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Paul Austin looks at a digiscope and IR combo that provides a fantastic, budget-friendly day/night shooting solution - the Sightmark Wraith HD and Wicked Lights A511R package deal!
In this test, we’re going to take a look at an IR scope and torch combo that I think is ground breaking in terms of bang for your buck and an ideal combo for anyone looking to put a serious night shooting IR rig togrther.
I’ll be honest. When the Sightmark Wraith HD first appeared, I was a bit blasé about it. At the time, the market was flooded with new IR kit, which I was busy squirreling together for the mag. Chris Parkin did the initial review and clearly liked it, but at first glance it looks a bit big and boxy, sat relatively high atop its Picatinny sled. Nice enough for a beginner perhaps, but at £600, how good could it be compared to sexier releases at twice the price or above?
As the months ticked by, we started to see the Wraith in the hands of the foxing maestro Mr Ripley, so clearly there was more to the Wraith than it’s Volvo-esque styling. A quick call to Scott Country and a Wraith and torch combo was on its way. It was high time to see if this ugly duckling was indeed a swan in disguise.
That was a couple of months back and I must admit I’m a convert. Is it perfect? No. But it’s very impressive nonetheless, and an ideal combination for serious IR shooting. The refresh rate isn’t optimal, so there is a touch of motion blur as you swing the rifle around, and the buttons on the control panel could do with being a bit more pronounced – I sometimes struggle to locate them with gloved fingers after dark. Both of the above are something you soon get used to, so... good but not great would perhaps be the best description in these two areas.
Any other complaint? No, not really. The image quality is impressive, giving excellent full colour during the day, mono after dark and great twilight performance, so you don’t really need an IR until it’s fairly dark. It really is a very impressive bit of kit – and an absolute bargain for £600.
The original mount for the Wraith meant it was ‘AR15 style’ only really, but the latest extended sled makes it an ideal fit for any bolt-action. Four standard AAs or rechargables power the Wraith, so that’s straightforward enough. There’s a port to add a Micro SD for storing your pics and videos, video being recorded in full HD 1920x1080p, plus a Micro USB for connection to a PC or Mac.
A 50mm lens gathers the light and with ¼” clicks of adjustment at 100 yards it has all the potential accuracy you need on a centrefire foxing set up. The central Pic rail means the rifle isn’t going to be dragged out of line by a side-mounted illuminator. There’s also five weapon profiles, so it can be easily swapped between rifles.
It really appeals to those who perhaps have one rifle and need that to do just about everything with it. It really is a true day/night solution. I’d have no qualms making it a permanent fixture on a dedicated hunting set-up. Yes, you’re looking at a screen and it doesn’t have the clarity of a traditional day optic, but for day/night shooting out to 200 yards (and you might get away with more during the day), it has more than enough.
The mag range is a bit excessive, from 4x to 32x. 20x is still shootable during the day and perhaps a little higher if you can live with some pixelation. It only provides incremental dialing, 4x, 8x, 12x and so on via the control pad, but to be honest I don’t find that a particular hardship. Add 10 rets in nine colours and you have a great all-purpose all-rounder. No wifi connectivity or streaming, but again I don’t find that to be a problem.
The second part of the package is the excellent A51IR torch. I waited a long time for a dedicated all-in-one NV torch and it’s finally arrived. During testing, I had good IR illumination over 300 yards out, way further than I’d shoot at night on average.
The torch has two key features. Firstly, it’s fully dimmable and ships with a rat tail that can be attached to the stock. I can’t stress how important it is to be able to dim the torch, especially with the latest gen IR scopes. It’s vital to be able to tailor the amount of light required. The problem in the past was not enough light; these days, it’s often about dialling down the illumination to create a suitable image, especially at close range.
The second standout feature of this torch is the three pills built directly into the torch, which are instantly switchable via a small dial on the side of the torch. There’s a standard red pill for lamping, plus 940nm and 850nm for fully covert (black light) or long-range IR shooting.
I’ve often been out in the field and switched on the torch only to discover I forgot to swap pills and have a visible red installed when I need an IR or vice versa. Best case it’s in my drag bag, worst case it’s at home and I’m instantly relegated to an evening of spotting and sulking!
The A51IR now lives permanently in my bag and I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m ready for some night stalking no matter what the rifle or optic. The visible red is ideal for lamping while the black light pill is on hand if I need to be completely covert. In reality, the standard IR and visible red get most use, but it’s great to have all three instantly available and it makes for one less thing to forget.
In short, the Wraith and A51IR combo is an excellent and relatively inexpensive day/night shooting solution – one which I’ll be very loath to send back.
Product: Sightmark Wraith HD – Wicked Light A51IR Package Deal
Supplier Scott Country
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