Nearly since their inception, EOTech holographic sights have been one of the dominant choices in rifle optics. Best known for their distinctive reticles and large windows, EOTech sights are often favored for their excellent acquisition speed and night vision compatibility.
While no EOTech could ever be considered a bad choice for your next rifle, with so many different options to choose from in their lineup, it can be hard to figure out which model is best for you. The array of colors, model numbers, and reticles can be dizzying.
In truth, though, the choice of your next EOTech boils down to three essential traits: Mounting options and cowitness, battery type, and night vision compatibility.
Understanding EOTech Holographic Sights
Before we can address the differences between models of EOTech sights and reasons to choose one over the other, it’s important to take a look at what they share in common.
EOTech holographic sights are a unique type of reflex sight that uses a laser diode filtered through a series of reflectors and filters to generate a true holographic image, instead of just projecting a dot onto a lens like red dot sights. This method of generating the reticle ensures a true parallax-free image, in addition to being generally less distorted for users with astigmatism. For a more in-depth look at the differences, check out our guide to holographic vs red dot sights.
These sights are well-known and much loved for their iconic reticle, which is composed of a 68 MOA outer circle and one or more inner red dots. The outer circle serves as a faster, less precise aiming tool for close-range target engagement. The bottom edge of the circle can even be used as a holdover at very short ranges. The center dot, on the other hand, is used for precise shots.
This reticle, combined with the large window size of the Eotech sight, has made it a favorite amongst military and law enforcement users for close- to medium-range weapons and is particularly popular for use with night vision.
As a reflex sight, EOTechs offer unlimited eye relief and are very forgiving of head position, making them perfect for both tactical applications and competitions where users will need to engage targets while moving.
Each EOTech sight is offered with several options for reticles, most of which are based on the 68 MOA circle and 1 MOA inner dot design. Users have the choice of one, two, or four inner dots. The additional dots are spaced such that they function as holdover marks for common cartridges at round ranges, such as 200, 300, and 400 yards.
At the time of this writing, EOTech offers 4 different series of holographic sight.
EOTech EXPS vs XPS
EXPS— The flagship model of EOTech’s current holographic sights, the EXPS features a toolless QD mount for easy installation or rapid removal and creates a lower 1/3rd cowitness with standard iron sights. The sole difference between the EXPS3 and EXPS2 is the presence of a night vision-compatible mode.
XPS— This model is identical in most respects to the EXPS, with the exception that the XPS does not feature a QD mount but offers a true cowitness with standard irons. Additionally, the XPS series uses rear-mounted buttons to manage settings and power levels, whereas the EXPS uses side-mounted buttons. As with the EXPS, the “3” or “2” suffix on the model number denotes night vision compatibility or the lack thereof.
EOTech 5x-Series Optics
512/552— The 512 and 552 are nearly identical, slightly older models of EOTech’s holographic design. These models are powered by common AA batteries and are consequentially larger than the EXPS and XPS series, which use modern CR123A batteries. Both models are cross-bolt mounted and offer an absolute cowitness with standard iron sights. Model 552 is night vision compatible, while model 512 is not.
518/558— These sights are in most respects the same as the 512 and 558, except that the 518 and 558 offer the same toolless QD mount as the EXPS series. The 518 and 558 also feature side-mounted control buttons, again similar to the EXPS series.
Which EOTech is Right for You?
As we mentioned earlier, the choice boils down to three essential features. Your preference of mounting method and cowitness, battery type, and night vision capability will ultimately determine the best EOTech for your rifle.
Mounting Options and Cowitness
The first feature you’ll want to address is your mounting type and preferred cowitness.
Models with QD mounts offer the ability to rapidly attach or remove the sight, which can be beneficial for users who plan to use their holographic sight on more than one rifle.
Some users also prefer the QD function for peace of mind, as it allows the sight to be rapidly removed in the event of a failure. However, since all EOTech sights offer some degree of cowitness with common AR-15 iron sights, other users do not feel the QD function to be necessary, unless the optic will be used with a rifle that does not offer cowitness-compatible iron sights, such as an AK-pattern rifle.
EOTech sights that feature QD mounts will offer a lower 1/3rd cowitness, meaning that standard height iron will be visible only in the lower portion of the optic’s window, rather than aligned with the reticle, as in an absolute cowitness. This allows users who prefer fixed iron sights to use the reticle without interference, but still be able to revert to their irons by merely lowering their head slightly.
The increased height of a lower 1/3rd cowitness also allows the window of the optic to better clear certain laser aiming devices, such as the PEQ-15. By shifting the optic higher, the PEQ-15 will obstruct less of the field of view.
However, if you do not intend to use any sort of aiming laser and do not require QD functionality, a cross-bolt mounting EOTech may be preferable. These models tend to be less expensive, owing primarily to the reduced parts used in construction, and allow for a slightly lower head position, which some users find offers a more secure cheek weld.
While not all users will pair their EOTech with a magnifier, those that intend to have another reason to consider the QD-mounted models—these models have their control buttons relocated to the side of the sight, rather than the back.
Many users find the rear-mounted buttons difficult to use in conjunction with a magnifier. In fact, the buttons are all but impossible to use with the magnifier engaged, making it necessary to flip the magnifier out of the way in order to change settings.
EOTech holographic sights are currently offered with two options for battery type: AA and CR123A.
AA batteries have the advantage of being one of the most common battery types in America, making it exceedingly simple to find replacements. Even most gas stations in America carry AA batteries.
The AA-powered EOTech models also benefit from longer run times than the CR123A models. But, owing primarily to the larger size of the batteries, these models are also significantly larger and slightly heavier than their CR123A counterparts.
As CR123A batteries slowly become common in both firearms accessories and general electronics, they are also becoming easier and easier to find at stores, even those that do not specialize in batteries or electronics. While they still haven’t and may never achieve the ubiquity of AAs, CR123As are now available off the shelf at a variety of common stores.
Users who prefer maximum battery life and aren’t afraid of a little extra size or weight will be well-served by an AA-powered EOTech, but those with limited rail space or lightweight rifles should stick to CR123As.
Night Vision Compatibility
Night vision compatibility is probably the easiest attribute to evaluate—either you need it, or you don’t. If you have night vision or plan on getting it in the future, you should opt for a compatible EOTech. Or, if you don’t plan on ever using night vision, it should be a simple decision to go with a non-compatible model, since they tend to be significantly cheaper.
Night vision compatibility in an EOTech sight is simply a setting that reduces the brightness level of the reticle. This makes the reticle too dim to see with the bare eye, but visible and appropriately bright under night vision.
Without this compatibility mode, even the lowest setting on your EOTech will be far too bright under night vision and will wash out everything around it. There is no use for the night vision compatibility mode for anything other than aiming through a night vision device.
EOTech makes an exceptional reflex sight, one that has been used by police and military forces and civilians alike nearly since its invention. To determine which sight is best for you, simply walk through each of the three differentiating criteria above, then select the appropriate sight.
Whatever model you pick, you can rest assured that you’ve made an excellent choice. Or, if you still can’t decide on your next optic, check out our guide on LPVOs vs Holographic sights and our Red Dot Buyer’s Guide for more options.