TFB Review: Pulsar Digex C50 – Digital Day & Night Vision Riflescope

    Pulsar Digex C50 REVIEW Digital Day Night Vision Riflescope

    Pulsar Digex C50 Digital Day & Night Vision Riflescope mounted on a Ruger Precision Rifle .308 Win.

    This is a review of the brand new Pulsar Digex C50 – Digital Day & Night Vision Riflescope. As you can see in the images, Pulsar made it look like a normal riflescope, so mounting can be done in standard 30 mm rings. TFB got our sample at the end of last year and we’ve been using it during the winter for hunting and evaluation out in the field. The performance is quite impressive, so continue reading for a full review with pictures, videos of wild boar and our concluding thoughts.

    Below: Apart from the optional IR-illumination, the Digex C50 looks pretty much like a normal hunting riflescope. The sensor features 1928×1088 Full-HD day and night capability, with excellent image quality.

    Unboxing & First Impressions

    When I unboxed the C50, the first impression was that the sight felt very robust and well built. It made me think of German manufacturers in terms of quality and feeling. The sight has a black surface finishing with rubber overmoulds in the right places, for added friction and durability.

    All of the buttons have a nice, tactile feel and they have worked well using gloves. The C50 is a bit front-heavy, but once it goes into a mount, it doesn’t matter much as the weight will even out on the rifle for a nice balance.

    The rubber part (top right) which can be attached to protect the ocular works by magnets (or friction?). It’s neat, but there’s also a danger of losing it out in the field.

    Below: Looking through the C50 during a foggy day. Remember you’re looking onto a digital screen here, with digital reticles that you can customize, not traditional optics.

    Pulsar Digex C50 - Digital Day & Night Vision Riflescope

    Technical Specifications

    The heart of the new Digex C50 is a super-sensitive Full-HD sensor with 1928×1088 pixels and an HD AMOLED display with 1024×768 pixels. The magnification is variable from 3.5x to 14x. The sight has a metallic frame with a 30mm tube diameter, is IPX7 waterproof and shock-resistant capable of withstanding the recoil of cartridges like .375 H&H Magnum, 12 gauge and 9.3×64.

    Pulsar Digex C50 REVIEW Digital Day Night Vision Riflescope

    The C50 on the snow.

    Using The Pulsar Digex C50 In The Dark

    I have added this “in the dark” section thanks to friends who constantly ask the question “how does it work in the dark?”. It’s very relevant since these devices are supposed to be used in complete darkness. The most extreme practical test I did was in -16C (3F) with only some ambient light, deep in a forest where I had never been before. Needless to say, I was wearing gloves to spare any heat, and I had to change batteries both on the C50 and the IR850 light in the field. Both can be done with gloves, but it’s easier without.

    It’s been very cold when we’ve used the C50. The batteries can easily be changed, and if you know you’re going to be out for long hunts, buy some spare ones.

    The same goes for manipulating the menus through the scroll wheel. I would say that it would be difficult to make it easier to handle in the dark, so the C50 gets my approval. Especially the turret cap, where the battery is hidden, is easy to manipulate in the dark. Just don’t drop it in the snow.

    It can be a little difficult to find the exact right focus, I find this easier on Pulsar’s thermal riflescopes. I benchmarked this against another night vision riflescope from another brand and it had the same issue. Since it’s a digital image, it’s probably something you have to live with compared to the crisp image provided by normal optical lenses, but they can’t see in the dark.

    Below: -16C, full winter and I can’t see anything in the darkness. The photo was taken with iPhone + flash. There is a hoard of wild boars about 15-30 meters away in the forest, feeding from a station. Pretty scary!

    The next photo is taken from the ocular, the C50 in the same position as above. As if it was magic, it is now possible to see what’s out there in the forest, feeding.

    Color Image During Twilight

    During the daytime, you get a digital color image, with a reticle, but the most amazing feature is the C50’s capability to display true color into the really late stages of twilight. This is something that has to be seen to be believed. If there is other help from ambient light you can still push the device to produce a color image.

    Image Quality

    Image quality is probably the most important feature of any sight. During daytime and normal conditions, you get a really realistic digital image. As the sun sets and darkness falls I looked at buildings, trees and other objects at various distances. To the eye, they appear dark grey or black, but through the display of the Digex C50, I can tell the color of these objects which is quite fascinating. Depending on the conditions there is of course some noise in the picture, but overall the image quality is very impressive.

    Words don’t mean much, so here’s an array of pictures taken during the winter.

    Below: Image was taken with iPhone. As you can see the sun has set probably 30-40 minutes ago and it’s “dark”. You can barely make out the coastline, but the C50 delivers a color image. This is amazing and hard for the brain to compute.

    Distance about 450 meters. In reality, the image does not appear this circular, it’s because the image is taken a little outside the ocular to capture and show the ambient light.

    Below: This photo is from the device itself. I can’t tell for sure that these were taken with the exact same lighting conditions, probably not. Note that the C50 was not mounted to a firearm.

    3.5x above and 7x below. The magic wonders of supersensitive CMOS planar sensors. Remember that to the eye it is dark outside and you could hardly see the bridge at all.

    Below: Chimneys at 1250 meters during the first minutes of sunset, winter.

    Pulsar Digex C50 REVIEW Digital Day Night Vision Riflescope

    Below: 14x maximum at 1250 meters, twilight. Photo from the C50’s internal camera.

    Below: 3.5x and Picture in Picture. There are 5 individual shooting profiles / 50 zeroing distances.

    Below: Daytime, but low-light and fog during winter. Looking at a bird at 3.5x on a frozen field. Distance probably 450 meters. As you can see and compare between images it is possible to change reticles, colors and a lot of other details in the software.

    Once it gets too dark for the C50 to produce a color image, you can switch it to B&W (Black & White mode) for more sensitivity and less noise. You can also use an active IR light when it gets too dark.

    Below: Pitch black outside and foggy. IR850 light is on and the distance is about 320 meters, using B&W mode. There is a feeding station nearby, but the animals did not like my presence.

    As you push the magnification from the base 3.5x up to 7.5 and 14x (maximum), there is some added noise and graininess, but I guess that’s to be expected.

    Night Vision versus Thermal Imaging

    This is in fact the first Night Vision riflescope I’ve ever reviewed and being too used to thermal riflescopes, it’s sometimes been very frustrating. You really have to switch your brain from “thermal” to “night vision”, but I have to admit that I cheated quite often using a thermal spotter to find the animals.

    Here’s what to expect between the two technologies. Remember the C50 is about €1500 and the Pulsar Helion 2 Thermal monocular is around €3500 or more.

    Below: iPhone. Roe deer left and right. Distance about 35 meters.

    Below: Pulsar Digex C50 Night Vision, with active IR.

    Pulsar Digex C50 REVIEW Digital Day Night Vision Riflescope

    Below: Thermal Image with Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro.

    This video says it all. This is the same place, same roe deers almost the same time with the Digex C50 Night Vision (using IR850 lamp) and the Helion 2 XP50 Pro thermal spotter. Using a thermal makes it a lot easier to find any heat sources (like animals), but the Night Vision will give you more details (in general).

    Below: C50 daytime, winter.3.5x magnification with 14x PiP. The reticle can be changed and customized.

    Below: The Digex C50 (with lamp) vs. optical long-range riflescopes.

    I used a Spuhr QDP-3002 (Quick Attach) mount so I can’t blame the mount for any zeroing issues. Zeroing of the C50 riflescope is done by a “one-shot process”, just follow the instructions provided inside the software. We had no issues with the mount nor the C50 to keep its zero during the review.

    I am guessing that a lot of the “my electric sight can’t hold the zero” issues are related to people buying a really cheap mount, once they spent their hard-earned money on the riflescope. They Spuhr may be out of reach for some, but please make sure you buy a quality mount of some sort.

    Here are the levers to attach the Spuhr QDP-3002 to the Picatinny rail.

    Below: There are two optional IR lights from Pulsar, one with 850nm (Pulsar Digex-X850S) visible IR and one with 940nm (Pulsar Digex-X940S) with invisible IR. The price is around €150. I used the 850nm all of the time and while the animals noticed it, they did not run, could be a coincidence.

    These IR lights are perfectly useable for most types of hunting, but if you want to push the distance, just get an aftermarket IR with more power. Unlike the previous Digex which was quite sensitive to the amount of IR, the new C50 will take all the IR you can throw at it and adjust the image to something useable.

    The outer part of the light can be pointed in various directions. If you want you can buy a “no-name” IR light and use it instead for more power, but I was quite impressed with the flow of light from the IR850.

    Below: A few of the current Pulsar models. Proton front attachment, Helion 2 XP50 Pro, Digex C50 and Helion 2 XP50.

    Below: Pulsar Digex C50 (top) versus Pulsar Thermion 2 XP50. They look very similar but this model is a thermal and costs about 3 times more.

    Below: A thermal looking at the Digex C50 Night Vision.

    The light is nicely integrated onto the tube and can be removed quickly.

    It’s easy to forget but the C50 has a built-in WiFi module so you can connect it to Android or iOS smartphones using the Stream Vision 2 app. It also has photo and video recording, including sound.

    Below: Daytime winter, but with low sun. The C50 works well as a daytime sight, but in many countries, it’s illegal to hunt anything but wild boar with it. Not mounted on a firearm here.

    Below: One of the smallest reticles, just a tiny red dot. I think the distance here is around 700 meters, with some fog.

    Below: The outer rings for changing the focus and the day/night settings are very stiff. Too stiff in my opinion, and the light is a bit in the way to get a full grip. It works but I would have wished for it to be easier to turn.

    Below: A very foggy afternoon during winter. I could not see this haystack with my eyes but the C50 picked it up. Compare it to the image above.

    Finally, a video filmed during winter -16C (3F) pitch black, using the Digex C50 with Pulsar’s own IR850. Distance to the wild boar is about 25-30 meters.

    Below: The attention to detail is definitely Pulsar’s strong side. Note how you can adjust the strength of the IR light as well as the rubberized on/off button. In the dark, you can see a small green/red indicator for the on/off and battery level.

    Below: This wild boar was not shot using this C50, but it would certainly be up for the task.

    Conclusion – Pulsar Digex C50

    I think the Pulsar C50 Digex provides excellent value for money. Priced at around €1,350 including the optional IR light, it gives anyone with the slightest interest in getting to know night vision hunting a fairly cheap entry to the technology with low risk. More experienced users or gearheads won’t be disappointed either.

    Pulsar’s previous model (Pulsar Digex N455) is still holding up its value on the second-hand market, and I predict that the C50 will be even more popular as it can be used as a color day scope as well (where legislation permits).

    A great combination for any hunter would be to buy the Digex C50 and a hand-held thermal monocular. A thermal to find the animal and the C50 riflescope to identify and shoot. If you want to stay with Pulsar as a brand, the new Axion XM30F or Axion 2 XQ35 thermal spotters is what you should be looking at.

    TFB got one of the first pre-production models for the review and I was warned there could be issues, but I’m still running on the original firmware and have no reported issues.

    The battery life is probably the unit’s biggest drawback, but you could use an external power pack or buy a few extra spares if you know you’re going to be out for longer periods of time. With a weight of 1.35 kg, it’s not exactly light either, but most hunters will probably use a setup including a bi/tripod so not sure it’s that much of an issue in the field?

    I used a similar modern model from a competitor to benchmark against the C50, and what really made the Pulsar C50 come out as a winner was the overall build quality and its ability to automatically adjust the image in difficult conditions. Pulsar have done wonders to the internal image processing, and where their previous model (Digex N455) and the competitor would give you white-outs from reflecting IR, the C50 automatically cancels it. There’s some magic going on with the internal image processing for sure.

    Overall there was also very little lag in Pulsar’s image. As always I encourage you to look at as many devices as possible side-by-side. I know this can be hard in reality but look for dealers that offer this opportunity rather than the cheapest deal online. Hopefully, you’ll end up noticing the same things as I did, then I know I did my job as a reviewer.

    If you have more money to burn, take a look at a thermal riflescope instead, for instance, the Pulsar Thermion 2 or the upcoming Talion XQ38 with a MAP of $2,499.97.

    You can find a direct link to the Pulsar Digex C50 here.

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    Eric B

    Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics and sound suppressors. TCCC Certified medic.