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When it comes to purchasing a night vision scope for hunting the number of products available can make the task rather overwhelming. This is especially true in the case of online reviews seemingly contradicting each other. As always, defining your budget is a great first step before purchasing any product. Night vision scopes can be particularly difficult to make an educated purchase on, due to the nature of the technology used and the market as a whole.
The Sightmark Photon XT 6.5x50L positions itself somewhere in the entry budget to mid-range market, offering some of the features found on more expensive devices, but perhaps lacking the reliability in construction that you see on the high-end night vision scopes.
Let’s touch on some of the specs
The Sightmark Photon XT works well as an all-around night vision scope. The 6.5x magnification is certainly an impressive feature for a scope in this price range, though this extended range does mean that while this scope isn’t ideal for hunting at very close ranges, though still versatile enough for most situations. The 50mm objective lens diameter ensures that sufficient lighting is let through the scope. In turn, we see good brightness and clarity in the optics, and you can get some very vivid details at up to 200 yards. Precision should not be an issue, because inside the Photon XT you’ll find a digital elevation and windage adjustment system. This takes away a lot of the potential struggle of doing things manually.
There are six green/white/red options for long-distance applications, two crossbow reticles, a Mil-Dot reticle for holdovers and rangefinding, two Duplex reticles for varmint and hogs, as well as a German-style reticle. The ability to swap between these reticles provides what is often a sought-after versatility. You can take a look at detailed specs on the reticles here. Media features are also included. If you’re a person who wants to review, or even share what they saw on their adventures, you can output video via the RCA plugs you will find.
The build quality in terms of construction is pretty good. It’s sturdy and well made, and it will hold up to most of the things that might happen when you’re out at night. There’s an IPX4 rating, so splashes and rain won’t hurt it either. You will also find an integrated weaver rail if you want to attach additional accessories. This is not a necessity in most situations, but something to consider. Power is supplied via two AA batteries, and you can expect around 4 hours of battery life if you’re using IR, or around 5 if you aren’t.
How does it perform?
Even though you might not expect it to do so, it actually does punch a bit above its weight in terms of performance. The 200 yards range is great, you get clear, vivid images on the display, and the video-out feature is a welcome addition. Features such as the vast range of options in terms of reticles, as well as the built-in windage and elevation adjustment are all things that are hard to come by when you’re looking at scopes within this price range. Even some very high-end scopes don’t have them, which makes the Photon XT a good value-for-money choice.
What to consider before buying
There are a couple of things that should be mentioned before you pull the trigger and purchase it. There are two models of the Sightmark Photon XT 6.5×50. One of them is the 6.5x50L, and the other one is the 6.5x50S.
The difference that one single letter makes is bigger than you may think. The internal infrared illuminator is actually completely different. If you intend to use an external one (and you can with the weaver rail), this may not make much of a difference. However, the built-in one is actually pretty good, so it’s worth knowing what you’ll be getting. The S model has an LED IR illuminator, while the L model has a laser IR illuminator.
The LED illuminator falls short in comparison, which may be a potential downside when you have a 6.5 times magnification and 200 yards of range. It is a tad grainier, but if you really want to take full advantage of the Photon XT, you should go for the L model. The laser also uses less battery, which is appreciated given that those 4 hours aren’t actually that much. Keep in mind that both offer a fixed beam pattern, which doesn’t give you an option of focusing it in a different direction.
Sightmark Photon XT 6.5x50S vs Photon XT 6.5x50L Specifications
|Photon XT 6.5x50S||Photon XT 6.5x50L|
|Camera resolution:||656×492 pixels||656×492 pixels|
|Display resolution:||640×480 pixels||640×480 pixels|
|Objective lens diameter:||50mm||50mm|
|Field of view:||22.5ft@100 Yards||18ft@100 Yards|
|Range of detection:||164m||200m|
|Battery life:||Up to 5 hours||Up to 5 hours|