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HikMicro Alpex A50T field tested by Richard Saunders

Richard Saunders tries out the HikMicro Alpex A50T on a rat-shooting expedition

Not so long ago I marvelled at how NiteSite (remember that company?) enabled me to shoot rats and rabbits in the dark thanks to its Viper infrared system.

All I had to do was put a rubber tube on the end of my scope and attach a special infrared camera to it. Then put a plastic bracket around the scope and screw in a combined infrared (IR) illuminator and screen to that. Then use a velcro strap to attach a battery somewhere on my rifle. And then finally plug it all together, make sure the cables were out of the way and wouldn’t get pulled out and give everything a wiggle to line it up.

Simple. It worked though, despite having to adopt a sit up and beg shooting style with the butt of the rifle in your chest so you could see the screen. Oh, how we marvelled.

Fast-forward a few years and that NiteSite gear works just as well as ever, but now seems so old fashioned and cumbersome it looks like something I made myself.

The intervening years have probably seen more technological advancement in the area of night vision equipment than just about anything else.

The good news is that as more of us want to buy infrared night vision scopes, new players are attracted to the market, competition grows and prices start to come down. ATN and Yukon awakened us to the promise of digital scopes you could use in the day and night. And then Pard came along with its NV007 and NV008 products to really stir things up. All of a sudden manufacturers had to work harder for our hard-earned cash. 

HikMicro Alpex A50T

Clarity in night mode with an IR illuminator is so clear it’s almost like cheating


Up for the challenge

One of the latest entrants to the night vision space is promising to shake things up again. HikMicro is best known for thermal technology that has many applications beyond air rifles. Now it wants a slice of the IR pie as well and has served up the HikMicro Alpex A50T, a digital day/night scope you can buy for £799.99 – about the same you’d have paid for a top of the range NiteSite all those years ago.

One of my many failings is that I’m a bit of an old cynic. In my experience, things rarely live up to their hype or promise. I put this down to an early experience when my Nan bought me a pair of water wings. I had visions of swooping around my local baths like some kind of Aquaman/golden eagle hybrid. Imagine my disappointment when all they did was stop me from drowning.

Thanks to UK distributor Scott Country International, I got the chance to try the HikMicro Alpex A50T for myself. Presented in a smart zip-up case, the first thing you notice is that the scope looks at first glance like a regular glass optic. 

HikMicro Alpex A50T

You won’t need to attach the IR illuminator until it gets fully dark thanks the Alpex A50T’s Twilight mode

But dig inside the box and you’ll find an 850nm IR illuminator and mount, some batteries and a battery charger, a carrying strap and charging/data transfer cable.

Using standard 30mm mounts, it sits perfectly on my BSA R-10 SE, and at 440mm long – including the rubber eye cup – and 1,062g in weight, the balance is just fine. 

I planned to take the combination on a night time rat-control field test, so used the charging cable to plug the HikMicro Alpex A50T into the mains via a port that is concealed behind the right hand ‘windage’ turret. A CR123A 3v battery – two are supplied – drops into the ‘elevation’ turret, giving a claimed combined run time of 13 hours.

I arrived at the farm early so I could give myself a moment to properly zero the scope. But having also allowed plenty of time to grapple with the technology, I was actually all set in less than 10 minutes as the process is very simple. A long press on the left-hand turret brings up a menu. Within the reticle sub-menu you get a choice of five reticles in seven colours. 


Critical clarity

Once you’ve settled on a combination, zeroing is a case of taking a shot, freezing the screen image so you can move the crosshair to the point of impact and then hitting save.

The downside was I now had a couple of hours to kill before the sun went down. So I played with the Alpex A50T, trying to find something I could criticise. However, the truth is that in daylight, the image from the 1440×1080 high-definition sensor combined with the 1024×768 resolution OLED display was crystal clear. 

I’d say that good quality glass still has the edge, but it’s mighty close. A dioptre ring on the ocular lens and a collar at the other end made it easy to tweak the focus. And going back into the menu I could fine-tune the brightness and contrast as well.

After a few more shots to reassure myself the R-10 and Alpex A50T combination was laser-accurate at 20m – and saving it to one of five different profiles available – I made my way up to the yard where I planned to test the scope on some nocturnal rats.

At last, the sun started going down and I could see the streetlights in the distance – the perfect opportunity to test the HikMicro Alpex A50T’s claimed party piece. According to the blurb it has three modes – colour and monochrome day and night modes, plus an intriguing colour ‘twilight’ mode.

I switched the scope on, sensing my cynicism welling up. It serves me right because as I looked through the scope – no IR torch – I was rewarded with a colour image that was a little grainier than the full day picture, but still very usable. There weren’t any rabbits about, but having zoomed in on a few bunny-sized clumps of grass at varying distances the image was eminently good enough.

The only drawback was that back in the yard the twilight mode meant I couldn’t see under pallets, machinery or anything covered by shadow. However, attaching the IR illuminator and switching to night mode was a different matter altogether. All of a sudden, in the crystal-clear image, there was nowhere for the rats to hide.

HikMicro Alpex A50T

Believe it or not, it was almost fully dark when this photo was taken


HikMicro Alpex A50T: Worth the cost

Operating anything with buttons in the dark is always tricky. The three on top of the Alpex A50T’s eye bell cover all the essentials. At the top, a power button also activates an instant wake up sleep mode. To the left is the control for photos and video (1440×1080) and the button to the right switches between day/twilight colour and black and white night modes as well as turning the picture-in-picture (PiP) on and off.

Operating the 3.5-14x (3.5x optical magnification augmented by 4x digital zoom), is achieved by rotating the left-hand turret. The operation on this is silky smooth and on its highest setting the image pixelated only slightly and remained highly usable.

By now the yard was fully dark. I scanned around for rats using a thermal spotter and with a target located, the BSA and HikMicro Alpex A50T combination proved deadly, as rat after rat ended up in the bucket.

HikMicro Alpex A50T

Night time ratting suddenly becomes a lot easier thanks to the crystal-clear night mode image

The image was gin-clear, but more than that, the scope was easy to use as the functions you need most often are easy to access and not encumbered by functions you need only occasionally. 

In order to make things as complicated as possible and get a fair estimation of its abilities, I put the HikMicro Alpex A50T into sleep mode which meant that for each shot I had to wake it up, switch on the IR illuminator and operate buttons to take stills and record video. And yet I was able to achieve all that in a few seconds with no fumbling and only a few opportunities for shots missed.

So at the end of the day, is the HikMicro Alpen any good? Well, having reluctantly sent the review scope back to Scott Country International, I waited a whole hour before picking up the phone, credit card in hand, and bought one.