Finding the best all around holographic sight can be one of the most extremely challenging. Filtering through all the questions you may have about brand, cost, capabilities, and usefulness can be a maddening experience. This article will not only shed some light into the differences between holographic sights and other styles of optics but also outline the 10 Best Holographic Sights by grouping those sights into specific categories to help anyone find what they are looking for.
Table of Contents
- What is a Holographic Sight?
- What Can I Use a Holographic Sight On?
- Are There Advantages to using a Holographic Optic?
- What Disadvantage is There for Holographic Sights?
- Are There Considerations That May Determine the Best Sight for Me?
- What Other Considerations Are There?
- How has the Popularity of Holographic Sights Changed the Market?
- How has Holographic Sights Broadened the Optic Market?
- What is in This Top 10 List?
- 10 Best Holographic Sights on the Market Review
- Best Tactical Options
- Best Budget Options
- Best Pistol Options
- Final Thoughts
What is a Holographic Sight?
First, let’s look at what exactly a holographic sight is and how it compares to a standard red dot optic. A holographic sight was designed for fast acquisition of a target but also allow you to place accurate shots up to distances of 300 yards without being magnified. For some people, shooting up to 300 yards may be considered long range depending on the environment they live in. The sight is projected into the field of view by using a combination of a laser and mirrors to present a clear, sharp image. In comparison, a red dot optic is a LED light that is reflected to the shooter’s eye via a coated front lens.
What Can I Use a Holographic Sight On?
While holographic and red dot sights can be beneficial in close quarter combat scenarios, or for CQB. Holographic sights also have uses in deer and turkey hunting. Most of the higher end models have a shock rating that will be useful on platforms like the AR-15, AR-10, AK-47, 300 Blackout, SCAR 17, and most shotguns. There are even options for pistols, like your favorite Glock, or many other brands as well that will be discussed later. However, affordable or low cost options may not provide you with the durability to be mounted on larger calibers mentioned earlier.
Are There Advantages to using a Holographic Optic?
Several experts believe that holographic sights have a distinct advantage over red dots by allowing the shooter to find a reticle faster. Since it appears to be projected in front of the optic and not reflected to the eye, one may find it easier to focus on the reticle. When using a red dot, the shooter may struggle in trying to decide what to focus on; the dot or the target. In addition, those who may have an astigmatism may find the holographic sights easier to see due to a laser being projected instead of a LED light. Red dot optics are widely known for appearing fuzzy or as a star burst due to that eye issue. Holographic sights seem to be immune to that issue due their design.
The design of a holographic sight lends to an interesting advantage that most would not expect; ruggedness. Due to the sight requiring a laser to be reflected by several mirrors, manufacturers had to find a way to ensure that their product could handle the shock of a variety of rounds being fired from various platforms. In some cases, holographic sights have been over-engineered to be able to withstand military grade munitions and abuse.
This design feature also allows the holographic sight to continue to function even if the lens is shattered or missing. A red dot optic does not have that capability since the LED red dot is reflected to the shooters eye from the front lens. Should the front lens on a red dot become damaged, the dot may be blurred or missing. For those individuals who are harsh on their equipment, a holographic sight may be a better option for you. This may also be a contributing factor in some military and law enforcement units using holographic sights over red dots.
What Disadvantage is There for Holographic Sights?
However, even with advances in technology, there is one disadvantage that a holographic sight cannot overcome; battery life. LED lights have become extremely efficient and allow for 50,000 hours of battery life to be effectively common place in a red dot sight. Holographic sights struggle to maintain 1,000 hours of battery life due to the massive load a laser requires. As consumers look to find smaller and lighter sight options, battery life will continue to hamper the holographic sight’s performance.
Are There Considerations That May Determine the Best Sight for Me?
Understanding the difference between holographic and red dot sights can assist in deciding which sight is best for you. However, you may need to ask yourself several questions to focus on the correct optic for your requirements. The first question should be, what weapon do I plan on putting this optic on? This is one of the most important questions you will ask since it will dictate what features you can live with or without. Shotguns inherently have higher recoil energy felt by the shooter and accessories alike. Therefore, a red dot or holographic sight that has a high shock resistance may be required. But, if you are a casual shooter that is only concerned with having a reliable optic on your favorite AR-15 or rimfire rifle, like a Ruger 10/22, you may be more inclined to purchase lighter and/or smaller options.
The next question to ask is what is my intent for using the holographic sight? Hunters may be more concerned with a proven, rugged optic that can handle the abuse the field will inflict. Individuals that are more tactical minded may also be interested in a rugged optic; however, field of view in the objective lens may trump other offerings to increase situational awareness. Finally, people that are only worried about finding an optic for home defense may want ease of use and the ability to turn the sight on quickly should “something go bump in the night.”
What Other Considerations Are There?
Another consideration is if this optic is a stepping stone to another type of sight. Let’s face it, there are a huge variety of sights on the market and it is not uncommon for a lot of shooters to find something they like only to upgrade to the newest piece of technology. There is nothing wrong with that mindset as long as you are trying to find what works the best for your need.
Years ago, the Aimpoint M68 CCO was one of the best optics on the market. While it is still wide used, advancements in technology has created a market in which we find a plethora of manufacturers trying to exceed what Aimpoint started. So, it is natural for individuals to go from one style of optic to another to find just the right fit for their shooting style. Holographic sights have carved out their own perfect niche in the shooting world as a viable option. Yet, the future may provide us with a sight that improves what we already love in the optic being currently used.
One of the final considerations for which optic to purchase has to do with your budget. What do you have to spend? That can always be a very tricky question to ask. Sometimes, there seem to be an option far better than what you are currently interested in and for just a little bit more money. Placing a hard cap on your optic budget should be a perspective that may save a lot of heart ache with your better half; however, you also expect the best for what you purchased. That is the essence of this article.
Providing the buyer with the most information to make a wise decision. There is no shame in buying a budget optic if you know that it will only be used on the weekends to have fun. Conversely, if you are law enforcement, contract security, or military, and allowed to purchase your own gear, then you should be primarily focused on buying the best. Purchasing an optic for home defense is also a very slippery slope, too. How do you put a price on you and your family’s protection? These viewpoints should be carefully weighed as you decide on any sight.
How has the Popularity of Holographic Sights Changed the Market?
Moreover, with the popularity of competition shooting sports on the rise, several companies have taken the aesthetics of holographic sights and incorporated the functionality of standard red dot optics. This may lead to increased confusion as to the which sights are true holographic sights. One of the main requests from a large section of the competition shooting base is that these “hybrid” optics be as rugged as possible. As shooters transition from one weapon to another, it is not uncommon for a weapon to get dumped into a barrel or quickly dropped onto a table. As multi-gun competitors look to get from one station to another, the last concern they should have is if their sight will survive. A few red dot companies have since looked to the holographic sights in hopes to mimic their rigidity all the while widening their market.
As split times are measured in the one-hundredth of a second, competition shooters will always look to gain every edge they possibly can. As mention before, one of the major benefits to a holographic sight is the wide field of view they offer. This is incredibly important to multi-gun competitors as they rely on a wide field of view to transition from target to target. Again, red dot companies have looked to holographic sights to widen the field of view to allow the competition shooter to push the envelope.
Multi-gun competition also has pushed companies to build smaller and lighter optics to assist shooters in being as maneuverable as possible. One of the major issues with creating small products is ensuring that a smaller design does not equate to more fragility. Holographic sight design again provides the road map to creating a tough optic as manufacturers look to decrease size and weight to give a shooter the leg up on the dreaded shot timer. Tubular red dot optics have given way to open emitter optics that draws direct parallels to holographic sights.
How has Holographic Sights Broadened the Optic Market?
By blurring the lines between holographic and open emitter sights, the consumer base now has more options to choose from. Creating more choices then leads to more competition in the market and will drive optic companies to not only innovate; moreover, it will force prices to drop in hopes of increasing sales. This is a major win for the wayward buyer that is not only concerned with quality but is also looking to buy on a budget.
Regardless of the type of sight that is purchased, one of the best ways to ensure that it is right for you is to use it regularly. Understandably, we all do not have access to a range whenever the feeling strikes us. But, dedicating several weekends of shooting a few hundred rounds each time will teach you a lot about your new purchase. Some of the most important lessons from the range can be the ease of use, how effective is the optic’s zero and can it be maintained, placement of the sight to maximize field of view, shock resistance, and how well the reticle handles an outdoor versus an indoor range. Understanding how the optic performs in each of those scenarios will make you a better shooter regardless how you intend to use the sight.
What is in This Top 10 List?
This top 10 list looks to provide you with the best holographic sights; however, it will also include red dot hybrids that have become extremely popular. The list will segment the different options into categories that will be helpful for the buyer to quickly narrow their search.
If you are looking for a sight for a pistol there is no need to read about the best rifle sights. Moreover, if you’re more of a budget consumer, wading thru 5 optics well over your spending cap can be frustrating. Hopefully, this list will streamline that process for you and give you options to consider.
10 Best Holographic Sights on the Market Review
Best Tactical Options
1 EOTECH XPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight
One of the most sought-after holographic sight brands is EOTech. They have pioneered the holographic sight market by encompassing rigidity with functionality. The XPS-2 is the newest offering from EOTech that minimalizes the footprint on you weapon while still providing the same features as their larger options. EOTech is renowned for their 68 Minute of Angle (MOA) ring that houses their signature 1 MOA dot reticle. This reticle has been copied by several companies due to its ability for fast target acquisition for close quarters; yet, still capable of precision shooting at further distances. One added feature is the XPS-2’s ability to utilize the CR123A battery which is a departure from the 2 AA batteries used in previous models.
The XPS-2 supports some of the most cutting-edge technology in the optics world. The sight has 20 brightness settings that can be manually adjusted with an optional 10 settings for night vision. The eye relief is unlimited ensuring the shooter has the fastest target acquisition possible. Setting the eye relief at 3 inches you will have a field of view of 30 yards. EOTech has worked to increase the battery life by incorporating a user-controlled auto shutdown that is programmable to 4 or 8 hours. In addition, the optic has a low battery indicator in which the reticle will blink when it is time to swap batteries.
2 VORTEX AMG UH-1 “HUEY”
Vortex is an optics company that has made a stir in the market with the introduction of the AMG UH-1 “Huey.” As Vortex’s popularity grows an increasing demand for more innovative sights has been asked of the company. The UH-1 aims to provide the features that consumers earn for but also push the envelope of holographic technology. The Huey’s reticle has taken EOTech’s 68 MOA ring to another level by incorporating an offset aiming point at the bottom of the aiming ring for close quarter ranges of 10 or less yards.
The AMG UH-1 has a few features that allows it to compete with the EOTech XPS-2. The optic’s most notable feature is its integrated quick release mount that still allows for an absolute co-witness of iron sights. The sight also has introduced an efficient power system that allows for extended battery life for conventional batteries but also has a micro USB port enabling quick recharging when used with a rechargeable battery. The AMG UH-1’s durability is on par with more expensive models again making it an extremely competitive option. Finally, the sight offers 1/2 MOA adjustments for zeroing ensuring for a precise zero for shooting at various distances.
3 EOTECH 512 Holographic Weapon Sight
The EOTech 512 has been a staple in the holographic sight market for over a decade. The 512 has been battle tested and improved over the years to be EOTech’s most popular sight. The optic’s rugged construction allows it to be capable of being used on some of the military’s largest weapon systems. Utilizing 2 AA batteries also gives this sight a versatility that most consumers appreciate due to the commonality of the battery. The only reason this optic did not end up in the #1 position is its size. The XPS-2 offers all the same features with a smaller footprint.
This optic is equal to the XPS-2 in function and quality. It shares the same brightness settings, auto shutdown feature, field of view, eye relief, and optical surfaces. But, it does have one feature that may be more enticing to consumers than the XPS-2; the cost. The 512 comes in at approximately $120 cheaper than the XPS-2 with most of the same features. However, the approximately $120 savings will increase the weight and size of the optic. For a lot of people, an increase in size and weight can be a fair trade in saving money.
4 HOLOSUN HS510C
While technically is not a holographic sight, the HS510C capitalizes on the design of a holographic sight as an open emitter sight to provide a durable, inexpensive alternative to Vortex and EOTech. Holosun looks to provide a reflex sight that challenges the features found in more expensive options; yet, at an affordable price. Coming in about $175 cheaper than the EOTech XPS-2, the HS510C quickly becomes very appealing. The open emitter design combines the technology of standard red dot optics with the ruggedness of a holographic sight. The HS510C also provides a reticle that is easy to acquire in an optic that is smaller and lighter than most of its competitors.
The most appealing factors of this sight is its battery life. Utilizing a CR2032 battery, the HS510C ihas a run time of up to 50,000 hours. Couple the long battery life with a reticle that is very similar to EOTech’s and the Holosun sight because a fierce competitor to the holographic sight market. While the optic has fewer daylight brightness settings, it does offer 2 night vision compatible settings that out performs other sights in this price range. The lens is parallax free and still offers unlimited eye relief that maximizes the field of view you come to expect from a holographic sight.
Best Budget Options
5 Sightmark SM26005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight
Similar to the HS510C, the SM26005 also capitalizes on the design of the holographic sight as an open emitter optic to provide a budget alternative to the standard holographic options. Sightmark’s ability to provide a decent optic at an inexpensive price tag is due to the minimalistic approach to the design of the SM26005. By reducing the number of brightness settings, battery life, and a few other features Sightmark is still able to provide a quality optic with a number of features that still make it appealing to budget minded people.
The SM26005 does offer 6 brightness settings that still provide a bright reticle during sunny range outings. The reticle again copies the 65 MOA ring for quick aiming with a 2 MOA dot that allows for precise shots well over 100 yards. For a budget option, battery life is still decent providing approximately 1,000 hours yet features a auto-shutoff function. The sight is submersible up to 40 feet of water which is an added benefit not seen with many budget options. Sightmark also offers several similar models to best suit your sight requirements.
6 Dagger Defense DDHB Red Dot Reflex Sight
Dagger Defense hit the ground running with providing several budget sight options. The DDHB is one of those options that is very similar to the Holosun HS510C and Sightmark SM26005. It too is an open emitter optic that encompasses the strength of a holographic sight with the technology of a standard red dot. The sight is easy to zero and also provides a set screw to lock zero in place. The shooter also has 4 reticle options to choose from to fit their personality. The reticle can easily be changed from red to green by using the rotary dial fade adjustment for those you like green reticles.
While the DDHB is not feature heavy, it does provide an optic well under the $50 mark and is a great entry level offering. This sight will not be a viable option to accompany you on missions in Afghanistan, but it will provide you with a quality optic to enjoy an afternoon at the range with your friends and family. Utilizing the holographic sight design, the DDHB will provide a wide field of view in a lightweight, budget package ready to be mounted on any M1913 picatinny rail.
7 CVLIFE 1X22X33 Red Green Dot Gun Sight Scope Reflex Sight
The CVLIFE 1x22x33 sight is the lowest priced optic on this list. Coming in under $25, this sight will not win any awards for winning the next combat action. But, what it will do is provide you with a very inexpensive option for young or new shooters. While there is a lot of technicalities in learning to shoot with iron sights, this sight will help young or newer shooters build confidence as they educate themselves on proper shooting techniques. The simplistic design offers a wide filed of view to allow anyone using this optic a comfortable sight picture. Just like the Dagger Defense DDHB, the CVLIFE sight has 4 reticles as well as 2 colors to choose from with easy adjustments.
This sight is well assembled with an aluminum alloy that leads to a light, yet rigid construction. Elevation and windage adjustments are easily made with an included Allen wrench on either the side or top of the optic. The CVLIFE sight uses a CR2032 battery that has become very common in most optics. Ultimately, this optic is not only extremely useful for building confidence in new or young shooters, but it is also a viable option for those interested in air-soft as well.
Best Pistol Options
8 Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight
For a pistol sight, the Trijicon RMR is the pinnacle of small optics. As mentioned several times before, this sight is technically not a holographic optic; however, it does pull its design from holographic sights to provide fast target acquisition, field of view and ruggedness. The RMR has become so popular in its abilities that some multi-gun shooters have used it as the primary sight on their rifles as well as their pistols. Its light weight and quick target acquisition make it a versatile optic for various weapons and applications. Not only can it be used as a pistol sight, but it can also be used as a 45 degree offset backup sight for an AR15 or a close quarters optic attached to fixed powered scopes.
The RMR has a couple options of red dot sizes; however, the 3.25 MOA dot seems to be the most popular. Mounting options are plentiful based on the RMR’s configuration has become prevalent in the market. While you will have to remove the sight from its base to change the CR2032 battery, a 4 year battery life should be expected when set on 4 of 8 brightness setting. The weight is just over 1 ounce and under 2 inches long providing a very compact, light weight option for your firearm.
9 Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights
Following in the Trijicon RMR’s footsteps, the Vortex Venom looks to provide a competitive, yet less expensive option, option to consumers looking to find a micro optic. The Venom is very similar to the RMR in its design, size and weight; however, boasts it 2 more brightness settings as well as a small reticle. Another added benefit is the battery’s top load system which allows for easy changing out batteries without removing the sight from the pistol or its base.
While the Venom is the slightest bit longer than the RMR, it is lighter. The side mounted controls make for quick and easy adjustments to the reticle’s brightness and allows for the optic to be turned off for storage. Windage and elevation nobs are also easy to adjust using a small screwdriver and are audible and tactile when making the 1 MOA adjustments at the range. The sight is shipped from the factory with a proprietary low rail mount that will attach to M1913 picatinny rails. This optic also features an o-ring seal that will prevent moisture and dust from entering the unit and causing reliability issues. The Vortex Venom is a great choice regardless if you are mounting it to a pistol, rifle or shotgun.
10 BURRIS FAST FIRE III
Rounding out the best pistol optics is the Burris Fastfire III. While this sight is the least expensive option, you will lose several features. Even with fewer features, the Fastfire III is still a competitive choice in the micro hybrid sight market. It is still just as small as the Venom and RMR and is only a fraction of an ounce heavier. Primarily a pistol sight, it is also rated to work well with rifles and shotguns. You will that even with a smaller price tag you will not lose anything in target acquisition, field of view or ruggedness. In addition, the 8 hour auto-shut off assists in prolonging battery life up to 5 years.
The Fastfire III shares the top access to the CR1632 battery as the Vortex Venom which is a departure from the RMR’s CR2032. Even though the CR1632 is not as common as the CR2032, it still can be found in most grocery or home improvement stores across the U.S. The 115 MOA elevation and 86 MOA windage adjustments allow for precise zeroing in 1 MOA increments. The Burris Fastfire III does only have 3 brightness settings; however, the sight does offer an automatic brightness sensor to ensure the reticle is matched to the environmental surroundings. This sight will do you well not only at the range but also in your back account.
In conclusion, distinguishing the nuances of a holographic sight can be extremely useful in determining which optic is right for you. Carefully answering the questions outlined above will also allow you to better focus in on exactly what you’re looking for. Distinguishing the differences between red dots, holographic, and hybrid sights can also open more products for you to consider based on the need you require a sight to fill.
Finally, the best way to ensure the optic you chose was the correct decision, scheduling a few back-to-back range trips will pay off dividends in building your confidence to effectively use your new purchase. Technology will continue to advance the capabilities of sights and purchasing the best the money can buy today may lead to buyer’s remorse in a year or two. Doing a little research now on the product page and across the internet can be immensely beneficial in purchasing the best holographic sight that will stand the test of time.