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Holographic sights are a unique type of gunsight that uses lasers to create a reticle that appears to “float” in front of the weapon in your field of view. They work by illuminating a reticle image stored on holographic film within the window, creating a precise image. By creating a reconstructed image rather than simply projecting a LED dot or crosshair onto a pane of glass, they ensure that the image is unaffected by things like astigmatism, magnification, and even a cracked objective lens. The sight adjusts for windage and elevation by tilting the holographic grating, and the brightness is adjusted by raising or lowering the intensity of the laser.

Since 1995, EoTech has remained the premier name in holographic sights, producing optics that some of the best shooters in law enforcement and the military rely on. The Michigan-based company’s first military optics were formally adopted in 2005 in the form of their 5x series of holographic weapons sights. This family of sights used batteries mounted parallel to the weapon’s barrel and featured controls on the rear of the optic; however, recoil had a tendency to knock these batteries loose, resulting in various issues. This led to the development of the XPS model, which solved this problem by replacing the parallel batteries with transverse-mounted CR123 batteries in a tube-shaped battery compartment, all but eliminating the risk of the recoil knocking the batteries loose.

All of EoTech’s decades of work on holographic sights has finally culminated with the EXPS model — namely, the EXPS 3 family of sights, which has a number of features that set it above not just previous EoTech models, but every other holographic sight on the market, making it one of the best choices for the serious shooter. 

The EXPS 3 comes in three different variations and two different colors and can have its capabilities extended out to long ranges with the addition of a magnifier. These three variants feature different reticles, each featuring a different bullet-drop compensator, adjusted for 62 Grain 5.56×45 ammunition fired at 2,900 feet per second. The EXPS 3-0 simply features a hashed “speed ring” with a 1 minute-of-angle (MOA) dot, ideal for close-quarter engagements. The EXPS 3-2 features the same ring around 2 1 MOA dots, one meant for 50-200 yards, and the other, lower one meant for 500-yard engagements, allowing more precise range estimation for longer shots, without an overly-cluttered reticle. The EXPS 3-4 features four dots inside the speed ring, each graduated for 50-200, 400, 500, and 600, respectively. In addition, all EXPS3 variants are capable of being used when viewed through night vision, with a dedicated switch to engage night vision mode allowing a transition that’s as easy as flipping down your night vision devices and pressing the button.

With all this in mind, here’s what you should know when selecting your very own holographic sight — and why, undoubtedly, it should be some variant of the EoTech EXPS 3.

Best Holographic Sight Overall

The EoTech EXPS 3-2 fits into that all-rounder niche for the EoTech line, allowing flexibility at greater ranges with the added bullet drop compensator dot while not requiring an additional magnifier at the cost of extra weight and money. The top dot inside the speed ring is designed to be used as the point of aim between 50 and 200 yards, with the bottom of the ring itself being used for extreme close range, and the lower dot being graduated for 500 yards. This, combined with the one-touch night vision mode, makes the EoTech EXPS 3-2 a holographic sight that will work for most users in most applications.

The biggest advantage of the EXPS as a holographic sight with a bullet drop compensator is that the reticle does not scale, therefore keeping the distance between dots visually the same and ensuring that your sight picture remains the same should you choose to use a magnifier. The EXPS 3-2 also features a reticle that, while allowing the shooter to make longer shots that are too long to simply guesstimate, also doesn’t feature an overly-cluttered reticle like the EXPS 3-4, which really excels under magnification. In addition, the EoTech EXPS 3-2 — like all holographic optics — works much better than conventional red dots with shooters who have astigmatism in either of their eyes, being immune to any streaking.

The issues specific to the EXPS in particular and the EoTech holographic sights in general can be boiled down to 3 main factors: price, battery life, and size. The issue specific to the EXPS 3-2 is that the bullet drop compensator, while more friendly to the unassisted eye, is still at a severe disadvantage. EoTech sights in general are battery hogs, compared to their red dot counterparts that measure their battery lives in years, rather than hours, and they’re oftentimes more expensive. You can get a Holosun red dot for a little north of $200, but nearly all new holographic optics cost well over $500. Finally, holographic sights are almost always larger, as evidenced by the proliferation of mini and micro red dots like the Aimpoint T2 and the Trijicon RMR. The EXPS 3-2’s bullet drop compensator, while more usable than the EXPS 3-4s 4-step reticle, still would likely benefit from a G33 magnifier, which is an added cost, since at 500 yards, a human-sized target is incredibly small in your unassisted vision. This reduces the EXPS 3-2s advantage over the 3-4, especially for those who shoot targets at unknown distance and don’t want a reticle that jumps from 200 to 500 yards in terms of precise points of aim.

The EoTech EXPS 3-2 is still a close-quarters optic at heart, but the added benefit of the 500 yard dot on the reticle means that if you really have to, you can reach out and touch someone. It’s not perfect, and would still benefit from a flip up magnifier, but this member of the EXPS family stands on its own next to its more specialized brethren.

Product Specs
  • Battery life: 1000 hours
  • Reticle type: EoTech “Speed Ring” with 2x 1 MOA dots
  • Magnification: None
  • Power source: 1x CR123A battery
PROS

Almost immune to astigmatism

Able to engage targets at various distances easily

Clear, uncluttered reticle

Huge field of view

CONS

Reticle could still benefit from being able to see long distance targets more clearly

Limited battery life

Pricier than red dots

Best Long Range Holographic Sight

The EoTech Hybrid Holographic sight isn’t really its own optic, but an EoTech EXPS 3-4 bundled with a G33 magnifier and sold for a package deal. However, if you’re looking to engage targets at longer ranges but still want all the benefits of a holographic sight in terms of limiting parallax, use under night vision, and having a great close quarters optic if the situation requires it, then this is the choice for you. By simply flipping up the G33 magnifier, the shooter can get a better view of distant target, while maintaining the reticle size, ensuring that the only thing that changes between magnifications is your view of the target. It’s essentially the modern version of putting an ACOG behind your EoTech with the added flexibility of being able to switch between magnifications on a whim.

The HHS bundle solves the biggest issue with the EXPS 3-4, which is that to the unaided eye, the 4-step bullet drop compensation reticle appears somewhat cluttered. Now with a magnifier, your target won’t be obscured by the red dots, which is especially handy at 500 and 600 yards. The added weight of the G33 magnifier can also be solved by simply removing it using the quick-release function, which doesn’t affect the optic’s zero at all, simply being a magnifier. Finally, the EXPS 3-4 is still a holographic, night vision capable optic, meaning that it’s just as quick and capable 100 yards and in as the other models in the EXPS 3 line, so it’s still going to be more versatile than a dedicated long or short range optic.

I’ve already mentioned one of the biggest downsides with the HHS bundle, and that’s the weight. The added weight of the G33 is not insignificant, and while not prohibitively heavy, this somewhat subtracts from the EoTechs reputation as a fast, close-in optic. This is a training issue that can largely be solved with better shooter physical fitness, but it’s still a factor to consider. The next issue is cost: this bundle costs over $1000 at the time of writing, and while that’s exactly what you’d expect to pay for quality products from EoTech, it’s still a fair chunk of change for most buyers, especially when you consider the system against Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs). The EXPS 3-4 reticle is, as mentioned above, cluttered to the naked eye, and targets at 500 or 600 yards can get lost behind the dots when quickly acquiring targets. Finally, this system does nothing to address the other issues that are common to EoTech, such as battery life, bulk, and especially cost.

The EoTech HHS is the answer for shooters who want to have the clarity and flexibility of a holographic optic, but the ability to bring that speed of target acquisition that EoTech offers at closer ranges to targets 300 yards and out. While not perfect, it gets the job done.

Product Specs
  • Battery life: 1000 hours
  • Reticle type: EoTech “Speed Ring” with 4x 1 MOA dots
  • Magnification: 3x with G33 up
  • Power source: 1x CR123A battery
PROS

Almost immune to astigmatism

Magnifier brings longer range targets into view better

Reticle allows for quick target acquisition at longer ranges

Huge field of view

CONS

Magnifier adds significant weight and bulk

Limited battery life

More expensive than some LPVOs

The mission dictates shooter equipment, of course. The reality of my shooting situation is that my AR-15 is a Daniel Defense AR pistol with a 10.3-inch barrel. While excellent as a maneuverable, light, and compact weapon that handles well and doesn’t snag on objects in my house, at the range, or while in transit, that doesn’t make for a particularly long-range platform. Part of the ballistics of any round is how the barrel length affects things like velocity and stability, and 10.3-inch on your standard 5.56×45 NATO round is decidedly short-range. For this reason, the EXPS 3-0 is perfect for me, given that it’s the member of the EXPS 3 family that dispenses with the bullet drop compensator dots and simply has a speed ring with a 1 MOA dot in the center. This is all the EoTech I need, currently.

The EoTech EXPS 3-0 offers a simple, uncluttered reticle that’s a great alternative to red dots if you’re like me and want something that’s totally unaffected by astigmatism, as I have a very minor one that’s still noticeable. The dot is perfect for targets out to 200 yards, the bottom of the ring is the point of aim for seven yards, and the entire speed ring, when used to straddle the shoulders of a human-size target at seven yards, will ensure that the pattern of many shotguns will entirely be inside the torso. Finally, the reticle is still useful out to 200 yards, so the optic is not strictly limited to engagement distances less than 100 yards.

The biggest downside to this system is the lack of flexibility, and my eventual plans to go to a magnified optic or a magnified holographic sight on a slightly longer barrel effectively make the EXPS 3-0 the worst option of the EXPS 3 family for this task. When used in conjunction with a magnifier, the EXPS 3 offers no additional points of aim for targets past the point where the trajectory of the 5.56mm round starts to drop, effectively requiring the shooter to just guess. While this isn’t much of an issue at the distances that I’m expecting to use a 10.3-inch barrel AR-15, should I choose to take advantage of the modularity of the AR platform and have an upper with a longer barrel, which would be better for longer distances, the EXPS 3-0 would quickly prove itself a unitasker when compared to the other options on this list. As a final potential issue, the EXPS 3-0 at short ranges doesn’t offer as many advantages as at longer ranges, when compared to equivalent quality red dots, save maybe for less risk of astigmatism and parallax. Things like reticle scaling aren’t a factor when you’re not using a magnifier.

The EoTech EXPS 3-0 works perfectly for my rifle setup and is a natural pick for the editor’s choice, especially for those who are also looking for a dedicated close-range optic. While it might suffer at longer distances when compared to the more complex reticles of the EXPS 3-2 and 3-4, that’s the risk of a dedicated tool.

Product Specs
  • Battery life: 1000 hours
  • Reticle type: EoTech “Speed Ring” with 1x 1 MOA dot
  • Magnification: None
  • Power source: 1x CR123A battery
PROS

Almost immune to astigmatism

Reticle is clean and uncluttered

Huge field of view

CONS

Simple reticle cannot be used to quickly engage longer-range targets

Limited battery life

Still larger than red dots that work the same at short ranges

FAQs on holographic sights

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Are holographic sights better than red dot?

A: Holographic sights have distinct advantages and disadvantages when compared to conventional red dots. While they suffer less from things like parallax, astigmatism distortion, and reticle scaling under magnification, they also have lower battery lives, are usually larger, and are almost always more expensive. What works will vary from shooter to shooter, and we encourage anyone to try before they buy.

Q: Do holographic sights work with astigmatism?

A: Holographic sights are widely considered to be the best options to use for those with astigmatism, due to the fact that the reticle is a hologram and not a single projected point of light as with a red dot.

Q: Can you use a magnifier with a holographic sight?

A: Absolutely. Holographic sights are arguably the best place to use magnifiers, since they will not also increase the size of the reticle, therefore ensuring consistency between magnification levels.

Q: Does the U.S. military use magnifiers?

A: Yes. Here are some photos of an EOTech Holographic Hybrid Sight III in use by ANGLICO Marines back in May 2020.

The best holographic sights worth owning
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dontaye Payton, an ammunition technician assigned to 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, takes cover and fires at silhouette targets using the EOTech Holographic Hybrid Sight III during a live fire range on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 28, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Gadiel Zaragoza)

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Matt Sampson is a Task & Purpose commerce writer. An 0861 in the Marine Forces Reserve and a Virginia native, he worked in tactical gear retail in his past life and is an avid firearms enthusiast. The farthest the Marine Corps has sent him from home is California.

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