Monday, May 7, 2018

First Look At Holosun 515CM Red Dot Sight

Box Cover
           When I first assembled my AR pistol, I used a Burris Fast Fire III reflex sight as a temporary sight, but I wanted something that would be a sturdier sight and better sealed from dust and the elements. Also, the small red dot, by itself, was a bit hard to pick up; and, although my first thought was to push the AR pistol away from myself to actually use it like a pistol, I found that using the buffer tube as a cheek weld was generally a better option. Of course, for this, I had to purchase a riser to use with the Fast Fire since it otherwise sat too low.

        In my reading articles and watching videos on gun topics, I had come across some favorable mention of the Holosun red dot sights from some people that are pretty serious shooters (the team at In Range, the New Rifleman, and Garand Thumb come to mind). In most cases, the reviewers were not comparing the Holosun systems to similarly priced items, but to Trijicon and Aimpoint systems and, in most cases, stating a preference for the Holosun system. The primary concern about the Holosun seemed to be that, while it was rated as waterproof, it was only rated to 1 m. Thus, there was some question of its robustness in the field.

        I was also intrigued by three other options available for certain Holosun sights: (1) the availability of a circle dot reticle (a 65 MOA circle with a 2 MOA dot centered) to make it easier to pick up the reticle when bringing the weapon up for a cheek weld; (2) the long battery life (comparable to Aimpoint) and (2) solar power to supplement the battery life.

       In researching the Holosun further, I learned that they had two newer models available in what they called their Military Grade sights, which were built of stronger aluminum alloys (7075) and were rated as water proof to 30 meters. The two models are (1) the 515GM, which has controls mounted on the top of the sight, and a side-mounted battery with a screw off cap; and (2) the 515CM which is solar powered, has the controls on the right side, and uses a tray to hold the battery in place. I decided on the solar power option just because I liked the fact that I could still run it without a battery or with a dead battery.

       Here is the product description from Amazon:
The HS515CM is a Ruggedized Micro Red dot sight with the option of a 2MOA dot only or a 2 MOA dot with a 65MOA circle reticle pattern. Employing new LED technology, the life time for one CR2032 battery can reach 2 years if left on constantly. However, the Solar technology and automatic brightness adjustment work together to extend the battery life dramatically beyond that for the average shooter. The M signifies extra rugged features including a CNC milled 7075 aluminum housing, pressure tested for submersion up to 30 meters for 30 minutes and a snag free housing design that protects the windage and elevation turrets. This product includes clear Flip-up lens covers, a quick release mount and a kill flash filter.Features- Solar fail safe technology- shake awake motion on with last setting recall- automatic reticle intensity adjustment in Solar mode- Parallax free, Unlimited eye relief- waterproof- switch between a 2 MOA dot & 65 MOA circle with dot. No re-zeroing required.- 10 daylight and 2 night vision compatable brightness settings- kill flash included.- Flip-up lens covers won't obstruct your vision.- 1/3 co-witness QR mount with removable spacer included- CNC milled 7075 aluminum housing.
 Opening the box ...


... we see that it comes with a user manual, and ...



... the sight along with a 1/3 co-witness riser and some other items.


The other items included are:
  1. A small torx driver for the screws holding the battery shelf into place.
  2. A small took with a fine tipped standard screw driver blade on one end and a wider blade on the other. This tool can be used on adjusting the sights, but the caps covering the adjusting turrets also have a small "blade" on the top that can be used to turn the turret.
  3. Lens cleaning cloth, of course.
  4. An extra battery shelf, with extra screws.
  5. The battery (a CR2032).
  6. A torx wrench for adjusting the screw in the base.
Right Side -- each square is one inch.

       On the right side of the optic are the push buttons for adjusting the brightness. One of the nice features of the solar powered model is that it also allows for automatic adjustment of the reticle brightness based on ambient light. The Burris Fast Fire III sight has this feature, and it generally works pretty well. Although you can turn off the unit, it is really intended to be left on all the time. It will go to sleep after a short period, but will automatically turn on when the unit senses movement. In my playing around with it, slight movement was not enough to turn it on, but it needs a sharp movement--so just riding in a vehicle on paved roads should not be enough to wake it up if it has gone into sleep mode.

         You will also notice that there is a quick detach lever on the Picatinney mount. This seems to be a pretty sturdy mount, and to release the lever, you have to push a button on the back of the mount simultaneously with pushing the lever forward. So, it shouldn't open if it gets snagged on a clothing or other gear.



       This photograph shows the back of the optic. As you will notice, the screws on the battery shelf are sticking out. This is because, at this point, I had not yet inserted the battery. This gives a view of the mount (including the button to release the quick detach lever), the riser, and the lens cover on the back.


       This photograph is my attempt to show a view through the optic. I couldn't get the camera to focus on the reticle, but the reticle is the red blur you can see in the top left. I still had not installed the battery--this is just running off the solar cell. You can also see the kill-flash filter (the honey-comb pattern), and this was a view through the see-through lens cap.


       This is an image of the bottom of the optic mount for those of you who are interested.



       And this is the top of the optic showing the solar cell and the top turret. As you will notice, the turret is pretty well protected.

       The optic is a micro-red dot, so pretty small and compact when mounted:


      Just playing around with it, I found that it is indeed far easier and quicker to pick up the reticle and aim with the circle-dot rather than a small red-dot by itself. Although I have a slight astigmatism, so no red dot truly looks sharp to me, it was sharper to my vision than the Fast Fire III dot. 

      In short, I believe that this will be quite serviceable. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so we will see after I've had the chance to use this awhile. 

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