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#6762446 - 05/12/17 01:10 PM Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Clifford from Third Coast Thermal sent me a Pulsar Trail XP50 for testing and evaluation and I thought I would start this as a progressive thread as I go through and become familiar with, and use the unit, sharing my impressions along the way. I will have video and pictures to come in the future. So far I have had the unit out in the field as a spotting scope once and have otherwise been using it in the back yard to become familiar with all of its operations.

The Trail XP50 is Pulsar's venture into the 640 resolution line of rifle scopes along with the Trail XP38. They have the corresponding Pulsar Helion XP50 and XP38 spotting scopes that are 640 resolution as well. These are 17 micron core, 50 hz scopes.

The Trail line improves upon the popular Apex line (384 resolution, 25 micron, 50 hz) line of scopes with more resolution and by being more compact, having better battery capability, onboard recording, improved menu system, and new Wi-Fi features. Traditionally, Pulsar has not been a higher native magnification line of optics and the Trail line continues this tradition with the XP50 coming in at 1.6x native magnification and the XP38 at 1.2x. However, unlike some other thermal scopes, stepping up the magnification times factor fully (8 times) brings the scope to a digital magnification of 12.8 which yields a very usable image which is quite nice.

Battery Life: The Trail XP50 comes with an 8 hour rechargeable battery and associated charger and cable. It is a 5v, 2a charger as you would find with newer smart phones. I have not extensively tested the battery yet, but found that it ran for over 6.25 hours in the field earlier this week with power to spare, but my hunt was over before the battery was out of juice. I understand that there is (or will be) a 16 hour battery and that there are cassettes for using AA or CR123 batteries. These did not come with the scope and would have to be purchased separately. If I decide to buy one of these scopes, I will purchase these additional cassettes primarily because I figure that AA and CR123 batteries will be made for years to come even if Pulsar moves on with different models and discontinue production of this line somewhere in the future. In the mean time, the onboard rechargeable battery is just plain cool to have and works great.

Recording: Currently, the onboard recording is for video or pictures and currently does not have audio, but that is something Pulsar is working to complete and I understand has promised upgrades to purchasers when the audio come online. The memory system is entirely onboard (no SD card) and video made with the recorder can be downloaded to your phone (via Wi-Fi) or downloaded to your computer via cable. Same for pictures. Video and pictures are made via a single button on the scope (or via Wi-Fi - more on that later). As of this time, I have not tested the video capacity of the onboard memory, but plan to do so.

Improved Menu System: When I initially got to field test the Apex prototype and then the finished version, one thing I found frustrating was that the menu system was symbol-based. Some of the symbols were readily understandable as to what they meant. Other symbols, particularly lesser used features, I could never keep straight in my head and so would have to break out the manual to figure out what they meant. The improved menu system is still symbol based, but has written titles that appear at the top of the screen when you move to a given symbol....so if you can't recall what the symbol signifies control for, the actual word prompt is there for you to reference. Unlike the Apex, I was able to utilize the menu system without referencing the manual for translation. That isn't to say the manual isn't necessary. There is further explanation of all of the functions in the manual that describes what can be accomplished with each setting. A person new to thermal would definitely benefit from using the manual while initially getting familiar with the scope. For folks already familiar with thermal, the manual is really only necessary to clarify some unique aspects of the Trail's operation. And while a hard copy of the manual comes with the scope, I find that using the online (or downloaded) version is much simpler as you can find thing more readily with key word searches - http://www.pulsar-nv.com/upload/iblock/cbf/instr_trail.pdf

Wi-Fi: Okay, I am not a Wi-Fi on scopes fan, or wasn't. The Stream Vision app is downloadable from the Play Store or iTunes for free. I am using an Android-based phone and it downloaded readily and worked without any sort of glitches. For those limited situations where you might be hunting with a partner who wants to see what you are seeing, you can turn on the Wi-Fi and the person will see what the scope sees in near real-time. There is a slight delay of maybe a second or less. I plan to use this with my daughter when we hunt from a blind and I want to watch her take her shot. I have also found this feature to be useful in demonstrating/teaching how the scope works to other people. You can control numerous features of the scope from the App, if you so desire, such as magnification, recording, palette, reticle choice, etc. I don't see where the person watching the video feed would need to do this, but it can be done.

The part I really like about the Wi-Fi is being able to download video and pictures from the scope to the phone for review after using the scope. No need to have a portable computer with you to watch the video. No cables are necessary. It may take a few minutes to download a large video, but then again it takes a few minutes to break out the computer, boot it, grab the SD card from the recorder (as I am currently doing) and transferring over the file. So this is pretty neat.

So for my initial impressions of the scope, Pulsar has definitely upped their game from their previously popular Apex line of scopes to the Trail line.

More to come...
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#6762661 - 05/12/17 05:58 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Pig_Popper Offline
Tracker

Registered: 08/16/15
Posts: 835
Loc: Fort Worth
Keep us posted - can't wait to see the first hog you take with the Trail
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#6764102 - 05/14/17 06:44 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Got the Trail XP50 zeroed and it is ready to go hunt!

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#6765403 - 05/16/17 08:37 AM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Bearclaw Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/05/12
Posts: 1780
Loc: Dallas, TX
Nice write up Brian! What did you think of that mount that comes with the Trail XP50?

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#6765459 - 05/16/17 09:23 AM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
I think it is functional.

The scope, however, is much more than functional. Here is my first hog with it and the hog was my first tripod!



Edited by Double Naught Spy (05/16/17 02:02 PM)
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#6765835 - 05/16/17 03:11 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Outdoor Legacy Gear Online   content
Light Foot

Registered: 03/18/11
Posts: 24
Loc: Appleby, TX
Good review and nice shooting, I enjoyed the video.

I think the picture in picture function is one of the best features in these scopes. I know some people find is slightly distracting but once you get used to it, it's hard to use the scope without it.

Thanks for sharing the review.
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#6765923 - 05/16/17 04:42 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
Thanks!

Yeah, the PiP takes some getting used to using, but it is physically quicker than trying to manually adjust the zoom on the scope and requires no hands to do so. It is just something that you mentally need to understand, but as you said, some people find it annoying, or just can't get their minds wrapped around having two sets of information.

I got to test the prototype Apex and it had the PiP and I thought it was a stupid idea until I got a chance to use it. I would zoom in with the PiP to take my opening shot and then look at the regular, unzoomed crosshairs to pick up runners and such. It worked very well in this capacity, I thought.

However, even better than the scope just having this function, it is an OPTION. If you don't like it, don't use it, just like the myriad of crosshair choices. Find what you like and use that. Having choices is really nice. The customer gets to customize the scope to his/her liking that way.
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#6765964 - 05/16/17 05:11 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Pig_Popper Offline
Tracker

Registered: 08/16/15
Posts: 835
Loc: Fort Worth
Nicely done! The hog to the North looked like a bigger animal but your explanation as to why you took the nearer one is understood.

Do you set the scope for auto or manual NUC and do you sense this scope requires frequent calibration versus other makes of thermals you've used?
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#6766018 - 05/16/17 06:23 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
The hog to the north DID look bigger and I am certain it was. However, I would rather shoot one definite small hog than potentially losing two hogs and the wind was not favorable for an approach on the north hog and there was no way to know if the east hog would be around after I tried. The east hog was not in that location when I went south of that area headed toward the coyote. So he sort of just appeared there during the middle of my hunt. I swear, sometimes hogs appear and disappear like they are being beamed down and up by the Enterprise.

I set the scope on Semi-Auto NUC, what Pulsar calls "calibration." You have the options of Manual, Semi-auto, and Auto calibration/NUCing.
Manual - Close the lens caps and press the Power/calibration button to calibrate as needed.
Semi-auto - Press the Power/calibrate button to calibrate as needed and the thermal sensor has a cover moved over it inside of the scope.
Auto - Calibration occurs via programming parameters, but one may press the Power/calibration button to calibrate at any time and it will semi-auto calibrate.

I am not a fan of Auto calibration while hunting with this scope because I don't keep an eye on the bottom data bar that provides a three second warning (I think it is 3) that calibration is about to occur. As such, the 1-2 seconds of calibration could result in a lost shot or lost follow-up shot if it happened at the wrong time and I didn't know it was about to happen. So, I run on Semi-auto where I calibrate the screen when I think it needs it.

On Auto, the calibration is fairly frequent and regular. When doing it myself, I could not tell you how often it needs it, but I would say every few minutes. In the 20 or so minutes I was walking across the field, I calibrated 3 or 4 times, but only once when I could see the image was degraded. The other times were done administratively before I even looked through the scope.
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#6766722 - 05/17/17 12:02 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
MDMORROW Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/10/11
Posts: 2799
Loc: McKinney & Pottsboro, TX
I prefer the semi-auto mode on pulsars. It's kind of a best of both worlds. I usually nuc it several times when changing spots or walking or something. That way it's ready and doesn't need it if I get where I'm fixing to shoot.
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#6767580 - 05/18/17 08:23 AM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: MDMORROW]
bornforit Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 12/11/06
Posts: 351
Loc: Longview, Tx
Originally Posted By: MDMORROW
I prefer the semi-auto mode on pulsars. It's kind of a best of both worlds. I usually nuc it several times when changing spots or walking or something. That way it's ready and doesn't need it if I get where I'm fixing to shoot.


I had mine on auto the other night and it calibrated right when I took the shot. Changed it to semi-auto after that.

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#6767691 - 05/18/17 10:26 AM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
MDMORROW Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/10/11
Posts: 2799
Loc: McKinney & Pottsboro, TX
Yep that's a common deal. The armasights do that too from time also. A lot of thermals are totally manual and you have to cover the lens to calibrate it. Trijicon units are this way. I like the internal shutter on the pulsars a lot but I'm not crazy about the full auto mode.
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#6768024 - 05/18/17 04:49 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
Double Naught Spy Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 05/18/11
Posts: 4640
Loc: Forestburg, Montague Cnty, TX
The difference with Armasights is that the NUC warning is much more pronounced than the warning on the Pulsars. I don't mind running my Armasight on auto because it will give me very clear warning before NUCing. I completely miss the warning every time on the Pulsar which updates a lot more often.

With that said, both scopes given you choices in how to handle the matter and so the user can choose what works best for the user. Not so with fully manual NUCing scopes, unfortunately.
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#6769709 - 05/20/17 03:41 PM Re: Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Weapon Sight T&E [Re: Double Naught Spy]
der Teufel Offline
Tracker

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 865
Loc: Central Texas
Good, informative video.
Thanks and Keep after 'em!
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