January 03, 2011
By David Fortier
TRUGLO is justifiably famous for its fiber optic sights, but it's moved into the riflescope business in a big way. And the company also now offers electronic red dot sights!
By David Fortier
Photography: Emily Fortier
TRUGLO has steadily grown and expanded its offerings since it was founded some 13 years ago. What began as a simple desire to improve the aiming pins on bow sights through the use of fiber optics has led to an array of additional products.
Tru-Brite 3-9X 44mm
Today TRUGLO still offers sights and accessories for bows, but it also makes sights for firearms. The company's bread-and-butter products are still fiber optic related, but TRUGLO also recently introduced economical red dot sights and magnified optics. Interested to see just how well these would perform I decided to take a closer look at this relatively new company.
I arranged to interview Paul LoRocco, the founder of TRUGLO. LoRocco has a very busy schedule but obliged me by providing a peek into how and why his company came into being.
LoRocco's background is in industrial/product design, and he has worked around the world. About 15 years ago he took up archery--and got the bug bad. Unfortunately fading eyesight held back his competitive nature. It's a grim fact of life that as we get older our eyesight begins to degrade. LoRocco wasn't about to go quietly.
Rather than adapting to hard-to-see sight pins on his bow he set out to improve them. But how? After some head scratching, he looked into fiber optics. For those of you unfamiliar with how fiber optics work, light is absorbed into the body of the fiber and channeled out the ends. Depending upon the ambient light, the ends of the fiber glow brightly. Best of all, no batteries or power source are required. The fiber simply absorbs any available ambient light and directs it to where it can be seen.
LoRocco eventually found the particular fiber optic technology that best suited his needs and then used it to build a bow sight. The result was an easy-to-see aiming point that was quick to pick up and very distinct. LoRocco realized he was onto something, and he and his daughter Lorraine formed TRUGLO in 1993. In the early days it was just the two of them doing everything from taking orders to assembling sights and shipping them out the door.
LoRocco confided he borrowed from his insurance policy to get the company up and running.
His gamble paid off. Fiber optic technology revolutionized bow sights, and TRUGLO fiber optic sights proved to be hugely popular with archers. As TRUGLO grew the company began to look at other uses for the technology. Next they began to develop sights for shotguns, which led to their turkey sights. Handgun and rifle sights soon followed. Now, I have a confession, when I first had a chance to paw over TRUGLO's firearm sights I dismissed them as being a gimmick.
This attitude lasted until I had a chance to actually use them during a Primedia Editorial Roundtable at PASA Park in Barry, Illinois. As I remember, the sights were mounted onto a Springfield match pistol built by Springfield's custom shop. My initial reaction was shock. I mean, that front sight was bright! It soon became obvious that concentrating on the front sight is dramatically easier when it's bright enough to really catch your attention. Although I wasn't instantly turned into a Robbie Leatham-class shooter, I was impressed by how the fiber optic sights performed in bright sunlight.
TRUGLO scopes, except the Infinity series, come with flip-up lens covers with amber lenses.
Next TRUGLO began work on taking its fiber optic sights to the next level. To accomplish this they developed and patented technology to combine their fiber optics with tritium. The result was TRUGLO's Tritium/Fiber Optic (TFO) sights. For those of you unfamiliar with tritium, it's an isotope of hydrogen that glows in the dark.
By combining fiber optics with tritium TRUGLO was able to develop a sight that was highly visible in both bright light and total darkness. No batteries are required, there's nothing to turn on or forget to turn off, it's always ready, and the tritium will last for years. These sights are intended to bridge the gap between competition orientated and self-defense sights.
From developing TFO iron sights TRUGLO took a big step out of the box and introduced a line of economical red dot sights. Designed to be well within the reach of your average blue-collar worker, these sights are made in Asia to TRUGLO's specifications. Models are available with objective lenses running from 25mm to 45mm, multiple reticles, and dual red/green reticle colors. For recreational shooters and hunters they offer a number of interesting features for a relatively small outlay of that hard-earned lucre.
After introducing red dot sights the next step for TRUGLO was to bring out a line of riflescopes. This was accomplished with the help of an optical engineer with more than 20 years on-the-ground experience in Asia who, working as a consultant to TRUGLO, provided the needed expertise.
Tru-Brite scopes feature dual color illuminated reticles. The color and intensity of the reticle are controlled by a rheostat located on the eyepiece.
With this enginer's help TRUGLO has introduced three distinct families of riflescopes: Maxus, Infinity, and Tru-Brite. Like its red dot sights, TRUGLO's riflescopes are produced to the company's specifications, and standards, at a plant in China. To ensure a quality product TRUGLO approves all assembly techniques, and they require certain key components to be U.S. made for increased durability.
In addition, after the riflescopes are assembled, a 100-percent quality control check is performed by American-trained third-party inspection teams who follow JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) or ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) protocols to ensure the end product meets TRUGLO's criteria.
I arranged to have four different models of TRUGLO's new riflescopes shipped to me for thorough review. They were subsequently put to work both on the rifle range and in the field to check their optical performance, repeatability, and durability. Although I am admitt
edly somewhat jaded against inexpensive Chinese scopes, I undertook this project with an open mind to see how these scopes would perform.
Maxus 3-9X 44mm Hunting Scope
TRUGLO's Maxus series consists of three models intended for the hunter and recreational shooter. Models consist of a 1.5-6X 44mm, a 3-9X 44mm, and a 3.5-10X 50mm. I chose the 3-9X 44mm model for review because its magnification range is traditionally American and it has appeal to your average big-game hunter.
Maxus 3-9X 44mm
This model came packed in a colorful box with a set of flip-up amber lens covers, lens cleaning cloth, limited lifetime warranty card, and well-written instruction manual.
Popping it out of the box I noted this model features a one-piece aluminum tube in the traditional 1-inch diameter with a nonreflective matte black finish. The lenses are fully multicoated, and TRUGLO claims a light transmission of 90 to 92 percent. Removing the elevation and windage caps reveals short, finger-adjustable turrets that resemble those used by Zeiss on the Conquest series.
The turrets on the Maxus scope are finger adjustable, and adjustments are in 1/4 MOA clicks.
Adjustments are in 1/4 MOA clicks with 15 MOA per full turret revolution. A simple but effective duplex-type reticle is fitted. This subtends 30 MOA when set at 4X, allowing rudimentary rangefinding, which is described in the owner's manual. In addition a fast focus eyepiece is mounted. Overall length is 12.6 inches, and this model weighs 15.8 ounces. Parallax is set at 100 yards, and the eye relief, which is a wee bit short for really hard-kicking rifles, is 3.25 inches. Field of view runs from 39 feet (3X) to 13 feet (9X) at 100 yards.
For an inexpensive hunting scope, the Maxus 3-9X 44mm has all the features a hunter could ask for. I detest coin-slot adjustment knobs and so greatly appreciated the user-friendly short turrets. I also like the fast focus eyepiece. External build quality looked good.
|MODEL||Maxus 3-9X 44mm Hunter|
|OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER||44mm|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (low)||39 feet|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (high)||13 feet|
|EYE RELIEF||3.25 inches|
Optically the Maxus performed well with good resolution right to the edges at 3X, which degraded slightly as the magnification was increased. Color rendition was good but slightly cool with a hint of blue. The scope zeroed without issue and performed perfectly during known distance shooting. No problems of any kind were encountered. It will definitely help you put meat in the freezer.
Infinity 6-24X 44mm Target & Varmint Scope
TRUGLO's Infinity series is a bit more specialized and consists of a 4-16X 44mm and a 6-24X 44mm. I picked the 6-24X to review as I felt it would be of the most interest to target shooters and varmint hunters interested in a target-type scope.
Infinity 6-24X 44mm
Like the Maxus the Infinity came packed in a colorful box with a lens cleaning cloth, limited lifetime warranty card, and instruction manual. It also had a set of target-style aluminum thread-on lens covers and a 3-inch-long thread-on sunshade.
Built on a 1-inch tube this model offers a European-like four-fold magnification increase running from 6X all the way up to 24X. The lenses are fully multicoated, and the field of view runs from 15.3 feet (6X) to 3.8 feet (24X) at 100 yards. To correct for parallax an adjustable objective is mounted.
It is marked from 15 yards to Infinity allowing use with both rimfire and centerfire rifles. The mechanism block sports capped target turrets featuring 1/8 MOA adjustments that provide 7 MOA per rotation and allow full turret rotations to be tracked. Total elevation adjustment is over 60 MOA. A fine crosshair with target dot is fitted. The highest magnification scope TRUGLO offers, the Infinity 6-24X is 15.8 inches long and weighs 21 ounces. Finish is a nonreflective matte black.
(Right) The Infinity 6-24X 44mm has an adjustable objective and comes with aluminum thread-on lens covers and a sunshade. (Left) The Infinity also features target-type turrets with 1/8 MOA adjustments.
Out of the box the Infinity 6-24X 44mm looked good, but the screw slot on the magnification ring was ever so slightly buggered. Although the windage knob featured nice distinct c
licks the elevation knob was a bit mushy. Optical performance at 6X was quite good, but this slowly degraded and began to drop off past 20X. Color rendition was good but on the warm side with a hint of red.
|MODEL||Infinity 6-24X 44mm Target & Varmint|
|OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER||44mm|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (low)||15.3 feet|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (high)||3.8 feet|
|EYE RELIEF||3.25 inches|
When used at the end of the day while the sun was setting, piercing counterlight created some internal flare, but less than I expected from a scope in this price range. Mounted onto a rifle the Infinity zeroed without incident and passed a simple box target test. Changing magnification also had no effect on point of impact. Depending upon the light conditions, this scope (thanks in part to its 44mm objective) is at its best when the magnification is not pushed past 18 to 20X.
No problems were experienced during testing, and the Infinity performed better than expected. While adjustable objectives are a bit old school, I prefer them on an inexpensive scope because they are simpler with less components and a more robust design with less to go wrong. The thread-on aluminum lens covers and sunshade are a nice touch. My only question is how well the leaf spring adjustments will maintain their repeatability over time.
Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm & 3-9X 44mm Hunting Scopes
The flagship of TRUGLO's scope line is the Tru-Brite series. This scope family consists of four models: 4X 32mm, 1.5-5X 32mm, 2-7X 32mm, and 3-9X 44mm. They all feature three-piece achromatic objective lenses to improve color correction and contrast. In addition they also feature dual color illuminated reticles.
Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm
Intensity and color, either red or green, are controlled by a rheostat located on the eyepiece. Each color has five progressively brighter intensity settings. These models are all water/fog proof, nitrogen gas filled, and shock resistant to 1000g. All four models are also built on 1-inch-diameter one-piece tubes machined from aircraft-grade aluminum.
(Right) The Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm has a fast focus eyepiece and a rheostat that controls reticle color and intensity. (Left) The Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm also has easy to adjust low-profile turrets with 1/4 MOA adjustments.
I tested two models from this line: the 1.5-5X 32mm finished in Realtree Hardwoods HD camouflage and the 3-9X 44mm with a matte black finish. Both scopes came with instruction manuals, limited lifetime warranty cards, amber flip-up lens covers, lens cleaning cloth, and a CR2032 3-volt lithium battery.
The Tru-Brite models offer a step up in build quality compared to the Maxus and Infinity models. Both feature fast focus eyepieces and short, capped target turrets. Adjustments are in 1/4 MOA clicks, 15 MOA per full turret rotation with more than 75 MOA available. Both models came with crosshair reticles. Eye relief on the 1.5-5X is 3.75 inches, and it's 3.5 inches for the 3-9X. Field of view runs from 60.2 feet (1.5X) to 22.5 feet (5X) on the 1.5-5X and 36.7 feet (3X) to 12 feet (9X) on the 3-9X. A little heavier than conventional models, the 1.5-5X weighs 17.5 ounces and the 3-9X weighs 21.2 ounces.
The Tru-Brite 3-9X 44mm comes with low-profile turrets with 1/4 MOA adjustments.
Optical performance of these two models, as to be expected, was the best of the bunch. Color rendition was neutral, and resolution was good almost out to the edges of the image. Possibly due to the achromatic lenses, I did notice some barrel distortion in the image. The illuminated reticle feature worked well on both models, allowing me to quickly adjust my reticle intensity and select the more appropriate color.
|MODEL||Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm||Tru-Brite 3-9X 44mm|
|OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER||32mm||44mm|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (low)||60.2 feet||36.7 feet|
|FIELD OF VIEW at 100 YARDS (high)||22.5 feet||12 feet|
|EYE RELIEF||3.75 inches||3.5 inches|
|ADJUSTMENTS||1/4 MOA||1/4 MOA|
|LENGTH||10.5 inches||12.7 inches|
|WEIGHT:||17.5 ounces||12.7 ounces|
|FINISH:||Matte Black or Camo||Matte Black|
Of all the scopes tested my "pick of the litter" was TRUGLO's Tru-Brite 1.5-5X 32mm. A versatile optic, it would work well here in the Northeast on a slug gun or a short-range brush gun. It would also perform well on a semiautomatic carbine, such as a flattop AR-15. The downside to these two models is that due to the length of their eyepieces the rear ring has to be mounted fairly far forward. And there is little latitude for ring placement, especially on the 1.5-5X model.
More On The Way
Although I intended to review only riflescopes for this article, TRUGLO offered a look at a new model of a 2X red dot. Although the sample I had a chance to examine was a prototype, it allowed me to see what TRUGLO will be offering down the road.
Prototype 2X Electronic Dot Sight
Featuring a 40mm objective and an integral Weaver mount, this model will feature 2X magnification. In addition the shooter will be able to adjust the reticle intensity, via a rheostat, as well as the reticle's color--either red or green.
Plus, a turret on the side of the optic body allows the shooter to choose one of four reticles. Reticles include a standard dot, 15 MOA circle with crosshairs, circle with 3 MOA dot in the center, and standard crosshairs. This electronic dot sight is just 5.3 inches long and weighs 9.7 ounces. The main downside to a magnified electronic dot sight is a substantially smaller field of view, and TRUGLO lists this model's field of view at a fairly narrow 27 feet at 100 yards. I look forward to having a chance to review a production model once they become available.
TRUGLO has continued to grow and expand over the years, but it remains a family owned and operated company. Although it started out as a father-daughter venture, by 1996 the company had grown to the point where Paul and Lorraine needed help. So Paul's wife Louise came on board.
TRUGLO's new 2X electronic dot sight will come with four reticles in two colors, green or red.
Paul's son Tony joined in 2001, and now he runs the company's day-to-day business. Today the company is still based in Dallas, Texas, where it employs 50 workers in a new 25,000-square-foot facility. Paul intends the company to stay in the family, and Lorraine's 11-year-old son Matt has grown up in the industry.
Paul says, "He represents the future."