Quality optics are always interesting to me. I suppose that goes back to my days of shooting professional and collegiate sports as a photojournalist. Good glass could make the difference between full color on the front page and a tiny photo buried in the back of the sports section.
Good optics on a rifle can also make all the difference. In the world of law enforcement and self-defense, that difference can be a bare moment in time in which you need to get on target and stop an imminent threat. A cheap reflex sight may fail at the moment of truth.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on the new Trijicon MRO for review. MRO stands for Miniature Rifle Optic and that describes its function precisely. Let’s take a look.
The Trijicon MRO is a red dot style optic with no magnification. It is not designed to be a “cheap” optic, though it is very reasonably priced for what it is.
What is it? An extremely rugged, made in the USA piece of glass that will survive all but the most brutal treatment and keep zero. It is built with the same materials and techniques as the company’s famous ACOG sights, and is likely to be every bit as reliable in the coming years. The housing is made of forged 7075-T6 aluminum – not 6061 that is found in some other optics.
Trijicon advises the optic is parallax-free with an infinite eye relief. I cover more in the range testing section below, but I could mount the MRO anywhere on the rifle – from the back of the receiver to the front edge of the hand guard – and the red dot would pop up into my field of view when I mounted the rifle.
The MRO has a 25mm objective lens. The size of the objective lens will suggest what field of view you may achieve through the optic. According to Trijicon, the MRO has a 44% larger field of view than similar products. One of the main competitors to the MRO, the Aimpoint T-2, has a 20mm objective lens.
As with most other red dot optics, the brightness of the aiming point can be adjusted. The MRO has 8 intensity settings with two of those being compatible with night vision gear. The brightest setting is extremely bright and is easily visible in full daylight.
The intensity adjustment knob is on the top of the MRO, and it is easily reached with either hand. Interestingly, the off position is in the center of the dial with medium settings on either side. This allows for a certain margin of error if the optic is off and you have to quickly turn it on. A click in either direction will give you a red dot that is immediately useable in most low to medium lighting conditions. If you have enough time, you can further adjust the dot for brighter or dimmer.
From the shooter’s perspective, the number/letter indicator on the intensity dial that faces you is the current setting. A simple dot means the device is off. The ‘N’ and ‘n’ are the night vision compatible levels.
The knob is stiff, and clicking through the choices has to be an intentional act. This prevents the dial from accidentally being adjusted to an incorrect setting.
The MRO is powered by a single CR2032 lithium battery. While not as common as a AA, the CR2032 is common enough to be found in any drug store in the United States. It installs quickly and easily, though you should take care when inserting it. There are multiple contact prongs that you could bend if you are in a rush and clumsy. Take your time and you won’t have any problems.
One of the major concerns that many people express on red dot sights is not having battery power at the moment of truth. The MRO is designed with extremely efficient electronics. When left in the on position, setting 3, a single battery will power the optic for five years. Setting 3 is a medium-low brightness that I found to be ideal for average brightness rooms.
My recommendation for a home owner who mounts an MRO on their rifle or shotgun for home defense is to find the setting that works best for you and leave the optic on. In a home invasion you will not likely have time to fumble with turning the optic to the correct setting if you even remember to turn it on. So just leave it on and rotate in a fresh battery once a year.
The sight has windage and elevation adjustments on the top and right of the optic. These are ever so slightly recessed in short towers to protect them from accidental engagement. You do not need a special tool to adjust them. In fact, a coin is all you need making adjustments in the field easy.
Each click equals a 0.5 MOA shift, and the adjustment range is 70 MOA. According to Trijicon, this range of adjustment allows for sighting in any small arm caliber. In the range section below, I cover how this worked for me, but I found it worked fine on rifles chambered for .223 Rem, 7.62x39mm, and 9mm.
The adjustment turrets do not have any caps to lose. Since the dials are just below the surface of the turret rim, they are not easily moved by accident. Additionally, they are sealed – as is the entire optic – to be completely waterproof down to 30 meters.
Trijicon sells the MRO on its own or with a mount. The company offers three mount heights: low, full co-witness and the mid 1/3 mount. A Trijicon representative said the company focuses on optics design and that they are happy to let other companies develop additional mounting options for the MRO.
|reticle type||2 MOA dot, red|
|night vision compatability||yes|
|waterproof rating||30 meters|
|operating temperature||-60˚F to +160˚F|
|housing material||forged 7075-T6 aluminum|
|MSRP||$579, $629 with mount|
Much like a gun, all of the specs in the world don’t mean a thing if the MRO won’t perform on the gun. I’m happy to say that the optic performed very well. All of the testing was done across several days at an outdoor range in Florida where the ambient temperature was in the mid-80’s and the humidity was between 70%-90%.
I ran the MRO on multiple firearms including a SIG 556xi in 7.62×39, a Dark Storm DS-9 in 9mm and a Ruger SR-556 Takedown in both 5.56 NATO and 300 BLK. Each of these rifles shot to a significantly different point of aim, requiring a sighting in for each new caliber. I found the sighting in process to be as easy as any other optic and easier than some.
I put about 400 rounds of 7.62×39, 100 rounds of 300 BLK, 250 rounds of .223 Rem and 300 rounds of 9mm through the guns with the MRO attached. On all guns and with all calibers, the zero did not shift during firing. Once I was sighted in, the gun continued to hit exactly where it should.
As stated, the optic is designed without magnification. There has been some debate online if there is any magnification with the optic. When using it, I could not perceive any magnification.
I should note that any time you put glass between your eye and the thing at which you are looking, you are altering what you see. Better glass alters less than cheap glass, but all glass will affect your viewing. However, with the best glass, the changes are imperceptible. As I stated, I could not see any magnification.
I have read a concern online that the optic added a blue cast to the sight picture when on target. While I can see a slight blue cast (see the photo) it is not obvious unless you are looking for it or with a pure white background as shown in the above image. Regardless, I found it does not alter the sight picture or ability to get on target quickly at all.
I should note that for photography purposes, I had to turn the intensity setting to maximum in an indoor environment. That is why the dot shows a starburst pattern. Under normal operating conditions, all you typically can see is a single, red dot.
Shooting outside, I got no reflections, highlights or other problems from the glass. I had a clear view of the target and surroundings each and every time I shouldered the rifle.
I took the gun to an indoor range to see if the artificial light sources would cause any problems with the MRO. They did not. Shooting inside was as natural as it was out-of-doors.
From the front of the MRO, the dot was typically not visible. However, in relatively low light with the MRO set to maximum brightness, a slight reflection could be seen forward of the optic as shown in the above image.
Sometimes the body of a red dot optic can interfere with the sight picture, requiring you to really focus on the target. With some optics, it can feel like you are looking through a tunnel. I found that the MRO body was never an issue when I was shooting. Every time I brought the rifle up, the red dot popped into view and aiming felt very natural.
I could see the blurred outline of the MRO body, but it was never in focus, and it never obscured my view of the target or surroundings. To “see” the MRO, I had to consciously focus on it.
I’ve relied on Trijicon products throughout my life both as an armed citizen and as a professional law enforcement officer. Trijicon products have never failed me – not once, not ever. I’m not sure I can say that about any other company’s products.
The MRO has the same rugged durability that I’ve come to expect from the company’s other products. That alone makes the MRO worth considering. But, the MRO is more than just a optic that can withstand abuse.
Everything from the windage and elevation adjustments to the long battery life make the MRO worth considering. Without any hesitation, I strongly give the MRO my full recommendation.
I provide honest reviews of guns and shooting gear. Part of each of my reviews is a disclosure statement so you can determine what, if any, biases may have made an impact on how I evaluated the piece of gear.
The Trijicon MRO was provided to me as a loaner for the specific purposes of review. No one asked that I do a positive review or hide any unflattering results. No monies were exchanged or offered for writing this review.
Trijicon is not an advertiser, nor am I in any discussions with them to be one. I do not have any financial interests in Trijicon or any other optics company.
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