EOTech introduced the first-generation HWS at the 1996 SHOT Show, under the trade name Bushnell-HoloSight®. The HWS was designed to increase target accuracy and speed of target acquisition in sport shooting and hunting applications. It won the Optic of the Year Award from the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence.
In 2000, EOTech introduced the second-generation HWS, with a more compact and modular design. It laid the foundation for product entry into the law enforcement and military markets. The next year, EOTech introduced the military and law enforcement HWS, which received the 2001 Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Optic of the Year Award.
USSOCOM awarded EOTech a contract in 2005. Special Operations and the Marine Corps chose the HWS as their standard close combat optic.