Scope Review: EOTech 518

eotech

In the realm of holographic weapon sights, EOTech is king, and one of their crown jewels is the EOTech 518. It's one of the best products from the top producer in its industry. But is it worth the price? That brand name power and fancy features don't come cheap. Do you really need all that stuff? Should you buy a sight that is more expensive than some guns on the market?

Let's find out by going over the specs and how the EOTech 518 performs. But first, let's get an idea of why the EOTech name garners such respect and high prices. We also look at how these types of holographic sights function, as well as which parts are essential and which features are fluff.


The EOTech 518: What Makes it Unique


On to the main course. Released in 2015, the EOTech 518 has been one of the company's best sellers, and for a good reason. It is the natural evolution of the EOTech 512 with several small tweaks and additions. Except for some small preferential differences, users regard all of these changes as positive.

It performs better than its predecessors and has several new additions that make it a more complete and robust tool. Let’s go in depth and examine it from all of the angles.

Quality

Price

Our Rating

$ $

The Basics

The EOTech 518 is made in the USA. An important distinction for some, as several other high-profile optics manufacturers have outsourced labor to bring costs down such as Burris or Bushnell. As you’ll see later, though, that “Made in the U.S.A.” sticker comes at a cost.

Pros:

The housing of the sight is made of high-grade aluminum and, of course, comes in tacticool black. All EOTech holosights, like the Eotech XPS2 and Eotech 512.165 that we recently reviewed the 518 can take a beating and a splashing and still keep working away. There is little difference between their civilian and mil-spec models, so their customers are getting combat grade optics. You can submerge this baby in up to 10ft of water with no problems!

The EOTech 518 is powered by two AA alkaline or lithium batteries. Any common kind will do, disposable or rechargeable. Most holosights require at least this much battery power due to the energy demands of the laser apparatuses within the sight. A rechargeable would not retain a charge long enough to be useful and would be inconvenient if it gave out in the field.

Cons:

At this point, there is no way around the two AA battery limitation. It's the best option, though as others require the rarer batteries like the 123-lithium battery.

Specs

The exact specifications of the EOTech 518 are as follows:

  • Length: 5.6 inches
  • Weight: 13.8 ounces
  • Magnification: 1
  • Reticle Color: Red
  • Reticle Size: 68 MOA Circle With 1 MOA Dot
  • Finish: Matte

Performance

The EOTech 518 performs every bit as well as its predecessor and surpasses it in some areas. It is reliable, and the reticle is crisp and clear when adjusted properly. The aperture is also very clear and is highly resistant to damage, smudges and condensation. It's especially proficient at aiding fast target acquisition with two-eye-open shooting, as it holds its reticle on target firmly even when using full auto fire.

Ease of Use

One of the primary differences between the 518 and the 512 is that the newer model features a quick disconnect system for mounting and demounting the device. Other, older models employ standard rail attachment systems which take longer to remove or connect and sometimes requires tools.

The EOTech 518 detaches in seconds with a few presses and clicks for easy and quick removal or activation. Despite being a quicker system, the quick disconnect feature does not seem to make the sight any less firmly attached to a weapon. The performance is comparable to that of the old style of attachment, just faster.

Magnification Compatibility and Adjustment Buttons

While the image shown by the 518 is not magnified in any way, it is compatible with a magnifier. These devices, sold separately, attached to the rear of the holosight and usually can be flipped to the side when not in use.

In this way, the operator can swap between 1X magnification to a higher magnification in an instant to compensate for evolving engagements and conditions. EOTech also sells their own magnifiers if you want one with the same brand name clout and quality.

To make the sight even more compatible, EOTech designed their 518 with the adjustment buttons on the side. This way, if the operator wishes to adjust the brightness of the sight, they need not flip the magnifier out of the way first. Also, line of sight need not be broken to adjust the sight, as you can now adjust it while still viewing through the holosight instead of looking at our hand.

This improvement might have some drawbacks, however. Before, with the rear mounted buttons, the adjustment procedure was ambidextrous. Now, left-handed shooters are at something of a disadvantage as they will have to either reach over the top of the sight to adjust it or remove their left hand from the trigger to do it.

Neither situation is ideal, but EOTech found that the pros outweigh the cons, even for the small population of lefties out there.

Laser Battery Cap

The 518 is also compatible with the Laser Battery Cap (LBC). This little doodad replaces the existing battery cap on the holosight and implements a laser targeting device seamlessly installed so the two devices can work in tandem.

The LBC can emit a standard red visible laser or a civilian IR laser for use in low light conditions. Unfortunately, the LBC is sold separately by EOTech and does not come standard. It also isn't cheap, costing nearly as much as the holosight itself. Still, it looks almost irresistibly cool and sleek.

Night Vision Compatibility

The EOTech 518 is not compatible with night vision systems. However, its sister model, the EOTech 558 is. The 558 is virtually identical to the 518, with the exceptions of its night vision compatibility and of course its price. The 558 also comes with several extra settings that are required to fine tune to sight to pair better with a night vision device.

Pricing

The MSRP of an EOTech is $529, while the MSRP of the 558 is $629. As the products are now a few years old, they can be found for less online, but not much less. These are still premium, top of the line sights and likely won’t fall too far in price any time soon.

If you like the sight, but want to save some money, you could spring for the older 512 model. You'll save a few bucks, but not many. EOTech charges a lot for their quality and reliability, and their many customers believe it is worth it.

If you want to get a holosight on the cheap, you'll have to browse other brands or find a suitable knock-off. Some of these holosight clones perform admirably, but if it's the best you want, then EOTech is your company.


EOTech: The First and (Arguably) Best


Best Eotech

EOTech was founded in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1995. They set out to produce and commercialize their breakthrough in the weapon sight field: the holographic sight (more on that later). In the years since they have maintained much of their dominance in the industry and is second only to perhaps Aimpoint in name recognition and reputation.

EOTech has built up their fortunes not only with civilian sales but with lucrative military contracts as well. Since 1996, EOTech has been providing holographic sights for the U.S. military for use with small arms as well as some heavier weaponry such as grenade launchers. Several foreign militaries also make use of their products.

Time to address the elephant in the room. EOTech has been mired in controversy a few times in its history. Most recently, EOTech's parent company L-3 paid a large sum of money after being accused of fraud by the U.S. military.

The company failed to warn the military about possible shortfalls and defects of their holographic sights. In extremely hot or cold temperatures, there was a significant shift in zero causing poor accuracy even after returning to ambient temperatures.

Their main competitor, Aimpoint has pulled ahead of EOTech somewhat, but that shouldn’t dissuade you. Any civilian operator is not likely to experience these defects, which have already been addressed and mitigated. Regardless, EOTech has been offering refunds to any users who experienced those defects.


The Holosight


eotech 518 Holosight

The holographic sight also called a "holosight", is an alternative to the reflector or "red-dot" sight first invented by Aimpoint. It has several advantages over its predecessor, but also some drawbacks. Let's go over these functions to see how the EOTech 518 performs.

Reticle

Reticle

Holographic sights are considered to be more precise and accurate as their reticles are crisper and more customizable. Since the reticle is produced in three dimensions into a holographic film and not reflected, its shape, color, position and size can be adjusted on the fly. Many users rate the holosights as better for rapid target acquisition, but that is far from a universal truth.

Power

Power

Holosight technology is a bit more complex, as it employs lasers to create its reticle image. As such they require batteries, usually common AAs, to power their more resource hungry technology. The result is shorter battery life and more frequent swaps if it's being used heavily. Aimpoints use an LED for their simpler reticles, and as such, they can measure their battery life in the 10s of thousands of hours.

Durability

Durability

As military grade hardware, these sights have to be able to take a beating. Holosights claim the be able to handle shocks, drops, all kinds of weather and even being submerged. A good holosight must live up to its reputation as a rugged military and law enforcement necessity.

Two Eye Open Shooting

Two Eye Open Shooting

One of the main advantages of holosights over traditional iron sights is the ability to shoot with both eyes open. Since the holosights viewing window is so large, you can use both eyes to view your target. Additionally, there is no parallax; you do not need to align anything together due to distance like front and rear sights.

Not only does this allow for easier and quicker target acquisition, but it also increases peripheral vision and situational awareness. This advantage makes holosights especially useful in close quarters.

Cross dominant eye shooters (operators whose dominant hand and eye are on different sides of their bodies) also find benefit with the holosight, as they need not choose which eye to use and can simply keep both eyes open.


The EOtech 518: What We Think


The 518 is great. There's really not much to it. It is one of the best sights out there and leaves its competition in the dust. We like getting the best gear for our weapons (within reason) because shooting is like football; it's a game of inches and every edge counts. To get the best optics edge, EOTech is the way to go, and their 518 is a great all-around option with its ease of use and compatibility with both easy to find AA batteries and magnifiers.

EOTECH EO518 518 W/68/1 MOA QD Mount blk
  • EOTECH 518.A65 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
  • Mount - Quick Detach lever fits 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
  • Adjustable Brightness - The 518 has 20 brightness settings for use in any lighting scenario
  • Side Button Operation - Ideal for use with a G33 Magnifier
  • EOTECH HWS Prestige Warranty - Comes with 10 year limited warranty

The main drawback of the 518 is its price. Having the best gear is great if you can pay for it, and EOTech asks a lot. Is it worth the price? Well, you'll have to ask yourself how much cash you have to drop and if you really need mil spec optics. Not everyone does need the quality that EOtech offers and not everyone can afford it.

You can get a fine optics experience from much cheaper holographic or even reflector and ACOG sights. Hardcore (and well-funded) gun nuts will love the 518, while more casual shooters probably won't get their money's worth and can settle for less.

Improve Your Close-Range Accuracy With The EOTech 512.a65 Sight

Trying to shoot your weapon without a sight can be challenging, and you’re likely to waste a few good shots trying to get your target.There are different types of sights available on the market, but you may not know what kind the best fit for you and your shooting style is. In our review, we will focus on the EOTech 512.a65 sight, discuss some its unique features, the cost, and what other users have to say about using one.

What Is EOTech 512.a65 and How Does It Work?

EOTech 512.a65

The EOTech 512.a65 is a holographic sight created and manufactured by EOTech. EOTech is a Michigan-based company that specializes in holographic sighting systems, thermal imaging equipment, and tactical lasers. EOTech built the first Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS), in 1996, and made it available to purchase commercially.

Before we get into the details of specifications, we will discuss the differences between a sight and a scope. If you are a long-time firearm owner, you probably know a lot about scopes, sights and prefer one over the other.

New gun owners may not know the difference or may not know which one is best for them. It’s worth taking time to explaining the differences between the two, so that you can make a confident decision about what you need for your weapon.

A Brief Look At Scopes

When many of us think of a scope, we might envision a large and long telescope looking piece of equipment that is mounted to a larger gun like a rifle. A scope provides magnification and is most useful for long range shooting; most scopes have magnification options, which makes it versatile.

A scope has a large lens, which is the objective lens and is located on the opposite end of the eyepiece. When light transmits through the objective lens and back to the ocular lens (or the lens in the eyepiece); this is when magnification occurs.

How Do Holographic Sights Differ?

Sights are often a popular choice among novice gun owners because it’s smaller and easier to use. Some sights, like the red dot sight, will display a red dot sight if you don’t have the target lined up with your line of sight. Sights displays are often easier to read and use than crosshairs or other features of a scope.

Many sight experts believe that a holographic is similar to a red dot sight but works a little better. Holographic sights are smaller than other sights, and there’s room for error when lining up your line of sight with your target.

Holographic sights like the EOTech 512.a65 are lightweight, small, and designed for mid to close range shooting. Rather than an objective and ocular lens, holographic sights consist of a hologram between glass. The glass (or your view) is not altered or affected by any light coming through the viewer window.

What Makes EOTech 512 Unique?

EOTech 512 Unique

With dozens of holographic sights available, you might be wondering how EOTech 512 is unique. One of the main things to consider, when looking at the 512 sight is that it is made by the company who created holographic sights.

While many holographic sights have similar features and may even be a fraction of the price, there are advantages to sticking with a sight that was explicitly designed by its company.

A Detailed Look At EOTech 512

Now that we’ve discussed some of the main differences between scopes and sights, let’s take a closer look at the EOTech 512. According to the manufacturer, the 512.a65 is the company’s most popular holographic sight.

When the shooter looks through the heads-up display window, see a red hologram of a reticle pattern on the target plane. This image is easier to see than crosshairs and red dots, and it may help novice shooters improve their accuracy; overall, it’s a suitable sight for anyone who wants to improve their shooting performance and have more control.

While this sight is not compatible with night vision, it’s an ideal sight for speed and versatility in close to mid range shooting environments. The EOTech holographic sight is made of durable aluminum. The sight comes with two-AA batteries, a Knurled Weaver bolt for mounting, 7/64 Allen key, a quick reference card, product registration and warranty card, sight assembly, and a user’s manual.

The Parts of the EOTech 512.a65

 Parts of the EOTech 512.a65

While the design of the sight is relatively simple, it’s a good idea to get to know the parts before deciding if this is the best holographic sight for you.

The holographic window contains the embedded holographic reticle pattern and will display a hologram of the reticle when it’s illuminated by a laser light.

The protective hood is located over the display window (sight housing). Not only does the protective hood increase the durability of the sight housing but keeps it better protected from damage and extended use.

A battery cap latch keeps the battery compartment free of water, dirt, and other debris while the battery cap contains the power source for the holographic sight.

With the universal mount, you can easily mount your sight to a 1” Weaver or a MIL-STD-1913 rail. For other mounting details or instructions, contact the company directly.

The windage adjustment dial is designed to adjust the point of aim at 100 yards with a half-inch per click either left to right. Similarly, the elevation adjustment changes the point of aim at 100 yards with a half-inch up or down.

While there are no night vision capabilities, users can adjust the brightness (with 20 settings) to make the sight easier to use in low or high-light environments.

EOTECH 512 Holographic Weapon Sight - 1 Dot Speed Ring Reticle
  • EOTECH 512.A65 - Holographic Weapon Sight in Back with 68MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
  • Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
  • Adjustable Brightness - The 512 has 20 brightness settings for use in any lighting scenario
  • Water Resistant - The 512 is water resistant to 10 feet (3m)
  • EOTECH HWS Prestige Warranty - Comes with 10 year limited warranty

Specifications

  • The Field of View: Up to 30 yards
  • 1 x magnification
  • Anti-reflection coating
  • Fog-resistant
  • Water submersible up to 10 feet
  • Length: 5.5 inches
  • Width: 2 inches
  • Height: 2.5”
  • Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Color: Black or Camo
  • Window Dimensions: 1.20 x 0.85 inches
  • Front Glass: 1/8 inch thick
  • Rear Glass: 3/16 inch thick

Maintenance Tips For The EOTech 512.a65

Maintenance EOTech 512.a65

The holographic sight is relatively maintenance-free but here are a few tips to consider when caring for the sight and to help extend its life and optimal performance.

Since the sight windows are coated with an anti-reflective material, you should use care when cleaning the surface. Before cleaning the glass, blow away any excess dirt or debris.

Never clean the glass without moistening a soft cloth first. Always use a lens cleaning fluid (or a cleaner that’s suitable for cleaning camera lenses).

Use soap and water or a water-based cleaner to clean the outer surface of the sight. Never use alcohol, acetone, or a gun cleaner on the holographic sight. Parts of the sight are permanently lubricated and should never need lubricating. If you encounter issues, contact the manufacturer first.

Disassembling any part of the sight can void the warranty and compromise the performance of the sight, particularly the nitrogen-filled optical cavity (to avoid fog and excess moisture).

While sights are designed to be durable, you may want to store your sight in a padded case to keep it protected when not in use.

Pricing

If you are shopping around online and making some price comparisons on the EOTech 512.a65, you may notice that it cost more than other holographic sights; you may see that the price varies on the actual product.

When you go the manufacturer’s website, they are selling the EOTech 512 for $479 (MSRP). If you look at Amazon, the prices vary between $384 and $429. While the prices on Amazon for EOtech 512.a65 are significant savings and it’s difficult to detect any differences in the products (if any exist), you should make sure that the sight is not pre-owned and that a warranty is available.

Warranty

EOTech 512.a65 sights that are purchased after 2017 are protected by a 10-year limited EOTech Prestige Warranty. The warranty covers any defects in the material or workmanship that occur under regular wear within ten years of purchase. The warranty may not include a sight that has been modified, abused, stolen, or has cosmetic damage. For all warranty details, visit the EOTech Warranty page for more information.

What Others Say About EOTech 512

About EOTech 512

Interested to know what other users have to say about the EOTech 512.a65 Holographic sight, we read dozens of product reviews, customer comments, and testimonials on the Internet. The sight has received a lot of positive feedback with an overall rating of at least four out of five stars.

+ Pros:

Many first-time holographic sight users were impressed by the ease of use and clarity; many remark about how much easier it is to use than red dot sights. Novice users felt comfortable and confident using the sight and experienced users liked how it instantly improved their accuracy.

Other users comment on the durability and craftsmanship. Some mentioned that despite the small size of the sight (versus a scope), they didn’t feel nervous about using the sight or felt like they would damage the equipment.

- Cons:

While some users comment that the scope is not ideal for long range shooting, the manufacturer clearly states that the EOtech 512.a65 is  ideal for close to midrange environments.

EOTech 512.a65 sight lacks of night vision capabilities like the Eotech XPS2. Most users were happy with the multiple brightness settings so that they have continued clarity and better control in low-light environments.

If the night vision feature is a deal breaker, then you might want to consider getting a night-vision scope.

Reviewers had minimal complaints about the holographic sight, and those that did were able to have their issues fixed via troubleshooting or by using their warranty and having the sight repaired by EOTech.

One user ended up purchasing a counterfeit sight, which is another reason why you may be best off buying directly from the manufacturer rather than from an online marketplace like Amazon. Few users complained about the price and most thought that the price was fair for the quality and performance of the sight.

How It Compares

As we mentioned earlier, the EOTech holographic sight is the original holographic weapon sight; similar sights from other manufacturers may have some of the same features but might be “copycat” designs.

When comparing a holographic sight to a red dot sight, most users preferred the holographic sight due to its ease of use, accuracy, and a great choice for beginners.

Comparatively, the EOTech 512.a65 comes with a 1x magnification, while the Burris AR 332 features a 3x magnification. 

What We Think Of EoTech 512.a65

EoTech 512.a65

After reading all the reviews and comments online, we agree that EoTech 512.a65 sight deserves a nearly five-star rating. While the price is a little higher than other sights, it’s clear that you are paying for the high-quality craftsmanship and the 10-year warranty to back up the product, makes it worth the price.

Our Rating:

We like the no-nonsense design, how easy it is to make adjustments, and the room for “error” as you learn how to use a sight. While this sight may be a bit of an investment for new sight users, we think that the sight is an ideal choice for beginners and experienced shooters alike.

The owner’s manual gives you all the information that you need to operate the sight properly and the troubleshooting tips can help you figure out any issues before calling the manufacturer. There are several ways to get a hold of customer service and based on other user reviews; customer service is prompt and helpful.

Considering the quality of the EoTech 512.a65, this is easily the only sight that one might need or want on their weapon and when cared for properly, it can perform with accuracy and clarity for decades.