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The Darkstar
Weapon Sight
Tube  Lens Power Dimensions Construction Type
Gen. I I (S-25) 95mm F 1.2 (4X) 2xAA (20 hrs.) 12.5x3.25(wo/mnt) Molded Plastic Weapon Sight
    This is a  Darkstar, weaponsight by Tactical Night Technologies (TNT). It has a total system gain of 3,000. This is not impressive for a second generation device, but is a consequence of the need for magnification, and for keeping the scope as compact as possible. The second generation tube itself has a gain of around 25,000. In the fashion of the AN/PVS-4, the optical system is a catodiaptric unit. In this case it gives a magnification of 4X, with a focal length of 95mm, and an aperture of F 1.2. The picture is considerably clearer, brighter, and "cleaner" than what I am used to from my old first generation unit, and even with the telescopic optics, is considerably more sensitive.. The scope is well made, and feature filled. The objective, and the eyepiece can each be focused separately. The on/off switch has four different intensity settings for shooting (or viewing) under differing light conditions. The unit includes a real daylight filter, not just a plastic lens cap with a pinhole in the center. It also includes a very well made, padded, waterproof case. There is a tripod fitting for the non-shooting night enthusiast to help steady the unit. Along with it's enhanced sensitivity to visible light, the Darkstar is I.R. sensitive, so that at extended distances, or in total darkness, an I.R. illuminator may be used. The Dark Star runs off of a pair of common AA batteries.
    There is a chevron reticle which not only serves as an aiming point, but also acts as a ranging aid. This is used in the manner of a front post sight in a departure from the more common cross hairs seen in most scopes. There are several ranging marks on  and around the chevron, to aid the shooter in the difficult conditions under which this type of scope will most often be used. The aids and the reticle are black, and can be a bit difficult to see under extreme conditions. When firing in these circumstances it would be best, even with a second generation scope, to use an illuminator. The manual, and the calibration make no excuses or apologies as to the purpose of the scope. This is a sniper scope, and no pretense is made as to it's being designed for shooting at deer, woodchucks, or coyotes. The calibration of the ranging aid, and the instructions for ranging, all base themselves on sighting for a man sized target.
    There is a large rubber eyepiece which is soft enough to mold to the contours of the viewer's face. This eyepiece has a shutter on it to prevent the escape of stray light from illuminating the shooter's face. The shutter opens when the eyepiece is pressed firmly against the viewer's face. The scope has a dull mat gray finish, in keeping with the military style. Also in deference to the military nature of this scope is the flash protection, designed to rapidly respond to any sudden increases in light, such as muzzle flash, by reducing tube voltage. In a variation of this, is the non-blooming feature, which prevents pin point areas of bright light from overloading the tube. In general, all of these features tend to be directed towards the military user.
     This scope mates to a common Weaver base through the well regarded Hughes Elcan mount. This mount eliminates the need for internal adjustments on the scope, allowing for better integrity, and increased durability, as the scope body need not be pierced for adjustment screws or other such things. It also simplifies the construction a bit, and removes one more delicate component from maintenance considerations. The mount is easy to zero, and, once set, may be used to range out to 800 yards. Range settings aside, I consider this to be a good scope for a carbine or, even better, an assault rifle. This is in consideration of the scope's power of 4x. This is not really sufficient for true long range shooting, but is just about right for the 100-200 yard range of the carbine, or the 300-500 yard maximum practical range of an assault rifle. It's size, and it's weight of four pounds may make it a bit cumbersome on these lighter weapons, but this is far less cumbersome than any attempt to hit a target that can not be seen because of the dark.
    I took the scope out almost immediately after receiving it, to get some demo pictures, and discovered an interesting thing. I can not use the scope at full power for street scenes without the auto protection circuit kicking in. The auto protection circuit keeps the tube from whiting out or, in extreme cases, burning itself when exposed to too much light. The eyepiece makes it rather difficult to put a camera on this scope, and I will have to do some experimentation. There may be a way to remove the eyepiece, but I haven't really checked into this yet. In the meantime, I am trying to decide which rifle to put it on. Perhaps my standard model AR-15, since the calibration of the reticle is pretty well matched to the .223 cartridge. One drawback to an NVD rifle scope is that there are few places where it can really be used. Hunting at night is illegal, and the scopes are poorly suited to  shooting during the day. Still, the scope is a great addition to a collection, looks good on an assault rifle, and may be handy for varmint hunting or pest control in places which are out of the way. It is also one of many items which may be banned in the near future, as has already happened in Europe, China, India, Australia, and Japan. Get them while you can.