The US military is reconsidering its contract with a company hired to supply its forces with rifle sights after it was found that thousands of the devices were inscribed with codes which appear to refer to verses from the Bible.

Different versions of Trijicon's Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight are used by the US Special Operations Forces, the US Marine Corps and the US Army.

The BBC reports that Britain's Ministry of Defence has ordered 480 of the gunsights for use by troops in Afghanistan. The ministry says that other versions of the ACOG are "widely in service."

Trijicon admitted to ABC News that the codes were deliberately added to the sights. Spokesman Tom Munson said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said the company has done nothing wrong or illegal by adding them.

The company said the practice started under its Christian founder, Glyn Bindon.

A spokeswoman for the US military, Captain Geraldine Carey, told ABC News that there was a concern about how the sights might affect how the military is perceived.

US military rules specifically prohibit service personnel from proselytising while on assignment in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Islam is the dominant religion.

John 8:12 is represented on the gun sights as JN8:12 and reads "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Another, 2COR4:6, appears to be a reference to Second Corinthians 4:6. which reads "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Speaking to ABC News, Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, echoed Capt. Carey's concerns. "This plays right into the hands of maniacs who say, 'Look, it's a jihad,'" he said.

Mr Weinstein says he has received several complaints from soldiers about the inscriptions.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE