First introduced in late 2012, the EXPS3 is the latest entry in the line of holographic sights manufactured in the United States by EOTech, a subsidiary of L3 Communications. Let's see why they call it the "Extreme!"
In January, 1996, the EOTech, Inc. company – headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan – started a true revolution in the field of tactical optics with the launch of its first HWS, or Holographic Weapon Sight, whose first generation was distributed by Bushnell as the 'Holosight'. EOTech's holographic sights have risen to a prominent position on the global market as the years went by, often greatly surpassing the success of their most directly competitors among conventional red dot sights.
EOTech's technology reached its pinnacle with the launch of the EXPS3 sight in the year 2012. Dubbed the "Extreme" holographic weaponsight by the manufacturer, the EXPS3 is also in service with the U.S. Armed Forces as the SU-231A/PEQ. Let's take a look at it.
In order to understand what tells the EXPS3 apart from other holographic sights, it's first essential to understand what tells holosights apart from standard red dot sights.
Classic red dot sights are basically modern variants of the reflector sights used on bombers and fighter planes in World War 2: in their case, an LED light reflects back off from a coated objective lens; depending from the presence of a filter in front of the LED, or the absence thereof, the sight will offer a standard red dot or a reticle-style dot.
In holographic gunsights – such as EOTech's own products, or those inspired by them in the past twenty years – the LED is replaced by a direct laser emitter, generally a 0.08mW, 650nm Class II laser device. The laser beam illuminates a diffraction grating, causing the intended reticle to be projected in form of a "Hologram" in the space inside the optical sight, between the two lenses, which is airtight and filled with inert gas.
Extensive research in the field of power management has been necessary to make this kind of gunsight as efficient as possible. As a matter of fact, laser emitters require much more power than LEDs, and as such holosights offer a markedly inferior battery life if compared with standard red dots.
The search for solutions to some issues caused by the battery – and the position of the battery compartment – to earlier EOTech holosights prompted a rethinking of the general layout, and that included the repositioning of the battery compartment in a transverse position in front of the chassis.
That's how the EOTech EXPS3 was born. Powered through a single CR123A, 3V battery – a type of battery that's commonly available all through the world – the EXPS3 offers an average battery life of approximately 600 hours, depending from the selected reticle brightness setting (see below).
The transverse position of the battery compartment also helps to reduce overall dimensions to a minimum: the EOTech EXPS3 is 91,4mm / 3.5" long, 60,9mm / 2.4" high, 71mm / 2.8" wide, and weighs barely 317,5 grams (11.2 oz).
Smaller is better: the EOTech EXPS3 saves rail space when installed, allowing easier use of add-on accessories such as flip-up iron sights, image magnifiers or night vision devices.
The EOTech EXPS3 is mostly manufactured out of airspace-grade hard-anodized aluminum alloy, and features multi-treated, multi-layered shatterproof glass lenses and a 30x23mm (1.20"x0.85") wide window allowing the use of iron sights for co-witnessing or in case of reticle failure.
The EXPS3 offers a 28 mt / 30 yds field of view at 100 yards, with an unlimited eye relief. EOTech still advertises the EXPS3 as parallax-free, although issues reported by the U.S. Armed Forces with this and other EOTech holographic sights ever since the year 2006, particularly under extreme temperature conditions, would seem to indicate otherwise.
Another feature that tells the EXPS3 apart from other holographic sights manufactured by EOTech is the configuration of controls – which have now been relocated on both sides for easier access.
The reticle brightness adjustment buttons have been moved from the rear portion of the sight to the left side, and offer thirty brightness settings overall, ten of which being night vision-specific, activated through the dedicated NV button.
The windage and elevation adjustment dials, along with the battery compartment plug, are located on the right side and can be operated with a small sharp tool such as a coin, a screwdriver, or a blade tip. The dials offer 0.5 MOA-per-click adjustment capabilities (1/2" at 100 yds), with an overall adjustment rate of about 40 MOA.
The baseline reticle on the EOTech EXPS3 holosight offers a 1-MOA center dot in a 68-MOA circle. Three different variants of the EXPS3 are available, each featuring a different reticle: the EXPS3-2 variant offers a two-dot reticle, while the EXPS3-4 model features a four-dot reticle; in both cases, the dots are vertically aligned and calibrated specifically for the ballistic drop of 5,56mm/.223 caliber.
A version also exists with an integrated visible red-light laser sight for close quarters engagement. The EOTech EXPS3 holosight is available in black and desert tan colors, and comes with a 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail compatible mount and a quick-detach single throw lever.
The waterproof rating (up to 10mt / 33ft) and the levels of shock and G-force resistance that EOTech sights are tested and rated for – their electronics being fully encapsulated in a shock-absorbing resin compound – make the EXPS3 holographic sight compatible with basically any commercial or military firearm available. The EOTech EXPS3 will withstand the harshest use – be it hunting, sport shooting, or tactical operations – for years to come.
The EOTech EXPS3 holosight is available in north America at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $679.00.
The European distributor for EOTech is Bignami S.p.A of Italy; the EXPS3 is made available to European shooters at a suggested retail price of 1088,00€.