Mike Powell’s been testing out two affordable additions to his night shooting setup, from Pard and Wicked Lights
I recently made mention of two new items of night shooting equipment I had been sent to try out that had proved more than fit for purpose.
They were the Pard, a Chinese-made digital add-on, and from Wicked Lights, an American based company imported here by Scott Country, an extremely functional infra-red torch, again made in China.
The Pard is a small, compact and nicely made little NV unit somewhat reminiscent of similar pieces of equipment that have appeared in the past which haven’t always been that successful, so I was keen to see how this one performed.
The Pard comes with the usual add-on bayonet type fitting, which is suitable for fitting scopes with a 45mm optical lens housing, there is also a 48mm version. Should the scope it’s to be fitted to be too small there is a roll of insulating tape thoughtfully provided to allow packing to be added!
I had been on the lookout for some time for a small but efficient add-on NV device that is simple to fit and use, there have been various attempts to produce something along these lines but most have fallen along the way.
Essentially, I wanted something small enough to pop in my pocket so that when out in the late afternoon when it became too dark to shoot, I could in a matter of moments slip it on to my day scope.
For years I have used one of the very best add-ons, the Starlight Archer but this is fairly bulky, requires an IR torch and bracket and is really too costly to have banging about in my pocket, so it was with some interest that I took my first look at the Pard NV007.
It’s small (about the length of your hand), light at about 12 ounces, and compared with some others, very well presented in its black casing. This Chinese-made unit comes with a fairly comprehensive instruction manual, which at times loses a little in the translation, but covers pretty well everything you need to know.
For a small device it has plenty of functions: a laser for pinpointing a designated range, IR of course (but more of that later), auto recording to a SIM card, audio sync, Wi-Fi, exposure compensation, formatting, 1.5-3x zoom.
Some of these I found useful, others not so much, The ‘control panel’ on the PARD is situated forward of the eyepiece and is easily accessible. The buttons are small and not that easy to locate in the dark to start with.
However, after using the device a few times it became much easier. As mentioned earlier there are a number of facilities, but as is always the case with modern digital night vision equipment, in my personal opinion many of them are surplus to requirements – but that comes down to a matter of personal preference.
One area this unit excelled in was its IR function. Of all the night vision equipment I have used, this one’s built-in IR was far and away the best. Normally you require additional IR to get the best from digital NV; not with this one.
It offers a range of power levels and is easily adjusted from flood to tight beam, it really is impressive. Focusing is again straightforward with an objective lens focusing ring located underneath and towards the front of the unit and the usual control on the ocular lens housing to get a sharp read out on the screen.
I used the Pard as a confirming spotter when using a Trail XQ50 thermal scope on the rifle and when out after a troublesome fox was able to confirm that it was just that out to 170 yards.
Powered by a single 18650 battery, it went for at least three hours continuous and there was plenty left. Of course, it is a straightforward matter to carry a spare if you are having an all night session.
I am still learning to get the best out of the Pard NV007, but I think that at under £400, for anyone wanting an easy to fit add-on that will double as a spotter this is excellent value for money.
As with all NV equipment, especially add-ons, it takes time to familiarise yourself with everything on offer, and I have little doubt that after buying this one as I shall, I will get even more out of it.
Do remember, though, it is choosy when it comes to scope pairing – not only from the fitting point of view but, in common with all add-on units, it works better with some makes of scopes than others.
This is down to the fact that the coatings applied to the lenses of telescopic scopes have an effect on the efficiency of night vision add-ons. I have a couple of nice, expensive scopes, and night vision isn’t brilliant when fitted to them.
I have found that mid-range scopes such as some of the Hawke range work well in conjunction with NV add-ons. The best results I have had with the Pard were when using it with a Hawke Airmax or Sidewinder.
Finally, the PARD is suitable for rifles up to .308 calibres, but I would think it really comes into its own when used on rimfires or centrefire use at ranges out to 150 yards or so.
Wicked Lights A51
The other item of night vision equipment I was trying out was the A51 IR three-in-one torch from Wicked Lights kindly sent to me by the importers Scott Country.
Wicked Lights is an American-based company that sources its equipment from China. It’s interesting to note that both of the night vision units I’ve tested in this article are from China; it seems to me that increasingly the Chinese are entering the night vision market with equipment that is really challenging makes from other countries.
I suspect we will be seeing and hearing more about this country’s products in the not too distant future.
The Wicked Lights IR is a combination night vision torch that has three functions. Over the years there have been various attempts at using different coloured lights for night shooting and having tried them all, I firmly believe that, for normal fox and rabbit shooting purposes, there are really only two options that consistently do the job well enough.
The classic red and white both work very well. Wicked Lights have built up a justifiable reputation for providing highly efficient torches and this one is no exception.
Powered by a single 18650 battery (the kit comes with two of these), not only does it have the conventional red LED torch facility, it also has two infra-red LEDs, 850nm and 940nm.
The 850 is used for longer range work and does emit a slight red glow, whereas the 940nm is virtually invisible, but does not have the same range ability of the 850nm – still, very useful if you encounter a fox that actually reacts to IR light emissions.
Switching LEDs is effected by rotating a control knob located just behind the light assembly; the torch can be focused by rotating the headlamp bezel. To round off this complete package there is an intensity control knob located in the base of the torch to keep everything nice and close together.
Priced at £249.99 from Scott Country, the A51 IR three-in-one package comes with the integral three-light torch, two 18650 rechargeable batteries, a handy battery charger, fully adjustable QD light mount, one Picatinny rail scope mount and a decent storage case.
I have used both of the above NV items extensively over the past month or so and found them highly efficient when out in the field. The Pard is an ideal carry-with-you complete unit that is extremely easy to fit and use, and while I have only used it for relatively close work (out to about 125 yards), I know it will work at greater distances than that.
It can also be used as a separate spotter. The Wicked Lights A51 IR is an incredibly efficient infra-red torch that gives the user not only the choice of two IR power levels to fit in with individual situations, but also has an extremely powerful red LED for more conventional lamping.
This, on occasions, can prove exceptionally useful when out after foxes if night vision is for some reason not appropriate.
Certainly the Pard has taken a step in the right direction, offering an efficient and practical night vision add-on that works well out to sensible fox shooting ranges at a price that won’t break the bank.
The Wicked Lights NV torch provides everything you need for a night after foxes or rabbits. The two supplied batteries will give you four or five hours of continuous use to keep you going.