Yukon Photon RT4
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- Last updated: 19/11/2018
Not everyone wants a night sight that has long range capability and costs the earth, especially if it’s only for rabbits at air rifle or rimfire ranges. With the age of digital NV, the options available and prices have fallen drastically, and Yukon from Belarus produce some great dedicated NV sights at affordable prices.
The Photon has been around for some time now and undergone many a change over the years. It’s now offered as a 4.5x 42mm or 6 x 500mm sight option, with a conventional 30mm body for standard mounts, which solves the age-old problem of mounting using standard day sight connections. A good example would be the Ruger M77/22, which is always a problem to fit a Picatinny/Weaver based NV sight to. Now just get the high 30mm rings and you’re done! However, and saying that; optional is a one-piece Picatinny base, that would also make it compatible with that sort of system too.
It uses a CMOS sensor that digitally processes the image and displays it on an LCD screen and is powered by 4 x AA batteries or a rechargeable battery pack. I had the 4.5x 42mm model that retails for only £589.95 and the optional and onepiece base for just an additional £66.95, which is good money for what you get. The Photon also comes with an integral IR illuminator. This all adds up to a 200m detection range.
Dimensionally, the Photon is quite long, like a conventional day scope; in fact, it looks like one without turrets and a NV sight added to the end. Size wise, it’s 421 x 100 x 92mm and weighs 870 grams but it does not feel like that when mounted to a rifle. The body is an aluminium, with a 30mm diameter and the NV front section is a cased polymer body that is water resistant to IXP5 rating. You have a conventional eyepiece with rear focus ring and an extended rubber gaiter to stop light entering from the sides.
There are no external turrets for elevation or windage adjustments, as this is all digital and menu-led, so you have a scope mounting length of 11.5mm or 4.5 inches length, which works fine for most rifle receivers and sets the eyepiece at the correct eye relief for me. The forward NV section is polymer and is 6.5” long and houses the 42mm objective lens, the 6x mag version has a 50mm objective. This has a flip-up plastic cover that hinges at the top, so can be flipped up out of the way when in use and not lost. Behind this, is the large circular focus ring with good raised tabs for smooth and easy operation for a crisp image from 1.5m to infinity.
Behind this, to the right, is the permanently attached LED 850nm visible IR illuminator that will range to about 200m. The front end of this has a twist grip focus ring, to concentrate the beam, as a flood for close range work on rats in barns, or a more concentrated beam for longer range rabbits. It feeds off the Photon’s battery and has three intensity settings, again for differing ranges and allows the image to be boosted in clarity with the differing lighting situations doubtless encountered in the field.
Next to the IR, is the battery housing that can be a 4 AA battery compartment, or as I had, a one-piece rechargeable power pack that gives up to 3.5 hours’ continuous use. To the left side of the main body is the integral Weaver rail, so an additional lamp or laser illuminator can be fitted if desired. Behind this is the USB input and output port with a rubber cover, so video or pictures can be dumped to your PC.
On top are two controls, the front one is a rotary wheel with a push button centre, which, like so many new NV sights these days, controls menu and function selection. This is used by pressing down on the button and holding it, which brings up the menu in the screen and then navigated by rotating the outer part of this turret and pushing the centre button to select the option. The ON/OFF control is a rubber push button behind it. To turn ON, press and release the button and the screen will fire up in seconds. To turn OFF, press and hold and you will get two messages: DISPLAY OFF and SWITCH OFF with a 3, 2, 1 countdown timer. Be aware that you need to hold the button down until the counter has finished, otherwise the power is still on, although no display shows.
Once ON and into the menu, you have the usual array of options for the shooter that only a digital system can offer. You have an internal memory of 8GB for video and picture capture, with a compatibility for live streaming via Stream Vision App. You have a choice of six differing reticles with ranging stadia, 4A-type and central dot. I used the 4A, which is not too large to obscure the target, but fine enough to offer a good usable aim point. You can also choose three colours to see against differing shaded targets.
You can adjust contrast and brightness and, being digital, it can be used day or night safely unlike generation tube NV sights. This means that you can use it as a day scope if you fancy, a bit unusual but it works fine and saves having a separate day scope. Zero in is the usual digital X and Y axis reticle shift via the menu-in-menu option with one shot zero option for simple and and fast zeroing. It is handy to write down the settings too i.e. X38 and Y12 for future reference.
For sub £600, many may not expect much and then you would be very wrong, but it is dependent, like all NV kit, on the available ambient light available at the time. In total darkness, with no moon light etc. then yes, any NV sight will struggle, which is why you have the on-board IR illuminator to boost the image quality.
This RT version of the Photon has an upgraded 768x576 CMOS sensor and when coupled to the 850nm illuminator it gives a good clear black and white image. This is also helped by the LCD 640x480 screen display. This is the 4.5x mag, which I actually prefer, as it gives a good 4.3⁰ field of view and the magnification is more than enough for the intended ranges you are going to shoot over. It also gives a fizz free image when the light is lacking. You can boost the mag to 9x, but it is digital and just magnifies the image and thus it gets a bit pixelated to be honest.
In use, it mounts reasonably low on the rifle and, dependent on the zero set up, the reticle sits higher or lower in the view finder. You need some ambient light for a clear image but fitted to the Sako Finnfire 22 rimfire and half moonlight you can shoot rabbits up to 65 yards and detect past 125 yards. Turn on that IR illuminator and then image instantly improves with less fizz and more definition and the range increases too. Personally, I keep it the same for rabbits to 65 yards maximum, as I head shoot all bunnies, but I know those who fit these Photons to fox rifles for shots in excess of 100 yards.
The Photon RT is another good value NV sight from Thomas Jacks, who stand by their products and have trained staff to help. At £579.95, it’s good really, as it gives you that entry-level NV sight with all the digital features younger shooters demand and even us oldies can appreciate. Keep the range sensible and you will enjoy the Photon for your next rabbit hunting trip.
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