night vision riflescope

Black&White. Night vision riflescope Phantom 4X60 BW

«Phantoms» appeared on the counters of Russian gun stores more than 5 years ago, that’s why you can hardly say that Phantom 4x60 BW modification is a completely new device. Meanwhile 5 years is a sufficient time to fix all the bugs which inevitably appear during the field testing of any even the most intricate device.

Source: "Hunting (“OHOTA”) – National hunting magazine", May 2013
Picture Vitaly Khen

Phantom is the first riflescope in the product range of “Beltex” (and one of the first on the civilian market) with Generation 2+ image intensifier, that has housing parts made from molded plastic instead of metal (starting from 2012 reinforced with fiberglass shock resistant engineering thermoplastic produced by EMS-Chemie Holding AG). In the result of that a considerable weight reduction is achieved while preserving strong service durability.

Insides of the Phantom are filled with dry nitrogen. Nitrogen plays an important role when the riflescope is used in winter conditions by preventing the lenses from fogging (internal optic surfaces). Surely many of us have encountered a situation when optic device taken out from the warm car into the freezing air becomes practically impossible to use because of the condensate inside.

Climatic resistance is a strong side of Phantom. Officially claimed water protection class (IPX6 according to IEC 60529:2001 standard) means that streams of water pointed at the body of the riflescope from any side must not harm the device in any way. The test is conducted by pointing water streams at the riflescope from 2,5 m distance from all directions out of a 12,5 mm test nozzle, water discharge 95 - 105 litres per minute (±5% from the norm 100 litres) with respective pressure. Water stream on the distance of 2,5 m makes a circle of 1,2 m in diameter. Minimal time of test is 3 minutes. In general terms it is a persuasive imitation of tropic shower.

It is worth mentioning that on the factory the test is conducted not only by streaming water but also by full submergence of the riflescope for 30 minutes under water which satisfies the requirement of the 7-th class of water protection, during this procedure the lowest point of the scope’s body stays at 1m depth. Complex testing (including water resistance) is conducted when any constructive changes are introduced into the design before the product is released into series production. Beside that monthly random sampling tests of series riflescopes with further control disassembly are conducted in order to check observance of technical specifications.

For known reasons it would be troublesome to reproduce correctly factory tests at home. Though 15 minutes of rain and single time immersion did not expose any traces of moisture inside the riflescope nor inside the battery compartment nor in the place where IR illuminator is mounted (it is detachable).

Riflescope has a 4 times optic magnification. Activation of the riflescope and IR illuminator (wavelength– 805 nm) is performed by the consecutive clockwise turn of the selector switch. The scope has a focusable 60-mm objective lens. Distance focusing is performed with the help of focusing knob situated on the right side of the body. The knob rotates without any sound and with optimized force (any incidental disadjustment is eliminated), and in the position “100 meters focusing” it sticks slightly allowing to set this position manually and afterwards use it depending on the situation.

Reviewed modification – Phantom 4x60 BW – has a three position red color reticle   (The reticle is shown on the picture; beside that reticle you can choose just a red dot or a T-shaped reticle without a dot). Reticles are changed by consecutive pressing of miniature button on top of the housing (in the Mil-Dot models this button changes the color of the reticle from red to green and back). Brightness of reticle can be adjusted from intensive bright to zero so that the scope can be used as a simple observation device. Corrections mechanism is mechanical, with click value 13,5 mm at 100 m. Blinking of the reticle notifies us that we should change the batteries in the course of 15 – 30 minutes.

Riflescopes are equipped with one of five  mounting options including side mount (for installation on carbines “Tigr”, “Saiga”), several options of Weaver mount (one of them is a quick release mount), dovetail mount (for installation of riflescope on carabine «Los-7»), and also with a Europrism rail  and MAK adaptor for  МАК mounts (the two last are the most universal). Starting from 2012 the design of Weaver-Long and dovetail mounts was improved in order to ensure a lower seating: the distance between the optical axis of Phantom 4x60 BW and the basis of Weaver-Long (on the picture) is 58,5 mm.

BW index in the name means that the riflescope has image intensifier with white luminophor. Night vision devices with black and white image intensifiers are not so widespread as compared to night vision devices with green image intensifiers. One can reckon this is just the matter of time since, after two Russian factories started production of reasonably priced image intensifiers with white luminophor, their popularity has increased.

Considering the image tube’s parameters these tubes are full analogs of their “green” comrades.  In the reviewed Phantom 4x60 BW the image intensifier tube was  EPM221G generation 2+ (here and after passport data) of Novosibirsk manufacturing plant «Ekran FEP» with integral sensitivity of photocathode 550 mA/lm, gain factor 27400 relative units and resolution 51,3 l/mm (minimally accepted norm is 500 мА/lm, 20000 relative units and 45 l/mm).

There is no point in arguing which option is better black and white or green since this is mainly a matter of taste. Subjectively green image is perceived as more usual but at the same time black and white is more contrast and more natural in winter conditions since the snow is white when the animals, trees and bushes are of grey and dark colors. High contrast is an important factor for detection and identification of animals in situations when the object differs just slightly from the background (e.g. boar on the field or on the forest edge) or hides in the shady areas.

The riflescope was installed on the carbine CZ-557 several shots were made with hunting rounds Norma .30-06 (2 sessions 25 shots each) in order to check the stability of reticle and reliability of mount.  The Ео value of 13 gram Oryx bullet is more than  4100 Joules, which is quite acceptable for the majority of Generation 2+ riflescopes.  If we talk about Phantom 4x60 BW each sold unit  is factory tested on the shock impact stand imitating shooting from rifled guns with a round  of 6000 Joules of energy on the muzzle cut (this limit embraces the whole range of Eo values for all known to author types of rounds 375H&H).

Phantom BW is equipped with IR illuminator, which is effective at the distance of around 150 m in the conditions of moonless night. By rotating the lens hood we can change the distance and angle of illumination. The illuminator can be removed from the riflescope in case when the shooter is using another IR source of light (for its installation on the left side of the body there is a Weaver mount). When the IR is taken off its socket can be closed with a lid with rubber ring in order to protect the contacts from the moisture. Battery container suitable for battery type АА or CR123A, is also protected from ingress of moisture with the help of rubber ring.

Sometimes it makes sense to use a quick start button (it turns on riflescope and IR illuminator instantaneously). The riflescope is activated till the button is pressed, it is useful when there is no need in constant observation and it is only necessary to inspect the field shortly.  This function and the activation of riflescope and IR illuminator can be also performed with remote control. The remote control can be placed on the rifle stock or in any other place, making basic operation of the riflescope quick and more convenient.

As any other equipment, night vision device can be functional, convenient and durable or it can be not. Sooner or later one gets used to anything. Though, every device must fulfill its basic function. For night vision device this function is to give a hunter the ability not only to detect a target but to recognize it, identify it and make a right decision.  Phantom BW performs all of these.


Phantom 4x60 BW

Generation of image intensifier tube


Make of Image intensifier tube


Magnification, х


Field of view, °


Eye relief, mm


Eyepiece diopter range, dptr.


Operation temperature range,°С

-30 - +40

Size, mm


Weight (without mount), g



«Beltex Optic» FE (Belarus)


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