Gear Review: EOTech EXPS2-0 Holographic Weapon Sight

Recently, I ran some gear out at Gunsite in Paulden, Arizona – Namely the Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport and their E-Series 1911Sc. The folks from Smith teamed up with L-3 Communications to outfit the crew with EOTech weapon sights for our testing; talk about a treat. The EOTech EXPS2-0 Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) fills a niche, and then spills over the rims like the head on a perfectly poured lager. So, who needs an EOTech? Why spend a bundle on a weapon sight? Crack open a cold one and read on fair Inteligentsia. . .

Optics-wise, some look for price point, others concentrate on features, and still others religiously suck up the civilian variants of technology employed by the DoD. L-3’s no stranger to the military contracts world – EOTech products have graced the rails of military and police grade weapons world-wide. They also have a large civilian following. My current project centers around the EXPS2-0, a sight available to John Q Public which focuses on fast target acquisition, faster first-round shot placement, and true two-eyes open shooting. In short, a tool to help me go bang better.

Those familiar with EOTech products won’t be surprised by the Pelican-esque plastic clamshell protecting your brand new EXPS2-0. It gets the job done and gets product in hand while avoiding shipping damage – mission accomplished. What does stand out is the itty bitty spec of real estate within the case taken up by the sight, missing is the trademark Doberman-nose battery compartment those familiar with the 512 and 552 are accustomed to. How? EOTech took stock of complaints centering on the rail space required to mount their larger optics, and responded by instituting a little bit of common sense (real common sense, not Leftist drivel).

They’ve dropped the AA batteries in favor of a transverse mounted CR123. Granted, you can’t just walk into Rite Aid and snag a 40 pack of 123’s at 10PM, but the extra ~ two inches of rail space (compared to the 512) is a big sell for some. The single CR123 still nets the user ~600 hours of “on” time at default brightness, and the EXPS2-0 ships standard with two auto-off settings to conserve your battery. Eight hours (programmable to four) without input and the sight will turn itself off. Long enough to stay on at a single brightness setting until sunrise / set forces you to adjust brightness, but short enough that leaving your EOTech on in the safe won’t result in a dead optic – until you’ve forgotten to turn it off nearly 75 times. At that point, shame on you. At 20% battery life, the reticle will “pulse” upon activation – warning the user that a mere five days of continuous use remains.

Run your sight to death and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the size of the flat-glass and laminate, anti-glare coated viewing window. A full 1.2″ x .85″ of space means your iron sights will be visible and usable without removing the optic. A full 30 yards of viewable space can be seen through the optic at 100 yards and four-inches eye relief. However, the EXPS2-0 sits juuust too low on a flat top AR to properly co-witness with standard iron sights, a few millimeters of bummer.

Variable brightness is another friendly feature of the EXPS2-0 and most EOTech variants. This one sports the 20 settings, with setting 12 being the “default brightness.” Dawn, dusk, and high noon are conquered easily. On a cloudless day in the Arizona high desert, I had no problem using this sight. The 2-0 is a non-NV compatible variant of the EXPS line of weapon sights. Those hunting NV compatibility will be looking for the EXPS3-0, and shelling out an extra ~$80 MSRP for their troubles.

The standard reticle is a 65MOA ring with a true 1MOA dot (pictured at right above). Optional is a second 1MOA dot (EXPS2-2, pictured at left above) enabling the shooter to have a “dual zero” for engaging targets at various ranges without having to worry about holdover distances. The ring is a fast acqusition reticle for close-in engagements, simply place the circle around the target and pull the go-lever. I can personally attest to the speed of on-target shots using this method.

My first run on Gunsite’s Scrambler (eight targets, eight stations at various shooting positions, not more than two rounds each target) with the EXPS2-0 netted me a time less than two-seconds over my personal best. For precision engagement, nothing beats a true 1MOA dot. At 100 yards, the dot covers up ~one sqaure inch of target space, and that one inch is where your round is going to go. Sign me up.

The HWS looks smart perched atop an evil black rifle modern sporting rifle. It attaches to any MIL-STD-1913 or 1″ weaver rail, and is adjustable to accommodate rail width variation. A quick release lever allows easy-on / easy-off manipulation, and in my experience with the optic it has maintained zero flawlessly after numerous swap ons/offs. EOTech advertises that the sight maintains accuracy to within 2MOA after swaps, and I’m not inclined to disagree.

They addressed user complaints from previous models in this style of weapon sight. For one, they replaced the standard battery cap and latch of the 500 series with an O-ring sealed cap which is tethered to the body of the sight – better sealing, and no lost parts – Gracias, EOTech. Additionally, by opting to run with a transverse mounted battery, the EXPS2-0 takes up a maximum of 2 3/4″ of rail space. Plenty of room left over to throw on a magnifier if your heart desires (and wallet allows).

The shooter has unlimited eye relief, so the EXPS2-0 can be placed anywhere on your rail and still provide a proper sight picture. Sight adjustment is accomplished at 1/2MOA clicks using a spent cartridge or pocket change (might I recommend a Quarter)- the same tool allows access to the battery compartment, and also to the adjustable width settings on the quick release lever. Not needing any special tools to mount, dismount, or adjust this weapon sight is a great plus, and will be appreciated the first time you forget your range bag tools.

That’s all well and good, but how in the heck do you justify spending half-again the cost of the rifle on an optic? Why should you go with an EOTech? The answer to the first remains a mystery until the shooter actually tries a higher priced optic. The ~$30 conventional red-dot options and various clones available work well enough that I own a few, but not well enough that I’d trust my life to them. Shooting an honest to goodness high end optic can be likend to the difference in DVD vs. Blu-Ray or SD vs. HD TV; until you’ve seen it for yourself, you don’t know what you’re missing.

The answer to the second – well, it depends on what you want to do with your rifle. If bullsyeing womp rats in the Jundland wastes out to 50 meters is your thing, has red-dots under $30 that will get the job done just fine. If engaging targets accurately and quickly out to 300 yards and closer than three yards is more your cup of tea, your firmly into the territory marked by EOTech weapon sights.

Specifications: EOTech EXPS2-0 Holographic Weapon Sight

Weight: 11.2 oz.
Length: 3.5″ (2.75″ of rail space needed for mounting)
Magnification: 1x

Optic Type: Parallax-free Transmission holography

Eye Relief: Unlimited

Adjustment Range: +/- 40 MOA
Adjustment (per click): 1/2 MOA (1/2″ @ 100 yards)

Limits: Submersible to 10 feet, operating temperature -40 – 150 degrees F

Mount Type: 1″ Weaver or MIL-STD-1913 rail
Battery Type: CR123 Lithium
Battery Life: 600 Hours continuous “on” time at brightness setting 12
MSRP: $559 (street price ~$500)

Ratings (out of five)

Optical Clarity * * * * *
True-flat 1/8″ solid glass at the front and 3/16″ shatter resistant laminate to the rear combined with anti-glare coating and fog-proof sealing make for one clear as day sight picture.

Feel & Function * * * * *
Solidly built and easily understood controls make for fast on-target times. The KISS rule in all of its glory. (Keep it simple, stupid). Water and fog proofing means weather changes won’t bother your optic.

Features * * * *
Two issues here, the second more of a preference. First, the sight doesn’t co-witness with issue iron sights. A full star knocked off – yes, the iron sights are still readily usable through the glass, but sight picture is awkward. Then, there’s the lack of reticle choices. The reticle makes sense for what it’s meant to do, but there are those out there in the civilian world that want options. No stars knocked off for the reticle limitations – remember, KISS.

Overall Rating * * * * 1/2
The optic performs without fault, warns you when it needs fresh juice, doesn’t advertise your position with forward projected light, and markedly improves target acquisition times and accuracy over iron sights. What more could you want? The answer is co-witnessing, 1/2 star overall knocked off for being juuust out of spec with iron sights – a few mm makes the difference. When all is said and done, the EXPS2-0 makes an excellent addition to a fighting rifle.  Though what you fight (zombies, terrorists, or paper), is your choice.

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