Holographic and other electronic sights are continuing to be used as replacements for the standard iron sights, and if you’re looking to join the party or searching for a replacement, we’ll cover the best holographic sights on the market!
Holographic, Red Dot, & Reflex Sights
If you’ve been looking into this topic at all you might be really confused and wondering exactly what the differences are between all of these names and terms.
Bottom line — holographic sights use a complex set of lasers and mirrors to reflect the image to the shooter.
Red dot sights use an LED and normally only reflect off of one surface to display the red dot to the shooter.
Reflex sights are a poorly defined term whose meaning has been lost due to how many people disagree on what the term actually means. If you see “reflex sight” just think “red dot”.
Red dots and holographic sights use fundamentally different technology. Holographic sights are complex and difficult to make. As such, they demand a higher price. There is no such thing as a “cheap” holographic sight. If you’re paying less than several hundred, you’re not getting the real thing.
Before we get on to what to look for when buying a holographic sight, do you need helo to zero in your scope or sight? If so take a look at our guide to the 4 Best Laser Bore Sighters.
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Holographic Sight Buyer’s Guide
The aperture is essentially how big your sight window is. A big sight picture allows for a lot of peripheral observation, which helps with target acquisition and speeds up follow-up rounds.
Like anything else attached to your gun, you want it to be sturdy and able to take abuse. These holo sights contain a lot of snazzy electronics and optics. The housing must be able to keep all of this in place, and the reticle must remain steady and clear when discharging rounds.
If holo sights have a drawback, it’s the battery life. Lasers take a lot of energy and you can’t get around that. Red dots use LEDs and much less battery so they can last for a lot longer. Even the best holo sights only have about 600-800 hours of battery life.
That said, you have options in what kind of battery your holo sight uses depending on the model you get. Some last a lot longer than others.
We like to see a wide range of brightness settings. You should be able to acquire your target in all lighting situations. Even when using additional tactical lights that might wash out your target.
You should also be able to dial the brightness down a bit when dusk hits to improve your eye comfort. The more settings available, the more you can fine-tune the brightness level. Naturally, we want to be able to quickly change these settings as well.
There are quite a few reticle designs, and most holographic sights use a red dot in tandem with a large MOA circle (minute of angle) surrounding it.
The red dot is better for medium to longer-range shots, while the large MOA circle is excellent for picking up fast-moving targets at close range. With some sights, you have a series of reticle designs that you can scroll through.
The 4 Best Holographic Sights
EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Sight
This holographic sight is designed to take the beating of high recoil firearms and maintain its zero. The housing is well constructed and gives you a sight that will continue to function in the field through the rigors tactical weapons go through.
The EXPS2-O is extremely easy to mount onto your rail system. It is also compact leaving more than enough room for accessories such as a magnifier. This sight uses an easy-to-detach lever so you can quickly remove and replace the sight without losing its zero setting.
This is a highly accurate sight when sighted in correctly and is one of the best shooting sights at targets less than 100 yards.
For a holo sight, the battery life is pretty good. You can get up to 600 hours of use from one set of batteries. One of the features that help conserve battery power is a programmable automatic shutdown, so you can be sure that the sight is never left on unintentionally.
This holographic sight uses a 1MOA red dot reticle in tandem with a 65MOA circle giving you a reticle that can pick up on targets quickly at short range as well as the precision needed for longer shots.
The “E” models of EOTech EXPS holo sights mean that it sits slightly higher than their standard XPS models and thus gives you a 1/3rd co-witness with iron sights.
Like any of the best holographic sights this offers infinite eye relief, and when only looking through the window aperture, the field of view is still more than enough to keep track of a wide portion of the field.
- Rugged with excellent resistance to recoil and environmental conditions
- Quick detachment
- Compact and lightweight
- Fantastic reticle
EOTech 512 Holographic Sight
The 512 holographic sight for AR-15 and other tactical rifles is one of the most popular models in America.
Really the only downside to this model is that it has a large footprint that makes mounting other accessories like magnifiers and BUIS a bit harder to do.
It is also constructed to resist physical demands encountered in most shooting situations. I also like that it is waterproof and rated for submersion in up to 10′ of water.
A cool feature of this AR-15 holographic sight is the battery situation. While this sight will take two lithium batteries and give you nearly 1,000 hours of battery life at the medium brightness setting, it can also take AA alkaline batteries.
The battery life will not be as long as lithium batteries, but it can be a lifesaver in a bind. The batteries can also be changed easily without having to dismount the sight, saving you time and headaches.
The reticle is a single red dot with a 65MOA circle making it excellent in CQB conditions. The brightness can be adjusted between 20 different settings.
This gives you a sight that is able to perform as intended in any light environment. The reticle is clear and crisp and will remain centered through thousands of rounds. You also can’t go wrong with the EOTech glass that is highly shatter-resistant and cuts down on glare.
- Strong, clear, and treated glass
- Durable heads up holographic sight
- Affordable in terms of true holo sights
- Can take both lithium or alkaline batteries
- Takes up more room than other sights
Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II
This is my personal pick for a holographic sight. First off, I love the tactical mailbox look.
But more practically, Vortex offers a bulletproof unlimited warranty that I love. For the cost of a holo sight, knowing it is protected is really nice.
Built like a truck the AMG UH-1 comes with 15 brightness levels and 4 night vision modes for all of your spooky needs.
The EBR-CQB reticle is different than EOTech’s reticles, but not so much that it feels weird. Really, the EBR-CQB feels more like a major improvement over what EOTech offers and is easier to use.
And to top it all off, the UH-1 has a 1,500-hour battery life at the medium setting, a larger window, IPX8 rated, and uses American-made glass.
- Rugged aluminum housing
- Recoil and environmental resistance
- Very compact and lightweight
- Easy to zero, no tools required
- Tactical mailbox look
- No alternitive mounting options
Winner and Conclusion
After taking everything into account, we want to give the title of the best holographic sight, to the Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II
This is a compact and sturdy holographic sight that is resistant to most physical stresses. It is easy to mount and leaves plenty of room if you feel the need for further accessories such as a magnifier.
When it’s all said and done, you won’t go wrong with any holographic sight. Just be ready to pay for it!
For something cheaper, take a look at the Best Red Dot Sights!