Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review – EOTech 517 Holographic Weapons Sight


“Bill – aren’t you the one that keeps harping on “keeping it simple”, and relying on iron sights only and stay away from the techie stuff on your weapons and . . . . . . . . What the heck are you doing with a “Holographic Weapons Sight on your AR??? Trying out for a role in a Star Trek Movie????“

Yep, that’s me, guilty on all charges (except the movie role that is . . .). While I shun “gadget central” weapons systems, one addition that makes sense to me are holographic sights. My choice has been the EOTech 517 and I have been more than pleased with it. I have used it for years on my Panther Arms .308 AR as well as my Colt M4 .22LR trainer – failure free the entire time. So let’s spend some time reviewing the purpose of an aiming system, what my expectations of such a system are, exactly what a “holographic weapons sight” is and then a detailed review of the EOTech 517.

A few thoughts first on the spot you would be in if you were to actually use your AR/AK for personal defense. Your life and those of your family or friends are in immediate and mortal danger. You feel the need to have to engage a threat out to 200m but the most likely engagement will be 50m to 100m. This is not a “concealment” weapon but an offensive weapon that you are using for the purpose of defense. If you have “tacked up” and “locked and loaded” – you are in deep shit, you are in a combat zone (even if it is your back yard, back 40 or the hallway of your home).

Where gunfights with handguns have a fondness for fitting within the “Rule of Three” (3 rounds, 3 seconds, 3 meters), engagements with your carbine will typically happen with a bit more deliberateness. In this environment, information becomes key to your survival – where are they, how many, are they armed, what kind of weapon . . . . The three best friends you have for information gathering are your ears, eyes and your nose. And, of all the different kinds of sighting systems available for your AR/AK, a holographic sight will allow you to “see” your situation easiest while allowing quick and sure sight alignment on your threat.

Just how does it do this? Will, it projects a laser-generated image on a glass screen – a “holographic reticle” that “hangs” out in front of your weapon about a foot. The image looks like this:


At 100 yards, the center dot is approximately 1 MOA or 1” in diameter. The outer ring is 65 MOA or 65” in diameter – the height of a person 5’5” tall. Put the dot on the threat, press the trigger – they will have a very bad day. Since it is a projected image, it makes no difference which eye you see the dot with, nor does it matter the angle you view the holographic window at. If you can see the dot and place it on the threat, you have an accurate sight alignment. This characteristic allows very rapid threat acquisition while keeping both eyes open – a much better situation that allows you to scan with both eyes.

I chose the EOTech because it is built – as my Uncle Ted used to say – like a brick shit house!!! While researching it I read a number of first-person reviews where a troop when over a wall or off a roof and fell directly on his weapon and his EOTech, shattering the glass – and it still maintained proper sight alignment. A pretty rugged piece of gear. The other thing in its favor – it uses AA batteries, a huge plus IMNSHO. So let’s take a closer look at this holographic sight.

EOTech 517 Composite 1

The Protective Hood protects the holographic projection system. The Removable Batter Cap actually holds the batteries and is released by lifting the Battery Cap Latch. The Rail Lock Knob locks it firmly to your picatinny rail system. The Brightness Down Off / 4 hrs. button reduces the brightness of the holographic image and sets the sight to power down 4-hours later. The Brightness Up Off / 8 hrs. button increases the brightness of the holographic image and sets the sight to power down 8-hours later. Depressing BOTH buttons manually turns the system off. The Elevation Adj. moves your point of aim up or down and the Windage Adj. moves your point of aim left or right.

I have mounted my EOTech 517 just forward of my fold-up rear sight.

The advantage of this is two-fold. In the event the EOTech 517 simply dies, I can still use my iron sights by simply looking through the holographic window to acquire my sight picture. And, to confirm the alignment of my EOTech 517, when I flip up the front and rear sight, turn on the 517 and acquire a good sight picture with the iron sights, the red dot in the center of the 517 reticle rests right on top of the front post. Nice!

The EOTech come packaged in a heavy duty nylon box with a foam insert custom cut for the 517 and with holes for spare batteries.


A very tough package for a very tough weapons sight system.

Are there cheap, $80 holographic sights out there? Sure . . . . but, do you want to bet your life on them?


  1. Oh, there are cheap "anything's out there". Bet my life on them? No. Nice optic Sir!

  2. Nice blog post review of holographic weapons sight images is explain in each parts in firearms training.
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