Gear Review: EOTech XPS3-2 Holographic Weapons Sight

So, you have gone through the motions of justifying the purchase of a ‘Modern Sporting Rifle’ for home defense. Perhaps your property is big enough that a shotgun might not reach out and touch someone at distance. Or perhaps the look of a black gun will even further intimate any intruder to go farther. But really, say what you will, it is badass to be able to play with the same equipment our troops use to annihilate the bad guys in the sandbox.

For fast target acquisition, the big debate has always been red-dot sight vs. holographic sight (a.k.a. Aimpoint vs. Eotech). Red-dot sights do have their advantages in size, weight, and battery life. But for the cool factor, nothing is like the Eotech. Having an electronic heads-up target reticle in a window that is basically bomb-proof  rules in Fallujah and the range. At the MSRP of $609, it is the coolest technology at about half the price of the Jesus scopes (a.k.a. the Trijicon ACOG).

The XPS3-2 would be well suited for a flattop M4 carbine or your AR-15 with a flat top receiver. You can probably do some goofy carry-handle mounts, but the EOTech cries to be mounted on a nice slab of stable Picatinny rail. It is one of the smallest EOTech units to date, and will not cramp the style of any AR build.

However, I also set mine up with the optional EOTech 3x Magnifier with swing-away mount.  This set-up WILL cramp the style of a lot of set-ups but it will also get you the long distance accuracy that is nice beyond the 50 yard line. The quick-flip mount made by Samson is a great feature, it gets the magnifier out of the way faster than Miley Cyrus ditched her innocence routine.

I mounted the works on my LaRue Tactical 16” Stealth Series upper that is ideal for testing- it has more rail length than  the balconies in New Orleans and can just about accommodate as many baubles as the necks of the flashing babes. To turn the unit on just press one of the brightness buttons. To turn it off, press both buttons simultaneously.

Guys (and some gals) purchase EOTech units because of their renowned target acquisition speed.  So you look through a window and see a reticle- you get a 65 MOA big circle with two little 1 MOA  dots- one is centered, one a little lower. Most EOTech units only have one big circle and one little dot.

Why two little dots on the XPS3-2?  The second lower dot is used when you really want to reach out. If you use the standard military 50 Yard zero on your AR, at 50 and 200 yards, the little dot in the center should be dead-on. The lower dot allows you to reach out to 500 yards. Nice.

The other reason guys and gals use the EOTech: they are virtually bombproof; the hologram and the reticle image is recorded in every particle of the glass. If the glass is shattered or covered with debris, the sight is still fully functional. This means zero, point of aim, and point of impact are maintained and the operator can, according to EOTech, ‘engage with confidence.’ I didn’t shatter my glass to test the theory but I believe them.

Zeroing in the unit is easy with the pre-labeled dials ‘Down’ and ‘Right’- just make your clicks. If you can get the EOTech to jibe with your iron sights, zeroing it in is easy and then you just need to fine tune.

The EOTech units are designed to be used with both eyes open, and your brain eventually will pick up the concept with a little range practice. The reticle blends into your vision and you essentially become part of real-life first person shooter video game. I can imagine those soldiers in Iraq who come home only to see a ghost reticle as part of their daily lives can be frightening. And you thought you were going mad when you could have sworn you heard your cell phone ring only to find it didn’t…ghost ring syndrome.

The Aimpoint guys will point out the battery life of the EOTech sucks. Well, regular people are logging more than 500 hours per battery. Moreover, they are programmable to shut off after either four or eight hours of operation from the time the last adjustment is made. When you power her up and the battery is low, the reticle will flash to tell you to buy more juice.

The battery in this model, CR-123 style, unfortunately just isn’t the kind you can get at any place in the uncivilized world. But that isn’t a big problem, I would just chuck an extra in my bag next time I am on a mercenary mission in Kandahar. Oh yeah- I am probably never going to do that. However, if I were that concerned, I could go with an EOTech model that runs on double-A’s.

Drawbacks. The reticle is not as crisp as you would like it to be for $600. That is just the nature of the holographic image. Even putting mine up against other test samples in a store the circle is not 100% perfect. It is not out-of-round, it just looks slightly pixilated.  However, I found that using the magnifier actually tightened up the image.

The magnifier is really an essential if you want to go to the range and play past 25 yards. It allows you to see what you are doing rather than guesstimate. And although I will not brag about my shooting prowess because I know there are guys out there a lot better than I am, I do have 20/20 vision.

Purchasing this particular model with the two dots in the reticle screams for a magnifier. Don’t even think about getting the version designed for the AR with four dots (557.AR223) without a magnifier because they’ll just look like a fuzzy mess if you don’t have good eyes (even if you do have good eyes, actually). Might as well just buy a 3D LED TV and only watch The Honeymooners reruns on it in B&W. Here a magnifier is mandatory. Even though in increases the size and weight, it is a hell of a lot of fun.

For my purposes, the EOTech unit is the best choice of capability and fun. Unless those Jesus scopes get a little cheaper, this is the way to go.

RATINGS:

Style * * * *

Black boxes can’t really be sexy, but with ‘For Law Enforcement / Military Use’ emblazoned on the side it kicks up the tactical style factor. Hello Kitty riflemen may be disappointed, but Tim Gunn would be proud; it’s only available in black.

Ergonomics * * * *

It really does not get any easier. Push the right button to make it brighter, push the left to make it dimmer. Night Vision button is in the middle if you happen to be Law Enforcement.

Reliability * * * * *

I dropped mine on a hardwood floor and the floor now has a permanent mark.  You could run over it and probably only get a couple of cosmetic dings.

OVERALL RATING * * * * ½

It works well and works great. In my opinion, the technological answer to fast-acquisition optics does it best.

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About Brett Solomon

Brett Solomon got his first taste of the magazine world covering car electronics for CarSound & Performance Magazine. He landed the job by being noticed for designing high-end car audio systems. Which was fine by him because there was no way he was going to pass the third level of calculus toward an electrical engineering degree at University of Delaware. Not with those DuPont scholars around campus, he’ll take Journalism over Engineering, thank you very much. He has since written for a number of publications (think in-flight journalism) that lack the chutzpah of Robert Farago, and having all of those milquetoast reviews pent up in his system now allows his pen to spit fire. We’ll, he is just not that mean but happy to tell the truth…and the truth is most firearms are fun!

19 Responses to Gear Review: EOTech XPS3-2 Holographic Weapons Sight

  1. avatarChris Dumm says:

    I’m currently evaluating an EOTech and an Aimpoint Micro H1, and I concur with all of your observations. Holographic sights DO appear pixellated, when compared to reflective-style red dots, and I found that the ‘twinkly’ golographic reticule was not conducive to really precise aiming.

    OTOH, the EOTech reticule is larger and more eye-grabbing, and seems to be a tiny bit faster on target.

    Prospective buyers should consider the height of these sights; they only really fit on a flattop receiver or quad-rail. Don’t even think about putting one on an AK; they’re way too tall for an AK rail mount, and too high to co-witness the iron sights no matter how they’re mounted.

  2. I received an EoTech XPS 3-0 for my deployment to Iraq. I get in and out of MRAPs all night and it has taken a beating, but runs great! At one point I took a 6 foot fall out of my door and the XPS broke my fall; I quickly brought the rifle up to check the optics status and it was good. It even retained its zero :) <— Happy EoTech Owner

  3. avatarJohn says:

    I had the EOTech sight in Iraq but never used it. For some reason mine would not stay zeroed for very long. So I just used the back-up iron sights. The Aimpoint I used in Afghanistan a few years later was great. It held its zero throughout my deployment. I may have just had a bad sight, but I don’t know if I’d ever want to go back to the EOTech.

  4. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    “Vitually literally bombproof?” Wow! Does it depend on the type of bomb?

    Sounds like my wife who’s definitely almost pregnant.

    • avatarBrett Solomon says:

      I had to check that I didn’t submit my writing in like that, so we can blame it on the editor this time. But he has a lot on his plate so don’t be too hard on him… Take out ‘literally.’ Or virtually if you have some C4 lying around for an impromptu test…

  5. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    Kinda what I figured. But being the pedantic a-hole I am, I couldn’t let it pass without hurling snark.

  6. avatarGAKoenig says:

    I have some bones to pick with this review…

    First, the EO Tech has a bit of a hit-n-miss reputation amongst folks in military and the more hardcore shooting communities. They have had battery leakage problems, zero holding issues, mount issues and the glass on the EO is easier to bust than the Aimpoint. None of this is mentioned and the “durability” of the EO Tech is highlighted by a drop onto a hardwood floor. I’ve seen far more EO Tech problems at rifle classes than Aimpoint problems, to a point where the number of EOs on the line has diminished significantly in the last 18 months.

    Second, the use of a magnifier for “anything beyond 25 yards” is really sending folks off in the wrong direction. Frankly, getting solid, center of mass hits on a man size target at 100 yards with iron sights is kind of a basic skill. It is the sort of thing you can get any shooter doing reliably with an afternoon of proper instruction. There is enough of a “Gear makes the shooter” attitude within the internet firearms community; the speed benefits of red dot sights are well documented, but the cash outlay for a flippy magnifier is – 99.9% of the time – far better spent on a weekend shooting class.

    Finally, where is the pricing in this comparison? Mr Solomon likens the ACOG to the “Jesus” optic (even though that moniker more aptly belongs to the S&B ShortDot at $2500) and wishes he could have one… but the price of his setup is beginning to close in on ACOG territory. The XPS sights have a street price of roughly $500 while the magnifier is over $450. With the magnifier mount ($100+) included, you are well within the price of a Trijicon TA31. A better option might even be one of the Trijicon AcuPoint TR24G scopes that offers 1.1-4x magnification (a poor man’s Short Dot, and an excellent setup) for roughly $900 in a quality mount.

    In the end, I am trying to figure out the audience for this piece (and, by extension, TTAG). If the audience is comprised of civilians looking to procure and run the basic tools of self defense, than what is the interest in reviewing the EO Tech? It is guaranteed to be plenty of optic for these folks, who’s quality shortcomings they will never encounter at a price tag that is quite high. Why not explore the myriad of lower price options available (the SIG red dot, or the C-More, or Burris, or Tapco?). These options are routinely ignored by the military and (by extension) shunned by the tactical bling community. A serious accounting of sub $300 (or even $200) optics, with proper testing and consideration, might yield more interesting and relevant results.

    If, on the other hand, this website is geared for hardcore zombie hunter civilians, folks who call themselves “contractors” or military members with their GSA cards in hand preparing for trips to the sandbox, the technical foibles and deficiencies of the review are glaring (FYI – CR-123 batteries are readily available in Kandahar through military supply chains, as those are the de facto batteries for flashlights, laser pointers and various other pieces of issue gear… not AA batteries).

    My point is not to flame the reviewer or TTAG; I hope to see both be wildly successful! I am however, an avid reader of Mr Farrago’s works and have always enjoyed the blunt and astute review style his personal brand is built around. Unfortunately, the blunt and the astute go hand in hand and the former doesn’t work without the latter.

    • avatarTim says:

      GAKoenig makes some very good points and I just wanted to further reinforce the fact that many shooters are looking for the quick fix to their lack of marksmanship abilities by purchasing expensive equipment. I am a professional soldier who had an issued EOTech overseas and had no problems with it, zero, durability or sustainability. As for accuracy, no it does not equate to having a magnified optic but for it’s intended purpose (CQB), it still has remarkable accuracy at range in the hands of a capable shooters. Myself and other members of my unit are easily capable of maintaining a 90% or greater hit ration on torso sized targets at ranges of up to 300m with an EOTech however, we are also capable of doing the same with iron sights. What it basically comes down to is practice and the correct application of marksmanship principles which many shooters, including soldiers often ignore or haven’t been properly instructed on due to our current technology.

  7. Brett, should that be “further intimidate any intruder to go farther”? BTW, beautiful example of the proper uses of further and farther.

    • avatarBrett Solomon says:

      Just got to the computer for the first time today. Bruce, I’ll blame that one on Robert too since it is fun to pass the buck (I don’t have my copy in front of me so it very well could have been my spelling typo after I went to far to get the syntax correct).
      GA- I’ll get to you later when I have a moment to digest! However, I see your points. The review is geared toward someone like me who wants to have fun at the range but might also use it for home defense. I stated I will probably never go to Khandahar. We all have bios and perhaps they can give a little more insight on the audience we are trying to reach. However, as probably Robert will agree, the majority of the readers are not military but civilian guys looking to have some fun. Using the logic of only “If the audience is comprised of civilians looking to procure and run the basic tools of self defense, than what is the interest in reviewing the EO Tech?” then why discuss ARs at all? Certainly the AR would not be deemed a basic tool. Most would go shotgun and call it a day. It’s about having some fun too! If it winds up saving your life, all the more power. Sorry for the sophmoric answer. PS-magnifier mount comes in the box with the magnifier.

  8. avatarMike the Limey says:

    I’ve mounted my Eotech 512 on several FAL/L1A1 variants & find it indispensable for someone whose iron sights have all malfunctioned (as I got older, the front sights got fuzzier…..).
    The 512 is the AA battery version & over many hundreds of rounds has had no problems with batteries, zero or anything else.
    It does have a “ding” in the glass cover from it & the rifle being knocked off a bench onto concrete one time & there are brass marks from before I moved the sight back from the ejection port, so it takes knocks in its stride too.
    With no magnifier, I can shoot “minute of man” out past 400yds all day, so as a sight for “social occasions” it is ideal & having both eyes open is a boon for situational awareness.
    Another plus is the sight remaining usable with the sun low & in the front quarter – not something my Trijicon or SUIT can do due to flare.

  9. avatarBrett Solomon says:

    Hi GA,
    To clarify:

    “Second, the use of a magnifier for “anything beyond 25 yards” is really sending folks off in the wrong direction”
    I wrote: “Play at the range beyond 25 yards…” Meaning not CQB but trying for decent groups. It is difficult to get nice groups at long range with the two one MOA dots floating in this sight sans magnifier. I know the EOTech is not the unit for this, and yes, a scope would be the correct tool, but the EOTech (or Aimpoint or Trijicon or Burris) with magnifier, in my opinion, gives the best of close quarters and distance so you can play at the range and enjoy yourself at both 50, 200, and 400…

    The CR-123 battery comment was more of a cutesy reference that you can’t run down to the Kandahar Corner Deli and grab a pack of CR-123s but AAs are available. That’s already been documented both here in the United States and there. http://thetruthaboutguns.com/2010/06/robert-farago/new-tws-ii-thermal-sight-uses-aa-batteries/

    And as far as the pricing, the SIG red dot, C-More, Burris, and Tapco review comparo would be a piss. But you gotta start somewhere… Pitch in and help us out! What is your occupation- it seems you are a military guy…

  10. avatarA Grunt says:

    “But really, say what you will, it is badass to be able to play with the same equipment our troops use to annihilate the bad guys in the sandbox.”

    OK then I’ll say it: WE are the bad guys in the sandbox. Not all of them…but a dang good chunk of them…and a significant number of the “opposing force” are on our payroll too.

    “War is a racket.” – Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC

  11. avatarMichael Saari says:

    March 13, 2011

    I purchased my new EoTech 552.A65 approximately 20 days ago off ebay.

    With my AR-15 Colt Match Target Heavy H-barrel I can hit a 50 and 100 yard target in the center of the cookie (3″ groups) with 8 out of 10 shots with open iron sights. However, I did add a troy rear folding mounted sight.

    When using the EOTech 552.A65 at 50 yards my groupings are around 5 inch groups, rather than a three inch group with open iron sights.

    At 100 yards with open iron sights my groups are still held within a 3 to 4 inch circle.
    With the EOTCH 552.A65 my groups are more like 6 to 7 inch groups.

    Is this normal for an EOTech 552.A65? and is there anything I am doing wrong?

    Thank you
    RamBowMike

  12. Micheal Saari- When you are using the EOTech, as well as any other red dot, make sure that the brightness setting is on the lowest possible setting, while still being able see the reticle without trying too hard. Play around with it while looking through it and youll see what im saying. The brighter the reticle is, the larger your shot group will be. I dont know if this will absolutley solve your problem, but it should definatley help.

    The only reason i know this is because i found out first hand. When i was in the military, everyone starts off with iron sights, and then “graduates” or “earns” their aimpoints. And no BS i shot better with the iron sights. However, as with everything, the more i used it the better i got with it. I shot 35 out of 40 in basic with iron sights, and shot 38 out of 40 with the aimpoint at my unit at Ft. Campbell. And some of those targets, i believe 5 of them are 300m. So red dots are perfectly capable of reaching out pretty far without a magnifier.

    I havnt used an eotech very much, but dont see why anyone shouldnt be shooting 2-3 inch shot groups at 100yds, without a magnifier. Practice makes Perfect. (or near perfect at least)

  13. avatarRopingdown says:

    GAKoenig et al: Two things I’d add to the EOTech comments. The reliability of many early EO’s was due to a battery compartment defect. A fix is available and works. My oldest EO needed it. I’ve never had an “it turns itself off” problem with more recent EO’s, and find them excellent generally, robust and fast. About the pixilated reticle: Many have pointed out the value of using the lowest viewable power setting. I would add that astigmatism, either in your eyes or your eye pro, causes massive pixilation and for some a perception that the reticule is moving about. If you don’t have relatively astigmatism-free eyes (or good correcting lenses) the EO isn’t for you at more than CQB distances and low power settings.

  14. avatarjimmyjames says:

    Had an Eotech EXPS3-0 for about a year now and I have no trouble keeping shots inside 4″ bulls with it at 100yds off the bench without a magnifier. The trick is to turn the dot intensity down to where you can just see it, use good ammo, get the sight zeroed and squeeze the trigger. Getting ready to purchase another one for a 308 AR platform gun. Was thinking about 2 dots but I think that defeats the purpose of the sight. As for Aimpoints, I still have a bad taste in my mouth from 15-20 years ago when we had to use them on race guns in IPSC. They SUCKED, were unreliable and had they had terrible customer support. C-more’s kicked the Aimpoints to the curb in that sport. Was not impressed with Aimpoint then and still not impressed now.

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