The first few clips in this video were of me doing some 3 gun practice using guns with Trijicon optics, one being the Trijicon RMR, which I’ve already reviewed as part of my Glock 34 MOS, and the other, the review topic of this video, is the Trijicon MRO mounted on my rifle. I have had this optic on my rifle for several months now, have shot many events with it, and, in comparison to the EOTechs and Aimpoints that I’ve owned in the past, can say that the MRO has surpassed many of my performance expectations of a premier electronic optic.
One quick note before diving into the review in-depth: I am reviewing the first generation Trijicon MRO. There is another model, the MRO Patrol, new for 2017, with some additional features that may or may not be relevant for prospective sight buyers. For now, let’s take a look at the technical specifications of the first generation Trijicon MRO.
Technical Specifications Overview
The Trijicon MRO is designed and manufactured domestically. The housing is 7075 T-6 aluminum. Trijicon is known mostly for their Tritium and Fiber optic sights, such as the Trijicon RMR, which require no batteries, but the MRO is powered by a CR 2032 battery. When turned on 24/7/365, it has a battery life of 5 years at the middle brightness setting, which is comparable to the most commonly referenced competing electronic optic, the Aimpoint T2. There are 8 total clicks of brightness adjustment, with the first 2 setting being night vision optic compatible. One subtle but appreciated feature is how the adjustment knob is on top of the optic so it’s easy to adjust with either hand, which is relevant if you shoot ambidextrously. Some other reviewers have argued that the top protrusion of the illumination dial is unreasonably obstructive to your field of view, but the alternative is lateral placement of the dial, and I personally feel having less-obstructed horizontal peripheral vision is more important.
The 2 MOA dot is visible in any daylight environment, but no CR2032 powered optic is going to be as bright as an EOTEch’s hologram reticle. The emitter is located at 10 o’clock in the tube. The windage and elevation knobs sit flush with the housing, and have total of 70 MOA total travel. Each click represents ½ MOA at 100 yards. The dials are easily adjustable with a coin, screwdriver, or the extractor groove of a round. I do wish, though, that dials gave more tactile feedback for each adjustment click.
The sight weighs 4.1 ounces with the battery, but without the optic. With the OEM lower-third co-witness mount, the sight will weigh about 5.9 ounces. Higher speed and lower drag aftermarket mounts can bring the weight down slightly. The Aimpoint Micro T-2, on the other hand, is advertised to weight 3.3 ounces without the mount and 4.6 ounces with the mount. Where the Trijicon MRO really stands out from the rest of the compact rifle optic class is the front objective lens, being 25mm in diameter compared to the Aimpoint T-2’s front objective at 20mm. The wide objective lens helps reduce the “looking down a pipe tunnel vision” effect of most other red-dot sights.
The optic does have idiosyncrasies, but most are not relevant to overall performance.
The front lens is installed at an angle, but this is because the nature of red-dot reflector sight technology requires a curved or angled objective to properly project the reticle. It is more noticeable on the MRO than other red-dot sights because of the large objective lens, but it is indeed a feature, not a bug. EOTech uses lasers to project a 3-D hologram, so they are not confined to the same objective glass constraints, and have a viewing window akin to a heads-up display.
All reflex-style optics require some amount of glass tint to display the reticle to its optimum clarity. The view down the optic does give off blue tint, but it is most noticeable when looking at white backgrounds or under artificial lighting. In other environments, and especially through daylight, any tint is all but imperceptible. When looking through optic at extreme angles, though, the tint is more pronounced, and speaking of extreme angles…
The next discussion is about parallax. Yes, the Trijicion MRO will have parallax errors when looking through the sight at extreme angles. But saying as much is pointless, as ALL electronic optics, including EOTechs and premier riflescopes will have parallax errors if you look through the optic at extreme viewing angles relative to how the sight was zeroed. In any case, you should be trying to have a consistent cheek-weld when shooting, and the practical effective range of the MRO makes slight parallax errors mostly irrelevant. We’ll table this discussion for Philosophy of Use. Thanks again, Nutnfancy for the term, but I and many viewers have noticed there has been less discussion about POU in more recent videos, possibly by content creator design to minimize video verbosity.
Finally, the last major idiosyncrasy abou the MRO is that the optic is not a true zero magnification. I couldn’t perceive any fish-eye effect or lens edge distortion, but It will feel like a 1.05-times magnification when looking through the optic. This is more pronounced at closer ranges. Again, this is a design challenge to minimize distortion and view refraction when working with the reflector-sight design, and Trijicon’s larger objective does amplify these nuances. This is another hardly-noticeable facet but it is still worth mentioning.
Philosophy of Use (thanks Nutnfancy...)
I have my MRO mounted on a rifle I built based on the aesthetic of the M4A1 SOPMOD Block II. From the Daniel Defense RIS II rail, Colt M4 receivers, and Colt 14.5” M4A1 barrel, almost all of the the rifle’s components are used in theater, ie, seen “in the wild”, with obvious exceptions being the muzzle brake, which is used used to mount my Griffin Armament Suppressor, and the fire control group, being semi-automatic only. The trigger I have installed in my rifle is the Hiperfire Hipertouch 24C, and I am still impressed with the light pull weight and quick reset. I do have a Geissele trigger ready to install, to make the rifle more authentic to those used in theater, but I’m still waiting for the next recipient of this Hiperfire. It seems ironic to mount one of the lightest rifle optics onto such a heavy rifle setup, but I am still working my way up to my dream optic for this rifle, which is the Trijicon ACOG. Besides, premier optics are a stable investment. They hold their value well, and can last a virtual lifetime of shooting for the average enthusiast. There are many potential rifles that I can use the MRO on once I have my final optic for this rifle.
As a compact red-dot optic, the reduction in weight over an optic such as an Aimpoint PRO or EOTech is a major selling point. Although it may only be slightly 5-6 ounces lighter than a full-size optic, the difference is noticeable, due the optic placement near the rifle’s center of gravity, and you don’t have to be building a race gun to appreciate the reduction in weight and the associated improved rifle handling.
With unlimited eye-relief and low parallax error, a red dot optic excels in close-quarters shooting environments, from zero to 200 yards. Because you won’t have the precision of a scope, the MRO isn’t the best tool if you want tight groups on paper. Rather, you should expect to be shooting at torso-sized targets or silhouettes at longer ranges when using the MRO, so that any parallax error is marginal. You can extend the effective range of the MRO by adding a magnifier. Although Aimpoint and EOTech make some of the higher-end magnifiers on the market, you don’t need a premier magnifier to get the benefit of increased zoom. This magnifier is the Burris AR-Tripler. The dot is still very clear, and because of the tight eye box, the consistent eye position needed to resolve the sight picture helps in minimizing parallax at longer ranges. But be aware that it is possible that you won’t see a super crisp dot if you have astigmatism. There may be a halo effect or a blurry dot depending on your personal vision limitations.
Trijicon has military contracts for their products, so you have complete peace of mind in trusting a Trijicon product on your home defense rifle. With such a long battery life, you don’t have any dials to fidget with to turn on your optic once you take your rifle out of your safe.
Competition shooters will also consider the Trijicon MRO for their rifle optic, as they are always trying to reduce their equipment weight to help turn in faster course times.
An inevitable question many viewers always ask is “Is there a reason to buy a premier optic over a budget alternative such as a Primary Arms or a Bushnell?’
The answer depends on your goals for what you want your rifle to do, and what you want to get out of your shooting experience, ie, philosophy of use.
The short answer is that if you are watching my video, chances are you're not a military contractor or a police officer looking for their next rifle optic, and you don’t need a premier red dot optic.
For most enthusiasts, the budget red dot sights will work reliably enough for a range toy or competition rifle. It is up to you to decide whether the additional features such as the large objective window is worth the multi-hundred dollar price difference.
However, for the diehard enthusiasts, the Trijicon MRO provides the “next level” of peace of mind in durability and performance. And, as mentioned previously, premier optics maintain their value well, provided you don’t abuse them and mar the glass.
As a modern tactical gear enthusiast, I enjoy using higher-end gear. That’s as simple of a motivation as anyone needs to chase, as Nutnfancy would call it, the “second kind of cool”.
The MRO is constructed with the same quality standards as Trijicon’s military contract products, which means you can count on a lifetime’s worth of durability. Since the day that I took the optic out for its initial zeroing session, I have had no problems with it.
Aftermarket support and relative value
There is no shortage of aftermarket mounts that you can buy for the MRO, many of which are much higher speed and lower drag than the OEM mount. There are also housing covers and kill flashes available. The Trijicon MRO is available for purchase for almost $200 less than the Aimpoint T2, which is arguably the most comparable product in performance for its size and weight class.
If you are in the market for a premier optic, the Trijicon MRO gets my highest recommendation, due to its light weight, large objective window, long term reliability, and high relative value. The only problem that I can see anyone having with the Trijicon MRO, is that you will like it so much, it puts you off of buying any other red dot optic.
This is the last red dot optic you will ever want and need.