Pistol red dot sights are the rage right now and they are here to stay. The resistance against them is lead by some personalities of the gun world that pretend to be oldschool but reading their arguments against MRDS solutions lets the educated and reflective shooter conclude two things: Those guys either didnt really spent time using a MRDS and/or argue with „what ifs“. What if my battery runs out? What if my sight gets fogged or dirty? Of course, all those „what ifs“ can happen, but the prelevance of optics among professional shooters has already grown to a point where they are a mainstay of matches that allow their use. Hard facts always negate „what ifs“. Keep your batteries charged (maintenance) and keep your optics covered using a fitting holster will further negate those points.
Now optics are pricy and Holosun is a company well known for putting out affordable quality optics made in China, that have found their way into the hands of many pro shooters. China and quality dont align well you may say. This is actually why we have a lot of biased arguments all over the internet between convinced Holosun users and users of other products like the Aimpoint ACRO. Our goal was to evaluate the 509T closed emmiter optic for a testing period of almost a year, to find out if the lower price actually means lower performance.
The Holosun 509T is a closed emmiter optic and therefore less prone to damage and dirt blocking your field of view on the dot. It is made out of Titanium and is rated to IP67 standards in regards to weather protection. It is powered by two CR1632 coin batteries. Those batteries are pretty hard to get in European grocery type stores and home depots but can be easily ordered online. The 509T also provides you with a backup solar panel for powering it.
To mount the 509T to a glock with a MOS slide you need a MOS adapter which sadly isnt supplied with the 509T, although you get a RMR adapter coming with it. Regarding the sight picture, you have two options. Either a 32MOA circle dot or a 2MOA dot. You can switch between those pretty easy using the grippy, rubberized buttons. You can also adjust brightness either manually or by using the auto adjust feature.
Another technical innovation of the 509T is the so called „shake awake“ feature. As it name implies, a sensor registers movement and your dot will immediately turn on. This is a handy feature but also comes with some downsides we will explain later on.
Performance and experiences
MRDS optics often have poor reviews, thats simply because you need lots of training to get any benefits out of them. If you are used to irons, you will basically start from scratch. Only very proefficient shooters will get an immediate benefit after switching to a MRDS. So all our reviewers either had experiences with pistol reddots or did get the time to train using them the right way. All our experienced testers did find the dot to be easy recognize while those new to pistol red dots needed some training time, but felt satisfied with the 509Ts performance.
Especially for inexperienced shooters, the circle dot is a great option, it is smaller compared to most other circle dots. So you get the best out of two worlds. Only at long distances it can be somewhat distracting as the sight picture feels a bit „crowded“ due to the smaller dimensions.
Even in sunshine and bad weather conditions the 509T works. The dot and the circle dot could be easily acquired by all test subjects. So the 509T is a great optic with no downfalls? Everything has downsides and so has the 509T. Interestingly we can observe the same phenomena as with china made flashlights. I call this phenomena „feature bombing“ and it describes the habit of putting endless options and features into electronics.
Is the shake awake really necessary? Or should a shooter be educated to simply turn off the device when not used and turn it on when hitting the range. I personally think the latter is the case. Luckily we can disable the shake awake function on the 509T and all test subjects as well as all users I talked with did so after some time.
„This isnt an issue as you can lock the mode to manual only“ one could say. Now I always like to treat „tactical“ shooters like apes when it comes to their hardware, meaning all their equipment needs to be streamlined to the bare bones utility, as what they do in the field and on the range is complex enough. This is proven by the circumstances our little „accident“ happened in. The shooter that used the 509T before literally sweared that he did put the optic to manual mode. It turned out he didnt. This proves that the more options a system has, the more room for errors it creates.
Now what really surprised us was the use and abuse the 509T can take. It did hold zero perfectly and we didnt experience any issues, even when striking a man sized target with optic equipped handgun. Using the optic to rack the slide (if you are into this) works flawlessly and we never experienced the optic fogging up or having any other malfunctions, be their mechanic or electronic in nature. The sight picture was always clear and no glare or annoying reflections could be observed.
Besides some drop and strike tests we also slightly submerged the 509T and found no issues at all. That being said, we didnt drive over it with a tank, we didnt drop it from the 20th floor of a building. Why didnt we do that? Because even a tactical enduser should care for his kit. What however didnt work out was the solar cell, even small clouds can reduce their use, it appears to be more of an afterthought, generally we have seen the use of solar power done better on many optics.
So whats our conclusion on the 509T, is it a cheap „chicom“ sight that deserves to be burnt with fire as some say in emotional discussions? Is it the ugly brother of the Aimpoint ACRO2 or is it the ultimate MRDS that just gets all the hate because its not „overpriced“
The answer is somewhere in between all this and HOLOSUN even isnt to discrete about the performance of their optic. The German presence of HOLOSUN describes the 509T as an „affordable, Mil-Spec grade sight that is especially suited for recreational shooters, professional practical shooters, hunters and airsoft player and agencies“ and I cant agree more with that one. Its a degree of honesty which makes HOLOSUN actually stand out for the better.
While Iam not entirely sure about the agency part, I think its great that HOLOSUN excluded the application „military“ in this description. Military hardware simply needs less features. If I can discuss about the utility of a feature, I usually think its not worth a thought for military applications. As said before, its comparable with chinese made lights that feature like 7 buttons and 20 light modes. I just want to turn something on or off to make it rugged and reliable in a human-to-machine sense.
But lets be honest, not all of us are working in a 360 degrees shoothouse, some of us wont ever do that. But if you are looking for a sight for your racegun I dont see any issues at all and I would even describe it as a go-to choice here. Even in a home defence scenario the 509Ts „shake awake“ function has something to it. What we all would really like to see is a 509T that is built the same way but has way less features.
Regarding ruggedness the 509T did stand use and abuse. Reliability in a technical sense was given. In a human-to-machine kind of sense the amount of options can be overwhelming. The performance aspect of the 509T in its intended fields of application was top notch. Regarding the country of origin, judge yourself. What we can conclude is that the 509T is an affordable optic that punches way above its weight and I personally think that HOLOSUN has a lot of potential in tactical applications as soon as the engineers and designers learn about the requirements for combat optics.