Through the group buy I have been lucky enough to handle a number of brands and models of high end optics.
Lately I have had an Apex XD50s Thermal sight to play with and have been itching to put it to use.
I struggled to come to terms with a dedicated Thermal sight equipped rifle so a usable Quick Release solution was required.
As I already run QR mounts on and lamp with my .222 it seemed the most obvious candidate.
It also occurred to me that the sight could easily double as a spotter if a proper QR system was employed
So I set about making a one piece upper for use with the Leupold QR bases on my Sako.
With some measuring milling/grinding and using a spare base as a template for the retaining pin I came up with this:
Heavily modified Aluminium Pulsar base with steel pins to slot into the Leupold QR bases
It bolts to the underside of the sight just like the OEM Weaver/Pic rail mount but considerably lower to allow for the QR bases already clamped to the receiver
Mounted on the rifle eye relief and cheek weld are not as good as the scope that was on but more than tolerable compared to some NV and TI units I have seen
The best part is it can be done one handed and quite possibly in total darkness, in silence and without tools.
One handed filming and switching of scope to sight. On a slung rifle I would have no problem doing this in the dark and silently
The Leupold QR return to zero is already proven so no issues spotting and reattaching to shoot.
Following an invitation to go fishing by a very kind chap on here and that river being in close proximity to D&G's boar population I then decided to throw caution to the wind and strap it to my 300 Win Mag for a field test!
180gr Corelokt Full House loads pushing 3000fps
If that is not a recoil test I don't know what is.
(note the standard Weaver rail attachment and subsequent change in sight height)
Cue zeroing in the rain off the roof of my car!
75 yds as I wanted to cut down on wasted rounds getting on paper
Despite the target being less distinct than it could have been it was very easy to pick up the bull, the target outline, marks on the paper and the hole once I realised they show up warm!
Using the simple menu you can quickly move a cross hair to the POI (Point of Impact) keeping the reticule on the POA (Point of aim)
If I had been a little more patient and not in a rush I could probably have done elevation and windage in one go and been on in two shots rather than three but i wasn't convinced with the adjustments and wanted to do one at a time.
Little high at 75yds but good enough for my purposes...and it was pissing down!
1st shot high and right, next middle and high, 3rd 1.5" high and bang centre
The menu gives lots of reticules to choose from with an option for the reticule to be black or white, contrasting centre dots, no centre dots/cross etc etc.
And the best part is it didn't evaporate in a cloud of glass plastic and electronics as I pulled the trigger. More than I can say for the S&B variable I blew up when I first got the rifle!
Viewing and Quarry ID
I have now used it in darkness about 10 times with a variety of target species and environments
Once I had actually read the instructions (which I don't usually!) it was simple to navigate, set up for best environment, calibrate manually, adjust brightness and contrast.
Using the digital and optical zoom capabilities I was surprised at the sight picture, no problem aiming at a 2" Shoot'n'See sticker with confidence.
Could I head shoot a rabbit at 100yds? possible but suspect it would be luck more than judgement
For fox sized targets at longer ranges and rabbit heads at shorter range I see no issue.
Initially whilst out foxing I spotted several badgers at a range of 100-275 yds (verified ranges)
It was clear to see what they were and the image was sharp enough when focus was adjusted for the range to see obvious badger gait and foraging movements.
Next up longer range
Spotting rabbits in dusk/twilight that were imperceptible to binoculars in rabbit height grass margins was easy
Clear IDrabbits at ranges between 75 and 185yds (verified ranges)
Testing beyond shooting ranges I was able to pick up heat sources from sheep on hills that were 1200 to 1350yds away.
clearly they were just blobs but i knew they were sheep as I was on a sheep farm!
Clear ID of sheep was possible at well over 500 yds, cows at 800yds
Image quality is good but i do not have any other dedicated sight to compare it to and can only assume the XQ range and 75 model derivation is even better
All in I have been very impressed with it.
- fairly simple controls for image adjustments
- wide range of reticules and image choices
- relatively light and slim in profile
- high density plastics and metal lens cover, good quality rubber eye bellows
- very clear image and range capability with wide focal adjustment
- external Pic rail
- Video out for the YouTubers
- Appears well insulated against the elements with rubber covers, o-rings, seals and joints
- lens cap acts as rain shield when half open (tested!)
- Weaver rail adapter is built for Short Action only with no margin for adjustment of sight position for eye relief on the longer action Tikka 300wm. Barely holding on.
- torquing onto the receiver lacks feedback and suspect it could be easy to over torque the bolts. steel bolts and claws in an aluminium adaptor
- Sight sits higher than it needs to (IMO)
- The auto calibration setting has an annoying freeze frame when it calibrates. caught me off guard until i changed the settings. A quick calibration before using in anger strips away any lines in the image
- Control switch could be more positive. Can't imagine the need to do a great deal of adjustment in the field but wouldn't want to do it on a cold November night in gloves
- battery life is not great, although switching off display and only having it on when needed obviously helps, external battery packs are available but a larger original battery would have made more sense IMO. It is easy to tape two CR123s together for swift replacement in the field.
- cost. you really dont want to drop one of these in the dark!
bring on the pigs!