The latest night vision equipment reviewed
Tom Sykes and Mark Ripley take a look
We asked two of our contributors to take the latest night vision equipment out into the field. Here’s what they thought.
The Pulsar Digex N450 digital night vision riflescope – Mark Ripley
The Digex scope is the latest night vision equipment riflescope from Pulsar. The main body looks almost identical to Pulsar’s Thermion and has the same control layout, which makes for a user-friendly optic. The focus is on the objective lens similar to standard day scopes, with the power on/off, video start/stop and magnification buttons all on the eyepiece for easy operation from a shooting position.
What would usually be the elevation turret is in fact a cleverly concealed compartment for the rechargeable battery, along with a back-up battery housed within the unit itself. On the right of the scope the dummy windage turret hides the power/video lead jack, which allows you to charge the internal battery and the battery in the elevation turret as well as serving as a connection for downloading videos to your computer.
To the left of the scope sits a control knob allowing you to scroll through options and select with the touch of the button located on the end.
The scope is equipped with all the common features that you would expect from Pulsar, including picture-in-picture mode, various reticle options with the centre cross or dot highlighted in red, in-built recording with sound, 4-16x magnification and Wi-Fi connection to enable you to stream real-time viewing to a smart phone or tablet.
When I took the Digex out in the field the first thing that struck me was how well it coped with little or no infrared illumination. It performed really well at dusk and as the evening turned to a full moon night I could use it with no infrared at normal ranges.
The Digex does come with a basic infrared, which works well enough but to get the most from it an aftermarket infrared is recommended. At longer range or when there was less or no moonlight, the scope needed a little illumination and worked best using the Wicked Lights infrared illuminator with its dimmable power.
On one occasion I went out and found that I must have left the unit on and both batteries had gone flat. Fortunately, I had two spare batteries that lasted about four to five hours with the unit in standby mode. It’s definitely worth carrying spare batteries.
Mounting and zeroing were easy. I used standard 30mm scope mounts and a simple zeroing setting and had the scope set up within four to five shots.
The Digex is a well-built scope, easy to use and will no doubt prove popular for foxing and rabbiting, with both rimfire and centrefire users.
Night Master NM1 Hunting Lights – Tom Sykes
I have been a fan of Night Master night vision equipment products ever since testing the Night Master 800 for Sporting Gun many years ago. Despite all the fancy thermal and night-vision technology, there is something satisfying about shooting in a more traditional manner with a lamp. This is where the NM1 range fits perfectly. It consists of CL, SL and XL versions, the difference being the size of the lens that controls the width and strength of the beam at varying ranges. The CL is the smallest, compact configuration, which creates the widest beam; the XL is the largest, creating a tighter beam and thereby increasing the range from which you can spot targets.
All the lamps have the same body and features, including a twisting body that focuses the beam from a flood to a spotlight. A quiet on/off button also has a smooth twist to control the brightness. A small, rear light indicates when the lamp is on, ideal for when using the infrared head. The switch has a lockout to prevent accidental activation. All the lamps have the easy swap LED head, which makes it superfast to swap the colour in the field. The
LED colours include white, red, amber, green, blue, IR 850nm, IR 940nm and UV, which can be purchased separately.
I have enjoyed the lightness and versatility of the CL version. Don’t let this small package fool you – it is one powerful lamp and ideal for shooting mid- to close-range quarry. The thing I love most is the compact size. I have used it daily for lamping and can confirm it is one of the best torches I have owned. I am sure the CL will find its way into my decoy bag this wildfowling season, as the wide beam will make it perfect for spotting downed quarry in the dark, giving me the option to tighten the beam to a pinpoint.
If you are looking for night vision equipment with a little more power for longer range, such as foxing, then the XL will be just the ticket for you. The tighter beam allows you to illuminate to a greater distance. The SL is the happy medium, with a wider flood than the XL and a tighter spotlight than the CL and is useful for most situations. There are plenty of well-made optional extras on the Night Master website, allowing you to customise your rig to your desired needs.
Included in each NM1 purchase is: NM1 Hunting Light with high powered LED, 2 x 18650 Li-ion rechargeable batteries, dual bay intelligent USB charger, user manual and three years’ warranty.
Price NM1 CL £119.95; NM1 SL RRP £149.95; NM1 XL RRP £179.95