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Trijicon's new red dot: how does the MRO stack up?

When Trijicon announced their new Miniature Rifle Optic (MRO), it created quite a stir among shooters. Here was a fresh design from a highly respected manufacturer known for their military grade optics. It sports robust construction, long battery life and the features shooters want in a red dot sight. Perhaps more to the point, it's priced noticeably below Aimpoint's well respected T-l/T-2 series. It's this last point that really piqued the interest of shooters. Many loved the durability, long battery life and reliable performance of the T-l/T-2 but yearned for a less expensive alternative. The question quickly became, is Trijicon's new MRO an ideal alternative? Initial reviews all seemed glowing, so it was full steam ahead for many.

However, not long after Trijicon began shipping the MRO complaints began to surface. The most frequent of these being:

1. The sight is not a true lx, but it has a slight amount of magnification.

2. The image has a slight but noticeable tint to it.

It was long before there was a large thread on this sight in the optics section of with people discussing problems they did or did not have. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about and to check the MRO's performance compared to some of its peers.

Let's start by taking a look at Trijicon's new MRO itself. Trijicon's new sight is a handsome, but serious looking piece void of frills. A quick visual examination reveals this sight was developed for professional use. The unit is built using a hard anodized and forged 7075-T6 aluminum housing. The bottom of this is machined and tapped to accept mounts of different heights. Trijicon offers a low mount as well as one which provides a true co-witness and one with a bottom 1/3rd co-witness when mounted onto an AR. Four Allen head screws attach the mount to the optic. Personally I would prefer Torx head to Allen head screws, but the point is that the optic can be easily configured to meet most end-users' needs.

At the front of the optic is a larger-than-normal 25mm objective lens. This is mounted at a slight angle and at first glance looks a trifle unsettling. If you think to yourself, "Did they cross-thread something?" You can relax, that's how it's supposed to look. Why is it installed at a slight angle? Trijicon had this to say, "It has that tilt for a few reasons, to help reduce the tube effect, to reduce forward emissions and the way the dot is portrayed internally."

With that out of the way, let's look at why Trijicon went with a larger 25mm objective lens. To date, objective lenses in the 20mm range have been the standard on most micro red dot sights. By combining a 25mm objective lens with a smaller ocular lens (approximately 20mm) Trijicon was able to reduce the tunneling effect you see in a tube red dot sight. Trijicon was also able to provide a slightly larger field of view.

At the top of the MRO you'll find a large rheostat which controls the intensity of the aiming dot. By placing it on the top rather than the side, Trijicon has made the MRO easy to adjust with either hand. Not only that but it's easy to see the rheostat setting. The rheostat features an Off position and, turning counter-clockwise, two night vision settings followed by intensity levels 1 and 2, another Off position and intensity levels 3-6. Power is provided by a CR2032 lithium battery. Battery life on position 3 is claimed to be a continuous five years at 70 degrees F. This is very respectable and the type of performance shooters are asking for. When testing during daylight hours, I predominantly used setting 4 or 5, which would reduce run-time.

Another feature I like about the MRO is the adjusters. Unlike Aimpoint's T-1/T-2 series the MRO does not have capped adjusters. Instead it has cap-less adjusters that are flush with the body of the optic. By being flush with the body there is nothing to catch or to be damaged by an impact. Adjustments are in 1/2 MOA audible and tactile clicks and zeroing is easily accomplished using just a cartridge case.

Optical performance is where things get dicey. I've had the chance to examine about a half dozen MROs and to shoot three. None of them appeared to be a true IX. They all exhibited a slight, but noticeable amount of magnification. This was most noticeable when looking at straight lines, such as walls or doorways. Keep in mind this is very slight, but I did notice it.

I also noticed a slight bluish tint to the image. So the color rendition is not accurate, but slightly cool. Trijicon does this to make the dot easier to see. This allows the shooter to have the intensity on a lower setting, conserving battery life. But the resulting image is not quite as good as a more expensive Aimpoint T-1 or Leupold LCO. Actually it wasn't as good as Hi-Lux Optics' Micro B-Dot which exhibits very accurate color rendition.

One last complaint I heard voiced concerned a reddish reflection visible when there was a light to the rear of the MRO. I found this to be true and it was clearly visible when holding the sight up with my back to the sun. However a similar reddish reflection was also visible when I did the same test using both an Aimpoint T-1 and a Hi-Lux Micro B-Dot. But this is really nitpicking.

So how did Trijicon's MRO perform mounted onto an AR rifle? It actually performed very well with no issues. I had the chance to shoot several rifles with MROs mounted at the Big 3 East media event in Florida recently. This included Midwest Industries .308 Win AR-10 type rifles. The Big 3 East range had approximately 30 steel silhouettes set out between approximately 60 and 100 yards. I had a chance to first get a feel for the MRO here, shooting mostly Midwest Industries rifles.

Later I put one to work on my own range mounted onto one of my 5.56x45mm ARs. Here I compared it head to head with an Aimpoint T-1, a Leupold LCO and q Hi-Lux Micro B-Dot. Size wise the MRO is smaller than Leupold's LCO but larger than the T-1 and B-Dot. Field of view is smaller than the LCO, but larger than the T-1 and B-Dot. Claimed battery life is similar for all four units. Pricewise the Leupold LCO is the most expensive at $1,249.99 while the T-l is next at $691. Hi-Lux's Micro B-Dot is the least at $249.99 and holds its own quite well against the big dogs. Trijicon's MRO has an MSRP of $579.

On the range the MRO performed very well. In actual use I never noticed the slight blue tint to the image. Plus, the slight magnification didn't seem like an issue. The 2 MOA dot worked well for me and provided hits out to the limits of my testing, 300 yards. I shot the MRO from a variety of positions with no problems encountered. Is it perfect? No, but my sample performed without issue on the range. I look forward to seeing how Trijicon's MRO performs over the long haul.


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Author:Fortier, David M.
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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