Do you keep hitting the bushes just next to the deer you are aiming at? Does the bullseye at the shooting range seem to have some invisible force field which keeps your bullets from hitting it?
The best holographic sight will help you always hit the nail on the head… with a bullet.
If you are thinking of getting a sight for your weapon, your first thought might be to get one of those cool laser ones, then you can feel like the world’s best paid assassin, but, come on, that technology was invented 40 years ago and was hardly improved since.
You need to have a look at, and through, these holographic weapons sights, and you’ll see that a good sight will do much more than point at a target. Besides, if you use one of those laser ones when you go hunting deer, then one of those bunny bodyguards might see the red dot and jump in front of the bullet.
What to Look Out for
Being some of the most advanced pieces of aiming equipment you can get for your personal weapon, there are a few technical things and terms you need to be aware of before you go about purchasing a holographic sight.
If you are an experienced hunter or competitive shooter, you will probably be familiar with some or all of these, but we will go through them for all our readers.
The reticle is the small engraving or projection on your sight with which you aim. It can be a simple dot, a dot and a circle, or the crosshairs.
A MOA is a unit of measurement and stands for minute of angle, in this case, minute being the subdivision of degree, more exactly 1/60 of a degree. Why is this relevant for you?
When you shoot a weapon the bullet will have a small deviation even if it is shot under perfect conditions, that is, no wind, no gravity and a perfect aim. We measure this deviation in MOAs.
We could go into the physics of this, but basically, 1 MOA means 1.047 inches at 100 yards. Which we can round down to 1 inch. This means that if your weapon has a 1 MOA precision and you shoot a target which is 500 yards away, the bullets will all hit within a circle which has a 5 inch diameter.
The MOA is also used to measure the reticle. If you have a 2 MOA reticle, and you know that your target is 100 yards away, then the area covered by the reticle is a circle with a 2 inch diameter.
Parallax and eye relief
You know how when you are driving along and you look to your left and the lighting poles at the edge of the road seem to whoosh by faster than the houses in the background? That’s parallax, and it refers to the effect that the angle and distance between you and two other bodies have on the alignment of you three.
Parallax was and is a problem with telescopic sights. One of the great benefits of holographic sights is that parallax is either completely or near completely eliminated, meaning you can stand anywhere next to the sight and as long as you see the window, the reticle will be on target.
Another problem with telescopic sights is that you have to be at a certain maximum distance from the viewing point if you want to be able to see through it. This distance is called eye relief. A short eye relief means that you have to hunch very close to the sight and look through it with one eye. Holographic sights have an unlimited eye relief, so you can sit as far back as you want and aim with both eyes open.
Once you have mounted your sight you will have to zero it, which means the bullet will hit where the reticle is pointing. You can adjust vertically (for elevation) and horizontally (for windage); the latter will need adjusting on windy days.
Adjustments are made in increments called clicks and are measured in MOAs. The smaller the click the more precise the adjustability of the sight. Clicks can be ¼ MOA, ½ MOA, 1 MOA or more.
Best Holographic Sights Reviews
Dimensions: 5.4 x 2.25 x 2 inches
Weight: 10.9 ounce
Best use: Hunting
Description: Eotech was the company who first developed the holographic weapon sights on a commercially viable level, and since their beginnings, the company has kept itself at the top of the industry. That is why you will see quite a number of their products on this list.
The EOTech 512 is, according to the Eotech themselves, their most popular product. And one look at this compact, non-reflective-black tool makes us not doubt that assessment.
Though small, the sight packs a punch thanks to its durability and wide variety of features. It can be stored at temperatures between -40 and 160 F and will work just fine at temperatures between -20 and 150 F, though we don’t know if you will.
It also goes easy on the eyes, having an unlimited eye relief and being completely parallax free. It also has 20 brightness levels, so you don’t have to worry about the time of the day.
The reticle ring is 65 MOA and the single dot is 1 MOA. It can be adjusted by +/- 40 MOA in increments of ½ MOA per click.
It runs on two simple AA batteries, which will give you about 500 hours. The 512 will automatically shut down after 8 hours, but this can be adjusted to 4, and when the batteries are running low a flashing reticle will let you know.
Though not the cheapest item on our list, the 512 is probably the best value for your money.
Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.4 x 2 inches
Weight: 9 ounce
Best use: Hunting
Description: Very similar to the 512 is the XPS2.
The first thing that will stand out is its size, or lack thereof since the EOTech XPS2 is the smallest sight Eotech has to offer.
Despite the decrease in size, this model has no less to offer than the previous model. On the contrary, it brings more to the table.
The reticle ring is 68 MOA, while the single reticle dot is the standard 1 MOA. These are valid, however, only for the XPS2-0 model. You can also find the XPS2-1, which has only the dot without the ring and the XPS2-2 model, which has a second dot beneath the centre one.
This model runs on a single 123 lithium battery, which will hold for an average 600 hours. Brightness levels and automatic shutdown settings are the same as the 512. Same goes for adjustability.
Other features that the XPS2 shares with the 512 and that we haven’t mentioned are the fact that it is waterproof to up to 33 feet and its internal optics are fog-resistant. The optical surfaces come with an anti-reflection coating.
Both models are compatible with weaver and Picatinny rails.
Now, it should be noted that neither model provide any magnification, and, as such these are not designed for long range sighting, but they will do great at up to 1000 yards.
Dimensions: 3.8 x 2.3 x 2.9 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounce
Best use: Night hunting
Description: With the exception of the slight increase in size, the EOTech EXPS3 seems, at a first glance, pretty much identical to the XPS2. Why then the dramatic increase in price?
The answer is that the EXPS3 is compatible with Generation I – III+ night vision devices, meaning it can be combined with such devices without causing “bloom” on the target area. Furthermore, for a better collaboration with the night vision devices, this model comes with an additional ten brightness settings specially designed for night use, bringing the settings number to 30.
The EXPS3 also comes with the option of having it in tan, not just in black as the previous two models, which could help with distinguishing it from other accessories you might have, which are usually black.
As with the XPS2 you also have a choice of reticle models; while you cannot skip the ring this time, you can choose between having only the central 1 MOA dot, or two dots or even four 1 MOA dots in a column. Note that in the case of the four dots, the ring is 60 MOA not 68 as with the previous cases.
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.2 x 3.3 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounce
Best use: In combination with Eotech Holographic Sights
Description: As mentioned above, the Eotech Holographic Sights, as versatile as they may be, do not function as magnifiers, making them less than ideal for long range use. So what do you do when you need to go the distance? Simple, you get one of these babies.
This light optical tool offers a fixed magnification of 3x, giving you improved target recognition and increased lethality at longer range distances, all you need to do is mount it behind the sight.
The model is compatible with Picatinny and weaver rails. It can be submerged in up to 33 feet of water without any damage and it has fog resistant internal optics. It is available in black or tan.
To make it easy to switch from 3x to the 1x of the sight, this magnifier uses a simple slap to the side system which allows switching reliably from on to the other in a second.
As this is a magnifier it does mean that you lose the ability to aim with both eyes as the eye relief is 2.2 inches. The field of view is 7.8 degrees.
A great tool if what you are looking for is long distance precision shooting.
Sightmark Ultra Dual
Dimensions: 3.23 x 2.95 x 2.24 inches
Weight: 8.9 ounce
Best use: Hunting/Competition
Description: Just because you are on a limited budget does not mean you are limited to a useless product.
The Sightmark Ultra Dual might be the cheapest product on our list, but it will get the job done. It even brings some features to the table which cannot be found in some of the other items on the list.
It is compatible with Generation I – III night vision devices, for example. However, it does only have 5 brightness levels, 2 of which are for night vision.
It also lets you toggle between 4 different types of reticles, something that is unique to this product. You can choose either a 5 MOA dot, a 3 MOA dot with a 50 MOA circle, a 3 MOA dot with a 50 MOA crosshair or a 3 MOA dot with a 50 MOA crosshair and circle.
Still, the smallest dot being 3 MOA you don’t get the same precision as the EOtech selection.
The Ultra Dual also includes a laser pointer, in case you need something more classic, with a beam which produces a 2 inch dot at 1000 yards.
Some of the disadvantages are that this item is only compatible with a weaver rail. It is water resistant to splashes and rain, but not to being submerged in water. It also isn’t fog resistant.
Adjustability is at 1 MOA per click, which is again not great for precision.
This model runs on a CR1632 battery cell, like the ones you use in wristwatches, and it has an average lifespan of 100 hours.
Steiner Micro Reflex Sight
Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.57 x 1.88 inches
Weight: 2.46 ounce
Best use: Hunting/Battle
Description: While it is even smaller than the XPS2 and very light even for its size, the Steiner Micro Reflex Sight costs about as much as the EOtech products, without having many of their features.
It has a 3 MOA dot reticle, and while it allows for 45 MOA adjustments, these can be done only by 1 MOA increments, as such this item is not a great choice for precision.
The item has three brightness levels and is powered by a CR1632 battery, which will be harder to find than the regular AAs.
However, unlike the Sightmark Ultra Dual, which runs on the same type of battery, the Micro Reflex promises about 500 hours of use out of that battery. And to preserve battery it will turn itself off after 8 hours.
Some of the benefits of this item are that it is waterproof and submersible to up to 33 feet. It also has a hard anodized finish, which makes it very durable, an important aspect if you will use it in battle, not so much, though, for hunting, unless you plan to drop it off cliffs a lot.
This product, like the EOtech ones, is compatible with both weaver and Picatinny rails.
If a small size or durability is what you are looking for, the Micro Reflex is a good choice, otherwise, however, the EOtech 512 will do you better for that money.
Dimensions: 4.9 x 1.7 x 3.4 inches
Weight: 15.2 ounce
Best use: War
Description: If you have money to spend and want something a bit more hardcore, you could have a look at the Fraser-Volpe Mars reflex sight. It is the one Israeli and US forces use in the war on terror, so you know it’s a sturdy piece of equipment.
First of all, note that this is not a holographic sight but a reflex sight based on a reflective prism, which will add some extra crispness to the image.
Unlike holographic sights reflex ones do not eliminate parallax completely, but it is so small that it is negligible. It does, however, have unlimited eye relief allowing for both eyes open shooting.
It comes with a 2 MOA red dot reticle, which has four different brightness settings. It runs on a regular AA battery with up to 200 hours of continuous use. The same battery also powers the attached laser sight. To save energy, the item will go into sleep mode if not moved for 10 minutes.
Its sturdy design means that it will operate flawlessly between -5 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit and 95% humidity.
The Mars is compatible with a Picatinny or a weaver rail.
Honestly, unless you are about to be deployed, we can hardly find a good reason why you should spend almost a 1000 dollars on this sight, other than a sheer need for overkill.
Burris 300234 Fastfire III
Dimensions: 1.9 x 1 x 1 inches
Weight: 0.9 ounce
Best use: Hunting
Description: If you are set on a reflex red dot sight, then perhaps the Burris Fastfire 300234 is the one for you.
This is the smallest sight you will find on the market and it has 3 MOA dot reticle with three manual brightness settings and an automatic setting which adapts to the environment.
It is parallax free and has unlimited eye relief.
Its adjustability is 43 MOA for windage and 57 MOA for elevation. The smallest increment for adjustment, however, is only 1 MOA.
The item runs on a CR1632 battery, but it will run surprisingly long on it.
Its operating temperature range is between -10 and 130 Fahrenheit.
The Fastfire is compatible with a Picatinny or a weaver rail.
It isn’t the EOtech 512, but it will get the job was done and it only costs half as much, so this could be a good choice if your budget is limited.
There was a time when aiming was a cumbersome and imprecise mathematical exercise which needed a lot of training and intuition.
Either that or you had to stare uncomfortably into a sight with one eye and maintain a certain position otherwise, you could not see.
Thanks to holographic sights those times are far behind us and aiming has been brought to a 21st-century standard, where you can comfortably do it from any position, with both eyes, no matter how bright or dim the light and with great precision.