A reticle is a pattern of lines, marks or dots (or a combination of the three) in an optic’s field of view purposed as a shooter’s aiming point.
Imagine going to a sporting goods store to look for a fresh pair of sneakers. You’d like to use them to exercise but also to wear for a night out. Hard decision, right? The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope will not give you the obstacle of having to pick between two products. With ease, you can customize your reticle settings with the new Wraith HD. The Wraith HD features 10 reticle options featuring Milrad and MOA reticles with 9 different colors to choose from. Reticle and color options give every user the option to customize their optic to their preferred style.
About the Wraith HD
Sightmark revolutionized the hunting world with the new Wraith HD 4-32x50mm Digital Riflescope. An advanced 1920×1080 HD sensor provides full-color clarity in the daytime along with classic emerald or black and white viewing digital night vision modes perfect for post-sunset pursuits. The included removable 850nm IR illuminator enhances your detection range at night 200 yards. You can also record with onboard recording and export your content to share with others on social media or to your friends at home.
A reticle, digital or not, is a central focal point, often compromised of a pattern of fine lines within an optical device like a riflescope or reflex sight. Reticles provide a source of measurement when engaging in close- to long-range shots at a shooting range or when hunting. The Wraith includes a number of reticle options and most contain crosshairs. The variations include chevron, post, dots, circles or a combination of each. The crosshairs represent the intersecting line between the X- and Y-axis or as many know it by, the cross “+”. Each line is called a sub-tension line and the space between each line is the sub-tension which has an increment value when shooting at longer distances.
Wraith’s Reticle Overview by Use
Reticles 1, 7 and 8 are designed for long-range target shooting and hunting where holdovers are appropriate. Reticles 1 and 7 are both Mil-radian (MRAD) reticles — meaning the subtensions lines are measured by 1 MRAD and the subtentions (spaces between each subtension line) are in 0.5 MRAD increments. The way reticle 1 differs from reticle 8 is reticle 1 features a 0.13 MRAD center dot for a precision shot. Reticle eight is a Minute-of-Angle (MOA) reticle. The Y-axis measures each subtension line at 5 MOA and the X-axis features 10 MOA subtension lines with 2 MOA subtentions.
Close- to Mid-Range Reticles
Reticles 3, 4, 9 and 10 are close- to mid-range reticles used for target shooting and mid-range hog, predator and deer hunting. These reticles aren’t as complex as the first batch meant for long-range. Reticle 3 is a cross center dot reticle with (4) 0.45 MOA crosshairs with a 1 MOA center dot with a distance of 2.35 MOA between the circle-dot and crosshairs. Reticle 9 is very similar to reticle 3, except reticle 9 does not have a top crosshair. The fourth reticle in this lineup is a crosshair and features 4 simple .45 MOA hash marks, reticle 10 features cross reticle features.11 MOA thick crosshairs.
Reticles 2, 5 and 6 are perfect for close-range target shooting and hunting. These less complex reticles are great for quick target acquisition when hunting hog or predators and are also great for close quarter engagements. Reticle 2 is a 30 MOA circle with a 3 MOA dot and 40 MOA crosshairs. The last two reticles feature a 1 MOA dot and a 2.5 MOA V-reticle with 0.5 MOA line thickness.
Color and Benefits
The Wraith HD offers nine reticle color options – black, white, red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta. The primary purpose of reticle color is contrast. The contrast between the reticle and target allows for quick target acquisition. Some reticle colors work best for you during the day, like black, since at night it would blend in. The top choices when hunting at night are red, green and orange, all three are vibrant giving them the best contrast. The rest of the colors—white, yellow, cyan, blue and magenta—are great to use but are more of a personal preference.
My introduction to digital optics doesn’t seem so long ago… but it was. In fact, it was over 40 years ago. My feet barely touched the floor of the theater and I’m sure I was covered in popcorn crumbs—my lips and teeth rosy from Red Vines and Dr Pepper. My father may not have been excited to see Star Wars IV: The Last Hope (1977) but I sure was and since then I’ve often recalled the moment when Luke Skywalker uses his digital MB450 macrobinocular to observe Tuscan Raiders deep in Tattooine’s Jundlan Wastes.
Just a few years later, laden with popcorn crumbs with Red Vines by my side again, I watched young Skywalker use his Model 1000 macrobinocular to observe AT-AT Walkers on the ice-planet Hoth advancing across an open tundra toward Echo Base in Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back (1983.)
Heck, we even see a feeble attempt at thermal imagery through a riflescope in Navy SEALS (1990,) although it was simply over-exposed, sepia-filtered footage with no signs of heat signatures or a reticle. Of course, I was still in the Marine Corps in the early 90s and had heard of thermal imaging… but I had never seen the technology—it was rare technology for enlisted Jarheads to say the least.
Fast-forwarding to the past decade or so, we saw digital optics in multiple grades and forms leap off Hollywood screens and into the hands of wanting consumers who had more mad-money to blow in a month than I made in a year. Digital optics, more specifically traditional night vision and ridiculously expensive thermal devices were showing up in the hands of more law enforcement officers, predator hunters, contractors and even niche sasquatch and ghost hunting enthusiasts. Before people knew it, Hollywood was in the game again, this time with legitimate products and original footage. Soon after, outdoor television jumped on board and we began seeing isolated night vision footage on hunts.
The trend continued and just five years ago, we began seeing massive drops in price points, stellar production improvements, and more compact product designs—technological advances that not only make digital optics more affordable but much more desirable, too. While traditional night vision seemed to maintain a higher price point than most people wanted to pay, say $5,000 – $10,000, digital night vision snuck in at a fraction of the cost with similar Gen 1 to Gen 2 detection ranges and image resolution performance—in 2015, the Sightmark Photon XT came in at about $600 with Gen 1+ quality while the Pulsar Digisight N550 jumped in with Gen 2 performance and a price point around $1,500. Thermal also became affordable with some thermal monoculars selling for as low as $3,500 with 240 to 384 microbolometer resolution sensors.
Today’s a good day to be in the digital optic game. While law enforcement and consumer use of thermal imaging optics has exploded, so has usage of seriously affordable digital night vision and more recently digital riflescopes offering crisp imaging around the clock. Costs of thermal riflescopes, monoculars and binoculars, Pulsar branded optics as examples, have dropped to between $1,800 and $8,000 while features have continually and dramatically improved, including 640×480 microbolometer sensor resolution, picture-in-picture, built-in video and WiFi, stored rifle and load profiles, rangefinding technology, customizable reticles, multiple color palettes and more. Even devices costing 4 times as much just 5 years ago did not include these features.
For most hardworking folks with smaller budgets, digital riflescopes have taken their place among the most popular options for affordable, multi-tasking optics with similar user-friendly features as today’s thermal devices. Their recent unveilings capitalize on the advanced technology showcased in recent digital light vision offerings. While thermal and digital night vision can certainly be used during daylight hours, imaging is generally pared down to hues of like tints and colors like blacks, whites and grays. Thermal may offer color palette options but digital night vision has always been the vanilla black and white you see today. Digital riflescopes give you much more than a black and white world. They give you full color.
When it comes to the latest technological advancement of digital riflescopes, color imaging, the Sightmark Wraith goes yet a step further, offering full-color 1080 HD imaging. From dawn to dusk, see the world in your field of view as it was meant to be, clear, crisp and vibrant. When the sunsets, the Wraith makes transitioning to black and white imaging, and even green imaging, as simple and immediate and pushing a single button. If you have ever hunted during the day and had to change optics or rifle systems altogether to continue night hunting, you understand just how valuable and convenient a feature like this can be.
Of course, the Wraith offers more, including features only recently added to today’s higher-priced digital optics like multiple reticle types and colors, built-in video, durable water-resistant construction, manual and distance focusing, a weaver and Picatinny rail mounting system and upgradeable firmware. The Wraith also boasts 4x base magnification, up to 32x, and a detachable infrared illuminator. A third-party illuminator, like stand-alone IR illuminators from Pulsar, can be mounted easily to stretch your night vision detection range out to seriously respectable distances—skilled nighttime predator hunter, Bob Abbott recently shared footage to social media of a clearly visible fox milling around a field in the dark over 420 yards away—not too shabby for a $500 digital riflescope!
And this is where we are in 2019—a great time to be alive and amazing time to jump into digital riflescopes. Are digital riflescopes going to rule the world? Considering the many iterations of digital now at play in the world of optics, I would have to say yes. Digital technology has effectively invaded virtually every optic type available today—this doesn’t mean every model from every manufacturer. This means we see digital reflex sights, prism sights, red dots, low-powered fixed and variable magnification scopes, high-powered precision rifle scopes, rangefinders and spotting scopes, monoculars and binoculars and yes, most obviously, the optics considered in this article.
As these optics relate to more niche use, including low-light, nighttime and 24-hour activities, many of us agree digital optics, in some form including illuminated reticles, most certainly due rule the optic world. And yes, I do believe it won’t be long before enthusiasts willing to jump into the digital fray find out these optics absolutely do rule!
Do you use a digital optic? Do you think digital optics will rule the world? Comment below!
For many hunters, the summer months are used to prepare for fall; checking feeders and getting stands into place. Some like to work on their accuracy at the range, and many turn to fishing. Still, there are those with the itch to get out and hunt, but with temperatures in the South reaching 100 degrees regularly, what is a hunter to do? Night hunting is becoming increasingly popular due to affordable night vision technology and more bearable temperatures. Below is a quick guide to popular summer hunting game, as well as appropriate gun set-ups. Be sure to check your state and local laws, as hunting laws do vary by state.
What can you hunt in the summer?
It is well known the U.S. has a widespread hog problem. Found in over 75% of states, the invasive wild hog has an estimated population of over 5 million. There are no natural predators to hogs. Hog hunting is beneficial to farmers and landowners, which the hogs cost millions of dollars each year in damages.
Hogs can’t sweat so they need a way to cool down, which is why they are often found rolling in mud. Where you can find water, you can usually find hogs. The problem is hogs are smarter than usually given credit, and most have become nocturnal from hunting pressure and the hot daytime weather. Purchasing a night vision scope is a great investment to successfully eradicate your local hog population.
Hogs are fast, thus a semi-auto modern sporting rifle (MSR) is favorable to use. Picatinny/Weaver rails allow you to add many attachments useful for night hunting. A digital night vision riflescope like the Sightmark Wraith HD allows for clear nighttime viewing and an accurate, precise shot, something you’ll need with hogs. In addition, the Wraith HD also has a color mode for daytime use. I would also recommend keeping a larger caliber pistol on you just in case. Hogs are vicious and will sometimes run straight at you. It’s always better to have a back-up in case your gun jams or you don’t have time to reload.
For deer hunters and farmers, coyotes are always a nuisance. They will kill fawns, chickens and house pets. It’s important to control coyote populations to ensure the survival of other animals. Though it’s entirely possible to spot one during the day, during hot months coyotes tend to limit their movements to the cool period between dusk and dawn. Yet again you’re going to need a night vision scope of some kind to help spot them.
Using a call is a popular way to hunt coyotes. Electric calls utilizing pup in distress calls tend to work best and will have coyotes running in at a dead sprint. Even more so than hogs, you need to be covert, as ‘yotes are very smart in hiding behind terrain and using their keen sense of smell to detect you.
Bolt-action guns in lower calibers are well-suited for coyotes. My personal favorite caliber for coyotes is a .22-250 with a Wraith HD digital night vision riflescope when on a coyote hunt. I keep mentioning the Wraith because, at the $500 price point, its value cannot be beaten.
Small Game and Varmints
Varmint hunting is another popular endeavor during the hot summer. Raccoons and other varmints are always getting into trouble: stealing corn and other vegetation, getting into trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.
A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoon and other varmints, but it can be easily done without them. A .22 with iron sights is a popular small game gun. With ample stopping power for small game, dirt-cheap ammunition, incredibly lightweight, .22’s are perfect guns to take in the woods. While a night vision scope is not necessary, having a night vision device is still very helpful. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter series offers a variety of night vision monoculars and binoculars at affordable prices and in different magnifications. Use the night vision sight to spot the raccoon then shoot it down with the .22. A powerful flashlight like the Sightmark SS600 Tactical is great for spotlighting coons in trees before you take your shot.
There is no reason to hang up the hunting gear just because it’s summer. Though the days are hot, night vision technology enables you to scratch your hunting itch without having to wait until fall. It also gives you something to look forward to during those long summer days. So, get out there and hunt!
Your Wraith digital day/night vision riflescope will need to be zeroed.
What is Zeroing?
Zeroing, or ‘sighting in,’ a scope means aligning your point of aim with the point of impact for the bullet to hit where you want it to. If you don’t sight in your scope, you will likely miss your target. Zeroing is necessary for hunters, long-range precision shooters, competitors and anyone concerned with accuracy.
Sighting in requires a target with bullseye and grid, ammo and plenty of time. To save costs on range fees and ammo, we strongly recommend boresighting your Wraith riflescope with a laser boresight. Boresighting is quick, easy and the most efficient way to get your Wraith digital riflescope close to zero with the ability to get on paper with your first shot.
Once boresighted, you’ll want to head to the range to fire live ammo. (Don’t forget to remove your boresight!) A vise or shooting rest will keep your rifle steady during the sight-in process. This will keep your rifle centered, mitigate recoil and reduce fatigue.
The hole left from a .223 Remington bullet can be small and nearly impossible to see, even from shorter distances—especially if you have poor eyesight. Take a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope with you to identify where you hit on the target. You also may be able to see where you are hitting using the Wraith’s 8x magnification.
Follow these steps to sight in your Wraith Digital Riflescope:
Mount your Wraith riflescope with a comfortable eye relief. (Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece on the scope. If you mount your riflescope too close to the rear of your rifle, the recoil of the gun can cause the scope to hit you in the forehead, causing what’s called ‘scope bite,’ resulting in a nasty cut or bruise.)
Turn your Wraith on by pushing down the center button until the Sightmark logo appears.
Adjust both the eyepiece diopter and focus adjustment until you get a crisp, clear image of your target. (The diopter is the measurement of the eye’s curvature. Since people’s eyes are all curved differently, the eyepiece diopter adjustment brings everything on the display screen such as your reticle and menu options into focus.)
Choose your preferred reticle pattern and color in the “Reticle Settings” menu.
Place the center of your reticle as seen through the scope at the center of the target, take 1 to 3 shots.
Tap the center button once to bring up the main menu.
Using the arrows on top of the unit, scroll down to “Reticle Settings” and tap the center button to select.
Use the bottom (down) arrow to scroll to “Reticle Zero.” Press the center button to select this option.
An additional red crosshair—called the red adjustment reticle in the manual—will pop up alongside your chosen reticle. Keep your reticle’s crosshairs pointed to the center of the target.
Note: There will be four sets of numbers displayed on the top of the “Reticle Zero” screen. These numbers represent the reticle’s offset from the center. They are not necessary for the zeroing process but may be useful for readjusting to a known zero if you save these numbers.
Using the up, down, left and right arrows, move the red adjustment reticle to the bullet hole (“point of impact”) group of holes you shot in step 5.
Exit out of the “Reticle Zero” setting by pushing the center button to return to the main screen.
Take another 1 to 3 shots.
Repeat steps 5 through 12 until zeroed. The Wraith is properly sighted in when the point of impact is the same as the point of aim.
I admit it. I’m pretty old school. The latest in technology doesn’t interest me. The biggest, baddest TV/phone/computer, etc. is never on my “must-have” list. In fact, I get upset every time I have to upgrade my phone because I worry it’s going to be different and more complicated to operate. Though I do enjoy a few advances—Bluetooth wireless and handsfree, faster internet and the iPhone, I’m slow at adapting and always have been. In college, I almost returned my DVD player because I couldn’t figure out how to hook it up to the TV. I’m that electronically-lame! I’m like that with my firearms, too.
Though I’ll try anything for testing and evaluation, on my personal guns, I prefer iron/fixed sights. I’m not sure why. I just do. Yes, it makes shooting more challenging. And yes, I can acquire targets quicker with optics. I have run lasers on my handguns and do currently run a red dot on my AR; however, with each new optic comes a learning curve.
I am not a regular hunter and use my firearms mostly for fun and self-defense. Though I have shot long-range before, none of the guns I own are set up for precision shooting. I’ve never mounted a traditional magnified riflescope on any of my firearms. I’ve never had a reason to, but after getting my hands on the new Wraith digital day/night scope, I felt it was high time I get it together and adopt some new technology.
I mean, I know I’m a writer and should have better words than this, but seriously, this thing is really cool.
The Wraith is a 4-32x50mm digital riflescope with detachable IR illuminator. It provides digital images of your target during the day and black and white or traditional green night vision at night. It features a 1920×1080 high definition CMOS sensor and a 1280×720 FLCOS display. During the day, images appear crisp and clear in full color. Transitioning to low-light situations is a simple touch of the digital controls on top of the unit—power and left, right and up and down arrows for navigating through the menu and settings. Nighttime target acquisition is up to 200 yards. There are 10 different reticle patterns in 9 different colors. It will also record video and still images with 4 to 5 hours of battery life on common 4 AA batteries.
What is Digital Night Vision?
Traditional night vision devices use an image intensifier tube (IIT.) Digital scopes (DNV,) on the other hand, use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a microdisplay. Light that projected onto the CCD or CMOS array from the objective lens is converted to an electronic signal. This signal is then processed and sent to the microdisplay to be viewed by the user.
CCD and CMOS sensors are more sensitive to near-IR than IITs and can see light up into 1,000nm. Unlike IIT’s, digital night vision units require the addition of artificial light to create bright images, but digital night vision can be used in daylight conditions. They can also record images directly to an internal memory card or be sent through a video output to a DVR. DNV has now become a viable replacement for Gen 2 night vision as digital offers similar performance and resolution but at a comparable or lesser cost than Gen 2.
Digital night vision devices, like the Wraith, require an outside light source to detect clear images in low and no light. An infrared illuminator creates enough light while going undetected to animals and other people so that targets are clearly identified in the dark.
There are two types of resolution listed on the specifications of digital night vision. Sensor resolution—also capture resolution—is the resolution of the imaging sensor. Display resolution is the resolution of the display or image seen by the user and is not to be confused with the sensor resolution. Resolution refers to the number of pixels in the sensor array or in the display. These numbers refer to the total number of pixels along the width and height of the sensor or display. A resolution of 800×600 means the display or sensor has 800 pixels across its width and 600 pixels high. Generally, the higher the number, the more details the image will provide. For imaging sensors, the more pixels on a sensor array the more light that will be captured which usually increases image brightness, resolution and viewing distance.
Those with a traditional riflescope, digital night vision or thermal imaging experience will have no problems setting up their Wraith riflescope, but those of us who need a little extra help in the electronics department may have issues without specific instructions.
Before shooting with the Wraith, I highly recommend getting familiar with its menu and settings. After becoming familiar with its operation, boresight at home before heading out to the range to sight it in. This will save you a lot of money on ammo, time and frustration.
How to Use the Wraith Digital Night Vision Menu and Settings
To begin, push the power (center) button. This is also your “select” or “enter” button. You will see the “Sightmark” logo and then when fully powered, you will be on your shooting screen. You’ll see the field of view and a reticle. To access the menu, push the power button again.
To adjust the brightness of the image, click on the brightness button, push the power button to select, then the up and down arrows to adjust the brightness. When it is set, push the power button again.
To go back at any time, push the left arrow.
Choosing a Reticle
Push down arrow to “reticle settings.” Push power. Reticle color will be highlighted first. Push the power button. Use the down arrow to scroll through the different colors. Once you’ve selected a color, push power. Give the unit a second and it will then return to the main reticle settings navigation menu. Push power on “reticle style” and use the up and down arrows to change reticles.
Taking Video and Pictures
To take pictures or video, you must have an SD card inserted. Go to: Menu, settings, record mode. Chose ‘video’ or ‘picture’ and push the power button, then the left arrow to return to your shooting screen. To start and stop recording, push the right arrow once. To take a picture, also push the right arrow once. In this mode, if you push the left arrow, it will change your view from day to night vision. To playback, go to “playback” on the menu options and push the power button.
After getting to know the menu and options and how to navigate your Wraith, you’re ready to bore sight it!
(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/01/22) – Sightmark introduces the Wraith Digital Riflescope: the future, in high definition. The 4-32x50mm Wraith digital riflescope is a revolutionary, new high-definition optic designed in Texas by hunters, for hunters.
The advanced 1920×1080 HD sensor provides full-color clarity in daytime; simply hit the left arrow to enable night mode with classic emerald or black and white viewing options. An included 850nm IR illuminator provides enhanced image brightness and accurate target acquisition to an astounding 200 yards. Notably, the IR is removable for hunters who live in states where emitted light is illegal.
The Wraith allows (and Sightmark encourages) onboard recording and video export so your favorite moments can be shared with your friends and family on your favorite social media platform.
The Wraith also includes:
Memory slot for up to 64GB storage
Customizability, with 10 reticle options and 9 color choices
Written by Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member
Over the years, we have all heard the same thing. Night vision costs an arm and a leg. Reliable, night vision and economical are three terms rarely, if ever, used in conjunction with one another. Typically, you are forced to pick only two of them since the three attributes simply are not available in one package.
Sightmark heard this and said, “Hold my drink. Watch this!” (Completely in jest, the only drinks that should ever be involved with anything firearms related should be HYDRATING beverages and NEVER alcoholic based.)
That life lesson out-of-the-way, let me introduce the new Sightmark Photon RT series.
Directly from Sightmark.com:
Delivering unmatched performance day or night, the revamped Photon RT 4.5x42s digital night vision riflescope features an upgraded 768×576 CMOS sensor with 40% higher resolution over the Photon XT series, crisp 640×480 LCD display, built-in video/sound recording and integrated WiFi via the Stream Vision App. Available 2x digital zoom and a built-in 850nm LED IR illuminator allow shooters to hone in on targets up to 220 yards away in total darkness. The scope has 6 reticle options with 4 different colors and boasts a one-shot zero function, making zeroing the Photon RT a breeze. Shockproof and IP55 water resistant, the Photon RT also offers an additional weaver rail for accessories and a power input that works with power banks via microUSB. The Photon RT works with most aftermarket 30mm rings and includes carrying case, user manual, USB cable, spare battery container, battery container pouch and lens cloth.
Whew! Now, that you’ve read all of that, let me break it down to you in a cop’s easy-to-understand terms. The Photon RT series is a digital night vision riflescope that, for under $1,000 allows you to observe and report in complete darkness at typical “law enforcement engagement distances” of 100 yards or less.
The Photon RT model I received was the 4.5x42s. The optic comes nicely packaged inside a padded box proudly bearing the Sightmark logo. Upon opening the box, you find the scope comes with a soft carrying case for those times you choose to remove it from your rifle. You will be as impressed as I was by the size of the scope when pulling it out of the case. With the flexible eyecup, it is 16.57 inches in length, 3.93 inches in width and 3.62 inches in height. The weight is 30.7 ounces—1.92 pounds for those not good at conversions like myself. Thanks, Siri!
Now, you may be thinking “Man, that seems like a lot of weight on the top of my rifle.” Looking at it on paper, you may think so but then consider the power nestled in its compact body. The Photon RT 4.5x42S is a battery-powered digital night vision riflescope that not only allows you to see in the dark but also includes recording capability with audio. The Photon RT allows you to stream video to YouTube, update firmware, download footage and even allows the display to be viewed on a wirelessly connected smartphone or tablet using the device’s integral Wi-Fi along with the Stream Vision App. Doesn’t seem all that heavy now does it? And yes, you read right. It records video and audio and allows you to stream it. Wow! It comes in tactical SWAT black. Get you some of that.
Mounting the scope is no different than other scopes. It mounts quickly and easily with standard 30mm rings. Sightmark offers various types of optic mounts and is more than happy to help you make the right choice. This particular test and evaluation (T&E) model did not include rings, so I rushed out and sourced a high set locally. The rings locked up and once torqued into place with a FAT wrench, kept the scope locked down and set with no issues. That said, just get the suggested mounts from Sightmark—they’re better than what you’ll find at a moment’s notice like I did.
One thing to remember about the Photon RT is that it is truly a digital riflescope… including the reticle. There are no traditional crosshairs to adjust. Adjustments are done inside the menu settings of the scope’s software. The Photon RT features “One Shot Zero.” Essentially, you lock the rifle into position and eliminate movement while on target, fire a round and then enter the zeroing mode in the menu—a second crosshair appears. Using digital controls, move the second crosshair to your actual position of impact. Once the adjustment has been saved, that’s it. The manual suggests a 100-yard setup; however, I began at 25 yards. Once I confirmed my shot placement, I sighted in again at 100 yards. Honestly, perhaps I should have just gone to 100 yards as the manual suggested and saved some ammo… but Nah! That would be one less reason to stay at the range longer.
Since the Photon RT is a day- and night-compatible digital riflescope, I performed my zero at about 3 p.m. on a slightly cloudy day. With the zero set, the change in light made no difference to my position of impact when I double-checked accuracy that evening, at roughly 8 p.m. (Author’s note: This was during standard time, so it was actually dark at 8 p.m.).
DAYTIME RANGE SESSION/FIRST SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
The rifle and Photon RT combo consistently shoots MOA at 100 yards with Federal 168-grain BTHP Match ammo with no performance deviations between day or night shooting. What did take a little getting used to was adjusting to a black and white sight picture on the 640×480 digital display. Moving around with helmet-mounted NODS is completely different than the Photon RT, at least for my eyes. One additional note related to sight picture, the Photon RT features two magnification settings: 4.5x optical zoom and 9x digital zoom—there is no variable zoom; it’s one or the other.
Another feature I appreciate is attention to eye relief. The Photon RT’s eye relief is generous and different from a traditional scope. Remember, when it comes to digital night vision scopes, you aren’t looking through a lens system. You are looking at a digital display manufactured by the information coming in from the objective lens and through multiple light manipulating processes, including converting gathered light into an electrical signal displayed on the device’s digital display. You can imagine how different it might be transitioning from an optical field of view to a digitally manufactured one. But, once you’re on the trigger, you forget about all the fancy processes it takes to make your sight picture happen. To that end, target acquisition is the same—place your crosshair on the target and squeeze the trigger.
Nighttime shooting was done under only moonlight conditions and on a standard police silhouette-type target. At 100 yards, IR setting six offered an optimum easy-to-engage target. On higher IR powers, the IT flashback was too bright against the target face. That’s not a knock on the IR, it simply means the IR is pretty good.
A second daytime range visit confirmed that two weeks of riding in the case on my rifle had not caused any shift in zero.
Recordings are easy to produce with a dedicated button. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here because the videos available online speak volumes about the Photon RT’s content quality. (Editor’s Note: Jamie’s videos are evidence and cannot be published.) What I can tell you is recording is simple and reviewing footage is just as easy. The Photon RT also boasts onboard memory, not an SD card, so there’s no need to worry about video quality or buying SD cards. SD cards have also proven to be pretty unreliable under recoil conditions—another great benefit of the Photon’s integrated storage. Nice feature, Sightmark!
Author’s Note: Now writing this, I realize I have failed to explain that my rig included a suppressor, effectively eliminating muzzle flash. So, I can’t tell you to what degree muzzle flash may momentarily affect field of view. I can only assume it’s minimal based on the numerous Photon RT shooting videos I have watched online.
ONE FINAL SHOT
The Photon RT I tested was used in a way it is not truly intended. It was used as a spotting scope by a narcotics surveillance unit engaged in true LEO observation in an area believed to be a storefront operated by a “street level pharmaceutical engineer.” I can’t go into further detail, obviously, but I can tell you it has performed admirably. And remember, what it sees, it can record. Even in the dark.
If you are looking for a way to help clear your property of feral hogs, protect your livestock from predators or need a riflescope to assist you in your duties—even limited, cost-conscious law enforcement—give the Sightmark Photon RT line of digital night vision riflescopes a solid look.
My time with the scope was limited since quite a few folks are still waiting to get their hands on the small supply of test units. As with any law enforcement product, you may want to test it out for yourself to make sure it meets your needs and performs to your expectations. I accept and respect the opinions of others, but I ALWAYS must do my own testing, and I expect (and hope) you do the same.
If you are in law enforcement, contact Sightmark. Their law enforcement division is always willing to answer questions and discuss night vision options. They also offer courtesy discounts to individual officers, as well as departments.
Stay safe and happy hunting.
To reach Sellmark’s Law Enforcement team with questions about products and ordering, call 817-225-0310 extension 288.
Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and a LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.
I remember the first time I set my gaze upon feral hogs like it was yesterday. Dense morning fog had just lifted to reveal an unruly sounder rooting under an oak tree on the edge of a steep finger well off the beaten path in California’s La Panza range. It was my first hog hunt and while I did not kill that weekend, the hunt stayed with me, gnawing at me like a tick to get back out there. Seriously—and not from experience mind you—I liken hog hunting to crack or some other stranglehold drug—you absolutely can get addicted your first time out. I didn’t kill on my second, third or fourth time out either. Even my fifth, sixth and seventh time were exercises in futility; however, my addiction stayed. Every hog I saw fanned the fire.
To be honest, I don’t recall how many hunts it took to drop my first hog, but I do remember the experience well. It was an early morning rifle hunt and I was walking to the corner of a wheat field when I heard the grunts. I had seen pigs from afar but this was the first time I heard them. I froze and scanned to my right to see a half-dozen rooting up a soft patch of dirt at a tree line some 50 yards from my position. I shot a large sow and learned quickly how little they sometimes bleed. With virtually no blood trail to go on, I conducted a methodical sweep of the area. After a solid two hours of combing, I had to laugh silently to myself. While I thought she had made good distance before she expired, I found her less than 15 yards from where she was shot; she had bolted out of sight then circled back.
I also remember my first night hunts—first with a bow, then with night vision and thermal. What is spooky to some, simply added excitement to my nighttime experience. New sounds shattered the silence in every direction—locusts, the intensified volume of lulling cattle, even the shrill scream of a cougar rose the hair on the back of my neck on that first dusk ‘til dawn hunt. And, of course, the screeches, barks and grunts from agitated hogs crashing into a freshly rooted area had my heart beating out of my chest. Admittedly, I bow hunted hogs for years before stumbling upon the thrill of night hunting with digital night vision with a Sightmark Photon.
While my firsts have been many and decades of chasing critters and filling freezers in the making, nowadays, my favorite pursuits are those spent with new hunters and reveling in their firsts, especially those late-night experiences where an entirely different outdoor world is busy playing out. Not long ago, I had the pleasure of witnessing a first hunt. The hunter was equipped with an AR-platform rifle and Photon RT Digital Night Vision Scope as we scouted on freshly planted crop fields just south of Waxahachie, Texas. With amazing folks at Three Curl Outfitters at the reigns, we rolled down a handful of farm roads, scanning with thermal monoculars. As the night rolled on, we continued glassing fields and adding to the collection of empty energy drink cans on the truck floor. The time was right, the weather was right… but our timing had not been right at all. I laughed to myself several times as I imagined large sounders of hogs dropping down into the fields we scouted just seconds after we passed—who knows? They may have. Just as we began to tucker out it happened. “Pigs!” Our guide stopped the truck and glassed with his thermal monocular to confirm. Yes, finally, they were there, a half-dozen or so near a tree line on the opposite side of a field nearly 1,000 yards out. We parked the truck, slid out onto the road, then quickly and quietly filed out onto the field.
With the wind in our favor, we closed the distance pretty quickly—especially given the trek across uneven terrain was over a half-mile—the last few hundred yards in stalk-mode. When the guide finally stopped us, we were no more than 75 yards away from the few remaining pigs—half had ventured back into the trees during our stalk. We quietly fanned out side-by-side, lowered the handguard of the rifle down into the into the cradle of the monopod and settled in.
I stood close by. Instead of a rifle this time, I had my smartphone. Amazingly enough, the Photon RT, Sightmark’s latest model, includes built-in video and Wi-Fi. Most importantly at this moment of truth, the Wi-Fi had allowed me to connect to the scope and to watch the first-time hunter’s display remotely on my device. The beauty of it was obvious—I was better able to coach him quietly while maintaining a shooter’s perspective of his reticle, overall field of view and the small sounder of pigs completely unaware of our presence.
Once we were set, the guide asked us to confirm when we had “eyes” on the targets. We confirmed and I watched his reticle on my phone lower and settle onto a sweet spot just behind the largest pig’s ear. The guide counted down, “three, two, one.”
At one, the first shot shattered the deafening silence, dropping the first pig where it stood, it never budged an inch. As hog hunting sometimes goes, especially with new hunters, the rest of the hogs made it into nearby trees, disappearing instantly under the cloak of a tangled thicket.
It was his first kill ever and on a wily old sow. I smiled to myself in the darkness as a flurry of high-fives and hugs made a quick round. Decades later, I still recall the sudden rush of adrenaline, when my emotions suddenly were not my own… and a mix of tears and laughter, perhaps best described as elation, reverence plain old uncontrollable jitters. I had been a mess and now some of those feeling had rushed back being fortunate enough to share this defining moment with him. There, on that field trimmed neatly in hues of midnight blue and silver, another hunter was born.
We would love to hear your first hunt stories. Share them with us in the comment section.
(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/02/14) – New Sightmark Signal Digital Night Vision Monoculars are helping people see flawlessly at both day and night. With two different models, the 320RT 4.5×30 (SM18024) and 340RT 4.5×30 (SM18025), seeing in pure darkness (up to 380 yards away!) has never been easier.
Replacing the popular Ranger Digital Monocular series, the Signal lineup hits shelves packed with enhanced features. A new and improved high-sensitivity 640×480 CMOS sensor and high-resolution 640×480 LCD display ensure night time and low light performance. Both models feature available built-in video recording with sound, allowing users to take images and videos to show their friends or upload to the internet. The Signal can even stream directly to your smartphone or tablet for remote view via the Stream Vision app.
For ultimate stealth and discretion, the Signal 340RT’s 940nm IR illuminator produces no glow and is practically invisible to wildlife. Though not entirely invisible, the powerful 850nm IR illuminator found on Signal 320RT models gives viewers 50 more yards of detection range at night. Signals boast 2x digital zoom, enabling up to 9x magnification for up-close and personal viewing. Sightmark Signal Digital Night Vision Monoculars include carrying case, user manual, USB cable, neck strap and lens cloth.