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Thread: Pulsar Apex XD50s test/review

  1. #1

    Pulsar Apex XD50s test/review

    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.

    before:


    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)



    Zeroing
    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
    250yd zero!



    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.

    Pros:
    • 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!)


    Cons:
    • 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!
    Last edited by bewsher500; 26-08-2016 at 20:02.

  2. #2
    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing. I suppose you haven´t compared this model to the Apex XD50A. I mean, the "S" version, with the OLED display, is it worth 1000 pounds more in your opinion?

  3. #3
    no, couldn't get hold of an Apex

    would love to see one in action though as front mounted on a day scope and ability to use as a spotter is the way forward in my opinion

  4. #4
    SD Regular Mr. Gain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bewsher500 View Post
    no, couldn't get hold of an Apex

    would love to see one in action though as front mounted on a day scope and ability to use as a spotter is the way forward in my opinion
    Re. the Core front-mounted thermal. Positives: The ability to convert any scope to thermal is superb and it returns to zero very reliably when removed/replaced. Negatives: no provision for an external, rechargeable battery pack, so you need a lot of CR123As; a green image (not really a problem, but why?); no internal or external recording facility; switching between the eyepiece for spotting and the adapter for front mounting is a little fiddly, as you have to remove/refit the rubber covers over the exposed internal lenses, but provided you don't rush it, it works OK. Fortunately, the thermal gives you so much more detection and identification range than other types of NV that rushing is rarely necessary.

    While scanning with the monocular for my rear-mounted NV on an outing last winter I saw a fox literally cantering straight towards me across the field. I had to get the monocular back onto the rifle as quickly as possible and then guess the point at which it would emerge from the dead ground immediately in front of me. Fortunately I guessed right, because it was pretty much filling the reticle by then! With the Core I'd have been too late. But then again, with the core I might well have seen him sooner.
    "Docendo discimus" - Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)
    “Comodidad, tranquilidad y buena alimentacion” - A Spanish recipe for contentment that oddly omits hunting.
    "I'm off to spend some time at the top of the food chain..." - (after) Tulloch
    "Oh [dear], they probably heard that in the village!" - RickoShay

  5. #5
    My own personal opinion I would avoid the core if your wanting a thermal to fit to your rifle, the Apex XD75 is MUCH better, the larger 75mm lens gives greater detail, cuts through mist and fog better, and optically higher mag without focusing on an OLED display with your dayscope, which further reduces image quality.
    Basically the Apex XD50 is better than the core side by side, the Apex XD75 is better again.

  6. #6
    I was thinking about getting an Apex and using it as a spotter and as a scope with a pivot mount (is that noun correct?). I have an apple mount on all my rifles and it takes like 3 seconds to put your scope on the rifle. The thing I like the most about the Apex is the possibility of using it on 3 different rifles.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by bewsher500 View Post
    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.

    before:


    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)



    Zeroing
    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
    250yd zero!



    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.

    Pros:
    • 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!)


    Cons:
    • 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!
    thats a brilliant piece of kit Bewsher, I've now done the same on my blaser 222. I managed to get the height right down as well and set back more than the normal blaser QD Five seconds from day scope to NV
    Perfect piece of kit mate well done and thanks again for sharing

    phil

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