New Gun Owners

EOTECH: How to Choose Your Next Holographic Sight

Sam Babayan shooting the SIG MCX Rattler topped with a

The decision to mount an optic is no small matter. There are several factors to consider. First, you’ll want to decide on the mission for the firearm. For example, are you looking for a solution to shoot at longer ranges? Do you want something for engaging targets at under 100 yards or home defense? Perhaps you are looking for a single platform that can do it all. The second, of course, is budget. I am in the process of building a new AR in .300 Blackout and decided to bite the bullet and mount an EOTECH.

EOTECH sights use a holographic image for aiming. This is not the same as a red dot. Aiming with a red dot is similar to the front sight post. It is easier than standard sights, because you basically just put the dot on the spot you want to hit and then engage the bang! switch (trigger).

EOTECH XPS2-300 holographic sight left profile
Engineered for subsonic stealth in extreme tactical environments, the XPS2-300 HWS offers a two-dot ballistic drop reticle. This allows an operator to zero both subsonic and supersonic .300 Blackout rounds in the same reticle pattern, for instant access to both zeros where and when needed. Offered in the XPS2 platform, the water-resistant, durable housing features a custom “300 BLK” laser-etching on the hood.

Holographic-image sights are considered, by most, to be easier to use when shooting with both eyes open. This is true primarily because the hologram visually appears on the target, not between your eye and the target. So, your eye is focused on one plane, not bouncing between the sight and the target.

EOTECH: A Storied History

EOTECH is far from the cheapest solution on the market, which leaves many wondering whether it’s worth the money. Do a little research, and you’ll quickly discover EOTECH had an issue that led to a lawsuit from none other than the U.S. government. EOTECH’s parent company, L-3 Communications, settled and cleaned house.

About 3 years later, SOF units tested and fielded various interim replacements, and USSOCOM undertook a formal program to identify a replacement as part of its Miniature Aiming System – Day suite of optics. Out of the manufacturers that submitted units for potential selection, EOTECH won the day and received the $20 million+ contract.

Choosing an EOTECH Model

The first step to selecting a new optic is, of course, selecting a brand, at least the options. Since I already settled on a brand, I started looking at which options I wanted.

When you look across the sea of different options, you’ll notice all models are really variations of three different options. Of course, nothing is quite that easy — especially for neophytes. Some of the options require you to do a little sleuth work.

AR-15 with EOTECH magnifier and XPS2 holographic sight
EOTECH’s 3X and 5X magnifiers give you the ability to quickly transition between two distances instantly while maintaining accuracy. The magnifier is mounted directly behind the holographic sight and allows you to easily flip the magnifier out of the way for quick 1X targeting.

To select the best EOTECH for you, you’ll need to choose among these three options:

  1. Which battery do you want to power your EOTECH? AA or CR123?

AA battery-powered models offer 2.2X the battery life of a CR123 (2,200 vs. 1,000 hours at a brightness level of 12). However, AA batteries add 2.5 ounces of weight — make that 2.6 ounces if your model also has a quick release. EOTECH weights vary between 9 ounces for the XPS2/XPS3 and 13.8 ounces for the 518/558. To me it is a no brainer. AA batteries cost less and offer a longer life. However, let’s say you are in the military or hiking with your firearm while hunting. Worry about the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves.

2. Do you want quick-release capability?

As previously mentioned, you’ll have to decide whether you want a quick-release model. Quick releases have both pros and cons that will be determined by personal preference and how you plan to use your EOTECH and certain ergonomics. Quick-release models have the on/off and brightness buttons on the side. Models without quick release feature the control button on the back facing the shooter.

Dave Dolbee shooting a SIG rattler with EOTECH XPS2-300 holographic sight through the offset sight
The EOTECH XPS2-300 has a wide field of view, but do not overlook the value of being able to flip to your sights on a 30- or 45 degree offset.

3. Do you plan to use your EOTECH with night vision, now or in the future?

If you are not setting up this firearm for night vision, I would save my money and buy a dedicated unit for night vision when I was ready to outfit this firearm with NV or, more likely, when I set up another firearm that was dedicated to NV capability.

Based on how you answered the items above, you can quickly search the following table to determine which model best suits your needs and wants.

Note: Your selections are only in the first three columns. The last three columns are provided for informational purposes and based on the selection in the first three columns.

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ModelBatteryQuick ReleaseNight VisionCo-witnessWeight in OuncesButton Placement
512AANoNoAbs11.5Back
552AANoYesAbs11.5Back
518AAYesNo1/313.8Side
558AAYesYes1/313.8Side
XPS2CR123NoNoAbs9Back
XPS3CR123NoYesAbs9Back
EXPS2CR123YesNo1/311.2Side
EXPS3CR123YesYes1/311.2Side

Customizing Your Selection

OK, so maybe there are a few more options within models. Depending on the model you choose, there are reticle choices. Reticle offerings include a 2 or 4 dot with 65-MOA circle and the option for red or green illumination. Again, to me this is a no-brainer. There is a lot of green in nature and not nearly as much red. Plus, models with green reticles eat batteries faster, so you will be choosing a shorter battery life.

Note: Models using or featuring CR123 batteries, quick release, or night vision standardly cost more — and I want top quality, but I am also cheap, so…

Sam Babayan shooting the SIG MCX Rattler topped with a
It’s pretty easy to see that the shooter was not worried about weight, as much as he was focused on seeing how many accessories he could throw on one pistol.

The Setup

My plan was to set up a new AR-15 pistol in .300 Blackout with a suppressor. The .300 BLK offers superior performance with a minimal amount of noise when using a suppressor and subsonic ammunition. However, subsonic ammunition, by design, does not offer the same performance as supersonic .300 BLK ammunition. This means the two types of ammunition have different impact points and force the user to choose between the two types when sighting in.

Fortunately, the engineers at EOTECH thought of this and designed a solution into the EOTECH HWS XPS2-300 with .300 BLK reticle. My only tradeoff was that the model is powered by a single CR123 battery instead of AAs. However, the sight is still rated for up to about 600 hours of battery life.

The XPS2-300 uses the standard mounting system that quickly and easily mounts to any standard 1-inch Weaver or Picatinny rail and will re-zero within 2 MOA if removed and remounted — not perfect, but not bad. This is close enough to get you back on target and make re-zeroing simple with a minimal number of rounds.

Rainier Arms AR-15 topped with an EOTECH XPS2 holographic sight and magnifier in red and white resting against a fence post
As long as it does not affect accuracy or ergonomics, the author enjoys dressing up a gun or two for fun. Select your accessories first and have them on the gun when it gets coated,

As I previously mentioned, the XPS2-300 offers a 2-dot ballistic drop reticle that allows the shooter to zero and then accurately either for subsonic or supersonic rounds, in the same reticle pattern, and without re-zeroing. The XPS2 platform, is the shortest and lightest EOTECH HWS sight available. The sight features a .300 BLK custom laser-etched hood and is waterproof up to 10 feet, which is good marketing speak, but I do not plan on taking any of my guns for a swim.

In the end, the EOTECH was well worth the price. Even if you have to wait awhile longer to add a few more dollars to the piggy bank before making the purchase — it is still worth it compared to the performance from lesser quality options.

Do you own an EOTECH? How do you think it compares to red dot sights? Share you answer in the comment section.

  • EOTECH XPS2-300 holographic sight left profile
  • AR-15 with EOTECH magnifier and XPS2 holographic sight
  • Dave Dolbee in a kneeling position shooting a SIG MCX Rattler topped with an EOTECH XPS2-300 sight
  • SIG Sauer Rattler AR-15 pistol with Gemtech suppressor, PEC-15 laser and EOTECH XPS2-300 holographic sight
  • Sam Babayan shooting the SIG MCX Rattler topped with a
  • Rainier Arms AR-15 topped with an EOTECH XPS2 holographic sight and magnifier in red and white resting against a fence post
  • Dave Dolbee shooting a SIG rattler with EOTECH XPS2-300 holographic sight through the offset sight
  • Dave Dolbee shooting SIG MCX Rattler Chambered in .300 BLK from a kneeling position
  • Rainier Arms AR-15 topped with an EOTECH XPS2 holographic sight and magnifier
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. I have a 512 (AA batteries) and love it — it’s easy to acquire w/both eyes open and the batteries last forever!

  2. I mean, the Blood Rain AR is too much. But as far as the laser… you neber know when you may need to call in air support or confuse a tactical cat. LOL!
    I have a 518. Went with it cause it’s a workhorse and uses AA batteries. I have pretty bad astigmatism, so neuther HWS’ or RDS’ are perfect for me. I did throw a 3x vortex flip off on the same weapon, so at least at medium range the star effect is gone. I do like the 65moa circle and 2moa dot config. Wish they had a green or better yet, blue reticle.

  3. I have the HHW XPS2 Hybrid systen with 3x mag. My eyesight isn’t perfect but when looking through the magnifier the image is much clearer as I move my sight out to the edge of the scope, a bit blurrier riight in the center. Diopter adjustment doesn’t make a difference. Anyone else experience this? Thanks.

  4. I’ve owned a 512 Eotech for about 12 years. I really like it. However, my reticle became very dim about a year ago and apparently needed an overhaul that was $75. Eotech told me mine was a legacy design so the overhaul was also an upgrade.

  5. Can anyone say Barbie and Ken.

    I’m not even sure why even post this write up, when author’s apparent goal is to play dress and makeup to an otherwise tool that needs to be reliable and not cluttered up. Why no geotech pictures and who cares about silly colors. Go back to barbie dolls or video games or write up on target stories

  6. although unrelated to this fine article, how about an article on whether a handgun is effective as a defense agains a mentally ill person

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