IQ Define and the Garmin Xero.
Without doubt the talk of the 2018 ATA Show was the Garmin Xero Sight. The Xero is the product I have dreamed about for years. A sight which tells you the range to your target and selects a pin for that distance. Surprisingly Garmin, a non-archery company until now, produced this on their first foray into the archery industry.
One of the great things about the ATA show is the opportunity to talk to the engineers behind the innovations. So rather than just getting the ‘sales pitch’, we can get answers to all the questions the brochure doesn’t talk about.
IQ sights are no stranger to bowhunters being around for several years. Their product is significantly more basic than the Xero but extremely effective. Simply put the Define is a combination of a 5-pin fixed-pin sight and a rangefinder. In my mind this is a sweet set up with a price tag that will be less than half that of the Xero.
The price of these is low because the rangefinder is not a complete one. By that I mean the parts needed to look through and line up a rangefinder are not needed (eyepiece, prism, front lens).
The screen only displays two digits due to space constraints. It might be advertised as a 99yard rangefinder but the internals are that of a 300 yard rangefinder. At the show I was able to range past 100 and the display changed to 24, 124 yards.
The distance displayed is the horizontal distance only meaning the rangefinder takes into account the angle of the shot. The number display is blue, so very easy to read.
To activate the Define’s rangefinder you depress a switch. This switch is on a lead which you would attach to the bow’s grip. When activate the rangefinder will scan continuously for 2 minutes. More than enough time to shoot. It takes a CR2 battery. My experience with this battery and rangefinders has been good, getting more than 1 year of life from them.
Questions around the ability of both rangefinders (Garmin and IQ) to "read" through the brush accurately depend on the beam divergence. The Garmin has an mrad measurement of 0.5, 2 is common.
This means at 1000yards the beam is only half a metre wide compared to two metres for most others. The only other rangefinder I could find with 0.5 were the Zeiss Victorys.
This narrow beam means, according to the guys on the Garmin stand, if you can get an arrow through the gap you should be able to range through.
I couldn't get that info on the IQ but did try ranging it through gaps in the displays at the show and it got through everything ok.
The warranty is one year for the Garmin, the same as their other products.
The product is very good, amazing how it sets the "sight pin" for the distance ranged. Very easy to use and not too heavy.
The guys on the stand I spoke to told me the Xero was two years in development with up to 10 engineers working on it.
When comparing the two sights there were some obvious pros and cons. he Define is a little heavier than the Xero but appeared more robust. The mounting hardware on the Xero appeared to be less substantial with numerous “light” dovetail type connections. It also has all of the send and receiver windows on the sight head (where they need to be) but they were not protected. I have smashed my HHA King Pin sight into rocks a couple of times with only cosmetic damage done to it. I do not know how well the Xero would fair in the same circumstances. I felt the Define was more likely to escape damage to the rangefinder.
I like to use a single pin sight as I like an uncluttered sight picture. The Xero is well ahead of the Define in this regard with a completely uncluttered sight window. In comparison the Define is slightly more cluttered than a regular 5-pin sight.
The technology in the Xero is unparalleled with it having numerous functionality, multiple arrow profiles being stored, vibration readings, angle compensation and dual pin colours. It will run for 100hours on a set of batteries, 3 x AAA’s. You can send the impact location of your arrow to other Garmin devices to help you find the start of your blood trail.
Shooting wise the Xero lets you know if you are torqueing the bow, arrows and a circle will guide you back to holding the bow correctly.
The pins are displayed on a glass lens placed at 45 degrees inside the sight housing to avoid glare. This allows for a clear sight picture but the glass may compromise the spot and stalk style of hunting we do here. I have used a lens in a single pin sight for hunting. The lens was a 4 power and did make things a little clearer but it only stayed in the sight for 30 minutes. It was in March and it was dry. It didn’t take long for dust to coat the lens and then the lowering sun hit it and I couldn’t see through it.
Water is also a problem for lenses and it usually will rain on a hunting trip at some point. Garmin have coated the lens with a product that causes water to run off but I don’t know whether this would be sufficient in a New Zealand downpour.
Whichever sight I chose, I would still have a conventional rangefinder as a back up and for ranging longer distances, planning stalks etc.
Which sight would I use? I don’t know. The Define’s simplicity and practicality is extremely appealing. The technology of the Garmin is simply out of this world. The Garmin is certainly ahead of its time with some of its functions available to a user who may not have got their head around how to apply them to their hunting. How often do you torque your bow? How many different arrows do you use? Would you use arrow impact function?
At the moment I don’t think I need these functions but perhaps the true measure of the Xero will be, will it change what bowhunters do in the field?
IQ Define Sights will be in stock approx end of March. If you're keen give us a call to put your name on one. No word just yet on the availability of the Garmin Xero, we'll keep you posted.