Scopes for pest control on test
With a few farm pests in his sights, Mat Manning puts the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro and InfiRay Tube TD50L scopes to the test
Digital day and night riflescopes combine the stealth of infrared imaging for after-dark concealment with full-colour viewing for shooting in the daytime.
That means they provide a sighting solution for round-the-clock pest control, covering everything from long-range rabbit and fox shooting to farmyard ratting with an airgun.
Owing to their digital internals, these optics boast features that you won’t find on the average glass telescopic sight. Single-shot zeroing, multiple reticle designs and colours, video recording and photo capture are now regarded as standard fare. (Read our list of the best air rifle pellets.)
These sights have become a lot more affordable in recent years, but they still amount to a significant outlay for most shooters. The two models featured in this test both combine a sub-£1,000 price tag with reliability, a raft of high-tech features and, most importantly when you’re out in the dark, simple operation.
Scopes for pest control
I am very familiar with this variant of ATN X-Sight, as I have used one for several years. My unsympathetic ownership of the 4K Pro means it has been knocked around during rabbiting trips with my .22 rimfire and caked in mud when targeting farmyard rats, but it has never let me down.
The 4K Pro set a new standard when it was launched almost four years ago, as it featured its own USB-rechargeable internal lithium ion power bank — a huge relief to those of us who had grown accustomed to spending a fortune on batteries to feed our power-hungry night-vision sights. Its makers state a runtime of more than 18 hours and I concede that I have never come close to running its battery right down during a single outing.
Another standout feature of the X-Sight was, and still is, its remarkable optical quality. It is equipped with a dual core processor and extremely sensitive HD sensor. The result is an exceptionally sharp sight picture by day or night, with hardly any noticeable lag.
I often choose infrared night vision over thermal, as it shows you so much detail — not only of what you are aiming at, but also of what is behind it. Image definition with this sight is so clear that you can see a rabbit’s whiskers. The supplied adjustable IR illuminator, powered by two CR123A batteries, gives sufficient detection range for clear quarry identification at 300m in most conditions.
The 4K Pro boasts Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to link it to other devices. It also has a digital compass and 3D gyroscope with on-screen dials that show the vertical and horizontal angle of your gun. This may sound like a gimmick, but it most certainly is not. Knowing the elevation of my shots and having a clear visual indicator to prevent me from inadvertently canting my gun has definitely helped me to put a lot more bunnies in the bag over the years.
The ATN’s other features include a ballistic calculator, which will no doubt prove very useful to shooters tackling quarry at longer ranges. There are also numerous reticle style and colour options, including some very fine designs that have proved to be a real asset, as I really don’t like thick crosshairs that obscure the target when I’m trying to line up for a headshot on a rabbit.
Recoil-activated recording and the ability to save different zero profiles add to this optic’s long list of clever gizmos. Controls are accessed via a carousel menu that is very easy to navigate. Zoom from 3 to 14x is operated by a fast-access sidewheel, which makes for easy adjustment with gloved hands. The X-Sight 4K Pro is quite bulky, but all those features have to be squeezed in somewhere. It is around 36cm long, excluding the soft rubber eyecup, and tips the scales at a little under a kilo.
I have used it on my Weihrauch HW66 rimfire and countless airguns over the years. The extra weight is noticeable, but makes little difference to stability if you shoot from the support of sticks. Score 8.5/10
Next in my scopes for pest control was the TD50L. It is a relatively new release, although I have given it a lot of use on my nocturnal pest control rounds over the past couple of months. Most of the shooting I have done with it has been in pursuit of rats and rabbits, but a friend of mine is finding this sight to be an excellent tool for foxing.
Like the X-Sight, the InfiRay Tube is a similar shape to a conventional telescopic sight. It is also almost exactly the same weight as the ATN, at a whisker under a kilo, and is a bit longer at about 40cm, excluding the eyecup. As with its counterpart, it is a hefty piece of kit, but it doesn’t take long to adjust to the extra bulk.
Supplied with mounts and an illuminator, the TD50L is stated as having a detection range of 600m for a deer-sized object. I was unable to conduct a precise test on that front, but it is certainly several hundred metres and appears to be further than the X-Sight — possibly due to a more powerful illuminator.
Out on the hills, with a touch of drizzle in the air, the outlines of rabbits were distinctly visible to me at beyond 300m and their eyeshine was distinguishable significantly further than that.
Image quality is very good and the combination of a decent 50mm objective lens, 1440×1080 resolution CMOS HD sensor and high-definition display results in a very clear sight picture.
Not only does this scope offer excellent colour viewing by day — which makes for easy zeroing — it also maintains a colour picture in very low ambient light before switching to conventional monochrome IR with the illuminator. As with most digital optics of this type, it is worth keeping up with the latest firmware updates to optimise performance.
Mastering the controls is a cinch, thanks to the intuitive configuration. A quick press of the top turret opens a basic menu that includes a choice of six reticle styles, each in a choice of four colours. A long press opens a more sophisticated menu that controls Wi-Fi connectivity, exposure compensation, selection of saved zero profiles and advanced settings. You are unlikely to need to tinker with either of these menus in normal use, in which case the top turret silently winds magnification up and down from 4-16x.
Quick-access soft-touch buttons behind the turret control viewing mode and brightness, plus photo and video capture direct to a 16GB internal memory.
The TD50L has a USB-rechargeable internal battery and you can boost runtime to more than 12 hours by unscrewing the left turret to insert an additional 18500 battery. My night sessions usually stretch to four or five hours, so the on-board cell is more than enough juice to outlast me.
This sight is built to handle serious field use. I subjected it to quite a drenching during a night’s rabbiting on some very exposed ground and can vouch for the effectiveness of its IP67 weatherproofing. The TD50L was still pulling rabbits out of the gloom by the time the rain had seeped through my jacket. Score 9/10.
Conclusion on scopes for pest control
Choosing a winner from these two digital day and night scopes for pest control is a tough call, as both are excellent and they certainly deliver the goods when it comes to doing what they are intended to do. In the end, the InfiRay Tube TD50L narrowly took it by winning me over with its slightly more user-friendly controls and internal recording function. However, I really rate the elevation and cant indicators that I have come to take for granted with the ATN and I missed them when using the InfiRay.