The NiteVizor VP200 XTR easily converts daytime optics to infrared and proves ideal when tackling an influx of rats, says Mat Manning
With harvest more or less wrapped up for the year on my patch, the annual exodus of rats is now under way as the rodents leave the barren fields in search of new feeding grounds. On one of my local farms, this sudden influx created a great opportunity to put the NiteVizor VP200 XTR night-vision add-on through its paces. (Read our piece on shooting rats with air rifles.)
Shooters have embraced digital infrared optics over the past few years. As well as offering impressive performance at a sensible price, the VP200 adds an extra degree of versatility to the mix because it connects to a conventional telescopic sight to convert it to night vision.
Apart from saving you from constantly having to swap optics or splashing out on a separate gun to pair with an infrared sight, add-ons enable you to use your usual set-up with the added advantage of stealthy, lamp-free viewing in the dark.
First outing with the NiteVizor VP200 XTR
My first outing with the VP200 was a practice session on my garden range. The unit has a full-colour display by day and I found it easy to attach to my MTC Mamba Lite scope. Of course, telescopic sights vary in size and the VP200 comes with shims that enable it to fit ocular bells from 35mm to 45mm. With the attachment section clamped to the scope, the main unit can quickly be snapped on and off via a bayonet attachment.
The VP200 is switched on by pressing the standby button for one second. Another long press switches it off, or you can give it a quick press to put it into sleep mode to extend battery life — another quick press wakes it up again. Two rechargeable batteries are supplied and can be charged on board via a USB lead.
After switching on the unit, you need to use the ocular focusing dial to get the display icons clear for your eye, then use the objective lens focusing dial to bring your scope’s reticle into sharp relief. These quick procedures only need to be done once and you then use the parallax dial on your scope to get the target into focus as usual.
Controls are very simple. The left button shifts zoom up and down — I got the clearest sight picture by leaving it on its lowest setting and using the zoom dial on my scope to adjust magnification. The left button switches between day mode and night-vision mode and enables you to toggle between three levels of infrared output from the on-board 850nm illuminator.
Install the micro-SD card that comes with it and the button on the right records still images with a short press and video with a long press. The middle button opens the menu, enabling you to adjust settings such as LCD brightness. The VP200 can also connect to your phone via a free app through which you can control the device and see the sight picture on-screen. It comes with a phone mount so you can aim through the phone screen, though I much preferred looking through the eyepiece.
Arriving on the farm for the real test, it was clear that the rats were already getting a foothold. Their burrowing was apparent along several earth banks and in stacks of bales and there were lots of droppings around the grain stores. With cosy places to nest and such an abundance of easy pickings, it is hard to blame rats for trying to take advantage of the five-star living to be found on a farm. (Read our piece on the best camo jackets.)
Rather than wandering about, I prefer to target busy-looking areas from a static position. Sitting on a stool, and using sticks for support, this approach makes for very steady shooting and results in more dead rodents.
Settled into position, I had my first proper after-dark scan through the NiteVizor, and was very impressed with what I saw from this £549.95 unit. There were no rats out — probably because of the disturbance of my arrival — but I had a very clear view of the scene around me. This unit’s detection range is stated as being effective out to 200m, which means its capabilities could extend way beyond farmyard ratting.
As with most rear-mounted add-ons, the VP200’s length does push your head a little bit further back along the cheekpiece than usual. You could get around that by mounting the scope further forward, but that would spoil your daytime set-up. It is compact, though, and at 350g didn’t compromise the balance of my gun.
Switching the VP200 into sleep mode, I sat back and soaked up the atmosphere of the night. This farm is frequented by tawny owls — one of the reasons why the owner doesn’t like to use poison to control rats — and their calls were soon carrying through the still air. I also heard the occasional squeak from squabbling rats, which tempted me to have another scan.
The view through the scope was more encouraging this time, as the night-vision image picked up two foraging rats only about 10 yards from where I was sitting. Because the VP200 was attached to a familiar set-up, I was able to line up and give the shot a touch of hold-over without too much deliberation. When it looked right, I touched off the trigger, sending a pellet whizzing into the oblivious rat’s skull and rolling it over with barely a twitch.
The dead rat’s companion did the sensible thing and darted into cover at the sound of the impacting pellet, but it wasn’t long before others emerged. Thanks to the stealth of the infrared set-up, I was able to add eight more greedy rodents to the tally over the next couple of hours until the lure of a warm bed got the better of me.
There are plenty more rats to be had on that farm, and I will likely press the VP200 XTR back into service on them over the coming weeks. It is a great piece of kit and, aside from airgun ratting, I reckon it would also lend itself to after-dark rabbit shooting with my .22 rimfire.
It could also prove useful to anyone wanting to tackle foxes under the cover of darkness.
NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer: NiteVizor
- Model: VP200 XTR
- From John Rothery Wholesale (find your local dealer at bisley-uk.com)
- Price £549.95
- Weight 350g
- Magnification 2-4x
- Detection range: Up to 200m
- Features: Video and photo capture, Wi-Fi connectivity, full-colour daytime display
- Build quality A well-made unit that causes minimal compromise to hold 16/20
- Optical performance Impressive for an add-on 14/10
- Features: Lots of useful features without being overloaded with tech 16/20
- Ease of use: Simple controls make for easy after-dark operation 17/20
- Value: More affordable than a dedicated infrared gunsight 15/20
- Overall score: 78/100
Ideal if you want to use your daytime set-up at night