The majority of EOTech clones are utter shit, there’s not really much else you can say on the matter. I’ve yet to see an EOTech clone that meets the expectations and requirements of even a mere airsofter.
They’re either the wrong shape, the wrong colour, prone to breaking, unable to hold a zero or… More often than not, all of the above.
The primary difference between every EOTech clone and the real deal, is the fact that EOTechs use a holographic display and not a projected red dot. Many may not know the difference (and that’s understandable), but once you’ve looked through real EOTech you’ll understand why some people will never be happy with a clone, certainly not the ones we’ve seen so far anyway.
So what option is there for the people who won’t ever consider spending £700 on a real one?
Is there a viable proposition with Loken/EG’s latest model?
Let’s have a look and hopefully I can help you make an informed decision.
Loken Replica and Evolution Gear have worked together on a number of products including the ELCAN Spectre DR (reviewed here) and even other EOTech clones, this being a revision with added features and functionality.
What’s the difference between a Loken EXPS3-0 and an EG EXPS3-0 you might ask? Nothing, not a single thing. Both brands are selling the same product under their own brands, unlike Loken’s Spectre DR which does apparently differ subtly from the Evolution Gear model.
Loken appear to be responsible for a lot of the design work and EG take on the burden of manufacturing.
The first thing you’ll notice about this particular sight is that the colour is excellent, unfortunately I don’t have a real one to show you a direct comparison, but I assure you, it’s far closer to a genuine one than I’ve seen from most other manufacturers.
The markings I chose are for the military contract model, the SU231A/PEQ. However, both the “EOTech/L3” and “EOTech flag” branded hoods are options from Loken/EG if you’re looking for a specific build. They also make the same sight in Black and there’s a limited edition Grey model available from Loken which is correct for certain CAG 416 builds.
The aluminium hood is advertised as hard-coat anodised, mine being FDE. So far I’ve failed to pick up any marks or scratches, despite a few intentional knocks and unintentional drops. It’s important to note that anodising in FDE will often result in a wide range of finishes, but that’s also true of the real thing.
The hood is secured to the body of the sight via 3 Torx bolts, this replicates the real one better than the usual hex “Allen” bolts. Even EG’s previous models used hex bolts and until now, only Holy Warrior replicas have used the correct Torx bolts.
The controls on the sight are straightforward, a triad of rubberised buttons control brightness and on/off functionality and a pair of dials adjust windage and elevation.
The buttons have a positive click and unlike many clones, there’s also an NV mode which doesn’t just turn the reticle green but actually makes it invisible to the naked eye.
Pressing either the Up or Down button will power on the unit, a simple memory restores the previous brightness setting. To turn the sight off, simply press both buttons at the same time. It’s worth noting that the first time you turn the sight on (or after changing a battery) you’ll need to press the NV button followed by the up button a few times and finally press the NV button again.
Both windage and elevation adjustment are reassuringly sturdy, there’s no graduation clicks but the sight can be zeroed well enough for an airsofters needs.
I counted an impressive (and accurate) 20 levels of brightness on the day setting in addition to 10 levels for the NV mode, which is also as per the real deal.
The very dimmest day setting is almost impossible to see and unless it’s pitch black, it’s of little use, but from setting 2-20 it’s within an acceptable range.
The brightest setting is usable in broad daylight and offers a good sight picture with minimal ghosting or flaring when you transition back into dimmer areas. I tend to keep mine about midway on brightness as I like to look “through” the reticule, but a lot will depend on user preference.
The quality of the “glass” is also rather good compared to most EOTech type replica sights, with no noticeable distortions or marks, but it does come with a noticeable tint as a byproduct of the reflective coating.
It has nowhere near the light transmission of a real EOTech or even a budget “real steel” sight such as a Vortex or Holosun, but it’s certainly more usable than any other EOTech replica I’ve seen until now.
Loken and EG proudly state that this sight lacks the mirror finish you see with other EOTech replicas, and whilst it’s less obvious, there’s still a subtle reflective finish that enables the LED reticle to be displayed.
The main body of the sight is made from an unspecified polymer, the colour is a slightly greyer tone than Magpul’s FDE but it looks a pretty good match for the real thing.
The battery cap is usually one of the first indicators of a replica sight, most using a rather unrealistic and oversized flat disk and not the more pronounced but smaller diameter cover seen on the real thing.
The cover on this replica though is rather good, it looks and feels identical to the genuine thing, the threads are smooth and there is an O-ring to prevent the ingress of dirt or water into the battery compartment. A short wire lanyard attached to the hood keeps the battery cap secured when not in place.
The mounting system used is a EOTech proprietary QD cam-lock lever design. It’s made of anodised aluminium with a graduated tensioning nut on the other side, which allows for a tight fit onto most rails.
You should be aware that many airsoft rails (particularly Tokyo Marui) are slightly off spec, real sights such as EOTechs can be a little troublesome to fit onto sub-sized rails and this replica is no different. Even when fully clamped down onto my NGRS Mk18 Mod.1 it has a slight wobble (but I have a workaround, perfectionists… look away now).
My easy fix, one that’s perfectly acceptable for Airsoft replicas (even GBBRs) is to stick a single layer of Gorillatape onto the mounting jaws (as shown on the below picture). It’ll enable the sight to be clamped down with sufficient pressure onto the rail below. In future batches I’d like to see EG/Loken provide an extra turn on the adjustment thread, this would help those of us with off spec rails get that wobble free fit.
Evolution Gear have taken the additional step to laser engrave their logo onto the bottom of the mount, whilst I’m sure Loken might have grumbled when they first saw it, it does mean that you can be assured that you are getting “a genuine fake EOTech”.
A pair of stickers are preinstalled onto the replica, a laser warning sticker on the left side of the hood and a CE sticker on the base of the battery compartment.
The laser warning sticker is of the parallelogram shape seen on some EXPS3s (there is also a more commonly seen rectangular shaped sticker, I’m not sure which is newer but the parallelogram design is correct for the SU231A/PEQ). The writing is crisp and appears correct, without the spellng mistakes often seen on replica sights.
The CE sticker is also surprisingly genuine looking, the C and E are the correct spacing from each other (often they’re too close). The rest of the writing although very small, is easily legible unless you’re an old bugger.
That covers the externals, but what about the claims that Loken/EG make about this sight’s ability? Is it up to the task of providing a reliable and consistent optical sight, whilst remaining very “EOTech’esque” in appearance and functionality?
Firstly, let’s start with this sight’s biggest downfall: It is not waterproof, not even slightly.
Although I’ve used it in the rain, I wouldn’t recommend using it for an extended period in a downpour or even humid conditions. If I were to take this to a 24 hour event, I think that perhaps it might suffer from moisture penetrating the inside of the optic in the cold early hours of the morning.
Loken are pretty honest about this, the phrase “it will die” we’re used when I asked about submerging it. This I feel is probably one of the key points to consider, certainly when weighing this up against other optic options such as Holosun or Vortex, even a number of Airsoft clone sights are watertight if not nitrogen purged, but again… it’s not a make or break deal for me as I’ve a few sights I can use for different conditions.
So, the big question: Does it hold zero after sustained use with Recoil and GBBR replicas?
So far, yes. I’ve put 2 boxes (circa 2000 rounds) through my NGRS Mk46 Mod. 0 with this strapped to the top, and not only did the sight picture remain very stable, but I noticed zero shift in the point of aim after even the most prolonged bursts.
The same goes for GBBR replicas… After 12 magazines on semi-automatic and the same on full-auto (GHK owners stand open mouthed in awe), it remained absolutely true on top of my MWS/ZET system CQBR. There’s always going to be some smartarse that says “my GBBR has more kick than a Marui”, well… maybe… But, the Marui MWS/ZET was the only GBBR I could find that would rattle off 12 mags in full auto without something going wrong… (drops mic).
Another test, albeit unintentional, was when I somehow managed to drop the sight from the top of my stairs and onto a wooden floor, not only did it still work, but it also kept it’s zero when put back on my Mk18. I considered doing it again on video, but I’m not lucky enough to think it would survive (plus I might end up braining my cat).
Night vision compatibility, another feature that’s a major selling point for many prospective buyers. The night vision mode is accessed via the NV button on the side, pressing it will alternate the sight between a red reticule and the IR reticule (which will appear white or very bright green under NODs).
The brightness is a little too much in my opinion, even at its lowest setting it suffers from a degree of flaring above the reticule, so I generally prefer to keep the sight on a very low red setting to keep it usable under NODs but also allow it to be used when transitioning to better lit areas.
I’ve not managed to see how many hours you get from a single CR123A cell, but having left the sight on overnight on repeated occasions, I can assure you that this won’t eat through the relatively expensive lithium batteries within a single weekend game.
As for the sight’s longevity and reliability, they’re questions I simply don’t have the answers to as yet. I’m quietly confident that this should (if handled with a certain degree of care) last for a number of years, the build quality is certainly better than the majority of other replica sights available on the market.
I’ll be adding a Guns Modify lens protector in the coming weeks, don’t bother with the Element one… it’s shocking and if I thought I could get my money back, I’d send it back to the place I bought it.
Overall I’m impressed, it’s seemingly well made, there’s been a significant amount of thought put into its design, functionality and construction.
It’s not without it’s negatives though, the water resistance and NV mode flaring leave a lot to be desired, but it’s a fantastic step up from other models available on the market.
It’s also not the cheapest or easiest EOTech clone to access on the market, I paid £111 inc duty and import fees and ordered mine from EG direct. It took about 5 weeks using their free delivery service, and I know of others who have complained of long waits and varying levels of customer service.
My advice to anyone within Europe would probably be to order from Loken Replica, or if the specific model you’re after is in stock, order through a trusted retailer such as JK Army (they also sell the GM Lens protector).
Should you buy one?
Hmm… Tough question. If you simply want a good quality sight, are not bothered by aesthetics and have a budget of £120 or thereabouts, try to grab a second hand Vortex or Holosun, ultimately they’re better at the job.
If you’re adamant that you need an EOTech shaped sight on top of your replica and can’t justify buying one at the price of a 7 day, all-inclusive holiday for two in Benidorm, then this might just tick enough boxes.
It certainly looks good enough for me, and looking good is what airsoft is all about. It’s always about personal circumstance though, if I could afford to buy a real one, I’d buy a real one. But this is likely to be the closest I come to a real EXPS3-0 unless I stumble on a bargain.