We are very lucky as shooters given the proliferation good and affordable red dot sights. The technology and quality is on the rise while prices have fell into a reasonable price range. At one time, a quality red dot sight, that would take the abuse of tactical training, cost about the same price as the rifle itself. Today, we have brands such as Holosun, which are offering quite a few technical innovations.
I can actually hear the sound of people’s eyes rolling with a non-American name like Holosun, but the company is actually an American company based in California. Holosun was founded by one of the largest international OEM optic manufacturers, which does mean overseas manufacturing, but it also means a price we can all afford. In reality Holosun’s overseas manufacturing is not doing anything different than most optics companies are these days. Holosun’s tagline is “Military Grade Quality without the Military Price.” I tested the Holosun HS503C Red Dot, which I was impressed with. Holosun is not an $800 Aimpoint, however it is an amazingly durable optic for $285.
The first feature of the Holosun HS503C is the 20,000 hours of run-time on the circle dot reticle and over 50,000 hours on the single dot when solar and battery power are used. Keeping in mind the runtimes of other circle-dot reticles is significantly less than 20,000 hours—even when powered with huge AA or CR123 batteries, but remember the Holosun HS503C runs on just solar or CR2032 wafer battery. Holosun does have a couple red dot-only models, which are rated for 50K hours, so those numbers are expected to be the low end of run times.
The reticle automatically switches between solar and battery power depending on the light available. If you do have a dead battery, the red dot will still work in where ambient light is available. If you are of the prepper mindset, the Holosun HS503C optic will still be running after all the batteries on earth are dead… but only in the light.
In full sunlight the HS503C reticle is bright and useable and in most cases the reticle transitions well between light and dark environments. The only significant issues requiring me to switch to manual mode were sighting into a bright environment from inside a dark room and at night. The HS503C flips over to a pretty dim battery powered circle dot reticle. For most situations, this is fine. However, at night, I would likely just hold down the “+” button for 3-seconds and go into manual (battery only) mode. This is an issue every auto adjusting optic is challenged with. Manual mode is what we are used to anyway—right?
To further conserve battery life, the Holosun HS503C even shuts off automatically after there is no movement for a period of time. After a few months of use, I do not see any signs that the battery will need to be replaced this year… or next.
The Holosun HS503C reticle features a unique 2 MOA Dot, 65 MOA Circle which gives the appearance of an EOTech-style reticle. The unique part is that you can swap between the dot and dot plus circle reticles in manual mode. In auto sunlight mode only the circle dot reticle can be selected.
If you are a control freak, and want to just run off battery and set all your own brightness settings manually, the Holosun HS503C allows running in full manual mode. In manual mode, users can select between a 2 MOA dot and the combo 2 MOA and 65 MOA circle reticle among different brightness settings depending on needs. I found the circle-dot to be extremely fast shooting but the dot itself cuts down the clutter and improves run-time.
The quality is extremely high quality, which has survived a beat down on my AR-15 pistol, SIG MPX 9mm pistol, and even my .308 rifle. I didn’t beat on it with a rock or anything, but I certainly was not careful and it did get more than a few bumps, knocks, and drops.
There is a lot packed into a small space on this optic. There are the electronic button controls, windage, and elevation adjustments, solar panel, and the battery still has to go somewhere. I am not in love with the screw-in battery tray idea. The battery compartment works just fine and is waterproof. However, I do not like that it needs a micro Phillips head screwdriver to change batteries.
With the run times at an insanely long time and solar backup power, changing batteries is not something that will be done a lot. However, when it does come time, you will have to find a tiny little screwdriver to make the swap. Holosun provides a screwdriver, spare battery tray, and extra screws, in case you lose something. For the Holosun HS503C, I would recommend stashing that screwdriver and spare battery tray and spare battery into a grip storage compartment.
The Holosun HS503C is a well-built red dot with a reasonable discounted. The optic is extremely clear flexible red dot, which even includes an extra battery tray, mounts for low and lower ⅓ co-witness mounting. The optic is rated to survive all the typical stresses including being shock and dust proof plus waterproof up to one meter.
The Holosun HS503C is a very nice quality optic for the price and the unique features and solar power make it a handy optic even when the batteries run dead. I can say from experience that some of these red dots run so long that you sometimes forget to replace batteries until you need them for training. The solar backup is appreciated. The final home for this great optic was a Devil Dog Arms AR-15 pistol that gets a lot of use both as a training gun and home defense gun. If I did not have confidence at this point in the Holosun, I certainly would not have put it on this pistol.
- Holosun HS503C: PARALOW HS503C Circle Dot Sight, Black, 133X54X72mm
- Reticle: 2 MOA Dot; 65 MOA Circle
- Light source: LED
- Magnification: 1X
- Battery: CR2032
- Battery Life: 20,000 hours for circle dot at mid brightness setting 50,000 hours for single dot at mid brightness setting
- Brightness Setting: 9 DL & 2 NV compatible
- Storage Temperature: -40C to 70C
- Working Temperature: -10C to 50C
- Color: Black
- Dimensions: 133x54x72mm
- Weight: 120g
Features of Holosun Paralow HS503C Circle Dot Sight, Solar/Battery Power
- Parallax free with unlimited eye relief
- Clean sight picture with push button controls and streamlined housing design
- Fully multi-coated lenses
- Solar and battery power supplies
- Switch between circle dot and red dot reticles
- Battery tray
- Low mount and 1/3 Co-witness mount included
- AR riser included. Adaptable to Picatinny and Weaver rails.
- CNC machining with T6061-T6 aluminum housing with PEO/MAO finish
- Waterproof to 1m
Have you tried the Holosun? How does it compare to other red dot sights? Which guns do you have outfitted with a red dot? Share your answers in the comment situation.
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