Rugged enough for military use and lightning quick in target acquisition, the famed EOTech 512 Holographic Weapon Sight remains a top choice for carbines.

EOTech is a name that any serious carbine shooter (even many not-so-serious shooters) knows well. EOTech has been providing holographic weapon sights (HWS) to our nation’s military and police for years. The EOTech 512 is at the top of the pack, and we’ll get to why.

Though sometimes lumped in among all “red dot” sights, EOTech HWS use a different system to present its reticle to the shooter. Whereas a red-dot sight has a fairly simple layout where an LED emitter projects to an angled lens, which then reflects back to your eye, the holographic sight uses a laser to project onto a series of mirrors, which send that light to a grate that sends a hologram to the lens, then to your eye. While this is a more complicated system, an HWS will continue to function and be usable even with a damaged front lens.

The Scoop on the EOTech 512

The 512 is EOTech’s most popular HWS. Right off the bat, one of the biggest advantages is its use of AA batteries. Even if you don’t have a strong preference for an HWS over a red dot, the simple fact that it takes what are probably the most ubiquitous type of batteries available makes this worth serious consideration. While there are a few red dot-style sights that use AA batteries, none of them are “top shelf” military-grade sights.

The model 512 comes in at a lower price point than many of EOTech’s models, a key factor in its popularity, I’m sure. EOTech achieves some of the savings by the deletion of the night vision-compatible settings. For most of us, this isn’t an issue. If you do use night vision in conjunction with your carbine optic, keep this in mind.

When I talk to die-hard EOTech enthusiasts, they mention two factors time and again to explain the sight’s popularity. Firstly is the reticle. The model 512 reticle consists of a circle with short bars at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. These serve to aid the eye in keeping the sight oriented plumb and level. In the center of the circle is a one minute-of-angle dot. This is the smallest center dot available and makes precise shooting easy. Well, as easy as precise shooting can be with an unmagnified sight with a projected reticle. There is no doubt that the circle-dot reticle is blazing fast to acquire. At close ranges the entire reticle can be used for aiming rather than having to slow down enough to delicately place the center dot.

Large Window

The next factor is the large window size. This is a great feature that allows increased visibility through the optic rather than forcing the shooter to look around the optic. One feature that I am particularly fond of is the low-battery warning. Upon startup, the reticle will flash several times when the battery has fallen below a certain level and should be changed. Instead of wasting batteries with a significant portion of their life remaining or having batteries die unexpectedly, this really helps with power management.

Since the laser inside an HWS consumes more power than the LED inside a red dot sight, power management is even more important. EOTech lists the battery life of the model 512 at 2,500 hours of continuous use (with lithium batteries). That’s plenty for operational or defensive purposes, but that battery warning feature is still a great addition. Finally, EOTech also includes an auto-off feature on the model 512. It shuts the sight down either four or eight hours after your last button press.

While an HWS sight is generally more expensive than may red dot sights, the model 512 reclaims some value with its integral mounting base. Many red dot sights that come in at a lower price either don’t include a mount; either that or the included mount is low quality or the wrong height. Perhaps more importantly, the integral base isn’t going to come loose or get lost. Another huge plus for the 512 is the beefy aluminum protective shroud that attaches to this integral base. This is a great idea for a duty-grade optic and offers some serious protection against bumps and drops.

EOTech 512 Tactile Controls

Finally, the 512’s controls feature large buttons, allowing activation while wearing gloves. EOTech positioned them in such a way that they’re protected and very difficult to activate accidentally. This overcomes the single biggest gripe I have against several of the popular red dots on the market. I absolutely despise tiny buttons and those that can be easily activated during transport or accidentally manipulated during use.

With the combo of duty-grade construction and well thought-out features, plus the model 512s high level of performance relative to price, this should be a contender as your next carbine optic. For even more info, please visit

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