Mini-14 & ATN 6900 Review

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

Moderator: Michael

Mini-14 & ATN 6900 Review

Postby Guest » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:42 am

I recently purchased a Mini-14 with a hand select tube and have now had a few opportunities to use it under different lighting conditions. Overall, it’s a good NVD. I’ve been using my ATN 6900 (Gen 2) for a longer period of time.
I live in central Texas on a cattle ranch, and use NVD’s primarily for dispatching nocturnal varmints (wild pigs, coyotes, skunks, etc.) and checking on the herd. I have also used it to locate nocturnal 2 legged varmints such as poachers and thieves.
The 6900 is typically mounted on an AR derivative (5.56mm), a Remington 700 in .243, or an M1A (7.62mm) depending on the intended target. I have also used the Mini-14 on the AR with the supplied weapons mount and an EOTech 552 sight.
Following the recommended guidelines for this forum, here’s my observation:
* Clarity / focus (how crisp images are at close / distance ranges) :
Mini-14:
Very clear images at close and distant viewing. So what is close and distant to me? Close is basically hand-held or looking where my feet are going. Distant is typically ~300 yards maximum.
The tube has one black spot on it. The spot is not very big, but unfortunately it’s close to the center of the field of view, so your eye naturally goes to it each time you look through the device. I would call it a minor issue.
Focus is one area where I’m disappointed. I can separate my screen into 3 major sections of roughly equal size. Each section requires a different focus for maximum clarity. I have a pair of $60 binoculars I carry in my truck that have the same problem. I expect that on cheap optics such as those binoculars, but not on $3,000+ optics.
ATN 6900:
It’s Gen 2, so clarity is not its strongpoint. Having said that, I’m very pleased with its clarity and focus considering the inherent limitations of Gen 2 devices.
The tube does not have any spots in the field of view.
The entire screen is in focus at the same time, unlike the Mini-14.

* Image constrast under various lighting conditions (full moon, no moonlight, spotlighting, etc.)
Mini-14:
Image contrast is unbelievable. With minimal light (stars only), I sat and watched a raccoon eat corn from the deer feeder. I was ~30 yards away, and could clearly make out the critter.
Under better lighting, such as the full moon, it turns the countryside into daytime. Discerning individual leaves on a tree is no problem. While looking at a power pole ~50 yards away, I could see the power lines clearly.
While varmint hunting, I typically use the Mini-14 to scan the countryside to locate my prey, and then transition to the 6900 for the shot. The difference in going from the Mini to the ATN is substantial (as would be expected when transitioning from Gen 3 to Gen 2)
I have not run into a situation yet where I needed the built-in illuminator. I did look through it while using the ATN IR illuminator that came with the 6900, but the results were not really any better then no illuminator.
6900:
Contrast is acceptable. It does a very good job with moonlight, but with only starlight, or thick cloud cover, I need to use the illuminator.

* Effectiveness of the built-in IR illuminator when used both indoors and outdoors, as well as approximate distance of effectiveness:
Mini-14:
As stated above, I have not needed to use the built-in illuminator. I have “played” with it some both inside and outside, and it seems to be fine for work inside ~10 yards, but I really need more time with the device to evaluate it.
6900:
I like the illuminator that came with the scope. When I use it on those very dark nights, it makes the scope functional out to ~200 yards. Of course it depends on the size target you are looking for.

* Ergonomics of the unit (does it fit / balance well? Are the controls easily accessible?, etc.)
Mini-14:
Excellent ratings on ergonomics. The unit is light, and well balanced. The controls are easily accessible, and can be effectively operated even with light gloves on, changing batteries while wearing gloves is not a problem.
6900:
This scope does pretty well on ergonomics. The focus rings and on/off button are located where they are easy to operate while mounted on the rifle. Its controls are also easily operated while wearing gloves. Changing batteries while wearing gloves is problematic.


* As great as it is, do you notice any flaws in the unit (not necessarily production flaws; rather, things that you feel would make the unit more user-friendly and easier to use overall).
Mini-14:
The weapons mount could use a little work. With the goggle mounted, it rattles considerably. While we’re on the subject of the weapons mount, it would be nice if the distance from the rifle scope could be adjustable. On my AR, the goggle sits farther back from the sight then I would prefer.
I would also like to see a “momentary” on/off button. The light output from the goggles is high, and on dark nights it “ghosts” you. The ability to put the goggle up to your eye, and then press a momentary switch to activate would be great. This would be in addition to the traditional on/off switch. What I do now is put my left hand over the objective lens while holding the goggle in my right. Once the goggle is up to my eye, I remove the left hand. I reverse the process for taking the goggles away from my eye. This ties up both hands though, and still allows some light to ghost my face. A momentary switch would solve the problem. A similar problem exists when using the weapons mount.
It would be nice if there was a way to “lock” the diopter adjustment ring. I often put the goggle in my pocket or Fanny Pack, and sometimes the diopter setting will be changed when I next use them.
6900:
The LED’s used to indicate when the units are turned on are way to bright. The one on the illuminator actually interferes with your night vision it’s so bright! I covered mine with a piece of masking tape colored by magic marker. This cut the light down to a reasonable level. I did the same for the scope power indicator, although it wasn’t as bright to start with, it would still ghost you on dark nights.
The mount needs to be redesigned. Imagine my surprise when I mounted it on my Remington 700 and the scope interfered with the bolt! The MDL 700 is a ubiquitous rifle, and I would think the scope manufactures would have taken it into account during design. I solved the problem by purchasing a spacer/riser to elevate the scope ~3/4 inch.

* As an option... your customer service experience with OpticsHQ.com or Nightvisionmall.com (helpful service, unit arrived well packaged, etc.)

I purchased the Mini-14 through Nightvisionmall.com, but the 6900 was purchased through a local store (I didn’t know about Nightvisionmall.com at the time).
The service was excellent. The goggle arrived the next day (I selected next day air), was well packaged, and was in excellent shape.
I have since then also purchased an additional 552 sight, which also arrived on time, and in excellent shape.
I have been very pleased with the service to date, and am looking to upgrade my 6900 to a D-740 when I can get a little ahead of the game on finances.
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Postby Michael » Thu Dec 22, 2005 1:03 pm

Excellent work! I would like to answer a couple of points:

1. Weapon Mount
We were aware of the "issue" from the get-go and created a solution: http://www.opticshq.com/Merchant2/merch ... ing-Scopes and a picture is here: http://www.nightvisionforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=1265

2. The "ghosting" effect
We have a shuttered eye-guard available for $45.00. Basically, it requires you to press your eye against it to open the flaps and allow the inage to be seen.

Hope this helps.
Michael
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Postby Guest » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:11 pm

Michael wrote:Excellent work! I would like to answer a couple of points:

1. Weapon Mount
We were aware of the "issue" from the get-go and created a solution: http://www.opticshq.com/Merchant2/merch ... ing-Scopes and a picture is here: http://www.nightvisionforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=1265

2. The "ghosting" effect
We have a shuttered eye-guard available for $45.00. Basically, it requires you to press your eye against it to open the flaps and allow the inage to be seen.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the response Michael and the link to the weapons mount. Looks like a good solution to my problem. I plan to order one this weekend.
The shuttered eye-guard also sounds like a good idea. I looked for it on the web site, but somehow missed it. Would you please supply me with a link? I might as well order it at the same time as the weapons mount.
Thanks again for the help!
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Postby Michael » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:48 pm

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guest

Postby fkalich » Fri Dec 23, 2005 2:12 pm

What is the recoil like using the .243? Any problems with too much recoil using that with NV? I understand that the Mini should have no issue. I am thinking about your eye while shooting.
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Re: guest

Postby Guest » Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:12 pm

fkalich wrote:What is the recoil like using the .243? Any problems with too much recoil using that with NV? I understand that the Mini should have no issue. I am thinking about your eye while shooting.


I've only used the Mini on the M4 (5.56mm), so no recoil issue there.
I've used the 6900 on both the Rem 700 (.243) and an M1A (.308). You do have to watch where you put your eye or you will get a nasty surprise :shock:
I just back my eye up to about 1 inch from the eye cup and that seems to be enough, and I still get an acceptable sight picture.
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Postby Guest » Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:29 pm

Michael:

As I stated in the original post, I am thinking about upgrading my MK-6900 to a D-740 with a hand select tube.
The focus issue on my Mini has me a little spooked though. Is there a similar issue with the D-740, or is it unique to the Mini?
If I go with the D-740, does it come with a low power illuminator? Is it roughly as bright as the Mini, or does the magnification substantially impact the brightness?
Thanks for your time!
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Postby Michael » Sat Dec 24, 2005 3:47 pm

The uneven focusing is not an issue with the 740 (and you might want to send the MiNi back to me for eval, just to make sure that everything is ok). There is no built-in IR for the 740 (that scope was designed for military use), but you can get the ELR which will give you 300+ yards http://www.opticshq.com/page/Optics/PRO ... ies/ELR-IR
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min focus

Postby fkalich » Mon Dec 26, 2005 1:04 am

The focus issue on my Mini has me a little spooked though.


After reading this I tried to see if I could decern optimum focusing in one part of view puting the view out of focus elsewhere. I don't see anything like that, the entire view always has the same degree of focus clarity. Now I did not put it up to a scope, however I don't see why that would matter.
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Pics of potential focus issue

Postby TX_Rancher » Mon Dec 26, 2005 9:48 am

Michael:

Thanks for the offer to evaluate my Mini-14 to see if there is a defect. First, let me state I am very satisfied with the support from you and your organization, so this thread should not be misinterpreted as I’m a dissatisfied customer.
Actually, I’m seriously thinking about buying a D-740 or D-760 from you. I need to decide which one, and then see if I can swing the expense anytime soon.
But back to the Mini perceived issue on focus. I thought I would try to take some pictures before sending the unit back, that way, if I’m out in left field I don’t waste your time (well, at least not as much!). If after viewing the pictures you think it’s worth further investigation, so be it.

Fkalich:
Thanks for the info. Just to clarify, I was not using the Mini in series with my 6900. Rather I use the Mini to scan the fields and tree line, and then switch to the 6900 rifle scope when applicable.

Pic Info:

I took two pictures through the Mini. To try and get a relatively accurate representation of the focus, I used a scope target taped to a white board. I hung the white board in a walk-in closet, and took the pictures with minimal light entering the room. I would say it was about the same as a full moon night. Turning on the IR Illuminator did change to the picture, but I turned it off since the red on indicator impacted the picture quality (bloomed the camera). As for focus, it did not change with or without the IR on.
I verified the Mini was at a 90 degree angle from the target. The Mini was mounted on a tripod using it’s weapons mount and a spare rail that I had laying around. The objective lens was 19 inches from the target.
The camera is a SLR digital set to ISO 400, 0.1 Sec exposure, manual focus. The camera is also on a tripod.
The first picture is with the center in focus, the second is with the left hand portion in focus.
If you expand the pictures, it’s easier to see the focus disparity.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Postby Michael » Mon Dec 26, 2005 1:48 pm

TX, I think I know what the issue is. Give me a call when you have a chance and I think we can get it fixed without sending the unit back to us.
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Postby Optik45 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 12:44 pm

Woah, let me know what you guys figure out, because one of my MiNi's does the same thing! I did notice the eyepeice is installed at a very slight angle, could this be causing it?
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Postby Michael » Tue Dec 27, 2005 1:18 pm

Yep, that was the issue.
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Postby Optik45 » Tue Dec 27, 2005 1:57 pm

How do I properly fix this?
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Postby Michael » Tue Dec 27, 2005 2:03 pm

Best thing would be to send it to me, so I can re-purge it afterwards.
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