Previous Post
Next Post

The purpose of this article and its accompanying video is to educate consumers and retailers on how to spot the differences between real and fake Trijicon MRO and RMR optics. I could start this article with something like “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Trijicon must be feeling very flattered…” but in reality, these fake optics hurt Trijicon, they hurt retailers, they hurt consumers, and they even hurt America. Allow me to explain.

Trijicon is hurt, of course, because consumers buy fakes thinking they’re getting the real thing, thus taking money away from Trijicon. Those consumers are hurt for an obvious reason – they pay too much for an optic they were told was of a certain quality, when in reality it isn’t. Retailers are hurt when unscrupulous people buy real optics, switch them for fakes in the box, then return the fakes for a full refund as cashiers and customer service counter folks often can’t tell the difference.

You’re probably with me so far, but how about America? How is America hurt by fake optics? Well, as I was discussing the MRO emitter position with a Trijicon manager, an idea suddenly popped into my head. When people buy fake optics, they’re rewarding unscrupulous overseas companies and helping them produce better optics. These optic companies could then sell their new and improved products to just about anyone, including countries and organizations that would seek to do America and its people harm. These clone manufacturers are not like the European optics manufacturers that make quality products and compete above board. I try not to get on jingoistic soapboxes any more often than necessary, but I do see a real problem here.

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of the topic. When it comes to both optics- any fake optic, really – you’re looking for details.

Starting with the MRO, you need to pay attention to things like the forge lines, the fit of the adjustment mechanisms in the body of the optic, the font used to mark things such as “1 click = ½ MOA” and so on. The fake MRO we use as an example in the video has GENERIC CHINESE INSTRUCTION MANUAL FONT for some of its laser markings, while the real Trijicon optic, needless to say, does not.

The adjustment mechanisms on the real MRO are black and fit perfectly in the body of the optic, both in terms of being level with and parallel to an imaginary line on the surface of the body as well as being perfectly centered within the holes in the body, while the adjustment mechanisms on the fake are silver in color and are not level or centered. The real MRO has a forged housing/body with corresponding forge marks. The fake isn’t forged but has what almost appear to be file marks where the forge line would be, meaning they’re trying to make it look as if the forge line has actually been removed in some quality control or manufacturing step, but Trijicon always leaves it intact. It’s necessary for the fake to have file marks there because it’s not actually forged and thus doesn’t have that forge line to begin with.

The emitter on the MRO can be seen within the body of the optic at the rear and at approximately the 10:30 or 11 o’clock position as seen from the rear. Fakes can vary – some have it in this spot, but many place the emitter at the bottom of the optic, at the 6 o’clock position, including the one seen in the video.

You’ll also want to look for details like the embossed MADE IN USA on the left side of the body and the trademark and copyright symbols accompanying the embossed Trijicon MRO on the right side. The fake is missing these marks.
Inside the battery compartment, the fake has a font which almost looks like Comic Sans saying “Battery CR2032″ – the real optic has no such markings. Also inspect the details here. A real optic exudes quality in manufacturing when you pop off the battery cap. A fake will give you little impressions here and there that something just isn’t quite right.

Moving on to the Trijicon RMR, we’re looking for many of the same things. The position of the adjustment mechanisms in the body and their being tool-less – this fake has allen wrench adjustment screws for windage and elevation – is a dead giveaway. So is the font with adjustment instructions. On this fake, MOA is a smaller font size than the rest of the sentence. The real optic maintains a consistent font and size.

Side by side, the windows of a real RMR are going to be thicker than that of a fake, generally speaking. You’ll also want to check serial numbers – often times the fakes all carry the same one, so if you’re looking at a big stack of optics at a gun show and they all have the same serial number, back away slowly.

On the underside, the RMR Type 2 has a battery compartment with a cool “ninja star” design that Trijicon says will be hard to copy for a while. The real RMR (type 1) doesn’t have this, but like the MRO, the quality of the manufacturing and assembly work here as well as the font looks top notch, while the fake is devoid of markings beyond a minus sign – note that this is the opposite of the situation inside the battery compartment of the MRO – and generally gives an impression that it’s not been assembled by the A Team.

As mentioned above, the most crucial thing is to look for small details that just don’t seem right, however minor they may seem at first. It’s entirely possible that a fake optic manufacturer could watch this video or read this article and figure out how to make a better fake -but if they could make an optic truly as good as a Trijicon, they wouldn’t need to sell counterfeit optics, they could come up with their own design and sell it under their own name.

The only winners in the fake optic game are people you wouldn’t want to leave unattended around your children. Learn how to spot their tricks and you’ll be better prepared to keep yourself or your business from making a costly mistake.

This post was originally published at and is reprinted here with permission. 

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. i don’t care if it’s real or not it not going into combat…for the range mine works just fine and the zero stays zero’ed and it’s a FRACTION of the price…..NEXT!!!

    • I saved money by buying junk from a counterfeiter, and screwed the real producer out of money that would be spent to produce and even better product and I sure am proud of it! WTF!!!!

      • No…
        He bought something “good enough” for for his needs at the price he was willing to pay. It’s called free market capitalism. He didn’t want to pay $400 for a product that would be just used for plinking. Which is completely understandable.

        • That’s not free market enterprise, that’s criminal enterprise. A manufacturer stealing the name and patented designs of another manufacturer is criminal. These criminal enterprises seek to make money from stolen optics brand names and designs in two ways; from unknowing consumers or from complicit consumers. The latter means consumers who knowingly purchase the product knowing it’s not legitimate, yet they still buy it because they think somehow the name and/or appearance adds to their own credibility. When you knowingly purchase from the nefarious manufacturer you are supporting criminal enterprise. Why not support the free market and purchase original products marketed toward consumers? The consumer grade products from well known names are original designs with honest marketing. You still get what you pay for, but at least you know what you’re getting. Legitimate consumer grade optics perform just as well as the price as deceitfully marketed forgeries. Support free enterprise and development of new technologies, buy legitimate products.

    • People like you are the reason people like me are reluctant to put time, energy, sweat and tears into new ideas.

    • Here’s the deal – there are plenty of inexpensive optics that work just fine. You can buy brand-name optics from several lower-end companies that sell you exactly what you are looking for, without trying to fraudulently cash in on the high-end optics reputations. For the same price as the fakes, you’ll get decent quality and maybe even a small warranty. So why patronize out-and-out charlatans?

      • ?? Those budget optics come from China. The fakes come from China. What difference does it matter? Does anyone for one second think that the real deal is equal to the fake? You get what you pay for. Not a big deal either way. The result is the same either way. A lower quality product from China.

  2. Then you get into the really old Trijicon RMR optics that were actually private-label copies made in the same factories as things like ‘Docter’ optics (or other brands not sold in the US at the time)… it’s great to see the quality improve over time, but Trijicon was the original copy-cat for some of these.

  3. How is America hurt by fake optics?</I?

    By your funding of the R&D and operations of the fing PLA. (otherwise know as the chicoms)

    • How is America hurt by fake optics?</I?

      By your funding of the R&D and operations of the fing PLA. (otherwise know as the chicoms)

      R&D? Come on guys. China produces more semiconductors than any other country. They make our Iphones. They are an industrial powerhouse. It is completely within their ability to make optics every bit as good (possibly even better) than ours. That said, they would cost about the same – $350 to $450

  4. Show me a market for counterfeit products and I will show you a profit-margin that is larger than it should be, and hence can be exploited by counterfeiters

    • The problem with your statement is that the counterfeiters produce a lower quality product and can therefore charge a lower price. The original manufacturer isn’t necessarily gouging on price, they are just doing the R&D and have higher production costs for a higher quality product.

      It’s like saying that Morton’s charges too much for a steak when Sizzler also offers a strip steak for a much cheaper price. If you don’t want to pay up for quality, that’s fine, but it doesn’t make other people wrong for placing a value on quality and innovation.

    • I tend to agree with BDub. The world has become a small place. For example, I doubt Trijicon builds its own glass (I dont know for sure, just saying). It doesnt take much for a person to find where the glass is coming from, make a deal to buy some of it, copy the electronics (super easy, there are companies that will do that for you), and build out the rest of the parts. I doubt the total parts cost for the same quality is more than $20. That level of difference is what motivates people to do this. Then they look for ways to cost reduce to make more money and thats when the quality goes downhill. I am not advocating for this, just saying its the huge dollar differences between the parts cost and the retail cost.

      • Don’t know about the rest of their lineup, but acogs use very high end German glass. The majority of optics companies dont make their own glass. They let professionals do it for them. You don’t need to tear it apart to reverse engineer it either, the patents are public domain.

  5. Funny (or not) I find a strong morality argument to protecting home turf optics/weapons/what have you, so I think it’s strange that the U.S. government often chases its citizens into seeking such ‘options’ by intimating that they might be interested in taking them away.

    If you said that, by creating such fears, the U.S. government ensures another generation of citizens with a “rifle [pistol/carbine/grenade/claymore/tannerite targets/M203/flame-thrower/bayonets/night-vision goggles] behind every blade of grass” then they still deserve an FU for the fVcl< fVcl< mindgames, as they are now the unappreciated enemy too.

    BUY U.S. GOODS (MADE IN / ASSEMBLED IN THE U.S.A.) but demand great goods at reasonable prices, AND remember RULE #1:


    B R E A K

    G L A S S

    • What about garments made in the USA. Do you want to pay triple for clothes so they can be made in the USA? Should be move the textile industries back to the USA and out of 3rd world countries so we can say that we bought american? Lets be honest, America needs to become an intellectual powerhouse so our economy remains financially strong. If other countries want to make lower quality products and lesser education based products (like garments) then that is fine. This includes cheap airsoft optics.

      The day China is making $400 optics with us consuming them at $40 each putting US optics companies out of business, is the day we rightfully lost that battle. If China is out-competing us on a product we need to reflect on why. Is it because the cost of labor there is cheaper than here? Is it because they have less environment and safety regulations put upon them by their government? The fact is, there is no way that the US can even produce a product machined out of aluminum, anodized, with optics, circuits, LEDs, and whatever else for a mere $30, and they better hope and pray that Chinese QA/QC doesn’t improve, or they will be out of business.

      • This isn’t really the time or place to debate market policy, but to put it simply: YES, buying Chinese made anything hurts you; and that’s because an above the board (read American) business is incurring other costs, such as R&D, benefits for workers, etc.

        Whereas, China is a command economy; simply put Clinton’s Unlimited Trade Agreement was retarded, and China isn’t abiding by the terms.
        For example:
        They keep their Chinese Yuan (actually Renminbi) artificially undervalued. So things like US-grown rice, which the US can and *does* produce for cheaper than the Chinese can, is magically out of the price range of most Chinese consumers; and the Chinese government steps in and subsidizes the price of Chinese rice, further ensuring the Chinese rice is far cheaper.

        This DOES and HAS affect/ed your life. It compounds, over time, and eventually you see whole sectors of the economy falter and fail. Jobs get outsourced and move overseas; the USA becomes a service-based-economy. Wal-Mart becomes the largest American employer, with a workforce of nearly 2.2 million people. To put that in perspective, you’d be hard pressed to find another 20 companies that have over 300,000 workers nationwide.

    • Yes, it all needs to be made here.

      Or else we’ll have Chinese Lead toothpaste syndrome with all of our purchased goods.

      We need to be a powerhouse of making our own sh_t, cause the rest of the world doesn’t give an F, and we can’t even convince them of why it’s important that we do.

  6. And the number one way to spot a fake optic:
    It’s being sold “brand-new” for less than 1/2 the price of a real one (often 1/10 as much).
    If the deal sounds too good to be true, believe me it is.
    No HONEST seller can make money selling brand-new Trijicon optics for less than 1/2 the MSRP.
    10% to 20% off yes, 50-90% off no.
    (That’s not including manufacture rebates, but those are easy to spot because you have to mail proof of purchase directly to the manufacturer).
    If it’s less than 1/2 price, then it’s EITHER counterfeit OR a used one being passed off as new.*
    I bought an RMR advertised as “new”, but it had fingerprints on the lens and tool-marks on the adjustment screws, so I asked for and got a partial refund because it was actually used. They shouldn’t come from the Trijicon factory with fingerprints on the lens!

    *One exception might be a widow who inherited a gun collection, including a never-mounted Trijicon still in its box, and has no idea how much it’s worth — in that case, act fast!

  7. It’s easy to spot them when they are being sold as “replicas” for a tenth of the price. The truth is, I don’t have near as much problem with someone selling them for what they are. I don’t expect a teenager to put a $1500.00 ACOG on an airsoft rifle and I don’t have a problem with him buying a replica because he wants to look cool. What pisses me off is the assholes who try to pass them off as being the real deal. When I first became interested in Trijicons, I got duped by a fake TA02 before even Trijicon knew that they existed. After I bought it I spent days researching them and finally found reference to the fakes on a Chinese language forum. I called Trijicon and filled them in on the fake. The guy that I spoke with said that they didn’t know that they existed at that point. Luckily, I was able to recover my money because the scum bag that sold it too me panicked when I told him that I was calling his local police (He put a return name and address on the package). The fakes hurt everyone. Now I have 3 Trijicons and if I ever decide to sell them I, a lot of my options are limited because nobody trusts the regular channels for used goods. Good thing I plan to keep them : )

  8. A lot of you seem to be missing the point of the article, they tell you how to spot a counterfeit. Not how to spot Chinese optics. If you want to buy cheap its all good but putting another companys name on that product and selling it as authentic is illegal.

  9. The real Trijicon optic has a tiny marking with a Bible verse, typically relating to “light.”

    The Chinese knock-off has a reference to Confucius.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here