In search of a holographic weapon sight for your firearm?
We get it: that search can be a nightmare.
For one, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between holographic sights and reflex sights, and searches for recommendations tend to turn up more reflex sights than holo sights.
And when you do manage to track down a few actual holographic sights, how do you know what’s good and what’s not?
Why, you ask us, of course!
This handy guide will take all of the difficulty out of choosing a holographic sight. By the time we’re done, you’ll be able to choose not just a good sight, but the best holographic sight for you.
We’ll go over the basics of what exactly a best budget holographic sight is, how to choose one that fits your needs, and which holographic sights are the best on the market.
But that’s enough talking about it! Let’s get started.
EOTech 512 Holographic Sight
EOTECH Model 512
EOTech XPS2 Holographic Sight
EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Sight
EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Sight
Vortex Razor Gen II Holographic Sight
Vortex Razor Gen II
Holosun HS510C Sight
What Exactly Is a Holographic Sight?
Holographic sights are often confused with reflex or red dot sights, but these optical gun sights actually use different technology.
Holographic weapon sight use lasers and mirrors to project a holographic image onto the sight window. However, because the image is a hologram, the reticle appears as though it’s on the same visual plane as whatever you’re looking at through the sight. Contrast this to reflex sights that produce reticles that appear on the same plane as the objective lens.
They generally have a red circle dot style reticle, consisting of a center dot surrounded by a ring. The effect of this is that your target appears to have a little red dot on it and a big red circle around it.
All of this makes sighting and target acquisition much faster, easier, and more intuitive than trying to line up a reticle with a target that appears on a different visual plane. These are generally intended to be used with both eyes open.
Holographic sights are also better for shooters with astigmatism. The holographic grate that the laser bounces off of before forming the reticle acts like a polarizing filter, decreasing the amount of reflected light so shooters with astigmatism don’t see so much fuzziness on the reticle. However, some aberration is still to be expected.
Holographic rifle sights also tend to have a large sight window and wide field of view compared to most reflex sights. That, along with the holographic reticle, makes tactical holographic sights better suited for moving targets.
Like reflex sights, holo sights offer virtually unlimited eye relief. Similarly, most are advertised as parallax free, though none actually have absolutely no parallax. They can’t position your head for you to make sure that your eye, reticle, and target are all perfectly aligned. Realistically, they have very little parallax and you shouldn’t really notice it.
Also like reflex sights, holographic sights take up very little rail space, so they’re good for using alongside other accessories, like night vision or magnifiers.
Holographic sights are a popular choice for both handguns and rifles and are primarily used for close range purposes, like close quarter combat (CQC or CQB). They can be used alongside or instead of iron sights.
How Do You Choose the Best Holographic Sight?
Virtually all holo sights are made by the same company, EOTech. EOTech is the pioneer of holo sights and has been making them for about 25 years.
The only exception is a single holographic sight made by Vortex Optics. Vortex only came onto the holo sights market in 2017, but their optics have a great reputation and their holo sight has been well received.
So while both of these manufacturers make high quality sights, it means that there’s not a ton of diversity among the options available.
Budget, therefore, is your biggest consideration. These sights start at around $500 and can cost up to about $750.
I know, that’s a lot of money and not a huge range, but it is what it is. Many shooters think that the advantages that we discussed above are worth it if you have the cash to spend. Besides, that range still makes even high end holo sights cheaper than most rifle scopes.
If that’s still outside your price range, you may want to skip on down to the reflex sight recommendations for some options at a lower price point.
Once you’ve decided how much you’re willing to spend, you’ll have a few more things to think about.
One of the more straightforward is night vision. Do you want to be able to use it? If so, make sure you choose a holo sight that’s night vision compatible. If not, you can go either way, but you’ll probably save money by opting for a non-night vision compatible holographic sight.
You’ll also want to think about the battery. Larger or more numerous batteries generally give you longer battery life, but they come at the expense of greater weight.
Consider the sight’s mount as well. Both EOTech and Vortex holo sights have integral Picatinny /Weaver mounts, but only some have taller bases to allow for lower ⅓ co-witnessing with your iron sights. If that’s something you’re interested, you’ll want to make sure you get the right base for it or else get stuck having to buy the right riser.
Finally, you’ll need to think about the reticle. As I said above, the red circle dot reticle is the basic reticle style and virtually all holo sights have a model available with that style. However, there are also some variants. EOTech, for example, offers two and four dot variations that act as BDC reticles for extended range shooting.
You also need to think about color. Again, red is the standard, but some models and reticle patterns are also available in green.
Red allows for higher contrast in most settings, especially urban or wooded settings, but if your backdrop will typically contain a lot of warm colors, like in a desert or facing down sunrise or sunset, green will provide better contrast.
One thing you won’t have to consider is durability. Both EOTech and Vortex are known for their rugged optics, so you don’t have to dig to find one that’s waterproof or shockproof. In fact, EOTech holographic sights can even be used with a broken lens.
Now let’s move on to the recommendations.
Best Holographic Sights
1. EOTECH Model 512
EOTech is the biggest name in holo sights, so it only makes sense to start by talking about a few of their best.
The EOTech 512 is one of the brand’s most popular sights.
The reticle consists of a 1 MOA dot surrounded by a 68 MOA circle. Hash marks extend from the outside of the circle at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.
It features 20 brightness settings for you to choose from so you have options for most light conditions. It’s not night vision compatible, though. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the EOTech 552, which is the same sight but with night vision capabilities, or skip down to the EOTech EXPS3 on this list.
The EOTech 512 takes 2 1.5 V AA batteries and those batteries can be lithium, alkaline, or rechargeable batteries. It also has a long battery life, providing 2,500 continuous hours at brightness level 12 when using a lithium battery.
This holo sight features elevation and windage adjustment screws on the right hand side, while the rear brightness controls are good for left and right handed shooters.
Like all EOTech sights, the 512 is also quite rugged. It’s water-resistant when submerged up to 10 feet and has an aluminum hood to protect the optics.
It features an integrated mount that works with MIL-STD 1913 (Picatinny) rails and 1” Weaver rails.
The sight measures 5.6” x 2” x 2.5” and weighs 11.5 ounces, making it pretty average sized for a sight.
The price of EOTech 512 varies, so check the latest price at
2. EOTech XPS2
The EOTech XPS2 is the most compact and lightweight of EOTech’s holo sights and EOTech advertises it as being for law enforcement and civilians alike.
In contrast to the 512, the XPS2 measures 3.8” x 2.1” x 2.5” and weighs just 9 ounces. The compact size leaves plenty of rail space for iron sights or other accessories like the EOTech G33 magnifier.
This weapon’s sight means it uses a smaller battery, a single CR2032 battery. That in turn means that you don’t get the same battery life from the XPS2 as the 512. Though they both offer 20 brightness settings, the XPS2 only provides 1,000 hours of battery life, only about 40% of that of the EOTech 512 on the same setting.
Like the EOTech 512, the XPS2 is not night vision compatible.
The windage and elevation screws are on the right hand side of the sight for zeroing, while the brightness controls are on the left.
Aside from the compact size, where the XPS2 really shines in comparison to the 512 is in reticle options. The XPS2 comes in four different reticle patterns.
The XPS2-0 has the same 68 MOA ring and 1 MOA dot pattern as the EOTech 512, while the XPS2-0GRN has a green reticle in that same pattern. XPS2-1 has only the 1 MOA center dot with no outer ring. Finally, the XPS2-2 is almost the same as the XPS2-0, but with a second dot below the center dot to allow the user to compensate when doing more-long range shooting.
Like the EOTech 512, the XPS2 is water resistant to 10 feet and has a rugged aluminum hood. It also has the same integral mount that attaches to Picatinny and Weaver rails.
The price of EOTech XPS2 varies, so check the latest price at
3. EOTech EXPS3
The EOTech EXPS3 is very similar to the XPS2, but with a few key differences.
First, it’s night vision compatible with NVDs (night vision devices) gen 1 through gen III+. It has 20 daytime brightness settings, plus an additional 10 night vision settings, so it’s good for virtually all light conditions.
Second, it has a 7mm raised base that allows for lower third iron sight co-witnessing. This gives the EOTech EXPS3 an overall height of 2.9”, taller than both of the previous sights.
Like the bases of the other two EOTech sights that we’ve talked about, it attaches to Picatinny and Weaver rails, but this base has a locking, adjustable quick detach lever. That QD lever allows you to quickly remove the holo sight so you can use just your iron sights if the sight loses zero, loses power, or suffers from some other type of failure.
Also like the other two EOTech holo sights, the EXPS3 has an aluminum hood, but it’s even more water resistant than the other two and is able to be submerged up to 33 feet.
Like the XPS2, the EXPS3 uses one CR123 battery and has a 1,000 hour battery life. The brightness and night vision controls are on the left hand side, while the windage and elevation screws can be found on the right.
Aside from the taller height, the EOTech EXPS3 has similar dimensions to the XPS2. It’s 3.8” long and 2.3” wide. The taller base causes the EXPS3 to be heavier though: it weighs 11.2 ounces.
The EOTech EXPS3 is available in three reticle patterns. The EXPS3-0 has the plain circle dot reticle. The EXPS3-2 has the circle dot reticle with two dots, like the XPS2-2.
The EXPS3-4 is a similar style, but with four dots for even more precise and longer range shooting. The downside is that you may need a magnifier, like the G33 magnifier, to make the dots more distinguishable, especially for shooters with astigmatism. Fortunately, you can conveniently easily buy that particular combo with the EOTech HHS I Holographic Hybrid Sight.
The EXPS3-0 and EXPS3-2 models are available in both black and tan finishes, while the EXPS3-4 is only available with a black finish.
The price of EOTech EXPS3 Sight varies, so check the latest price at
The last EOTech holographic sight that we’re going to talk about is the EOTech EXPS2, the best ar15 holographic sight.
Not to be confused with the EOTech XPS2 or the EXPS3, the EOTech EXPS2 shares aspects of both of them.
Basically, it’s the same as the EXPS3 but without the night vision capability and increased water resistance. In fact, it actually has the exact same weight and dimensions as the EXPS3.
Alternatively, you could say that it's the same as the XPS2 but with a 7mm raised base with a QD lever.
It comes in three different reticle options. You can get it with the basic circle dot reticle in either red or green, or with the two dot variation in red.
You can also buy the EXPS2 as part of the EOTech HHS II Holographic Hybrid Sight, which includes the XPS2-2 and the G33 Magnifier. Magnifier has a switch-to-side mount, so this combo is great for quickly and easily transitioning between short and long range targets.
Since the other features have already been discussed when talking about the similar sights above, that’s all I’m going to say about the EOTech EXPS2.
EOTech EXPS 2-0
The price of EOTech EXPS2 varies, so check the latest price at
5. Vortex Optics AMG UH-1 GEN II
Vortex is the only other company that makes a true holo sight. They first came on to the market with the Vortex Optics Razor AMG UH-1, but they just released a new and improved replacement, the Vortex Optics AMG UH-1 Gen II. Both of these holographic gun sights have proven that Vortex has come into the market ready to provide EOTech with serious competition.
For one, it undercuts the price of most EOTech holo sights but $100 to $200, making the AMG UH-1 Gen II the best budget holo sight. That’s not to say that Vortex scimps on quality, though.
This tactical style holo sight has what Vortex calls an EBR-CQB reticle.
It’s similar to the circle dot reticles featured on the EOTech models, but has a 1 MOA dot surrounded by a 65 MOA ring with a triangle.
Like the EOTech reticle, this one has hash marks extending from the circle at the 12, 3, and 9 o’clock positions, but it has a triangle at the 6 o’clock position instead. It also has open sections in the ring from 1 to 2 o’clock and from 10 to 11 o’clock.
The optics are fully multicoated for a crisp, clear sight picture. They have an ArmorTek scratch-resistant lens coating. The sight also uses FHQ Technology, which eliminates stray light to prevent glare on the lenses.
The reticle has 15 brightness settings, including 4 night vision compatible settings. That means you don’t have as many setting options as with an EOTech Sight, but you still have quite a few choices. The power and brightness settings are found on the rear of the unit. It uses a CR123 battery.
The sight itself is shockproof and IPX8 waterproof. It has a matte anodized finish to minimize glare on the housing and protect it from corrosion and wear. The sight is also protected by Vortex Optics’ Lifetime Warranty.
It has an integrated mount that attaches to both Weaver and Picatinny rails and allows for lower ⅓ co-witness. It’s 3.9 inches long and weighs 11 ounces, making it about the same size as the EOTech EXPS2 and EXPS3.
Vortex Razor Gen II
The price of Vortex Razor Gen II varies, so check the latest price at
6. Holosun HS510C
The Holosun HS510C is a reflex sight with multi-coated optics that’s been designed particularly for rifles and carbines.
It has a similar reticle style to the EOTech ar15 holographic sights a 65 MOA ring around a 2 MOA center dot. With that said the Multi Reticle System allows you to turn off or on sections of the reticle for a customized pattern. You can choose to illuminate the dot only, the outer ring only, or both at the same time.
Whichever pattern you opt for, you have 12 brightness settings to choose from, including 10 daylight settings and 2 night vision settings. The sight uses a single CR2032 battery and has a long battery life with up to 50,000 hours of battery life on setting 6.
However, it also features a solar failsafe: It has a small solar panel on the top of the base of the unit that powers the reticle if the battery fails. It also automatically adjusts the reticle brightness to match light conditions, so you’re not wasting power on a brighter than necessary reticle.
Similarly, the Holosun HS510C features Shake Awake Technology which makes it the best holographic sight for the money. That means it has a built-in motion detector. If no motion is detected for a certain amount of time (which you can program yourself), the sight automatically enters Sleep Mode. Then it automatically boots up again if motion is detected. You can also totally turn off this feature for continuous power if you prefer.
With an aluminum and titanium hood, the Holosun HS510C is rugged enough to compete with the holo sights above. It’s IP67 waterproof, fog proof, and dust proof. It’s shockproof against vibrations up to 1000G.
And at just 4.94 ounces, this sight is very lightweight compared to our holo sight recommendations.
The Holosun HS510C comes with an absolute co-witness QD mount.
The price of Holosun HS510C Sight varies, so check the latest price at
Check out the detailed Hands on review of Holosun 510c if you are looking to learn more about it.
For a lot of firearms accessories, the hard part of shopping is the overwhelming number of options available to you. When it comes to holographic sights, however, it’s identifying the real holographic sights and figuring out exactly what all the buzz is about anyway.
By now, however, you should know everything that you need to in order to identify the right holo sight for your particular needs. Just think about your budget and what features you’re looking for, and it’s easy to narrow down your options from there.
But now I want to hear what you think? Do you think holo sights deserve the buzz? WIll you be adding one of these holographic sights to your favorite gun? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you’ve decided that a red dot or reflex sight might be more your thing after all, be sure to take a look at the Best Red Dot Sights for some options other than the Holosun HS510C.