Review - EOTECH XPS3 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? 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.
Whilst the EXPS3-0 was unavailable at the time of writing (currently inbound), the XPS3 variant was and this blog as titled focuses on the XPS3 model which is very similar to the EXPS3-0.
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 EOTECH HWS XPS3 is the shortest and lightest night-vision compatible HWS (Holographic Weapon Sight) yet. Powered by a single transverse mounted CR123 lithium battery, the XPS3 provides additional rail space, leaving more room for rear iron sights, magnifiers or night-vision mount.
Included in the box:
Night Vision Compatible
L x W x H - 3.8" x 2.1" x 2.5" (96.5 x 53.3 x 64 mm)
Weight - 9.0 oz (255 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 XPS3 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 second 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 (batteries, allen keys, screws etc). Parts included within the box are;
7/64 SAE allen key
Knurled thumb-bolt (Large Rail Attachment Screw - LRAS)
7/64 hex bolt (Small Rail Attachment Screw - SRAS)
Behind the removable foam of the upper cover are 3 cards; operators instruction card, warranty card, disclaimer and an EOTECH sticker.
XPS3 exterior in detail
The XPS3 is 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 glass.
Height (battery compartment only) 3cm
Length (rail only) 7cm
Height (sight window) 2.6cm
Width (sight window) 3.4cm
The XPS3 weighs a total of 252g (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. The left hand side features the rail attachment screw notch and at the rear of the left hand side is the Class 1 Laser Product warning sticker. At the rear of the XPS3 is the 'switch board' on which are three buttons as seen in the fourth image below; DOWN arrow, UP arrow (doubles as the standard ON button) and NV (Night Vision). The screen is further anti-reflective to prevent sunflash and is clear front and rear.
On the underside of the XPS3 is the EOTECH copyright information, scannable barcode, rail mounts and importantly 5 screws (see EOTECH - HWS Counterfeits video at bottom of page).
The exterior of the XPS3 is sleek and not overbearing in regards to complexity. It's simplicity ensures it remains clean and crisp. 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 is 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 XPS3 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 (likely based on lowest reticle brightness setting). 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 third 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.
Operating the XPS3
To operate the XPS3, the 'switch board' at the rear has three buttons; 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 XPS3 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 XPS3 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 XPS3 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 XPS3 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.
Installing the large rail attachment screw (LRAS)
When mounting the XPS3, there are two attachment options that can be used with this sight, either; use the already fitted 7/64 hex bolt (small rail attachment screw (SRAS)) which is seen in the first image below, or by installing the knurled thumb-bolt (large rail attachment screw (LRAS)) as seen in the remaining images below. The SRAS can be removed using the included 7/64 S.A.E. allen key (ensure you securely store the SRAS in case it's required in the future). The LRAS is then simply inserted in its place and tightened.
The only benefit that I can identify from the SRAS and LRAS is that you would likely use the LRAS if the sight was being moved from rifle to rifle or moved position on the rail frequently and doesn't require the use of a tool. The SRAS is likely to be used when the sight is fixed in position without any requirement to move it, and if it did, the 7/64 allen key would be required.
Fitting the XPS3 to a rifle
The sight 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 used the SRAS and it's fixed in front of the A.R.M.S #40 flip up rear sight (a product I previously reviewed here). Once installed and the SRAS tightened, the sight feels entirely secure and does not wobble or cause any concern especially regarding disengaging.
Maintenance of the XPS3 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 XPS3;
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 XPS3 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
Weapons sights are an advantageous ancillary for your rifle, but they are not an entirely critical addition to your weapon system. 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).
The EOTECH XPS3 is a class HWS and certainly ticks a lot of boxes; easy to use, lightweight, small rail footprint, 10 year warranty and NV compatible. On the flip side there are a number of points against it; cost (curse of quality), no QD lever version available, buttons at rear mean use with G33 / a magnifier / NV scope make button use difficult and reticle 'strength' can vary between sights.
Dependant on what the sight is required for, the EOTECH XPS3 is a strong contender for ease of use and is a worthy addition to any rifle, however when compared to the EXPS3-0 which in my opinion is more suited to the style that I require, especially for use with the G33 magnifier I believe I know what the correct choice for me will be... The XPS3 remains a solid contender for use on rifles with minimal fuss or transition required across weapons platforms and is a firm favourite for many shooters across LEA and military units. With the EOTECH brand you are purchasing quality and you can be safe in the knowledge that you won't be let down by your sight when you need it most.
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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.