How Do Holographic Sights Work?

James Harper
James Harper
Research Writer
Being a professional journalist, James knows how to turn any topic into a comprehensive, easy-to-digest text. Even if you've never dealt with telescopes before, rest assured read more
Reviewed By
Charles Goebel
Charles Goebel
Expert Consultant
Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has star read more
Last updated: August 09, 2023
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Whether you are a novice or experienced shooter, it’s only natural you want the best possible weapon. Apart from the rifle’s specific itself, it’s crucial to pick a reliable aim.

Holographic sights are a relatively new technology. Although the first generation of these sights appeared on the market in 1996, EOTech was the only company making them for over two decades. It was only several years ago when other manufacturers joined the race.

So, how do holographic sights work? If you are considering these products, it’s helpful to learn more about them. In this article, we’ll focus on details about these devices. We’ll start with the basics and proceed with an in-depth explanation of the sight’s components and the working process. You’ll learn the advantages and drawbacks of these units. Thanks to that, you’ll know if this is the right sight for you. If that sounds like a good deal, start reading our guide right away!

What is a holographic sight?

If you use a standard sight, you’ll have to position the scope in a way that the reticle can be atop the observed target. Those aims look for the ideal placement of your head. If you move only a bit, the reticle and the rifle won’t point at an identical position.

The main advantage provided by holographic sights is that they allow you to “lock” the reticle in the desired position. That way, the sight moves if you tilt the rifle but remains aimed at the spot.

As for the working process of holographic sights, it’s simple. The easiest way to explain it is that you are in a cinema watching a movie. Once you point at the desired spot, the device will capture the view. It does that by encoding the wave spectrum and projecting it to a window located inside the sight.

The holography technology works by creating a reconstruction of the picture that it captured. However, the critical thing to note is you won’t be watching the “live” version of the events. Instead, the sight will replay the scene captured by its camera.

Many shooters find holographic sights useful because they are the only ones seeing the laser beam. It’s notable the size of these sights decreased with the latest technological discoveries. That’s why they are among the best scopes for AK-47 and many other rifles.

What’s inside?

A holo sight uses holographic technology as its base. The product creates a reticle image and projects it while using a laser to illuminate the holographic display Trusted Source Holographic display - Wikipedia A holographic display is a type of display that utilizes light diffraction to create a virtual three-dimensional image. Holographic displays are distinguished from other forms of 3D displays in that they do not require the aid of any special glasses or external equipment for a viewer to see the image. . The major components of holographic sights include a collimating reflector, laser diode, holographic grating, a reticle image hologram, and the holographic image.

How Do Holographic Sights Work?Here are some crucial features you often find inside holo sights.

Night Vision

The majority of holographic aims are suitable to use during the night. The reticle often has brightness adjustments that are suitable to use in the darkness. You’ll often find the night vision system as a separate component. That’s why it’s imperative to mount it on the rifle’s receiver properly. The night vision feature usually adds ten additional brightness levels to the existing ten for daily use.

As you can see, these are top-quality night vision aims. Alternatively, you can go with the best night vision scopes under $500, which also perform well in the darkness.

Excellent Build Quality

You shouldn’t have a single doubt that holographic sights are high-quality products. These are premium aims, and it’s only expected from them to have an impressive build quality. You’ll find that the aim is well-protected from fog, water, extreme temperatures, and impacts.

Even if snow or rain gets on the window or you break it, the system itself will usually continue working. Each component features impressive weather resistance, and the sturdy hood assists in maximizing the aim’s longevity.

Do you want to find a compact and reliable holographic sight? Consider the EOTECH XPS2 since it doesn’t have a long learning curve for beginners. It’s also accurate enough to meet the expectations of even the most demanding users.

Easy to Control

An integrated small computer allows you to control the aim easily. You can pick the desired brightness levels but also check the battery power. That way, you’ll always know how long will the current battery charge last. Some units even allow programming the aim to shut down automatically.

Advantages and disadvantages of holographic sights

How Do Holographic Sights Work?There’s no perfect product, and it’s all about finding the ones that best match your requirements. For example, single pin bow sights offer identical functionality to red dot aims, but many find them a more suitable choice.

It’s why understanding the advantages and drawbacks of holographic sights can tell you if this is the right aim for you. Here is an overview of these devices’ pros and cons!


  • Exceptional field of view – you’ll find these sights offer a field of view that’s often more generous than similar devices.
  • The dot size remains the same regardless of the magnification – if you use the magnification option of your aim, you’ll appreciate that the dot size doesn’t change. You can set a 4x magnifier, and 1MOA will still remain a minute of angle.
  • Excellent accuracy – it’s another huge advantage of these units. Once you “lock” the reticle, it stays on target. You can move the rifle or your head without having to worry about it affecting the accuracy.
  • Suitable for experienced and novice shooters – newbies will appreciate how easy it is to achieve top accuracy with these units. Experienced users will love the convenience and precision, too, as it can help them achieve the desired shooting results at all times.


  • It lacks an etched reticle – some users might not appreciate the lack of an etched pattern onto the glass plate. These units usually use photo-lithographic methods.
  • Price – an average holographic sight might cost a bit more than other aims. You’ll often find its cost is significantly higher, so make sure the product is the right choice.


Q: What’s the difference between the red dot and holographic sights?

A: The actual differences might be invisible to the naked eye. The secret lies in how they create the reticle. A holographic sight uses a laser that encodes the waves, captures and replays them inside the aim. A red dot sight utilizes a LED for creating the reticle, which is why it utilizes less power. If you prefer red dot sights, it’s hard to look past the Sig Sauer Romeo5. It performs at the highest level and provides excellent value for money.

Q: Do holographic sights come with a water resistance rating?

A: Yes, the general rule is these units feature at least some water resistance. The actual rating varies on the chosen sight.

Q: Can you expect a parallax in holographic sights?

A: The experts are aware any aim will have some parallax if the shooter changes their position. However, the trick with the holographic sights is that their parallax is minimal compared to some other units.

Q: How to laser bore sight your holo?

A: Once you complete the installation, activate the sight. Find a target to aim with the dot at about 24 feet from your position. Activate the aim and adjust the desired brightness – the central dot shouldn’t be as bright as the projected one.

Now, adjust the holo to the wall’s laser projection. You want to look at the aim while adjusting the bottom of the outer circle at a 6:00 hash position. The last step is to fire at 50 yards by using the central dot as the aiming point.

Final thoughts

A holographic sight feature utilizes modern technology to enable easier and more accurate aiming. These units tolerate you moving the rifle or your head because they stay locked at the desired target. If you wondered “how do holographic sights work” before, we hope you now have the answer.

You can have multiple benefits from these aims, but make sure you consider them worth the price. If you could appreciate maximum accuracy during your shooting activities, this can be the right sight for you. Today, you can choose between multiple manufacturers making holographic aims. Ultimately, these are all reputable companies, so you can’t go wrong with any chosen brand. However, the experts still advise you to confirm the device delivers features that are perfectly in line with your expectations.


Holographic display - Wikipedia
A holographic display is a type of display that utilizes light diffraction to create a virtual three-dimensional image. Holographic displays are distinguished from other forms of 3D displays in that they do not require the aid of any special glasses or external equipment for a viewer to see the image.
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