I’ve been been writing for a while now about how the revolution in personal electronics will affect firearms development, and now we’re seeing products like Tracking Point and Colt’s SWORD system change how we think about small arms.
But those are systems that cost thousands of dollars and are of marginal use to civilians: What’s out there for people like us who don’t wear MOLLE straps to work each day?
The Inteliscope iPhone Scope is one of those options, and it uses features already on your smartphone such as an inclinometer, camera and far more computing power than my first computer to do (in theory) a lot of what Tracking Point and other systems do for thousands of dollars more.
The first thing I noticed about the Inteliscope system was how nicely-packaged it was. Apple owners are used to a first-class experience when opening up new stuff, and the Inteliscope does not dissapppoint. Setup on the top of my competition AR-15 was easy, and downloading the app from the iTunes was simple and free.
I took rifle to range to sight it in, and decided to set it up for shooting .22LR through my AR before I set it up to shoot .223, because I’m cheap, that’s why. The mount was easy to install on my gun and once my phone was locked onto the it, nothing moved, it was VERY sold. Setting up the scope for zeroing caused a brief moment of panic as I’d forgotten where that screen was on the included app. The app includes a screen where rifle and ammo data can be entered for the built-in ballistic computer, and setting up the Inteliscope was for the most part easy and logical. However, a a one-page instruction manual would help smooth the process for dunderheads like me. I also like the fact you can remove items from the display screen such as GPS info and the inclinometer, but I’d like an option to customize it further and remove the optional light switch and timer button as well. One thing on the screen that I really liked was the option to include local wind and weather data. Knowing at a glance where the prevailing wind was coming from and how strong it was could be a big hand in making longer-distance shots.
The sighting-in process began to highlight some of the limitations of this device. Because the Inteliscope uses the iPhone’s 5x digital zoom, the details of the target 25 yards away were very blurry and I couldn’t get a good sighting group no matter how hard I tried. The image to the right shows the problem: The app was willing, but alas, the display on my iPhone 4S was weak. I set up five targets to shoot with my .22 to test out how the Inteliscope handles target transitions, and the results were disappointing.
I spent much more time hunting for the plates with the Inteliscope than I do with my 1x red dot. The Inteliscope just didn’t resolve the low-contrast between the plates and the dirt berm well enough for me to shoot quickly and accurately (although it’s really cool to FINALLY have true “gun camera” footage from my AR…) The bright sunlight of a clear Arizona morning was also too much for the scope, and I couldn’t get a good view of the screen unless I shaded it with the brim of my cap. I also noticed that this gizmo uses a lot of battery power: My iphone went from 95% to 25% charged in just an hour of use.
Bottom Line - Inteliscope iPhone Review
I’ll admit that I really loved the idea of this product and I want it to succeed, and the people at Inteliscope deserve praise for raising the bar on what electronics can do in conjunction with firearms. What I’ve learned throughout this review is that this product shows a lot of potential and is a fun little toy to play around with, but it needs some improvements in order to deal with the limits of the iPhone’s digital zoom and poor screen performance in daylight before it can be used in competition or on a defensive firearm. Options for a sunscreen and an optical zoom adapter would go a long way to improve this gadget’s utility and make it a serious alternative to a conventional red dot or optical scope.