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What is a holographic sight? Are red dots and holo sights the same thing?
It’s acceptable to lump holographic sights in with the red dot market. After all, they look somewhat similar, they get you on target, and an illuminated reticle is always used.
But, if you’re okay with any ol’ sight that gets the job done, this isn’t the place for you.
Purists will appreciate that we’ve carefully screened our lineup to include an exclusive list of true holographic weapon sights.
No red dots, reflex, or prism sights will be found here.
QUICK LIST: 7 Best Holographic Sights in 2019
- Best Vortex Holographic Sight – Vortex Razor AMG UH-1
- Best Tactical Holographic Sight – EOTech HHS I EXPS3-4 w/G33 Magnifier
- Best Holographic Sight for AR-15 – EOTech XPS3
- Best Sight for Competition Shooting – EOTech XPS2
- Best Holographic Sight for AR-10 – EOTech 552.XR308
- Best Crossbow Holographic Sight – EOTech 512 XBOW
- Best EOTech Holographic Sight – EOTech 512
Our 7 Top Holographic Sights
|Vortex Razor AMG UH-1||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech HHS EXPS3-4 w/G33 Magnifier||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech XPS3||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech XPS2||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech 552.XR308||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech 512 XBOW||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|EOTech 512||VIEW ON AMAZON|
What is a holographic sight? A holographic image of a reticle is essentially “sandwiched” between lenses and illuminated by a laser diode. Looking through the sight, the reticle appears to be superimposed in the distance somewhere between the sight and the target.
What are the benefits of a holosight design?
- Fast target acquisition
- For close and long-range use
- In-focused picture due to simultaneous downrange focusing on target and reticle
- Heavy duty – can use with front lens damage
- Reticle remains the same size when used with a magnifier
But, there’s no ignoring the drawbacks.
- Price – they often start at $400 (approx.) for entry-level models
- Bulky – due to their design, they’re not equipped to be mounted to handguns
- Limited availability for true holographic sights
- Battery hog – laser diode requires a lot of power to operate
In the mid ’90s, EOTech was specifically created to bring holographic sights in a compact, rugged, and effective design for small arms to the commercial market. They may have been the only manufacturer of the holo sight and started the trend, but more recently, Vortex has joined the game. With only two manufacturers producing this type of sight, it restricts availability and likely prevents economical prices to the civilian consumer market.
To be fair, the holographic sight requires a sophisticated manufacturing process, and so it costs more than red dots. But, we’ll get into the differences between red dots and holographic sights later. For now, let’s get into this years latest and best holo sights you must consider!
Holographic Sight Reviews
Best Vortex Holographic Sight – Vortex Razor AMG UH-1
- The Razor AMG UH-1 represents a new paradigm in holographic sight technology with revolutionary technology, first class energy efficiency, and an impressive sight...
- A single fused holographic element with no moving parts delivers a sharp reticle image with zero distortion or fade. Eyepiece glare and visible stray light emissions are...
Vortex brings competition to EOTech’s front door with their revolutionary type of holographic technology. The Razor AMG UH-1 “sets a new standard for dynamic combat sights.” This is a strong statement proven true with this model.
- FHQ tech
- Integrated mount
- Micro USB port
- EBR-CQB reticle
Like a true holo sight, the AMG is rather bulky if you’re comparing it to a red dot sight for a handgun. It’s 11.8 oz and is 3.6″ in size.
The AMG is equipped with FHQ technology that reduces eyepiece glare and stray light from giving away your position. The sight is wrapped in Vortex’s ArmorTek coating to provide a protective, ultra-hard exterior against scratches, dirt, and oil, and of course, it’s shockproof to the hilt to hold up during impacts and recoil.
Built with an integrated quick detach mount, it can attach to any Weaver and Picatinny rail. You won’t have to detach it very often since you don’t have to remove it to replace the battery. The AMG comes with a micro USB port for battery recharging with an LFP123A battery. However, powering it with the LFP doesn’t provide as long-lasting life compared to a CR123A battery, so Vortex gives you the option of using both.
The EBR-CQB reticle features a 1 MOA center dot with a segmented circle and triangle bottom post. Use the dot to get zeroed for 25-400 yard shooting. Use the triangle for close quarter shooting for 10 yards and less.
With 1x magnification, 15 brightness settings, and rear-facing controls, this holo sight is ready for battle, 3-gun comps, and more. The Razor AMG UH-1 is welcome competition to the EOTech market.
Best Tactical Holographic Sight – EOTech HHS I EXPS3-4 w/G33 Magnifier
- EOTECH HHS I - Holographic Hybrid Sight includes EXPS3-4 sight wth G33 Magnifier
- Quick Transitions - Change quickly from close quarter to medium range targets with the included G33 Magnifier and Switch-to-Side mount
The HHS I (Holographic Hybrid Sight) EXPS3-4 comes with the G33 Magnifier. It’s the EXPS3 sight with the 4 dot reticle and the G33 to get long-range sight.
- Close-long range
- Side buttons
- NV compatible
- Includes magnifier
- Switch-to-side mount
Looking at the price alone, you’d wonder why you’re paying more for the EXPS3 HWS. However, you’re getting a 2-in-1 bundle with this buy. It might cost close to a grand, but the included G33 magnifier makes the difference.
The EXPS3 sight is 11.2 oz and is 3.8 x 2.3 x 2.9″ in size – slightly more compact than some other EOTech models. It has a side-loading battery compartment that takes 1x 123 lithium battery for 600 hours of use at nominal setting (12). There are a total of 30 brightness settings with 10 compatible with NV (Night Vision). The HHS will automatically shut down after 8 hours of non-use, but it’s also programmable to shut down after 4.
The reticle has 4x 1 MOA dots to provide holding over points for medium to long-range shots. Calibrated for the .223, it can reach out to 600 yards which you can easily do with the 3x G33 (Generation III 3x) magnifier.
It’s 3.9″ long, and fits to all holo sight models with a 7mm riser. Eye relief is rather restrictive with only 2.2″. The switch-to-side mount is especially convenient to move the magnifier out of the way and is ambidextrous by design. It has a 1.18″ (30 mm) height that clears most low-profile, flip-up, rear iron sights.
With everything put together, you have a holo sight that can give you the upper hand in any close quarter scenario to every long-range observational need.
Best Holographic Sight for AR-15 – EOTech XPS3
- EOTECH XPS3-0 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
- Night Vision Compatible - Works with all Gen 1-3 night vision devices
If you’re planning on seeing in the dark with your AR-15, you’ll want to upgrade your sight with an XPS3 model. The extra benefit of NV with all the same great features of the second generation models can be found right here.
- NV compatible
- Built-in mount
- Rear controls
What’s the difference between the XPS2 and the XPS3? The XPS3 is NV compatible since it’s built with 30 brightness settings that allows 10 of those to work with Gen 1-3 NV devices. What’s the difference between the XPS3 and the EXPS3? The EXPS3 has side button controls and a quick detach lever mount that this model lacks, but it’s slightly heavier at 11.2 oz.
The XPS3 is the smallest and lightest sight of all EOTech’s HWS. Weighing only 9 oz and is 3.8 x 2.1 x 2.5″ in size, it makes for a lightweight holo system leaving plenty of rail space for additional accessories on your AR-15, and yes, you’ll want to mount some extra gadgets. Built with an integrated 1″ weaver or Picatinny mount, it’ll fit your MSR easily.
Like all EOTech sights, it’s fog-resistant and waterproof. The XPS3 takes 1x 123 lithium battery that can provide up to 600 hours of continuous use. This model has the 68 MOA ring with 1 MOA center dot. Transition between 7 and 50 yards for CQB shooting and then ping steel out to 200 yards with the .223 calibrated reticle.
Since it’s NV compatible, works with a magnifier, and can co-witness with rear iron sights, the XPS3 is a versatile tool for many missions or hunts to come that’s perfect atop your flat top receiver. However, if you’re setting up a magnifier, the rear controls are virtually inaccessible. The EOTech G33 magnifier has a side-to-switch mount so pushing it out of the way will allow access to the rubber buttons.
The XPS3 has the basics, plus some. Its size, light weight, and durable body makes for the ideal kind of sight on top your AR-15.
Best Sight for Competition Shooting – EOTech XPS2
- EOTECH XPS2-0 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
- Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
What benefits do you need from your sight for 3-gun comps? Speed, accuracy, durability, and the ability to transition from close to long-range distances. If you’re on a tight budget for a holo sight, the XPS2 will fit the bill.
- Side controls
- Side-loading battery
- Quick detach lever
- Co-witness w/iron sights
- No preferred brightness setting on start-up
The XPS2 is made for 3-gun competitions, and it’s a cheaper option versus EOTech’s Hybrid models. To get you on target at speeds expected of a holo sight, this model has a the 68 MOA ring with 1 MOA center dot. With a .223, you can use the center dot for 50 and 200 yards and the bottom of the ring for close-range shots of 7 yards.
To see the reticle at its best in any condition, the XPS2 has 20 brightness levels to adjust to your preferred setting. However, you can’t save your preferred brightness setting as it will kick back to the default setting on start-up. Note: this is non-compatible with NV gear.
With a 123 lithium battery, you’ll have up to 600 hours of continuous use on nominal brightness setting at room temperature. A side-loading battery compartment with a threaded cap keeps the battery in place while keeping dirt, debris, and water out. The sight itself is only fog-resistant.
Due to the 2.9″ height of the XPS2, it’s capable of lower 1/3 co-witness with iron sights. The quick detach lever is a nice feature to have that makes mounting a quick and easy process.
While this sight can get you out to 300 yards faster and more accurately than iron sights alone, it is compatible with use of a magnifier for when you need easy transition for close to long-range shooting.
Best Holographic Sight for AR-10 – EOTech 552.XR308
- Optics: Transmission holography - parallax free; Magnification: 1x; Eye Relief: Unlimited; Length/Width/Height: 5.4"x1.8"x2.25" ; Weight: 10.9oz; Temperature: -40 to 150...
- Adjustment (per click): 0.5 MOA (1/2" at 100 yds); Adjustment Range: +/- 40 MOA travel
If you’re out hunting or shooting with an AR-1O chambered with .308 WIN cartridges, this is the holographic sight for you.
- NV compatible
- Battery life
- XR308 reticle
- Top loading battery
- Rear controls
The 552 holographic weapon sight is your all-purpose hunting sight that keeps you out even after the sun goes down. Designed with 30 brightness settings, 10 of those are compatible with most NV devices.
However, it may be more than awkward to make brightness adjustments and power on/off the device since controls are on the rear and not on the side like other popular models.
The XR308 reticle with 4x 1 MOA holdover dots was designed for the M240, but since no civilian is out hunting with a machine gun, it’s intended for use with .308 caliber 150 g M59 FMJ loads with a 24.8″ barrel – pretty specific, right?
Designed to be powered up with 2x AA batteries, you can expect up to 1000 hours of continuous use with lithium batteries or 600 hours with alkaline. However, with AA batteries, the 552 is on the bulky side with a long 5.6″ length.
Made in the USA, the 552 is one of the more affordable HWS from EOTech. If you’re scouring the market for a high-end red dot sight for hunting, the 552 makes for an easier and faster target acquisition sight to take down hogs and coyotes all night long.
Best Crossbow Holographic Sight – EOTech 512 XBOW
- EOTECH 512.XBOW - Holographic Weapon Sight in Back with XBOW Reticle
- Crossbow Specific - A pre-calculated ranging scale (in yards) is projected on the target and measures the back to the belly of a typical mature whitetail deer (18")
Get dead-on with the 512.XBOW reticle and ranging scale that are both illuminated through the HUD (Heads Up Display) of the 512 holographic sight. Even crossbow hunters need holo tech, too.
- XBOW reticle
- Ranging scale
- Battery life
- Rear controls
This holo sight is basically the 512 model with features made specifically for a crossbow hunter. The 512 features a top-loading battery compartment, 20 brightness settings, and requires 2x AA batteries to operate. It also offers up to 600-1000 hours of continuous use depending on the type of AA batteries you choose to use.
There are no brightness settings compatible with NV devices and controls are on the rear which may make it tedious to adjust reticle intensity.
The XBOW reticle has 4x 1 MOA dots. Use the center dot for your zero and the following ones for longer distances. When you need those longer distances, the built-in, illuminated ranging scale can help you nail the distance.
It’s designed to measure the back to the belly of a fully-grown whitetail deer. With it, you can judge the distance between you and your target from 20 to 60 yards in 10-yard increments. The top, center dot must be zeroed for 20 yards to effectively use the rangefinder assist feature.
Sitting in a tree stand measuring the distance has been made with the EOTech XBOW. Don’t risk spooking your target before you get the chance to let a bolt fly.
Best EOTech Holographic Sight – EOTech 512
- EOTECH 512.A65 - Holographic Weapon Sight in Back with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
- Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
The 512 is a long-time favorite, and we can see why. With an entry-level price tag (for a holo sight) and all the good ol’ tech you need to get dead-on in an instant, the 512 does it.
- Battery life
- 1 MOA dot
- 1x magnification
- Unlimited eye relief
The 512 takes 2 AA batteries to operate and this makes for a longer and heavier build. It’s 11.5 oz and 5.6 x 2 x 2.5″ in size. It’ll take up some rail space, but it’s still much shorter than a LPVO (low power variable optic).
You can depend on that juice to provide up to 1000 hours of continuous use with lithium batteries at brightness setting 12, or you can expect up to 600 hours with alkaline batteries. No need to detach the sight to replace batteries as it has a top-loading battery compartment with a cap latch.
To get zeroed, adjustments can be made with a coin or flathead screwdriver since it features the cross-slot style. All shooters can depend on their 512 holding zero unaffected by thermal drift as long as you’re not popping off rounds in extreme conditions. However, its aluminum hood and 10 ft submersible body was made to endure the abuse of extreme conditions.
The reticle is the popular 1 MOA dot with a 68 MOA ring intended for close-range and fast target acquisition shooting. This EOTech is compatible to mount to both 1″ Weaver and standard Picatinny rails.
With 20 brightness settings, widely available AA batteries, and a programmable 4 or 8 hour auto shut-off, the 512 is a simple and affordable holosight for both beginners and intermediate shooters.
What to Look for in a Holographic Sight System
The most popular question to be asked when looking to buy a holographic sight is how it differs from a red dot sight. Learn about that here and what features you need in a holo sight to get the right kind of features before you buy. They’re not cheap optics, so you want to get it right the first time you choose.
Holographic Sights VS Red Dots
With their HUD displays, small and compact builds, and unlimited eye relief, it can be really difficult to tell the difference between a holo sight and a red dot. Add to that consumer misconception about the two, and it gets even harder.
A red dot and holo sight both may use the iconic “red dot” aiming point, but they have two completely different systems. A red dot uses an LED to illuminate a projected dot on coated glass. Holo sights use a series of lasers and mirrors of a holographic image of a reticle that is sandwiched between glass. The appearance of the reticle to the eye seems to be projected in the distance either on the target or in between the target and the optic. Because of this type of technology, holo sights are easier to use as you’re focusing on the target itself and the reticle becomes crisp and clear.
Holographic sights can be used in extreme conditions such as when the front lens gets damaged.
It doesn’t hinder the internal mechanics that seems to project the reticle out into the field. They often have a wider field of view than red dots, and MOA size of the reticle does not increase in size if you pair your sight with a magnifier.
However, the drawbacks to using a holographic sight are often a red dot’s advantages. Red dot sights have a much lower starting price. They’re widely available because the technology is less costly and is uncomplicated compared to holos. LEDs don’t draw as much power as laser diodes and red dots can often be left on for 50,000 hours or 5 years. They’re also smaller and more compact and can be mounted to pistols. However, when used with a magnifier, the MOA size of the dot will increase in size.
While the differing features may not be of great concern to many consumers, the difference lies in the technology. Like many things, the choice between the two is a matter of preference.
Holographic sights are expensive optics often starting around $400 for base models. Combined in packages with other optics, such as a magnifier, they can cost $1000 (approx.) for the pair. Due to budget restrictions and perceived value, many opt for a higher-end red dot sight over the price of a base model holographic sight. A high-end holographic sight can cost over $600.
EOTech was the only manufacturer of holographic sights for the consumer market for shooting sports for just over a decade. Because of this, holo sight availability is limited. Vortex is now a player in the holographic sight industry, and it’s a hope of many that this will boost the holo sight market with a more extensive selection.
But, you may have seen many other sights marketed as holographic sights and with a very low price tags by other brands. These are not true holo sights and are red dot sights by definition if you look at the technology.
Additionally, be vendor-specific when buying a holographic sight as it is known fact that there are Chinese counterfeit products in circulation.
Holographic sights draw much more power to operate versus a red dot sight. Vortex provides a rechargeable battery option or a CR123 battery to operate the Razor AMG UH-1. EOTech models will require AA batteries or 123 lithium batteries.
Battery life will depend on usage, but holo sights in general are capable of providing 600-1000 hours of continuous use.
Reticles are a matter of preference. Most will incorporate a 1 MOA center dot as the aiming point and a circle surrounding it to rapidly draw the eye to the center. There are also reticle designs available with ballistic holdover dots, ranging scales, and various other options.
Holographic sights are small, if you’re comparing it to a rifle scope or even holo sights used in the military decades ago. However, when compared with red dots, they’re bulky in size and weight. They weigh around 11 oz with EOTech’s 9 oz XPS2 and XPS3 models weighing the lightest at 9 oz.
Because of the battery requirements and holo technology, they’re big compared to red dots. They’re typically around 3-4″ in height, 2-3″ in width, and 2-6″ in length – not compatible with pistols.
Field of View
Because of the HUD and rectangular window of the holo sight, they tend to offer a wider field of view than red dots. It makes it easier to use with both eyes open and head and cheek welds are easier to repeat and use. Red dots with smaller windows or even with the tube-style design may require you to get a little closer to focus and may be less forgiving with eye relief.
Notes: EOTech VS US Government
There’s a lot of talk and consumer misconception about the lawsuit against EOTech and the product recall in effect by the manufacturer, so we’ll briefly address it here.
In 2015, EOTech lost a lawsuit against the US Government for civil fraud. There were two, major issues that were brought to light: thermal drift and moisture incursion.
EOTech announced in April 2016 that they remedied the moisture incursion that caused lenses to fog up and reduce reticle brightness intensity. However, the thermal drift issue remains yet to be remedied. The issue is, in extreme temperatures, your zero can be off as much as 12″ at 300 yards.
One such thought is that battery-operated optics are often subject to operating temperatures of the batteries. As much as manufacturers can try to counteract this with various construction materials, builds, and protective features, it’s still prone to faulty operation. There’s also the issue of what constitutes extreme shifts in temperatures. For the average, recreational shooter, there is very little to no concern of thermal drift occurring. However, for extreme conditions that may be experienced in military operations, extreme Winter hunting, and such, this defect must be considered.
It also must be said that L-3 Communications (parent company of EOTech), “one of the largest defense companies in the US” is still under contract to provide clip-on optics and close-quarter sights. In fact, L3 announced in January 2019 that EOTech Optics won a $26.3 million contract by U.S. Special Operations Command. While this is rewarding news to the company, it’s not new news. EOTech has been outfitting the military since 2001.
Not everyone is ready to throw out or disregard EOTech. What will you choose?
With a Holo Sight . . .
With a holo sight, you have a 1 MOA dot, the smallest, available dot in the industry.
With a holo sight, you have a rectangular HUD display with an increased field of view to get on target without compromising situational awareness.
With a holo sight and use of a magnifier, your 1 MOA dot will always be 1 MOA to promote accuracy at all distances you dare shoot.
All this amounts to fast target acquisition, speed, and dependability.
With a holo sight, it’s just better.