Hunting lamps: we pick out the best around
A reliable lamp is vital when tackling foxes and rabbits after dark, so Barry Stoffell puts four to the test
The vast majority of us still rely on trusty hunting lamps to get the job done and ‘traditional’ lamping remains by far the most cost-effective way of dealing with nocturnal vermin. With this in mind, I was delighted to put a selection of hunting lamps to the test this month. Whether you are a serious long-distance lamper with a fox problem or simply out for the occasional bunny for the pot, there’s something for everyone here.
Click here if you’re also interested in the best hunting torches.
Barry’s pick of hunting lamps
Score 9/10. Best for serious lamping, from rabbits to long-range foxing
- Beam focus from the tail-switch (from flood to spot)
- Long range beam distance
- Lightweight rugged body with HA type III anodising
- Quick change powerful LEDs
- Rapid & smooth brightness control via the rotary switch
- Weight 262g
+ Easy to mount and remove
+ Up to 3 hours continuous use at full power
– No remote switch for fore-end
– No 12-volt car adapter for charger
Night Master NM1 SL Long Range Hunting Light with Changeable LEDs & Rear Focus £149.95
The latest offering from Night Master is an impressive piece of kit, as you would expect from one of the market leaders in hunting lights. The NM1 is reassuringly solid in construction and in use it becomes clear that this was designed with utility in mind. The controls are all housed at the rear of the unit, from the rotating beam focus to the smart rheostat ‘dimmer’ control on the lamp brightness, obviating the need to faff around with a series of noisy double-clicks to adjust light intensity. The fully scalable brightness is particularly handy when in infrared (IR) mode and there’s even an active light indicator to let you know that the beam is on.
The unit can be mounted via a simple double-clamp universal lamp mount or via the Night Master Picatinny rail adapter and quick multi-directional (QMD) mount, which not only makes for easy mounting and removal, but also offers simple zeroing of the beam. Helpful for long-range work. In terms of performance, I took the NM1 out on a number of occasions and found no trouble picking up Charlie’s eye-shine at 500m. The fully focused beam provided plenty of light for positive ID to 250m. The 3.7-volt 18650 lithium-ion battery (two are supplied, with charger) gave a little under three hours of continuous use at full power.
As you’d expect from a high-end lamp, various different LED pills are available, including red, green, amber and, of course, an IR pill, and the lamp is also covered by Night Master’s three- year warranty. If I had to go looking for faults, it would be nice to have a remote switch that could be brought to the fore-end and a 12-volt car adapter for the charger, but these are niggles. I could find precious little not to like about this smart piece of kit.
Score 7/10. Best for finding you way home or as a back-pocket back-up.
- 600 lumen
- 2 CR123A batteries included
- LED bulb
- Weight 122g
+Good value for money
+Useful back up
-Not set up for gun mounting
The lowest-priced unit reviewed here, this neat little number from Walther nonetheless has some nice features, including an all-metal weatherproof case (IP44 rating). It has a respectable maximum brightness of 600 lumens, which is interchangeable with a lower setting of 150 lumens with a single click. The beam, though bright, is non-focusable and set quite wide, making it a very useful general-purpose light, but not appropriate for gun-mounting.
Walther does, though, make shooting-specific torches. Two 3-volt CR123A batteries are supplied, but these are non-rechargeable and not as easy to replace as more standard battery types. Great value for money and well constructed, this little unit weighs only 122g and makes an excellent utility or back-up light.
Walther 3.7034 Tactical XT2 Torch One size £41.92
Score 10/10. Best for rough conditions, long-distance spotting, lamping à deux and making farmers jealous.
- 1000-1999 lumen
- Batteries Included
- Rubber Grip
- LED bulb
- Weight 689g
+ Floats in water
+ Over three and a half hours continuous use
– No 12-volt car charger supplied
Streamlight Waypoint 300 Rechargeable LED Spotlight £104.05
Of all the units reviewed, this was the one that my regular lamping partner — a neighbouring farmer — tried to pilfer, which tells its own story. Unfussy and extremely rugged, the Waypoint is waterproofed all the way to IPX8 (2m submersion). According to the information supplied, it even floats. Unflinching in my duty to bring you the bare facts, I — very begrudgingly and much to the horror of my covetous lamping partner — threw it in a ditch. I can confirm that this statement is 100% true. The Waypoint is a solid piece of kit weighing in at almost 700g, but the rubberised grip is comfortable and the balance is good.
In terms of power, the unit contains a non-removable, rechargeable power pack that ran continuously for more than three-and-a-half hours at full pelt when tested. This, for me, was more than sufficient for a night’s work. The pistol-grip design includes a lanyard and, though the trigger is quite noisy, the Waypoint has the option to half-depress the on switch and hold it for silent operation. Both red and green filters are available, though these are not included in the box. The unit has three power settings — 1,000 and 550 lumens for spotting and a low setting of 35 lumens, perfect for navigating treacherous paddock margins without destroying your night vision.
At full power, the Waypoint is very impressive indeed. The advertised beam distance is a staggering 1km and, in good conditions, I was able to pick up eye-shine at around 600m. If I had to find some faults, it would have been nice to have a 12-volt car charger in the box, but my lamping gear usually lives in a vehicle for a good few months of the year, so I might be biased.
Score 8/10. Best for close-range rabbiting or as a back-up light
- 40-450 lumen
- Burn time max 25h, min 1h
- 4 x alkaline batteries included
- Weight 175g
+Easily carried in pocket
– Maximum burn time 1 hour
– Not designed as shooting specific light
LED Lenser P7 Core LED Torch £59.99
This offering from the extensive P-series LED Lenser range was an interesting addition to the review list. Not designed as a shooting-specific light, it doesn’t have an interchangeable LED pill, but it still has some decent features at a lower price-point than the more custom units. The brightness settings of 450, 250 and 40 lumens are cycled by double-clicking the power button at the back of the lamp, which feels a bit clunky. However, the maximum brightness is quite respectable and the simple sliding beam focus makes a nice change from the more typical twist design.
It produces a beam that is perfectly serviceable to shoot with, though the tightest focus is still quite wide and gives a workable ‘shooting’ beam to about 80m on a clear night. Housed in a well-constructed all-metal case and weatherproofed to an IP54 rating — dust and rainproof, but don’t submerge it — the P7 Core weighs 175g. As a back-up or safety light, you’d barely notice it in a pocket. The unit is supplied with a power pack containing four AAA batteries and these can be easily and inexpensively replaced for rechargeable ones of your own. That wouldn’t be a bad idea, given the burn time on maximum power is only around one hour.
I confess that I actually had a lot of fun twinning this light with a cheap double-clamp mount, bunny-bashing with the rimfire out to around 60m. If that’s the limit of your nocturnal outings, then this might be a reliable, inexpensive piece of kit to consider.