Red dot sights have been all the rage for some time. While they are a great way to increase shooting speed and accuracy, there may be a better option. Holographic sights have a few advantages over the traditional red dot.
The two popular optic types have several things in common, which can make distinguishing between the two confusing. To get a better idea of how these high-tech optics can improve your shooting, let’s dive deep into the best holographic sights available to the modern shooter.
If you don't have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated holographic sights:
Table of Contents
- What is a Holographic Sight?
- Holographic Versus Red Dot Sights - What’s the Difference?
- Why Choose a Holographic Sight Over a Red Dot?
- Best Holographic Sight on the Market Review
- Final Thoughts
What is a Holographic Sight?
A holographic sight (also called a holographic diffraction sight) is a weapon optic that uses a laser and mirrors to transmit the image of a reticle back to the shooter’s eye. Through the magic of technology, the reticle appears to float in front of the optic.
Holographic sights make getting on target much easier and faster than traditional iron sights.
Holographic Versus Red Dot Sights - What’s the Difference?
Red dot and holographic sights are often lumped into the same optics category. While they both transmit a lighted dot or reticle, the technology used in these optics is vastly different.
A red dot sight uses a Light Emitting Diode (LED) to project a dot towards a specially coated lens. The lens bounces the image back toward the shooter’s eye. The technology used in a standard red dot optic is much less complicated than the technology used in a holographic sight.
Complicated technology usually comes with a more expensive price tag, and this is particularly true when it comes to optics. You can easily find a basic red dot optic for under $100 (Although if you want quality and reliability, I recommend investing at least twice that much). On the other hand, the cheapest true holographic sight will run you close to $400 or more.
There are also a bunch of companies manufacturing red dot sights, so there are plenty of options to choose from. When it comes to holographic sights, there are only two companies that have even dipped their toes into holo sight technology.
Why Choose a Holographic Sight Over a Red Dot?
If there is a wide selection of affordable red dot sights, why would anyone want to fork over all that extra cash for a holographic sight? Other than price and availability (and maybe battery life), a holo sight is superior to a red dot in every way.
Probably the biggest reason to invest in a true holographic sight is that it makes it easier to focus on your target. The result is target acquisition far faster than anything a red dot has to offer.
A red dot optic focuses the dot to your eye. With a red dot, the eye attempts to focus on the dot which it perceives as being located basically at the distance of the sight. However, holographic sights project the reticle in front of the sight.
Humans cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. When using a red dot sight, the brain bounces back and forth between trying to focus on the dot (a close focal point) and the target (a distant focal point). This makes for sluggish target acquisition.
Because a holo sight’s reticle appears to be superimposed on the target, your eyes only need to focus on the target to aim accurately. The process is much faster and easier. In a situation where fractions of a second count, this one feature could literally save your life. Nothing gets on target faster than a holographic sight.
Holographic sights also outperform red dots in terms of durability. Quality holographic sights can withstand powerful recoil, extreme temperatures, ocean depths, raging fire, and heavy G-forces and keep right on ticking.
A holographic sight will even function if the font window is partially obscured or busted. The same isn't true of even the most expensive red dot optic. Some cheaper models can barely handle the force of mild recoil and are better suited for airsoft than centerfire weapons.
Best Holographic Sight on the Market Review
There aren't a ton of options to choose from when it comes to true holographic sights. Here are our top picks, plus a few clones and red dots that we think are pretty impressive.
1 EOTech Model EXPS2
Although gun guys have a hard time finding things to agree on, the verdict is unanimous when it comes to EOTech’s holographic prowess. EOTech is the undisputed leader in holo sight technology.
The Model EXPS2 is one of our favorites. Its compact size maximizes rail space and supports easy co-witnessing. Shooters will also appreciate the quick-detach feature which makes it easy to swap out optics for different shooting applications.
Giving “going green” a whole new meaning, the EXPS2 Green features a bright, easy-to-see green reticle. EOTech claims it is at least six times easier to see than the standard red reticle, especially in sunlight. We aren't sure about the math, but it is indeed easy to see in bright shooting conditions. The green reticle is also well-suited for CQB target acquisition or long-distance shooting.
2 EOTech Model 512
The Model 512 is EOTech’s most popular holo sight, and not just because it is their most affordable model. It features 20 daylight settings, which allows you to adjust brightness for easy dawn to dusk shooting. Although some consider a holo sight for shotgun hunting major overkill, the Model 512 can be an asset for turkey hunting, where precision shooting is an absolute must. It even comes in a camo pattern to help you stay hidden when calling in big spring gobblers.
The Model 512 is also a great option for tactical applications. It is super lightweight, holds zero like there’s no tomorrow, and offers up to 1000 hours of battery life.
It’s a pretty no-frills option compared to some other models in the EOTech line-up. However, it may be the best value and is perfect for AR-15 set-ups and other tactical rifles.
3 EOTech Model XPS2
The EOTech Model XPS2 is pretty similar to the Model 512. However, EOTech found a way to reduce the optic’s overall weight without sacrificing objective lens size. They did this by shortening the design and using a single battery (compared to two batteries used in the Model 512), which results in a reduction of three whole ounces and saves you a ton of rail space.
The extra rail space may not seem like a big deal to anyone using a full length rail. However, it leaves room for a magnifier or back up iron sights for AK-47 shooters who covet extra rail space.
4 EOTech Model 558
The EOTech Model 558 is similar to the Model 512, only this one is compatible with night vision gear. It comes with twenty different brightness settings for dawn to dusk use, just like the 512. However, the Model 558 features ten additional settings for Gen 1 through Gen 3+ night vision devices.
When the Model 558 is powered by a lithium battery, you get up to 1,000 hours of continuous use (at a nominal setting and moderate temperature). This means you can maximize speed and accuracy all day and all night.
5 EOTech Holographic Hybrid Sight II
One minor drawback for most of the sights on our list is they don’t come with any sort of magnification. This leaves the shooter scrambling to add their own and forces them to cram two separate devices onto limited rail space. The Eotech Holographic Hybrid Sight II (HHS II) solves this problem by integrating a G33 magnifier with their Model EXPS2 holo sight.
We realize this one isn’t cheap, but considering this is two optics in one, it is well worth the investment.
6 EOTech Model 300 Blackout
EOTech had tactical shooters in mind when they designed the Model 300 Blackout. Built on the Model XPS2 platform, the Model 300 Blackout is the shortest and lightest holographic weapon sight on the market. It also features a 2-dot ballistic drop reticle, so you can easily zero both subsonic or supersonic rounds in the same reticle pattern. For .300 BLK weapons, this is an absolute godsend.
By using a single compact lithium 123 battery configuration rather than the standard AA batteries, EOTech designed a more compact holo sight that opens up valuable rail space. The compact size and weight of the Model 300 Blackout make it a convenient option for hunters, military, and law enforcement personnel.
7 Vortex Razor AMG UH-1
A relative newbie to the field of holographic sights (compared to the long track record of EOTech), Vortex is the only other real contender on the market.
Affectionately called the “Huey” (for its UH-1 designation), the Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 definitely gives EOTech a run for the money. It is shatterproof, fog-proof, scratch resistant, and built like a tank
The “Huey” also features one of the best reticles we’ve seen on a holo sight. Not only is it crisp, sharp, and has zero distortion, it also has a seriously user-friendly design. You can use the circle and center dot for zeroing your rifle and making adjustments for long-range shooting. However, the inclusion of a bottom triangle allows you to quickly compensate for close quarters distances of 10 yards or less.
8 Aimpoint Pro Red Dot Reflex Sight
Some shooters call the Aimpoint Pro an EOTech “clone.” This one definitely isn’t an EOTech. It isn’t a holographic sight, either. But it is a high-quality holo alternative that delivers some pretty amazing features.
The Aimpoint Pro is a full mil-spec scope designed for tactical military and law enforcement applications. It features a 2 MOA dot (with ten different day/night brightness settings) that makes it super easy to get on target fast and improves first shot hit probability.
The Aimpoint Pro also has something EOTech doesn’t - an insane battery life. You can get up to 30,000 hours of constant-on usage before you'll need to swap out the batteries. That’s almost three and a half years! You can just turn this red dot sight on, and then forget it. It will always be ready to shoot whenever you are.
9 Holosun 510C
So, this one isn’t technically a holographic sight. The Holosun 510C uses LED red dot technology. However, it harnesses some of the best qualities of a red dot optic and combines them with a user-friendly reticle like those commonly found on holographic sights.
The reticle on this pseudo-holographic sight is crisp, clear, and surprisingly versatile. You can switch between a dot only, a ring only, or a dot/ring combination. However, because this isn’t a true holographic sight, you'll still have the focal issues that come with a red dot sight.
Since the reticle is produced by an LED, you get about 50,000 hours of use before you need to swap out the battery. That means you could accidentally leave the power on for almost six whole years! It also has solar capability that automatically switches in sunlight to preserve even more battery power. Chances are good that you’ll never have to change the batteries in this optic.
The Holosun 510C is lighter and has a smaller profile than any of the true holographic sights on our list. This could be a major selling point for some shooters.
10 Sightmark SM26005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight
Although the Sightmark SM26005 is a great entry level optic, it also isn’t a true holographic sight. Although it uses an LED like a standard red dot optic, the SM26005 utilizes a holo-style reticle with a 65 MOA Circle Dot Crosshair.
The sight features a true color anti-reflective lens coating that improves low light and night vision performance. This one feature makes the SM26005 a great option for deer hunting, especially around dawn and dusk when deer are most active. The sight also features six brightness settings so you can easily adjust the reticle brightness for sunny afternoons at the gun range.
Although you can expect the focal point issues common with red dot optics, the Sightmark SM26005 is a great optic for the money. This one will be particularly attractive for shooters who consider a holographic sight to be outside of their price range. It’s priced well under $200.
Not every optic on our list is a true holographic sight. However, they are all high-quality gadgets that will help speed up target acquisition and increase accuracy. We understand holo sight technology is expensive. While we consider it well worth the investment, we also understand the price places them well out of reach for some shooters.
The red dot sights we’ve included on the list are significantly more affordable. While they don’t offer all the benefits of a true holo sight, they are all quality compromises. They also offer much of the same function and usability as the best holographic sights on our list. These high-tech devices are all fast, accurate, and easy to use. What more could you ask for?