Gear Review: Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

By Dave Spaulding

When it comes to pistol optics, I’ve gone over to the dot side. In retrospect, this should not be a surprise. I was an advocate of brightly colored front sights back when many were calling for black on black or the three-dot configurations.

After years of research into armed conflict, I came to believe the eyes were incapable of focusing clearly on a front sight within the close distances of the typical domestic pistol fight. While there are exceptions, I believe you are more likely to engage in handgun combat inside ten yards than you are outside of twenty-five.

With all the debate over which sights system or configuration is best we need to understand that any sight system does one thing: tell us where our muzzle’s pointed. If you have ever been in the unfortunate situation where another creature is trying to do you serious physical harm, then you will know it’s quite difficult to pull your eyes away from them.

I’m not saying it’s impossible. I have spoken to many serious practitioners who have claimed they’ve done it. I believe them, but they were also highly trained individuals. The typical EDC practitioner may find it quite difficult. That’s why I have long advocated for a brightly colored front sight that gives a “splotch” of color to a combatant helping them ensure their muzzle is at least close to where they need it.

The pistol-mounted optic may well be the colored front sight of the 21st century. Though I tried to not like the concept — batteries and all — I was drawn to it. After all, it glows. It’s so easy to see that you don’t have to look directly at it. You can look past it at the threat you’re facing, which is basically what I advocated with the colored front sight.

I had been doing just that for several decades, so my conversion to using the carry optic was very short. I had no real problems finding the dot as I used the same technique I did with iron sights: place them where you can use and see them. It’s a deliberate act.

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight
The Trijicon RMR HD has the same mounting footprint as the RMR.

There are a lot of carry optics out there now and a lot of them have been added in the last five years or so. That’s a good thing as the more choices we have, the better decision we can make.

If you’re one of those who aren’t sure, I’d suggest you look at the names you know such as Trijicon. Long known for their military spec optical devices, their RMR pistol sight was the first carry optic thought to be durable enough for law enforcement duty use. Their Type II optic was even better.

As good as the RMR Type II is, there were still some reasonable criticisms of it. The one most heard was that you had to take the optic off the slide to change the battery, which required re-zeroing. In fairness, I’ve changed the battery in my RMR several times over the years and I have never had to re-zero it.

The second criticism, and one heard less often, was the window was too small to find the dot quickly, something I haven’t experienced when presenting the pistol deliberately instead of quickly.

Many shooters who felt this way moved over to their SRO when it was introduced. Intended more for competition, the SRO has an optic window that’s virtually the size of a pie plate with a dot that’s very easily found. This led the folks at Trijicon to develop a carry optic that allows for an easy battery change along with an optic window that was a bit larger. Enter the RMR HD.

The Trijicon RMR HD was specifically designed for law enforcement and the military, but it’s certainly a good choice for EDC use. The HD features the same basic shape of the original RMR and is made of tough forged aluminum. The same robust electronic system and quality optic lenses are still in use.

The main changes in the unit are the top-loading battery, larger window, and an innovative forward-looking light sensor that permits the unit to read lighting conditions and adjust accordingly. The RMR HD can still be adjusted manually by the end user.

The HD also offers multiple reticle options. While I like the simplicity of a lone dot, others have different needs and I get that.

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

The first thing you notice is that RMR HD’s window is moved forward compared to the original RMR. This is to make room for the top-loading battery compartment. While some have expressed concern that this could affect ejection on some semi-auto pistols, I’m not convinced.

I mounted my test RMR HD on the new CZ Shadow Compact. The all metal, hammer fired, SA/DA pistol offers a very smooth double action trigger, short single action and a grip configuration that feels quite good in my smaller-than-average hands. It was mounted on the CZ using an adapter plate purchased from CZ.

The first thing I noted as I began to shoot the RMR/CZ combo was what Trijicon calls the “index ridge alignment aid,” a unique ridge across the top of the optic that provides a built-in index point for fast sight picture acquisition, an alternative sighting option.

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

Since the slide cover and mounting plate on the CZ eliminated the rear iron sight, I found this addition very comforting. I worked with this a bit and found I could get relatively fast hits on target out to ten to twelve yards by using it as an iron sight.

You have to make sure you see only the rear “bump” and not the ridge itself, or you’ll shoot high. I’m going to paint this ridge in the near future and further explore its use.

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

Our one MOA dot test unit (a three MOA dot model is available, too) was quite easy to see and appeared bright even in full sun. When I heard it was only one MOA, I was concerned it wouldn’t be big enough for quick use, but that was quickly put to rest. As stated earlier, the secret to finding the dot reliably is a deliberate path of travel to the target regardless of whether it’s from low ready, the holster or after some type of manipulation.

I opted not to torture test the RMR HD by dropping it or otherwise abusing it. There are others who do that quite well, so I will leave it to them. Trijicon has a well-earned reputation for bomb-proof construction of their electronics.

My main concern with carry optics isn’t the loss of the dot, its an unexpected shift of the dot while in use. This has happened to me and while it’s easy to say “just use the irons” I believe most shooters will continue to use the dot, believing any misses are due to lack of control of the pistol. Thus, our test consisted of shooting several hundred rounds to see if the optic worked reliably. No problems there.

The RMR HD appears to be just as robust as its original older brother and I have no doubt it will be a huge success, especially with government agencies and those that don’t mind spending extra for products that are over-built for a lot of use and abuse. Yes, the RMR HD is more expensive, but it will likely last a lifetime.

Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

Specifications: Trijicon RMR HD Reflex Sight

Magnification: 1X
Size: 2.15 in x 1.27 in x 1.19 in
Weight: 1.69 oz.
Reticle: 1 MOA red dot, 55 MOA reticle (3 MOA also available)
Footprint: RMR
Battery: CR 2032
Hours: Over 25,000 continuous
Brightness Settings: 9 with 3 night vision, 1 super bright
MSRP: $849.00


3 Responses

  1. “I believe you are more likely to engage in handgun combat inside ten yards than you are outside of twenty-five.”

    This is what has kept me away from pistol optics. Testing has shown that pistol optics don’t help until you move beyond the typical self-defense distance.

    I’d love to see a review of that Shadow 2 Compact.

    1. We have a Shadow 2 Compact in JWTs hands as we speak. I played with it a little – haven’t shot it — but…dayum. That appears to be one hell of a great gun.

      Anyway, watch this space.

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