SIG’S ECHO1 THER­MAL REV­O­LU­TION

SIG HAS DONE AN EX­CEL­LENT JOB WITH ITS FIRST AT­TEMPT AT A THER­MAL RI­FLE OP­TIC.

Gun World - - Scope-eye Chronicles -

I’m strain­ing a bit not to call the SIG ECHO1 ther­mal re­flex sight “rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” but there is that con­ver­sa­tion.

PRICE, STYLE, SIZE, WEIGHT AND USE

Why should it be called rev­o­lu­tion­ary? The main rea­son is price. I’ve seen it avail­able with­out ac­ces­sories for un­der $1,150! That, alone, will en­able this in­frared heat-read­ing

piece of for­mer sci­ence fic­tion to be placed on the Pi­catinny rails of many con­sumers’ firearms for the first time. Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have re­sulted in dras­tic price re­duc­tions of ther­mal de­vices in 2017, and this por­tends the fu­ture of the cat­e­gory. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are also be­com­ing adept at squeez­ing more tech­nol­ogy out of ex­ist­ing com­puter-driven plat­forms. It’s go­ing to be a fun ride.

Se­con­dar­ily, the styling of the ECHO1 is also some­what rev­o­lu­tion­ary. SIG is steer­ing its lat­est style of elec­tro-optics to the stealth fighter/Zumwalt-class de­stroyer an­gu­lar shape, and it is show­cas­ing these de­signs in its ex­cel­lent line of red­dot sights and Bravo 4 prism sights, as well.

A third rea­son for the “rev­o­lu­tion­ary” la­bel is the ECHO1’s size, weight and style of use. It’s smaller than a box of 20-gauge shells and weighs a frac­tion as much, at 14.7 ounces.

“DI­RECT VIEW”

The im­age is called “di­rect view,” which is the same way you view your smart­phone screen: not through an eye­piece. There are no spe­cific eye re­lief re­quire­ments, ex­cept to mount it where you can see it the best. I found that my pre­ferred view is about 12 inches away from my eye, putting the rear­most part of the view­ing hood just for­ward of the up­per re­ceiver on a black gun.

In­ci­den­tally, this is also a very close dis­tance to where the oc­u­lar lens nor­mally is when I’m us­ing a scoped hand­gun. So, yes, it will also work on a hand­gun, in­clud­ing, if I may coin an acro­nym, ARPs (AR pis­tols), al­though it was specif­i­cally de­signed with the 1.5-inch op­ti­cal cen­ter re­quired by the MSR (modern sport­ing ri­fle) car­bine plat­form. The ECHO1 is ro­bustly tested for in­tegrity by ac­tual shoot­ing, as well as sim­u­la­tion on a re­coil ma­chine.

With most ex­ist­ing tra­di­tional ther­mal ri­fle­scopes, the eye re­lief is from about 1 to 2.5 inches, and you look through a col­lapsi­ble, ac­cor­dion-like rub­ber eye­piece that serves well to pre­vent the glow of the screen from il­lu­mi­nat­ing your face like a lamp. With the ECHO1, users can choose a red or blue color screen and ad­just to low bright­ness. With the screen a foot away, it’s very dif­fi­cult to no­tice the oper­a­tor be­cause emis­sive light to his face is min­i­mal. This is why Coast Guard users re­port­edly pre­fer a blue color screen. I gen­er­ally use the mul­ti­col­ored rain­bow view.

SIG calls the di­rect view screen a “re­flex” type, be­cause you can keep two eyes open while aim­ing. In prac­tice, this does not work as eas­ily as with a red-dot sight or a mag­ni­fied Tri­ji­con ACOG, with its Bin­den Aim­ing Con­cept (BAC). The screen size on the ECHO1 is 1.4 x 1.2 inches.

LEARN­ING CURVE

Per­for­mance is fair com­pared to most tra­di­tional IR ri­fle­scopes cost­ing twice as much. Res­o­lu­tion on the LCD screen is listed at 220 x 176 pix­els. It has the new, smaller size pixel pitch of 12 mi­crons.

The ECHO1 can pick up heat sig­na­tures at up to 1,000 yards, and SIG states the tar­get­ing range is greater than 300 yards. In sim­ple terms, what does that mean to the pig hunter for whom it was some­what de­signed?

I’ve har­vested swine with hand­guns, ar­rows, flint­locks and lots of carbines, some with night vi­sion, so I feel qual­i­fied to com­ment. Let me tell you: With the ECHO1 on 1x or its max­i­mum of 2x, I’m stretch­ing my com­fort level at a bit more than 150 yards on a pig. Far­ther than that is pos­si­ble, but you’d bet­ter have a good rest and a static porker. As al­ready men­tioned, 2x is the max­i­mum magnification avail­able. This is noth­ing like look­ing through an op­ti­cal sight, and there is a learn­ing curve. Re­mem­ber, you’re look­ing at heat sig­na­tures only. It eas­ily picks up hu­mans at hun­dreds of yards.

The ECHO1 is con­trolled by a joy­stick. Gamers out there will ap­pre­ci­ate the fa­mil­iar­ity of it, and it is glove friendly. Press cen­ter to show the menu, and then move the joy­stick to the choices that best fit your ap­pli­ca­tion. It’s sim­ple to use and hard to screw up. In nor­mal use, tog­gle right to take a burst or sin­gle pic­ture; down to choose one of eight black-and­white or color pal­ettes; left for bright­ness; and up to switch from 1x to 2x.

THUMBS UP

Us­ing the ECHO1 al­lows you to share with oth­ers the same view you have, be­cause the di­rect view screen can be seen by any­one in close prox­im­ity, whether on a gun or in a hand. It’s handy as a hand­held unit but a bit hard to di­rect the scope to a tar­get when it’s not mounted on a gun, where you have a cheek­weld.

Ac­ces­sories with the ECHO1 kit in­clude a rear iron sight and an adapter for the SIG ROMEO1 mini-red-dot sight. Both sight­ing sys­tems are use­ful in find­ing your tar­get more quickly when us­ing the ECHO1 as a monoc­u­lar.

SIG has done an ex­cel­lent job with its first at­tempt at a ther­mal ri­fle­scope. It will be ex­cit­ing to see the fu­ture of the ECHO in­frared cat­e­gory. GW

IT’S SMALLER THAN A BOX OF 20-GAUGE SHELLS AND WEIGHS A FRAC­TION AS MUCH, AT 14.7 OUNCES.

The ECHO1 is smaller than a box of 20-gauge shells and weighs only 14.7 ounces.

There are five reticle choices, as well as the abil­ity to cus­tom­ize your own from the SIG web­site. The joy­stick­con­trolled menu is easy to nav­i­gate and hard to screw up.

The ECHO1 is an amaz­ingly af­ford­able en­try-level in­frared ther­mal re­flex sight.

This im­age shows an adult male in front of an SUV with an 80-pound dog (sit­ting) at 100 yards in -1 de­gree (F) con­di­tions. An adapter is avail­able to mount SIG’s ROMEO1 to the ECHO1 for close­quar­ters work.

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