Collimator - review, design and operation

Collimator - sight reviews, design, operation

High-quality shooting optics is a priority for every firearm owner. The collimator guarantees its comfort and accuracy. How does a collimator sight work and how does it differ from its holographic counterpart? Which collimator will be best for a pistol and which for an air rifle? Check out the answers.


Review, design and operation

Collimator sight - principle of operation

The answer to the question "how a collimator works" is simple. These devices use for their operation the phenomenon of collimation in the acquisition of the light beam. The resulting light is reflected from internal mirrors with a reflective layer and falls on the glass in the form of a bright aiming point.

The advantages of collimator sights are many.

What, among others, does a collimator provide?

  • it allows aiming with both eyes,
  • does not suffer from parallax effects,
  • it has minimal field of view limitation,
  • the point of light remains safely on the target even when the gun is tilted.

Shooters who are often active after dark will also appreciate the fact that most collimators work seamlessly with night vision scopes.

When was the first collimator developed?

The history of collimator sights dates back to the late 19th century (1900 to be precise), when Irish inventor Howard Grubb developed a sight with an unlimited field of view.

However, this was a prototype - the first practical use of collimators did not take place until 1918. At that time, large sights were mounted on bombers and fighters, and during World War II also on anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns.

In 1945, the American Swain Nelson Company introduced the Nydar rifle scope for hunters - it was the first collimator designed for small arms. The technology became widespread in the 1960s and today collimator sights are essential equipment for professional shooters around the world.

Best collimator – ranking

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Collimator for rifles – Aimpoint Micro H-1

This rifle sight from the Swedish brand Aimpoint will be appreciated by every rifle owner - professional and amateur. This is a quick answer to the question "how to improve accuracy".

The Weaver mounting system is not only comfortable to use, but also reduces the impact of recoil, which comes in handy when performing continuous shooting. The waterproof design (submersion up to 5m) will stand up to any terrain and the ACET (Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology) ensures up to 50,000 hours of operation. For the sake of completeness, let's also mention the mandatory compatibility with night vision, the 12-step brightness adjustment and the light weight of 82 g. All these advantages mean that the Aimpoint Micro H-1 is an excellent collimator for the rifle.




Collimator ASG - Holosun HS503GU / 403B

Airsoft competitions (ASG) require not only accuracy, but also action in difficult light and weather conditions. All these criteria are met by the Holosun HS503GU collimator.

It has a fully waterproof housing and three sight cross shapes - 2 MOA, 65 MOA circle and a combination of both. There is also night vision cooperation, 12 brightness levels and Shake Awake technology. Users who work outdoors will also appreciate the Solar Failsafe feature, which automatically adjusts the brightness of the dot depending on conditions. This is especially useful for sessions in locations with frequent changes in light intensity.




Hunting collimator Holosun HS512CC

If you are looking for a good collimator for hunting, you will be interested in the HSW512C. This hunting collimator has excellent specs that strongly resemble holographic sights.

The rugged waterproof housing can withstand all weather conditions such as rain or snow storms. Hunting at dusk or under cover of darkness will allow 12 levels of sight brightness - ten standard and two for night vision. Also worth mentioning is the built-in solar panel, which not only ensures a long operating time - up to 50,000 h - but also regulates the intensity of the aiming point.




Collimator for air rifles - HS403R

For owners of air rifles and shotguns, we recommend the HS403R model from Holosun. The lightweight enclosed collimator is designed for maximum ease of use.

Mounting is instantaneous, as is manual adjustment of brightness and aiming point in both vertical and horizontal directions. So just attach it to your gun and you can immediately go into action. The HS403R Air Rifle Collimator Sight is the ideal choice for range training and outdoor recreational shooting.




Collimator for pistol - Holosun HS407K

Our collimator ranking is rounded off by the HS407K model. Its open design and light weight of 28.3 g make it an ideal collimator for pistols.

Despite its lightweight construction, the sight has a rugged aircraft aluminum housing that is resistant to moisture, recoil and extreme temperatures. Also notable is the patented battery-saving Shake Awake feature - just shake the gun slightly to wake the sight up after prolonged inactivity.



Open and closed collimator?

One of the most popular criteria for dividing collimator sights is the distinction between open and closed collimators.

Open collimator

These sights have an exposed emitter and a single mirror that reflects the beam towards the shooter's eye. Open collimators are susceptible to damage due to their open design and become dirty more quickly.

On the other hand, the shooter gets a wide field of view and a lightweight design that is ideal for pistols and lightweight carbines, for example. Due to their relatively delicate construction, open collimators are best used indoors.

Closed collimator

In this sight, the emitter and mirrors are enclosed in a tube that protects them from mechanical damage and recoil. The tube is also filled with neutral gas without water vapour to prevent evaporation.

The rugged housing makes it ideal for rugged use in the field. Some inconvenience may be the limited field of view, but this is compensated by the good sun visor.

Collimator with magnification - is it possible?

One of the biggest limitations of collimator and holographic sights is the fact that they only offer single magnification. They are therefore suitable - unlike running sights - only for short range (up to about 200 m).

This limitation can easily be circumvented by purchasing a magnifier for the collimator. This simple, unpowered device provides an additional three times optical zoom - perfect for medium distance activities.

Importantly, the shooter can put the magnifier away at any time if he or she does not need the additional zoom. A good choice is the HM3X magnifier for Holosun sights and the G33 model from EOTech for holographic sights.

How does the holographic sight work?

Contrary to popular belief, a holographic sight is not a variant of a collimator - the two devices differ in the way they project the aiming point.

In holographic sights, the LED has been replaced by a laser beam. The aiming point created by it passes through the hologram and aims directly at the shooter's eye. Thanks to this solution, the aiming warp does not cover the target at longer distances (over 100 m), the light point is more stable and brighter than with a collimator, and the sight itself can function even if the glass breaks.

The invention of "holographic devices" is due to the American company EOTech, which first introduced them to the market in 1996. The new technology quickly gained popularity in many areas of professional shooting, as evidenced by the Optic of the Year award given to EOTech by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence.

Collimator or holographic sight?

"Holographic sight or collimator" is a dilemma for many shooters. The choice is not as simple as it might seem. Holographic devices are not only more advanced than collimators, but also much more expensive.

Due to the technology used, holographs are usually several times heavier than collimators, which is important for gun owners, among others. The question of performance should also be mentioned. Batteries in collimators last on average several tens of thousands of hours (which in practice means several years of continuous operation), while batteries in holographic sights last only a few hundred hours.



    If you are looking for an advanced shooting optic for professional tasks (e.g. in uniformed forces), a holographic sight is the best choice.

Collimators, on the other hand, serve well in the hands of amateur shooters, e.g. during training at the shooting range, paintball or ASG.

Collimator EOTech - for advanced

We already know that a holographic sight is equipment for the most demanding. The question of choosing the right model remains. In this case, there is only one choice - EOTech holographic devices guarantee the best results regardless of the situation or place of use.



    The reputation of these products is evidenced by the fact that they are often chosen by armies around the world.

An example is the EOTech 552 holographic sight, which is part of the standard equipment of US soldiers. Another high-end model is the EOTech XPS2 with 20 brightness levels, a reverse leveling system and a housing resistant to immersion up to 3 m.

XPS 3.0 - EXPS has a quick-release base.