My friend was kind enough to let me borrow his SRO for a week and I got it mounted to a Glock 17 with a Brownells RMR-cut slide and a Victory 1st threaded barrel. I managed to get to the range a couple times, along with messing around the house with it a little bit. Since I only shot a few hundred rounds through it, I definitely wouldn’t consider my review complete. But I did try to make it as thorough as I could with the little time I had it. Thus there remains at least a couple unknowns, namely battery life and durability/reliability. Trijicon does say the battery life in normal operating conditions is over three years.
- No malfunctions shooting a few hundred rounds
- Good sight picture with a big window, smallish housing, and light tint
- Good cowitness with suppressor-height sights
- Big button to make dot brighter on one side, big button to make dot dimmer on the other
- Don’t need to remove optic to change battery
- Fits into many open-top holsters without modification
- Decent battery-saving feature that puts optic into automatic brightness mode after being idle for 16.5 hours
- Outstanding for shooting with night vision
- Distortion in sight picture
- Overhang with SRO may cause jams
- Only 1 MOA clicks
- Cons with SRO that are also applicable to other slide-mounted red dots:
- Brass will impact the front of the optic and scratch the lens and housing
- Suppressed shooting will foul the front of the optic
The SRO comes packaged nicely in a padded box and includes a couple #6-32×1/2″ flat head torx screws, a small wrench, a sticker, and an instruction manual. The screws didn’t fit the Brownells RMR Glock slide I had so I used the screws I ordered from Maple Leaf Firearms, which are a little bit longer than the ones Brownells supplies with their slide.
An important thing to note about the SRO is the possibility of jamming if the optic overhangs the front of the breechface.
As you can see with the Glock 17 there’s still a little bit of room.
Here’s a picture of the gap between the SRO and a milled slide.
If you use a plate, the gap will be quite a bit larger. On the Brian Enos forums, a person used a plate to mount a SRO to his Sig P320 XFive, which created quite a large gap. The SRO was flush with the chamber as well and he ended up having constant malfunctions as brass kept getting trapped under the SRO. If you’re interested in the SRO you should be cognizant of the potential for that issue to occur.
Once it’s mounted up here’s a picture of what it looks like with Ameriglo black suppressor-height sights.
It looks like a lower 1/5 cowitness, which is great to me as it leaves most of the window open. An interesting thing to notice is that the tinting isn’t even throughout the FOV. This didn’t bother me at all, either during dryfire or on the range but it’s certainly noticeable. I also wanted to emphasize how nice it is to use regular suppressor-height sights and still be able to get a good sight picture with the irons through the optic. It’s a better sight picture than with a suppressor (as the suppressor obscures more of the sights than the SRO does), and you don’t need to use extra tall sights like you would with a DPP.
Here’s a sight picture on the range at 20 yards on an 8″ plate near sunset.
One of the pros I mentioned was how big the brightness adjustment buttons were. You can see the button here to make it brighter:
On the other side is the same sized button to make the optic dimmer. The buttons are great because they’re huge and there’s no other buttons to confuse what’s what. The left side is brighter, the right side is dimmer. If you’re right-handed you can just reach up with your left thumb to make it brighter. The automatic brightness works fine if you’re shooting outdoors during the day but if you’re using white light you’ll definitely want to hit the button to make it brighter so the dot doesn’t wash out. If you prefer, there’s also a lockout mode so the brightness remains on a desired setting until you change it or the battery dies. To enable it, you put the SRO on the setting you like and hold down both brightness buttons for 3 seconds.
As mentioned, it does fit into many standard open-top holsters. Here’s the SRO fitting into a standard Blade-Tech holster:
What really makes the SRO great (and versatile) is the true night vision setting. It’s invisible to the naked eye and it’s great because not only does it prevent damage to the NOD (night optical or observation device) but also lets you have a great sight picture without the use of illumination. AFAIK only the RMR, SRO, and Aimpoint Acro have true night vision settings. Other pistol optics that are marketed towards having night vision settings typically just have a dim setting that is barely visible to the naked eye, but under a NOD will bloom and halo severely impacting engagement distance and potentially damaging a NOD.
For example, here is our Sig Romeo 1 6 MOA that supposedly has NV settings but you can see how much it blooms on the 2/3 IPSC at 50 yards (99% moonlight illumination, cloudy, same as the other pics):
You can see that dot completely blows out the target. Hitting the target would be difficult. You can counteract some of this if you use illumination but then you require an IR illuminator and are projecting IR light. Here’s a pic of the Romeo 1 with a Surefire X400V-B-IRC.
You can contrast this with the sight picture of the SRO. Here’s a sight picture at 50 yards:
And here’s a sight picture at 25 yards through the SRO:
I didn’t take pictures but I was also able to get hits on the 2/3 IPSC at 100 yards with the SRO under the same conditions, which admittedly are close to ideal for not needing to use an illuminator. If it were darker the SRO couldn’t be stretched out as far without illumination, especially if you want good positive ID on what you’re shooting at.
Realistically, the Romeo 1 would be fine for shooting at close engagement distances once in a while with NODs or regularly if you’re comfortable using illumination but I’d much rather have an optic with true NV settings.
The biggest con of the SRO to me is the distortion. This is the one factor that makes me consider it only a good optic instead of a great optic. You can see it in the following pics where the tree trunks look shifted in the FOV:
It’s a little disorienting to me but under a timer on a simple array of three targets it didn’t seem to matter. But it ruins what otherwise would be a very good sight picture. The more the optic is turned the more image is distorted.
Some other things to note that affect the SRO along with other slide-mounted pistol dots are that brass will damage the optic over time and that suppressed shooting will make the lens very dirty, very quickly depending on the ammo you use.
Here’s a pic of some marks on the optic from only 100 rounds of shooting:
Here’s a pic of the difference in fouling on the lens after only 20 rounds of CCI Blazer Brass 147gr through the suppressor:
The left is before shooting and the right is after shooting suppressed. Using different ammo can help but the front of the lens will eventually get dirty. Looking through the optic after those 20 rounds, it was noticeably cloudy and needed to be wiped down.
How “good” an optic is always comes down to how well it suits your use, preference, and budget. For the SRO, I think an interesting use would be as an Aimpoint Micro replacement on a PCC or lightweight carbine. With a Scalarworks LEAP/RMR mount the SRO only weighs about 3.2oz, which is a couple ounces lighter than the standard Aimpoint/PA Micro setup. I was interested in this use case so I took a picture magnified through the SRO with an EOTech 3x G33 magnifier at 100 yards:
This was close to sunset so the picture is darker but the dot shape is good and looked to be a good sight picture. If the clicks were 1/2 MOA it’d be a fine rifle sight but even 1 MOA can be workable for a carbine. With the 3x EO magnifier, you’re looking at about 14oz including mounts which isn’t bad all things considered. You don’t get a BDC reticle or a ton of magnification like you do with nice 1-nx scopes but the setup should be able to get decent hits at distance.
On a pistol though, I personally wouldn’t use the SRO on a competition gun because of the distortion, as I much prefer something that doesn’t have much distortion like a DPP or Romeo 1. I would put this on a general-purpose range/tactical type gun since durability isn’t the most important quality to me. It wouldn’t be a work gun and I’m not particularly hard on my gear. If it failed there’s still the pistol sights. I’d choose it over other options because to me, the sight picture is considerably better than a RMR/Acro. The big window makes the dot easier to track through recoil and the bigger window helps find the dot if you’re moving fast and presenting, shooting at night, or not used to shooting with a dot. And the smaller housing obscures less of the environment. I definitely see myself buying at least one or two in the future.