Choosing a night vision scope

Discussion in 'Night Vision/Thermal' started by DarkNight, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. DarkNight

    DarkNight LSB Member

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    Yep, I'm still looking at all the thermal clips and having a little worry about positive ID using thermal for coyotes. So I guess my question pertains to selecting a NV scope. I'm thinking a gen 3p in white phosphor 6x scope. How do you decide on a manufacturer. Is Night Optics better than, say, Armasight? Is ATN that bad quality wise? I appreciate you advice and experiences to help me make an informed decision.
    Lastly, should I not worry so much about the positive ID thing with thermal? Can you truly tell the difference between a coyote and the farmer's dog in the way it moves?
    Thanks again for all the advice, I learn a great deal from you all!
     
  2. Curly Shuffle

    Curly Shuffle LSB Active Member SUS VENATOR CLUB LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    Practice practice practice and then practice some more. With All the videos out you surely can tell what a coyote looks like. The more you use it the better you will be. I think if you are worried about that with thermal you will be worried about with NV also.?? BANG BANG
     
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  3. RattlesnakeDan

    RattlesnakeDan San Antonio Texas LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY SUS VENATOR CLUB LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    Just don't shoot anything laying on someone's porch and you should be fine.
     
  4. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Member

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    In my experience, if the farmers dog has a collar, you can detect the collar with thermal, even if only "the place where the collar is".

    Now if one of your neighbors does not have collars on their two Malmutes and let's them roam and eat your chickens and chase your cattle, like my neighbor does ... well then ...
     
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  5. RattlesnakeDan

    RattlesnakeDan San Antonio Texas LSB TURKEY BUZZARD PRESERVATION SOCIETY SUS VENATOR CLUB LoneStarBoars Supporter

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    I hear that.
     
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  6. DarkNight

    DarkNight LSB Member

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    What about maker of the scope? ATN vs Armasight vs Night Optics, etc? Is one company better to deal with or make a more quality scope than another? Just hoping to learn from others good fortune or bad luck before spending the $$$
     
  7. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Member

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    My experience:
    ATN - consistently hostile customer support, for me this goes back to 2012 as my first NV device was ATN PVS-22 and it never colimated. I had to click 3.5 MOA up and 2 MOA right with day scope when mounting it. I've had two other ATN devices, the Thor HD, 19mm, 1.25x 384. It was an unfinished thing IMHO, it did not function. I talked to ATN, they told me to send it back, I did. This one time ATN customer service was helpful. They had me reload the firmware, I did, that did help with the calibration of the compass but not the totally not there image on black hot. I still have an ATN ODIN monocular and I like it and it is fine, no issues with the ODIN.
    Armasight - I'm not sure Armasight exists now, I think FLIR exists, but I'm not sure Armsight does. But back when I believed Armasight did exist, I thought their CS was the best of the civilian thermal makers. They could resolve half my problems on the phone. Only issue was they were slow shipping back. After the merger, FLIR refused to perform a warranty repair Armasight had committed to. I would not have sent the item in had Armasight not committed (you need an RMA). Based on that behavior I sold my Armasight thermals. But for several years Armasight commanded the civilian market. I've had 5 different Armasight thermals and 3 different i2 devices. I still have the two PVS-14s because they are generic and anyone can work on them.
    Pulsar - I've had 4 Pulsar thermals. One an Apex 75A was a lemon and I sent it back. The others have all been fine, XP50a, XP50, XP38a all Apexes. I still have the 38A. I have no experience with their CS. I've dealt through dealers, NCS and TCT and TCT handled the return with no issues.
    TEO/IRD - Right now I'd rate these guys the highest in CS, even after the merger, I've been talking to the same people. I've had two of these. I got one upgraded from Mk2 to Mk3 and that went fine and during the upgrade they correct a bad pixel growth problem on the display and after 9 months still no bad pixels. The SNIPE was a little bit harder to use than the other thermal clipon I ran it against, so I sent the SNIPE back. But right now, if I had to have an under $10k thermal clipon, the SNIPE would be at the top of my list.

    FLIR - I've never had a FLIR thermal, but I expect to get 1 or more of the boson units when they come out. I've heard bad things about FLIR CS and my own limited experience with my carry over Armasight issue was not positive. But I will hope I can muddle through the issues. I will wait till next year to buy the first one, hoping others can enjoy the Alpha/Beta testing experience of buying early :)

    Military Thermals. The LWTS, the FLIR-T70/T75, The N-O TC50, the BAE UTC-x ... these are good units, but they are 2-3 times (or more) the cost of the civilian units from ATN, Armasight (when they existed), Pulsar , TEO and FLIR civilian ... so the buyer has to ask themselves why they want to pay so much more to do something like kill pigs. Thermals costing under $5k work great for killing pigs. How good is "good enough" ? How much quality is "enough" ? Well, the buyer has to decide. Some people like the slightly higher quality such as more rugged (or perception of same) or better image (or perception of same).
    For me, in the past two years, the best bang for the buck has been the Pulsars, before that it was the Armasights. Now I seem to be migrating towards the TEOs and military units, but I still have an ATN and a Pulsar and they get a lot of use. And I will buy 1-2 bosons at least once I think the bugs are worked out. I like to try them all, to make sure I'm not missing any thing. But buying them and selling them to buy new ones you do have to cover the depreciation. Fortunately day job bonuses and finding small chunks of dead family member funds in lost accounts has funded some of these "swaps" for me. That luck can't continue, but it has helped me try a bunch of thermals over the past few years ... well relative to what I expected to try. 3.5 years ago I thought I would buy one thermal and be done - ha ha - it doesn't work that way apparently :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  8. robininni

    robininni LSB Member

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    It sounds like from the majority of people talking that ATN scopes are not thought to be of the quality level of Armasight, Pulsar, and Trijicon but I do not know this to be true. I think Trijicon and Armasight may be regarded as the highest quality (built very tough). It seems like there are more tales posted online of ATN THOR HD scopes malfunctioning from recoil and similar stuff and a lack of such tales from the other brands. I don't know anything about Night Optics nor have I read anything about them. I will say the neither Armasight (in 2 weeks) nor Pulsar (in 1 week) have returned emails and I only got a recorder the one time I called Armasight. I called ATN once and got to talk to somebody within 2 minutes. This also doesn't mean that ATN would handle a concern well even if you get to talk to them or perhaps they would, I don't know--but they can at least be reached from my experience. I just had a question about their current running rebate so it wasn't a great customer service test. So, YMMV with customer service experience.

    Warranty wise, I believe Trijicon has the best being a lifetime warranty and Armasight the 2nd best with 10 years on the thermal imaging sensor and 3 years on everything else. ATN I believe is 3 years on everything and Pulsar is also 3 years.

    Value wise, I think ATN gives you a lot for what you pay, especially with their big rebate running through the end of the year. Pulsar has a lot of features as well but is a little more expensive right now at least. Armasight is lacking in features compared to the others and is expensive and lastly Trijicon has more features than Armasight but less than ATN or Pulsar. Trijicon is very expensive but it seems everybody agrees it offers an unparalleled view.

    I have now 'played' with an Armasight Zeus 640 75mm, ATN THOR HD 640 100mm, Pulsar Helion XP28, Pulsar Trail Sight XP50, and I have a Trijicon IR Hunter Mark III 60mm incoming as well as ATN THOR HD 640 19mm and 25mm scopes. I can tell you that I do not like the Armasight Zeus buttons. You have to push hard, and I don't care for how things are laid out in the menus are what you have to do to change back and forth between black hot and white hot. ATN buttons were 'okay' and the menus seemed okay. They view seemed a little busy to me with a lot of extra information detailed on the sides of the view. I didn't play around with the ATN as long as the others. Interestingly, the Pulsar Helion's buttons are good, but the Pulsar Sight Trail's buttons were much more comfortable to me with how hard you had to press and the feedback 'click' you felt (totally missing from Armasight btw). I REALLY liked the Pulsar Trail Sight XP50. While completely different, I suspect I will really like the Trijicon IR Hunter if for nothing else but the incredible view. I am going to try ATN again with the 1x and 1.5x magniciation scopes for spotting only (although I could mount it) and see if I like either of those. The both have very big field of views for the given magnification.

    I thought the view the the Armasight Zeus 75mm (with HD lens on mine) was great. The ATN THOR HD 100mm was not as good in my opinion and why it didn't take me long to return it. The Pulsar Helion was good I thought at it's 1.4x and I liked the field of view as I was going to use it for spotting, but it had a problem with the lens cap and was likely going to at least get exchanged. Then I received the Trail Sight XP50 and it's buttons felt so much better than the Helion and the view at it's 1.6x wa really quite a bit better than the Helion XP28. I guess it is due to the XP50 50mm lens compared with the Helion XP28's 28mm lens. Everything else should be the same I think. Anyway, definitely better detail for similar magnification (although much less field of view in the Trail Sight). The Trail Sight XP50 made me send back my Armasight Zeus 75mm as besides a little bit less magnification, the Pulsar had every bit as good as view to the Zeus 75mm (with HD lens) and the Trail Sight is lighter weight, less bulky, has way more features and I hate the lens cap on the HD lens for the Zeus.

    For what it's worth, I am DEFINITELY keeping the Pulsar Trail Sight XP50 and I will be keeping the Trijicon IR Hunter Mark III 60mm. I will probably keep either the ATN THOR HD 19mm or the 25mm for spotting, and I'll have to compare them to see which one I want to keep when they come in. Even though I found the ATN image to be lacking in the 100mm I briefly played with, for a spotting scope I think I can get by with less clarity even if I find these ATN scope views to be less desirable than say the image was in the Pulsar Helion XP28. ATN also makes handhelds in their new HD series called 'OTS' but I found better prices on the the THOR 'sight' versions and the two I am auditioning are both fairly light weight for holding in your hand (and have big field of views).

    Well, hope this helps you somehow. I'm new to all of this but feel like I'm learning fast. I have found that the information isn't exactly abundant for thermal scopes. You do best by downloading manuals where you can, asking questions on forums (which may or may not get satisfactory answers) and then buying from somewhere that will not give you trouble on returns and exchanges. It seems that some answers are just not to be found and you'll not know until you get a particular scope in your hands, so my advice is to get more than one if you can swing it on your credit card, gently play with the scopes you buy, and do not mount them (so you can return it if needed)! Then hopefully between 2 or 3 you will settle on one.It's apparently still a pretty small world of owners and quite a niche product at several thousand dollars each so you just won't find the buying decision support you would with other products.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  9. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Member

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    You don't say this in your write up - so apologies if you are doing these things ... the "image" of a thermal is not a "static/linear" concept for me. And in part that means adjustments to things like contrast and brightness are required depending on conditions.
    So if you are just "turning them on a looking" ... please try adjusting some of the controls before giving up on a particular device. Making these adjustments for several nights also gets you used to the controls faster :)
    Around here this time of year we can have a night or so of 60F humid ... and then like last night it was 40F and dry ... so conditions change even night to night ...
    Again, apologies if you are already doing all these adjustments and factoring in to your comments.
    I tend to run brightness much lower, these days than I used to. This helps reduce eye fatigue (a.k.a. headaches) and preserves night vision better.
    There is a video by Todd around here somewhere that goes through the Armasight adjustments in detail ... watch that one 2-3 times but experiment with the settings also to learn what values look best in the conditions you are in.
    I adjust contrast and brightness every night and even when moving around during the night depending on what I'm looking at and I invert and nuc a lot and focus a lot ... trying to sharpen up the image.
     
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  10. robininni

    robininni LSB Member

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    Thanks for the tips. And, yes, I am adjusting contrast/brightness/gain etc. when I do my comparisons. That certainly can improve an image I have found, but I still stand by what I stated in how I found the image quality to be.

    One thing I didn't mention in my post is the FLIR buyout of Armasight. This is a customer service unknown for Armasight products now. Will they even be continued? Also, again on Armasight, I wanted to expound on the Armasight feel compared to the others and that is that I found the Zeus 75mm to be best described as 'clunky' feeling when compared to ATN and Pulsar control wise. The Zeus design, while maybe built like a tank, has control buttons that are hard to press and it just isn't as easy to use as the others in my opinion--maybe it will never break either and that's what Armasight was going for--not sure. Anyway, it's a tough decision on these thermals for sure, but I personally feel much less secure buying an Armasight Zeus now that FLIR is the owner and making their own line of stuff with the new Boson cores.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  11. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Member

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    Ok good deal on the adjustments

    .. as to controls ... I think once you really learn an interface ... after you've committed an interface to muscle memory ... it doesn't matter ... they all work fine and you don't think about what button to push, you think about what you want to do.
    That said, some interfaces are easier to learn than others.
    I actually think the TEO/IRD turret housing interface was the easiest to learn for me.
    Different devices have different trade-offs ... the TEO/IRDs are known for NOT being good at video (not having a good video image) where as the Zeus 75mm HD is known as having a GREAT video image. So if video is important to you then that is a factor.
    Pulsar controls were pretty easy to learn for me, but I had to memorize the menu positions, the icons never made any sense to me. ATN interface seems about the same as the Armasight. The ODIN I have is real close to the Armasight, the Thor HD is different.

    Also are you "nucing the s%^" out of those thermals? I didn't always do that but now that I do all thermal images have improved :)
     
  12. robininni

    robininni LSB Member

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    When you say the Trijicon scopes are known for not having good video, do you mean externally captured video just doesn't represent well how good the image is in the eyepiece? I've heard that. I've also heard the Armasight gives you are 'pretty good' video compared to what you actually see and then the ATN actually somehow makes the video look BETTER than what you actually see through the scope!

    Anyway, as far as 'excessive' NUCing, no, I don't do that. All of the scope I have used either do it automatically every few minutes or the ATN told you it should be done and then I would cover the lens with the cap and do so. Since I am treating them all the same I don't think I missed anything image wise by not NUCing them each over and over and over. (as a side note, the auto NUCing on the Pulsar's seems to happen much more frequently than the Zeus if I recall)

    Off topic: Here I was thinking this forum was pretty dead! This is the first time I've seen replies going on closer than what seems several days apart on posts I am interested in.
     
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  13. wigwamitus

    wigwamitus LSB Member

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    None of my scopes auto nuc now except the pulsar and it is set to manual nuc (it has the option). Two bad things about auto nuc:

    01 - Noise when you don't want it (some don't make noise - some do - but for those that make noise ... I've had critters react to the noise ... so noise from nucing is bad ...
    02 - Freeze .. the image freeze during auto nucs ... this can be at wrong moment.

    With manual nucs I control the noise or freeze.
    The only downside of manual nuc is you have to close the shutter ... but just like working the controls, once you do it 100 times you don't think about it ... you think "time to nuc now" ... and you nuc ... you don't think about buttons or hands ... I can nuc all my monoculars and scopes with one hand ... only the clipon is disruptive because on some rifles it is so far forward. The butler creek caps help, but they have to be replaced oh maybe annually.

    I don't think I nuc "excessively" ... I think I nuc "just right" ... but it is far more than I used to. Maybe 5 times in the first 5m ... and once every 5-10m thereafter depending on conditions ... sometimes less ... but I can tell when the image degrades and then I nuc if I can.
     
  14. robininni

    robininni LSB Member

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    Okay, good info. Also, I didn't mean 'excessively' in a negative way as in you do it too much, I really meant it as more than the scope thinks it needs it. Anyway, the shutter noise during the auto NUC is fine for me as I am planning on shooting only from afar 50 yards minimum and probably more like 100-150 yards most of the time.
     
  15. DarkNight

    DarkNight LSB Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences guys. I'll be watching for the Boson core results once they're out but don't know if I'll wait that long. Next year on those, right?
    I liked the looks of that Zeus 75 with 3x native but hear more & more positives on the trail XP50. Now my scope selection will be for coyote & fox so the 3x might be "better" for coyote.
     

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