August 11, 2020
By Tom Beckstrand
Using a dot sight with a magnifier is not a new concept. These types of optics have been around a while, but like every other product in any industry, new models take advantage of manufacturing technology and achievements that improve on previous designs.
I’ll argue that the most advanced red dot and magnifier combination currently available is this: Trijicon’s new MRO HD with 3X magnifier. For my supporting evidence, I’d like to draw your attention to its objective lens, manufacturing technique, optic housing material, additional length (versus the original MRO), and reticle.
When comparing the MRO to the MRO HD, the first difference appears when peering through both optics. The HD model has no lens coloration and the reticle is extremely sharp. It’s so sharp that the shooter can use different parts of the reticle for precise aiming points.
To see how sharp and in-focus the reticle is, it’s necessary to use the magnifier. This is because the human eye can distort any red dot or red LED reticle due to the eye’s astigmatism. Trijicon’s new 3X magnifier can greatly reduce this phenomenon because it has an adjustable diopter that allows the shooter to focus the image to their eye. With the magnifier in place, the red dot and outer circle are as sharp as any reticle in any scope.
This was no small feat, but was made possible because of the great lengths Trijicon went to manufacture the objective lens group. When Trijicon makes their lenses, a sophisticated optical device scans the entire lens looking for the most perfect area. The objective lens in the MRO HD starts out about the size of the bread plate in a fancy dinner setting. Once the perfect spot is identified on the lens, another device cuts out about 25 millimeters for use in the optic. The rest of the lens gets recycled along with a little more glass, then made into another bread plate-sized lens so that it, again, can try to be perfect. As you can imagine, this is an expensive process, but it is the best way to get a really good lens that allows the reticle to be tack-sharp.
In addition to super-sweet glass for the objective lens, Trijicon moved its lens further from the emitter to enhance the image that the shooter sees. Moving from a dot to a more complex reticle meant that the objective lens group needed a little more breathing room, so Trijicon’s engineers made it happen.
The reticle Trijicon puts in the MRO HD has a 2-MOA center dot that’s surrounded by a 68 MOA interrupted circle. These dimensions are not arbitrary — Trijicon designed the MRO HD primarily for military and law enforcement use. This type of optic system can provide a high level of performance in close quarter battle (CQB) ranges that are inside of 25 yards and all the way out to a few hundred yards with the use of the optional 3X magnifier. The reticle format is a critical ingredient in this recipe.
The 2 MOA center dot is standard fare for many red dots sights that sit atop a rifle. It’s plenty big enough for shooting fast at short range, but small enough that it won’t obscure a bunch of the target when needing to be precise. (Pro tip: Dim the dot until it’s just barely visible when precision is paramount. This allows for better visibility of your point of aim.)
The 68 MOA interrupted circle around the 2-MOA center dot is where the magic happens. The left and right edges of the circle are perfect aiming points for ambushing the target (not tracking) when engaging movers at 100 yards. How fast should the target be moving for this hold to be effective? Combat speed or a full sprint, I’d say. Nobody lollygags in a gunfight.
The bottom of the 68 MOA outer circle is the perfect aiming point when engaging targets during CQB. Shots from untrained riflemen usually impact 2 inches low at 5 to 7 yards because they put the red dot on the target and pulled the trigger. If a bullet has barely left the barrel and not yet moved into the line of sight at the zeroed range, rounds will hit low. The fix is to use the bottom of the 68-MOA outer circle as the aiming point when shooting at across-the-room distances. The point of aim will match the point of impact. This gives the rifleman one less thing to think about when handling business.
The final touch Trijicon put on the MRO HD reticle was the width of the interruption in the outer circle. It measures 19 MOA (or about the width of human shoulders) at 100 yards. This measurement allows for crude, yet effective, range estimation when viewed through the magnifier. Shoulders that cover a third of the 19 MOA distance are approximately 300 yards away.
The housing material used in the optic is 7075 aluminum, the most durable material used in professional-grade optics. Less expensive optics use 6061 aluminum, which is softer and more likely to deform should the optic absorb an impact. In addition to the 7075 aluminum used, Trijicon forges the housing. This makes it even more durable than the handful of optics that use 7075 billet aluminum for the optic’s housing or body.
The magnifier Trijicon offers with the MRO HD received the same level of attention the sight receives. It is compact with 2.6 inches of eye relief, so the shooter doesn’t need to put his face right up against the ocular lens to use the magnifier. This allows its use with larger-caliber rifles and makes positional shooting easier.
The magnifier also has an adjustable diopter, which means that almost every shooter will be able to get the reticle focused to their eye. It also has elevation and windage adjustments so that the shooter can center the red dot in the magnifier’s field of view. While this certainly appeals to shooters with OCD, it also makes for a more forgiving optical system. The shooter’s head will automatically find the most comfortable spot on the stock. If they have to move their head to get a full field of view, the shooter will forever fight the optic. Lifting the head off the comb quickly fatigues the small muscles in the neck. Even though the shooter might not realize it, once those muscles fatigue it becomes hard to remain comfortable and stable behind the optic. The magnifier’s elevation and windage adjustment controls ensures this never happens. It also makes it possible to move the field of view to where it’s most comfortable for the shooter.
When I spoke with Logan Killam, Trijicon’s reflex optics product manager, he said, “Trijicon designed the MRO HD for law enforcement and military use. We spent a lot of time getting the night-vision settings, durability, battery life, and magnifier just right to get it to where an officer or soldier could take it into the field.”
That effort intended for those in uniform also benefits those of us who may be looking for a professional-grade red-dot-optic setup that functions well from targets at the muzzle to those a few hundred yards away.
Trijicon MRO HD with 3X Magnifier
- Power: 1X-3X
- Objective: 25mm
- Tube Diameter: N/A
- Adjustment Range: 70 MOA MRO HD; 60 MOA MRO HD Magnifier
- Field of View: 37.75 ft. @ 100 yds.
- Reticle: 2 MOA center dot; 68 MOA outer interrupted circle
- Length: 6.25 in.
- Weight: 12 oz.
- Eye Relief: 2.6 in.
- MSRP: $1,428 (MRO HD and 3X mag.)
- Manufacturer: Trijicon, 800-338-0563, trijicon.com
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