I have been playing with the Sig ECHO1 for about nine months and have been very impressed with both its utility for finding targets in absolute darkness, as well as its durability for taking abuse.
Utilizing state-of-the-art thermal technology, its direct view and the ability to quickly acquire targets with both eyes open, increasing situational awareness, makes the ECHO1 a great tool for CQB, home defense, search and rescue, hunting hogs or pest elimination.
The ECHO1 comes with five preloaded aiming reticles, as well as the ability to generate and load your own. It easily mounts on your rifle, using a standard Picatinny (MIL-STD-1913) rail and can be removed and reattached without losing zero.
It isn’t as minimal as a small reflex sight, but it does provide much more functionality than a small reflex sight. It can be used either in daylight or in absolute darkness. Because it uses the heat given off by the environment and target, it is able to provide a better assessment of the battlespace, seeing easily through brush and grass and even thin walls.
The sight can be quickly zeroed using the adjustment joystick under the 1.5×1.25-inch screen (220×176 pixels). Because you aren’t using an eyepiece, the ECHO1 alleviates eye fatigue and the monitor can be viewed by your buddy. Each nudge of the joystick provides .5 MOA adjustment, which is plenty for CQB and MOBG (Minute of Bad Guy) engagement. It will give an accurate image out to 300 yards and pick up thermal input from as far away as 1,000 yards.
In addition to being IPX-6 waterproof, it has special anti-dust, smudge, and fog coating on the sapphire lens (thermal can’t see through glass). The internal electronics automatically refresh to purge out accumulated thermal backscatter and will adjust the refresh rate based on the amount of ambient thermal noise. Many other thermal imagers on the market require this as a manual step, so this a welcomed feature.
The ECHO1 has a variety of different viewing modes, including a couple of brightly colored options, reminiscent of the Predator movies. They also feature red, green, blue, black and white and white and black versions, with the ability to turn down the screen brightness. These options will protect your natural night vision, as well as reduce backlighting the shooter.
A still camera can shoot multiple bursts of photos or individual images for download.
For those who care about the technical stuff that I won’t even pretend to understand, the heart of the ECHO1 is a 206×156 Uncooled VOx Bolometer Array, which people who know more about these things than I do, assure me is impressive. I am more impressed that it will run a minimum of 8-hours on a pair of CR123 batteries and is backed by Sig Optic’s incomparable Infinite Guarantee and Electronics Limited Warrantee.