Holographic sights are one of those optics that most people just don’t truly understand. Just because something looks like a holographic sight doesn’t mean that it actually is. Eotech is the only true manufacturer of holographic sights the rest are reflex/red dot sights. That doesn’t mean that Eotech clones are bad. It just means that they use a different type of technology. Whether you like them better will largely depend on whether or not you have an astigmatism or other vision problems.
Holographic vs Reflex/Red Dot Sights
You’ll notice a significant difference not only in how they perform, but how your eyes perceive the sight. Many people that aren’t able to use a red dot can use a holographic sight and vice versa. Holographic sights really aren’t all that common. Eotech has the patent on holographic sights so they are the only ones you will actually see.
Holographic Sights: Holographic sights use a laser image projected onto a screen. Holographic sights tend to have more advanced reticle designs. These advanced designs allow you to have quicker target acquisition speeds and more precise aim. Eotech sight pictures are normally larger and allow a more forgiving eye alignment to still get off the shot. Since the hologram window consists of one flat glass panel without a reflective coating you’ll have a more natural look and less glare. Reducing the reflection and glare should help shooters with vision problems like astigmatism. The biggest drawback is that they tend to have a much shorter battery life than similarly priced red dots. Another advantage of holosights is their functionality if damaged. If you crack the glass on an Eotech you’ll continue to see a reticle on a red dot your shit out of luck.
Reflex/Red Dot Sights: Reflex and Red dot sights typically have a reflected image from a LED on a curved glass surface. The reticle will typically look like a simple either red or green dot. Depending on the light intensity you might notice halos or ghosting.
What’s The Best Holographic Sight? (Clones are At The Bottom)
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If you’re looking for a true holographic sight you need to buy a Eotech. Eotech is the original holosight manufacturer and holds the patent on the technology. They’ve been producing holographic weapon optics since the 90’s and have perfected their craft. XPS2 is Eotech’s smallest sight and it’s the perfect for your AR15. Featuring a large sight picture and clear hud like display.
Eotech’s XPS2 holosight is one of Eotech’s best selling sights. It’s their version of a no nonsense compact weapon sight. It’s the shortest smallest and lightest Eotech model yet. It’s size and weight make it a convenient choice for law enforcement and hunters alike. The compact design leaves more rail space for magnifiers and even rear iron sights. XPS2 has the exact same body as the more expensive XPS3 model, but it lacks night vision compatibility. By using a true co-witness you’ll have more visibility of your iron sights. Being Eotech’s best selling sight means that there are more reticle options available. The XPS2-0 is their most popular option featuring a circular reticle with a center dot. Other reticle options are listed in the photo below. You can also get this sight with a green reticle if you prefer. It runs off of a single lithium 123 battery and offers up to 600 hours of continuous battery life. Since Eotech designed these sights to be used by the military they can stand up to some serious abuse. Submersible up to 10 feet and built to take some serious dings. One often overlooked feature that I really like is the 8 hour shut off feature. It’s the perfect amount of time for the law enforcement community. Turn it on at the beginning of your shift and it will be ready when you need it.
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Side by side it would be tough to tell the Eotech XPS3 apart from the XPS2. If it wasn’t for the night vision button I don’t think I could. Since it’s so similar I won’t go overly in depth into the intricacies of the XPS3 but I will tell you a few differences.
Eotech’s XPS3 sight was designed to be used with night vision. So if you don’t plan on ever buying night vision save some money and go with the XPS2. It’s rated to work with any night vision scope on the market from Gen 1 through III+ night vision devices. You can control the brightness of your sight with the 20 daylight settings and 10 additional settings for night vision mode. You’ll have a clear and bright sight picture regardless of the time of day. Eotech also eliminated a few reticles from their lineup which is a bit of a disappointment. Due to the thicker glass compared to the XPS2 this sight has a better water resistance rating. It’s submersible up to 33ft which I will hopefully never have to test. You’re choice is simple if you want a night vision scope get the XPS3 otherwise save your money and get the XPS2.
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Eotech’s EXPS2 weapon sight is another great option for shooters looking for a holosight. It offers a true 2 eyes open shooting and a great targeting experience. As the name implies the EXPS2 is a direct competitor to the XPS2. However there are a few noticeable differences.
Looking at the Eotech EXPS2 you’ll notice that it was designed to work better with magnifiers. The first thing that you’ll likely notice is that it includes side controls. Side controls make using a magnifier much easier compared to the rear controls on the XPS2. You won’t have to move the magnifier out of the way to adjust the brightness. It also sits a little bit higher thanks to the Quick detach lever designed for easier mounting. Higher seating means that you’ll have a lower 1/3 co-witness. Personally I like the lower 1/3 co-witness because it clears up your sight picture. This model lacks night vision compatibility, but you can get a similar model with night compatibility if you buy the EXPS3. There are 2 reticle options currently available and Eotech’s been saying that they will be releasing a green version in Late Spring 2018.
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Eotech’s 512 model has been around since early 2010 and it’s the cheapest model currently available. It’s much larger than the current models and doesn’t give you a forward co-witness option. However it definitely has a few advantages over other models.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about the 512 is that it has a long tube sticking out of the back end. You’re aren’t going to be able to have a traditional forward co-witness thanks to this oversized battery area. It takes up a little rail space and forces you to choose between a rear co-witness and magnifier. The good thing is this extra battery room means it can take two standard AA batteries. Not only are the batteries readily available they also extend the battery life from 600 hours to 1000. You only have the one standard reticle option, but you choose between a black or camo housing. Available in both Realtree and Mossy Oak camo patterns. If you’re looking for night vision compatibility you’re out of luck. You’ll have to buy the 552 which costs a bit more.
Eotech Clone Reflex Sights
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It’s really difficult to truly classify the Holosun Reflex Sight as a clone, but I figured it would be worth a mention. Holosun’s really isn’t much cheaper than the Eotech, but uses a very similar design with a traditional red dot projection system. However it does give you the circle dot which is one of the main reasons why I like Eotech sights.
So the real question is why would anybody choose the Holosun over an Eotech. The price is very similar so what’s it’s appeal over a true holographic sight. The biggest advantage that Holosun has over Eotech is its battery life. With a battery life of over 50,000 hours. So you could leave it on continuously for a little over 5 years before you have to change the battery. That’s a huge difference compared to the 600 hour battery life on the Eotech XPS2. Holosun uses an extremely robust housing that will offer you years of trustworthy service. Featuring a huge clear sight picture and a reticle color changing feature. Even though the reticle looks like an Eotech it’s tough to compare the two. A true holographic reticle just looks clearer than the reflection seen in red dots. That being said I can definitely see why some people choose the Holosun over Eotech.
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Sightmark’s Ultra Shot Plus really is nice for a clone. It’s a significantly cheaper option than even the cheapest Eotech. Through the years Sightmark has been selling a ton of these sights and I can see why. It really does look like an Eotech and offers a large and clear sight picture. This is a great option if your looking for great reticles and a durable design.
Most people don’t really care if their sight uses a true holographic optic. If you don’t notice ghosting on red dots you might as well get a durable clone. The outward appearance looks very similar to the XPS2 with a few noticeable advantages. It has side controls that allow you power it on and adjust the brightness levels. You’ll also notice that Sightmark included a quick-detach lever which is a huge plus at this price. The cast aluminum alloy housing protects the sight from impact, but doesn’t protect it from water damage. The really cool thing about Eotech clones is that you don’t have to choose just one reticle. You can change between a red or green color and 4 different reticles. For the money you aren’t going to be disappointed by the Sightmark Ultra shot plus.
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Ade Advanced Optics Crusader sight is another cheap alternative to the Eotech. Honestly I don’t have a lot of experience with Ade Advanced Optics, but a lot of people seem to love them. I know that they’re loved in the Air Soft community and look pretty robust.
The real question is can this cheap sight hold up to real recoil? It can definitely withstand the recoil of an AR15 and most other moderate recoil rifles. I definitely would pay a little more for the Sightmark if you plan on mounting it on a home defense shotgun or powerful hunting rifle. Featuring 8 different kinds of reticles(5 brightness settings) and options for a red or green reticle. It will give you a lot of fun at the range, but I don’t think it will handle serious abuse. However it is waterproof and relatively shockproof so it should handle the occasional short drop. It’s compatable with magnifiers and is small enough to co-witness with iron sights. For the money the Ade Advanced Optics Crusader is well worth a try.
Differences Between Eotech Sights
With all the different abbreviations and numbers it can be difficult to differentiate all the subtle differences between these sights. The main differences you need to consider are reticle type/color, battery type, night vision compatability, and Co-witness type.
Reticle Type/Color: what really gets people confused about Eotech sights is the reticle type. Since Eotech’s use a holographic projection you have to choose your desired reticle ahead of time. All of their sights have different reticle options and are designated by the number after the model. So if you’re looking at their XPS2-0 sight the 2 represents the model number and the 0 represents the reticle type. Make sure you match the product number to the corresponding reticles listed above.
Battery Type: Battery type is another feature that you’re going to have to consider. You’re going to have to choose between sights using standard AA batteries(512,518,552,558) and the more compact 123 lithium battery(XPS Series). Sights that use AA batteries have a longer 1000 battery life(compared to 600) but have a massive protrusion coming out the end to hold them. You’ll have issues co-witnessing your sight and using a magnifier at the same time. The XPS and EXPS series of optics use the smaller 123 lithium battery and come in a compact and lightweight body. It gives you more rail space for co-witnessing or maybe even a laser sight.
Night Vision Compatibility: Night vision sight compatibility is going to cost a little extra and only comes on a few of the sights. It’s available on the XPS3, EXPS3, Model 552, and Model 558.
Co-Witness Type: You need to choose what type of co-witness you want on your rifle. Some of the sights offer a true co-witness while others sit a little higher offering a lower 1/3 co-witness. Personally I like the lower 1/3 co-witness because it clears up your sight picture a bit. The XPS sights offer a true co-witness while the EXPS sights offer a lower 1/3. Since the EXPS sights have a quick detach lever it has to sit up a little bit higher.