The AEMS — Holosun’s Mini Monster

Holosun has gained a great reputation in the last few years. They make solid optics, and they’ve earned their place. However, their latest optic, the AEMS, was the first I saw that made people excited. People waited for the drop patiently, as did I. I got my AEMS last month and have been chucking lead downrange over the last few weeks.

AEMS stands for Advanced Enclosed Micro Sight and is Holosuns attempt at making an efficient red dot sight. By efficient, I mean the optic tries to combine the smallest size possible with the largest field of view possible. Let’s see if the hype was worth it.

Specifications and Features

This optic is all about staying nice and small, and the AEMS does a great job of keeping things small. At 2.2 inches long, 1.4 inches wide, and 2.59 inches tall, the AEMS is about 10% shorter than most micro-optics.

It’s surprisingly small and weighs a nice 3.9 ounces. The AEMS certainly meets the goal of being small and light, and I appreciate that. Even though it’s small, the window is nice and large at 1.1 inches x .87 inches.

Holosun AEMS field of view and reticle
Wide FOV combined with an awesome reticle? Hell yeah!

Holosun chose a CR2032 battery to power the optic. Battery life exceeds 50,000 hours using the 2 MOA dot and at a moderate setting. Like most modern Holosun optics, the AEMS comes with a solar backup system that can reinforce the battery should it die. That solar panel runs off both the sun and artificial light, so it works indoors.

With the AEMS, we get eight daylight settings and four-night vision settings. That’s a fair amount of night vision settings and plenty of daylight settings. The AEMS has an automatic brightness adjustment setting and a manual setting. I prefer manual 100% of the time. Users can choose between one of three optics and can do so on the fly.

Holosun AEMS solar panel
The solar panel provides a backup source of power in case the battery dies.

The optics include the 2 MOA dot, the 65 MOA circle, and a combination 2 MOA dot and 65 MOA circle. Options matter and I tend to prefer the 2 MOA and 65 MOA dot, but we’ll talk more about that later.

On the Outside of the AEMS

On the outside, the first thing you see is the small top-mounted solar panel. It’s accessible and will always reach above you. You also get two massive buttons that control the optic. The buttons not only adjust the brightness level, but turn the optic on and off, swaps reticles, and turn the automatic mode on or off. The various button combinations are easy to use and make controlling the AEMS simple.

Holosun AEMS control buttons
These two buttons do all the work.

The buttons deliver nice tactile feedback and take a dedicated press to activate. They are quite nice, and even on the fly, you can make adjustments. Another big attention-getter is the presence of two lens covers. These disposable, user-replaceable lens covers act as another layer of protection for the optic.

Did I mention that these lens covers are see-through? They are super clear, and I barely noticed them and only popped them down to do a clarity check. With the lenses in place, they are superbly clear and perfectly useable. I’d imagine the only reason to pop them off was to use the AEMS with a magnifier to ensure everything is super clear.

Holosun AEMS lens covers
The lens covers are clear, removable, and replaceable.

I have bad news and good news regarding the mount. The bad news is that the mount is proprietary, and there isn’t an aftermarket available for it. The good news is that Holosun plans to release various height mounts for a variety of different weapon platforms.

On the Inside of the AEMS

As I mentioned, even with the lens covers, the optic is surprisingly clear. Without the lenses, the AEMS is super clear and provides a brilliant and crisp picture. There is a slight blue tint, and that is it.

The reticles are also super clear and crisp. They don’t drag or flicker when moved swiftly. I like the 65 MOA and 2 MOA dot. However, every reticle is super clear and easy to see and use.

M&P 12 with Holosun AEMS mounted - user's view
Quite an intimidating view.

The optic utilizes the same shake awake system that Holosun made famous. When the optic is left undisturbed for a certain amount of time, it will automatically shut off. When the optic detects movement, it springs to life and returns to the last used brightness setting. You can set the auto shut off for an hour, for 12 hours, or turn it completely off.

To The Range

I mounted and zeroed the AEMS to the M&P 12 with some basic buckshot loads. The turrets are very nice. They are uncapped, recessed turrets that require a flat head tool to make adjustments. The adjustments are .5 MOA per click, and the clicks are both audible and tactile. Zeroing was quick, and I was dumping buckshot into the chest and heads of targets rapidly.

Travis Pike with M&P 12 mounted with Holosun AEMS
From subgun to shotgun it works incredibly well.

A 12 gauge seemed to be a great testing platform to hit the gun with some rough recoil. I cycled the pump gun quite quickly, and the AEMS didn’t care. It didn’t flutter or flicker when faced with the hefty recoil of slugs and full-powered buckshot. I also liked using the big 65 MOA ring for shotguns. Whatever is in that ring feels the sting of buckshot at 20 yards.

That promised wide field of view is very present, and it’s a nice touch, also quite handy for a shotgun. The thin build of this square optic keeps your peripheral vision open. The field of view is nearly identical to the HS512C, and that’s a much bigger optic. The smaller size and wide field of view make it the perfect choice for mounting to small guns, and I did just that.

The AEMS on a shotgun works extremely well.
The AEMS on a shotgun works extremely well.

I popped the AEMS onto the Ruger PC Charger and went wild with some 9mm ammunition. I delivered unto my targets plenty of lead. The wide field of view and small size gives you a very capable optic for little subguns like the Charger. In fact, the AEMS might find a permanent home on my Aero Precision EPC and for my future USPSA PCC matches.

The AEMS Vs. The HS512C

I mentioned the HS512C, and it’s because the HS512C is another enclosed emitter optic from Holosun. It is a full-sized optic, and I thought it would be a worthy comparison to the AEMS. The HS512C has a slightly wider window at .91 x 1.26 inches.

Shotgun go BOOM!
Shotgun go BOOM!

However, the rest of the optic is considerably larger as well. The slightly smaller window of the AEMS (1.1 x .87 inches) is literally fractionally smaller. However, you get an optic that weighs three ounces and is only 2.2 inches long, 1.4 inches wide, and 2.59 inches tall versus the HS512C’s 3.35 inches long, 1.63 inches wide, and 2.27 inches tall.

To be fair, the AEMS is taller, but it utilizes a taller lower 1/3rd mount, and the HS512C uses an absolute co-witness mount. Speaking of mounts, the HS512C does not have interchangeable mounts. You get the one you get, while the AEMS can be swapped around for different guns.

Holosun 512C
The HS512C is a bit bigger.

The only real advantage the HS512C offers is being slightly cheaper. Other than that, I’m betting the AEMS replaces the HS512C in the next year or so.

AEMS-ing In

The AEMS accomplished all its objectives. It’s small, well made, easy to use, and can take a beating. I understand people’s excitement, and the AEMS certainly provides a competent red dot option that still touches the affordable market. Sure, Holosun is getting a little pricier, but they still don’t touch Aimpoint prices.

Is the AEMS for you? Let me know below what you think about Holosun’s latest optic.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor. is the world's Okayest firearm instructor, and a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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