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The Bushnell Holosight (first generation)
Unlike traditional "laser' sights, the Holosight does not project a beam onto the target. Instead, the laser is focused onto a holographically produced diffraction screen. This projects an image to the users eye, which seems to project out towards the target. These things really are amazing to see. The image seems to float out in front of the gun. No matter what the distance from the eye, apparent image size, and focus stay the same. Bushnell says that the apparent distance is 50 yards. I will just have to take their word for it. Unlike traditional reflex style red dot sights, the Holosight plane of focus lies far in front of the sight itself. It is also capable of generating (without parallax, of course) a better set of aiming tools, than a simple red dot, though a red reticle dot is available for the older 400 model.
These are ideal sights for a shotgun, carbine, or any other firearm which needs to be brought to bear quickly. I consider them to be a bit large for pistol use, though this seems to be their most widespread application. The smaller models are a bit more suited to this application. I may break down one day and buy one to put on a pistol, though even the smaller model introduces some holstering, handling, and durability problems.
The models I presently own are the older, first generation models. There is a new, smaller lighter model, which was introduced at about the time I picked up my first Holosight. I had considered the second generation unit, but a few things made me change my mind. The most obvious advantage of the earlier units is their ability to take interchangeable reticles. There are perhaps a dozen different styles available, out of which I have five, if you include the standard ring and dot. One is mounted on my Mech-Tech carbine, while the other sits atop my Calico carbine.
Old versus new
For carbine, or shotgun use, the older units slightly larger size, and higher weight are hardly noticeable. While the completely water proof construction of the new model is a comforting feature, water resistance is more than sufficient under most conditions. The wider range of brightness settings is a great feature, though there is a filter included with the older model designed to be used with NVD systems. While all of these features make the new model a bit more handy than the older model, none are really vital. There is, however, one feature offered by the older model, that the new model lacks. The older, 400 series, is capable of taking interchangeable reticles. This offers a fair amount of versatility, allowing the shooter to indulge his personal taste, or to tailor the site for various uses. It also offers easy, user replacement of a scratched, cracked, or otherwise damaged screen.
Reticles are removed with a hex wrench, included with the Holosight. The little hex screw is not captive, so it will fall out, once loosened, if you are not careful. Once the screw is removed, the reticle can be slid out sideways. A new reticle is then slid in place, and the screw is tightened. That's all there is to it.
Over a dozen different reticle styles are available. Some are quite general, and their choice is a matter of personal preference, others are highly specialized to certain types of shooting. Among the specialized models are a ranging reticle deigned for archery, and a "Tombstone" model particularly suited to the Bianchi Cup competition. For most users, the standard reticle is more than sufficient. If you have a first generation Holosight, or are contemplating the purchase of one, I would recommend that you get any additional reticles quickly. Bushnell no longer makes them, and most of the stock has run out. I have seen some standard ring, triangle, and dual ring units (the least popular), still available, but most of the others are impossible to find.
Some of the reticles available for the Holosight 400