Richard Saunders: An Experts View

All of our reviews are based upon Richard Saunders opinions. Richard has been shooting air rifles for nearly forty years. Today he hunts and carries out pest control on more than a thousand acres spread across different locations in the south of England. He is a regular contributor to Airgun Shooter magazine, writing mainly hunting features and product reviews, as well The Airgun Show on YouTube.

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Spring Powered Air Rifle

Although barely a day seems to go by without another new digital day/night scope being launched, ATN’s X-Sight 4K Pro and Pard’s NV008P LRF remain popular with many airgun shooters. And for good reason.

Both are excellent products and are now similarly priced. YouTube is full of many helpful videos that do a good job of showing their respective features. As a result, we’re not planning on reviewing the two products here. Instead, we’re going to run through the pros and cons of both products in an effort to help you make a decision that is right for you.

To be transparent, I own and use both products; my X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x is paired with a .22 calibre BSA R10 mk2 which I use mainly for rat shooting, and my FAC .30 calibre FX Impact mk 2 has a Pard NV008LRF on top for shooting rabbits at night up to 70 metres away.

ATN X Sight 4K ProCheck Prices

ATN X Sight Pro 2
ATN X Sight Pro 1

The X-Sight has been around a number of years and recently a number of variants have been launched in an effort to compete with newcomers to the NV market. Available with either 5-20x or 3-14x magnification, it is a significant step forward in terms of picture clarity compared to the X-Sight 2 (there was no ‘3’) and although it is still a compromise on glass, it is much less so now.

 

Things I like:

Battery life: Unlike its predecessor, which required you to strap an exterior battery onto your rifle, the X-Sight 4K Pro has a rechargeable integrated battery. ATN says it will give 18 hours of use and although I’ve never tested it, I think that is pretty accurate. I often shoot from early evening until the small hours and only need to re-charge the battery after several trips. It’s never run flat on me.

It looks like a scope: At 379mm long, the X-Sight is about the same length as a conventional scope and requires similar eye relief. The 30mm tube also means you can use regular picatinny or dovetail mounts, although you get a set with the scope that are adapted to accept an IR torch.

it looks like a scope

Magnification range: A large wheel on the left makes it easy to scroll through the magnification range. There is some pixilation at higher magnification, which is to be expected, especially at night. I have a 5-20x but think the 3-14x would cover most of my needs.

 

magnification range

Picture resolution: As I said, it’s not quite as good as traditional glass, but it’s not far off, and more than acceptable for use in daylight. In fact, I know several shooters with dodgy eyes who find the X-Sight easier to use.

 

Night-time image clarity: The picture at night at airgun ranges is very crisp, especially if you take the time to adjust objective and ocular lens focus and ensure your IR torch is set up properly.

 

night time image clarity

Video / photographs: Lots of people like to record their sessions, either for publishing or for their own library. At the touch of one of the scope’s buttons, the X-Sight both takes photos and records video in 1080p @ 30/60/120** fps (I have no idea what that means). Downloading is simply a case of removing the mini-SD card and popping it into a reader.

  • Options: The X-Sight is packed full of menus offering plenty of different settings and options. At first the menus are a little daunting, but believe me, after a little playing around the logic soon becomes clear. There are also some excellent YouTube videos showing you how things work.
  • Zeroing: The zero option is very easy and intuitive. Again, check out a YouTube tutorial for the finer details, but essentially once you’ve fired a group, opening the zero menu reveals a second reticle. Keep the one that doesn’t move locked onto your point of aim and use the buttons to move the other reticle to cover your point of impact. Then hit save. You can also save multiple profiles for different pellets, zero distances and even rifles.
  • Updates: ATN pushes out regular updates to fixes bugs and other issues as well as add features such as new reticles. The process is relatively straightforward, especially if you follow the instructions on ATN’s website and the YouTube tutorial.
  • Auxiliary Ballistic Laser / Ballistic Calculator: Although the X-Sight has an integrated rangefinder, it requires you to access a menu and frame your target between two cursors. The scope then makes a calculation and provides a range based on a list of different quarry species. A much better option is to purchase an Auxiliary Ballistic Laser (ABL) which screws onto a sunshade type collar at the front of the scope. You will need to pair the ABL via the Bluetooth feature and use the ‘Zero ABL’ menu to set it up. Once you’ve done that though, not only will you be able to range find, but also use the scope’s ‘Ballistic Calculator’ function. You’ll need to enter some data, such as pellet ballistic coefficient and weight, as well as feet per second and distance between the middle of the scope and the middle of the barrel. Honestly – much easier than it sounds. Once set up though, the ABL will measure distance to your target and the Ballistic Calculator will automatically adjust the cross hairs – no more hold over or under, just aim bang on each time. Once again, you can save several different profiles.

 

Things I’m not so keen on:

 

  • It’s a little bulky: Although the X-Sight 4K Pro is the same length as a conventional scope, it’s a fair bit heavier at more than a kilo. And if you attach an ABL unit it gets even longer and heavier.
  • Ballistic calculator and .177 pellets: The menu on the ballistic calculator only goes down to 10 grains in terms of pellet weight. So if you’re a .177 shooter and want to use the X-Sight and ABL with the ballistic calculator, you’ll need to shoot heavier, 10 grain plus pellets.
  • ABL prone to freezing: It doesn’t happen all the time, but I’ve found that attaching the ABL can result in the scope locking up sometimes, requiring a hard re-boot, which is frustrating when you’re lining up on a rabbit. I have a couple of friends I shoot with on a regular basis and they experience the same issue.
  • ABL laser flash: While I’m at it, I’ve found that the laser splash on the ABL sometimes seems to wander outside of the reticle. It’s not an issue at night because you can see the splash and simply put it on your target. But during the day I’m not always confident I am ranging exactly what I am aiming at.
  • Integrated rangefinder: Too fiddly. Either use a hand-held range finder in the day or invest in an ABL.

Infrared (IR) torch: The X-Sight 4K Pro comes with an 850nm IR torch which you’ll need to attach to shoot in the dark. I’ve found them to be a little delicate and went through several before deciding to buy a separate torch.

IR torch
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Pard NV008 LRF

Pard NV008 LRF 1
Pard NV008 LRF 2

Pard seemed to sweep in from nowhere, offering a range of affordable digital infrared and thermal scopes and spotters. Its entry to the market was disruptive and paved the way for other products. The NV008P LRF has an integrated laser range finder, and the NV008P does not. Prices are around £899.99 and £645.99 respectively.

 

Things I like:

Integrated features: Unlike the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro, the NV008P LRF has an integrated IR torch and laser range finder. The IR torch has three brightness levels and is surprisingly powerful. It is more than adequate for 12 ft. lbs. airgun use, especially as you can also adjust the beam. It will also work with aftermarket torches.

Integrated features

Range finder: The range finder function is simple to use and provides a constant read out. A small yellow box, which sits over the splash, provides a constant read out in metres or yards. Simply put the yellow box on top of what you are aiming at day or night.

range finder

Picture clarity: The image during the day is superbly crisp and clear. Once again, it is a compromise on good glass, but only marginally so. There is an adjustment on the ocular lens to bring the reticle into focus, and on the objective lens to focus your target. The image at night is just as crisp, though it pays to take the time to make sure everything is in focus.

Photos/video recording: A press of a button will either take photos (2592x1944) or record video (1920x1080 30fps) – I still don’t know that that means. Once again, removing a mini-SD card and inserting it into a reader makes downloading the footage quick and easy.

  • Compact and light: Weighing only 450g and measuring 162mm, the NV008P LRF is tiny, especially when you consider what is built into it.
  • Zero menu: As with the X-Sight, zeroing is achieved by keeping one reticle on your point of aim and moving a second to your point of impact and then saving. I like the fact that as soon as you start adjusting, the on screen image freezes, making it much easier to adjust. 
  • Reliability: I’ve never had an issue with reliability. Switch it on, use it and switch off again until your next trip. Boring really.
  • Choice of reticles: Although the range of different reticles is smaller than the X-Sight, there are still plenty to choose from. However, you can only select red or yellow – colours I understand to be difficult for some forms of colour blindness.

Things I’m not so keen on:

 

  • Zero eye relief: Actually, zero eye relief doesn’t really bother me, although as a glasses wearer I find it easier to remove the rubber eye cup. It does mean though that you’ll need to make sure you can get the NV008P LRF correctly positioned on your rifle. It’s not usually an issue on bullpups and tactical rifles but could be tricky on some traditional sporter stock rifles, so best check first.
  • Magnification range: You are restricted to either 6.5x or 12x with nothing in between. In truth, I’ve always found that plenty and shoot rabbits out to 70 metres regularly. But it may be an issue for some.

Mounts: More of an issue for me is the fact that the PARD NV008P LRF is provided with a set of mounts for use on a picatinny rail. That’s fine if you rifle has a picatinny rail – and they are excellent mounts – but if your rifle has dovetail rails you will need to buy a picatinny adapter. Many owners, me included, have also found they’ve had to shim the mount to get proper alignment. I used some pieces of coke can cut into small squares, but a pack of shims is now provided. Alternatively, you can buy adjustable after-market mounts; Eagle Vision makes a great one.

Battery time: The Pard NV008P LRF uses a single, rechargeable 18650 battery, one of which is supplied. Pard says it will deliver eight hours of use which I think is a little optimistic, especially if you use the onboard IR torch. I simply take a couple of spares with me. Using a separate IR torch also extends run time.

battery time

Conclusion:

There is no wrong decision as both the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro and Pard NV008P LRF are superb products that you can use in daylight and in the dark. On balance, as a user of both, I prefer the light weight and compactness of the Pard NV008P LRF, especially as I cover lots of ground when shooting rabbits. I also prefer the simplicity of the range finder. I tend to use my X-Sight 4K Pro predominantly for rat shooting and it is excellent. 

There are of course plenty of alternatives, not least the Sightmark Wraith and Pulsar Digisight Ultra LRF N450, not to mention add-ons like the Pard NV007A and many more new products. Hopefully we’ll get around to them some time soon.