As mentioned previously, I took the DD5 out on a hunt a few weeks ago which gave me the opportunity to spend some time behind the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro digital rifles scope. I purposely held off from sharing my experience with it because I wanted to let a little time pass in order to process the experience and publish my field notes in a fair light. It’s not a secret, I’ve struggled to like the ATN digital scope.
Let’s do a little recap before getting into what happened. When I started repurposing the DD5, I ran into some reliability issues while running the DD5 suppressed. I was also frustrated by the zeroing procedure on the ATN scope. Details of that ordeal are covered in this initial post. The good folks at Daniel Defense replaced the DD5 V1 with a brand new V3 which ran like a champ. Although, I still struggled with the zeroing process on the ATN and never got the recoil activated video feature to work. More info on this is available in this other post. Regardless, I managed to get the ATN scope dialed in and finally took it out on a hunt.
While the goal of this build is to hog hunts at night, I wanted to be certain the entire system was up to the task. The system being made up of the rifle, the night vision scope, the infrared flashlight, and myself. As such, I figured an evening of a previously planned hunting trip for exotics, including Axis, Sika, and Blackbuck, would provide me with several hours to confirm things are ready for nighttime hog hunt. So that’s what I did.
The evening was a bit warm and muggy given the heavy rainfall that took place near the hunting grounds a few days prior. The property my buddy and I were hunting was nice. We each posted up in a different ground blind, each of which were situated about 50 yards or so from a feeder. The ground blind I was in was spacious enough to allow me to deploy a BOG DeathGrip tripod and set up the DD5 on it.
With good daylight, the ATN worked well. Good image quality was coming through and I leveraged the capture photo button on the keypad to capture and share some great images.
I was actually liking the ATN scope for a couple hours. That is until dusk started settling in. During that period of twilight, the lack of ambient light causes the image quality while the scope in either day or night mode to become grainy. Reminded me of the televisions from my youth when the reception of an over the air channel wasn’t quite right and either the antenna needed a slight adjustment or the side of the TV needed a good whack. It was annoying albeit usable. There was still a bit of light when I switched the scope to night mode and attempted to turn on the ATN IR850 Pro IR Illuminator flashlight (which is an$149 upgrade over the included IR flashlight) using the push button on the back only to find it slide forward in the completely torqued down ring of the picatinny mount that was included with it. Oh well, whatever. I remember thinking to myself.
When I initially turned on the light, I didn’t notice a visible change to the image quality or brightness. As such, I proceeded to use the intensity ring to increase the output thinking it might make a difference. No dice. Being new at this night vision thing, I wasn’t certain if the battery was dead or if there was still too much ambient light interfering with the IR light. I figured I should swap the battery in order to rule it out as the problem. As soon as I attempted to start unscrewing the tail cap so I could swap the batteries, the flashlight started rotating in the ring. I was really annoyed now with the supplied flashlight ring mount. Using two hands, I managed to unscrew the tail cap, swap the 18630 cell, and screw the tail cap back on. Still no difference.
Once night settled in, the IR light started making a difference. However, the beam was so focused that only a part of the field of view was illuminated and it wasn’t the center. I got excited remembering the supplied flashlight ring mount was elevation and windage adjustable. I figured this would be the redeeming quality of the mount. For a brief second it was as I was able to center the beam in the center of the field of view. I proceeded to adjust the focus lens with two hands. I gave it a quarter turn. Looked through the scope to see the difference that made and found no change in the beam focus, but had lost it’s elevation and windage “zero”. With my frustration increasing, I gave the focus lens a few more good turns. I looked through the scope again and couldn’t see anything. I realized then I was unscrewing the head. I’m sure it’s covered in the manual but there is a specific place on the head one needs to hold in order to change the lens focus without unscrewing the head.
I eventually managed to get a decent amount of flood from the flashlight, but it was so loose in the ring mount that any slight touch rotated the light or moved in back and forth.
All that I managed to see, in the hour after twilight before I was so frustrated that I called it quits for the night, was a big old racoon. After deciding to call it for the evening and my eyes were adjusting from the light difference between the display in the scope and the ambient light, I caught a small shadowy figure moving and rustling around just outside the blind to my left side. I quickly grabbed my flashlight and shined it at the shadowy figure while reaching for my side arm only to be startled by a baby raccoon standing on it’s hinds while having its front paws up in a “surrender” position. I let out a short high pitched scream. I couldn’t help it. The little thing gave me a good fright. I’m not sure if it was the light or my scream that made the little thing scurry off in a hurry, but I digress.
So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Well at this point, I’ve concluded that ATN mounts are terrible. I do owe them a phone call to see if they can do anything about the flashlight mount, but at the same time I’m looking for better mounts for both the scope and the flashlight. I’ll probably end up shopping for a better IR flashlight too as I’m not impressed with it so far.
I suppose I still have more work ahead of me to get this build and myself ready for nighttime hog hunt.