Pixfra Chiron thermal

Turning up the heat on ferals

Matthew Godson meets a new player in the scope marker

There’s a new kid in town was the promotional catch-cry celebrating the release of the new Pixfra Chiron thermal range into Australia by Dahua Technology. There are five models in the range which include a choice of two sensor sizes and three lens sizes, all with ≤30 mK NETD sensitivity and the one provided for review by Dahua Technology Australia was their top of the range Chiron C650.

On paper this one has an impressive list of features and specifications for its price point, the scope coming with a 640 x 512 VOx thermal sensor with 12-micron pixel pitch, 50Hz refresh rate and an F1.0 lens. It offers a field of view (FOV) of 8.7 x 7.0 degrees and a handy base magnification of 2.63x that extends with digital zoom adjustment levels of 1x, 2x, 4x and 8x. Detection distance is listed to be up to 2600m, the 1440 x 1080 display screen is OLED and provides clear, crisp images of what the sensor produces.

The C650 has a metal housing to protect sensitive hardware inside, a sturdy flip-out protective cover for the lens and ergonomically, every control you need is comfortably in reach with your left hand. There are only four function controls – the power button, capture button, menu button and rotary knob – and of course the adjustable diopter and adjustable lens to ensure clear images to the eye.

Once the device is on the Power button also provides the function to execute sleep mode. The Menu button is pressed to display a brief menu or held to display the standard menu and you make the selections you want by turning the rotary knob. Double pressing the Menu button will initiate a flat-field calibration for the image and, when not in menu function, the rotary knob decreases and increases digital zoom. The Capture button allows you to choose between recording videos (press and hold) or taking photos (press) and by pressing the Power and Capture button together you can change palette colour. Pressing the Power and Menu button together lets you change the zeroing profile.

The palette choices for the C650 include White Hot, Black Hot, Green Hot, Alarm, Iron Red and Sepia. It has 10 reticle options with a choice of three colours (white, red, green) and five zeroing profiles (A-E) which allow for zeroing of multiple firearms and with each of those profiles you can set five different zeroing distances. This is handy for setting different zero settings for short and long ranges or even ammunition types with varying bullet drop. Other functions worth noting include PIP (Picture-in-Picture), RAR (Recoil Activated Recording), DPC (Defective Pixel Correction), Hot Spot Track, video with microphone recording, auto or manual calibration and stadiametric rangefinder (range mode).

With regard to power, the C650 uses replaceable and rechargeable 18650-type batteries and with the ones supplied you have battery life of around six hours. Of course these are easy to find and the purchase of additional batteries would certainly extend operational time in the field. They can be charged via the unit or the supplied charger.

I attached the scope to my usual test rifle using the Picatinny mounting system which came with it. I’m told the mount supplied for review has been replaced with a quick-detach version and that’ll make it easier to swap and change to other firearms in your collection. A good quality QD mount should help maintain reasonable zero with nil or minor adjustment depending on your needs.

The C650 was easy to attach to my Ruger American rimfire and to ensure I fitted the mount snuggly on the rail, I held a little bit of forward force so it had solid connection with the rail while tightening the locking bolts with even force. Doing this and maintaining a consistent locking torque will help preserve the best return to zero possible when detaching and reattaching the scope in a systemic manner.

Sighting-in was a relatively straightforward process. With the scope offering a freeze function you simply aim at the middle of a target and fire a few shots to determine point of impact (POI). Then focus back on point of aim (POA), freeze the image, adjust the reticle to be in line with POI and save your settings to set the zero. I zeroed the scope at 25m and it didn’t take long to go through the whole process. The C650 easily picked up the passive thermal signature of the 20mm Glowshot Target repair patches I regularly use to cover POA and POI holes, to ensure I can clearly see them while making final adjustments to complete zeroing.

When viewing various objects with the available the palette choices, I had a good demonstration of the quality images the C650 can produce. From those captured during the zeroing process in daylight to landscape pictures and animals at night, this little unit produced the goods and I certainly give the output of the sensor and OLED display a big tick.

When it came to using the C650 for its intended purpose it functioned as expected with ample FOV to be able to quickly scan paddocks for pest animals, important if you don’t have a standalone thermal monocular for that task. Detection zone of the scope is more than adequate for most situations and the digital zoom with focus ring brought those distance detections into identification range.

Gross weight of the scope is 696 grams with mount and battery and I found it balanced well on my rifle without feeling too heavy, which allowed me to use it as a spotter when walking and stalking game. Seeing as I used 22LR subsonic ammunition during testing, the recoil didn’t have the energy to activate the RAR which isn’t a fault or limitation of this particular device, as I’ve found this also happens with other more expensive units.

While waiting for darkness to fall on one testing session I noticed a few rabbits had started to move from their hiding places into adjacent paddocks. Never one to let an opportunity slip by, I chose to go for a stroll and target some bunnies in daylight. Even here I’d no trouble picking up the thermal signature of a few sitting in the grass and even hiding among fallen timber in mallee bushland. You can use this scope during the day to good effect, just remember to keep the lens cap on when not actively hunting and don’t point the scope (like any other thermal device) directly at the sun to protect the sensor.

When it came time for night patrol the C650 clearly picked up rabbits moving around beyond 250m which is well outside rimfire range, so it was a case of slowly moving to within 50m of an intended target before taking a shot. As always, prior to shooting I used a ballistics calculator to confirm bullet drop across my intended shooting range, taking into account scope height, ammo choice and sighting-in at 25m. With a calculated trajectory indicating less than 0.5 of an inch across the entire 20-60m range, this set-up allowed me to aim dead-on and shoot with no thought of holdover.

I found the Chiron C650 reliable in the field, easy to zero and hold multiple profiles for use with a variety of firearms. It maintained zero across several shooting sessions, was simple to navigate through its functions and had most of the features you need or want in a thermal scope. With wi-fi connection to an App you can change various functions/settings, capture pictures and video and share them via your mobile device. The factory warranty stands at three years parts and labour with one year on batteries and the C650 retails for $5299 and is available in a three-in-one kit which includes scope, monocular and clip-on from distributor Australian Sporting Agencies.

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