I was one of the few who took delivery of one of the Yukon photon night vision units at the tail end of last week from Scott Country. Those of us who were interested in getting one have been reading reviews and looking at videos with anticipation as its all been very encouraging! So much so that I have even read some negative comments, based on the fact that for under £400 it simply cannot be that good!
Anyway, on taking delivery, it was my intention to get it mounted on my FAC Rapid and test it out on that first as I have a rimfire and centre fire which I often use at night and I would try it on those also.
It should be noted that my previous experience of using NV equipment was from my Dipol Gen1 , an NS50 and a Nite Eye 500 which I still own and use regularly.
The pictures of the unit have been available for some time, but, as we know , pictures do not give the full story and that a good bit of pulling, turning and tugging and general footering is required!
The unit requires 30mm high mounts and on the Rapid I required my Dr Bobs convertor to enable the use of dovetail mounts.. Prior to using it requires 2 AA batteries for the scope/ night vision and 1 CR2032 button battery for the illuminated reticle.
I had a stock of standard AA batteries but it is recommended in the manual that you use quality rechargeables of at least 2500mAh.
It does work perfectly well with Pound Shop cheapies although the run time on the cheap batteries was around 2 hours with intermittent use of the IR illuminator.
I’m not the greatest fan of illuminated reticles but on the Yukon Photon the reticle has only the centre dot which illuminates and has 11 different settings which are clearly marked and adjusted by the wheel located on the side of the unit.
On the Photon there is also a video jack output if you wish to record . It should be noted that any recording you make will not show the reticle due to the recording being made from the NV unit part, before the image has went through the scope part where the reticle is.
There is also an external power supply jack which has a 2.1mm pin to alow the unit to be powered using an external DC power supply. I used the battery pack from my Nite Eye which obviously gives a much longer use time. According to the manual, the recommended battery pack EPS3 or EPS5 give a run time of 40 hours continuous use.
One of the main attractions of this unit is the “day scope” aspect. I have used it daily and the image you see through the scope is best described as looking as if everything is covered in snow, sort of what an old negative photograph looked like.
It is however very clear and almost like a black and white, grainy tv you are watching.I have probably described it much worse than it really is.
Mounting the Photon
As previously mentioned, the Photon has a 300mm tube which requires “high” mounts.
The unit weighs less than 1 kilo, not much more than a standard scope really.
The turrets for windage and elevation which are well marked, and when zeroed, can be removed and replaced so that the indicators are set to “0”
When you are indeed zeroed. Ideal if you use the turrets to “dial in” for any sort of distance shooting.
Prior to using the scope on the Rapid at night, I zeroed it during daylight and it was very easily done. Within 6 shots I was continually in the bull despite changing shooting positions. This is no doubt down to the fact that you are shooting with your eye/head in a natural comfortable position. This is a huge advancement over the earlier NV units which proved problematic to mount and invariably had your head in an uncomfortably high position.
I have also found that there is a real increase in the sight picture since I put on one of those rubber “pigs ears” scope enhancers which push on the rear of your scope. I discovered this as I was using the scope during the day in bright sun which was sometimes causing a problem with the picture due to shining on the ocular bell. It is now on the scope and will be staying there as it really helps.
During the day, the scope is good for really whatever distance you can shoot at. Other than the fact you are looking at a black and white tv picture, you soon get used to it.
Looking at rabbits and crows, they appear black in colour against what looks like they were on snow.
To sharpen the focus you simply turn the lens focus knob as you would do on a normal scope.
In using the unit, the on/off switch which is a thumbwheel screw, is designed to be turned with your thumb. You turn it on and rotate it until you get a bright, clear picture.
Right beside the on/off is the inbuilt IR illuminator which has a push button on the rear which is again convenient for thumb operation.
On the rear of the IR illuminator, there is a little green neon light which turns red when your batteries are going down.
There is a lens cap filter which is used for day use. I have one criticism regarding this in that this lens cover slips over the objective lens by about 1cm and is very easily removed. That in my book equates to very easily lost!
I’m thinking of rigging up something to prevent it being lost if it accidentally get dislodged.
Using the Unit at Night
Right, now down to using it at night which is the reason you would buy one in the first place!
Prior to writing this review, I used it for a few days (and nights!) on my Rapid and I have since mounted it on my CZ452 .22lr and put it through its paces with that.
I have had to endure a few late nights to do so as it does not get really dark just now until after midnight. I have also managed to get out when there has been almost a full moon, heavy cloud with no moonlight and cloudy, cold and raining. It is almost July in Scotland after all!
Firstly, the IR has no adjustment or focus ability. That however, does not detract from it being very effective!
I shot rabbits at 100 yds and they were instantly identifiable. Target identification is possible to much further distances but I did notice that the prevailing weather/ moonlight conditions did have an impact on the effectiveness. The “worst” performance was however well beyond my shooting capabilities!
In addition to the target being clearly distinguishable, there is the “white eyes” also which are visible at much further distances.
If you were intending to mount the Photon on a centre fire, the unit has an accessory weaver rail whereby you could mount the likes of a Night Master 800 which would give you the increased distance if you required it. But for me the unit is more than adequate for Rimfire distances.
I also looked at how close the Photon could be used. I was watching my hens through the door of their coop at night from around 10 yds and they were very clear. I have no doubt that the Yukon Photon Digtal Night Vision could be used very effectively as a close range ratting tool although I did not set it up and test it.
Although the unit has only been put to use over a relatively short period of time, the overall impression I have is extremely positive. I would not recommend handing over a large chunk of your hard earned cash if I had any doubts.
For the money, the apparent build quality and performance are very impressive and extremely good value at under £400. It also comes with a 3 year guarantee.
The price of the Photon bring it into the price bracket of the likes of the Nite Eye 500 and NS200 with which comparisons will naturally be made.
They are different types of NV units, and each have their pros and cons. For many, the negative aspect of the add ons will be the shooting/head position. For the Photon it will be the black and white picture when used in daytime and the limitations that brings.
At the end of the day, the Yukon Photon is an effective Night Vision scope which will no doubt be a best seller and in my opinion rightly so.
Find out more about the Yukon Photon 5x42 on Scott Country's website.