EOTech introduced the holographic model 512 a few years ago. Since then, it became the optic to beat when talking about a holo sight.
With the introduction of the EOTech 518, they raised the bar even higher. It is the evolution of one of the best optics available. Let us have a closer look at the two sights and what makes them different.
What is a Holographic Sight?
A holographic gunsight is not that different from a red dot sight yet has significant technical differences. First, and foremost, it uses a 3D reticle (thus holographic), which provides unprecedented depth perception.
The holographic components and reticle are technologically a lot more challenging. For that reason alone, the price of a true holo gunsight is higher than what you typically pay for a reflex or red dot sight (check out the review of the Vortex Sparc II RDS).
While a typical red dot uses LEDs for the red dot, you will find a laser in a holo rifle sight from EOTech (here are the best clones you can find for EOTech HWS).
Like red dot optics, a holographic sight also has unlimited eye relief. When you aim with both eyes open, you also have an unlimited field of view.
Holographic weapon sights like the EOTech 518 or EOTech 512 are designed for short and medium-range engagements. Due to their outstanding optical features and quick target acquisition, they became the standard for many military and law enforcement agencies.
Comparing the EOTech 512 vs. 518
When EOTech introduced the 512, it indeed was a revolution. The 518 is the evolution of that first holo weapon sight. At first glance, and looking at the technical specs, not much has changed. Yet, there are some significant improvements when you pick the EOTech 518 over the EOTech 512.
When you look at the available reticles, battery life, and the types of batteries used, the 518 and the EOTech 512 are basically the same. Let’s check out those details in the EOTech 512 review and EOTech 518 review below.
What has changed and improved with the EOTech 518 model are ergonomics. Well, they have improved if you are not left-handed.
The buttons and controls have moved from the back of the gun sight to the side of it. If you are right-handed, then it is a significant improvement as you don’t have to break the line of sight to change the settings.
Having the controls on the side makes it easier for many people to adjust the brightness while keeping the target in sight. That is impossible to do with the EOTech 512 as it has the controls on the rear of the gunsight.
If you are left-handed, then having the buttons on the side of the sight is not helpful. Well, it is useful if the buttons are on the right side, but with the EOTech 518, they are not.
Another considerable improvement in moving the buttons to the side is that it’s easier to use a magnifier. You can still adjust the brightness and switch the gunsight on and off without worrying about the magnifier being in the way.
The EOTech 512 came with a standard Weaver mount. The 518 comes with an additional quick-detach mount.
The EOTech 518 sits slightly higher than your standard optic. Therefore, it’s easier to set up a co-witness with an iron sight.
The 518 model has gained a little weight compared to the EOTech 512. The 512/552 weighs around 11.5 oz. The 518/558 models come in at 13.8 oz.
EOTech 518 vs. 558
The EOTech 558 offers the same capabilities and specifications as the 518 with a few exceptions. The main difference is that the EOTech 558 is equipped to work with night-vision optics.
EOTech added the capability to work with Gen I-III night vision devices making it a versatile holo weapon sight for any lighting condition.
Additionally, the 558 is water-resistant to 33 feet while the 518’s water resistance goes to 10 feet. In the end, if you do not need night-vision compatibility, you can forego the EOTech 558 and stick with the mainstream EOTech 518.
EOTech 518 Review
The EOTech 518 comes in a sturdy case. It’s waterproof and shockproof and protects the sight from any potential damage.
The batteries used in the 518 are two AA’s that you can get anywhere. If you use standard AA’s, then you can expect 600 hours of continuous use. If you instead use Lithium batteries, then you can get around 1,000 hours of usage.
While this is a sufficient amount, it is a lot less than what you get out of a red dot sight. You can get up to 50,000 hours with those kinds of optics. The main difference is that the holographic sights require more power, which in turn reduces the number of hours you continuously can use it.
The EOTech 518 is available with two different reticle options. Both are A65 reticles with a 68 MOA ring around a 1 MOA dot – What is MOA vs MRAD?
The most common one comes with a single 1 MOA dot. It has three different aiming points that are based on the .223 cal. 62 gr. 2,900 vel. The aiming points are set to work for 50 and 200 yards. The third is for 7 yards. This single-point reticle is most useful for close-quarter to medium-range engagements.
The dual dot reticle is working for the same load, and the second dot is the aiming point for 500 yards. It provides guidance for long-range shots while the single dot is limited to short and medium distances.
Other ranges and calibers that do not match the standard used by EOTech will require that you, as the shooter, figure out the aiming points to match your load with the distances.
With no magnification, it can be challenging to aim at a moving target out to 200 or even 500 yards. If you decide that you want to use the sight for longer ranges, consider combining it with a magnifier. Your success rate will dramatically improve.
Both the EOTech 512 and the 518 provide you with 20 brightness settings. As mentioned above, having the adjustment buttons on the side of the sight makes it a lot more convenient to adjust the optic when light conditions change.
The brightness levels between the two models are similar, though. You can’t expect any earth-shattering differences in this area.
Neither the EOTech 512 nor the 518 have night-vision compatibility built-in. That’s not a problem for most shooters and hunters. However, if you require night-vision compatibility, look at the EOTech 558, which, as already mentioned, is the night-vision enabled variant of the 518.
The positioning of the controls is the main difference between the EOTech 518 and 512.
The buttons on the EOTech 512 are in the back. This results in you having to break your line of sight when you need to make adjustments.
The 518 has the buttons positioned on the side. This is ergonomically a lot better to manage. The side-mounted controls are easy to use. Managing the adjustments is self-explanatory and doesn’t require a lot of trial and error.
The side-positioning of the adjustment knobs also makes it easier to combine the sight with a magnifier. So, overall a much-needed and desired improvement that you get with the EOTech 518/558.
Mounting the EOTech 518
A welcome improvement that you’ll get with the 518 model is the quick detach lever. It makes mounting the sight a breeze.
Simply place it on the rail and use the lever, and the sight is securely mounted. The quick detach mount will not loosen even after hundreds of shots.
Once you zero your sight, it’s ready to go. Zeroing is, overall, straightforward. You’ll turn and adjust the reticle until it matches your group.
The sight is intended for short to medium distances, and zeroing should match those parameters. You might consider zeroing the 518 for a shorter range, like 25 feet.
EOTech 518 in Action
One of the most amazing features you have with a holographic weapon sight (HWS) like the EOTech 512 or 518 is the depth perception of the sight. There’s no difference between the two models, and it won’t matter whether you use the single or double-dot reticle for the 518.
The target acquisition speed on short ranges is probably the quickest of any sight on the market. At longer ranges (100 feet and out), you will need to slow down with acquisition and shooting speed.
The EOTech sights are made for targeting with both eyes open. Using the natural binocular vision with both eyes open when targeting, you get an unlimited field of view and rapid target acquisition.
EOTech 518 for Longer Ranges
If you intend to use the EOTech 518 for longer distances, combine it with EOTech’s G33 Magnifier. This combo will provide a 3x magnification and make it a universally usable targeting optic.
In combination with the G33, you can make reliable shots out to several hundred yards without losing the benefits of using a holographic gunsight. The magnifier makes the setup useful for the range and for hunting.
It’s indisputable that EOTech makes some of the best gunsights for short to medium ranges. Their holographic weapon sights are unique and offer outstanding features and quality.
The EOTech 518 is the logical and useful evolution of the outstandingly successful 512. As the newer model, the 518 is slightly more expensive.
Comparing the EOTech 512 vs 518 shows minor, yet useful improvements on the EOTech 518 that are worth the slightly higher cost. If you can afford it at all, go for the EOTech 518 instead of the 512!