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Long Range Digital Night Vision Riflescope? – $499.97 Photon XT Review (Deal of the Week)

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To purchase the product reviewed in this piece from Midsouth Shooters Supply, click this link: Sightmark Photon XT 4.6×42 Digital NV Scope $499.97

To enter the Midsouth Shooters’ GunsAmerica Giveaway contest, click this link: https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/landingpages/gunsamericagiveaway.aspx

When it comes down to it, not many of us have an unlimited budget when it comes to survival gear. So, while we might want the latest 10k night vision optic, most of us are on a tighter budget. But, thanks to Midsouth Shooters Supply, we have the $499.97 Photon XT. It is a digital 4.6×42 night vision scope made by Sightmark. Digital night vision is a very economic alternative to traditional night vision, though the technology is much newer. (To see a past piece we have run on the subject of cheap night vision, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/prepping-101-cheap-night-vision-riflescopes/).

The Photon XT provides a slim profile when viewed from the front.

The Photon XT provides a slim profile when viewed from the front.

SPECS

  • Weight: 23.6 ounces
  • Magnification: 4.6
  • Battery: AAx2
  • Operating time: 5 hours no IR, 4 hours with IR illuminator
  • MSRP: $499.97

It is easy to get spoiled by night vision devices when Uncle Sugar is paying for your toys, but I feel like I gave the Photon XT a fair shake. I was pretty impressed with what we got for the price point, and I can see spending $500 on this item if you want to dip a toe in the night vision market. It has its drawbacks, but for the money I feel like you get a very good value.

The author found the XT, even with some quirks, to be a good buy for the money.

The author found the XT, even with some quirks, to be a good buy for the money.

THE UPSIDE

  • From a static position, this device was able to identify targets just as well as my PVS-14 (non-magnified) that cost six times as much.
  • The scope held true to zero across two nights and a couple hundred rounds of testing.
  • The ability to use the scope in daylight makes zeroing much, much easier. In times past, with NVGs that could not be used in daylight, zeroing has been a cluster of epic proportions. The Photon XT was a breeze to zero.
  • The Photon is very light for its capabilities.
  • Controls were simple to figure out and use, and the overall length of the scope makes it easy to adjust the focus from a firing position.
  • Power sources are readily available. I hate buying a piece of technology, only to find out it runs on exotic batteries that cost as much as powdered unicorn horn. This one uses AA batteries.
  • The scope worked to 150 meters, which depending on your environment is a long ways for $500. During my test, we had 87% moon illumination, which is about as good as it gets for night vision. If you don’t have a lot of experience with NVGs, they work better the more natural illumination present. I would guess that on a moonless night, this device is limited to 75 meters. Both would benefit from an additional IR light source, like an aiming laser.
With a price point just south of $500, the Photon XT gives a lot of bang for the proverbial buck.

With a price point just south of $500, the Photon XT gives a lot of bang for the proverbial buck. And, it runs on regular AA batteries.

& The Down

  • At this price point, you have to accept that there are going to be a few limitations. The built-in IR illuminator is worthless outside of 50 meters. This would work a lot better if it had a beam you could focus.
  • The test sample I used ate batteries pretty quickly. I didn’t have a stopwatch running, but I would speculate closer to three hours was the usable life than the advertised five hours. That could have to do with quality of batteries, but you will want to carry some spares. It was also cold outside during my testing, which decreases battery life in most things.
  • The scope works in daylight as well, but it also costs batteries. There is no etched reticle to fall back on for daylight work, so keep that in mind.
  • The built-in accessory rail is Weaver instead of Picatinny. Those two things are not dimensionally the same. Picatinny is bigger than Weaver, and generally Weaver accessories will fit in a Picatinny rail, but Picatinny accessories don’t fit in a Weaver rail. This is about the same thing as building a new car in 2016 that only runs on leaded gasoline. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And I have never once seen a flashlight that is built for Weaver rails.

CONCLUSION

All in all, and having used the best night vision available at any price, I feel like this is a good value. It is an excellent way to start in the night vision world, and would be a great back up later if you decide to expand your collection. For the hunter or prepper, this fills a role for static positions well. Would I buy one of these? Absolutely. Technology is expensive, no doubt about that. Thermals and NVGs can get into used car prices very quickly, and few of us have that kind of spare cash laying around. Fortunately the growth of the predator and hog hunting is spurring an arms race in this market, and driving prices down. The Photon XT is an excellent value, and I look forward to reviewing other devices from this manufacter. So, definitely go to Midsouth Shooter Supply and pick one up if you are interested.

2016catalog-1MIDSOUTH SHOOTERS’ GUNSAMERICA GIVEAWAY

Midsouth Shooters is a great resource for products like the above pieces at great prices. The company is offering you the chance to win one of the items covered in this and future GunsAmerica articles on Midsouth’s products. Just click the link, and gain tons of entries right up until the giveaway scheduled for 11-23-16. In addition, you can receive a free copy of the 240-page Reloading and Shooting Supply catalog from Midsouth Shooters! For more than 45 years, Midsouth Shooters has provided reloaders and shooters top-quality supplies and great prices. Click on the link and sign up to receive your free copy. See why so many shooters across the country shop at Midsouth Shooters.

To enter the Midsouth Shooters’ GunsAmerica Giveaway contest, click this link: https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/landingpages/gunsamericagiveaway.aspx

To purchase the product reviewed in this piece from Midsouth Shooters Supply, click this link: Sightmark Photon XT 4.6×42 Digital NV Scope $499.97

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Joe November 18, 2016, 9:50 am

    can it be used in daylight?

  • Josie Grimm November 4, 2016, 5:42 pm

    On my wish list.

  • Donald Welch October 27, 2016, 11:59 am

    On my wish list.

  • Don October 26, 2016, 9:53 pm

    Is the integrated rail easily replaceable?

  • Fred Gasparino October 24, 2016, 2:02 pm

    I don’t “need” one but I sure want one. I’m going to have to check my local night hunting regulations.

  • Bogdan October 24, 2016, 12:27 pm

    The only bad experience I don’t want to repeat ( from ATN scope) is to know what caliber such scope is support. ATN hidden info is about their digital scopes affords recoil from max .308 caliber and NOT working with any shotguns. No way to return back.
    So, while testing and placing reviews please do not forget to mention about your caliber.

  • Terry October 24, 2016, 9:33 am

    I have had a Photon for about 10 months. Love it! I did have a problem with the mode button (intermittent) but I received a replacement (New Scope) in under a week! Can’t beat the service. IMHO.

    I added an infrared “flashlight” that is zoomable. I could make out targets out to 150 yards on a moonless night.

    Overall, at the price point I am impressed.

    • clay martin October 25, 2016, 11:28 am

      for the price, I was very impressed too. I am trying to find a flashlight that is focusable to further test this product.

  • Cyrus October 24, 2016, 7:52 am

    Finally something that falls into “affordable”! Now I just need someone to buy it and report back to us . . . 🙂

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