Electronic sights are all the rage nowadays, as more and more hunters and shooters are looking for ways to improve the accuracy of their firearms. Virtually any electronic sight will provide superior accuracy and faster target acquisition speed than your weapon's standard iron sights. However, if you're looking for the absolute best quality, then a holographic sight is really the only way to go.
The differences between a holographic sight and other electronic sights may seem quite small at first glance. The truth is that almost none of the top reflex sights can even come close to comparing to a holographic sight. This guide will focus solely on providing everything you need to know to choose the best holographic sight. As well, you can also find holographic sight reviews for several of the top products to enable you to decide which one best suits your needs.
The 3 Best Holographic Sights
What Is a Holographic Sight?
A holographic weapon sight is quite similar to other non-magnified weapon sights, providing an illuminated reticle that allows for more precise placement of shorter and mid-range shots. However, this type of sight uses a special holographic reticle sandwiched between two pieces of glass whereas most other electronic sights use a reflected laser beam to create the reticle.
- This means that true holographic sights use fully transparent glass that provides an accurate, crystal clear image. Reflex sights require the use of a piece of mirrored glass that results in a slightly darker, less clear image.
These holographic sights feature a unique heads-up display that allows you to scan your surroundings and locate your target with both eyes to ensure total situational awareness.
This type of sight can be of huge benefit when placed on your shotgun, pistol or AR-style rifle, as it makes it easy to quickly acquire multiple targets in succession. When out hunting waterfowl or other game, this can mean the difference between coming home with multiple animals and only getting one or two.
While holographic sights are definitely the winner in terms of overall quality, there is one area where they tend to not do quite as well as reflex sights. This is in terms of battery life, as the majority of reflex sights generally far outperform holographic sights in this factor. Still, this is really quite a minor issue, especially when you consider the fact that many holographic sights still have a battery life rating of 1,000 hours or more.
A Brief History of Holographic Weapon Sights
The idea of holographic weapon sights was first developed in the 70s by a number of companies working for the US military. At the time, their idea was to create large-scale holographic sights for use on heavy weaponry. This eventually led to the first 'holographic heads-up display' prototypes for fighter planes in the 1980s, which have since been perfected to become a standard feature in all advanced military aircraft.
In the 1990s, a company called EOTech was formed with the sole purpose of taking this growing holographic technology and transforming it into a weapon sight suitable for hunters, sports shooters and tactical purposes. Thus, the modern holographic weapon sight was born, and to this day, EOTech remains the only manufacturer to produce a true holographic sight.
Although you can find a wide variety of EOTech clones, all of them are actually just miniaturized reflex sights with a similar style of heads-up display. This means that they can't quite provide the same level of clarity, brightness and image quality that you'll find on an EOTech holographic sight.
As well, some people try to lump Trijicon in as a holographic sight. While these high dollar sights are most truly top of the line, they still differ from a true holographic sight in the fact that they use tritium radioluminescence to create the illuminated reticle.
Tips for Finding the Best Holographic Sight
Although EOTech is the only company to produce true holographic sights, there is nonetheless a wide range of different models and styles for you to choose from. This means that trying to determine which one is best for your needs isn't always the simplest of tasks. However, there are a few important factors that you should consider, which should help you narrow down your choices to only one or two models.
The most important factor is the type of firearm you plan on using the sight on, as this will help give you a better idea of the size and style of sight that's most appropriate for your needs. If you are looking for a sight for your 9mm or other handgun, you'll obviously want to choose something that's compact and lightweight.
Alternatively, if you like the idea of mounting a holographic sight on your 12 or 20 gauge shotgun, you'll want to make sure you choose something that is strong and rugged enough to withstand the heavy recoil.
Luckily, durability really isn't an issue with EOTech sights, as all EOTech products are built to military specifications. This is probably a good thing considering the fact that most holographic sights cost a bit more than the average reflex sight. That being said, there is still quite a bit of variation in terms of price and you can usually pick up a quality holographic sight for just a couple of hundred bucks.
Nonetheless, price is an important factor to consider, as the higher end models definitely provide improved functionality and performance when compared to the less expensive sights. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have an approximate idea of how much you're willing to spend
The thing is, there's really no such thing as the best holographic sight under $100 or even under $200. In order to get the superior quality and added benefits of a true holographic sight, you've got to pay for it.
Ranking the Best Holographic Sights
Due to the fact that there are only minor differences between most holographic sights, we decided it would be more useful to rank the various sights based how they perform on different types of firearms. Although most EOTech sights are versatile and durable enough to be used on most any firearm, some still work better than others for certain situations.
Best Holographic Sight for Pistol: EOTech XPS2
The problem with most electronic weapon sights is that they are too big, bulky and heavy to really be an option for use on most handguns, unless you're looking for something to mount on your 'Dirty Harry.' However, this isn't really a problem when you use the EOTech XPS2. The smallest, lightest and most compact holographic sight currently on the market, the XPS2 is hands-down the best choice for handguns.
This sight is powered by a single 123 lithium battery. This enables it to be smaller than most other holographic sights, and also gives the site an improved battery life compared to earlier models. The compact size means you can easily mount it on any larger handgun without adding too much extra weight.
With this sight, you'll have an ideal aid that helps to improve your speed and accuracy for both close quarters and mid-range shooting situations. No matter whether you're looking to use your handgun for hunting, self-defense or tactical purposes, the EOTech XPS2 is a fantastic choice.
For more check out our: EOTech XPS2 Review
Best Holographic Sight for Shotgun: EOTech 512
Probably the most popular holographic sight on the market, the EOTech 512 is a superb choice for use on virtually any firearm. In fact, the reason we've chosen it as the best holographic sight for shotguns actually has to do with the fact that it costs a bit less than most other EOTech models.
Due to the rapid fire nature of hunting with a shotgun, there's really no need for you to spend the extra cash on a holographic sight with a bunch of fancy bells and whistles. All that matters is that you can quickly acquire and line up your target before it flies away, which is exactly what you can do with the EOTech 512.
This particular model is slightly larger and heavier than the XPS2, due to the fact that it is powered by two AA batteries. However, the fact that it uses AA batteries is actually a big advantage, as it means you'll never have issues trying to find replacements. The scope also supports the use of rechargeable batteries for added convenience.
Another unique feature of this model is that it is available in two different camo patterns, along with the traditional black finish found on most other models. For those who like to head out into the field decked head to toe in matching camo, you can choose between either the Realtree APG or Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage finishes.
This sight features the standard EOTech reticle, with a red dot surrounded by a red circle. The 512 provides the same high image quality and clarity as all of the company's other sites, but at a slightly more affordable price.
The slightly lower price of this model makes it a great choice for those looking for a more affordable holographic sight. It also means it can be considered to be the best holographic sight for the money.
Best Holographic Sight for AR-15: EOTech 518
The EOTech 518 is quite similar to the 512 in terms of size and weight. However, this model has a few special features that make it ideal for use on AR-style rifles. Whereas the buttons are on the rear of most EOTech sights, the 518 features the buttons on the side instead. This allows you to save rail space when using the sight along with a magnifier, which is something that could come in handy should you find yourself needing to make longer distance shots.
The sight is also compatible with EOTech's special drop-in laser battery caps, which allows you to improve your aim through the use of either a visible or infrared laser.
Like all other EOTech sights, the 518 can be mounted directly to the rail of your high powered rifle for fast and easy installation. As well, it has also been fully designed and tested to ensure ultimate strength and durability, meaning it will have no problems withstanding repeated recoil from thousands of shots.
Is a Holographic Sight Worth the Money?
Now that you know a bit more about which holographic sights are best for each type of firearm, it's finally time to answer the most important question—whether or not true holographic sights are actually worth the extra money?
In truth, this isn't always a simple question to answer. The reason being that it depends on what is most important to you and how you plan on using the sight. For competition shooters and military/law enforcement personnel, there is no doubt that the added durability and crystal-clear image quality provided by a holographic sight can be well worth it.
On the other hand, if you're simply looking for something to use for target practice or varmint hunting, there's really no reason for you to not save some money on one of the less expensive EOTech clones. Still, after a thorough examination of all of your options, you'll quickly begin to realize that virtually no other electronic sight comes close to matching the quality and effectiveness of an EOTech holographic sight.
For some people, quality is always the most important determining factor, in which case the EOTech holographic sights are easily worth the added cost. Still, if you're not comfortable spending $500 or more on a sight, there are numerous cheaper options out there that should still give you good enough functionality for virtually any hunting purposes.
At the end of the day, only you can decide whether or not you can justify spending the extra cash on a holographic sight. However, if you do end up deciding to buy one of the various EOTech models, you'll be gaining the benefit of the best holographic sight that money can buy.