Scope for change

Matthew Godson applauds a one-zero wonder

When Nioa Australia offered the new iAiming iA-612 LFR thermal scope for review, I was excited about using one which had both automatic one-shot zeroing and laser rangefinder (LRF) technology. Having assessed several thermal scopes over the years, one factor common to most is the need to spend time on the zeroing process. Zeroing across difference profiles which cater to a variety of firearms and ammunition types means repeating the same process over and over again, and usually consists of firing multiple shots at a target to align point of aim with point of impact. After making some adjustments you fire a few more shots to ensure the scope is zeroed and, if not, try again and tweak it further until you get it right.

Enter the iAiming First Shot Auto Zero system which makes the whole process quicker and easier through their innovative AI design. With a couple of clicks of a button and one shot fired you can have your zero sorted inside a minute. To get going you set up a target at 25 meters then simply select the zero function to engage the Auto Zero mode. The scope will ask you to confirm the zero range is 25m and then begin a 15-second preparation mode where you get ready to fire. After that countdown finishes, you’ll be prompted to aim and shoot at the target. A square reticle will appear on screen that you place in the middle of the target face then take the shot.

The onboard computer will detect the heat signature from the bullet impact and undertake data processing. Once it has determined zero, a small white cross will appear in the square and if that cross overlaps with the heat signature from the fired shot, the scope is successfully zeroed. All you do now is confirm this by clicking the ‘yes’ option on screen, after which you shoot a target 50m or 100m away to verify the accuracy of the First Shot Auto Zero function.

If you prefer you can opt for the Manual Zero function where you enter the target distance as well as the deviation distance between point of impact and point of aim. When this is entered the scope will process that information and automatically adjust the reticle position to match the observed point of impact.

The iAiming iA-612 LFR also has a ‘gun profile’ function which allows you to enter ballistic parameters of the particular firearms you’ll be using. This will enable the scope to position the reticle based on the calculated distance (after using the LRF function) and expected bullet drop from the calibre’s ballistic parameters, which avoids the need for determining holdover at different distances. After entering the sight height you choose the relevant option from a selection of preloaded calibres (from .22 to .338) and, if your calibre isn’t listed, simply select ‘user defined’ to create a relevant profile. You have to use an external ballistic calculator to generate the parameters to allow you to enter expected bullet drop across 50m, 100m, 150m, 200m, 250m and 300m for your particular calibre.

These two functions are certainly a point of difference compared to all thermal scopes I’ve reviewed previously. One-shot zeroing saves you time and money, while the integrated ballistic technology allows you to range the distance to target then simply put the reticle on target and shoot. And the scope has a pile of other good features and specifications too.

It uses a simple power ‘Select and Scroll’ dial system to work through the menu options with ease and, without multiple buttons to remember, you can operate it easily even with gloves on (the power dial when not in menu mode adjusts the zoom). The overall design is slim, it has a traditional look with an aluminum alloy body weighing 1050grams and accommodates 30mm mounting rings to secure it to your firearm. There are two built-in 18650-type batteries and a single 18500-type external (and replaceable) battery for up to 13 hours of working time (charge time is roughly five hours).

The iA-612 LRF has a 640×512 Vox uncooled sensor with 12µm pixel pitch and ≤30mk NETD and with a 50Hz refresh rate, the images this unit produces will be clear and crisp even when tracking moving objects. With a 50mm objective lens, 8.8o x 7.0o angle of view and 2.8x-22.4x continuous digital zoom, it’ll provide good vision of all in front of you at both short and long range. Those images produced by the sensor are displayed on an AMOLED screen at 1024 x 768 resolution.

You can create up to five zeroing profiles for different firearms and there are 10 reticle types to choose from and seven palette choices in White Hot, Black Hot, Ironbow, Glowbow, Sepia, Red Hot and Green Hot. You also have two video recording modes – shooting triggered (recoil) auto-recording and manual push-button recording – so it’s easy to capture video/audio highlights of your hunting adventure and you can choose between the auto feature or manual record.

The built-in laser rangefinder has a range of 1000m which provides an accurate distance measurement, while the scope has an ultra-long detection distance of 2600m for a deer-sized object. There’s also a built-in laser pointer that can be useful to highlight something to a hunting companion. The scope supports wi-fi connection to mobile devices using an app which enables live video recording and still photo capture and you can also adjust image settings, screen share and post to social platforms.

It was time to take the iAiming iA-612 LFR for a run. Prior to leaving home I set up the scope by choosing the image mode and reticle etc and activated the wi-fi, microphone, auto refresh and trigger footage settings ready for action. I entered a ‘user-defined’ profile to suit my Ruger 204 test rifle, which meant I had to use an external ballistic calculator to generate data, then manually enter expected bullet drop at pre-determined intervals.

I was zeroing the scope in a paddock so brought a thick piece of plywood to use as a target to create a good thermal signature on bullet impact. I set up at the mandated 25m, cycled through the menu and selected ‘auto zero’ mode, whereon the box appeared on-screen for me to confirm the target was indeed 25m away. Once confirmed a prompt appeared to start the 15-second preparation countdown, at which point I chambered a live round and readied myself to shoot.

I aimed at the plywood target with the rectangular reticle in a central position and fired a shot. I then held the rifle stable until prompted I could put it down and waited for data processing to complete. A message then popped up to confirm the current options. When the small validation cross appeared and overlapped with the projectile impact point, I could confirm the computer had correctly identified the impact and the auto-zero process was complete in less than a minute. I did a quick test for peace of mind by aiming and shooting at the impact point at both 25m and 50m, which confirmed zero and the scope and rifle were ready to go.

To test the laser rangefinder and ballistic computer capabilities of the scope I choose to go after rabbits at ranges from 20-150m. These smaller targets leave little room for error so having identified a bunny, I pressed the LRF button. After the distance from target was displayed and the scope adjusted the reticle to the nearest distance parameter, I took a shot holding dead-on the rabbit. I was highly impressed by the results and would’ve no issues trusting the accuracy of the AI-driven zeroing process and ballistic reticle adjustments of this scope.

Images the sensor produced in action were clear and crisp, the recoil activation didn’t miss a beat and all video recorded was able to be viewed and downloaded from the app with ease. The iAiming iA-612 LFR scope is undoubtedly a quality product and anyone buying it won’t be disappointed with its technology and features. Warranty from date of purchase is three years free of manufacturing defects in workmanship or materials under normal use conditions. Batteries and chargers are covered by a one-year warranty and RRP is around $7695.

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