See the light with night vision pioneers

Con Kapralos

Once the domain of military and law enforcement professionals, night vision technology is no longer limited to the select few with variants such as infrared and thermal imaging advancing in leaps and bounds during the past 10 years. Cutting-edge thermal imaging optics command price tags in the thousands of dollars, but the infrared options are still very affordable for recreational shooters and hunters who’ve embraced optics such as riflescopes, monoculars and binoculars.

Shenzhen Pard Technology (PARD) is a professional night vision and thermal imaging manufacturer in Shenzhen, China and while they make some high specification night vision electro-optics, they also cater to the recreational bracket and products are exported worldwide with well-established outlets in New Zealand, Europe, the UK and US. Here, PARD Australia is exclusive distributor and already has a sizeable market share, especially when it comes to infrared night vision optics. One of the most recent additions is the NV008P Digital Night Vision (NV) riflescope with integral Laser Rangefinder (LRF), touted to be big on performance but low on price.

The South Australian Rifle Association store in Dry Creek is an authorised PARD retailer and sent Australian Shooter an NV008P LRF scope for review. The unit arrived in a sturdy black carton, zippered storage pouch which also contained scope mounting hardware and information on how to download user manuals and instructional videos. I’m all for online means of accessing information but a printed ‘quick-start’ manual would’ve been advantageous and welcome, especially for use in the field or at the range where internet connectivity is unavailable.

Up close

At first glance the unit resembles more a digital camcorder than riflescope and weighing a measly 450 grams, fits in the palm of your hand. There are three main parts, the first being a tube with lenses both front and rear and on/off button to the left. The main button also lets you put the unit to sleep with a single push as it turns off the display, minimising glare from the screen which could spook your quarry. One push of the button means the display is reinstated.

Alongside the on/off button is a small Picatinny rail which lets you attach an additional infrared illuminator if required and directly above the on/off switch, the Picatinny rail is a series of four buttons which allow operational and setting up of the riflescope, these buttons of a multi-use nature depending on what’s required.

The main body of the unit has a built-in 1080p LED display with full colour for daytime use and 1080p night vision mode. The display allows you to see the reticle, inclinometer, elevation angle reading and compass and also displays battery charge, infrared illumination level, Wi-Fi operation status and how long recording has been operational. On the other side of the body are connection ports for USB and HDMI under a protective screw-on cap and towards the front of the unit a manual focus dial for the image sits behind the front lens while to the rear, a display focus dial sharpens up the LCD display image to suit the user.

The device is powered by a single rechargeable 18650 flat-top battery in the top of the body, between the four operation buttons on the left and Laser Rangefinder to the right (the battery compartment is easily accessible and changing the battery is easy). The infrared illuminator is above the main tube and has an adjustable beam, from spot to flood, smoothly adjusted by hand and has three IR power modes. To the right of the main body is the Laser Rangefinder which, with a stated range of 600m, should serve most requirements at night where a shot between 200-250m is deemed a long one.

Other features include a 6.5x optical magnification and 13x digital zoom function; Five profiles for different ammunition or rifles; Multiple reticle choice with aimpoint graduations; Record in MP4 to internal micro-SD card (not included); Recoil rated up to .308 Win calibre; Waterproof; Picatinny/Weaver rail mounting system; Two-year warranty.

Out and about

Researching the riflescope took several sessions on the internet, making notes on operation of the unit as well as browsing instructional videos. Once all relevant set-up steps were noted, the unit was mounted on a friend’s Howa in .223 Remington (with Picatinny rail fitted) and taken to a private club range for sighting-in at 100m.

As expected, initially it was quite fiddly, having to press the right button at the right time but sighting-in was completed with minimal fuss. As mentioned, a ‘quick-start’ user guide would’ve been useful – something to fit a coat pocket or range bag and give information on how to set up the reticle for point-of-aim. Even so, you can tailor the unit to your requirements, select a reticle of your choice, set brightness and contrast as well as accessing pre-loaded profiles for different ammunition and rifles.

Happily I can report that as good as the unit is with the 1080p full colour daytime display, the 1080p night vision mode was equally impressive out to 250m with the built-in infrared illuminator. While foxes evaded us, picking up hares or rabbits in the LCD display with the IR illuminator set to its highest level was easily done and we ended up with several for the table. I must mention we used the rifle and scope outfit shooting from a vehicle with traditional spotlight mounted and, once quarry was spotted, the spotlight was turned off and the night vision riflescope deployed. It worked well and I think sitting in a ground blind at night overlooking a productive rabbit warren or fox den would yield results.

In summary

A retail price of $1929 at time of writing represents superb value to the hunter looking for an affordable yet feature-packed infrared digital night vision riflescope. Its small footprint and light weight make it an excellent choice whether shooting from a vehicle, ground blind or on foot at night. The only minus (if you could call it that) is the lack of a ‘quick-start’ printed user manual but for the tech-savvy, instructions and videos are easily accessed online. More at  [email protected]

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