It seems there’s a silver lining to aging. As I get older, iron sights get harder to see, so I have come to appreciate the simplicity of the red-dot sight more and more.
The problem with that is that I end up with quite a few rifles and handguns that I’m trying to outfit with dot sights, and that can be a pretty expensive proposition.
With that in mind, I’m constantly on the lookout for dot sights that offer a good balance of price and performance. One that I’ve had the chance to try out for the past six months has been the Holosun 403G Reflex Collimator Sight.
If you haven’t heard of Holosun yet, you might want to read on, because this manufacturer offers a strong set of features for a price that’s a fraction of many of the leading brands.
Meet the 403G
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that the Holosun 403G was an Aimpoint T1. They share similar styling and size and, in fact, the Holosun sight can use any mount intended for the Aimpoint T1. This is handy, because you want something different from the low base and 1/3 co-witness height bases that come with the sight.
While the size and form factors are similar, the Holosun sight is no mere clone; it has its own unique set of features: The 403G uses an aircraft aluminum housing with a black PEO/MAO finish. It measures roughly 2.5×2.5×1.45 inches with the higher mount and weighs in at a mere 4.8 ounces.
The 403G builds on the earlier, successful 403A model sight but has a number of changes made to make the sight easier to use. Holosun moved the battery compartment from the bottom of the sight to the side, where it can be more readily changed. However, you aren’t likely to have to change it often, because it has a 50,000-hour battery and an auto shut-off after eight hours. That should run you a good five years of steady use—more, in reality, because you do have the auto shut-off that ensures the sight isn’t left on all the time.
“The 403G builds on the earlier, successful 403A model sight but has a number of changes made to make the sight easier to use.”
The ability to use any T1 mount is also an update over the older 403A, and the turret adjustment is placed 3mm higher, allowing for easier adjustment with a gloved hand.
The 403G runs off a single CR2032 cell, which powers a battery-sipping LED light. It features a 2 MOA dot with a parallax-free view with unlimited eye relief and an unlimited field of view. The 1x lenses on the sight use a multi-layer coating and are designed for both daytime use and use with night vision.
The windage and elevation turrets have 0.5 MOA clicks and use caps with a built-in screwdriver ridge that double as adjustment tools. Consequently, no additional screwdrivers or other tools are needed for sight in. A pair of buttons on the top of the sight can turn the sight on and off. These buttons also let the user pick from 12 settings for dot intensity.
The 403G also features a unique automatic-on feature that turns on the sight when it detects motion.
The Holosun 403G ships in a well-padded box with the high and low mounts, a rubber, bikini-style lens cover, two CR2032 batteries and two Torx wrenches, along with a manual. The manual that arrived with my sight was for the earlier 403A model but still covered most of the same information. The only exception was the change in battery location between the A and G models.
Using the 403G
The Holosun sight I have came recommended to me by Rich Angstadt of Angstadt Arms, and I used it while testing Angstadt Arms’ UDP-9 9mm AR-based pistol. I used the gun over a six-month period and probably have close to 1,000 rounds through it at this point—it’s been in the hands of at least a dozen civilian and law enforcement shooters during that time. I found it interesting to note that even a number of the seasoned shooters commented about how much they liked the combination of the “Aimpoint” and UDP-9. When I told them it wasn’t an Aimpoint, I got some puzzled looks at first, but I thought that was rather high praise of the sight.
The auto-on feature seemed odd to me at first, but once I tried it a few times, it became second nature. When I would pull the UDP-9 out of its case, I’d get in the habit of giving it a sharp, sideways snap. That would be sufficient for the sight to kick on, and it was ready to go without me ever having to touch the buttons.
I found the LED dot to be crisp and easy to pick up, even with my astigmatism (which can sometimes cause electronic reticles appear fuzzy to me). I couldn’t realistically test battery life in six months, but suffice it to say, it was never an issue. Because of the two batteries that Holosun provides, you’re covered for a good decade’s worth of use.
Sight-in was also fast and simple—something I appreciate all the more when I get an optic that’s finicky to adjust. I had the 403G on target at 25 yards, literally in fewer than five rounds. Some of that might be because of how the reticle lined up from the factory; nonetheless, I appreciated the fast, ammo-conserving sight-in.
Holosun offers a limited lifetime warranty on its sights, and the 403G model sells for an extremely reasonable $229.99. It’s a great sight at twice that price (but I’m not complaining).
I definitely appreciate the features Holosun includes in its optics and the fact that the company does it at a price that allows me to either outfit my rifles and pistols on a practical budget … or buy multiple sights as needed.
The 403G housing is ruggedized and waterproof to 1 meter.
Holosun lists the 403G’s operational temperature range as 14 degrees to 122 degrees (F), with storage ranges going a little further (-40 degrees to 158 degrees (F). This is important when you’re storing a weapon in the trunk of your vehicle in the dead of winter or height of summer).
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2016 print issue of Gun World Magazine.