Best Holographic Sight: Review & Comparison

Holographic sights have first appeared on the brink of the 21st century, introducing a new technology as an alternative to the red-dot sights. For the last twenty years, EOTech had been the only manufacturer to produce holographic sights and have led the way in their innovation and usage, but were joined in the market by Vortex in 2017. 

To help you make the most informed purchasing decision, I’m going to cover the best holographic sights on the market today so that you can make the most informed purchase possible. Following the recommendations, I will go into detail on what exactly a holographic sight is, what makes them unique, and things to look for.

I need to emphasise that there are currently many fake holographic sights on the market, and that you should always be aware of which seller is providing the product, and what the return policy and warranties are like, to avoid receiving a knock-off product.

Best Holographic Sight 2020: Our Picks

EOTech EXPS2

Weight11.2 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)96.5 x 58.4 x 73.7
​Waterproof Depth3 m
​Night VisionNo
Battery Life1,000 hours continuous hours at nominal setting
​Lens Cover TypeNone included

You will probably notice that this list contains a lot of EOTech models, with EXPS2 being our top pick. EOTech is not only a giant in the world of holographic sights, but has also made some of the first models, giving them plenty of time to improve and redesign their models. 

What I love about the EXPS2 is the inherent build quality, backed by a 10 year limited warranty, lighting fast acquisition of targets and excellent reticle. The “E” in EXPS2 stands for Enhanced, characterized by the Side button operation and Quick detach level, features which are well worth the small price difference compared to the XPS2. 

It will not hold you back from shooting with both eyes open, and the best part is, even when the lens is partially shattered or fouled, EXPS2 will still function and stay precise. The 68 MOA ring comes with one or two 1 MOA dot reticles, with a minimal price difference between them.

Twenty brightness settings will let you adapt to any part of the day, however the lack of night-vision capability does come off as a drawback for some.


EOTech EXPS3  

Weight11.2 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)96.5 x 58.4 x 73.7
​Waterproof Depth​10 m
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery Life1,000 hours continuous hours at nominal setting
​Lens Cover TypeNone included

The EOTech EXPS3 holographic sight is essentially the same as the EXPS2, and while this model could have easily been the top pick, I decided that the night vision compatibility is not worth the extra cost for the average user. 

However, if this feature is important to you, it is worth pointing out that EXPS3 comes with multiple brightness options, which cannot be detected by the opposing night-vision surveillance systems, and exceptional clarity in the dark. 

Much like the EXPS2, it comes with Side button operation and Quick detach lever, but also much improved water resistance, and additional brightness settings for night vision capability.

The main drawback of the EXPS3 is the price of additional 1 MOA dot reticles. The 68 MOA ring comes with a higher price difference between one or two 1 MOA dot reticles, while the exclusive option of four 1 MOA dots ramps up the price to nearly double the initial cost.

Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II  

Weight11.0 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)99 x 53.3 x 68.6
​Waterproof DepthFull immersion protection
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery LifeNot specified
​Lens Cover TypeNone

If you’re looking for a high-end optic but EOTech are not for you, I’ve got you covered. Vortex Optics AMG UH-1 Gen II is a true holographic sight designed for military and law enforcement personnel, a high-end model with several features that make it stand out from its competition.

Dedicated night-vision button lets you select one of the four night vision settings, with instant recall to the last daylight setting used. Sight picture consists of a segmented ring with a triangle at the bottom, designed to be used in close quarter combat, while a 1 MOA dot reticle is centered to provide high-precision for longer range.

Windage and Elevation are fully adjustable, battery is removable without tools, and the integrated 14-hour timer will turn off the optic if no button is pressed. As expected, quick-release mount is integrated and lets you attach and detach the sight in just a few seconds.

My main problem with the AMG UH-1 Gen II is the high price, making it the most expensive conventional option on our list. Another thing we’ve noticed is that the windage and elevation can only be adjusted by a flat-shaped object or a coin, which is most likely a choice made to make the unit smaller. 

Holosun HS510C  

Weight8.3 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)120.6 x 79.2 x 91.7
​Waterproof DepthPartial Waterproofing
​Night VisionNo
Battery Life50,000 hours
​Lens Cover TypeNone

For those on a tight budget, Holosun provides a holo-like reflex variant with advanced LED technology that provides similar results to those of a proper holographic optic. A feature which I really like is the option to use the 65 MOA circle and the two 1 MOA dots interchangeably, or combined. Surprisingly, it also comes with a solar powering, which will take over from the battery under sufficient sunlight. 

All of those features are great, but if there is one thing that makes the Holosun optic really stand out from the rest, it is the 50 thousand hours of operation on a single battery, placing it miles ahead of the true-holo options.

While it is definitely worth its price, keep in mind that this is not a holographic sight in its essence, but depending on the type of shooting you plan on doing, it might prove sufficient.

EOTech 512  

Weight11.5 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)143 x 51 x 64
​Waterproof Depth3m
​Night VisionNo
Battery Life2200-2500 continuous hours at nominal setting
​Lens Cover TypeNone

No holographic sight list would truly be complete without the EOTech 512, the set standard for high-quality and one of the most popular models on the market. 68 MOA ring with a 1 MOA dot reticle allows for fast sighting and excellent clarity. All of the EOTech features are there: shatter and dirt adapting reticle, high precision at any range, and two eyes shooting.

There are some reasons why the 512 is becoming out of date. The lack of night vision compatibility, quick detach lever, as well as the large size and weight are things improved on by the models coming after it. Still, these are not dealbreaking shortcomings by any means, and I can still safely recommend this optic.

EOTech HHS III Hybrid  

Weight25 oz
​Size (LxWxH in mm)234 x 59 x 83.9
​Waterproof Depth3m
​Night VisionNo
Battery Life2200-2500 continuous hours at nominal setting
​Lens Cover TypeNone

An interesting option offered by EOTech is their HHS III, a merge of 518-2 holographic sight with a G33 magnifying optics. The 518-2 comes with a 68 MOA ring and two 1 Moa dot reticles, and is similar to the EOTech 512, sporting the same features. G33 magnifier provides 3x magnification and has a vertical pivot point, allowing you to swap quickly between close range and long range shooting. It has the quick-detach lever, so it’s quick and easy to remove completely.

This is certainly a great combination, and comes cheaper than the individual components, however, I would rather choose a different holographic sight if it was available in the bundle. The 518-2 is great, but is rather heavy, and when combined with the magnifier, it makes for a considerable chunk of weight to carry on your weapon. Still, if you’d like the best combination of sights and magnifier for the money, this ranks pretty high on the list. 

How to Choose a Holographic Sight

Given that EOTech holds a near monopoly on the market, choosing a holographic sight will come down to selecting one of their models, or Vortex’s current, or previous generation of the Vortex AMG UH-1. With that in mind, we can go over the most important distinctions between them, and compare them to the alternatives. But first, I will explain how holographic technology works. 

Holographic sight versus red-dot

So, at first glance, you may think that a primary difference between a red dot sight and a holographic sight just comes down to the different reticles: the holographic sight has a circular reticle where the red dot just has, well, a red dot. But in reality, the mechanics of the holographic sight are far more intricate than those of the red dot.

While red dots simply bounce the light back at you by pointing a light emitter at the front glass of the optic, holographic sights use a dense series of different mirrors in order to actually bounce a hologram of the light back at you without using the front glass at all. The end result is that you aren’t dealing directly with the red dot, but rather with the image of one.

This makes a big difference for a lot of reasons. First, where red dots typically can’t be smaller than 2 MOA due to the way they work off of reflecting light beams, the holographic can reach down as far as 1 MOA. Additionally, when you put a magnifier on a red dot, the entire dot gets bigger. But when you put it on a holographic, the dot stays the same. This is basically because the actual light being emitted from a holographic sight is incredibly small.

This also makes a difference in terms of acquisition. Red dots acquire slightly slower than holographic sights do because red dots are an actual image to be focused on while holographic sights have their reticle imposed onto the environment. Basically, instead of your eyes having to pick between the dot and target, the reticle becomes part of the target.

Holographic sights aren’t for everybody. They tend to cost more and some of the benefits that they offer over other kinds of red dot sights can be marginal. But for the right shooter, holographic sights are the perfect option. The right shooter is somebody who is wanting an optic that acquires quickly and who wants to leave magnification open as an option. Additionally, they should ideally have a budget of at least $500, as quality holographic sights don’t really come much cheaper than that. If any of these don’t apply to you as much, then maybe consider getting a normal reflex red dot sight instead.

This class of sights really shines in defensive and tactical situations. When you’re in a position where seconds count, you can generally trust a holographic sight to acquire extremely quickly, provide highly accurate shots, and just all around have your back even in the toughest of binds. In serious competition shooting, it will also provide an advantage which would, over several targets, surely be measurable. For people who just want a fun sight for plinking in the backyard, they’re probably overkill. However, if you expect to be doing varmint tagging or similar kinds of pest control, they fit well into that role as well.

Reticle and Brightness

The biggest advantage of a holographic sight is the sharp and small circle and dot, which when imposed on the target, end up providing a more superior sight picture. Made for serious marksmanship and magnifying, holographic sights can come with 1, 2, or 4 dots, to be used at different ranges. Vortex’s solution uses part of the ring for close quarter combat, while the dot can be used for precision shooting at longer ranges. You will find at least 10-20 brightness options on these sights, which is more than plenty to adapt to conditions of any part of the day. 

Here’s where the misconceptions, and issues appear. There’s a considerable number of sellers who intentionally market reflex sights as holo-sights, as well as creating fakes. This results in poor opinion of the holographic sights by people who assume they’re using them.

While reflex sights do look like holo-sights, they work with a completely different technology, and aren’t comparable with proper holo-sight. Words such as LED and reflex, battery time in tens of thousands of hours, as well as customer reviews are all a good tip-off that you’re looking at a reflex sight. With EOTech, fakes have started appearing, and are being sold at full price. EOTech is based in the US, and their products should not go through customs or have import stamps if you’re buying them in the US, something which several consumers noticed. I must insist on only purchasing from their official store, to avoid getting a sub-par product.

Night Vision

A big selling point of a holographic sight, is the compatibility with night-vision goggles. Selecting the night vision mode will not only let you see it clearly, but prevent anyone opposite of you from detecting it. This high tech feature might not prove usable for you, but for hunts and gun competitions held at night, it is near essential.

Build Quality

Holographic sights stand out from the competition by being designed from start for professional use. As such, they’re extremely well made, rugged and durable, with highly resistant glass. Fouling by snow or mud, or even cracking or breaking will not stop EOTech sights from functioning. Instead, the reticle point will move to the usable part of the lens, letting you carry on with your task. 

Customer Service

One of the most underrated aspects of buying a new sight is ensuring that the company you’re buying from has nice customer service. This can include things like an extensive enough warranty to cover any defects or damage that may happen, and just generally being easy to reach when you have any questions about your product.

Having a great warranty is maybe the most important thing. It’s better to have the protection of an extensive warranty and not need it than to need it and not have it. While the chances are low if you buy something off of this list that you’ll need it, you do want to know for a fact that you’ll be taken care of if it comes down to the wire.

Weighing Price Against Quality

One question that a lot of people ask is “how do you weigh price against quality when it comes to holographic sights?” Honestly, for most people who want a holographic sight, you can get everything you may want for under $500. Some people who are in tactical situations where they’ll be in CQB in a variety of ambient lighting conditions or within a lot of different parameters may have a reason to shoot up a little higher in price, but most people won’t.

What holographic sight does the military use?

The military typically uses the EOTech 552 or the Trijicon RMR. These aren’t the only ones, though. The EOTech 552 is by far the more common of the two, however.

What is MOA?

MOA, in short, determines the size of your reticle. Rather, it refers to the size of your reticle relative to the environment. MOA stands in for “Minutes of Angle” . A bigger MOA reticle will be, well, bigger.

Do holographic sights work with shotguns?

Yep! Holographic sights work with much of anything. They may be a little too bulky for some handguns, but I digress. With shotguns, they should work just fine provided you have a proper mounting setup.

Do I need a laser with my holographic sight?

Nope. You don’t need a laser at all, and there aren’t a whole lot of benefits from going out of your way to grab one, either.

Do I need a holographic sight or a scope?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re wanting exactly. A holographic sight on its own is usually fine for use out as far as 400 yards, and the reticle helps you with ranging up to there, as well. With added magnification, you can easily extend this range by two times. You still end up getting the quick acquisition that holographic sights are known for when you aren’t using the magnification.

The beauty of holographic sights is that the two can be used in conjunction, with EOTech even having sight and magnifier bundles. As long as you do your research, you can get a compatible magnifier at a later date, and use the holographic sight only for the time being. 

Summary

Currently, the market is very limited in choice of manufacturer, with EOTech still dominating with the larger range of products. Decision to buy a holographic sight is a serious one, as they’re pricier and offer specific advantages to the alternatives. As long as you can effectively use the benefits of a holographic sight, going for one is a smart move.

Luckily, both EOTech and Vortex make high quality products for serious clientele, so there’s no need to worry about getting the short stick in a purchase. Excellent build quality, sharp image, magnification and night vision compatibility put it above the rest. Ability to run while damaged can be incredibly important if your line of work might include returning fire, though I hope you won’t ever need to use this feature.

I hope this article has helped you get a clearer picture of holographic sights, and if you’ve decided on a purchase, we’ve assisted you with that as well!