The Holosun HS510C – The Best Budget Red Dot

Good gear costs. It’s a fact. If you want the best gear and guns, you’ll have to pay for it. It’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. Sometimes, you can find a pretty good deal on a budget piece of gear. Mil-surplus chest rigs rock, P-MAGs aren’t pricey, and the Holosun HS510C is a great budget optic. A budget optic can’t perform to the standard of Aimpoint or EOTech, but the HS510C has to be one of the best budget-grade optics out there.

Inside the HS510C

The Holosun HS510C is an open-emitter long gun sight designed to be fairly basic but usable. It’s a red dot, to be clear, and comes packed with Holosun’s most famous features. This includes the multi-reticle system. You can pick from a 2 MOA dot, 65 MOA Circle, or a dot and circle reticle that combines the two.

We have a solar panel built into the optic for backup power. The battery has a handy side-mounted slot that’s easy to remove and swap batteries in and out. The optic has the famed Holosun shake awake tech that shuts it down when it’s left motion-free. When it detects motion, the optic fires back to life.

The HS510C features an integrated mount that makes it acceptable for rifles with inline stocks like the AR-15. Yet, it is low enough to be fairly comfortable on a wide variety of rifles, like AKs or PCCs, such as the CZ Scorpion. The mount is a QD type with a lever that makes it easy to install and remove.

It’s a bit of a universal optic, and I say that because I’ve been using it for a multitude of purposes and firearms. I typically come to the HS510C when I have a new gun to review that requires some form of sight.

Through the Looking Glass

The HS510C gets quite bright and packs ten brightness settings and two night vision options. We get a fairly aggressive notch filter that likely helps keep that reticle bright while cutting battery usage. The look through the glass is quite clear for a budget-friendly optic. It’s likely due to the fact it’s an open emitter, and we only have to look through a single pane of glass.

Holosun delivers a nice, crisp, and clear reticle. Holosun’s parent company is an emitter manufacturer, so the company should excel at this role. The multitude of reticle options is quite nice. The 2 MOA dot provides that super crisp and clear dot that occupies very little of the screen. It mixes well with a magnifier and gives you the longest battery life.

I tend to really like the 65 MOA circle and 2 MOA dot reticle. It’s just a big and eye-catching reticle option. The 65 MOA circle can be used for range finding in the field, but I don’t really use it for that function. Snapping in and on target is quick and easy with this reticle.

It can be used to pattern your shotgun. If you pair this optic with the 65 MOA circle reticle and some buckshot, you can pattern it at different ranges. Smart observers will learn the range in which their chosen buckshot will exceed the circle.

The HS510C In Action

I’d love to give you a round count that I’ve shot with the HS510C, but I have never bothered to keep one. I can tell you it’s been on shotguns, AR-15s, an AK, various PCCs, and likely a few really big pistols. The optic has been used a ton, in and out of rain, cold, and heat. It’s been zeroed for what must be a dozen different guns.

I have found rain to be its greatest enemy. The open emitter design does not play well with rain and water. A drop landing on or near the emitter makes your dot basically useless. The reticle disappears entirely. This is the big reason why this is not a duty-worthy optic.

Outside of rain, the optic has taken a beating and never delivered problems. It’s been dropped, both purposefully and accidentally, knocked off the shooting table. Everything still functions as it should, and the zero never drifted.

While it might not be a good duty-rated optic, it is a dominator in the competition field. By dominate, I mean it’s prevalent, especially in PCC competition. It’s a lightweight, easy-to-use optic that’s affordable and perfect for the PCC field. Some higher-level competitors are even rocking dual HS510C dots for those hard, lean shots.

The open design does provide a great field of view with menial disruption. The thin sides of the open emitter design make it easy to see around for that greater field of view and a higher level of situational awareness.

Throwing Lead

The Holosun HS510C is a great option that still sits at the budget-friendly price point. It works well with magnifiers and is reportedly okay with night vision. The design is feature-filled, and if you want a solid home defense red dot or a competition option, then this one is tough to beat. For me, it’s a great optic for gun reviews and perfect to toss around as I see fit.

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.