Hey Gasman, I'll be glad to help. I've got a pretty in depth Youtube review on the Photon XT's as well as a detailed review on the UNV 20IR illuminator. In my personal opinion, there isn't a more affordable and reliable NV setup than the Photon XT and the UNV 20IR combo. The only other option in that price range is the ATN X-Sights and I think you will find a lot of guys here aren't fans of them. They have their place but I really just believe the Photon is better optic.
Sightmark will be releasing the new Photon RT models soon and they will start about about $50 more and include built in video recording. I've got a demo unit heading my way and I'll have some more info as soon as I get my hands on it but from everything I've seen so far it's biggest upgrade is going to be the internal video recording. There is no firm release date but it could be as soon as February or as late as April but I'm thinking sooner than later. From what I've seen it looks like it will still need an external IR like the UNV 20IR to get the extra distance.
I don't think you will go wrong with the 4.5x XT or the new 4.5x RT. If you care nothing about video recording, I'd consider getting a 4.6x XT now because it will be slightly easier to operate, it's tried and true and it only uses 2 AA batteries vs 4 AA batteries in the RT. Either way, they will both be good choices.https://youtu.be/HaR6bhC7dA8?t=22shttps://youtu.be/ruRmSRHwp-c?t=23s
Let me know if you have any questions.
Night Vision, Thermal & Accessories
Pulsar, Sightmark, FLIR/Armasight, Trijicon & More