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ARKEN ZULUS - Digital Night Vision Scope

ZULUS on 6.5 creedmoor rifle

ARKEN Optics has made a name for themselves with their budget priced day optics that seem to punch above their class. Well they have started to expand into the digital night vision world with their ZULUS HD 5-20R. Not only can it see in the dark, it has a built in laser range finder and ballistic calculation All for just under $1,000.


The ARKEN ZULUS 5-20R is a rather compact digital scope. It is just under 8 inches long and only weighs just under 1.3 lbs. That is with battery and mount installed. ARKEN has 0 MOA mounts as well as 30 MOA mounts available. It is powered by an 18650 for 8 hours but you can plug it into a battery pack for longer run time, especially in colder climates.


The ZULUS is rated for up to .50BMG


All the controls for the ZULUS 5-20R are on top except for the laser range finder (LRF) button conveniently oriented at the back of the LRF.


The controls for the ZULUS are rather simple. You have five buttons on top. Four of them are oriented in a cross pattern somewhat like a directional pad on a controller. Then you have the fifth button for power. Press and hold the power button to turn the ZULUS on or off.

The Top button is for recording video. The ZULUS 5-20R also has a built in microphone for recording audio. So you can narrate you hunt or shooting adventure. There is a feature built into the ZULUS that will record video when a shot is taken. Below the video record button are the left and right buttons. The left button is for switching to night time IR mode and turning on the built in 5w IR illuminator. The right button controls screen brightness. The last button is for entering the menu settings. There are other controls the buttons do like turn off the Wi-Fi or turn it on.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, the ZULUS can connect to the Arlen Optics APP via Wi-Fi. Click on the images above to see the whole screen shot. In the APP you can live view what the scope sees. You can zero the reticle as well as adjust any other settings just as you would in the built in menu of the ZULUS. If you have a ZULUS 5-20R with the built in LRF then it can connect to the Arken Ballistics APP via Bluetooth. In the Arken Ballistics APP you can enter your ballistic information of the projectile you are shooting. It needs information like the weight of your projectile, muzzle velocity, height over bore for the optic and ballistic coefficient as well as what distance you zeroed the reticle at. Once you have that information entered you can call up the ballistic calculation live with the ARKEN Ballistics APP open or use what is called table call. In the APP you can upload the ballistic information and it will be stored in the ZULUS. The only issue is you cannot make adjustments for atmospheric conditions. But this way you do not need to keep your phone on and open to the APP. See the screenshot below. Do you see the red brackets and highlight around 5.5 MILS? That is what the ballistic calculator says should be your hold for that distance. When you use the LRF to measure the distance to your target, the ballistic calculator will figure out the bullet drop and a red aiming bracket will show up showing you where to aim.

ARKEN Digital Night Vision

I used to look down on digital night vision because it was not very good. However that is all relative. The technology is getting better. The ZULUS 5-20R uses a Sony Starves 2 sensor and while it is not as sensitive to low light, like analog night vision, it is useable under the right conditions. Full moon looks amazing. But if it is not that bright out, the ZULUS does have a 5w IR illuminator built into the side. Here is a sample looking at a transmission tower 700 yards away. The water tower behind it is 1 mile away.

ZULUS at the base 5x magnification

ZULUS in IR mode zoomed to 20x

When you switch the ZULUS from DAY to NIGHT IR mode, the image will be black and white. There is also a slight focus shift that you need to adjust the objective lens to correct. Below is a screenshot of a conex box just over 400 yards away. The IR illuminator has been turned on.


Here is the same cones box with the full moon still out at 6 am in the morning.


Final Thoughts On The ARKEN ZULUS 5-20R

I was intrigued by the cost/performance of the ZULUS. I have not had the best experiences with digital systems. They are either glorified digital cameras or they are not that reliable. coupled with poor low light performance. Add to that they are usually more expensive that I care to pay when I can have analog night vision or a thermal device.

That is not the case with the ZULUS 5-20R. I even challenged myself and took it to the East Coast Night Shoot last November. The organizers are my friends and one of them setup a little challenge for any of the attendees. It was a .22lr target set at 400 yards. I borrowed his CZ and swapped his optic for the ZULUS. I shot SK Standard Plus ammo which is sub sonic. I wasn't sure if there would be enough elevation but the 30MOA mount helped and I was able to zero the reticle and hold over for 400 yards. Watch the video below. I used my JIMLR thermal spotter to confirm I hit the target. But you can see the target move in the ZULUS video clips.

The ZULUS 5-20R is on sale now for under $1,000. You can get the non LRF ZULUS 5-20x for just $649.99 and there is a code SAVE25%. I see the ZULSU being perfect for predator or hog hunters who typically hunt at night and are engaging within 200 yards. The ballistic calculator is nice but not really something one needs for those kinds of distances unless you are shooting air rifles. For more information go to ARKEN Optics' website.

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