HOLOSUN HS503G ACSS TORTURE TEST
Unboxing the New Toy
By Mitch Hardin
The Holosun HS503G ACSS CQB (close quarter battle) Reticle is a one tough micro red dot. While running some basic endurance testing, I could swear that I heard this thing laughing at me. So, being the guy I am, I decided to perform an all-out torture test on this optic. In the end, I had the last word, but not before breaking out in a sweat and a tirade of profanity because this thing just wouldn’t die.
After the big brown truck of fun (UPS) delivered my box, I opened it to find the Holosun HS503G in a black decorative type of box. It contained the optic attached to a nice tall rail mount, and also included a lower mounting option. Once I installed the battery and gave it some power, what I saw was a very crisp reticle. Holosun gives the owner the choice of running this with or without the 65 MOA circle around the chevron and BDC (bullet drop compensator). Both options give you a crystal clear reticle to choose from.
Along the top you will find the “+” & “-“buttons which increase and decrease the brightness of the reticle. You will also find the elevation controls, under a screw on turret. The larger of the two turrets on the right side is the battery housing. Also the right side of the body are the windage controls, also located underneath a small, screw on turret. Each click of adjustment represents ½ MOA. According to Primary Arm’s website, the reticle for this sight is a central 2 MOA dot, centered in a 65 MOA circle with four positioning points. The diameter of the circle reticle represents approximately 5’5″ at 100 yards 170cm at 100m.”
Unboxing of the Holosun HS503G
ABUSING THE HOLOSUN HS503G
A range trip was in order to establish a 100 yard zero. As it turns out, it was one of several range trips to check and see if the zero shifted along the way. **Spoiler Alert** The established zero never once shifted during my testing. It started out as a “reasonable” batch of endurance testing with water, heat, and shock testing on the agenda. After those were concluded and it still worked just as good as it did out of the box, I decided to get creative. This is where it went from endurance testing to an all-out quest to find out just what it would take to get this optic to fail. It was not an easy task as this thing held on like a bad STD.
NIGHT VISION TEST
Trying to get my camera to focus at just the right moment while looking through night vision, which is looking at an optic, proved entertaining. The picture does not do this reticle justice. When looking through NV at the Holosun HS503G, I saw a clear, crisp, green 65 MOA circle, chevron, and three vertical dots for the BDC. I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the reticle really was while using NV.
CRAB FISHING (ERR WATERPROOF TESTING) WITH THE HOLOSUN
Anyone can do a waterproofing test by sticking an electronic controlled micro red dot into a bucket or bathtub full of water. So, to make it interesting, I decided to take this Holosun fishing. That’s right, I tied 35 feet of 550 cord to the base and pitched it off the dock and into the water. Except, this wasn’t any type of water. After checking the tidal charts and having existing knowledge of the depths of water in this area, my best guesstament was being about 20 feet to the bottom. Next, I pitched it into the freezing cold water of the Puget Sound. Salt water and electronics don’t exactly mix well. I left it to marinate in the ocean for 60 minutes while I sat and read a good book. Occasionally, I would check the line and after feeling the tether move a tad, I could only assume that the Dungeness Crabs were wondering just what the heck was invading their space next to the dock. After the 60 minutes were up, I reeled the optic back in thinking that it might have some “issues.” I could have sworn I heard this thing laughing as it came out of the water and sarcastically saying to me, “Is that all ya got?” After being in the cold salt water for an hour, the Holosun HS503G was unfazed.
Getting ready for waterproofing test
DEEP FREEZING A RED DOT
Next on the testing agenda was rinsing off the optic with fresh water and sticking it in my deep freezer while it was still wet. I was wondering if the seals would swell and ultimately leak moisture into the tube, resulting in it failing. After 3.5 hours of the Holosun chilling out with the meats and veggies in the freezer, I thought it might be defeated. Once I tapped the “+” button, the reticle came on just as bright as when it came out of the box. Well, on to the next item in this test.
Now I was wondering how it would fair after being thrown and rolling on the blacktop in front of my house. My wife was kind enough to give it a good throw down the street while I took pics. Actually, she threw it three times because I was fighting with my camera trying to capture it in midair just for you readers out there. After the first two throws I discovered that I forgot to remove the rubber bikini covers that protects the glass. So, of course it just had to be thrown yet a third time, but with no protection on the glass. I’ll admit, I was thinking that this was it, it’s done, especially after seeing how banged up it got from being tossed about 30 feet each time. Uhhh, nope, the reticle was again shining brightly.
RECHECKING THE ZERO
It was off to the range to test the zero and see how it was holding after being treated like a redheaded stepchild. The 100 yard established zero was holding just fine. At this point, I didn’t know whether to root for the Holosun or take it as an insult that this thing actually continued to survive my “testing.”
More Shock and Drop Testing
This is where I decided to up the ante and see what it would take to actually drive this thing to the point of failure. While at the range, I decided that more shock and drop testing was in order. I dropped the Holosun from a height of six feet a total of four times onto concrete. To give you a better understanding of the methods to my madness, I dropped it right side up on its mount for the first test. This proceeded in banging up the mount pretty good. The next drop was upside down, directly onto its head. Again, more scratches and chipping of the body of the dot. I couldn’t believe that the reticle was still shining bright. So, I did what any guy would do when trying to kill a micro red dot, I dropped it onto the front lens. It bounced and again produced more chips and scratches in the metal housing and mount, but the lens was just fine, not even a scratch. It was the last drop test from six feet that gave me some better feedback. I had dropped it directly onto the rear lens, which produced two cracks in the glass. I figured “that’s it, it’s dead.” The mount was still good enough for mating it up to the rail on my Adams Arms AR-15 that generously volunteered for this assignment. Even though the rear glass was cracked, the reticle was clearly viewable. Care to guess what happened next…….. The zero was still dead on and holding strong. Off to my house I went to drink a few barley pops and think about how I could kill this damn thing.
Holosun HS503G “On the Rocks”
With a cracked lens, one would think that running water directly over the optic would let water, or at least some moisture into the once sealed tube and ultimately lead to failure. I took it, dried it off, and checked it out real good. Despite the cracks in the rear lens, it was still air tight. So, I thought I’d try something more destructive because well, glass swells when it gets cold right? One of my plastic kitchen bowls volunteered for the next round of testing. It was filled up with water, the Holosun was placed into it, the lid was sealed, and then it went into my deep freezer yet again. This time it spent the next 24 hours in my deep freezer. What this produced was a red dot encapsulated in a block of ice. I used a claw hammer and a heat gun to free this red dot from its icy prison. This time the cracks in the rear glass had done what I thought they would and expanded just enough to let some moisture into the tube. Once again, I tapped the “+” button, and it came right back to life. At this point I started getting frustrated because this thing just would not die.
Baking With Your Red Dot
Now I have a wet red dot that is freezing cold, with moisture in the tube. So, I did what any reasonable person would do next. What drives away moisture better than hot, dry, heat? In the oven the optic went. The Holosun spent 30 minutes at 150 degrees on a cookie sheet, roasting in my oven. Now, at this point, most other red dots in this similar price range and perhaps a few more expensive ones would have given up their ghost. Ohh no, not the Holosun HS503G, it was all attitude and quality engineering. Using an oven mit, I set the cookie sheet outside on my deck to finally see a complete and catastrophic failure. Once again, I was shocked when I pressed the “+” button and the optic came back to life. At this point I wanted to stab it in the head and call it a day. I was truly amazed and was growing tired of thinking of new ways to kill this thing. It simply would not die, no matter what I did to it.
Wife Vetoing “Good Ideas”
My wife being the beautiful woman she is, just stood there smiling as I explained optics to her and how this thing should have died long ago. I was genuinely amazed at the beating this thing was taking and yet, it still worked. It’s like she was psychic or something because she saw the gears smoking in my head and said “Don’t even think of putting that thing in my microwave.” DAMN! How the hell did she know?
Target Practice with the Holosun HS503G
I finally surrendered to the Holosun and its engineers and decided that it had won and would eventually dry out inside the tube and I could just throw it on a 10/22 or something. But, who likes a quitter or a happy ending? This isn’t a chick flick, this is the real world and guys like to shoot guns and drive big trucks. Can you see where I’m going with this? That’s right, out to the range we went. Except this time, I decided to use the Holosun HS503G for target practice. I shot the dot (literally) with some Aguila “Super Extra High Velocity” 40 grain .22LR rated at 1250 FPS.
The first shot hit low and on the mount. The optic went flying into the air and landed in the sand on the range. Yup, the reticle was still on and the glass was still intact, minus the two cracks in the rear lens. The second shot was a tad higher and hit where the red dot sits on the mount. This had the same effect as previously mentioned, except this time the rear lens was shattered, and sand had gotten into the tube. I thought for sure that this was it, it’s done and can finally be laid to rest, and I can go homer and drink beer. Ohh no, even with no rear lens, sand in the tube, and looking like it just survived a war, that reticle was still projecting onto the front lens. Wow, just wow! As they say, the third time’s a charm. After a third hit, directly onto the body of the microdot, it finally quit. The test was officially over, but not before I gave it a proper send off. I do have a sneaky feeling that had I not hit it on the outside body, directly opposite where the reticle is projected from, this thing may have lived just a little longer.
DAMN NEAR INDESTRUCTIBLE
What can I say about this optic other than the owner(s) of Holosun need to give their engineers a great big pat on the back. This is one well designed optic. However; nothing is infallible though. If I were to make a suggestion to the people who designed this, I’d say that they need to recess the rear lens another quarter inch, or make it recessed equal to the front lens. The only other thing I could suggest is that they use a stronger metal for the body and mount.
Now, keep in mind that not everybody is going to be beating the ever loving snot out of their optics like I did here. But, at least recess the glass a bit more to better protect the rear lens. Personally, I think that this optic is way underpriced and over engineered for what you’re paying for it. At an MSRP of $219.00, you’re getting a lot more than your money’s worth.
Currently, as of this writing, there are only two places selling the Holosun HS503G. It’s an exclusive to Primary Arms and also to the AK Operators Union Local 47-74 web store. I can just about all but guarantee that if you use this optic as directed, or are even a little rough on it, it’s still going to last for many years to come. I thoroughly enjoyed testing it and look forward to being a bit gentler to its replacement. Purchase the Holosun HS503G with nothing but pure confidence that you will have a long lasting optic. You’re getting much more than your monies worth in my humble opinion.