I had a “Hey, old friend” moment the other day. In the deep, dark recesses of my gun safe sits an ancient PCC. It was the first AR I had ever assembled. It was in the time before Glock mags ruled the AR9 market, and while Glock lowers existed, they were expensive. I built the gun on an Anderson lower with a ProMag Colt SMG magazine block. My budget was tight at the time, and it was a cheap build. I remember seeing the Bushnell TRS-25 on sale for roughly 40 bucks at the time and grabbing it instantly. That was cheaper than iron sights!
This was probably six or seven years ago now, and the Bushnell TRS 25 has never left that PCC. I’ve purchased other TRS 25 red dots for friends and for test and review guns. It’s an optic that defied expectation. These days budget red dots are pretty damn good. Why anyone still purchases anything made by Pinty or Dagger Defense is beyond me. However, just a few years ago, budget red dots were often garbage tier.
The TRS 25 came along and said, nah, man, I’m pretty good. It turns out, yeah, it was pretty good. It’s still popular, but inflation has brought the price to about 60 bucks these days. That’s still pretty cheap, and it’s still a solid little optic. I’ve had one for years now and figured maybe it was a good time to give a long-term review.
The Bushnell TRS 25 – Who Is It For?
Is this a good optic for any form of duty use? No, not at all. It’s just not near as tough as you’d want for something facing a life of duty use. For home defense? Sure, maybe. If you train a lot, the optic might not hold up to a tough and rough training schedule.
There is also the fact the sight doesn’t have any easy way to turn it off. There is no motion-sensing auto shut-off or even a quick-press button design. It’s an old-school, stiff-as-hell-spinning dial. You might reach for it and either has to fiddle with the dial as a bad guy kicks the door in or risk it having dead batteries.
The TRS 25 is perfect for plinkers and even competition weapons where a breakage isn’t likely to result in someone dying. It’s solid in that regard and works well. The TRS 25 great when you are building a budget-ready rifle. It’s still cheaper than the lowest-priced set of respectable iron sights.
I’ve spent some time with some great red dots, and I’m not necessarily a snob, but after pulling out my old friend, I can see why it’s so cheap. The tint is heavy, like really heavy. It’s yellowed, giving the world a sepia tone. The dot is starburst enough to make you think you have astigmatism. The emitter takes up a portion of your view, and it’s not a big problem but a minor annoyance. Yet, it’s still perfectly useable.
It’s been on this cheap UTG riser on this cheap rifle for years now, and it still held zero. I lost an adjustment cap, lord knows how long ago, and it’s still not a problem. The optic fired right up with a replacement battery. I had left it on however long ago I put it away. The Bushnell TRS 25 does its basic job. It’s an aiming device, and it allows me to put 9mm projectiles on the target.
The Budget Blaster
This thing has been kicked around, dropped, traveled with, and kept in an ever-changing safe, and it still comes right on and maintains zero. The Bushnell TRS 25 was the first time a budget red dot really showed us that you didn’t have to buy an Aimpoint. There is a spot in between the duty grade crap tier. These days this genre is full of optics that are affordable, and part of the reason they’ve succeeded is that we trusted the TRS 25.