Optics Review – Holosun HS512C Red Dot

by Tommy Grant

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The Holosun series of optics are quite broad these days. They’ve become one of the more creative companies on the market with night vision and thermal overlay red dots, extremely powerful weapon lights and micro-sized enclosed emitter optics. On top of that, they make some pretty good basic red dots. One of the more popular budget carbine optics on the market is the HS510C, which has an open emitter design and is not a bad optic by any means. The cheaper and lighter HS510C overshadows the HS512C, which I feel is the better optic.

Breaking Down the HS512C

The HS512C brings us an enclosed emitter option that keeps the square body, like a 77 Chevy. It’s almost identical to the HS510C in function, except now we have an enclosed emitter. Is that a big deal? Tough to say, not for everyone, but a little over a year ago I reviewed the Meta Apex Glock conversion kit, and on one rainy range day, I got real sick of the emitter of the HS510C getting hit with rain and being unusable. The enclosed emitter prevents that.

The HS512C does keep some of the HS510C’s best features. This includes the multi-reticle system, which allows me to swap between a 2-MOA dot, a 65-MOA circle and a combination of dot and circle. It also keeps the aggressive shake-awake technology, which will auto shutoff the optic if it lacks movement. Pair that with the solar backup panels and we get an optic that lasts 5 years on a single CR2032 battery.

The battery compartment is also very well sealed and convenient, with a little locked slot and lever. Two big buttons act as your controls, and you can shift between a locked mode, manual adjustment and automatic adjustment. I stick to manual modes.

Mounting and Zeroing

The optic ditches the QD system of the HS510C for a simple integrated mount with a bolt that’s paired with two recoil stops. The bolt option isn’t bad and reduces bulk. I do question why the bolt is so big, and the Allen hex slot is so small.

A bigger slot would allow for bigger tools to be used to tighten the optic, which would mean more torque and a more secure fit. I never had a problem with the optic coming loose. I dropped the HS512C on an Aero 20-inch rifle, and it attached without any drama.

The adjustment turrets are tiny. They are pistol-sized and identical to the turrets on the 507C. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it prevents you from using the case of a 5.56 round to make adjustments. Holosun includes a tool to make the adjustments, which is identical to the tool included with the 507C.

The adjustments are half MOA, and the turrets provide very clear feedback when you make adjustments. That tactile feedback is fantastic, and I really appreciate it as someone who occasionally reviews optics. Zeroing was quick and easy with a 50-yard zero.

At the Range

With a properly zeroed optic, I hit the range. My preferred reticle is the 65 MOA with the 2-MOA dot. It’s perfect, and EOTech perfected it a long time ago. The 65-MOA circle is nice and big for close range, which makes it easy to get up and on target and start spilling lead. The 2-MOA dot is precise for longer-range use. Plus, we can use the optic for range finding if need be.

The HS512C’s reticle is very clear, crisp and easy to see. If I remember correctly, Holosun’s parent company is an emitter company, so they tend to have nice emitters. The reticle can get insanely bright, brighter than I’ll ever need. It has ten daylight settings and two-night vision settings.

The glass is clear, but the notch filter is very dark and present on the topic. A notch filter reflects the red color of the emitter. A darker notch filter helps the reticle shine brighter. That brightness of the reticle likely comes from the dark notch filter. Add in the fact that we now have to look through two pieces of glass and a notch filter, and it seems quite dark.

That notch filter created an interesting issue when I was taking shots at 100 yards. My target is a dull grey steel IPSC target. My berm sits under a tree line, and it casts shade on the targets. It’s never been a big deal until now. The darkness of the notch filter, the shade of the trees and the fact I was in a bright environment made it impossible to really see where my target was. It camouflaged into the earthen berm. It was an interesting situation to face and certainly notable.

Up Close

Up close, I had no problems seeing the target. Within 50 yards, it wasn’t an issue. The big 65-MOA reticle made it easy to throw lead and get those fast snapshots on target. I could do sub-second-ready drills at 25 yards. The 2-MOA reticle in the center made it easy to hit small targets, like clay pigeons on the berm at 25 yards. Getting the optic on target and landing repeated, fast shots was never an issue.

The HS512C features a massive field of view. Arguably, a FOV doesn’t matter too much with a two-eyed open shooting style. It can be a little faster, especially if you’re new to finding the dot and need a little help. Personally, I like the wider field of view when I shoot from my support shoulder and in awkward positions.

Finding the dot in ready-up drills is easy, but in a weird prone using my left shoulder is a different story. I typically close my right eye to use my non-dominant left eye, because I’m not that skilled in these weird situations and positions and the optic lets me cheat it.

Overall, the HS512C is a pretty solid optic. When it comes to price, it’s right around $350. I like the optic, I really like the big field of view and I’m going to keep using it. Would I suggest it to you? If it existed in a vacuum, sure, but at $350, you can purchase the Aimpoint ACO. That optic has less features but is Swedish-made, super clear and doesn’t have the dark notch filter. So, it really comes down to preference. But, I’ve seen the HS512C for as little as $279 in some places, and at that price, I’m more likely to suggest the optic, as it’s hard to beat at that price.

Height – 2.27 in.
Length – 
3.35 in.
Width – 1.66 in.
Weight – 8.1 oz.
Battery – 2032
Battery Life – 50,000 Hours
MSRP – $350

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)

Clarity – ***
Notch filters typically don’t bother me, but I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t see this steel target. Heck, I just shot it at 100 yards with the Extar file and the much cheaper TRS-25. It’s an interesting optical situation, but it’s worth noting. Up close and in most environments, it’s fine, and even when I dragged the target into the sun, it was fine at 100 yards.

Reliability – *****
No problems at all. It remained zeroed; even after a short drop, there was no noticeable shift or issues.

Ease of Use – ****
It’s easy to mount, easy to operate and mostly easy to use. I knocked a star off for the small slots for the turrets.

Overall – ***(And a Half)
I like the optic, but I will likely move it to a PCC or add a magnifier if I keep it on the rifle. I want to easily engage targets at rifle distances and be able to see those targets in dynamic environments. I do appreciate the feature set and the price as well, and I think Holosun is close to having a really fantastic red dot.

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