July 16, 2019
Photos by Mark Fingar
EOTech holographic sights have been in service with the special forces community for over 20 years. They are preferred by many operators because of their bigger viewing screen, a more visible reticle and they suffer less parallax shift than most other close-quarters-battle (CQB) sights currently available.
Bigger Is Better
A recent special forces command study proved that soldiers using conventional variable-powered scopes had faster engagement times when they used scopes with second-focal-plane reticles than they did using scopes with first-focal-plane reticles. Simply shifting the reticle’s location from the middle of the scope to the rear quarter of the scope sped up engagement times.
The times got faster because it’s easier to see a reticle off-axis (when the shooter’s head isn’t perfectly aligned behind the rifle) when it’s in the second focal plane. Putting the reticle closer to the shooter’s eye makes it come into the eye’s field of view sooner. This concept is why the EOTech holographic weapon sights are some of the fastest CQB sights around.
Any low-powered scope is a tube you have to look through to see the reticle. These are the slowest “sights” to mount on a carbine. Faster than low-powered variables are red-dot sights, followed by the fastest sights I know – the EXPS holographics.
The reason the holographics are the fastest sights of all is due to their large and flat viewing screens. They make it possible for the eye to pick up the reticle long before the rifle is settled into the shoulder or the head is behind the sight. This allows the shooter to simply move the reticle to the target while simultaneously setting the rifle in the shoulder. Being able to do more than one task at a time streamlines and compresses the aiming/shooting sequence.
Next time you head out to the range, try SGM (ret.) Kyle Lamb’s “never-ending magazine” drill. The shooter shoots one round off their right shoulder and then shoots the next round off their left shoulder. Rinse and repeat until the entire magazine is gone.
You’ll find that, much like any positional shooting, rifle and head placement gets sloppy the faster you go. The more forgiving your sight is and the easier it is to find the reticle, the faster you can get accurate shots off. This drill is a great way to gain an appreciation for just how fast the EXPS2 is in any time-sensitive scenario.
I know the first special forces’ soldier that tested and evaluated the EOTech while deployed. He was part of the U.S. 5th Special Forces Group’s research and development team that constantly evaluated new firearms and accessories for possible fielding.
He was issued the sight in the early 2000s when even the best red-dot sights had to have the front lens cover closed to see the dot in bright desert sunlight. He used the sight in Bahrain and Kuwait before deploying to Afghanistan when the War on Terror began. He demonstrated it for his battalion commander, who was so impressed with the evaluation that the EOTech sight was issued to the rest of the 5th Special Forces Group.
The big deal about EOTech’s holosight back then was how easy it was to see the reticle under all lighting conditions. The sight has a 1-MOA dot surrounded by a 65-MOA circle. It is a large reticle that is easy to find due to its construction. The 1-MOA center dot also allows for a high degree of precision.
Holosight reticles have historically been red, the hardest color of all to spot in bright daylight, especially when placed on top of a light-colored target. The only way to compensate for the red color choice is to throw lots of electricity at it to make it super bright, which is what everyone does. EOTechs have big batteries, but holographic technology is different from red-dot sights, which is why the EOTech reticle is so visible.
The reason red reticles have been around so long is they are also the easiest and least expensive to make. The color red has a long wavelength. Until now, making emitters for long wavelengths was much easier than any other.
The EXPS2 that I’ve been testing has the new green reticle, a huge improvement for a sight that was already thoroughly vetted by our troops. Green is much easier to spot in any lighting condition because it has a shorter wavelength and better contrast. Place a green reticle against a light-colored target in the brightest daylight and it still pops. Most red dots will be very hard to see.
EOTech’s holographic sights made their name by making red electronic reticles easy to see under bright daylight, so it’s not surprising they made another quantum leap in reticle visibility by coming out with a green reticle that is only priced $100 more. The leap in technology that enables the company to inexpensively manufacture the green emitter and reticle is a huge win for the customer.
Just about every red-dot and holographic sight makes the claim that they are parallax-free. Sadly, most are not. Parallax occurs while moving your head around behind the sight, causing a shift in the point of impact. It occurs because the target is not in the same focal plane as the reticle or dot.
An easy test to do at home is to lock your rifle in a vice, turn the sight on and put a small mark on the wall near the sight’s center dot. Look through the sight and move your head from side to side while paying attention to the relationship between the mark on the wall and your dot. A cheap optic will have a huge amount of dot shift as you move your head. This phenomenon is at its worst at close range.
Holosights have the least amount of dot shift or parallax of all red-dot and holographic sights. Parallax in the real world doesn’t really matter at CQB distances. A 10-MOA shift at 25 yards (not an uncommon occurrence) is about 2½ inches. That same 10-MOA shift at 25 yards is probably a 3- to 4-inch shift in the point of impact at 100 yards. Now that is a problem.
These types of sights aren’t used to shoot groups, but they are used a lot in combat. In combat, it is unwise to assume the enemy will expose their entire body as a target. Instead, you only get a shot at whatever isn’t hiding behind cover. Not knowing exactly where your bullets are impacting is a big problem.
I’ve always liked the EOTech and carried one overseas when I was in the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group. I found them to be very reliable and durable sights. The batteries don’t last as long in an EOTech as they do in some of the red-dot sights, but it is a small price to pay for having a large viewing screen, highly visible reticle and the fastest times to get a rifle on target.
EOTech EXPS2 Green
Dot Size: 1-MOA dot with 65-MOA circle
Length: 3.8 in.
Height: 2.9 in.
Width: 2.3 in.
Elevation Adjustment: .5 MOA
Windage: .5 MOA
Battery: CR123 (approximately 600 hrs.)
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Eye Relief: Infinite
Manufacturer: EOTech, eotechinc.com
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