Are you trying to find the best holographic sights on the market? Looking for a new high-quality optic to put on your firearm? Want something a step up from your average reflex sight? Think a holographic sight might be the way to go?
Then keep reading because this guide will tell you everything you need to know about holographic weapons sights.
First, we’ll talk about what holographic sights are and how they’re different from reflex sights. Then we’ll go over how to choose the right holographic sight for your needs. Finally, we’ll finish up with reviews of our top five recommendations for the best rated holographic sights currently available.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is a Holographic Sight?
A holographic sight (also called a holographic weapon sight, HWS, or holo sight) is a type of unmagnified optic. Holo sights are similar to red dot sights and other reflex sights, but they use different technology.
Red dot sights have a LED light, the beam from which is bounced off the reflective front glass to create the appearance of a reticle on the front glass.
Holographic sights, on the other hand, use lasers and a series of mirrors (but not the front glass) to create a hologram reticle. This technology means that the reticle appears to be actually on whatever object you’re looking at through the sight.
Because of this advanced technology, holographic sights are pricey. This isn’t the sort of optic you can buy for under $100 or even under $200. In fact, the average holo sight costs around $500. However, if you have the budget for it, the advantages are well worth shelling out for.
EOTech is the company that introduced the iron sight and they’re still the main manufacturer of them. In fact EOTech was the only company that made holo sights until just a few years ago when Vortex Optics introduced their own holographic sight.
Holo sights are especially popular for AR-15 and AR-10 style rifles, but can be used for pretty much any gun you can mount them on, so you’ll also see them used for shotguns, for pistols, and for airsoft guns.
Since holographic sights aren’t magnified, you’ll see them most commonly used for shorter range purposes, like for CQB tactical purposes or for turkey hunting. However, they can be paired with magnifiers to extend your range, such as if you want to use one for deer hunting.
Holo sights are particularly common among competition and tactical shooters because of the precision they offer. Some people even use holo sights for airsoft.
How to Choose a Holographic Sight?
There aren’t a ton of holographic sights on the market right now and there’s limited diversity in the handful of options that are available. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you choose from among the options available to you.
The most popular reticle for holographic sights has a single fine center dot with a larger ring around it for fast target acquisition. However, there are also reticles with additional dots below the center one to help with aiming at longer distances. You can also get holo sights with just a dot if you want something more similar to a red dot sight.
Typically, the reticle will be red, but some holographic sights are also available with green reticles. In most situations, red is better because it provides excellent contrast against most backgrounds. If there are a lot of reddish tones in the background when you’re using your sight, however, you’ll want to opt for a green reticle for better contrast.
Reticles are typically designed with major points (AKA aiming points) like additional dots or the top and bottom of the ring intentionally placed to help you compensate for bullet drop when shooting extended distances.
Because bullet drop varies from round to round, these placements are typically optimized for one shot in particular, usually .223 Remington. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them for other rounds. You’ll just have to take the time to learn how those points relate to real world bullet drop for your round of choice.
Size & Weight
The size and weight of your holo sight matters more the smaller your gun. Generally, the smaller the gun, the smaller you need your holo sight to be.
First, because the extra weight can more easily throw off the weight of a handgun than a long gun. Second, because handguns have shorter rails so there’s less room to mount your holo sight. Even with a long gun, though, it’s typically preferable to have a more lightweight sight.
It’s not just length and weight that matter though. You’ll also want to consider the height of the base if you’d like to be able to co witness your holo sights with iron sights. If the base isn’t tall enough, you’ll need to buy a separate riser.
Night Vision Compatibility
If you’d like to be able to use night vision with your holographic sight, you need to make sure you choose one that’s compatible with night vision. If you know for sure that you’ll never want to use your holo sight with night vision, you don’t need to worry about it.
Not sure if you’d like to use night vision? Go ahead and get a holo sight that’s night vision compatible if there’s even the slightest chance you’ll want to use night vision. That way you have the option if you decide you want to use night vision later on. The extra cost to get night vision compatibility is pretty minimal, especially compared to buying a whole new sight because you decided you want to be able to use night vision after all.
Best Holographic Sight on the Market Review
1 EOTech HWS 512
The EOTech HWS 512 is one of the more affordable holographic sights on this list, but that’s not the only advantage. Unlike other holo sights, the HWS 512 uses two AA batteries, which are much easier to find than the CR123 batteries other sights use.
On the other hand, the larger battery also means that the HWS 512 is on the bulky side with a long base, measuring 5.6 inches.
This holo sight has a One Dot Reticle, which is made up of a 1 MOA central dot surrounded by a 68 MOA ring. The ring can be used to help you estimate bullet drop for longer distance shooting or to predict shot patterns for shotgun shooters.
EOTech holo sights come with a storage case, but we recommend the GG&G Eotech Lens Cover to protect the sight’s lenses. It fits over the sight housing and has flip covers that allow you to expose the lenses for use.
Is It Worth It?
The EOTech HWS 512 is an all around great holographic sight, but its larger size makes it a better option for rifles and shotguns than handguns. Other great features include:
- Easy to find, affordable batteries
- EOTech One Dot Reticle
- 20 brightness settings
- Up to 2,500 hours of battery life at brightness setting 12
- Water resistant to 10 ft.
2 EOTech HWS XPS2
The EOTech HWS XPS2 is powered by a single CR123 battery, which allows the sight to be more compact than the HWS 512, measuring just 3.8 inches long and weighing just 9 ounces. On the other hand, that does limit the battery life to only about 1,000 hours.
The EOTech HWS XPS2 comes in a few different reticle options, including the EOTech One Dot Reticle.
There’s also the EOTech Two Dot Reticle, which is similar but has a second dot below the first to provide an additional aiming point for longer range shooting. The third reticle option has only the central dot.
We recommend picking up the GG&G Eotech Lens Cover for XPS to protect the glass surfaces while the sight is mounted to your firearm.
Is It Worth It?
This scope is a lightweight, compact scope that’s great for virtually any gun. The short length means it fits well on handguns, but it also leaves plenty of room for a magnifier or iron sights on a rifle.
Here are a few highlights to keep in mind:
- Compact size allows you to also mount other optical accessories like a magnifier or iron sights
- 20 brightness settings
- 1,000 hours of battery life at brightness setting 12
- Several reticle options available
- Water resistant to 10 ft.
3 Vortex Optics AMG UH-1 Gen II
The Vortex Optics AMG UH-1 is at the same price point as the HWS 512 and the HWS XPS2 and is compact like the XPS2 (3.9 inches long and 11 ounces).
However, it’s also night vision compatible, which makes it a better all around sight for most people and probably the best value holographic sight on this list. The trade off is fewer brightness levels. The AMG UH-1 has 15 brightness settings, including four for night vision.
It has a EBR-CQB reticle, which is similar to the EOTech One Dot Reticle, with a one MOA center dot and a 65 MOA ring.
The AMG UH-1 doesn’t come with a case or lens covers, so you should consider grabbing the Vortex Optics Sure Fit Cover to keep out moisture and debris when you’re not using the sight.
Is It Worth It?
The AMG UH-1’s night vision compatibility makes it a great option for tactical purposes or nighttime hunts. Other noteworthy features include:
- 15 brightness settings, including 4 night vision settings
- Dedicated night vision button
- Anti-reflective and scratch-resistant coatings on lenses
- Shockproof and IPX8 waterproof
- EBR-CQB reticle
- Corrosion and wear resistant, low glare finish
4 EOTech HHS I
The EOTech HHS I is the most expensive holo sight on the list, but you get a lot for the money.
The HHS I actually includes both the EOTech HWS EXPS3-4 and the EOTech G33 magnifier.
The EOTech EXPS3-4 is a high end sight on its own. It’s night vision compatible with 20 daylight brightness settings and another 10 night vision settings. It has an EOTech Four Dot Reticle, which is similar to the other EOTech ring and dot reticles but has four dots to allow for ranging up to 600 yards.
The EOTech G33 magnifier is a 3x magnifier that helps you get the most out of the reticle.
The EOTech HHS I comes with a protective case, but the Scopecoat EOTech XPS Combo Cover is a great way to protect your scope from moisture and debris without removing the sight or magnifier from your weapon.
Is It Worth It?
The EOTech HHS I is great for those who want a bit more range from their holo sights. It’s certainly not cheap, but you can’t beat the quality and versatility, nor the value of buying the sight and magnifier together.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Includes both sight and magnifier
- 20 daylight brightness settings and 10 night vision settings
- Water resistant to 33 ft and fogproof
- Four Dot Reticle
- 1,000 hours of battery life at setting 12
5 Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight
The Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight is not a true holographic sight, but it’s a good alternative for those who can’t justify the cost of the other sights on this list.
It has a circle dot crosshair (with a 2 MOA center dot and a 60 MOA circle) like a holographic sight, but doesn’t have the same hologram technology, so the reticle doesn’t appear to be on your target.
This sight is night vision compatible, though, with 10 daylight brightness settings and six night vision settings.
It also comes with a host of battery saving features, including motion sensor activation, 12 hour automatic shutoff, and a low battery indicator.
The best part? The Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight costs just under $200.
Is It Worth It?
The Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight isn’t a reflex sight, not a holo sight, but it’s hard to beat the value for those who can’t afford a true holographic sight. Some of the sight’s key features include:
- M-Spec Circle Dot Crosshair
- Up to 2,000 hours of battery life, plus battery saving features
- Scratch resistant lenses
- Integrated sunshade
- Waterproof and shockproof
Whether you’re looking for a tactical, hunting, or competition optic, holographic weapons sights are a great option. The hologram style reticle elevates these sights above red dot and other reflex sights. At the same time, the ability to pair a holo sight with a magnifier allows these sights to even compete with scopes (for short to mid-range anyway).
Each of the sights we’ve included on this list can be an excellent choice for shooters looking to upgrade their sights. We’ve carefully chosen them to provide options across different price points and for different combinations of needs. By now, you should have no problem choosing the best holographic sight for you.