Learn about firearms sight systems, and how to choose the best holographic sights here.
6 of the Very Best Holographic Sights Reviewed and Compared
Choosing components for firearms takes a great deal of information and knowledge. Even with a lot of experience, it can be a bit difficult to choose something like the best holographic sights simply because there are so many available. In this article, we will look at red dot and holographic sights, decide which is best for your needs, and uncover the best sights for you.
Let’s start with the answer to a very common question: What is better, the red dot or the holographic sight?
Before you can answer that, though, you need to be sure you are clear on just what a red dot sight is and what a holographic sight is. The red dot sight is a technology that is reaching thirty years of existence. According to the NRA, the red dot remains one of the more popular options. They are “small, electronic sight systems that generate a dot-shaped reticle – often in red – that serves as the designator for where your rounds should land.”
In other words, it is a sight that projects a red dot as a clear indicator of point of impact. It projects the dot and can use a reflector (called a reflex red dot) or LED. These are the iconic, tube-shaped sights that look just like scopes but project a beam on the intended target.
Red dot sights will use an array of materials and systems ranging from tritium for projection and fiber optics systems, but never lasers. Red dot tech of this kind is used in fighter planes but is also seen commercially on things like telescopes and land surveying equipment.
Why are they popular and preferred? They are unlike traditional sights that force the user to align the eye, front and rear sight, and target perfectly. Instead, the user can peer through the sight from different angles, and maintain their point of aim.
There are also prismatic red dot sights that are, again as the NRA explains, “more akin to riflescopes but feature fewer lenses. Rather than projecting a dot reticle using a LED and a reflective lens, prismatic sights use a prism that flips the image, which otherwise would appear upside-down.”
In the prismatic sights, the red dot is not used but is instead a reticle that can be lit up or shut off, and which does not project on the target. The reticle is usually etched into the glass and then illuminated. There is a downside to this option, which is that there is shorter, narrower eye relief and can be very difficult to use.
Then there is the holographic option. Made by EOTech, it is a sight that uses “holographic diffraction.” This is a complex technology that essentially records “the light reflected off on object scene,” then decodes that recording to recreate the field of view in the large sight.
Many feel it is superior because it has a much larger field of view and empowers the user to move their head without also adjusting their aim. In a holographic sight, a reticle can be two or three dimensional, also.
A Closer Look at Holographic Sights
EOTech says that a holographic sight, which they describe as an HWS or holographic weapon sight is superior to a red dot in performance and construction. For example, they explain that a holographic sight can offer a 68 MOA (minute of angle) ring AND a 1 MOA dot, a tubeless “heads up” display window for optimal field of view, and tech that ensures faster and superior target acquisition speeds.
The MOA is significant because it is a gauge of accuracy and looks at the capability of a firearm to consistently deliver a grouping of shots at a specific distance. As an example, 68 MOA means that has a single ring and a single dot. The center dot will be accurate from 50 to 200 years, while the bottom of the ring will be accurate to seven yards.
If a side by side comparison were done, there would be an array of factors that contribute towards the superiority of the holographic sights, including:
Better reticles – The holographic sight uses a reticle with a center dot to ensure range precision while the typical red dot sight is only a two to four MOA
Field of view – A rectangular, heads up display offers a larger field of view compared to the rounded view for a red dot sight, which can have blind spots and offer only tunnel vision
Magnification – The holographic sight is much more precise, typically enlarging the target to three times at 100 yards, while the red dot user will also see a 3x magnification, there is far less precision when aiming
Which is right for your needs? That boils down to several factors:
- Personal preferences
- Intended use
As you might guess, the red dot, reflex sights are often among the most inexpensively priced, while the top of the line holographic sight is likely to be a costly system. Each is a reliable option, and no matter what is chosen, it is always best to have a backup system.
Choosing the Best Holographic Sight for an AR-15
When looking for the best holographic sights for your AR-15, you have to look beyond those three criteria above and consider the following elements in the sight:
As we know, the reticle allows the user to see the field as well as use the reticle for aim. The window aperture is the “window” through which you see the field, and the better options allow you to keep your eyes wide open when targeting and shooting. The best option for the AR-15 is one that enables 25-30 yards and up to 100 yards field of view. The window aperture should also be low in profile to support the peripheral vision.
Because an AR-15 is a high caliber weapon that may be repeatedly fired, the holographic sight should have recoil resistance, hold zero, and feature a housing that keeps it firmly in place. It should always remain steady as the weapon is discharging rounds. In other words, it should be compact, firmly mounted, and capable of functioning in even a combat scenario.
Using costlier lithium batteries, most holographic sights should have a longer than average battery life. However, as is the case with any battery-powered item, battery life is most heavily affected by the individual user. Adjusting to optimal brightness settings is one good behavior to adopt, but a holographic sight with programmable and automatic shutdown may ensure the best battery life.
There will be many settings and the more the better because any owner may find themselves in varying light conditions in which, as one expert wrote, the “brightness settings on the sight do not pair well with the environmental lighting, and you will end up with a reticle that is either too dim or too bright.” That is why a holographic sight with multiple, adjustable settings is a better choice.
A clear, crisp reticle is essential, as is the overall design used. The best holographic sights provide a cleaner option than other sights, but this can bump pricing. Keep in mind that holographic sights pair a reticle and red dot (that is the larger MOA circle with the smaller dot inside). The dot offers easer longer to mid-range shots, while the MOA circle is often best suited for close-range or fast-moving targets.
Is all of the technology the reason that a holographic sight is more expensive than a red dot sight? If you realize that a holographic sight uses a laser diode, folding mirror, holographic grating, collimating reflector, and reticle image hologram (as opposed to the lens with a reflective surface and LED of a red dot sight), you can begin to see why costs vary.
Consider too that holographic sights are military-grade, offer amazing warrantees, designed for resilience in any conditions, meet very fine specs, and are far more accurate than anything else on the market.
Mounting a Holographic Sight
Mounting a holographic sight is simple. EOTech says that the holographic sights feature integrated mounting platforms that work with “any standard 1 Weaver dovetail or Picatinny Mil-spec 1913 mounting rail” on tactical weapons, including the AR-15s. While it is possible to tap the receiver, use an add-on or other mounting solutions, it is important to mount any holographic sight with the battery facing away from the user and towards the muzzle.
Of course, if you are thinking about size, you quickly learn that holographic sights are only available for larger firearms because of their overall size, and are not an option for pistols and handguns.
The 6 Best Holographic Sights Available
Now that we have considered the ins and outs of holographic sights, it is time to do some comparisons between the best holographic sights and some of the top-ranked red dot sights and reflex sights to determine which is right for you. It is without a doubt that the EOTech 512 is amongst the very best holographic sights, but it may not be within your budget. To accommodate that, we suggest the best holographic sights, red dot sights, and reflex sights below:
This option cannot be deemed one of the best holographic sights simply because it is not a holographic sight. Instead, it is unique in that it is a reflex sight that uses red and green reticles to support optimal aim.
It does have a sturdy aluminum housing and protective shield, digital controls, water and shock resistance, and a quick-mount system. It is a heads-up design with unlimited eye relief.
Feyachi RS-29 Reflex Sight, Red & Green Illuminated 4 Reticles Red Dot Sight Gun Sight with 20mm Picatinny Rail, 1x22x33mm
Another of the reflex sight options, rather than a holographic sight, it is a tubeless design that emulates the very best features of the best holographic sights, but at a lower price point. This offers a wide field of view and 360 vision. It has a multi-reticle feature with brightness settings up to five different intensity levels. It is a precision-machined option with a standard profile Picatinny mounting base.
Holosun HS510C 2 MOA Dot or A 65 MOA Ring Open Reflex Circle Dot Solar Power Holographic Red Dot Sight
Reflex sight uses red dot reticle and a large, open frame for larger sight. Using solar power and supplemental battery power, it is adjustable to 65 MOA circle reticle with a 2 MOA dot. It has brightness adjustments and a reliable LED to eliminate re-zeroing issues.
A tactical weapon sight with characteristics similar to the best holographic sights, it features four dual-color reticles, adjustable brightness settings, easy mounting to Picatinny and Weaver rails, and an immense field of view. It allows rapid movement at short to mid-range and is also remarkably durable.
Feyachi RS-30 Reflex Sight, Multiple Reticle System Red Dot Sight with Picatinny Rail Mount, Absolute Co-Witness
The tubeless design makes this red dot reflex sight a good option for those seeking alternatives to the very best holographic sights. It offers rapid acquisition and a wide field of view. It has four red dot reticles and adjustable brightness settings and is designed with an integrated mount compatible with 20mm Picatinny or Weaver rails.
With its unlimited eye relief and parallax corrected design, it is easily adjusted and made of premium aluminum that is lightweight and yet entirely reliable.
This is a sturdy and secure alternative to a holographic sight. Using red dot reticles, this reflex sight has a large 33mm lens and wide field of view to support rapid acquisition. The easy to use rail mounting system ensures accuracy, and the adjustable brightness settings and all in one sight (with four different reticles) are popular.
It is waterproof and ultra-light and uses a single lithium battery. With unlimited eye relief and 1X magnification, it is a good alternative to holographic options.
If your budget allows for the very best holographic sights, then the EOTech options, particularly the EOTech 512 is for you. However, the reflex and red dot sights evaluated here are also ideal solutions. A holographic weapon sight is the very top of the line, and whether you want something with ultra-shot tech or something to enable non-stop eye relief, the six holographic sight alternatives above will do the trick.
Just take some time to evaluate their brightness settings, MOA capabilities (reticles), their durability, mounting style, and performance. It is likely you will find several choices for a weapon sight in the list above, and may even want to invest in two to always have a backup on hand.