Putting the InfiRay Tube TL35 SE to the test
Mat Manning reckons more shooters should give thermal a chance after putting the impressive InfiRay Tube TL35 SE to the test
Thermal optics have proven to be a useful addition to my night shooting line-up over the past few years. While some shooters still regard this technology as being too expensive and overly complicated, I think they could be missing a trick, as it has helped me to bag pests in challenging scenarios when I would almost certainly have blanked without it.
While I am still of the opinion that traditional lamping kit still works as well as it used to, it is never going to give you the light-free stealth of a thermal imager, or the ability to pick out your quarry’s heat signature from among cover at considerable range. Night shooting equipment and techniques have moved on, and I believe the new generation of optics has a significant role to play.
For the past four weeks, I have been putting the InfiRay Tube TL35 SE, supplied to me by Scott Country International, through its paces on my pest control rounds. It retails for £1,799.99, which is very competitive for a thermal sight of this quality and a justifiable outlay for shooters who do a lot of after-dark pest control.
At about 31cm long without the soft rubber eyecup in situ, and weighing in at 720g, the SE model is significantly smaller and lighter than the original TL35. Despite its modest proportions, it is still packed with useful features, and the design of its chassis, which will feature a 30mm tube on production models, means that it mounts up and balances very much like a conventional telescopic sight.
Before I could press the TL35 SE into action, I needed to charge its battery via the supplied USB lead. Battery capacity is an important consideration when choosing an electronic optic, and the TL35 SE delivers a very healthy runtime of up to 11 hours. With the unit switched on, pressing and holding the grey power button on the left of the saddle for about a second sends it into sleep mode. This reduces battery drain until another quick press on the power button switches the sight back on.
Zeroing thermal scopes can seem like a bit of a faff but it needn’t be, and it can be done in daylight. After mounting the TL35 SE to my FX Impact MKII airgun, I taped a small piece of tinfoil to a target card to create a bull’s-eye with a clearly visible heat differential, and soon had pellets striking it courtesy of the scope’s single-shot zero feature.
While tackling inanimate targets on the range, I was able to familiarise myself with the TL35 SE’s operation, and I have to say it was very simple to master. Basic controls such as choosing from a selection of reticle designs and colours are accessed by giving the button on the top turret a quick press to open the first menu.
A longer press opens the advanced menu, which controls functions such as picture-in-picture mode, zeroing, zero profiles and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. You turn the turret to scroll up and down through the menus and then give it a press to make your choices from them.
Need to know
- Model InfiRay Tube TL35 SE
- Length 310mm
- Weight 720g
- Zoom 3x optical (1-3x digital)
- Display AMOLED 1536×1080
- Frame rate 50Hz
- Detection range 1,800m
- Features Multiple zero profiles, on-board recording, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, laser rangefinder available as extra
- Price £1,799.99
- Supplied by Scott Country
Satisfied that I had a reasonable handle on the TL35 SE’s controls, I trundled over to a farm where I’ve been chipping away at a problematic colony of rabbits that have taken to burrowing among hedge banks and beneath sheds. The fields where the rabbits are most active are located very close to houses, which is why I had chosen an airgun over a rimfire.
It was still light when I arrived and there was no sign of any rabbits above ground until I scanned through the TL35 SE after winding down its magnification to give myself the widest possible field of view. Looking through the sight, I soon saw two clear heat signatures confirming the presence of a pair of bunnies just beyond the first barn.
This scope has 3x optical magnification boosted by 1-3x digital magnification. You zoom in and out using the ring at the front of the ocular bell and focusing is via the objective ring. Shooting at ranges out to 45 yards, I didn’t need to crank the magnification too far and tended to use it mostly at 5x and 6x when taking shots.
The rabbits I had spotted were more than 100 yards away, so I crept in closer, using the hedgerow as cover. My cautious approach went to plan, and I soon had a bunny framed in the TL35 SE’s crosshairs. The clear image enabled me to place a pellet precisely between the rabbit’s eye and ear.
This scope’s excellent sensor, high-resolution display and 50Hz frame rate makes for sharp, smooth viewing. Apart from showing the target in exceptional clarity, the TL35 SE also displays the background in good detail, which can be a great help for ensuring that shots are safe.
A feature I really like is the ability to display the vertical and horizontal angles of the scope on the screen. This means you can judge the elevation of the shot and make sure that you are not canting your rifle when you line up for the shot. I am sure a lot of shooters will also like that you can save images and video direct to the TL35 SE’s integral 32GB memory.
My initial plan was to stay mobile, but a heavy downpour forced me to take cover in a barn. The rain kept me there for the rest of the outing but the building afforded me a good view of a bank where the rabbits were active, and I managed to pick off four more.
These rabbits are particularly skittish and I’m not convinced that they would have stuck around had I been shining a lamp across the field. As it was, the InfiRay Tube TL35 SE enabled me to snipe them with absolute stealth from the cover of darkness. Since that trip, I have also used the unit on my .22LR. It performed equally well on the rimfire as it did the airgun, and I have no doubt that it would also prove to be an excellent tool for after-dark foxing.
Shaped like a typical telescopic sight, the Thermion 2 has a 30mm tube, is 40cm long and boasts a 384×288 sensor, 1,350m detection range and 1024×768 HD AMOLED display.
Features include video and photo capture, PIP, Wi-Fi connectivity, 10 zero profiles, 10 reticle options and a 10-hour runtime.
Another thermal scope with a familiar shape, this unit weighs 890g and is 40cm long. Its 640×512 sensor gives a very impressive 2,600m detection range and the image is shown on a 1024×768 OLED display.
Simple to operate, it has a runtime of up to 13 hours and features including Wi-Fi connectivity to the Sight app and photo and video capture to 64GB
The super-compact thermal gunsight weighs a mere 420g and is just 17cm long. It packs a lot into its tiny frame, including a laser rangefinder and a 18650 rechargeable battery giving up to eight hours of runtime.
A 384×288 ULIS sensor with a 50Hz refresh rate gives clear viewing via a 1024×800 LCD display.