Luke Cuenco 09.29.21
Technology has advanced to the point where the modern hunter no longer has to rely simply on his keen vision, years of skill, and intuition. Hunters these days have tons of equipment, technology, and advanced practices that virtually extend our capability to hunt from just the daytime hours to all hours of the day or night regardless of the conditions nature throws at us. The folks over at ATN recently sent out one of their X-Sight 4K Smart riflescopes for OutdoorHub to review and as a first-time user of digital scopes I have quite a bit to say about it. I come from a pretty traditional background when it comes to rifle and pistol optics and I have only recently gotten into the night vision/thermal side of things and this also happened to be my first time trying out a digital scope for any type of shooting. The X-Sight 4K, in my opinion, represents a significant advancement within the hunting community and today I’ll share my experiences with you about the X-Sight 4K and this might give you a good idea of if you might plan on picking one up in the future.
Reviewing the ATN X-Sight 4K Smart HD Day/Night Riflescope
The version that was sent out to me was the X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x digital scope. The riflescope features ATN’s 4K M265 Sensor giving the user a true 4K sensor and also features ATN’s Obsidian IV Dual Core processor which is one of the most advanced riflescope processors on the market. What is really cool about the X-Sight 4K is its compatibility with both iOS and Android devices with their Obsidian 4 app. This app allows the user to seamlessly alter the operating characteristics of their riflescope as well as monitor targets or shooting positions without having to touch the rifle. This is probably most beneficial for bench rest shooters or hunters who know the general area of where an animal might be hiding and don’t want to hold the rifle up for quite as long.
The scope features more than I can mention or go over in detail here and in all honesty, it would be nearly impossible for me to go over every single feature and detail and also keep this review brief. Suffice it to say, there is a ton of functionality inside this day/night digital scope and I think it offers not only hunters and shooters a lot of capability but it can also be quite useful purely as a nature spotting scope as it can record video and audio as well as take still photos and geotag them. That same geotagging ability allows any other connected devices within your hunting party to zero in on a target you may be collectively hunting. I will list the full technical specifications at the end of this article if you’re interested but these are just a few of the initial highlights that stood out to me. So how does this thing install, and perform out on the range?
Installation and setup
The installation and setup of the X-Sight 4K are actually quite simple. The 4K Pro package contains everything you’ll need to mount, charge and sight in the rifle. One slightly negative aspect for me that keeps me from calling the optic a “turn-key” digital optic solution is that it does not come with an SD card. You’ll have to buy and format your own microSD card in order to save any pictures or video as the onboard storage only keeps track of your settings and nothing more. Not a huge deal but it would have been nice for ATN to give you at least a small SD card for storing your first few shots with it.
The riflescope comes complete with matching scope rings including one cantilever mount and an even amount for adding the included IR Illuminator. The IR Illuminator is only really necessary for using the scope during nighttime hours and if you don’t ever plan on using the thing at night I’d recommend not installing it as the scope already weighs 2lbs without it. Once the optic is mounted and leveled you’re ready to begin the next steps for setting the scope up.
One thing I really appreciated about the optic is that it included several stickers throughout the body that indicated the correct order in which you should start up and begin using your optic. First, you power the optic on, adjust the focus of the viewing screen and then adjust the focus of the target you’re viewing. These simple stickers will give most people a good idea of how to set the scope up but in my haste, I ended up having to go through a lot of trial and error to really dig into the X-Sight’s feature list. One example of this is actually getting the thing zeroed. The optic is advertised as featuring a “one-shot zero” capability and while this might be true if you read the instruction manual, the zeroing controls within the optic are quite confusing and are actually counterintuitive to anyone who is familiar with zeroing in a traditional optic. However, once understood you really can spot your first shot, make the one adjustment, and have a perfect zero in no time at all.
As mentioned above, the X-Sight 4K pro features a 5-20x magnification capability, and during daytime hours and using the correct focus adjustments this turns nearly any target into a nice and clear picture. Another cool thing is being able to get a rough zero based on the height of your target, however, I think that ATN’s Auxillary Ballistic Laser 1000 is a much better option for doing this as it can connect directly to your ATN optic and provide you with a true laser distance to target which should yield much more accurate shots.
The recording and picture-taking functionality worked very well on a few of the other ATN scopes I tried while I had them and I assume they are much the same for the X-Sight 4K. Both the thermal and the day/night digital scope feature a shot-activated recording function which will give you both an audio and a video recording of your shot on target without you having to manually trigger the recording process. This is great for sharing that all-important kill shot with your friends without them giving you a nice ribbing for hyping things up – they’ll get to see your shot first hand.
The video quality produced by recordings in full HD makes for great sharing material on social media and while the controls are a bit hard to pick up at first, once you learn them the scopes simple 5-button control scheme is easy to master even for a newcomer like me. Other cool features I didn’t quite get to use include an onboard barometer, geotagging of the game that can be shared with other X-Sight scopes and smartphones equipped with the Obsidian 4 app, and of course the ballistic calculator. I charged my X-Sight 4K once at the beginning of the week and the battery lasted me 4 days with energy to spare. ATN advertises the X-Sight 4K’s battery life at 18 hours and I think this turned out to be quite accurate.
There is a lot going on with the ATN X-Sight 4K and what’s really mind-bending is you’re getting all these features and functionality for less than $1000. So if you’re a solo hunter but still like to share the experience with family and friends, this might be a good way to record your next hunt for just $799. In particular, if you’re really able to get a deep dive into the full set of features that the X-Sight 4K has to offer you should theoretically never have to forget any of your hunts with it. However, if you’re used to the clarity that traditional glass has, then you might be disappointed with what ATN has to offer – really the optic is geared towards making sure you’ve got an accurate record of your hunt and it can also be used in a pinch during a nighttime hunt out to the limited range with your IR illuminator which makes it quite useful for landowners with pest problems or dedicated night-time hunters.
Pros: A day/night capable digital scope with loads of tech, photo, and recording capability, good battery life
Cons: Limited Nighttime capability vs a dedicated thermal or IR scope, less optical quality than a traditional scope in the daytime, heavy
Bottom Line: A reasonably priced do-all digital scope
Be sure to check back here on Outdoorhub.com for more fall hunting experiences with the X-Sight 4K as well as a bunch of other ATN Thermal and Digital optics. For a full list of other ATN optics, you can visit atncorp.com to see their full lineup of riflescopes, binoculars, and other optical devices.