Thursday, January 17, 2013

My experience with the Eotech EXPS2-0 and the slight learning curve

When I tried a range member's Eotech 512 I found that target acquisition felt faster with Eotech's Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) than my red dot (Vortex Strikefire) and made a mental note to research the optic. After reading up on the subject I decided on the OPMOD EXPS2-0 which was initially developed in conjunction with Optics Planet who wanted to bring a cheaper option of the EXPS3 without the NV (Night Vision) capability to market. The EXPS series comes with a quick detach base that raises the height by 7 mm to allow 1/3 co-witness with your AR-15 patterned rifle's iron sights and provide enough clearance for the battery compartment to fit over the delta ring. I have tried the Magpul MBUS as well as the ARMS #71 BUIS mounted on the same plane and have been able to co-witness with both of them.

Mounted on the SBR

Opposite side with Elevation and Windage adjustments and bottom of the unit.

The EXPS series fixes two long standing design issues. The first is the change from multiple batteries in prior models to a single battery which reduces size and weight as well as the obvious benefit of needing only a single battery to power the optic. The second change is the transverse battery case that better mitigates recoil and reduces the risk of battery disconnection and subsequent power loss. The optic runs for 600 hours on a single battery or to put it another way - 25 days. Couple that withe an auto shut-off feature of either 4 or 8 hours and my concern for battery life seems silly to have even considered it to begin with. The dash zero in the model name signifies the reticle pattern which in this case is the standard Eotech pattern famously replicated on many FPS video games with the large 65 Minute of Angle (MOA) red outer ring with four hash marks at 3/6/9/12'o clock positions that surrounds a 1 MOA dot in the center.

As the post title suggests the optic has a learning curve. Comparatively a red dot is straight forward to use and if you have ever used any kind of scope or played any kind of FPS you will get the hang of it in no time flat. The HWS requires the shooter to look at the target and to view the reticle indirectly. This is because the technology projects the reticle onto the same plane as your target and looking directly at the reticle causes blurring and streaking of the reticle. Even on a red dot I don't keep the brightness cranked up as I find it distracting but with a HWS you MUST turn it down so that you are able to look through it to the target or else suffer blurry and streaky consequences. If you do not already shoot with two eyes open, the HWS will be a literal eye opener as it will aid in focusing on the target instead of the reticle and is especially useful during target transitions.

The EXPS2 performed well for the first few hours until I started to see blurring and streaking in the reticle. The causes for blurring and streaking are one of three things, battery, the unit, or fatigue. Being that it is a brand new unit it is unlikely to have failed already and none of the low battery indicators occurred so I suspected fatigue and decided to pack it in for the night. I had ordered extra batteries anticipating the optic's arrival and decided to wait on the batteries to be able to eliminate the possibility before returning to the range. The extra batteries arrived a couple of days later and a return trip to the range verified that the optic works as designed with both new and old batteries which supports my hunch for fatigue being the culprit; the fatigue was causing my eyes to snap to the reticle instead of the target. Since this discovery I have focused on my varying fatigue levels and practiced until it's second nature for my eyes to snap to target when sighting with the HWS.

Another feature that leaned my decision towards the HWS versus the competition is the ability to range with the reticle. The 65 MOA ring means it is 65" inside of the ring at 100 yards, or approximately 5'5" high object at 100 yards. Considering the height as well as what the reticle was originally developed for I will be discussing the ranging in terms of 'man-size targets' as it will aid in conveying the concept but please remember that you should never be pointing the reticle at a person especially if the optic is mounted unless you are in combat, law enforcement, or a life and death defense situation.

The outer part of the ring adds a few MOA for a total of 68 MOA which coincides with the average male height of 5'8" at 100 yards. This means that if you see a man size silhouette occupy the reticle ring from top to bottom than you are likely looking at a 100 yard shot and can adjust your hold over accordingly for those of you that utilize the improved battle sight zero or if you zero at 100 yards than that is your ideal range and no hold over is necessary. With the knowledge of what a 100 yard object looks like you can extrapolate ranges from 50 to 400 yards.

At 50 yards the 5'8" man size target's torso to head will take up the reticle ring and at 200 yards the target stands between the bottom of the ring to the dot.

At 300 yards the target will stand 1/3 of the ring from base and at 400 yards 1/4 of the ring.

Adjust hold over as necessary and if you aren't sure how much hold over to apply keep in mind the following;

-Look up your ballistic data based on barrel length, rifling, caliber, and load data to figure out your bullet's travel path.
-MOA is 1" at 100 yards which means at distance of 50 yards = 1/2", 200 yards = 2", 300 yards = 3", and 400 yards = 4".
-The center dot is 1 MOA in size and can be used as a reference of measurement, but keep in mind that the dot size scales with distance.
-When engaging targets 7 yards and under, line up the bottom hash mark to your target.

I wanted to mention an accessory I purchased for the Eotech and how it doesn't work at all. I ordered the GG&G Hood and Lens Cover Combo for my EXPS2 and it does not fit at all. I contacted GG&G and have received absolutely no response from them I will never buy anything from them again as their customer service is non-existent and their products are clearly below par. When I was trying to fit the replacement hood it was obvious that the dimensions were wrong when the factory hood came off with relative ease while the GG&G hood felt like I had to force it on.

It would have been one thing if it fit tightly and worked but it did not fit at all. The screw holes do not line up and a crack started to appear next to one of the lens cover hinges during installation. To be clear I was not rough on it while installing it despite having to apply a fair amount of elbow grease to get the hood to go on the optic at all. I gently and slowly installed the hood multiple times only to be disappointed that it does not fit at all and that it was not me installing it incorrectly. Moral of the story is: Don't trust GG&G as they sell garbage that they do not back up.

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