Seeing if a holographic weapons sight is for you?
We bought the two most popular holographic sights right now…plus a third underdog contender.
And we break them down into what we think is the best.
*Update*: Now we have 3 tested EOTechs too!
Holographic vs Red Dots
Without going too much into everything…why would you even want a holographic sight compared to a red dot? We have this super in-depth article for that.
Red dots (or reflex sights) operate by having an LED project a dot towards a lens, which is specially coated so that it bounces back towards your eye.
Check out our Best Red Dots Under $200 article.
Holographic sights use a laser transmitted hologram of a reticle through a series of lenses back to your eye.
If it looks more complicated…it’s because it is.
Since it uses a laser to transmit the reticle, it uses up more energy than a simple LED.
But because of that…
There’s a relatively unknown (but super important) distinction is that the reticle is projected outwards at the target instead of bounced back to your eye?
It makes for faster acquisition since your eye is not battling between focusing on a red dot at the optic distance vs the target.
With a holo you’re focusing on the target AND the reticle.
You also tend to get a bigger view window with holographic sights.
Oh…and even if your entire front lens gets destroyed…your holo will still keep on chuggin’.
There’s more reasons we go over in Red Dots vs Holographic. But for now, onto our favorites…
Best Holographic Sights
1. EOTech EXPS2-0
EOTech is the giant in the holographic sight game.
Sure, they had a little snafu a few years back about thermal drift (where the reticle doesn’t return to zero if subjected to extreme temperatures). But they are back and better than ever.
If you’re still worried about the thermal drift (all sights, red dot or holo, have them)…check out EOTech’s response for their new sights.
It has a big rectangular window that is very clear. And the famous 68 MOA circle with a 1 MOA dot in the center. Minute of Angle (MOA) means that at 100 yards, the big circle will cover 68 inches while the center dot will cover 1 inch.
All holographic sights will look a little fuzzy but that’s perfectly normal from the technology. When you have both your eyes open and are shooting at targets…it doesn’t affect anything.
Here it is at the range. I had trouble getting clear shots of the reticle in high brightness. But it works great even in the sunniest of days in the desert.
And a better image of it inside.
The shorter EOTech’s have a couple variants…but I like the EXPS2-0 compared to the regular XPS line since it is 1/3 co-witness which doesn’t get in the way as much if you have irons or backup irons (Best AR-15 Backup Irons).
It also has a robust quick detach (QD) rail system and the buttons on the side (essential if you’re going to run magnifiers).
The 2-0 designates that it is the 68 MOA circle with 1 MOA center. A must if you ask me. If you’re running night vision, opt for the EXPS3-0 which has some settings for NVGs.
Here’s a video of it in action with a little simulated head movement to show how it’s devoid of almost all parallax (moving your head will keep the reticle on the same location).
The reticle makes it super easy for close up shots when I used the optic for pistol caliber carbine (PCC) competitions. While the 1 MOA dot was useful for farther plate racks.
I even took it on and off a couple of times while testing and it always stayed in zero (plate racks at 25 yards).
And how about some extreme abuse? We water submerged it, cycled it through cold/hot, dropped it, and then shot it with different loads.
And it survived like the best of them in our High End Optics Torture Test series.
My choice for best overall holographic weapons sight.
- 11.3 Oz
- 10 ft waterproof
- CR123A Battery
- 600 hours battery life
- Not NVG Compatible
What do you think?
2. Vortex AMG UH-1
The AMG UH-1 is a newish sight from Vortex and is the only real holographic contender to EOTech. It’s affectionately known as the “Huey” because of the UH-1 designation.
Built like a tank…it looks like it’s much bigger than the EXPS but it’s about the same length. The extra hood that protects everything makes it seem much larger.
Since it’s new, it doesn’t have the military track record of the EOTech but so far no major complaints besides a first initial batch that had some reticle flaring that is now fixed. Plus it’s Vortex so it has a lifetime transferable warranty.
Speaking of reticles…the Huey’s reticle is my favorite out of the bunch. Still has the large circle for CQB (close quarters combat) but also has a nice triangle chevron at the bottom for shorter engagements.
I set my zero at 25 yards for the shorter PCC competitions…but if you zero at the standard 100 yards…the triangle will really help. Also has a great integrated QD mount that maintained zero between testing.
One thing I gotta knock it down for is…the greenish tint. It’s a lot more apparent than the EOTech which if it has one…is nearly imperceptible.
It didn’t matter too much during actual shooting…but looking at it by itself it bugs me a little.
Another downside is that the buttons are on the back so it might also interfere with magnifiers.
However, one cool thing is that it has a rechargeable battery inside that you can charge through USB.
I tried it out to see if it works…and it does. But realistically I’m not sure if I’m really going to be plugging in my upper to my computer when swapping batteries seems so much easier.
Speaking of batteries…the AMG UH-1 has a sweet 1500 hour battery life compared to the EOTech’s 600 hours.
Overall, my runner-up if you want to get into the holographic sight game at a slightly lower entry fee.
- 11.8 Oz
- 10 ft waterproof
- CR123A Battery
- 1500 hours battery life
- Not NVG Compatible
3. EOTech Model 512
Back to the EOTechs…the Model 512 is their most popular since it’s their most affordable.
It’s longer since it uses AA batteries which are normally easier to find than CR123 in the newer EOTech models.
You’ll get up to 1000 hours of battery life with a lithium AA and a matching 600 hours with regular alkaline AA.
It also uses a screw attachment instead of the quick-detach system of the EXPS2-0. That means it weighs less, costs less, and gives you absolute co-witness.
- 11.5 Oz
- 10 feet water resistance
- AA Batteries: 1000 hours on lithium, 600 on alkaline
4. EOTech XPS2-0
We’re back to the “newer” smaller EOTech design with the XPS2-0.
Like the Model 512, the XPS2-0 is screw based so you save a couple bucks vs the QD mounted EXPS2-0 version.
The buttons are also moved to the front which works easier for most applications but if you plan on adding a magnifier…it’s better to have the extra height and buttons to the side of the EXPS2-0.
My pick if you don’t plan on moving your optic a lot, not using a magnifier, and want to save a few bucks with the new EOTech model.
- 9.0 Oz
- 10 feet water resistance
- CR123 Battery at 600 hours
5. Holosun 510C
Ok…it’s technically NOT a holographic sight.
But instead the Holosun 510C brings together the best of both worlds by using energy-saving LED technology and the reticle found in holographic sights.
Longer battery life and a sweet reticle that isn’t “fuzzy” like normal holographic sights.
The center is a 2 MOA while the outside ring is 65 MOA. You can also cycle between using the dot only, ring only, or the combo.
However, it does have a greenish hue on par with the Vortex. Again, it was hard to get good pictures at the range.
If you’re solely looking for the circle and dot reticle (and not the slightly increased acquisition speed)…you can’t go wrong with this optic.
It’s crisp and nearly parallax free like its brethren.
AND with a 50,000 hour battery life since it runs off LED and not lasers. PLUS it has solar capability that switches in the sun so you aren’t running off batteries. FINALLY, it’s lighter and has a smaller profile.
Buttons are on the side for easy access and also has a QD attachment system that also maintains zero. Has NVG capabilities but is less waterproof than the others.
My pick for the best worth-it “holographic-esque” sight.
- 8.3 Oz
- 1 meter (IP67)
- CR2032 Battery
- 50,000 hours battery life
- NVG Compatible (10 day and 2 NVG)
And now they have their “Elite” version which has a green reticle. I haven’t tried it extensively but it does help your eye see the reticle a little faster.
If you’re looking for something more than a simple red dot…holographic sights are the way to go.
The big player and my favorite model is the EOTech EXPS2-0 which has the clearest glass, great button placement, and decent battery life.
If you want to go with EOTech but save a few bucks…go with the Model 512 which is a little longer and heavier.
My runner-up is the Vortex AMG UH-1 which is built tough, has my favorite reticle, has a longer battery life, but has a greenish hue.
Lastly…if you’re interested in the holographic reticle, go with the Holosun 510C which sports an impressive 50K battery life.
Did we miss any holographic sights out there? If you’re set on EOTechs and want to see even more models…check out our Best EOTech Models.