June 30 2014
Hunting and fishing magazine "Safari" #6.2014
We will not oppose night vision attachments to regular night vision riflescopes; and yet an everlasting desire of man to own versatile things makes us think that positive features of attachments quantitatively and qualitatively outweigh disadvantages.
Combination of attachment with day optic riflescope gives an opportunity to utilize a number of advantages of the latter. For example, eye relief of even the most budget day optics is greater than that of night vision riflescope which allows using the attachment for shooting weapons with strong recoil without fear of getting traumatized. Day optics in the majority of cases is characterized by more precise and more functional reticles. At last, using the attachment paired with a day riflescope does not require from a hunter a big change in the style of shooting. Attachment can become the only alternative to a night vision scope while a tandem “rail-bracket” does not provide quick release and repeated correct installation of optics.
As one of the minuses they often mention weight but when a common sense is applied it is hard to agree as the total weight of Forward makes up 650 gr., which is almost the same as 3-12x56 day optics of any European manufacturer weighs. Total 1300 gr. are comparable to the weight of a night vision riflescope.
Considering the dimensions. In cases when the attachment is designed using the scheme of sequential placement of elements the size is really big and reaching the attachment with one’s hand to operate the unit is often difficult.
Forward DFA75 reminds a periscope from the exterior, a pair “objective lens-detector” is situated higher than a pair “display – projecting lens”. That’s why the device became compact and easily controllable.
A new metal adapter for installation on day riflescope got into my hands. As opposed to serial plastic ones, this one is made of metal and is perceived as a more unpretentious one. Anyway, according to the claims of the manufacturer any adapter ensures a stable operation of the attachment on weapons with muzzle energies up to 6000 Joules.
I will omit detailed description of the setting. Some points to focus on is that for correct choice of the adapter it is necessary to measure the external diameter of the objective lens casing of the riflescope on which it is planned to mount the attachment. The second point is that it is obligatory to use plastic insert rings supplied with the adapter.
The major goal of the testing was practicing the process of attachment installation on a day riflescope as well as shooting in a day mode (without the attachment) and a night mode (with the attachment). The following riflescopes were involved in testing: mentioned before Swarovski, Schmidt&Bender 3-12x50 and Nikon Monarch 2,5-10x50.
Swarovski Z6i 5-30x50 was installed on a carbine; other riflescopes were used for evaluation of attachment applicability to different optics. Riflescopes with 50 mm objective lens diameter were chosen because of the available adaptor.
The height of the riflescope mounting above the barrel on my Weatherby makes up 5-6mm in the area of objective lens, which is just the right distance – the adaptor with the insert ring which corresponds to the objective diameter of Swarovski Z6i 30x50 (56mm) fitted face to face with the barrel. If the external diameter of the objective’s housing was smaller and we had to use a thick insert ring it would require 8mm gap to install the attachment.
First we evaluated the usage comfort of the attachment on listed riflescopes related to magnification. The notion of comfort is subjective and individual. If applied to night vision attachments I have defined two “comfort points”for me personally. The highest point is defined by maximum magnification at which you can see the whole horizontal field of view provided by the attachment and optimal point at which you can see total vertical field of view. The attachment in the combination with different optics gave the following results: Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x50 – 6x and 7.5х, Swarowski Z6i 5-30x50 – 5x and 8x, Schmidt & Bender 3-12x50 -6.5x and 8х respectively. These figures show that the attachment operates correctly on comparatively high magnifications without reducing image quality. Yet problems with normal operation at high magnifications are characteristic to many contemporary attachments, thermal in particular.
On a testing day 4 shots were made from each setting in the following manner: target shots at 100m with 5x magnification, then shots at 50m for each setting (with 5x) and 150m (with 8x), and then the final shot at 100m with 10x magnification for each setting. The first 3 shots were made with the attachment, and the last one without it.
Shooting was performed on a shooting range in a pronelying position with rifle lying on a rest at the same target. Swarovski Z6i 5-30x50 riflescope, zeroed at 100m distance, Weatherby Mark V Accumark carbine with .308 Win round.
The photography of the target reflects the result of the first three shots with the attachment at the distance 150, 100 and 50m (left to right), insert in the corner of the photo is the result of the last shot (riflescope without attachment).
It is worth to pay attention to certain aspects. The main is that zeroing the attachment after installation is not required. In my case the riflescope zeroed at 100m showed a very similar result shooting both with the attachment and without it. The result could be better though, because the shots were performed during the day and the target seemed over exposed – the attachment is for night time after all. Magnification change does not influence POI in any way. I think results of shooting prove this point.
In the same way after taking DFA off one riflescope and placing it on the other no additional zeroing is required. If the riflescope has a parallax adjustment then the parallax adjustment wheel should be set into 100m position for use with the attachment, no matter at what distance the shooting is performed.
A few words about shooting at distances other than 100m. As it was mentioned, Forward DFA has constructive elevation of its own optic axis over the scope’s axis. This can be corrected by selecting the real distance in the menu of the attachment.
Several distances are available for selection 15, 20, 30, 50, 75, 100 (by default), 150, 300 m. It is wise to use this function if it is necessary to perform an extremely correct shot or if the shots are performed at short distances. But in the conditions of real night vision hunt for hoofed animals these deviations can be neglected (since they make up only 2cm on every 50m of distance, differing from 100m). Conclusion. Forward DFA75 is sold with invisible laser IR illuminator (in moonless night I was able to see a boar at the distance of 250m). It operates on 4xAA batteries which are enough for 2,5-3 hours of work (depending on the intensity of the IR illuminator). If you use the attachment often it is better to have an external power supply.
The main thing to understand is that even though the device seems complicated (full description of menu and functions supports this opinion) the work with Forward is easy and effective.