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The Trijicon Reflex RX30

Written by Scott Oldham

Patrol rifles have become a solid part of American law enforcement. As this has happened, patrol officers have a desire to equip these weapons with accessories that make their use easier and their deployment quicker. One of the items that receives the most attention is the sighting system of the issued weapon.

It use to be considered an act of heresy to equip a combat rifle with anything other than “iron” sights. But as long ago as November 1970, the U.S. Special Forces attempted to rescue prisoners of war being held in the Son Tay prison camp in Vietnam. Since then, the virtues of equipping a rifle with a non-magnified yet illuminated optical device for aiming has been realized.

Despite the knowledge that such a sight can make hit potential grow exponentially, the ruggedness of these systems were always called into question. Part of the overall equation in regard to the usefulness of these sights was that of battery life. While the battery life issue has been mitigated somewhat as of late, there are still those who distrust any sight that uses a battery and as a result eschew their use.

Realizing early on that the technology existed to create an illuminated optic that did not use a battery, Trijicon—perhaps best known as the creators of some of the best pistol-mounted night sights on the market—set about to create a truly rugged optical sighting unit that never needed a battery.

As a result, the company has created and marketed several rifle-capable optical sights that utilize the same radioactive tritium isotope that were used in the manufacture of the original night sights. The first versions of these sights all featured magnification and were less than ideal for close-range engagements. Realizing the limitations of such a magnified system, Trijicon then created the original Reflex sight.

This sight, which was selected by the U.S. Special Operations Command as part of the original M4 SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar Modification) accessory kit, uses a combination of fiber optics and a tritium power source to illuminate the aiming dot within the device.

By using both tritium and fiber optics, which are used to collect ambient light to boost the intensity of the dot, the sight never needed batteries and thus was always “on.” There were never power switches or intensity settings that needed to be turned on or adjusted. One can simply pick up the weapon and engage the target just as he would with iron sights.

As good as the original Reflex design is, many users thought it could be improved, particularly the overall size of the objective lens. The Reflex has an objective lens that is similar in size to other optical sighting systems on the market, but many wanted something bigger and quicker to acquire under stress. As a result, Trijicon engineers set about improving on the product, and in early 2008, the company debuted the RX30 Reflex.

This sight uses a much larger 42mm lens, which offers improved vision through the sight. This means speed and a wider field of view compared to other systems. While speed is not the “end all” reason behind the optic, it certainly is an asset when lives are on the line.

While most of Trijicon’s magnified optics are, of course, intended for longer range or precision use, the Reflex series is intended for the kind of close-range engagements that are endemic to police shootings. As a non-magnified unit, it is suitable for use with a variety of weapons systems such as carbines, submachine guns and shotguns, all of which are common police issue weapons.

When the unit arrived from the factory for testing, one of the first things we noted was the weight. While the overall sight weighs just 11 ounces, it feels incredibly solid. Manufactured from cast A356-T6 aluminum, the RX30 feels like it could be used to drive nails.

In order to best test the unit, we used it on a variety of common police issue weapon systems, including a patrol rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun. For the patrol rifle, we chose the newest offering from Sig Sauer, the 556 SWAT rifle. This 5.56mm rifle has a host of features that set it apart from others on the market, including a one-piece Picatinny rail along the top of the weapon for mounting sighting systems. For a shotgun, the ubiquitous Remington Model 870 shotgun equipped with Mesa Tactical’s excellent optics mount was chosen.

Although there are numerous mounting options for the RX30, one of the best is the A.R.M.S #15 dual throw lever. These quick-detach levers allow for the RX30 to be quickly mounted or dismounted from the weapon should the need ever arise. These levers never loosened during testing, nor did they become displaced.

Initial installation and sighting with the Sig Sauer 556 SWAT rifle was quick and easy. Simply choose where you wish the optic to set within your field of view, and place the RX30 on the full length rail. While some officers chose to place the sight close to their eyes in conventional mounting position, others find that placing the sight further down the rail allows for quicker target-to-target acquisition. While this may be a matter of personal perception, it is good to know that the RX30, due to the fact that it is parallax free, allows for any degree placement along the weapon that the officer chooses.

Overall accuracy is, of course, a function of a combination of the optical sight, the weapon and the shooter. Even still, the RX30 was deemed more than capable of the job at hand by those who tested the system. The test unit uses a 6.5 MOA dot. This is a dot that will cover 6.5 inches of the target at 100 yards. It is quick to pick up under stress.

Testing the unit on the 12-gauge Remington 870 with Mesa Tactical’s optics mount was simply a dream. While not many departments or officers equip shotguns with any type of sighting system other than the time proven bead or “open” rifle type sights, with the RX30 on board, the weapon became truly devastating.

At the ranges that shotguns are best employed, an illuminated sight can improve hit potential—especially with slugs—and speed of acquisition significantly. Despite the high degree of recoil associated with this weapon, there was no problem with the RX30 after numerous rounds were fired.

During the ongoing testing of the RX30 in a variety of different environments, the sight never failed to function and proved itself to be just as rugged as it feels. The only downside to the overall product that was noted was the fact that since it is powered using a tritium capsule and a fiber optic light-gathering system, at times in very low-light scenarios when a bright tactical light is used, the aiming dot would sometimes “wash” out.

This is because the tactical light is usually mounted well forward of the fiber optic light-gathering package. As such, there is no way that the fiber optics can absorb and transmit that light to intensify the dot. In daylight or where there is sufficient ambient light, there was no issue.

For issue weapons where battery life is expected to be a problem or for those who prefer something where no battery is needed, the RX30 is an excellent solution. With a tritium power source that is guaranteed for 15 years, the longevity of this unit is assured.

As with all other things manufactured by Trijicon, the quality is simply the best. For many patrol rifle shooters, this may become the optic of choice.

Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He and his partner, Sergeant Mick Williams, provide contract instruction on a wide range of subjects, including tactical and patrol-based skills. He can be reached at oldhams@bloomington.in.gov.

Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2009

Rating : 9.1


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