EOTech XPS2-2 Review
When I think about military grade optics, there are several brands that come to mind and EOTech is clearly one of them. Most people consider the EOTech Holographic Weapons Sight (HWS) to be a close quarters battle sight. These sights are being used today by various law enforcement agencies as well as the the military. With the addition of magnifiers, the practical range for use of an EOTech HWS has been extended to include targets at greater distances. With these sights clearly representing the high end of the quality scale, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to review them. The sight I chose to review was the EOTech XPS2-2 due to it's compact size and reticle pattern. The suggested retail price of this sight at the EOTech website is $519. You can find this sight today (12/16/10) at Optics Planet for $429 on sale with an EOTech $50 mail in rebate.
When the EOTech XPS2-2 arrived, it was packaged as shown below. Basically the packaging is a hard case with a cardboard wrapper which can be hung on a display.
The photo below shows the back side of the cardboard wrapper and some features for this sight.
The EOTech comes in it's own plastic hard case.
When you open the case, you can see that all items, including documentation, fit securely inside the case. When you consider the price of this sight, I believe that a case of this type makes good sense.
The sight comes fully assembled and ready to go. The battery was already installed in my sight when it arrived. Also in the case is a knurled weaver bolt, hex wrench, Operator's Manual, Warranty Card, and Sight Mounting Procedure for the knurled weaver bolt installation. You can see that the case is designed to house many other model EOTech sights.
If you visit the EOTech website, you will find the following in colored italics as the details and specifications about the sight. I will also discuss the significant details below in the review.
Shortest model sight yet! This sight is smaller than the former N-cell battery sight (511/551) and runs on a single 123 battery. It also has a longer battery life than the N-cell style sights. With the new single battery configuration, the XPS allows more rail space than ever, leaving more room for rear iron sights or magnification. Smaller, lighter and always fast; the XPS series is a great new addition.
The EOTech XPS2 Holographic Weapons Sight is a compact sight that includes an aluminum protective hood which greatly decrease the chance of damage to the portion of the sight that houses the front and rear windows and holographic projection components.
On the rear of the EOTech XPS2, is a very simple control panel. Since the XPS2 is the non-night version model, the center button above the word "Off" is not used. This gives you only two control buttons on this sight. The right (up arrow) button will turn the hologram on and it will stay on for 8 hours before automatically shutting off. You can also turn the hologram on with the left (down arrow) and it will stay on for 4 hours before automatically shutting off. This is what EOTech refers to as their "programmable" shutdown feature. You can turn the hologram off by pressing both the left and right buttons simultaneously. I verified this shutdown feature and it was just as advertised, the sight turned off after 4 and 8 hours nearly to the minute. In the photos below, I have the sight installed on a rail so you can see what it will look like on a rail. Although it is not apparent in the picture below due to the background being out of focus, the 1x optics in the window on this sight are clear and bright. I did not notice any significant loss of light transmission and the clarity was good.
The window height is at an optimum height to utilize your Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS) if needed or to co-witness your sights using both sighting systems. I tried to get a photo with EOTech reticle pattern co-witnessed with the BUIS, but the differences in focal planes was giving bad results so the photo below has the EOTech XPS2 turned off. The photo below shows the EOTech XPS2-2 on a Ruger SR-556 Rifle with Troy Industries Folding Battle Sights.
The widest portion of the sight (excluding the Weaver Bolt) is 2.07" on the model I received. Including the Weaver Bolt, it measured 2.34". Both of these measurements are below the 2.4" advertised. The sight window specification is 1.2" x 0.8" and my measurements were very close (difficult to get an actual value). This sight has unlimited eye relief. In the EOTech's specifications, they state a field of view of 30 yards at an eye relief of 4".
The sight measured 3.65" in length which is over the 3.5" advertised. On the right side you see the windage and elevation adjustment knobs as well as the battery cap. Each of these can be adjusted or removed easily with a coin up to and including a quarter. You can also see that the battery cap is tethered to the hood.
On the right side of the sight, you can see that the hood has a cutout to allow use of the Weaver Bolt. The sight measured 3.44" in height which is just under the 3.5" advertised. The caution label is provided because the hologram inside the sight is created by a laser. Other than liability, I don't feel this caution label is really required because I could not find any way to actually stare into the beam.
If you have not already noticed, the surface smoothness and non reflective finish are what you would expect on a sight of this quality and cost.
The bottom of the sight is shown below. One thing I like to see is that good old "Made in the USA" label and actually this sight is Export Controlled.
The sight comes with two different mounting bolts. They have a standard hex wrench bolt (left photo) and an alternate Knurled Weaver bolt (right photo). See the orange sheet that was included for properly tightening the Weaver bolt.
The battery cap screws into the housing of the sight and is attached to the site with a tether to prevent you from losing the cap when changing the battery in the field. You can see the O-ring on the cap that seals the compartment which allows it to be waterproof. The battery is mounted transversely in the sight. This gets around the issue of recoil and battery contacts that has been reported on sights in the past. It also helps to reduce total length of the sight.
The sight weighed in at 0.576 pounds (9.2 ounces) with the battery and Knurled Weaver bolt installed. The specs stated a weight of 8 ounces so I measured the sight without the battery and with the hex bolt and it weight in at 8.25 ounces. I believe EOTech's total advertised weight is off and should be updated.
If you are weight focused, you could drop the weight of your sight by removing the hood which would be a savings of 0.108 pounds (1.7 ounces).
The next two photos show the sight with the hood removed. The three hood screws are installed with some type of thread locking compound (probably Loctite) and you can see the residue around the screw holes. Actually I consider this to be a very acceptable configuration for those who don't require the ruggedness needed for real service.
The EOTech XPX2 sights are available in three reticle patterns and are identified by the dash numbers at the end of the model number (i.e. -0, -1, -2). I decided to go with the XPS2-2 because I knew I was going to add a magnifier to this system and also wanted to evaluate the additional bullet drop compensation feature of the sight. As a close quarters battle sight, bullet drop is not considered and some may prefer the simple single dot of the XPS2-1.
One of the first things you will notice when looking through the EOTech is that the hologram is not as clear and crisp as the advertised images shown above or as normally illuminated reticles. Basically the center aiming dots are made from a laser projections and for most users this represents a 1 MOA dot. By increasing or decreasing the brightness of the dot, you can also change the perceived size of the dot. The 65 MOA ring and hash marks appears to be made up of many small laser dot projections. If you want to read up on the holographic technology, you can visit the Wikipedia site for more information.
For my initial range test, I installed the sight on my Ruger SR-22 rifle (shown below) because .22LR ammo is cheap and for this portion of my testing I wanted to get a really good feel for using the EOTech XPS2-2 on an AR style platform rifle. You can also see in the photo that I have the EOTech G23.FTS 3x Magnifier installed on this rifle and the magnifier will be the subject of it's own review once I complete the XPS2 review.
After initially sighting in the EOTech XPS2-2 sight, I shot several hundred rounds while making an attempt at fast action shots on targets at ranges that varied from about 5 to 100 yards. It didn't take long before I was comfortable making double tap shots and being lethal in shot placement. At the end of this session, I started to wonder why I hadn't already purchased one of these sights, then I remembered; wife, kids, house, cars, college, food, etc. One impression that stands out is I can see why these sights are used by the military. They are simple, rugged and fast on the target.
The next feature I evaluated was how the impact of the bullet shifts (if any) when the hologram is not centered within the sight window. One of the key features of the holographic sight is that there is no shift in zero and the point of aim and impact are the same. The below in colored italics was taken directly from the EOTech site and describes this feature.
In holography, all the information required to reconstruct the reticle image is recorded everywhere in the Heads-Up display window. If the window is obstructed by mud, snow, rain, etc., the HWS remains fully operational , with point of aim/impact being maintained. Even in such extreme cases where the laminated window is shattered, the HWS is fully functional! As long as the operator can see through any portion of the window, the entire reticle pattern is visible on target...the operator can still engage with confidence.
The five groups below represent shooting the sight with the hologram centered and then with the hologram located in each of the far corners of the sight window as shown by the example in the second photo below. All shots were made at 13 yards. I re-shot the lower right group because it was difficult getting my eye and the sight aligned for such an off center sight picture in this quadrant due to the stock. For this group, the first three shots (marked with hash marks) were with me looking from behind the butt stock (much longer eye relief position) and the second three shots were with the same eye relief position as all the other groups. This test was simple and I'm sure much more could be done to evaluate this feature of the sight. Based on these groups, I believe there may be a very slight shift in point of aim versus point of impact with the hologram in the extreme corners. Although, I don't consider this shift to be an issue because we are talking about less than 1/2" at 13 yards and at 50 yards that would be less than two inches. This is more than adequate for a a close quarters battle sight.
Next I decided to see how the sight returned to zero after removal and re-installation. I shot two groups of 6 shots each (left groups below), then I removed the sight, reinstalled the sight, and shot another two 6 shot groups (right groups below). I was using my Ruger SR-22 Rifle (22LR) with some value ammo I picked up from Wal-Mart. The range was at 12 yards and the flyers were a result of the bargain ammo. From this simple test, I was not able to detect any significant shift in zero after removing and reinstalling the sight.
My final evaluations involved mounting the sight on a Ruger SR-556C Rifle. I actually had the EOTech XPS2-2 installed on the rifle for weeks before I finally got a chance to do some shooting. During that time, the rifle stayed on my desk in my office and each time I would take a break, I would shoulder the rifle and practice aiming for quick shot placement. Personally I think the sight and rifle make a good combination.
Throughout my evaluation, I used TulAmmo .223 Rem. 62 grain hollow points. Being optimistic, I started sighting the EOTech in at 50 yards while using the EOTech 3x Magnifier. The group below was my third 5-shot group and it measured 1.15". I was pleased with this group size using this inexpensive ammo and also pleased with how precise the EOTech performed at this range. Since I was working towards a 100 yard zero, I didn't shoot any more bench groups at the 50 yard range. I only adjusted the sights down and moved on to the 100 yard range. As a note, this was a mistake on my part. I failed to take the Operator's Manual to the range and I should have had the top dot in the sight zeroed such that the first zero was at 50 yards for the bullet drop features to work properly.
While at the 100 yard range, I shot several groups fine tuning the sight zero. I actually shot these using the magnifier because I wanted to get the sight zeroed as good as possible before shooting groups at 100 yards with just the EOTech XPS2-2 (no magnifier). I shot two 5-shot groups using the 3x magnifier that measured 2.60" and 2.65". Again, I'm pleased with these shooting results from the inexpensive ammo using the SR-556C rifle, EOTech XPS2-2 sight, and the EOTech 3x magnifier. My next 5-shot group below shows what I was capable of doing on the first try using the EOTech XPS2-2 only (no magnifier). As you can see, it is a larger group that measured about 4.1", but considering there was no magnification, I was very pleased with the results. I'm sure if I would have spent more time and had more practice I could have gotten the group size down smaller, but I was pressed for time so again I moved on.
My last test was to evaluate the sight at a longer range. The maximum distance at the range I could shoot was 186 yards. Except for one shot in the orange below, the first group I shot landed off the target due to my zeroing error and me not remembering correctly the bullet drop compensation details for the sight. I was able to correct my hold over and the below shows my 10 shot group at 186 yards. It measured 6.75". I believe the vertical scatter was due to me not consistently holding the top dot on the same place on the target.
I will be honest that I was starting to doubt my memory of the sight-in distance and the bullet drop between the two aiming dots in the sight, so I called it a day. At some point I'm sure I will update this review, but until then I did learn something. First, you should always take the owner's manual with you to the range when sighting in any sight that includes bullet drop compensation features. Second and most important, I learned that the EOTech holographic sights can also be very effective at ranges much longer than those just for close quarters combat.
From everything I have seen, I believe the EOTech XPS2-2 is a quality product that anyone would be pleased with owning. At first I really struggled with the cost of this sight considering you only get a 1x power sight. Maybe the crutch of having high power scopes for hunting over the years had weakened the confidence in my shooting skill, but I can clearly see that with a little more practice, I could be very effective hunting with the EOTech XPS2 sight out to 200 yards. Couple that with the great field of view you get in close quarters fast action shooting and you get a sight that has a potential to take the place of many traditional hunting scopes today. So back to my struggle with cost, you have to consider aspects like the features, quality, ruggedness and reliability of this product. Clearly if this sight is on the weapons of those men and women putting their lives on the line every day defending our country, it must be doing a great job with these aspects.
Look for an update of this review in the near future as I complete my review of the Ruger SR-556C Rifle.