Welcome back to another installment of Friday Night Lights where I bring you detailed reviews and photos of night vision, thermal, lights and lasers. This week we take a look at arguably one of the best uncooled LWIR thermal clip-ons available – the OASYS UTCXII.
Thermal @ TFB:
- [IWA 2022] High End, Reasonably Priced Thermal Scopes from Pulsar
- New iRay RICO Alpha Thermal Weapon Sight
- Friday Night Lights: BAE SKEETIRL – Thermal Binos And SKEETIRCOTI
OASYS: BAE or Trijicon?
The UTC was originally developed and made by BAE Systems. Four years ago, Trijicon licensed the BAE Systems OASYS thermal imaging technology. So now the UTC is made by Trijicon and the most current version is called the UTCXII. There was a previous model called the UTC and UTCX, all developed by BAE. I have on hand a BAE UTCXII and a Trijicon UTCXII, both lent to me by my friend at Trijicon OASYS.
SPECIFICATIONSLENGTH 6.3 in. (158mm)WIDTH 3.3 in. (83mm)HEIGHT 3.1 in. (79mm)WEIGHT 20.2 oz. (573g)DETECTION RANGE 2650mDISPLAY RESOLUTION 640×480 pixelsREFRESH RATE 30/60Hz dual modeBATTERY TYPE 1 or 2 x CR123 or external USBSTART-UP TIME 3 secondsBATTERY OPERATING LIFE 2.25 hrs. (1 battery) 5.5 hrs. (2 batteries)ENVIRONMENTAL -25°F (-32°C) to 122°F (50°C) Operating
-40°F (-40°C) to 160°F (71°C) StorageIMMERSION 66 ft.EYE RELIEF 50mmOPTICAL MAGNIFICATION 1xDIGITAL MAGNIFICATION 0.5x and 2xWEAPON MOUNT LaRue Modified LT648
The large fins, that go around the focus ring, behind the objective lens are like throw levers to help turn the objective focus.
The UTCXII is powered by one or two CR123 batteries. On one battery, it will last 2.25 hours but with the second CR123, you double the run time to 5.5 hours.
There is an accessory port on the left side. There are two cables that plug into that port. They are the TracIR cable and USB cable. The USB cable is used for downloading still shots that you captured with the UTCXII. You can also plug it into a USB power supply to power the UTCXII.
The TracIR cable, which I do not have nor was there one lent out with these units, allows you to connect the UTCXII to a Wilcox RAPTAR-S laser rangefinder and ballistic calculator. You program the RAPTAR-S with your ballistic data and have it plugged into the UTCXII with the TracIR cable. So when you range the target, the Raptar-S will calculate and provide a solution for the disturbed reticle in the UTCXII literally showing you where to aim to make the shot. Sort of like a Tracking Point but a lot more expensive and with the added benefit of having a thermal clip-on. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the TracIR cable so I could not test this feature, even though two of my friends have RAPTAR-S LRFs.
The UTCXII button arrangement is similar to the SKEETIR however they have different functions than the SKEETIR.
To turn on the UTCXII, it is just like the SKEETIRL, you press the up and down buttons simultaneously. Holding down the right square button is for calibrating the UTCXII. Lightly pressing the square button brings up the internal menu. Below is what the menu looks like when you press the right square button.
Pressing the left + button changes palettes. Just like the SKEETIRL, it has black hot, white hot and edge detection. The down button adjusts brightness and the up button is gain adjustment.
My friend at Trijicon OASYS lent me these two UTCXII to compare them against my other friend’s Pixels On Target Voodoo-M. That might be for a future Friday Night Lights so stay tuned. Anyway, the reason my friend lent me two of the UTCXII is because one is an older BAE Systems version and this newer Trijicon version suffers from pixel shrinkage and while most people do not see a difference, he does, so he decided to let me try both of them out. Just a disclaimer, only this particular UTCXII suffers from pixel shrinkage it is not a problem in their other units.
The markings are in different locations. The BAE Systems markings are on the back side of the battery compartment facing the user. While Trijicon marked the bottom of the UTCXII battery compartment.
Looking Through The UTCXII
As soon as I got home, I set up my optics testing rig and used a Meopta 1-8 LPVO to look through the UTCXII at a house 100 yards away. Not bad, not bad at all. But 100 yards is easy for a thermal clip-on of this performance and price tag. So I took the UTCXII out to my usual testing site and looked at the utility shed which has become my standardized test for optics. The shed is 530 yards away. This time I mounted the UTCXII onto my Bushnell LMSS spotting scope. Trijicon claims the UTCXII can be paired with 1x-10X optics. Since my Bushnell is 8-40×60, I figured it should be adequate for looking at something 530 yards away and I was right. You can see the pole on the left and the fence around the utility shed. I do not think I have seen this shed so clearly with thermal before and this is before I use the digital zoom or use higher magnification in my spotting scope. It is set at the minimum of 8x magnification.
On my first night of testing, I noticed a heat source 90º to my left of the utility shed. It was a cow just shy of 2,000 yards away. I had my new Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced thermal drone with me so I sent it to check if that was a cow. Sure enough, it is a bunch of cows just behind the hill. The one I saw must have been on the ridge even further back near the transmission tower.
On another night of testing, I saw this animal moving left to right. I think it was a coyote since I heard coyotes calling earlier to my left.
Here are some houses over 1000 yards away.
Hacking The UTCXII
If you recall in my Insight MTM article, I have a 3x afocal germanium magnifier. I used it to hack my Trijicon Patrol IR. You can see it is in the middle next to my SKEETIRL but to the far right is my recently acquired FLIR thermal magnifier. I believe it is a 2x magnifier because it does not magnify as much as the smaller 3X magnifier.
However, it is just the right size that I can fit it inside the bell of the objective lens on the UTCXII. I used a plastic bowl, with the bottom mostly cut out and paracord to hold the germanium magnifier in place.
Take a look at the two images below. The first one was taken without the magnifier. I am still using my Bushnell LMSS spotting scope.
Now, look at the photo below. This is with the germanium magnifier attached to the UTCXII objective lens. Notice I have not changed the magnification of the LMSS, it is still on 8x power.
Remember I mentioned earlier that the Trijicon unit that my friend lent me suffered from pixel shrinkage of the OLED screen? Well, the germanium magnifier amplifies the problem. See the photo below, that was taken with the magnifier installed on the Trijicon UTCXII. This was the best image I could get even after readjusting the focus and gain settings.
Now to show you apples to apples comparison, below is a photo taken through the Trijicon without the thermal magnifier. Here the image does not seem that bad.
Here is a video of some tests I was able to capture with my iPhone. Looking at the cow 2000 yards away but with the magnifier, a coyote at just over 700 yards away, and the 900+ yard coyote walking toward the transmission tower.
The magnifier is not really practical for weapon use since it is not mounted securely and shifting it just a little will shift the image as well so your POA.
Final Thoughts On The UTCXII
The UTCXII is a phenomenal thermal weapon sight, especially for an uncooled thermal sight. It produced an image similar to my friend’s FLIR HISS LRT although that is a cooled thermal it has low resolution, it makes up for it with the higher sensitivity. Now comes the bad news, the UTCXII is not cheap. It costs more than an entry-level car. I have seen prices of around $26k for the UTCXII. That is very expensive. Granted it is not as expensive as a FLIR HISS XLR which I have been told costs $75k. Still, these prices are a bit out of reach for most shooters and hunters.
Pricing aside, the UTCXII certainly performs as I had expected. It can definitely detect living things at 2000 yards easily. With a little bit of help and some deduction, it is not hard to recognize what those images are. While the image of the cow at 2000 yards away was not particularly clear, I could tell by the body language and behavior that it was more than likely a cow. Same with the coyote 700+ yards away. Seeing the head tilt up, then hearing the call of the coyote (sound travels slower than light or in this case LWIR). Analyzing the body language helped us deduce it was more than likely a coyote. This would not be possible with the other thermal devices at our disposal save for the Voodoo-M or the FLIR HISS LRT.
A huge thanks to my friend at Trijicon Oasys for lending me these twin UTCXII. For more information about the UTCXII, go to Trijicon’s Website.