by Richard Mann - Sunday, April 19, 2015
Bolt-action scout rifles offer versatility through a combination of fixed sights and a forward-mounted optic. They’ve become popular utility rifles since Col. Jeff Cooper pioneered the concept in the late 1960s. But modern shooters have found the AR, combined with holographic or reflex sights, a better mousetrap. What’s been missing is the icing on the cake, an AR optic that offers rapid, up-close sighting and precision, long-range engagement.
EOTech is the only manufacturer of holographic sights for firearms. Their ruggedness has been proven on the battlefield, and their uniqueness is unmatched by prismatic and reflex optics. EOTech has also solved the seemingly impossible short-range/long-range conundrum with two optical devices that work in tandem. Mounted on an AR, they create what arguably could be considered the 21st century scout rifle, and they offer several benefits to predator, hog and even big-game hunters.
EOTech’s new Model 518 holographic sight is an updated version of the company’s bread-and-butter Model 512 that runs off everyday AA batteries. The design repositions the holographic reticle’s on-off and brightness controls from the rear of the optic to the left side. This change now allows a hunter to mount an EOTech magnifier behind the sight, but more on that later. The 518 is compatible with Picatinny rails and Weaver slotted bases, and it comes standard with a quick-detach lever.
When powered up, the optic displays EOTech’s A65 reticle in the field of view. The reticle is actually a holographic image sandwiched between layers of glass. Turning on the optic activates a red laser, which illuminates the hologram. The A65 reticle has a 1 MOA dot surrounded by a 65 MOA circle. Reticle-adjustment knobs, located on the right side of the sight, can be turned with a flathead screwdriver. They offer .5 MOA of adjustment per click.
Like all EOTech holographic sights, the 518 has a huge, 1.3-inch-wide viewing window and is parallax free, allowing off-axis aiming. Even if the glass in the sight is broken or the front of the sight is obscured by dirt or snow, you can still effectively use the 518—as long as you keep both eyes open. This is because our binocular vision transposes the reticle in front of the other eye.
The EOTech G33 Magnifier mounts behind the holographic sight. It offers 3X magnification, has a fast-focus eyepiece and comes with a quick-detachable, Switch to Side mount. The mount lets you tip the magnifier 90 degrees to the right or left, depending on how you set it up. This allows for immediate, unmagnified aiming through the holographic sight. A side benefit (pardon the pun) is when the magnifier is tipped to the right, it also allows for easy access to an AR’s charging handle.
Interestingly, the reticle maintains the same relationship to the target when viewed through the magnifier. The center dot subtends to 1 MOA with or without the magnifier. As far as the human eye is concerned it’s the same as a standard riflescope with a reticle in the first focal plane.
When the Model 518 and G33 magnifier are combined, you get the benefit of an illuminated, 3X optic that, with a slap of the hand, converts to a zero magnification, close-quarters, both-eyes-open sight. Whether you’re hunting open spaces or brush-choked draws, you have the right gun sight.
Even better, EOTech plans to introduce a 5X magnifier called the G45 later this year. I tested the Model 518 and a prototype G45 on a DPMS GII Hunter in .308 Win. Mounting the combination was straightforward. The only correction I had to make was centering the field of view of the magnifier, which was easily accomplished with horizontal and vertical adjustments on the body of the G45. Zeroing the 518 was just as simple by tuning the reticle with the slot-screw adjustments. I saw no point-of-impact shift between shots, with or without the magnifier.
During a combination elk and whitetail hunt in Montana, I gained proof of this concept. The country was open, and getting close amounted to closing the distance to around 300 yards. Using a 225-yard zero, I took a bull elk at 345 yards and a whitetail buck at 318. I flipped the magnifier to the side when approaching both downed animals, just in case I needed a fast finishing shot at close range. That was indeed the case with the whitetail, which I initially hit in the spine.
As good as this sight combination is, nothing is perfect. Together the two optics are weighty at 27 ounces. However, the 13.6-ounce magnifier can be removed or installed with the throw of a lever, without affecting zero. Also, this combination has four air-to-glass surfaces to keep protected. Drop your rifle in the snow like I did, and you have quite a bit of brushing off to do.
For those interested in hunting with an AR, the EOTech Model 518 combined with a magnifier has a lot to offer. And the 518 alone makes a great optic for a turkey or coyote shotgun. Whether these optics help create the millennium scout rifle, together they transform an AR into what might be the premier general-purpose rifle of all time.
Type: holographic sight
Objective Lens Diameter: 1.3" (33mm)
Eye Relief: unlimited
Field of View @ 100 Yds: 30 yds.
Reticle: holographic, illuminated A65; 20 brightness settings
Adjustments: .5 MOA
Dimensions: length 5.5", width 2.2", height 2.8"; weight 13.3 ozs.
Construction: water-resistant aluminum body; side push-button illumination control
Accessories: quick-detach, Switch to Side mount
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