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.

Sale
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.