This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you purchase via these links.
Though holographic sights are often lumped in with red dot sights, like EOTech says – not a red dot.
I created this page for purists by carefully screening the best holographic sights, although I did also test an extremely popular reflex sight that is often mistaken for a holo sight.
I further compare budget, battery power, reticles, size & weight & field of view to make finding the perfect holographic sight easy.
Top 6 Holographic Sights In 2023
What is a holographic sight? A holographic image of a reticle is essentially “sandwiched” between lenses and illuminated by a laser diode. Looking through the sight, the reticle appears to be superimposed in the distance somewhere between the sight and the target.
What are the benefits of a holosight design?
- Fast target acquisition
- For close and long-range use
- In-focused picture due to simultaneous downrange focusing on target and reticle
- Heavy duty – can use with front lens damage
- Reticle remains the same size when used with a magnifier
But, there’s no ignoring the drawbacks.
- Price – they often start at $400 (approx.) for entry-level models
- Bulky – due to their design, they’re not equipped to be mounted to handguns
- Limited availability for true holographic sights
- Battery hog – laser diode requires a lot of power to operate
In the mid ’90s, EOTech was specifically created to bring holographic sights in a compact, rugged, and effective design for small arms to the commercial market. They may have been the only manufacturer of the holo sight and started the trend, but more recently, Vortex has joined the game.
With only two manufacturers producing this type of sight, it restricts availability and likely prevents economical prices to the civilian consumer market.
To be fair, the holographic sight requires a sophisticated manufacturing process, and so it costs more than red dots. But, I’ll get into the differences between red dots and holographic sights later. For now, let’s get into this years latest and best holo sights you must consider!
6 Best Holographic Sights on the Market
1. Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 Gen II – Best Vortex Holographic Sight
Overall, there are noteworthy differences between the AMG UH-1 Gen 1 versus AMG UH-1 Gen II holographic sights. The new version includes a larger rear window, tool-less battery cap, and night vision compatibility. Though it has performance upgrades, there is one major change that may be missed.
- 1 MOA dot
- EBR-CQB reticle
- Tool-less battery cap
- Rear-facing controls
- Night vision compatible
- Battery life
Holographic sights have always had poor battery runtime compared to reflex red dot sights. This remains true with Vortex’s gen II holosight. It takes a CR123A battery estimated to provide 1500 hours of runtime based on medium settings with normal use. I know that the auto shut-off after 14 hours is a helpful feature but can be disabled for instantly ready use.
However, conservative use of the AMG UH-1 will still only provide a maximum of 62 days (approx.) of operation. I recommend keeping spare batteries on hand since the micro-USB port has been removed. I’ll miss that feature as it used to allow for recharging batteries. At least the battery compartment cover is now tool-less.
Though no specs are provided, Vortex says they increased the size of the rear sight window to expand its HUD-like appeal and apparent FOV. I love that it’s IPX8 waterproof, was upgraded with XR FMC coatings, and is now night vision compatible. It has a rear-facing, dedicated NV button that puts the sight into night mode with reticle brightness that is safe for use with NVDs.
All other favorite features remained the same such as the Weaver/Picatinny quick detach mount, ½ MOA turrets, FHQ glare-reducing, stealth-improving technology, and the ArmorTek coating. The EBR-CQB reticle consists of a 1 MOA dot for long-range use, segmented circle, and bottom triangle post for extreme CQB performance.
I like that the upgrades are productive, it’s covered under the VIP warranty, and it’s still good competition as an alternative in an EOTech-dominated market.
2. EOTech HHS I EXPS3-4 w/G33 Magnifier – Best Tactical Holographic Sight
The HHS I (Holographic Hybrid Sight) EXPS3-4 comes with the G33 Magnifier. It’s the EXPS3 sight with the 4 dot reticle and the G33 to get long-range sight.
- Close-long range
- Side buttons
- NV compatible
- Includes magnifier
- Switch-to-side mount
Looking at the price alone, you’d wonder why you’re paying more for the EXPS3 HWS. However, you’re getting a 2-in-1 bundle with this buy. It might cost close to a grand, but the included G33 magnifier makes up the difference, and I think it’s worth it.
The EXPS3 sight is 11.2 oz and is 3.8 x 2.3 x 2.9″ in size – slightly more compact than some other EOTech models. It has a side-loading battery compartment that takes 1 x CR123 for 1,000 hours of use at nominal setting (12).
There are a total of 30 brightness settings with 10 compatible with NV (Night Vision). The HHS will automatically shut down after 8 hours of non-use, but it’s also programmable to shut down after 4. I found that it depends which up or down button you press when activating the sight.
The reticle has 4x 1 MOA dots to provide holding over points for medium to long-range shots. Calibrated for the .223, it can reach out to 600 yards which I know you you can easily do with the 3x G33 (Generation III 3x) magnifier.
The magnifier is 3.9″ long, and fits to all holo sight models with a 7mm riser. Eye relief is rather restrictive with only 2.2″, but many magnifiers have comparable eye relief. The switch-to-side mount is especially convenient to move the magnifier out of the way. It has a 1.18″ (30 mm) height that clears most low-profile, flip-up, rear iron sights.
With everything put together, I would say that the EXPS3 holo sight that can give you the upper hand in any close quarter scenario to every long-range observational need.
3. EOTech XPS3 – Best Holographic Sight for AR-15
If you’re planning on seeing in the dark with your AR-15, you’ll want to upgrade your sight with an XPS3 model. The extra benefit of NV with all the same great features of the second generation models can be found right here.
- NV compatible
- Built-in mount
- Rear controls
What’s the difference between the XPS2 and the XPS3? The XPS3 is NV compatible since it’s built with 30 brightness settings that allows 10 of those to work with Gen 1-3 NV devices.
What’s the difference between the XPS3 and the EXPS3? The EXPS3 has side button controls and a quick detach lever mount that this model lacks, but it’s slightly heavier at 11.2 oz.
The XPS3 is the smallest and lightest sight of all EOTech’s HWS sights. Weighing only 9 oz and is 3.8 x 2.1 x 2.5″ in size, it makes for a lightweight holo system leaving plenty of rail space for additional accessories on your AR-15, and yes, you’ll want to mount some extra gadgets like a magnifier.
Built with an integrated 1″ weaver or Picatinny mount, it’ll fit your MSR as easily as the EXPS3 fit mine.
Like all EOTech sights, it’s fog-resistant and waterproof, and I did put it its quick detach mount alternative in a washing machine – no rinse cycle, just submersion. The XPS3 takes 1x CR123 lithium battery that can provide up to 1,000 hours of continuous use.
This model has the 68 MOA ring with 1 MOA center dot. Transition between 7 and 50 yards for CQB shooting and then ping steel out to 200 yards with the .223 calibrated reticle.
Since it’s NV compatible, works with a magnifier, and can co-witness with rear iron sights, I deem the XPS3 a versatile tool for many missions or hunts to come that’s perfect atop your flat top receiver or even on your shotgun.
However, the one thing I don’t like is that the rear controls are virtually inaccessible if you have a magnifier behind it. But the EOTech G33 magnifier has a side-to-switch mount so pushing it out of the way will allow access to the rubber buttons.
The XPS3 has the basics, plus some. I think that its size, light weight, and durable body makes for the ideal kind of sight to top your AR-15.
4. EOTech XPS2 – Best Sight for Competition Shooting
What benefits do you need from your sight for 3-gun comps? Speed, accuracy, durability, and the ability to transition from close to long-range distances. If you’re on a tight budget for a holo sight, the XPS2 will fit the bill.
- Side controls
- Side-loading battery
- Quick detach lever
- Co-witness w/iron sights
- No preferred brightness setting on start-up
The XPS2 is made for 3-gun competitions, and it’s a cheaper option versus EOTech’s Hybrid models. To get you on target at speeds expected of a holo sight, this model has a the 68 MOA ring with 1 MOA center dot.
With a .223, you can use the center dot for 50 and 200 yards and the bottom of the ring for close-range shots of 7 yards.
To see the reticle at its best in any condition, the XPS2 has 20 brightness levels to adjust to your preferred setting. However, you can’t save your preferred brightness setting as it will kick back to the default setting on start-up, this seems like a bit of a drawback to me. Note: this is non-compatible with NV gear.
With a CR123 lithium battery, you’ll have up to 600 hours of continuous use on nominal brightness setting at room temperature. I like the side-loading battery compartment with a threaded cap keeps the battery in place while keeping dirt, debris, and water out.
While this sight can get you out to 300 yards faster and more accurately than iron sights alone, it is compatible with use of a magnifier for when you need easy transition for close to long-range shooting.
5. EOTech 512 – Best EOTech Holographic Sight
The 512 is a long-time favorite, and I can see why. With an entry-level price tag (for a holo sight) and all the good ol’ tech you need to get dead-on in an instant, the 512 does it.
- Battery life
- 1 MOA dot
- 1x magnification
- Unlimited eye relief
The 512 takes 2 AA batteries to operate and this makes for a longer and heavier build. It’s 11.5 oz and 5.6 x 2 x 2.5″ in size. It’ll take up some rail space, but it’s still so much shorter than a LPVO (low power variable optic).
You can depend on that battery juice to provide up to 1000 hours of continuous use with lithium batteries at brightness setting 12, or you can expect up to 600 hours with alkaline batteries. No need to detach the sight to replace batteries as it has a top-loading battery compartment with a cap latch.
To get zeroed, adjustments can be made with a coin or flathead screwdriver since it features the cross-slot style. I really like the aluminum hood and 10 ft submersible body was made to endure the abuse of extreme conditions.
The reticle is the popular, and one of my favorites, the 1 MOA dot with a 68 MOA ring intended for close-range and fast target acquisition shooting. This EOTech is compatible to mount to both 1″ Weaver and standard Picatinny rails.
With 20 brightness settings, widely available AA batteries, and a programmable 4 or 8 hour auto shut-off, I would recommend the 512 as a simple and affordable holosight for both beginners and intermediate shooters.
6. Holosun 510C Red Dot Sight
The Holosun 510C is not a holographic sight but is often compared to them. I test it out to give you a comparison between EOTech holographic sights and the Holosun.
- Dual power sources
- Ultra-long battery life
- Shake Awake
- Build quality
- Quick detach mount
- Reflex sight
As a general rule, holographic and reflex sights are both red dot sights. The main difference is that the Holosun has LED technology versus the laser diode in a holographic sight. It’s not necessarily a drawback but a key design difference I think is worth noting.
A very attractive feature I find crucial, and you will too, is the long-lasting battery life and dual power sources compared in my full test review. Auto mode provides ambient-controlled brightness and draws power from the integrated solar panel.
It’s ideal as a fail-safe for when the CR2032 battery fails in Manual mode.
With Shake Awake, you can adjust the sleep timer for “always-on” operation. The quick detach mount I thoroughly cover makes things easy and convenient for dismounts and remounts if you switch out optics on your AR-15 like myself and many others do.
No need to question build quality with the Holosun.
Torture tests should have everyone convinced that this is a sight that will last both you and I a lifetime.
What to Look for in a Holographic Sight System
The most popular question to be asked when looking to buy a holographic sight is how it differs from a red dot sight. Learn about that here and what features you need in a holo sight to get the right kind of features before you buy.
They’re not cheap optics, so you want to get it right the first time you choose.
Technology: Holographic Sights VS Red Dots
With their HUD displays, small and compact builds, and unlimited eye relief, it can be really difficult to tell the difference between a holo sight and a red dot. Add to that consumer misconception about the two, and it gets even harder.
A red dot and holo sight both may use the iconic “red dot” aiming point, but they have two completely different systems. A red dot uses an LED to illuminate a projected dot on coated glass.
Holo sights use a series of lasers and mirrors of a holographic image of a reticle that is sandwiched between glass. The appearance of the reticle to the eye seems to be projected in the distance either on the target or in between the target and the optic.
Because of this type of technology, holo sights are easier to use as you’re focusing on the target itself and the reticle becomes crisp and clear.
Build: Holographic Sights VS Red Dots
Holographic sights can be used in extreme conditions such as when the front lens gets damaged.
It doesn’t hinder the internal mechanics that seems to project the reticle out into the field. They often have a wider field of view (as in the size of the window lens) than red dots, and the center dot can be as small as 1 MOA.
However, the drawbacks to using a holographic sight are often a red dot’s advantages. Red dot sights have a much lower starting price. They’re widely available because the technology is less costly and is uncomplicated compared to holos.
LEDs don’t draw as much power as laser diodes and red dots can often be left on for 50,000 hours or 5 years. They’re also smaller and more compact and can be mounted to pistols.
While the differing features may not be of great concern to many consumers, the difference lies in the technology. Like many things, the choice between the two is a matter of preference.
For more about this, we wrote a full holographic versus red dot sight article, complete with photograph comparisons – check it out!
Budget/Price of a Holosight
Holographic sights are expensive optics often starting around $400 for base models. Combined in packages with other optics, such as a magnifier, they can cost $1000 (approx.) for the pair.
Due to budget restrictions and perceived value, many opt for a higher-end red dot sight over the price of a base model holographic sight. A high-end holographic sight can cost over $600.
Holographic Sight Brand
EOTech was the only manufacturer of holographic sights for the consumer market for shooting sports for just over a decade. Because of this, holo sight availability is limited. Vortex is now a player in the holographic sight industry, and it’s a hope of many that this will boost the holo sight market with a more extensive selection.
But, you may have seen many other sights marketed as holographic sights and with a very low price tags by other brands. These are not true holo sights and are red dot sights by definition if you look at the technology.
Additionally, be vendor-specific when buying a holographic sight as it is known fact that there are Chinese counterfeit products in circulation.
Battery Power of Holographic Sights
Holographic sights draw much more power to operate versus a red dot sight. Vortex provides a rechargeable battery option or a CR123 battery to operate the Razor AMG UH-1. EOTech models will require AA batteries or 123 lithium batteries.
Battery life will depend on usage, but holo sights in general are capable of providing 600-1000 hours of continuous use.
Holographic Sight Reticles
Reticles are a matter of preference. Most will incorporate a 1 MOA center dot as the aiming point and a circle surrounding it to rapidly draw the eye to the center. There are also reticle designs available with ballistic holdover dots, ranging scales, and various other options.
Size/Weight of the Holographic Sight
Holographic sights are small, if you’re comparing it to a rifle scope or even holo sights used in the military decades ago. However, when compared with red dots, they’re bulky in size and weight. They weigh around 11 oz with EOTech’s 9 oz XPS2 and XPS3 models weighing the lightest at 9 oz.
Because of the battery requirements and holo technology, they’re big compared to red dots. They’re typically around 3-4″ in height, 2-3″ in width, and 2-6″ in length – not compatible with pistols.
Field of View of the Holo Sight
Because of the HUD and rectangular window of the holo sight, they tend to offer a wider field of view than red dots. It makes it easier to use with both eyes open and head and cheek welds are easier to repeat and use. Red dots with smaller windows or even with the tube-style design may require you to get a little closer to focus and may be less forgiving with eye relief.
FAQ’s About Holographic Sights
Notes: EOTech VS US Government
There’s a lot of talk and consumer misconception about the lawsuit against EOTech and the product recall in effect by the manufacturer, so we’ll briefly address it here.
In 2015, EOTech lost a lawsuit against the US Government for civil fraud. There were two, major issues that were brought to light: thermal drift and moisture incursion.
EOTech announced in April 2016 that they remedied the moisture incursion that caused lenses to fog up and reduce reticle brightness intensity. However, the thermal drift issue remains yet to be remedied. The issue is, in extreme temperatures, your zero can be off as much as 12″ at 300 yards.
One such thought is that battery-operated optics are often subject to operating temperatures of the batteries. As much as manufacturers can try to counteract this with various construction materials, builds, and protective features, it’s still prone to faulty operation. There’s also the issue of what constitutes extreme shifts in temperatures.
For the average, recreational shooter, there is very little to no concern of thermal drift occurring. However, for extreme conditions that may be experienced in military operations, extreme Winter hunting, and such, this defect must be considered.
It also must be said that L-3 Communications (parent company of EOTech), “one of the largest defense companies in the US” is still under contract to provide clip-on optics and close-quarter sights. In fact, L3 announced in January 2019 that EOTech Optics won a $26.3 million contract by U.S. Special Operations Command.
While this is rewarding news to the company, it’s not new news. EOTech has been outfitting the military since 2001.
Not everyone is ready to throw out or disregard EOTech. What will you choose?
With a Holo Sight . . .
With a holo sight, you have a 1 MOA dot, the smallest, available dot in the industry.
With a holo sight, you have a rectangular HUD display with an increased field of view to get on target without compromising situational awareness.
With a holo sight and use of a magnifier, your 1 MOA dot will always be 1 MOA to promote accuracy at all distances you dare shoot.
All this amounts to fast target acquisition, speed, and dependability.
With a holo sight, it’s just better.
- Ozark Armament Rhino 4x Prism Sight Review (Range Tested)
- Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight Review (Range Tested)
- Burris Fastfire 3 VS Vortex Venom Comparison [HANDS-ON]
- Vortex Venom Red Dot Review (6 MOA) – HANDS ON!
- What is a Prism Scope? Prism VS Reflex VS LPVO!