Sightmark Photon XT Review

A practical night vision scope can be hard to find, but the XT does not let its users down; while it may not be right up there with the high-end brands, it has impressive features for a mid-range optic. The built-in illuminator reticle, waterproof protection, and the ability to provide a video output are just some of the features that draw in the consumers. Read on below to find out exactly what features this option does and doesn't have; you will see precisely why it could benefit you on your hunt.

Sightmark Photon XT

Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16X42SF Matte BDC800

Digital Night Vision - Is It For You?

While some night vision optics are designed to amplify any natural light, this can mean that they only work in dusky hours rather than being suitable during total darkness. With digital night vision, it takes the seen (or in this case unseen) image and changes it into an electrical signal through a CCD, charge-coupled device. 

Not to be mistaken with the traditional infrared night vision that works by detecting the heat from the prey, nature, and anything else. Digital will provide you with a much clearer image. Plus, with the option to record the images you see on an internal memory card, you can relive that moment from the hunt on the TV when you get home. 

Usually, with a simple LED display, some now have HD display capabilities, and it would provide such a clear image of your recorded hunt that you would think it was fiction. You can pause to get snapshots and even save your videos to show off your trophy hunting in action. 

With a lot more durability with digital, you do not have to worry about the sudden daylight disrupting your device or possibly damaging it. Most digital optics can function as a 2-in-1, both darkness and daylight with the flip of a switch,

XT Specs

As you will have seen above, there are so many benefits to owning a digital night scope, and this scope benefits its user in so many ways. With the Sightmark Photon XT, you will experience all of the benefits of going digital rather than sticking with just the infrared optics. 

Digital is the way forwards and has been for a long time now; move with the times and your success rate with thank you. It weighs 23.6 ounces with the batteries included and is 15.7 x 2.9 x 3.1 inches and only 1.2 inches in diameter; remarkably skinny and lightweight. 

This will feel like it is almost floating when mounted. Attaching it to your scope uses a weaver rail, so be sure you have the correct mount before purchasing; otherwise, it will be an additional cost to fit it to your rifle. The three marvelous brightness settings allow the user to adjust depending on the light available. Turn off the built-in illuminated reticle (IR) and use the simple german reticle for daylight use. 

You cannot beat being able to customize your optic to the way that suits your hunting style. Surprisingly you have several reticle options with the Photon XT, some are specifically for crossbow hunting, but with such a great choice, you can't help but wonder what else it has to offer. There are two basic duplex reticles; like any good scope, it has a reticle that everyone knows, the Mil-dot, for finding the range. 

There is also a #4 german reticle for adequate crosshair delivery. All reticles come with the option of red, green, and white; each allows varying light into your eye, making it easier to transition from looking down the scope to using your own eyes to look deep into the darkness. You can have your eye 60mm away from the eyepiece for maximum comfort and still use it efficiently; eye relief is brilliant when you start to get achy eyes after hours of hunting. 

See easily up to 120 yards without the IR even turned on. While it does not always provide the clarity of other models, it is still exceptional for what it has to offer. The night vision is very dependent on weather and your physical surroundings, but after being tried and tested, it is a fantastic mid-range model that you can use to record your hunts and see that handsome stag in the distance. 

This particular model’s field of view should be more than wide enough to track a target and keep it in your sights; with it being 22.5 feet at 100 yards, it is a reasonably generous FOV for any hunter. With the close focus being under 33 feet, it has a great range of views and focuses on giving you everything you need. Using the XT's video output function, you can use it for identifying; later on, perhaps you saw something but couldn't quite work out what you were looking at. 

By using an RCA plug, you can view your video on a LED display of 656 x 492 pixels; this certainly is not the highest level of quality, and it certainly isn't HD, but you can still see what you need to identify on the big screen without the quality impacting you too much. The Sightmark Photon XT boasts an incredible battery life, longer than any other that compares to this one. 

The battery length of a night vision scope is sometimes a component that gets significantly overlooked; if you hunt for extended periods, you will know that battery life needs to be exceptional to keep up with the demand. This scope will change that by allowing for extended use without the risk of running low, although it is still recommended that you carry spares for that inevitable chance it does run out. 

After extensive testing, you can use the scope without IR being switched on for over 5 hours without running dry, but with the IR switched on, you only have about 3-4 hours of continuous battery life. It runs on two AA batteries at a time, so be sure to pack extra in case of a full night of hunting; no external power supply means that additional batteries will be required, but you could use rechargeables if you prefer minimal waste. 

While this will seem short to some, it is longer than many of the scopes on the market. Traditionally on most scopes, you will find turrets for adjustable windage and elevation on the move. Still, with the Sightmark Photon XT, there are no turrets because it calculates the adjustments itself. The wind picks up? It will handle it for you, no need to worry about missing a shot because of miscalculations. 

The benefits of not having turrets are that you do not need to spend ages zeroing in your scope. In contrast, a typical optic requires that tedious, patience-testing process of ensuring your crosshair is dialed in on the center of the reticle. 

This eliminates the need to zero in and allows you to get straight onto the hunt. The Sightmark Photon XT's whole body is composed of a glass nylon composite and is exceptionally sturdy. The unfortunate downside is that it is not nitrogen-filled, so the risks of it fogging up are higher than some; it is advised to stay in areas where the chances of the inside fogging up are lower. 

Due to the build, there is a small chance that dampness can build on the inside and eventually, if left unchecked, can produce mold. Built to withstand extreme temperatures, it is suitable to use those sweltering days and those bitter winters. 

Minimum temperatures it can withstand are as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The maximum temperatures are as high as 122 degrees; it should be fully functional in the coldest winters and summers’ hottest. 

It is built to withstand a maximum of 1000gs of recoil; your rifle will not be able to shake this one-off; it will maintain its durability through almost anything. With this durability level, it is easy to see why so many hunters choose this scope; built to withstand nearly any weather and the temperatures that come with it, this is a fantastic scope to use anywhere in the world.

Sightmark Lifetime Warranty

One of the best parts of any purchase is how great the warranty is that accompanies it. Sightmark's warranty will last a lifetime with your optic as long as you are careful and follow the instructions. With night vision products, Sightmark's cover the image intensifier tube and the digital imaging sensor for only three years, as is the same with their other light-emitting devices. 

If the product is modified or misused in any way, it will become void under warranty; it also applies to intentional damage or improper handling. However, if there is a defect through no user’s fault and it is still within its warranty period, you can send it to Sightmark for repair or replacement. 

The warranty is only valid if the product is registered online with Sightmark in the first 30 days or proof of purchase is provided when the claim is being made. It is more beneficial for any issues to invoke the warranty than risk voiding it by taking the scope apart yourself.

Why Should You Choose Sightmark?

With its excellent features and brilliant warranty, it is a worthy purchase, with so little to risk but a fantastic amount to gain it is highly recommended. The Sightmark Photon XT boasts a whopping 33% increase in battery life than the others on the market and a 30% reduction in weight. 

Sightmark worked incredibly hard to build such a sleek and modern design; reducing its weight and increasing the battery life gives the top-spec optics a run for its money. If it improved the LED display quality, this could sit right at the top with the larger brands. 

If nighttime hunting is something you partake in, you could not go wrong with the Sightmark Photon XT; you will be able to relive those moments on the hunt using the LED display to watch back on moments and even save them for future use. By switching between the three colored illuminated reticles, you can adjust your eyes to the darkness better by adjusting them to suit the available light. 

While it can be subject to foggy lenses due to no nitrogen, it is an incredibly sturdy scope. The glass nylon composite allows for stability when exposed to temperature changes; using a composite is 50 percent harder than if just standard nylon was used. If all these fantastic features are not quite enough, then the Sightmark Photon XT is not the one for you, but if you want quality without breaking the bank, you should choose this digital scope.

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight at only 23.6 ounces with the batteries
  • Glass Nylon composite to increase the sturdiness by 50%
  • LED display for video playback
  • 33% more battery life than competitors
  • 30% lighter than competitors
  • Covered under the Sightmark Limited Lifetime Guarantee
  • Several reticles included with IR in 3 different colors - red, green, and white
  • Extreme weather resistant

Cons

  • Not Nitrogen treated so the lens can become foggy.
  • The LED display is only 656 x 492 pixels.
  • The illuminated reticle can wash out the scope if you hit a close target.