Electro-optics have forever changed the way we shoot, hunt and compete. From inexpensive red dots to the highest tier of thermal optics, we are seeing innovations and features we never before thought possible.
At the 2018 SHOT Show, ATN again wowed dealers with its third generation of X-Sight-4K night vision and thermal ThOR 4 optics lines. We spoke with Steve Lemenov, Director of Marketing for American Technologies Network (ATN), to better understand these new offerings and where this market is headed.
SSR: What should dealers understand about ATN and the electro-optics market?
Lemenov: When you look across the electro-optics market, it covers pretty much everything that needs a battery for shooting. That includes red dots, holographic, reflex sights, laser rangefinders, illuminated optics and pure digital thermal and night-vision optics.
ATN has been in the market since the 1980s, initially selling Cold-War-Era night vision. Over the years we developed our own technology for night vision and thermal. Today, we are considered the premier night-vision and thermal optics manufacturer, with our own line of Gen 4 night-vision cores and operating system, which we continue to evolve.
We have also been on the leading edge of features and functionality for electro-optics with our X-Sight line, which now deliver mobile-device-observer viewing, video capture, ballistics calculation, one-shot zeroing and a host of other user-configurable features. The X-Sight line has been a continual product evolution at a price point that nearly any shooter can afford.
We are now in our third generation of the X-Sight line. We started with the X-Sight, then the X-Sight HD and now offer the X-Sight 4K. The X-Sight line are the most technologically advanced electro-optics on the market and offered with more features than any other manufacture — plus we offer customers software upgrades to keep the operating systems current.
SSR: What is new with the newest X-Sight HD and ThOR 4 line?
Lemenov: There were a lot of changes based on newly available technology and customer feedback. We were able to leverage the new 4K core, which delivers a much better image through the zoom and magnification range. The 2017 X-Sight HD model delivered a huge jump in clarity for buyers, but that clarity degraded through the zoom range beyond the base magnification. With the new 2018 4K-core-based X-Sight 4K, we are able to deliver 1080P quality images and video through the entire zoom range in a way that most shooters do not see any difference in the image clarity even at the top end of the stated magnification. The clarity is increased in both day and night modes, so customers will never feel like they are hunting fuzzy things in the dark with higher magnification settings.
Our engineers have also upgraded the programing to mitigate annoying IR illumination blurs at short range, such as brush on each side of a shooter at night. Previously the peripheral close-range scenery would be over lit and blurry. Our engineers found a way to balance out almost all of those IR illuminator hot spots.
We also upgraded the processor to dual-core, which greatly increases the on-board computing and video capabilities. In the older HD model, users had to choose whether they wanted to have an observer watch via a mobile device or record the video capture, but they could not do both. With the new 4K dual-core upgrade, customers can do both simultaneously.
SSR: How was the user experience upgraded?
Lemenov: As we all know, there is more to taking the shot than just the technology. We have heard from the beginning that the eye relief on our optics was a little too short, and we attempted to resolve and overcome this with the rubber extended eyepiece. We are very happy to report that the new 4K models all now feature a full 3 inches of eye relief, so even the larger caliber shooters can be worry-free about scope bite.
We also heard from customers that the battery and power requirements were still problematic for long hunts. This year, we solved that with very long-running 18+ hour rechargeable lithium ion batteries. These are the same type used in the Tesla cars, and we believe customers will be very pleased that they no longer need to worry about buying batteries. In the process we actually saved just a little weight across all the models.
We also had a lot of hunters who loved being able to capture their trophy hunt on video to share and remember the experience, but were not allowed to use night-vision-capable optics for hunting in their state. This year we created the X-Sight 4K BUCKHUNTER, which delivers all the capabilities of the X-Sight, but without night-vision capabilities. We are already hearing from customers who are waiting patiently on backorder that this is what they were wishing for from ATN.
SSR: The overall style of the new 4K models are considerably different from previous years.
Lemenov: They are, and for one very good reason. Over and over we heard from customers that they would like more mounting flexibility than just a Picatinny-rail mount. We had customers that wanted to mount our sights to all types of guns and optics rails. Our engineers worked to develop the X-Sight into a more traditional optic profile that would accept any standard 30mm scope ring. Now customers can mount the X-Sight to any platform at any height they wish.
SSR: How did the ThOR 4 line evolve?
Lemenov: With the dual-core upgrade, we are able to support simultaneous video streaming and capture and 30mm round mounting just like the X-Sight 4K and extremely crisp 640×480 thermal imaging video quality across a broader magnification range.
SSR: What other innovations is ATN bringing to the market in 2018?
Lemenov: The new ATN Auxiliary Ballistic Laser is another ATN innovation. This ballistic rangefinder mounts directly to the end of the scope bell. The shooter will be presented with a ranging reticle, then they lase the target for five seconds and the onboard communication syncs with our sights, and interfaces with the onboard X-Sight ballistic calculator, and the sight will self adjust to make a perfect shot. This can also be used in conjunction with our ATN app to input weather data.
We believe this solution offers all the functionality of similar range-and-shoot solutions at a fraction of the cost without of locking shooters into proprietary ammunition and integrated firearms like other solutions. For about $1,000 a customer can purchase an integrated ATN solution including an X-Sight and Auxiliary Ballistic Laser Rangefinder, which can offer them the perfect shot on the first shot.