Oh, red dots, how magical you are. Ever since the 1970s, when Aimpoint released the first modern red dot design, red has been the key to their infrastructure. The name red dot is eponymous that even when the dot isn’t red, we call them red dots. For example, the Holosun HE403C-GR utilizes a green dot, but I’m likely to call it a red dot throughout this entire article. I’m not used to green dot reticles, and the HE403C-GR certainly puts the GR in green dot.
Breaking Down the HE403C-GR
Holosun optics range widely in budgetary considerations, and the HE403C-GR is on the lower budget side. (Also, I’m already sick of typing HE403C-GR.) Budget doesn’t mean bad by any means. With this optic, it more or less means simplistic—no titanium, no multi reticle system, or any other features that the higher cost Holosuns pack.
Simple is good, especially when overall quality isn’t sacrificed to lower the price point. The HE403C-GR falls into the compact reflex sight side. It’s Aimpoint Micro-sized and quite compact. Perfect for your standard carbine. Without a mount, the optic weighs 2.82 ounces, so it’s a featherweight.
Holosun uses the Aimpoint Micro footprint to provide a wide variety of aftermarket options for users. You can mount this thing to shotguns, rifles, and even handguns if you don’t mind the size. I wouldn’t take that route, but I’m not your dad.
While it lacks a lot of the fancy features of other Holosuns, it does pack the solar panel backup system. This amps the battery life up to 50,000 hours. Obviously, brightness will play a role in battery life, and you do get 12 brightness settings, two of which are night-vision compatible.
Overall it’s a simple optic, and simple helps keep the price point nice and low. The optic offers an IP67 waterproof rating and recoil resistance of up to 1000Gs. Those ratings mean the optic can take some water but isn’t Navy SEAL approved, and your typical full-powered rifle recoils at a little over 350 Gs, so it can take whatever you can toss at.
Why Go Green?
I’m not going to go deep into the green vs. red dot debate, but I can expand on why you might choose a green dot like the HE403C-GR over the red dot variant. Green dots are easier to see and faster for our eyes to acquire.
They also tend to get much brighter than red dots, and even more so when combined with the super LED technology Holosun uses. They also get dimmer and typically offer night vision compatible dots even at the budget grade level.
Green dots are softer on the eyes and tend to be more comfortable to use for extended periods of time. I can say this is very true, and when I use red dots in dim environments, I start to feel a slick tick in my eye. I never felt that while using the HE403C-GR.
Mounted and Ready
When you get the optic, it comes with a high amount that will co-witness with AR height sights. Also included in the box is a very nice low mount. Swapping mounts are easy to do and takes very little time. Unscrew four bolts, attach the low mount, and you’re golden. I went with a low mount and mounted the HE403C-GR to my SUB-2000 with its MCARBO optic mount.
It sat low enough to easily cowtiness with the SUB 2000’s sights and aligned just right. It’s also compact, and that’s kinda critical to the SUB-2000’s effectiveness. It mounts with ease and locks down pretty easily.
Zeroing isn’t hard to do, and the lens caps even come with small flat heads to make attachments. While it’s nice, the included tool from Holosun works much better to make adjustments. Adjustments per click are half an MOA, so it’s quite precise for a red dot.
The turrets are completely bare and don’t tell you which direction adjustments go. However, if you flip over the turret caps, you’ll see the information you desire. Clicks are rather stiff, loud, and tactile. This makes it easy to make adjustments, and you won’t accidentally skip a click. You’ll hear and feel each click as you make them, and that’s fantastic.
Getting Behind the Dot
The dot isn’t as crisp and clear as I’d like it to be. At the lower settings, the dot is nice and round, but as soon as you ratchet up the brightness for daylight bright shooting, the dot loses all its crispness. It becomes a big blurry star under the Florida sun.
That being said, holy crap, does the HE403C-GR get bright. The massively bright reticle is very easy to see. At setting eight of twelve, it’s plenty bright for outdoor use. At twelve, it’s hurting the eye without shaded eye protection.
Luckily once I had the optic set to stun, I started plunging targets at various ranges. Out to 100 yards, I still range my big IPSC steel target. Albeit if the dot was a little crisper, I could see the target a little bit more. The starburst makes it a little bigger than 2 MOA, so it will obscure smaller targets more than need to be.
The controls are on the left side but are massive and rubberized. You can easily hit the buttons and control the brightness with ease. The buttons also deliver nice tactile feedback and instant response from the optic itself.
Testing Those Durability Claims
On a 9mm PCC, the recoil ain’t nothin! So I moved it to a classic 12 gauge shotgun, specifically the recoil-inducing Sentry 12 pump-action, magazine-fed shotgun. I plowed through 4 magazines of 1300 FPS buckshot as rapidly as I could. From there, I mounted it to my handy dandy ASP Red gun and gave it the old drop of death a dozen times. I dropped it at multiple angles over and over again. On both hard artificial ground and in the dirt.
From there, it was bath time! I filled up one of my wife’s many Tupperware containers and dunked the optic. I’m risking her wrath for this, so I hope you folks appreciate it. (I’m joking. She’s the best person in the world.) I let it sit in the water for half an hour and then towel dried it.
The HE403C-GR was still on and still shining bright after my dose of abuse. The section of rail on the MCARBO scope mount is small enough that it’s impossible not to mount it the same way every time. I mounted the optic and tossed a B8 up on the range, and let the lead fly.
Surprisingly the optic held zero without issue. The glass was clear, the buttons were still tactile, and everything clicked, clacked, as it should. It’s a simple reliability test that tells me the HE403C-GR is suitable for home defense, hunting, and tasks beyond plinking.
It’s Like Luke’s Lightsaber
Green dots are here to stay and do offer an alternative option for those who might not see red well or find their eyes strained by the glowing red dot of doom. The HE403C-GR is a budget option that performs above its paygrade. It’s not perfect, but it’s capable, durable, and precise. If you folks are interested in a torture test where I freeze, heat up, and maybe even shoot the dang thing, let me know below. Until then, check the optic out here.