September 19, 2019
Photos by Alfredo Rico
These days, more and more shooters are discovering the benefits of mini-red-dot sights (MRDS). A red-dot sight simplifies the aiming process by allowing the shooter to focus on the threat, which is much easier than having to align traditional sights. Whether for competition, tactical or defensive purposes, the ease of aiming a red-dot sight translates to faster, more accurate fire.
A New Contender
For years, the king of the red-dot hill has been Trijicon’s Ruggedized Miniature Reflex (RMR) sight. The compact RMR has a well-earned reputation for reliability as evidenced by conspicuous sightings atop handguns and rifles carried by police and military personnel as well as some of the world’s top competitive shooters. For as good as the RMR is, there is always room for improvement.
Created in response to RMR customer requests, Trijicon recently released a new contender for the crown with their Specialized Reflex Optic (SRO). With a larger window and easier battery access, the SRO was designed to be pistol specific and even more user friendly. The SRO is constructed of 7075-T6 forged aluminum, so it’s durable, albeit not as “overbuilt” as the RMR.
The SRO is powered by a CR2032 battery, which is accessible without removing the optic from the gun. The SRO is available in 1-, 2.5- and 5-MOA dot reticle versions. The unit can be programed to maintain a consistent brightness or to auto adjust for changing lighting conditions. On the middle brightness setting, the battery life is approximately three years.
Having the same footprint as the RMR, the Trijicon SRO can be used in slides cut for the former. But despite the base having the same dimensions, the SRO’s larger window could pose some mounting problems. For instance, if mounted too far forward, it could cover the ejection port. Another potential mounting problem occurs when the rear sight is mounted in front of the SRO. While an RMR may fit behind the rear sight, the SRO may not.
I recently evaluated the SRO at a writer’s event at the JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa in Sonora, Texas. Over the course of two days, Will Petty of Centrifuge Training taught an abbreviated course that showcased the benefits of the SRO and proved its durability. Initially, the writers in attendance were skeptical, but all became believers in the validity of the SRO.
We shot the SRO-mounted pistols side by side with pistols donning the RMR. The participants unanimously agreed that the red dot was easier to see with the SRO than the RMR, thanks in large part to the latter’s taller window. The difference was crystal clear when shooting on the move and shooting one-handed, where picking up the red dot can be problematic and where delivering accurate fire is critically important.
Some assumed the SRO’s larger window would make it less suited for concealed carry than the RMR or another more compact red-dot sight. However, I found that not to be the case. It’s the bottom of the magazine well — not the red-dot sight — that’s likely to be problematic when concealing your gun. The SRO is not that much larger than the RMR for concealment to be an issue.
When shooting with the SRO, the crisp aiming dot shone like a beacon through the large clear lens. The larger window made it easy to pick up the dot when driving the gun toward the target, and the dot was easy to track during recoil. During an injured shooter drill, I repeatedly slammed the SRO against a metal barricade to rack the slide. It was unphased and maintained its zero, a testament to the SRO’s durability.
Trijicon markets the SRO solely as a handgun sight. However, we mounted the SRO on an AR-15 and were hitting targets at distance with the type of accuracy you’d expect from the RMR or any other top-quality red-dot sight.
With the SRO (or any other red-dot sight for that matter), there is a learning curve. The key, as Petty was quick to point out, is to focus on the threat when pulling the trigger, as opposed to trying to use the red dot like a traditional front sight. If you’ve been shooting with traditional sights for a long time, focusing on the threat rather than the sights will likely take some getting used to. The good news is that during a deadly-force encounter, focusing on the threat is a natural reaction.
The Trijicon SRO is not intended to replace the RMR, which has earned its place at the top of the heap of red-dot sights. However, the SRO is a worthy contender and definitely worth consideration, especially for the concealed-carry crowd. Only time will tell if the SRO steals any of the RMR’s thunder in the law enforcement and military arenas.
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