Mat Manning pits the InfiRay Tube TL35 thermal riflescope against some particularly tricky bunnies
Too many shooters dismiss thermal optics as being too expensive and too complicated to be worth bothering with. While this kit is not exactly cheap, it is a lot more affordable than it was just a few years ago, quality has increased significantly and most modern units are very simple to use.
The InfiRay Tube TL35 is a great example of the advancement of thermal night-vision scopes. Its £2,749.95 price tag means it is not something that most of us would buy on a whim, but shooters tasked with serious after-dark pest control are likely to find it an extremely useful addition to their armoury.
Traditionalists who, like me, are making a slow and cautious shift towards thermal optics will be pleased to learn that the Tube TL35 is of similar shape and proportion to a conventional telescopic sight, so it looks and feels much more familiar than boxier designs. It tips the scales at just under 950g and is about 380mm in length before you attach the rubber eyecup. Its aluminium housing has a 30mm tube that enables you to mount, position and look though it the same as you would a normal scope.
The review unit supplied by Highland Outdoors came with mounts to fit Picatinny-type rails, but conventional 30mm mounts will do the job if your rifle has dovetail rails.
Not only does the InfiRay Tube look reassuringly familiar, it is also very simple to use. I am the sort of person who wakes up in a cold sweat at the thought of having to set up a new phone, but I had this gunsight up and running very quickly. Press and hold the orange standby button for about two seconds and the unit powers up almost immediately. To switch it off, just press and hold the same button until the on-screen countdown finishes. A shorter, two-second, press of the standby button when the Tube is switched on sends it into sleep mode. This is a very handy way to extend battery life; another quick press of the standby button switches it back on.
The Tube’s integral battery is charged via the supplied Type-C USB lead, which plugs into a port discreetly hidden beneath the right-hand turret cap. This battery has a runtime of up to eight hours and you can add an extra two hours by fitting an 18500-type battery into the housing beneath the left-hand turret cap.
Even when using the more power-hungry features, that is going to give you a lot of shooting time, but you can even attach an external power bank via the USB port if you are planning an extremely long outing.
NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer InfiRay
- Model Tube TL35
- Length 380mm (without eyecup)
- Weight 950g
- Magnification 3-12x
- Eye relief 60mm
- Detection range Up to 1,800m
- Tube diameter 30mm
- Features Video and photo capture, picture-in-picture mode, gyroscope, e-compass, choice of reticle styles and zero profiles
- Price £2,749.95
- From Highland Outdoors, 0345 099 0252
Field testing the InfiRay Tube TL35
My plan for the Tube was to pair it with my .22 rimfire and take it into the fields and pit it against the rabbits that have made an impressive comeback in my locality over recent months. Before I could do that, I had to take it to the range, get it zeroed and familiarise myself with the new set-up.
Sat at the bench with the unit switched on, I began by using the ocular focusing ring to get the display focused for my eye. With that sorted, you only need to use the front focusing ring to bring the target into sharp relief just as you would with the parallax dial on a telescopic sight.
A short press of the Tube’s top turret opens the menu, which enables you to choose between six different reticle designs, four different reticle colour schemes and several other features. The list includes Ultraclear mode for rain and fog, Wi-Fi connectivity, zeroing, e-compass, gyroscope, video recording options and date and time set-up. Zeroing is a one-shot arrangement by which you adjust the horizontal and vertical axes of the reticle until it corresponds with the point of impact. You can even save various profiles for different guns.
The process is very intuitive and once set up, you can stay away from the menus and use the four buttons on the top of the eyebell. The front one is the aforementioned standby button, the right one adjusts image brightness, the left one shifts between the five different colour palettes, and the rear one records still or video images of the sight picture to the 16GB internal memory.
It didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to get the Tube set up and zeroed on the range, but the real test was to come a few hours later when darkness had fallen. The rabbits on one of my paddock permissions are growing increasingly wary by day and, though I have managed to keep my tallies up by targeting them at night with an infrared sight, I was eager to see what I could achieve with thermal kit.
The Tube has a digital magnification range of 3-12x, plus a picture-in-picture function to double it for longer shots. I kicked off on the lowest, 3x setting as the wider field of view really helps when trying to spot quarry. This sight’s stated maximum detection range is a whopping 1,800m and, though I didn’t get a chance to push it that far, image quality is more than adequate to spot rabbits at 500m.
Closely cropped grass enabled relatively quiet progress as I crept towards the unsuspecting bunnies about 200m away, before stopping halfway. I continued even more slowly for another 50 paces. At my next stop, the view through the InfiRay Tube TL35 confirmed that a couple of the rabbits had scarpered, but two were still in range.
Turning the Tube’s top turret clockwise, I cranked up the magnification to 10x and tweaked the front focus dial to snap the rabbit’s heat signature into sharp relief. A quick glance at the angle reading on the display helped me to rectify a bit of cant before settling the crosshair and rolling the rabbit over with a solid wallop.
That first bunny of the night was a good start to the Tube’s test on my Weihrauch HW66, and I went on to add four more. Knowing how skittish they are, I am sure that lamping would have been a struggle and the thermal night vision would almost certainly have won out over my usual infrared gear. The ability to see my quarry’s heat signature enabled me to spot and cautiously stalk rabbits that would normally have gone completely unnoticed.
The InfiRay Tube TL35 gave a great account of itself on those rabbits, and I even managed to capture some through-the-scope images with ease. Since then, I have set it up on an air rifle and used it to great effect thinning out farmyard rats around barns and silage clamps, and I have no doubt that it would also be well up to after-dark foxing duties.
Not everyone has the need for this type of kit, nor the money to blow on it, but for shooters who do a lot of nocturnal pest control, and can stretch to a decent thermal riflescope, the InfiRay Tube does the job at a sensible price. It is a reliable optic that produces a crisp, detailed thermal image and, though packed with clever features and sophisticated tech, is easy to use.
- Build quality Clean lines and familiar proportions 17/20
- Opticals Considerable range in most conditions 17/20
- Features Optimising after-dark pest control 18/20
- Ease of use Intuitive operation with simple controls 17/20
- Value Competitively priced thermal scope 17/20
Features-packed and easy to use