Best Holographic Sight

Holographic sights are a relatively new thing. Expanding the capabilities of the more traditional reflex red dot sights, the holographic sight offers a handful of advantages over them that for some buyers may make it a more enticing buy. 


For other buyers, though, they may find themselves happier with a reflex sight instead. To help you make the most informed decision, I'm going to dig into what holographic sights are, what makes them tick, and what to look for. 


I'm also going to cover the best holographic sights on the market today so that you can make the most informed buy possible.


Best Overall (Top Pick)

EOTech 512

​Weight

11.5 oz

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

143x51x64

​Waterproof Depth

3 m

​Night Vision

No

Battery Life

1,000 hours continuous at highest setting

​Lens Cover Type

None included

​Approximate Cost

$400 or less, $480 retail


EOTech is a giant in the world of holographic sights. After all, they developed the first ones. The 512 is their most popular model and, by extension, one of the most popular holographic sights out there. This isn’t for bad reason - quite the contrary, actually.


The 512 sets the standard for holographic sights extremely convincingly. With a bright and clear reticle and a massive field of view, acquiring targets is incredibly fast and intuitive. It’s compact and lightweight so it stays out of your way. It is powered by a single AA battery, making it extremely versatile.


Not everything is perfect - the lack of night vision is a downer, and the battery life could be better. But overall, this is the best holographic sight on the market in terms of sheer quality-to-price.


Best Budget Buy

Burris FastFire III


​Weight

0.9 oz

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

48.2x25.4x25.4

​Waterproof Depth

​3 m

​Night Vision

​No

Battery Life

Up to 10,000 hours

​Lens Cover Type

Detachable

​Approximate Cost

Less than $220

The Burris FastFire III is one of the other leading not-so-holo sights. Burris has a reputation for making excellent optics and this one is absolutely no exception.


The FastFire III comes packed with an massive field of view, an excellent battery life, and a huge amount of bang for your buck.


This is probably one of the cheapest sights on the entire list, coming in at only around $210. The only downside is that it has an irregular battery and it scratches a bit easily.


Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec

​Weight

8 ounces

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

61mm long, box is 134.6x83.8x55.9

​Waterproof Depth

Full immersion protection

​Night Vision

​No

Battery Life

3000 hours

​Lens Cover Type

N/A

​Approximate Cost

$240

The Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec is a great sight. However, it’s not a true holographic sight, which is what this list is all about.


You do get a unique reticle that’s prime for fast acquisition, though. Sightmark does a really great job of combining quality and price in this rig. It’s simple, high quality, and all around just a really enjoyable experience.


Is it as good as holographic sights that will cost 3 times as much? No. But it’s not supposed to be. This is an awesome choice for a quasi-holographic experience.


How to Choose a Holographic Sight

List the features that are important, for what uses, how to balance up cost versus function. What features are critical, what are nice to haves etc.

As I said earlier, since holographic sights are ultimately just a subclass of red dot sights, there’s going to be a lot of overlap in terms of what you’re looking for. Here I'm going to be taking a look at some of the essential things you want in a holographic sight. I'm also going to be talking about other factors that go into choosing one, like cost and functionality.

1. Reticle and Brightness

The reticle is the biggest draw of holographic sights. Even sights that try to emulate holographic sights, like we’ll talk about in a second, are just mimicking the reticle style more than anything else. You need to ensure that whatever sight you’re looking at has a sufficiently large range of brightness settings for you to be able to use the sight in whatever situation may call. With holographic sights, reticle size doesn’t matter so much particularly because it will always be the same, regardless of magnification. However, you still want to get something that’s comfortable for you to use.

2. True Holo vs Not

There are a number of sights available on the market that aren’t actually true holo sights - that is, the technology used within isn’t exactly as sophisticated as the tech of a holo sight. However, they try to take advantage of the popularity of holo sights by developing sights that are more of reflex sights while offering similarly diverse reticles and the holographic sight’s super-fast acquisition.


One of the things to be wary of between the two is that since these sights often don’t work using the same mechanism as more traditional holographic sights, they often don’t magnify nearly as well. Additionally, because of the different mechanism for emitting the red dot, they sometimes don’t offer as clear of a reticle as true holographic sights do.


Bearing all of that in mind, it’s specifically these things that make sights which aren’t true holo more appealing. Because of the fact that the construction isn’t nearly as complex, the costs of sights which simply emulate the experience of using a holographic sight isn’t anywhere near as high as their true holo counterparts.

3. Brightness Variation

Brightness variation is also going to be really important if you’re looking for a versatile sight. Having an optic with the potential for really bright dots is important for daytime shooting if you don’t want your light to be washed out. Likewise, when shooting at night or in low-light, if your light is too bright, it may be jarring and even make it hard to see and focus on your target.


Likewise, if you’re aiming to do night shooting, a night vision compatible red dot with brightness settings that are low enough to not turn off your night vision is important.

4. Build Quality

Build quality is a major consideration. Since a lot of the situations where you’ll want to use a holographic sight are tactical or defensive, you certainly want to be sure that they can take a beating. It doesn’t matter how good of a sight you buy if it breaks easily and you can’t use it after a small accident.

5. Optics Quality

Optics quality goes without saying, but it’s still something that you want to take into consideration. When it comes to the optics of a given sight, you want to be sure that it has little to no visual distortion. Many of the companies on this list, like EOTech and Vortex, are renowned for using great glass without breaking your bank. One of the perks of holographic sights is that they tend to have nice wide fields of view, which gives you a lot of visual space within the sight and helps keep your immersion from breaking when looking down it.

6. 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.

7. Quality of Life

There are a bunch of small things to consider in terms of quality-of-life that actually add up a lot over the long-term.

8. Weighing Price Agains 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.

How does a holographic sight work?

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.

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.


On the other hand, the scope is, well, a scope. It’s more primed for what it’s meant to be used for, which usually comes down to things along the lines of sniping or long-range hunting. In those situations, a holographic sight wouldn’t really be optimal either. On the other hand, in a lot of the situations where you would want a holographic sight, scopes aren’t going to be too appropriate either. So in essence, consider what you’re going to be using it for. Are you going to be in tactical situations or using the sight for home defense? In that case, 100% you should opt for a holographic sight.

What is the difference between holographic and red dots sights?

As a short introduction, holographic sights differ from reflex sights in a few basic ways. First and foremost, they have an entirely different way of handling their reticle. We’ll get into the specifics of this later, but the holographic sight’s reticle is designed to acquire a little faster and also to play more nicely with magnification. On top of this, holographic sights generally are a little bigger with a more robust technology driving them.


At the end of the day though, they are just another type of red dot sight. Because of this, a lot of the things that you look for in red dot sights generally, you’re going to be looking for in a holographic sight. Things like battery life, reticle size, and ease of use, among many others, will be the core factors in your purchasing decision.


Holographic sights aren’t for everybody. They tend to cost a little more and some of the benefits that they offer over other kinds of red dot sights are pretty 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 $400, 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. 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’re really functional for that purpose as well.

Best True Holo Sights

EOTech EXPS3 

​Weight

11.2 oz

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

96.5 x58.4x73.7

​Waterproof Depth

Water resistant to 10m

​Night Vision

Compatible

Battery Life

1,000 hours

​Lens Cover Type

Flip-up, attached

​Approximate Cost

$600 to $700

The EXPS is a profoundly full-functioned holographic sight. It’s got all kinds of little quality-of-life perks, like an auto-off function, fantastic controls, and ease of adjustment and zeroing.


In terms of glass and the overall construction, the sight is second to none in the price range. The only drawbacks are that the battery life could be better and it’s a little bulkier than would probably be ideal. But on the other hand, it’s an incredible sight all around. I really think it’s worth every penny, the only problem is that it’s a little on the pricier side.


EOTech 552

​Weight

11.5 oz

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

143 x51x64

​Waterproof Depth

Resistant to 10m

​Night Vision

Yes

Battery Life

Up to 2,500 hours

​Lens Cover Type

None included

​Approximate Cost

$560

Once upon a time, we did a comparison of the 512 and the 552. The 552 is slightly more expensive, but it also gets you night vision compatibility, more brightness settings, and a much longer battery life. All that for only $50 more makes it a better buy if you’ve got the income to throw around.


Other than that, the two models are pretty similar, so if you don’t have a need for night vision compatibility and you don’t mind changing batteries more often, you might opt for the 512 over this.


Best Holo-Like Sights

Holosun 510C

​Weight

8 oz

Size (LxWxH in inches)

4.8 x 3.6 x 3.1 inches 

​Waterproof Depth

Partial waterproofing

​Night Vision

No

Battery Life

Up to 50,000 hours

​Lens Cover Type

n/a

​Approximate Cost

$300-330

The Holosun 510C isn’t a true holographic sight. However, it does have a nice circle-dot reticle similar to those on true holographic sights that lets you similarly acquire with speed and ease.


On top of that, the Holosun 510C is just generally a good sight. The glass is extremely clear and the sight is a joy to use between that and its great reticle. With a fairly good battery life, top-tier construction, and clever design, the 510C is an awesome option that a lot of shooters will love. 


Trijicon RMR 

​Weight

1.02 oz

​Size (LxWxH in mm)

46x28x25

​Waterproof Depth

20 meters

​Night Vision

No

Battery Life

2 years during normal use

​Lens Cover Type

Detachable

​Approximate Cost

At least $350, more likely over $400

The Trijicon RMR is a staple in its own right, and we’ve actually done comparisons of the RMR with the 512 before, if that gives you any idea of how often this sight is compared with holographic sights. In that sense, even though it’s not a true holographic sight, it definitely keeps up with the competition.


It offers a lot of the versatility and speedy acquisition of true holographic sights. It’s not perfect, and it is a little on the pricey side - almost $500 dollars a pop. Stiff buttons can complicate usage, but a fantastic automatic brightness feature makes this a non-issue. Other than that, it’s low profile, useful in a lot of situations, and not a half-bad purchase.


Summary

There’s to be honest not a tremendous amount of variety in the holographic sights market. There are a few major players that are leading it big time - Vortex and EOTech, mainly - and then a lot of companies that are trying to latch on to the appeal of them by making reflex sights that are similar but not quite holographic sights.


The good thing is that those two major players make ridiculously good holographic sights and they both have an insanely good reputation. The only problem is that they do come with a little bit of a sticker shock. If you’re wanting to use your sight for more than close-quarters shooting, then I would definitely recommend that you try to get a holographic sight. They behave a lot more reliably at range, don’t fight magnification, and they generally have great quality glass and a huge field of view. You can trust the customer service at both Vortex and EOTech, as well.


If you do decide to grab a cheaper sight that just emulates the holographic experience, then some of those are really excellent as well. The Trijicon RMR is probably the best known of those, but if you’re really in a financial bind then you can get one of the Sightmark options, which are cheaper but are a good option for the money.

Overall, holographic sights are a relatively novel kind of red dot sight. They’re pushing the boundaries of what red dot sights are and what they can do. If you opot to grab one, you probably won’t regret it, and you certainly won’t using this guide.