EOTech EXPS3 — Still Relevant

I don’t trust my eyes.

It’s why I chamber check with my small finger, and train to shoot until a threat falls. This is also the reason I don’t like purely visual loaded chamber indicators, and why I love shooting EOTech holo sights.

I have the nasty habit of losing my sight picture during high-stress moments.

The reason I’m so enamored with the optic is that I don’t have to stare at a complex reticle and figure out a holdover. I just look at my target (you know, the thing you’re either trying to put lead through, or is trying to return the favor), put the big red reticle on it, and send rounds downrange at my discretion.

That’s right, I’m one of, ‘those guys’ who loves L-3 Communication’s boxy holographic weapon sight.

L3 EOTech EXPS 3 holosight.

Before we get started, let’s address the biggest elephant in the room – thermal drift.

Thermal drift is the term given the phenomenon encountered on EOTech sights where the reticles would shift their zero a few minutes of angle (MOA) if the sight was exposed to extreme temperatures for extended amounts of time.

Essentially, certain polymer and metallic components inside would swell or contract from temperature changes, and shift the sight’s zero substantially. While the temperature of a firearm’s barrel is known to do this, few people ever gave their sights a second thought. When the information came out, people were immediately calling the sights worthless, claiming they were worthless – not unlike the so-called SMLE, “jungle carbines” of World War 2.

But this is misleading.

According to the official studies conducted by USSOCOM back in 2015, these sights could see a point of aim shift from between 6 and 12 MOA under certain circumstances.

While that sort of shift is totally unacceptable, it’s important to note a few details about those certain circumstances. The first being that not all sights experienced this shift, and the second being that these shifts only occur from prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.

How extreme?

-40F on the low end, and +120F on the high.

The -40 F portion basically rules out anyone not using the sight either in Alaska or Michigan in the dead of winter, and the 120 is uncommon for nearly every resident in the US save for those in Death Valley and Arizona.

Not to make light of the issue though—soldiers operating in the Middle East regularly face these conditions.

My Point?

Most competitive, law enforcement and recreational shooters won’t encounter this shift unless they live somewhere with dramatic weather patterns. Even if they do, it’s a 6-12 MOA shift – at 10 yards (the average self-defense engagement distance) this is a very minor shift – between three and six inches.

But I’m not here to simply defend my favorite choice of optic but to review one of L3’s newest holo sights.

EOTech EXPS 3 holographic weapon device
Holosight – EXPS3.


This is a holographic aiming device that uses a reticle not dissimilar to that found on aircraft gunsights. The reticle itself is a hollow circle with a dot in the center. The configuration is designed to facilitate super rapid aiming and target acquisition. This is because the reticle itself is very large, bright red, and only comes into focus when the shooter focuses their eyes beyond the reticle and on the target.

EoTech EXPS 3 settings
The right side of the EXPS3 sight, two dials adjust windage and elevation in half MOA clicks.

Additionally, the EXPS3 model separates itself from the rest of EOTech’s product lineup in that it features both a quick detach lever and is compatible with night vision. That’s because this model in particular features 30 separate brightness settings. 20 of these are for use in daylight, while the remaining 10 are for use with night vision optics like the PVS-14.

I’ve run this optic on more than two dozen firearms ranging from a modified AR-10 chambered in .450 SOCOM to a SIG 522 chambered in .22lr. Regardless of the gun it’s mounted on, the EXPS3 held zero perfectly and retained zero when removed and remounted.

EOTech EXPS3 reticle
The reticle itself is very large, bright red, and only comes into focus when the shooter focuses their eyes beyond the reticle and on the target.

Personally, EOTech holo sights have served me very well for years – since I won my first model 552 back in 2005 at a shooting match. To be frank, I treat my optics and gear like it wronged my family, and I still haven’t been able to kill this optic.

Another great aspect of the EXPS series is that they cowitness perfectly with mil-spec height backup iron sights.  This means if the sight does manage to be knocked out of commission, backup sights can be flipped up and used through the EOTech’s window.

Meanwhile, the outer shell of the EOTech is built from aircraft-grade aluminum that in my experience can stop at least buckshot – though I wouldn’t make a habit of it.

The only downside to the EOTech’s configuration is that it’s designed for an AR-15 height comb. Thus, firearms like the H&K MP5 or CZ Scorpion EVO don’t play well with the optic since it sits a little too high to properly cowitness or utilize without using a, ‘chin weld’ instead of a normal cheek one.

The EXPS 3 QD latch with cowitnesses in the lower third with standard-height AR-15 iron sights.
The EXPS 3 QD latch with co-witnesses in the lower third with standard-height AR-15 iron sights.

That said, many shooters like myself find the optic to be very intuitive to use – and after more than 7 years with an older version and 3 years with the EOTech EXPS3, I have nothing but full confidence in these optics – but I personally restrict their use to short range.

Currently, my home defense carbine of choice is an SBR’d Sig MPX in 9mm parabellum. It wears an EOTech EXPS3 holo sight, a host of additional improvements, and a sound suppressor like this Ryder 9 from Surefire, provided by SilencerShop.com.

Suppressor, MPX, and EXPS3.
Suppressor, MPX, and EXPS3.

Within the confines of my home, no amount of thermal shift that would leave the sight still attached to the receiver would prevent me from making a center-mass hit on a would-be assailant.

Ultimately, the EOTech EXPS3, like all holo sights, isn’t going to be for everyone. Hell, shooters with astigmatism sometimes can’t see the reticle at all. But for shooters like myself who like the instinctive aiming method of focusing your eyes on the target/threat, EOTech’s holo sights are incredibly fast.

Jim is a freelance writer for dozens of firearm publications, the host of the YouTube channel Burst Review and the youngest author to write a cover story for Shotgun News in its 86-years of operation. Jim loves anything that goes, ‘boom’ but particularly enjoys military firearms from the Cold War and WW2. When he’s not slinging lead downrange he can be round hiking in the mountains with his wife Kim and their vicious attack dog, Peanut.

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