Holographic sights are one of the most viable options for many shooters. Astigmatism, duty demands, and other factors influence the need for a holographic sight. But holographic sights are expensive as heck. So the Holosun HE510C-GR intrigued me.
First, it’s more affordable—by a margin of a couple hundred bucks—than the dominant holographic sights on the market. And it’s got a pretty robust feature set.
The catch is that it’s not a true holographic sight. It’s a hybrid.
I’m not exactly sure of the electrical engineering involved. But, from what I understand, this is similar to a red dot sight. But it uses some design elements from a holographic sight.
Regardless of which reticle creation magic the HE510C-GR uses, the feature set and potential for being an astigmatism friendly optic prompted me to give this reflex sight a try.
Holosun HE510-GR Review: Like a Holographic Sight, but Less Expensive
Over the years, I’ve become a fan of Holosun optics. Admittedly, they might not be perfect for every context. But Holosun builds tough, affordable red dots and reflex sights.
That’s why I have a few of them mounted on different carbines. And, so far, my experience has been positive.
One last thing: you can get this sight with a red reticle. If you prefer a red reticle, you’ll be able to get this sight for a few dollars less. However, both models are the same, with the exception of the reticle color.
I didn’t shoot my HE510-GR with a shotgun. But I’ve shot with it a lot. This is what I’ve discovered.
Built Quality and Design
From a materials standpoint, the HE510C-GR is pretty standard fare. It’s machined primarily from aluminum, with steel and polymer in the appropriate places. There may be a little bit more polymer on this sight than standard sights because there’s a solar panel.
The machining is clean, all the way around.
I always check optics for sharp edges and anything that might cut me, my sling, or anything else. When I did my out of the box inspection, everything looked good. The edges are slightly rounded. And there are no machining chatter marks on any of the flat surfaces.
The internal lens hood is machined into the body. The outer hood is fastened to the body with steel screws. It would be really cool if the outer shroud was machined into the body. But I think that might be impossible.
However, that’s not a real critique. That’s just speculation. The machining and build quality are very solid.
Also, I really like the way the outer shroud extends beyond the internal lens hood. The lens hood is wide, as it is. So it’s pretty nice that the protective hood extends beyond the integral lens hood.
Then, this sight comes with the picatinny mount fixed to the sight. I’ll talk about the mounting height later. But there’s nothing wrong with the mount in terms of build quality and durability. It’s just as solid as most aftermarket optic mounts.
Some of my colleagues down at the range expressed concerns about the solar panel. But the solar panel is some sort of polymer. It’s not glass. So the impact resistance is solid.
However, there’s one weak point on this sight that I think is a legitimate concern: the battery tray. The battery tray is plastic.
The battery tray has never been an issue for me. And it sits flush with the aluminum body, which keeps it from getting beat up too much.
But I would feel more confident if the battery tray were aluminum. Though, I understand this would drive the cost up.
Holosun seems to understand the potential issues with a plastic battery tray. They include a spare battery tray in the box with this sight. All I’m saying is that a single aluminum battery tray might cost about the same as two plastic battery trays.
My complaints about one plastic part aside, the HE510C-GR is well-built, well-designed, and cleanly machined. No obvious problems.
The short story about using this sight is that it’s super nice to use.
The long story is that Holosun built this optic with a great feature set that makes it super pleasant to use.
First, the controls are in the best place.
I find that it’s easiest to reach the controls when they’re on the side of the optic. Yes, the controls are a tiny bit closer to you when they’re on the rear of the optic. But it feels more natural to work your optic when the controls are on the side.
But my favorite thing about the controls is that I never have to use them. The shake awake feature works perfectly. So I never turn the HE510C-GR off. And I never really adjust the reticle brightness. I found a nice happy medium setting that works in pretty much all conditions.
My main complaint about the reticle brightness is that the brightest setting is pretty much too bright, even in full sunlight. Also, I have astigmatism. A really bright reticle seems to aggravate my astigmatism and cause the reticle to flare pretty badly.
However, at the near brightest setting, the reticle is pretty sharp. It just looks a tiny bit smeared. People without astigmatism say the reticle is super crisp. But they also agree that the brightest setting is obnoxious.
Unfortunately, I could NOT get my camera to bring the reticle into focus. But my challenges seemed to confirm that there are some elements of a holographic sight in this optic, because the reticle appeared to project into the distance when I tried to get a picture of it.
Anyway, the main trouble with the brightest setting being too bright is that I can’t really use the automatic brightness feature. Again, I don’t really need to. One of the medium brightness settings works well in pretty much all environments.
But I keep the automatic brightness adjustment turned off. Otherwise it might adjust the brightness to the maximum brightness and burn my eyeballs.
That excessive brightness is really my only complaint about the operation. The controls are well placed and simple. And I never have to use them, anyway, which means this optic is well designed.
This optic isn’t designed for super long range shooting. But the glass is pretty clear. However, the glass has a slightly blue tint. Tinted glass is pretty standard for holographic sights.
The slight tint was never an issue, though. And I prefer the blue tint over a green tint. Some optics from Vortex Optics, Steiner, and others have that green tint, and it looks hazy to me. The blue tint seems less noticeable.
On the bottom half, I’m also fairly impressed with the mount. It’s not perfect. But it’s good.
Mounting the optic is super easy, because it uses a quick release lever. I also appreciate how securely the quick release lever locks. It has a locking tab that locks the lever in place when it’s locked down. And you have to press a button to release the lever and remove the optic.
The locking mechanism is secure enough that I doubt you’d have any issues, even in high intensity operations. I understand the distrust of standard quick release mounts. But the HE510C-GR QD mount is super secure.
However, the mount is pretty low. It’s pretty much a true co-witness mount. You definitely have to tuck your head into your stock to get behind this sight. A higher mount would be more ergonomic and more consistent with most other Holosun optics.
You can get a riser plate for this optic. You just have to purchase it separately. Interestingly, other Holosun optics come with a high and a low mount. It would be cool if the HE510C-GR also came with the riser plate.
The included mount might be a bit low for your preference. But it’s a well-designed and well-built mount. If the mount height is too low, there’s a riser plate available.
Is the operation perfect? Not quite. However, the operation is pleasant. And I really appreciate that I almost never have to mess with this optic. It just mounted it up and used it. Nice.
The multi-reticle system is cool. But I never use it.
The circle dot reticle is excellent. The bottom hash of the circle almost perfectly accounts for the mechanical offset in short range shooting. I think the bottom hash would be perfect with the riser plate.
But the reticle isn’t too cluttered to use at longer ranges.
Obviously, this sight isn’t designed for long range precision shooting. But I had no issues hitting an 8 inch square at 100 yards, even with the slightly smeared reticle from my astigmatism. You could probably drive it further if your eyes work properly.
In short and medium range shooting, the HE510C-GR works great. That’s what this sight is designed for, though. So I expected it to work well in that context.
The only thing I didn’t test were the night vision settings. I’m not an operator. I don’t have night vision. If you need a night vision reticle, you’ll have to check the performance yourself.
For normal shooting contexts, though, the reticle is great.
Is It For You?
Even though I really like this optic, I think it’s best suited for civilian rifles. And it’s good enough for any type of civilian rifle—defensive, competition, recreational, or whatever else.
However, I’m not sure if it’s quite right for a law enforcement or military duty rifle (that’s why I didn’t take great pains to test the night vision brightness settings). The plastic battery tray makes me hesitant to say this is a duty grade optic.
Like I said, the battery tray has never been an issue. And it’s not sitting out there where it will get beat up too much. But, if you use this on a duty rifle, you may want to pay attention to that piece.
Also, the HE510C-GR has more forward light emission than a true holographic sight. That doesn’t really matter in the civilian context, even on a defensive rifle.
But, if it’s your job to sneak around and surprise people, the forward light emission could be an issue. That might not be a deal breaker for you. But it’s something to be aware of.
However, for everything other than true duty use, this optic is awesome. It’s affordable. And it performs admirably in any civilian shooting context, except maybe long range precision shooting.
If you’re looking for an affordable reflex sight, this is a great solution.