We thought it was about time Target Tamers purchased an EOTech. So, we bought it online just like everyone else does.
We chose one of the three most popular models, the EXPS3. The 512 and XPS2 were close contenders.
The EXPS3 holographic sight is “not a red dot.” The E before XPS designates it as the most costly and extreme HWS sight currently available by EOTech. A laser diode illuminates the “donut of death” reticle. It’s a high-performing, dependable optic for the most demanding applications and conditions.
The fear of landing a fake EOTech raises anxiety levels, so I was sure to do my part and check out the most common signs of what to look for in a counterfeit. As part of this review, I’ll clue you in on what those steps are.
Here’s how the field test went down!
What We Like: Build quality
What We Don’t Like: Battery life
Best Uses: CQB, Hunting, Law Enforcement, Home Defense, SHTF, Competition, Short to Mid-Range, Small to Medium Calibers, Shotguns, Use with Night Vision
- Magnification: 1x
- Coatings: FMC
- Eye Relief: Unlimited
- Reticle: -0 (1 MOA dot/68 MOA ring)
- Adjustments: 0.5 MOA
- Battery Life: 1000 hours
- Dimensions: 3.8 x 2.3 x 2.9”/11.2 oz
- Mount: Quick detach
Our Verdict: Overall, the EOTech EXPS3-0 is a set-it and forget-it sight that is easy to use and fast to employ. It has specialty features that makes it suitable for professional applications in the worst conditions. For the money, it holds value for applications when the demands and risks are high.
Who is the EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Sight Best Suited to?
In general, the EXPS3 is suited to the novice as it is to the experienced shooter and holographic sight user. However, the budget tends to put it out of the justifiable budget limits and needs of a novice or recreational shooter.
Due to the quality and rapid target acquisition system of the EOTech reticle and large viewing window, it’s suitable for many applications. These include professional use like law enforcement, military, and is also excellent for competition, hunting, home defense, and SHTF engagements even in the worst conditions.
For casual applications like range work and hunting small game, it has more than you’ll ever need for the job. Value would be better found in a budget red dot sight.
Designed for CQB work, the EXPS3 can also be used out to 200 and 300 yards in the hands of a practiced shooter.
How Does the EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Sight Perform?
Overall, the EOTech EXPS3 does not fail to impress. It’s designed to perform rapidly and accurately in close to mid-range distances. It has build quality that can be relied upon and dot visibility that is ideal for the conditions.
I’ve taken the EXPS3 to the range more than a few times. It’s been mounted to a M&P 15/22 and two AR-15s shooting 5.56mm rounds.
The last of the AR-15s, an FN-15, is what it will stay on and was zeroed to 100 yards. It was used at the bench with a front rest, no rear rest, and used standing, kneeling, and prone. Both myself and a LEO worked with the EOtech at the range using the same bulk ammo throughout the entire process.
Because of all the work I do with it in between range visits, I remove it and work with it a lot. On the last range trip, the EXPS3 did not hold zero to about 1-2 MOA from my last groupings. Is that harsh for me to judge those couple low inches?
It’s definitely a shooter and mounting issue, not an optic issue, but it really does reinforce needing to pay close attention to consistent mounting, positioning, and torquing if it must be removed.
One thing that is important to mention relates to the turrets. They’re supposed to positively click in both counter and clockwise adjustments. Mine do in the clockwise positions but seem a tad soft in the counterclockwise direction. I don’t like that but I’m not keen on sending it in.
I found out via EOTech that there is a cup where a tiny coil spring lies, and the advice is to put a small amount of WD-40 on the turret dials to remove any debris on that spring. If that doesn’t work to improve positive clicks, it needs to be sent in. What a shame for a brand new and expensive piece of gear!
Thanks to the HUD design with a large 1.2 x 0.85” viewing window, it’s an organic and natural reaction to keep both eyes open which is especially useful in engagements where mobility is required. It’s by far the easiest sight I’ve used with both eyes open.
I’ve had it on for at least two months now, and the battery is still good. Of course, it hasn’t been in constant use over that period, so the auto-off has been doing its job.
Features & Benefits
The EXPS3 is a rugged holographic sight with an aluminum hood that covers the optics and most of the body. It’s nitrogen-purged for fog-proofness and is rated for submersion to a depth of 33 feet. The holo sight is made in Michigan, USA – an indicator of a genuine EOTech.
I’ve used it repeatedly in the rain from light dribbles to thundering storms. I zeroed it to 100 yards in a downpour. I’ve had no issues from using it while wet. Droplets did get on the front lens more so than the rear. Since the glass was wet, I went ahead and wiped it dry as needed with a microfiber cloth to clear the FOV.
Despite popular belief, the EXPS3 features anti-reflective coatings, so you will never want to wipe it dry with a dry cloth. Though reasonably compact and lightweight at 3.8” long and 11.2 oz in weight, it’s too bulky for handguns.
It can function even with damage to the lens and handles impact and shock as torture tests online prove.
If you figure you’ll need the kind of performance required in extreme climates to where thermal drift could be a legitimate problem, I can’t speak to that. All optics experience thermal drift, and other than the Vortex AMG UH-1, there isn’t another alternative for better performance amongst holographic sights.
Reticle & Astigmatism
In general, the donut of death reticle is one of the most recognizable features of a holographic sight, namely, EOTech. This EXPS3 is the -0 model, the -0 indicating that it has the 1 MOA dot with a 68 MOA ring. Other reticle options include the -2 with two dots and the -4 with 4 dots.
It’s a very fast reticle-on-target sight where the outer ring grabs your attention. Floating in the huge FOV, it’s easily the fastest sight to use in the industry.
You can use the reticle for range estimation. Basically, a 5’8” target, like a person, would fill the 68 MOA ring at 100 yards.
The reticle is also calibrated for the .223, so you can use the aiming dot for 50 and 200 yards and the bottom of the ring for 7 yards. I’m not shooting .223 caliber, 62 grain, 2,900 velocity loads, so it’s going to be different for me.
With a magnifier behind it, it did awesome. As expected, the reticle did get larger with the Sig Sauer Juliet 3x behind it. But, it’s still a 1 MOA dot given that it’s still only taking up 1” at 100 yards with 3x magnification.
As far as astigmatism goes, I had a LEO who has both astigmatism and near-sightedness test it out. He definitely did not see that dot as a dot without corrective lenses. With his glasses on, it was a non-issue.
For my far-sightedness, too much focus on that dot brought to life a slight smear even at very low illumination. But that minor compromise for being able to use it without my glasses but still maintain focus on faraway targets was more than worth it.
Optical & Illumination Quality
Overall, the glass is exceptionally clear. Not once were reflections and glare visible, and the reticle never failed. One telltale sign of a genuine EXPS3 is the lack of any visible illumination while looking through the front lens.
One thing people are worried about is the appearance of a fuzzy or pixelated reticle. It’s a hologram, so this is normal. Holding it in the hand and staring at the reticle makes it look worse, but this is the opposite of how it’s intended to be used.
I mounted it and focused on the dot on the target - the ring became extremely sharp. Even without mounting it, if you hold it in the hand and look at your target rather than obsessing over the reticle, it’ll bring it into sharp focus.
The EXPS3 has 20 daylight settings, and max illumination is daylight bright. With a wide range of adjustable intensities, it will always be right for the conditions and the job. I’ve never yet had to depend on max illumination for dot visibility.
There are 10 separate night vision-compatible settings safe for use with generation 1 through to 3+ IITs (Image Intensifier Tube). The NV settings are not visible to the naked eye. You will want to make sure that the EXPS3 is off first. Do not press the up or down buttons but instead press the NV button. This makes sure that you won’t toggle into normal mode and accidentally saturate the IIT.
The EXPS series has button controls on the left side of the body, and it comes with a quick detach mount that puts it at a lower 1/3 co-witness with AR sights. The QD mount makes things conveniently easy, and it fits Picatinny and 1” Weaver rails.
For those new to the EXPS3, the front of the sight is the protruding part with the battery compartment. This part faces out towards the target. The rear of the sight has a flat back and is the part that faces your eyes – it is where you will see the reticle through the glass.
There is a locking latch on the left side of the mount towards the front of the sight. You must push it in to lift the lever allowing it to expand and hook onto the rail. The crossbolt fits in between the rail slots, and you push the lever down in place. It fit tight to the rail right out of the box.
If you need to make adjustments to the fit, do not tighten/loosen it while it’s attached to the rail. You must have the lever open before tweaking the adjustment nut.
Overall, the battery runtime of 1,000 hours of the EXPS3 is significantly poorer than red dot sights and is half the runtime of a 5x Series EOTech like the HWS 512. The Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen 2 holographic sight has a runtime of 1,500 hours.
To help conserve battery life, the EXPS3 has automatic-off. By pressing the UP or NV button, it will automatically power down after eight hours of the last button push. By pressing the DOWN button, it will automatically power down after four hours of the last button push.
Though a convenient feature, you will want to invest in CR123A batteries as it’s highly recommended to keep spares on hand and change them out for upcoming missions and hunts.
The cost of the EOTech EXPS3 will always be a legitimate drawback. They’re expensive but for many a good reason. You’re either willing to put an investment in this setup or you’re not, especially if you’re considering an EOTech magnifier as well.
The EXPS3 is more expensive than even an Aimpoint or Trijicon, but it is a different optic altogether. There are pros and cons of both designs, and for the benefits of a holographic sight, you must pay more for it.
The EXPS is the upgraded version of the XPS. The XPS has a standard mount set for an absolute co-witness with sights and has rear button control. The EXPS has a QD mount set for a lower 1/3 co-witness and has side button control.
No optic is truly parallax free except for at the distance it is focally optimized for. This distance is rarely disclosed by the manufacturer. EOTech states that their holographic sights could have up to 14 MOA of parallax error across the entire viewing window.
During my hands-on field test, I experienced no issues regarding parallax. My point of impact was the same as my point of aim. I tested for parallax shift at 8 yards in a horizontal offset position putting the dot in the far left and right top corners of the viewing window (as you can see in the photos below).
At this distance (not necessarily in controlled testing conditions), there was an approx. 1” shift that is translated to 4” at 100 yards. Given the results, I’m satisfied that parallax will not be an issue for most applications.
Shake Awake is Holosun’s term for motion sensor technology. The EOTech EXPS3-0 does not have Shake Awake but has auto-off programmable technology. By pressing the UP or NV buttons to activate it, it automatically powers down after 8 hours of the last button press.
By pressing the DOWN button to activate, it automatically powers down after 4 hours of the last button press.
A genuine EOTech EXPS3 will only have one illumination, so one laser diode. When pressing the NV button, the reticle should seemingly disappear. It will not turn green as it does on counterfeit models.
Additionally, you should not see any illumination through the front glass of the sight (left photo below), and information such as the model number and where and when it’s made should be on the underside of the mount (right photo below).
The EXPS3 falls under the EOTech Prestige Limited Warranty and includes the electronics. It’s for 10 years, but conditions apply. The start of coverage is determined via proof of purchase date or from the date of manufacture according to the serial number stated on the underside of the sight.
Even after the whole fiasco with EOTech several years ago, they’ve still proven to be an incredibly popular brand. Regardless of their Vudu riflescopes and new reflex red dot sight, they’ve always been recognized for their holographic sights.
The EXPS3-0 is extremely fast, extremely tough, and is in every way, extremely EOTech.
Yes, the technology is expensive, but the fact that only EOTech and Vortex makes them affects price points, I’m sure.
In the end, the EXPS3 is such a formidable optic that it’s staying mounted to a duty AR-15 – the FN-15. Other than anticipating battery changes, it should serve a LEO well. Maybe an update in a year is warranted. I’ll keep you posted!