One of the exciting new entrants to the “combat grade but affordable” optics arena is the new Meprolight Tru-Dot RDS (Red Dot Sight). The Tru-Dot is an interesting combination of form factor and features, and retails at an MSRP of $400.
I purchased one for use on my Tavor. How did it go? More after the jump.
Many firearms enthusiasts are familiar with the many high-quality Israeli handguns and rifles on the market. I also think many know about FAB Defense and CAA, who make (generally) very good firearms accessories and parts. But I think far fewer people are aware of the small but exemplary firearms optics company found in Israel – namely, Meprolight.
Meprolight has a broad product line, but only a subset of it is available in the USA. Their pistol and rifle night sights are pretty easy to find, for instance. You can also easily acquire the Mepro MOR, M21, GLS, Tru-Dot, and magnifier. Their night vision devices and scopes are apparently not imported, though.
The Tru-Dot is based on the Mepro M5. The M5 is supposedly going to be replacing the iconic tritium/fiber-optic Mepro M21 in IDF service. This mirrors the American trend – tritium/FO optics have fallen out of favor as battery life has improved on LED-lit optics, because tritium/FO optics have difficulty dealing with shooting from dark spaces into bright spaces.
The Tru-Dot is, conceptually, a more cost-effective version of the M5. The actual differences between the M5 and Tru-Dot are hard to spot, and appear to mostly be exterior (more easily-machined knobs, aluminum hood, and what appears to be some hardening against sand intrusion). US distributor Mako has implied that the Tru-Dot was the original version of the M5 submitted for IDF trials, and the version that has the improvements from those trials is now known as the M5. I say this to communicate that the Tru-Dot might be the commercial version of the M5, but it’s still tough as nails. The body feels and looks like something you’d carry to war, despite being a svelte 10.5 ounces in weight. The particular model of Tru-Dot being reviewed has an aluminum hood, but it looked plastic at first glance. I believe the aluminum hood on these early Tru-Dots is simply a leftover from an M5 run.
The Tru-Dot looks very much like an Eotech optic on first glance, albeit with more hard angles. The difference becomes clear once you look through the optic – instead of the famous Eotech holographic circle-dot reticle, you get a simple 1.8MOA red dot. Depending on your point of view, this may be something of an improvement, but more on that later.
Included with the Tru-Dot is a small cleaning kit, a manual, and a scope cover. I haven’t tried the cleaning kit, but the manual is quite readable, and the scope cover is very handy for storing the optic on a rifle in your safe. They’re helpful extras that are appreciated.
The glass on this sight is just excellent. It compares very favorably to Eotechs, Aimpoints, Trijicons, and whatever else you care to compare it to. The dot is as sharp as expected. There were minor reflections when directly under an overhead light in my basement, but I didn’t notice any reflection when it was out on the (covered) range. I’d be interested to see how it performed in a carbine class on a sunny day, but I suspect it would be fine.
Speaking of which, the brightness selector on the Tru-Dot is a delight. It’s easy to grab, and it has very tactile clicks. That tacticle feedback was also there in the coin-turn-style zeroing turrets. I never thought I’d say this, but I vastly prefer these controls over the ones found on Eotechs and Aimpoints.
The battery compartment is easily opened, and uses AA batteries. Battery life is supposedly 10,000 hours, and the sight features an auto-on/off that will further increase that runtime. Suffice it to say, this kind of battery life easily falls into “batteries are not a concern” territory, and you should be good to go with your usual annual battery changing regime. The Tru-Dot also supposedly blinks the reticle when the battery is getting low, which is another nice reminder.
The QD mount does the job. It’s not as nice as the nicer Eotech mounts out there (ie, LaRue), but it seems about equivalent to ARMS mounts, perhaps a bit better. I like how you can adjust it with simple tools (pliers!). I am a little less happy with the decision to not provide any kind of option for absolute co-witnessing. Yes, I get that the IDF uses fixed-sight-base M16s and “higher than AR-15 sights” Tavors, so 1/3 cowitness is what they’d want, but it would have been nice if a lower mount or removable spacer could have been provided for the US market. Maybe it’s not even possible given the construction of the sight?
I mounted the Tru-Dot on my 18″ Tavor. It required a very slight tweak to the QD mount, but well within what the instructions described. Auto on/off performed as expected, and I didn’t really give it much thought – it just worked.
On the range, I zeroed the optic and rifle to 50 yards. I quickly became a fan of the 1.8 MOA dot – big enough to pick up quickly, but small enough for precision shooting. Shooting 2″ groups was embarrassingly easy, even with the Tavor’s so-so trigger. Going both eyes open was also trivial due to the super-clear glass.I know that’s a boring range report, but what do you want? It just works, and it works well. My range partner that day was impressed with the optic as well, and found it very easy to pick up and shoot.
This sight is broadly comparable to the Aimpoint PRO, Eotech EXPS3-0, and Eotech 553.The Eotech 553 is $200 more than the Tru-Dot, and in my opinion, the 553 is the inferior sight. I think the EXPS3-0 has more to recommend for it (smaller!), but $250 for “smaller” and the Eotech reticle doesn’t seem like a good trade. I never really thought of the Tru-Dot as an Eotech-killer, but it’s certainly looking that way.
The Aimpoint PRO is much tougher competition, due to being at roughly the same price point. I like that the PRO has an absolute co-witness spacer option, but am less enthusiastic about the QRP mount and the form factor. I’d call it a toss-up there, with the victor mostly depending on whether you’re going with absolute co-witness or not.