of a better one.

  • Psywarrior

    1000 years ago people were making counterfeit “Ulfberht” swords.

    • hami

      I watched that on Netflix. Pretty interesting stuff. When your life might rely on a product its more important than ever for that product to be genuine. A Viking with one of those fake swords is the same as a police officer trying to spice up the AR in his trunk with this ACOG.

      • Aaron Russell

        Except a viking was a rapist, murderous, food thief and a Police Officer guards dignity, civility, and justice for an entire state and a collective planet Earth.. Lol

        • Kyle

          Vikings actually had a very large array of traits outside of the killing and raping that has been attributed to them. Vikings also had a wide array of laws that guarded dignity, civility, and yes, justice.

  • radion

    These are chinese ebay sellers, that sells China made replica stuff for airsoft, really dont see your point, think every one shopping at them knows that.

    I also think it’s pretty clear that it’s replica stuff. Price, “ACOG Type” or reticle images loudly screams: it’s just a china made replica of the real thing.

    • gunslinger

      that doesn’t make it any better, unless it was licensed by said main company. now i’m not saying that it’s ok to take out a second mortgage to buy an optic, just ACOG has the right to set the price for their product.

      • Lance

        No not when its thousands for a dumb 4x scope. All other mil optics for Assault rifles are much cheaper.

        • Robert Thorne

          Although I agree with you, I wouldn’t get too upset over them, If they want to market their scopes for absurd prices, its all on them, I’ll stick to irons and cheaper sights that work. On a side note, having glowing sights doesn’t matter when you can’t see what you’re looking at in the dark anyways, never understood that when I was in.

        • gunslinger

          you may not think it’s worth it. others do. i don’t see you complaining about Bentley’s that cost 100s of thousands of dollars. it’s just a dumb car, a kia can get you to the same place much less.

          so ACOG can charge what they think is fair market value. obviously they are making money because they are still in business.

          and it’s not an assault rifle

  • DaveP.

    think this is bad? Go to Ali Baba’s Cave and browse. Everything from fake purses to Les Pauls. It’ll make you lose your faith in Ebay…

    • Asdf

      You think that is bad. Try going to China and go to a market. They have buildings the size of football stadiums that are just floors filled with sellers with counterfeit products. We’re not talking just textiles and DVD’s, but cooktops, refrigerators, and and Apple mac book airs.

      And on a funny note, streaming and pirating have all but put the DVD bootleggers out of market.

  • TangledThorns

    Last year I got burned with a counterfeit Magpul MS3 QD sling that I bought through a Amazon reseller. Thankfully Amazon quickly refunded the money. I learned to buy all gun related products through reputable sites that the manufacturer lists as a dealer or is on ARFCOM.

    • gyrfalcon

      Holly cow! Your entire OPSEC could have been compromised by introducing that counterfeit sling into your kit. Think of how disastrous it could have been if you were down range and it failed you. I’d start writing your senators, it’s a matter of national security.


    This is a great post. As long time authorized retailers on the major marketplaces, of most all of the brands you listed above, counterfeiting can be a problem. Education like this along with increasing action from the manufactures will hopefully put a big dent into scammers sales.

  • fred johnson

    eBay has legitimate sellers of gun optics, too. You do have to check them out though. Check the seller’s buyer’s feedback scores and comments to the feedback. Look up the seller and see if they have a brick and mortar store. Some eBay gun optic sellers are genuine gun stores in America and sell the real deal, even at auction prices.

  • PatrickPM

    I’ve heard stories from shot show of chinese manufacturers running around with tape measures getting dimensions of products

  • Meewok

    If I could get a hold of a true ACOG in my country then I might go after one, the mil-sim folk here would pay good money for them as well, but not only is the heavy price a factor but many Trijicon products are illegal for export, I’d rather get a knockoff then smuggle one out. I can understand why they limit the overseas sales of their optics, but the situation created by that is similar to the ridiculous region coding of DVDs, all that does is fuel pirating especially when a certain one isn’t available in a region…

    That said though, selling a counterfeit as the real deal, no “ACOG Type scope” or “copy” label, then that sucks. And as with guys like Magpul, they’re already so cheap it’s sad to see knockoffs of their stuff