Dealing with thermal and digital night vision scopes, folks often ask me about the X-Sight II digital night vision. My vendor, Third Coast Thermal, does not sell ATN and so I haven't dealt with one in a while. I got to play with the original fiasco X-Sight and got to play with an X-Sight II when they first came out and before many of their firmware upgrades were in place. ATN now has had a goodly amount of time to make corrections to the units. So when a buddy of mine offered to let me spend time with his new X-Sight II 3-14x, I took him up on the offer. He purchased the scope for hog hunting and had it out to my place for zeroing and familiarization. We used it both before and after dark, examining some of the very basic features. We did not test any of the higher level functions as GPS, ranging, or any of that stuff. This was his second trip to my range with this scope after his initial sighting in and initial hunt where he failed to recover both hogs that he shot.
Excellent daylight image in day mode
Good dusk image in day mode (until it got too dark)
Very good image in night mode with IR illuminator
Bright and clear reticle
ATN IR illuminator is certainly capable for this scope. It has 4 settings of OFF and three levels of brightness. We found that at 100 yards after dark, even the lowest brightness level was sufficient to illuminate the targets reasonable well, even my dark painted targets. Playing with scope brightness and the sensitivity setting helped refine the scope image slightly even with the lowest level of IR illumination, but turning up the illuminator did help more, but only slightly more when looking at contrasting dark and light targets that were side by side. I suspect that turning up the IR illuminator might be preferable when trying to discern one hog in a group of hogs packed together under a feeder, but otherwise, the low setting seemed to work fine. The bean can be focused or used as a flood light. The mount for the illuminator is adjustable so that it can be properly aligned with where the X-Sight is sighted.
There is a slight but noticeable time lag in the image in Day Mode. What does that mean? That means that the image you see is not getting to your eye in real time, being delayed slightly. It is hard to realize this is happening with the rifle stationary and looking down range, but you notice it when you start to pan the rifle and realize that the rifle is already moving before the image inside the scope starts showing movement. ALL ELECTRONIC SCOPES DO THIS. The only question is how much delay actually occurs and if it is noticeable to the user, how bad it is. If you have decent Gen III night vision, for example, you may not be able to perceive the delay. This is not the case with the ATN in Day Mode.
In Night Mode, the lag is large enough that I can be panning one direction and change directions and be moving back the other way before the image changes directions as well. I have no way to measure the lag, but if I was to guess, I would say it was between 2 and 3 tenths of a second.
ATN IR Illumintor has 4 settings of OFF and three levels of brightness, as noted. However, the OFF setting did not appear to actually turn off the IR illuminator. The IR LED continued to glow when the unit was turned off. The IR LED did not glow when batteries were removed. This indicates that there would be a continual battery drain. I would suggest removing batteries from the unit when not actually hunting.
For stationary animals, such as for hunting feeders, etc., I think this optic could be fine. This is not a scope I would want to use to try to engage moving animals, in particular, animals on the run. Dealing with lead on a moving target is difficult enough with an optic where there is no lag or no noticeable lag. The problem is that much more exacerbated when the lag is noticeable, or as in the case here with Night Mode, when lag is pronounced.
So why did he fail to recover the hogs that he shot? He gun was zero'd for 1" high at 100 yards He shot at roughly 70s (feeder distance). We verified zero and the zero was spot on, no problem at all. As near as I can tell, his problems had nothing to do with the X-Sight II. The hogs were stationary under the target when he was shooting. His shots would have gone where he was aiming at the time the trigger broke. I am just not convinced that he was still on the hogs at that point. The X-Sight was mounted on a .223 DPMS that I assume if the most extreme budget version of their AR15s. Never before have I felt a worse trigger on an AR15. It was a single stage trigger that had excess creep and creak. I kid you not...slowly taking up the creep distance, the trigger would lurch by increments, sometimes in 2 increments and sometimes in 3 before the trigger broke and the shot fired. With each lurch, that was an audible and sharp "EEH." I could hear it when I was shooting and I could hear it when he was shooting. It was weird.
He has decided to move the scope to another rifle, a .270 bolt gun that he has hunted with previously, before going after hogs again. He assures me that the trigger on it is better. I don't see how it could be worse.