Tactical Weapons Firearms

These budget optics are becoming combat proven in Ukraine

Although budget optics offer a significant discount from their premium competitors, they lack a combat track record...until now.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
ukraine weapon optics
(People's Project)

In the world of military hardware, combat proven is a highly coveted description for a manufacturer. Optics made by companies like Trijicon, Aimpoint and Eotech can claim to be combat proven after their products were heavily used for two decades during the Global War on Terror. Combined with their strict manufacturing processes and high levels of quality control, premium optics with government contracts command a high price. However, the technology to manufacture optics is getting cheaper and, combined with overseas labor, companies are able to pass these savings on to consumers. Although budget optics offer a significant discount from their premium competitors, they lack a combat track record…until now.

ukraine weapon optics
Donated Holosun red dots atop Ukrainian AKs (People’s Project)

Following the Russian invasion in 2022, Ukrainian defenders desperately sought weapons and other military hardware from across the globe. Crowdfunding helped to purchase accessories like optics on the civilian market and send them to troops on the frontline. One popular manufacturer was Holosun. Established in California in 2013, Holosun Technologies sells budget optics made overseas which they market as capable of duty and military use. While the civilian market was skeptical of Holosun products at first, the attractive price point gained the company popularity.

By the late 2010s, Holosun established itself as an affordable alternative to more premium manufacturers. They even copied popular designs like Aimpoint’s micro red dot footprint, allowing Holosun red dots to work with aftermarket mounts designed for the popular Aimpoint micro-optics. Holosun also became known for its “Shake Awake” technology that automatically shuts off an optic after a certain period of time and turns it back on when motion is detected. Combined with Solar Fail-Safe technology, many of Holosun’s optics offer up to 100,000-hour battery life.

holosun red dot
An Estonian LMT rifle equipped with a Holosun red dot and magnifier (EDF)

Regardless of a competitive price and attractive technical specifications, Holosun still could not claim to be combat proven. However, large numbers of Holosun optics have been fielded during the defense of Ukraine. During the war, they have been seen on AK-style rifles, AR-style rifles and even machine guns. While the battlefield performance of the optics is difficult to verify, Ukrainian troops continue to field them. Even bodyguards for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have been seen using Holosun optics. Outside of Ukraine, the Estonian Defence Forces use Holosun optics on their LMT R-20 assault rifles. The EDF also fields other budget optics, including red dots made by Vortex.