(with an immediate apology to the long suffering Paul at SCI for knicking his oh so wrong, but good pun)
So.......at the time I start writing this, it's been about twelve hours since the lovely courier man handed me a shiny new X-Sight 5-18. Six hours of daylight and six of dark. In that time I've been able to have a reasonable play both sides of sunset to be able to write an initial thought down for those looking for hands-on experience.
There are no photo's at this time and these are my initial thoughts, but the demand appears to warrant an early word.
In summary for those who just want a sound bite - really rather good!
To be clear, this is not a panacea. It is a remarkably able attempt at providing something not yet seen in the market. To my knowledge this is the first day and night capable all in one scope with a useful magnification range for precision vermin shooting at night. It is not Swarovski/Zeiss crystal clear optics with that flat image we all love and it will struggle at last light (although you have the option of flipping over to NV), but it is quite literally watching HD TV and it doesn't suffer from a small eye box at higher magnification. The unit has a nice solid feel to it and appears well made.
To put this in context, I set the scope up on a tripod in my study looking out to a field of sheep. I settled in on a specimen, focussed and checked the zoom range. At full zoom there is some pixilation, but it was still a good picture of said beast and the crow walking behind it was clear enough to consider a shot too. A quick check with the rangefinders revealed a distance of 270yards. More than happy with that and will press the range a little further in time. The focus is like a camera or end parallax scope - a little stiff from new but smooth. The electronic zoom is also reasonably smooth - certainly usable in a live situation when you're used to the buttons.
There are three base duplex style reticles to choose from, each in red, green and black, so a reasonable choice (no mildot/BDC styles at this time). I've not zero'd this yet - that will come shortly. I imagine more reticles will come in firmware upgrades in time.
The menu system is extensive, but easy to navigate. The buttons on the top are a little fiddly, but I think hand position to operate will come with time. I certainly found it easier to operate more instinctively toward the end of the evening. As the zoom is operated by the buttons, this will be important - I wonder how useable with gloves on - so waiting for a cold snap to see how it operates in general.
So far so good. I feel confident of shooting at good distance with the unit in the day. As dusk settles my anticipation increases - this is the business end of this scope for me. I note the ability to change the responsiveness of the sensor and also the brightness as the light falls - both useful features.
Dark fell quite quickly as it was overcast. No streetlights near me and so little ambient light. Flick of the unit over to night - and it does it's thing. As with all digisights, it struggles in the low light, but images can be seen. Surprised (and pleased) to get what looks like a capable IR source in the box with the unit, but sadly no batteries readied for that (2 CR123), so out with a N1000 AP laser, which clips neatly to the side of the unit. Now we're in business. As ever the quality of the light source is key and I shall do some more testing with the supplied IR, NM400, 800 and XSearcher plus T20, Pulsar sources and Dipol L3 when I get the time. What you get is a solid image in the IR source. Immediately picked up some rabbits at about 120yds and zoomed in - all good. The one thing that became apparent is that the unit is more sensitive under NV mode. There was a slight lag in the refresh of the picture if one moved fast. I realised that I had set the unit at it's highest settings of sensitivity. A quick tweak to medium and the lag became much more workable, with little impact on the overall picture quality. The auto brightness adjust may prove a little irritating - catch a flash off a close fencepost and the screen dims to protect you, losing the background picture - but this is something one will learn to work with. I have a sense it's a little more focus fussy at night - a bit like the Photon - but no real proof until live on a target.
I pushed the unit to 300 - scan of the fenceline looked in good fettle, but sadly no livestock to give a real sense of ability, but clear view and I would be confident to shoot at that range. The proof will be using it for real and how it performs there, but nothing to suggest it won't perform.
So there we have it. It appears to do what it says on the tin. For me, at this price point it's a game changer and I'm glad I got one. It won't be for everyone, but it suits me and I'm now going to push it and report back some more. To give you an idea of my confidence, I was going to start this off on a 17HMR (and I may yet do) to look at zeroing and zero hold, but I think it will go straight on to my 22.250 - I think it's more than capable. As soon as a picatinny arrives it will get a run out on my 270 on the pigs, again to see how it performs and holds zero. The jury will remain out as to whether it will replace my tubed NV - and I suspect not, but too early to say (and will depend on the job required I think) - but it will certainly be a complementary unit in the arsenal.
Feel free to ask questions, and I'll do my best to answer. I'll look at the recording side and try and get some pics/vid up. Oh BTW, the remote viewfinder works very well - but the app crashed a couple of times - need to see if that was coincidence. The next iteration of the firmware upgrade will apparently improve the zoom smoothness a little and also allow the recording to show the reticle. Hopefully they'll keep developing and pushing the hardware on this.
Finally - anyone in the Herefordshire region wanting a look for themselves is welcome to get in touch and I'll do what I can to assist.