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2 different approaches for AR-15 optics from Leupold and Trijicon

Both use nitrogen filled optics and are pretty indestructible


The Trijicon Miniature Rifle Optic (left) and Leupold Carbine Optic.

Trijicon/Leupold Images

This year at SHOT Show, Leupold and Trijicon released reflex sight options that take two completely different approaches. Both optics are lightweight 1x reflex sights with red dots and ½ MOA adjustments. Both use nitrogen filled optics and are pretty indestructible. When it comes to adding magnification, Trijicon uses a removable or flip off magnifier while Leupold uses their fixed 6X D-EVO optic.

History Lesson
When reflex optics first became popular, AR-15 platform shooters quickly figured out their advantage of being able to put rapid, accurate fire downrange. As military operations went from the air/land battle concept to asymmetrical warfare, the need for complete flexibility in small arms sight options was crucial to winning encounters.

The changing requirements of the AR-15 made flexibility crucial. A carbine was designed to bridge the gap between side arm and battle rifle. As military applications developed, law enforcement needs also evolved. Now we look at the carbine as the tool for entry, where rapid fire is delivered at point-blank, and fluid engagements, where the carbine is regularly used past 250 meters. We figured out that the red dot with no magnification is faster at close ranges, but reaching out takes some magnification.

The Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO) uses CR123 cells, which give it a five-year battery life. Most users I know are not “press checking” the unit. They just leave it on. There are 16 brightness settings. They responded to one of the most common requests from carbine users. All of the controls for the LCO are below deck, so knobs don’t stick out the sides of the tube. This allows the binocular vision to focus out the 6061-T6 aluminum frame that surrounds the optic. It’s a clean, uncluttered dot on target.

The LCO was meant to pair with the D-EVO 6X optic, which has a separate focal path and reticle. The D-EVO has a “z-path” folded optic, which allows the D-EVO to be mounted directly behind the LCO. When I first saw it, I thought, “You gotta shift your head in order to switch.” Allen Forkner, product rep and rather respectable shooter, showed me the magic. The head stays put. The eye only requires a slight shift.

The D-EVO peeks out of the right side of the optic, favoring the barricaded right handed shooter. Peeking from a left barricade is a different manual of arms.

The Trijicon Miniature Rifle Optic (MRO) is a forged 7075 unit that runs five years on a single 2032 cell. That is amazing power consumption. The shortened optic makes it more like a floating reticle than a tube. It is sold with or without the mount. I recommend without, especially since GG&G, where I go for mounting systems, has already made one. They also have flip off mounts for most optics that pair with the MRO.

That’s the difference. One is designed for a fixed, stand-alone optic, the other for removable magnifiers. Although the LCO will likely do NVG’s well, the MRO is easily paired with magnifiers and inline night vision.

The MSRP for the MRO is $579 without the mount. The MSRP for the LCO is $1299. For more information, visit Leupold and Trijicon.

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California. He has a BS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Online Teaching and Learning. Lindsey has taught shooting techniques for over a decade. His articles on firearms tactics have appeared in print for over a decade. Lindsey enjoys competing in shooting sports, running, and cycling events.

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