The tactical optics world is one that is quite expansive. It’s grown rapidly from the early 2000s until now. The red dot optic is currently the most popular choice in both police and military use, but holographic sights are also a favorite of many.
Red dots have also jumped into the civilian realm with more and more competition shooters going the red dot route, and home defenders outfitting their weapon with an optic. Two of the biggest names in the red dot industry are EOTech and Aimpoint.
Two of the most popular models are the Aimpoint Pro and the EOTech 512. We break down all the details of each optic below.
- Who’s Who: Breaking Down EOTech and Aimpoint
- How They work and What they are
- Comparing The Optics in 8 Categories
- The Winner is…..
Who’s Who: Breaking Down EOTech and Aimpoint
EOTech is a small division in a large overall company called L3. L3 is massive and produces a wide variety of different items for the military and for civilian use, including everything from night vision optics to sensor systems.
EOTech produces a wide variety of red dot scopes, magnifiers, and accessories. In 2017 they have branched into variable optics as well. EOTech has been around for some time and provided many optics to police and military forces.
EOTech optics have served in units like DEV/GRU also known as Seal Team six and was wielded on the famous Osama Bin Laden raid. EOTech uses a unique design and optic that when first introduced was quite revolutionary. A square optic with a unique reticle made waves.
Aimpoint is a Swedish firm that began producing red dot sights in 1974. Aimpoint is largely credited with producing the first usable red dot optic. They’ve been a favorite for shooters for decades and saw limited military use through the 80s and 90s.
The Aimpoint M4 was adopted and is currently fielded with the U.S. Army as a general issue weapon optic. Aimpoint optics have grown in popularity as they expanded into different sizes and price ranges for their optics.
Aimpoint is a popular choice among law enforcement and police units around the world. Aimpoint optics are well regarded for their durability and especially their battery life.
Today we are looking at two of the more affordable options from both EOTech and Aimpoint that are used by both military/police and recreational shooters. These two models are the EOTech 512 and the Aimpoint Pro.
How They work and What they are
Both optics are 1x sights and are designed for engagement up to 200 yards away. While they are very similar in many regards they are also very different. Both use different technology and designs to achieve their goal.
Aimpoints use a very traditional and reliable method to display their reticle. The challenge with red dot optics was to create a visual red dot that only the shooter could see. A laser going out of the optic will appear on the target, a laser going towards the shooter is going to blind them.
The answer was to use a mirror based system. Aimpoint utilized a tilted mirror that is shaped spherically in combination with a red LED. The red LED is placed off the axis focus.
The mirror reflects the LED light and creates the simple red dot reticle. This simple system is reliable, and barely sips at a battery.
The EOTech system is a little different and also more complicated. The reason being is that the EOTech reticle is a holographic sight. More on that later.
The EOTech system is similar to a red dot in look and feel, but considered a holographic sight. A holographic sight uses the collimated light of a laser diode. This laser diode illuminates a piece of holographic film that then displays the image onto the viewing window.
This creates the much more complicated reticle system that is used by EOTech optics. These complicated reticles are useful for a variety of weapons. These reticules do utilize and require more battery power than a regular red dot.
Here’s a good video by FieldSupply.com that walks through how Holographic Sights work:
Comparing The Optics in 8 Categories
Below we get into the comparisons of both optics, and provide our favorites in each category. We’ve broken down several categories which we feel are important for any optic choice you make.
You’ll see that both optics choices have some differences, and both get wins in different areas.
1. The Differences in Reticles
The Aimpoint Pro’s reticle is pretty simple; it is a plain red dot. The Aimpoint Pro’s dot is 2 MOA in size. This means at a 100 yards the dot covers roughly two inches of the target.
The Aimpoint Pro’s 2 MOA dot it perfect for precise shooting since so little of the target is covered by the reticle. The reticle will not obstruct a target until the target is out of the effective range of most rifles.
A red dot is very eye catching and takes minimal training to use. You can slap an Aimpoint Pro in front of a first time shooter no explanation given and they’ll figure it out. It can’t be simpler than put red dot target, pull trigger, hit target.
The EOTech 512’s reticle is a bit more complicated. Anything compared to the Aimpoint can be considered complicated. The 512’s reticle isn’t some monster of complexity, but it is more than a simple red dot.
The EOTech 512’s reticle is a 68 MOA circle with four small stadia lines on the top, bottom, and left and right of the circle. Inside this large circle is a single 1 MOA red dot. This complex circle is designed to be more versatile for different purposes.
First the 68 MOA circle can be used in extreme close quarters combat. In extreme close quarters speed matters more than precision. The 68 MOA circle is eye catching the user simply needs to fill the circle with the target and start pulling the trigger.
At close quarters, from 7 to 49 yards, the bullet will impact between the bottom stadia and the 1 MOA dot. At close quarters this difference is unlikely to be noticed. Between 50 and 200 yards the bullet will strike in vicinity of the 1 MOA dot.
50 to 200 yards is moderate range for a red dot optic and the superbly small 1 MOA dot isn’t intrusive in any way. The bullet will not always strike exactly where the dot is, but will be close enough not to make a noticeable difference.
Winner: Tie – It really depends on your preference. Most AR-15 Optics today are made at a high quality, and these two are two of the best.
2. Battery Life
Battery Life may seem like a small consideration in the scope of optic’s comparison. To some people battery life isn’t a big deal, to others, who may use these optics in combat it is a big deal. If your optic goes down in the of a fire fight and you don’t have iron sights you are in trouble.
Aimpoint’s simpler reticle design does give them a well-known long lasting battery life. The Aimpoint Pro is capable of lasting 30,000 hours of continuous use. There is no need to turn the optic off between uses.
Swapping the battery once a year on the Aimpoint is overkill. The Aimpoint Pro is the best option if you need to grab a rifle and start shooting immediately.
The EOTech 512’s more complicated reticle and use of a powerful laser is a lot harsher on the battery. The EOTech 512 can work with either Alkaline or Lithium batteries. With lithium batteries the 512 will last 1,000 hours at nominal setting.
With Alkaline batteries the EOTech 512 will last only 600 hours. So the EOTech system doesn’t have much advantage here.
Where the EOTech 512 does shine is in the batteries it uses. The 512 uses the common 1.5 AA battery. These are remarkably easy to find, common, and cheap.
The Aimpoint Pro uses a more uncommon and harder to find 3V lithium battery. It can use either type 2L76 or DL1/3N. These batteries aren’t exactly common, but can be ordered online.
Winner: Aimpoint Pro – The battery lasts forever. It’s expensive to replace, but you only need to change it once every few years.
3. Optical Clarity
Clarity isn’t the biggest deal when it comes to red dot optic. Since most shooting is done at close ranges unlike rimfire scopes, the need for a superbly clear optic isn’t necessary. However, it should be noted which is better in these competitions.
There is also the two eyed open factor when using these red dot sights. For short range a both eyes opened factor gives the shooter a wider field of view to see threats in their peripheral vision. Both optics can be used with both eyes opened.
The EOTech 512’s square design does lend itself to naturally wider field of view. The square lens aligns more naturally with the way humans see. The 512’s lenses are also clearer and do give a crisper picture of the world around you.
The Aimpoint Pro has a more traditional round scope shape. This limits the amount of training required to use, but also creates a more unnatural shape to look through. The borders of the Pro tend to stick out more than the EOTech 512.
Winner: EOTech 512 – Only because the EOTech is easier to shoot with both eyes wide open.
4. Durability – Can they take abuse?
Both optics are designed with heavy and rugged use of military and police operations. These optics are both capable of taking a beating and lasting. The small differences are where this competition will be judged.
Both optics can be submerged in water to a certain degree. The EOTech 512 can make is 10 feet without issue. The Aimpoint Pro takes the cake by being submersible up to a 150 feet.
You can take the EOTech swimming, but the Aimpoint can go diving. The Aimpoint is also rated and tested at a variety of different shock and vibration levels. The EOTech 512 is shock proof, but the Aimpoint is seriously tested at a variety of ranges.
The Aimpoint is even rated resistant against a variety of chemicals, including hydraulic oil, lubricating oil, and even diesel fuel. The Aimpoint Pro is more capable of withstanding and dealing with harsh temperatures.
Winner: Aimpoint Pro – Aimpoint has a pretty solid track record and EOTech had the cold weather issue a few years back. We will say this – EOTech has come out with some pretty amazing customer service for anyone that had an impacted optic. They’ve offered to replace/repair/refund anyone encountering problems with their sites as a result of the moisture/cold weather issue that causes thermal drift.
5. Ease of Use
Simple optics are often simple to use. Both the EOTech and Aimpoint are simple and easy to use optics. The Aimpoint Pro features a single control, a rotary dial to increase and decrease the brightness level of the dot. This rotary dial will also turn the optic on and off.
The EOTech uses two buttons to adjust and turn the optic on and off. If turned on with the down button the optic will shut off automatically after 4 hours, if turned on with the up button the optic shuts off after 8 hours. Handy features when you consider the lower battery life.
The EOTech will come right back on at the last setting, but the Aimpoint never needs to be turned off. There are multiple controls on the EOTech, so it is a hair more complicated.
Winner: Tie – Both are relatively Simple Optics.
6. Optics Versatility
The EOTech 512’s versatile reticle design with work well with rifles. However, the reticle is specifically designed for an AR 15 rifle. It’s functional on a shotgun, but a poor choice for anything beyond a shotgun or AR 15.
The EOTech 512’s optic is well suited for those applications, but comes up dry in other realms. The Aimpoint’s stupid simple reticle can be zeroed and applied to every weapon. From shotguns, to submachine guns, to rifles and even large enough handguns.
The Aimpoint can be adapted to a wider variety of weapons than the 512. The Aimpoint is also compatible with night vision devices and has 4-night vision settings. The 512 is not night vision compatible.
Winner Aimpoint: Aimpoint is simple and can be used across platforms.
Optics are great but you can always accessorize. Both the EOTech and Aimpoint has available magnifiers to extend your viewing range. Aimpoint does a few different mounts and spacers as well as eve cover and cap options, after that it kind of dries up accessory wise.
The EOTech line up offers a few different options. This include a visible laser battery cover, a mount specifically for shotguns, and a pressure switch for the laser battery cap.
Winner: EOTech – EOTech edges out Aimpoint, more from a popularity standpoint.
8. Price – Long and Short Term Costs
Both of these optics are affordable and well-priced when you consider what they are capable of. The EOTech is comparable in cost, but it is a very close race.
To really decide once you look at some basic accessories the EOTech wins out. Just the magnifiers for the two optics carry vast differences in costs. The EOTech 3x magnifier packs a ton of quality into an affordable unit.
Winner: EOTech – More budget friendly, and the quality that you can expect from an EOTech.
The Winner is…..
If you are keeping track, it’s a tie. We have one tie category and each optic took 3 categories a piece. Bottom line is this – If you do most of your shooting with both eyes open, the EOTech may be a more sound option for you, and if you can’t stand changing batteries, the Aimpoint is worth a look.
Regardless of the choice you make, both optics are absolutely fantastic choices and there isn’t any reason to think you’d be unsatisfied with either pick.
At the end of the day, both are winners here and personal preference will have to be the defining characteristic.
For a good video breakdown of both, checkout the video below from Range Time TS: