Review - EOTECH EXPS3-0 Holographic Weapon Sight
History of EOTECH
In 1972 the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM) was created from military and environmental research bodies. Fast forward to 1995, EOTECH was created by ERIM, its' purpose was to apply holographic technology to firearms sights. Over the decades, EOTECH has garnered support from across the globe from the Military, LEA (Law Enforcement Agencies) and Civilians (competition shooters and home defence). EOTECH sells and prides itself on optics that deliver unparalleled speed (of target acquisition), accuracy and reliability.
For more info - visit EOTech website.
EOTECH is a familiar name to those that utilise weapons sights. It's a name synonymous with quality, battle tested equipment and is used globally by elite forces, and their customer base is built upon a strong reputation and strong track record. EOTECH have primarily focussed on military and LEA applications of their products and there are now a large number of available models (covered in detail below).
So why EOTECH and why now? I previously reviewed the EOTECH XPS3 and the review can be found here. The XPS3 has now been added to the ancillary cupboard in the armory and this blog is going to focus on and delve into the details of the newly acquired EXPS3-0. The operators within SEAL Team use an EOTECH on the majority of their weapons systems and in particular they use the EXPS3-0 variant due to;
A) night vision compatibility - the team have on numerous occasions used the EXPS3-0 in a night time environment and again the dual use provides the team, double the benefits for no extra rail space cost or additional equipment requiring to be carried or afixed such as a NV sight.
B) only have a requirement for one dot reticle - as the team operate at general close quarters (sub 200 yards / 182 metres) no need for 2+ dot reticles for longer distances which keeps sight picture clearer.
C) in use by personnel of USSOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) - this therefore solidifies its place on the show in use by SEAL Team as a real steel item.
EOTech promo video
As mentioned above, EOTECH provides users with high quality, dependable sights and the promotional video below showcases some of it's features on a live firing range.
EOTech HWS Models
EOTECH currently produces 14 variants of the HWS (Holographic Weapon Sight). The main differences between the models are;
Night vision compatible or Non Night vision compatible
Utilisation of reticles - 1, 2 or 4 dots
Red reticle or Green reticle
Battery type & battery life
The below chart is the latest line of HWS' available and can be found on EOTECHs website here.
EOTECH sights utilise 1, 2 or 4 dot reticles and they've provided the below infographic detailing the reticle, distance and some ammunition specific technical information. This chart will help you determine prior to purchase what your requirements are based on distance, ammunition and importantly a representation of what will be seen in the sight window.
All of the HWS' feature key characteristics that are consistent across any of the HWS models. EOTECH again provide a handy infographic naming the parts of the sights which will be referenced through this review.
Herein lies the product description from the website;
The HWS EXPS3 is an excellent choice for professionals. The EXPS3 offers true two eyes open shooting for fast target acquisition, night vision compatible settings, and a 7mm raised quick detach base for lower 1/3 iron sight co-witness.
Included in the box:
Night Vision Compatible
L x W x H - 3.8" x 2.3" x 2.9" (96.5 x 58.4 x 73.7 mm)
Weight - 11.2 oz (317.5 g)
Water Resistant - 33ft. (10 m) depth
Mount - 1" Weaver or MIL-STD-1913 rail
Windage & Elevation Adjustment - 0.5 MOA per click
Brightness - 20 daylight settings / 10 additional settings for Gen I through III+ night vision devices
Power Source - 1 x CR123 battery
Battery Life - 1,000 continuous hours at nominal setting 12 at room temperature
Country of Origin - Made in USA
The EXPS3 comes in the 3-0, 3-2 or 3-4 variants. The EXPS3-0 (1 dot reticle version) is subject of this review.
The EXPS3-0 arrived in a plastic hard case enveloped in a card exterior. The case measures 9 x 16 x 19 cm (H x W x L) and weighs 479g in total (193g case + 28g card sleeve + 255g HWS + 3g accessories). The card exterior was printed with all of the model technical specifications and information on it. The top sported the EOTECH logo and sight information. The rear contained further technical information with the front and rear of the card detailing the product in general.
Removing the card exterior, the sight was packaged within a black tough plastic case to protect the sight. The top of the box has a raised EOTECH logo which is the only exterior detail. The case is opened as shown in the third image below by pulling the ridged tabs on the left and right outwards releasing the locking mechanism. Of note is that 1 or 2 padlocks can be afixed through the holes next to the tabs again adding another layer of security / deterrence. The left and right side of the box both have stickers attached; one detailing the product model, barcode and base information, the sticker on the other side reminds users that the item is only exported from the US under specific usage rules.
This case is a standard one used by EOTECH in which the majority of their products are shipped as when it comes to size, the interior with the packing foam can comfortably accommodate the smaller or larger sights and ancillaries.
The plastic interior is basic, containing removable foam and is split in two; base tray and upper cover. The interior base tray is designed to enable it to house a multitude of the EOTECH sights, denoted by the foam used. The foam in the base allows the sight to be fitted, and provides 4x vertical spaces for batteries, allen keys, screws etc. The only part included within the box is;
Behind the removable foam of the upper cover are 4 cards; operators instruction card, warranty card, disclaimer, EOTECH Law Enforcement Support card and an EOTECH sticker.
EXPS3-0 exterior in detail
The EXPS3-0 like all EOTECH sights are manufactured using high grade materials with the exterior hood, battery compartment and electronics housing unit anodized black to aid in preventing light superficial damage to the exterior of the sight. The window sight is manufactured using toughened clear glass.
Height (battery compartment only) 4cm
Length (rail only) 4.5cm
Height (sight window) 2.6cm
Width (sight window) 3.4cm
The EXPS3-0 weighs a total of 317.5g (with battery fitted)
Simplistically the sight is split into 3 parts; battery compartment, electronics housing and the hood (surrounding / protecting electronics housing and sight glass). The exterior has the EOTECH logo and name on both sides of the hood, with the right hand side of the sight featuring windage and elevation markings to aid zeroing adjustments as shown in the eighth image. The left hand side features the HWS operation buttons along with the Class 1 Laser Product warning sticker. The HWS buttons are seen in the fourth image below; DOWN arrow, UP arrow (doubles as the standard ON button) and NV (Night Vision). Of importance regarding the HWS operation buttons is that with the EXPS3-0 design, if used in conjunction with an EOTECH Magnifier (G33 or other variants) the functions of the buttons can be easily accessed if the Magnifier is sitting directly behind the sight. On the XPS3 the buttons were on the rear of the sight meaning accessing them was more difficult.
On the underside of the EXPS3-0 is the EOTECH copyright information, scannable barcode, rail mounts and importantly 3 immediately visible screws (see EOTECH - HWS Counterfeits video at bottom of page).
The exterior of the EXPS3-0 is sleek and not overbearing in regards to complexity. It's simplicity ensures it remains clean and crisp. The screen is further anti-reflective to prevent sunflash and is clear front and rear. When studying the exterior, it's also apparent that there are very limited snag points, ie if the sight was caught by a rope, line or a strap it'd likely not snag. By ensuring the windage / elevation adjustments are sunk into the hood and the curved dynamic shape of the hood and battery compartment is kept, it should be a fairly safe bet to use around ropes and lines. The only snag point that could be seen was the gap between the battery compartment and the top of the rifle rail where there would be a small gap.
All HWS products are on the outside, simple looking, however internally as well as the electronics, it is worth mentioning the optical cavity ie the sight window. This cavity is purged (cleaned of particles), filled with nitrogen and tightly sealed to ensure the sight remains fog proof and crystal clear whatever the operating environment.
Installing CR123 battery
The battery used by the EXPS3-0 is the CR123. It's short, lightweight, packs a punch and enables the sight to have an average runtime of approx 1000 hours according to EOTECH (based on reticle brightness setting of 12). In addition to this, the battery is in the 'traverse' position which means it straddles across the rail rather than runs parallel to it, thus reducing space required, allowing other ancillaries to be mounted in front of or behind the sight.
The battery compartment is located at the front of the sight and can be accessed by unscrewing the battery compartment cover screw. This is further attached via micro wire to the sight hood ensuring that it can't be dropped or lost in darkness. As seen in the second image below, the screw is approx 2cm in length, half of which sits on the exterior and the other half in the interior protected by an O-ring. This combination ensures water doesn't enter the battery compartment.
As seen in the first image, the battery is inserted - (negative) end first with the + (positive) end sitting in the removable screw section. In the third image it can be seen that when screwed in tightly, the main part of the battery compartment screw sits inside the battery compartment exterior.
Operating the EXPS3-0
To operate the EXPS3-0, there are 3 HWS buttons on the left hand side of the sight; DOWN arrow, UP arrow and NV (Night Vision) as shown in the image to the left hand side.
Primary function - pressing the rectangular UP arrow on the right hand side of the switch board turns the EXPS3-0 ON and if no further buttons are pressed, the sight would be illuminated for 8 hours and then auto shut off. This is to prevent accidental activation when in a kit bag, or if pressed and stowed to prolong battery life.
Secondary function - when the sight is illuminated pressing the UP arrow increases the reticle brightness.
Primary function - pressing the rectangular DOWN arrow on the left hand side of the switch board turns the EXPS3-0 ON and if no further buttons are pressed, the sight would be illuminated for 4 hours and then auto shut off as above.
Secondary function - when the sight is illuminated pressing the DOWN arrow decreases the reticle brightness.
UP + DOWN ARROWS
To turn the sight off after use, both the UP and DOWN arrows must be pressed and held simultaneously for a couple of seconds. Turning off the sight resets the 'active time' after a button is pushed.
Primary function - pressing the circular NV button in the centre of the switch board turns the EXPS3-0 NV ON and if no further buttons are pressed, the sight would be illuminated for 8 hours and then auto shut off as above.
Secondary function - toggles the NV mode ON or OFF.
The EXPS3-0 has 20 different brightness settings to suit the operator and the environment. The manual states that when turned on, the sight will turn on at level 12 which is acceptable for a standard outdoor environment.
It is worth remembering that when activated and the reticle is visible, it will appear as shown in the image to the right hand side, not as a solid / opaque circle with a clearly defined edge, rather a broken circle that fluctuates. This is how the holographic sight works and further ensures that the reticle does not block anything in the sight picture.
EOTECH do make clear that the sight does continue to perform / function correctly even if the sight window becomes damaged.
Quick Detach Lever
The EXPS3-0 features a QD lever instead of the Small or Large rail attachment screws found on the XPS3. This enables the sight to be mounted or removed quickly and easily without use of tools. In the first image below, focussing on the QD lever to the left hand side / in front of the lever is a small curved button. To open the lever, press this button in and pull the lever towards you. The result is shown in the second image. When viewing the underside of the sight as shown in the third image the rail attachment grip is loosened. Of note is that the pin that runs from the QD lever to the grip section is square. This shape ensures that there is minimal movement / no movement when the sight is fitted to a standard 1" Weaver rail or MIL-STD-1913 rail.
Fitting the EXPS3-0 to a rifle
The HWS is simple to install onto the rifle rail and can be fitted to a 1" Weaver rail or MIL-STD-1913 rail. In the images below I have fixed the EXPS3-0 in front of the previously reviewed A.R.M.S #40 flip up rear sight. Once installed, ensure that the rail grip nut (seen in the seventh image below) is further tightened using a flat headed screwdriver. This ensures that the grip is tight and the sight will not disengage. Don't tighten this too much or else you won't be able to disengage the QD lever. Correctly fitted, the sight is rock solid and feels totally secure when in place.
Maintenance of the EXPS3-0 or indeed any sight is critically important to ensure it's serviceable, functioning and free of defects, especially if deploying to a hostile environment. EOTECH advise the following for maintenance of the EXPS3-0;
Cleaning is limited to exterior of sight
Fingerprints and lubricants can be removed using a lens cloth or soft cotton cloth
Never clean lens with dry cloth or paper towel
Exterior can be wiped using water based cleaner such as; glass cleaner, ammonia or soap and water
If sight becomes wet or submerged, remove excess water droplets and allow to dry naturally
At this time whilst waiting for the ranges to reopen I have not been able to test the EXPS3-0 fully, however keep checking back and I'll update this review soon with test results.
EOTECH - HWS Counterfeits
Where there are a handful successful businesses and recognised brands on the market there are also a torrent of counterfeits and replicas feeding the demand of people wanting high end aesthetically pleasing products at a fraction of the cost of their real steel counterparts. Obviously the trade off is quality, warranty, reliability and lifetime of the product. If ever purchasing an EOTECH product, the below video shot by EOTECH details some of the easily identifiable differences between a legitimate EOTECH HWS and a counterfeit.
There are a huge number of official YouTube videos available that compare genuine EOTECH products against reproductions highlighting the obvious differences between the two and rather than reinvent the wheel it's easier to Google or search for them on YouTube.
Thoughts and opinion
For those who have read the review of the EOTECH XPS3 that I previously covered, you will no doubt have noticed a whole swathe of similarities between the two sights. That's because there are a huge number of similarities with the main differences being on the EXPS3-0, the inclusion of a QD lever and the HWS operation buttons being on the left hand side instead of at the rear of the sight.
Weapons sights as previously highlighted provide an advantage to the operator. Sights should be chosen to fit; operator (style and usage), rifle (compact for CQB of telescopic if long range), mission (HVT & vehicles, observation point or strike action) and environment (land or maritime based).
It's easy to see why the EOTECH EXPS3-0 is a favoured sight in use by USSOCOM, other military branches and Law Enforcement Agencies across the globe. It's robustness, reliability, long battery life, crystal clear sight picture and 10 year warranty is a huge bonus to what is already a fantastic weapon sight. Used in conjunction with the previously reviewed EOTECH Magnifier G33, the EXPS3-0 enhances it's versatility and usability.
Comparing both the XPS3 and the EXPS3-0 I personally favour the EXPS3-0 as I am able to quickly attach / detach the sight as well as access the operation buttons if used in conjunction with a Magnifier.
If you're after a new rifle sight I seriously recommend considering the EXPS3-0 or any of the HWS range that suits you and your weapon system. Going forward this sight will be a staple addition in use with the HK416.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.