Usually, when you think of red dot rifle optics, it means one thing: big money. From Aimpoint’s wide selection to Trijicon’s RMR and even the Redfield line of Leupold red dots, small things don’t come cheap. TRUGLO has introduced a new 30mm red dot in the style of an Aimpoint PRO that they say offers the same functionality and usability at a fraction of the price. So the question today: do you really only get what you pay for? Or is there a better, cheaper option available in the TRUGLO?
The TRUGLO 30mm red dot is a little on the chunky side for a red dot — the Aimpoint T1 series (and the knockoff budget version available from Primary Arms) take up less rail space, and leave you room for things like a magnifier on the rail. The TRUGLO dot does leave some rail space available for mounting, but not a whole lot. Then again, it does have a couple features that the smaller dots lack.
The larger form factor allows for some more inventive mounting options. Instead of needing a custom mount, you can use any 30mm scope rings to set up your dot. In fact, the TRUGLO package comes with a cantilever mount that works with any Picatinny or Weaver style rail that minimizes rail space usage even further. But if the height isn’t right for your setup, you can change it.
The TRUGLO opts for a watch style battery that fits under the intensity knob. More conventional for cheap dots, but remembering the specific battery size when buying replacements can be a pain in the butt. Then again, that also saves a little space on the cross section and makes the dot a little bit lighter, which is nice. The intensity knob allows the user to change the 5 MoA red dot not only in terms of the brightness of that dot, but also the color.
Some people like red dots, some like green, but in one package you get both. And blue, too. Usually the addition of colors other than red indicate that the dot isn’t the greatest — the cheapest and crappiest dots offer the widest selection of colors — so that alone made me a little concerned about the build quality. In my opinion, quality manufacturers like to do one thing and do it well rather than trying to cram as many features in as possible.
TRUGLO’s dot is adjustable for windage and elevation, and the adjustment knobs are kept from the elements using a set of screw-on covers. The covers are attached to the body of the red dot to keep them from getting lost, which is very much appreciated — I have lost many an adjustment knob cover, and finding replacements can be a pain in the ass. Its a nice touch.
The glass on the optic is nice and clear, which is great for target identification. Its also big, which helps to reduce that tunnel vision effect a little and allows the shooter to see what’s around the target. The dot itself is also nice and big — 5 MoA instead of the 2 MoA offered by the Aimpoint PRO. Some people like small red dots, but for close quarters work a big dot can be a big benefit. Its easy to pick up, and while it does cover more of the target we’re not talking beachball sizes here just yet. I’d call it big enough to be comfortable.
For precision shooting it might be a bit much, but for CQB-ish stuff its just about perfect. Build quality on the optic is actually very good. Like I said the choice of colors was somewhat disconcerting, but in practice it functions just fine. The colors are bright and visible, and the overall look and feel is very solid.
To test the optic, I placed it on something that I figured would destroy it faster than anything else I could muster: a rifle with a bumpfire stock. A rapid firing schedule and the back-and-forth motion of the gun should reveal if there are any defects in the build likely to shake loose over time, but even after a case of 5.56 ammunition the optic still held zero.
I refrained from the usual box test with the dot because, well, I just don’t care. A red dot is something you set and forget, not something you are going to be fine tuning for precision shooting. Here’s the thing: it works. The dot functions, it holds zero even under significant strain, and it doesn’t add as much weight to the rifle as you’d think. After all, the housing is aluminum and most of it is open space. It serves essentially the same function as an Aimpoint PRO, at almost exactly 1/4th the price.
The street price is about $100, MSRP $130. But while it works, I wouldn’t necessarily trust it to survive a house fire. In a sense, you do get what you pay for. Much like the Primary Arms scope I love and use on my precision rifle, its perfect for smaller caliber stuff but I wouldn’t trust it on anything .308 Winchester and larger. However, if you’re just looking for a good cheap red dot to put on your project gun, it absolutely makes the list for something to consider.
Specifications: TRUGLO 30mm Triton Red Dot Sight
Actual Magnification: 1X
Price: $103 T&E dot provided by TopSpec
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality * * * *
The housing feels slick and solid. The dot doesn’t move off target even after a thousand rounds of bumpfiring. I’d call that a win.
Optical Clarity * * * *
No significant issues here. Only 95% light transmission, and things do look a touch foggy.
Adjustment & Controls * * * *
Easy enough to use.
Overall * * * * For $100, I’m happy. The dot performs its intended function, and does it well. Its not the smallest thing in the world, but it leaves enough rail space to play with for those considering magnifiers. Just keep it away from the Ma Deuce and you’re fine.