EOTech HWS 512.A65: A Review

EOTech didn’t start making optics until 1996, but it didn’t take long for them to earn a reputation. To learn about new products, we use them, perform some tests, and then wait. Because in the end, only time can tell, right? Another route you can go when looking for a quality optic is to find one that has been used by the US Military.

It’s hard to beat the testing and real-life field use of a product of the US Armed Forces. When a soldier performs weapons training or carries a weapon into the battlefield, it receives the ultimate test. It’s hard to duplicate that level of wear and tear on a product. Three popular optics companies that have endured such stress include Aimpoint, Trijicon (ACOG), and EOTech. Compared to other optics out there, however, the EOTech 512 is on the bulky side. It hasn’t really changed a lot since it was first introduced.

Eotech HWS 512.A65
Eotech HWS 512.A65 is on the bulky side but is a durable optic. [Photo: Jason Mosher]

Low-end, mid-range, high-end: Which one is EOTech?

I recently had someone ask me for advice on a good optic for their AR-15. I explained there were three categories (at least in my view) of optics. High-end, which is the best of the best but costs the most money; Mid-range optics, which are good quality at an affordable price; and low-end optics, which aren’t really worth a darn. I won’t get into cheap optics today, but one piece of friendly advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Mid-range optics are what I consider to be the sweet spot of cost-effectiveness and reliability. Companies like Holosun, Vortex, Steiner, and Sig, among others, offer some of the best products for the price. I have a Sig Sauer ROMEO7 that has been used extensively on the range during agency drills and I love it. But if it were used by US Soldiers every day for years, I’m not sure it would hold up. I explained this to the person and recommended the EOTech 512 based on his expectations.

The EOTech HWS 512 really falls in the cheaper price range of the high-end optics. It’s part of the 5x series which has been used by the military for years. It already has a reputation, so there’s no need to speculate. As I mentioned above, it’s on the larger, bulky side compared to optics from other companies. But there is a reason for that.

What makes the HWS 512 different?

There are a ton of features that make the EOTech 512 sight stand out from other optics. The first is implied in the name. HWS stands for holographic weapon sight, meaning it’s holographic and not reflective. A typical red dot sight uses an angled mirror to reflect a red LED. Because an LED is pointed towards the front of the optic, most have a tinted lens to conceal the LED dot from would-be threats. The benefit of this type of sight is the power it takes to run it. Red dots can run a long time on very little power, whereas a holographic sight requires more power.

Eotech HWS 512.A65
It’s easy to change the batteries in the 512.A65 optic. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Because the EOTech utilizes the holographic system and needs more power, it also requires a larger and heavier housing. But you get some benefits from this style of sight. The glass is clear, making it easier to see and less prone to parallax issues. I won’t get into all the details of how a holographic sight works today, but in general, they have advantages over traditional red dot systems.

Operating on two AA batteries, the 512.A65 boasts a constant run-time of 2,500 hours. That’s a long time, but not compared to some red dots that will run for years on one small battery. But again, you win some and you lose some.

What does the 512.A65 offer?

Strong glass and an aluminum frame are a must with any good optic. EOTech sights have one thing that most other sights do not, which is an outer shell. This is one thing that makes them even more durable. You can operate an EOTech at -40 degrees or up to 140 degrees. There are an enormous amount of articles and videos showing the EOTech operate with broken glass or considerable damage to the frame. It’s submersible to 10ft of water and will run on lithium, alkaline, or rechargeable batteries.

It also has 20 daylight settings and a cross-bolt style mount for 1913 Picatinny rails. It does weigh 11.5 ounces, which is on the heavy side compared to other optics, but this is, in part, due to that robust protective outer shell. SOCCOM renewed its award for the use of EOTech HWS sights for close-quarter battles. You can shatter the front window on an EOTech, and the reticle will continue to be visible.

Speaking of reticles, this one has an A68 ring with a 1 MOA dot in the middle. This is perfect for fast acquisition and accuracy over distance.

Eotech HWS 512.A65
EOTech placed the control buttons on the back of the optic for optimal use. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The EOTech 512.A65 is set up to co-witness with iron sights and has traditional digital control buttons on the back. Most optics have buttons on the side, which makes it harder to work the controls when using the rifle. Depending on the time of year (like Christmas sales), the HWS 512.S65 retails anywhere from $400 to $550. This isn’t a bad price, especially for a high-end optic. For some, the size and weight are a big factor, but I’m willing to deal with that for the quality.

Should you choose EOTech?

It all comes down to a few simple things. How much money do you want to spend? What are you planning to do with the optic? And, what you like should all be considered? Don’t buy the “best” optic out there if you don’t like it.

It’s okay to have a budget optic and there are some good quality ones on the market. But if you want a reasonably priced high-end optic, check out the EOTech HWS 512.A65. You get a bargain at this price point and the optic will run forever. Just remember to replace the batteries once per year and you won’t have any problems. It will turn off automatically if you leave it on, so there’s no worry of running them down by mistake.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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