I received a new lamp from Scott Country, who have a reputation for keeping right up to date with any new items that appear, particularly where night shooting is concerned. I am aware that the market already offers a large and varied selection of torches, lamps, and the like, so I was curious to see if these new additions could stand out from the crowd in any way.
Now I would be the first to admit that I am no technophile, particularly where modern lighting is concerned. I was weaned on good old-fashioned car or motorcycle headlamps and matching wet acid batteries. Words like lumen and LED meant nothing back then – all we wanted was an outfit that would allow us to shoot at night. In that respect, as far as I’m concerned, nothing much has changed! While I do have a grasp of the recent developments, to be honest all I really care about is: Does the equipment I am using work, is it reliable, and possibly most importantly, does it do the job I want it to? I’m not going to fuss too much over how it does it and why.
Over the last few years there have been some good lamps and torches available, and I wonder where the manufacturers will go in the future. We live in an age where effective distance seems to matter – but does it? It’s all well and good to have a lamp with a 900-metre beam, but I’m hardly going to start shooting over that distance.
With all that in mind I was really keen to try out the Predator Pursuit torchlight. The firm marketing the Predator is Wicked Hunting Lights, an American company. As our American friends are pretty choosy when it comes to their hunting equipment, I guessed the torch would be good. I was hampered in my testing efforts by atrocious weather, with access to the fields by vehicle being all but impossible. Things did improve a little, but once again the rain arrived, so a trip on foot beckoned. The rabbit population in many parts of my area has all but disappeared, but there was still one farm where they have survived in reasonable numbers. It would be an ideal testing ground for the torch.
The torch itself is extremely well made and weighs just under a pound. Power is supplied by a rechargeable 18650 battery, two of which are supplied with the torch. Included in the kit is a smart charger, a halo shield – which under some conditions can be extremely useful – a mounting kit for 25mm and 30mm scope tubes, a quick-detachable, adjustable mount and a carry case.
As far as the controls are concerned, the tail cap has an effective rheostat control, which starts at an extremely low light level – ideal for seeing your way in full darkness – and smoothly increases up to full power. There is also a wired remote control for those who prefer that system. In other words, the kit gives you everything you need for a night’s lamping.
Setting up the torch took only a matter of minutes. For convenience I used one of my own mounts, as I know it is spot on with the .17 HMR I was using. Trying the lamp for the first time had it throwing a clean, square beam out to distances well beyond my needs. As I said earlier, the control switch worked well, and on its lowest setting proved ideal for getting around in places where there were obstacles and also for opening gates, as most of ours round here are either locked or tied with large quantities of baler cord!
Another important feature of the Predator Pursuit is its ability to give you the choice of three colours: red, green and of course white. I much prefer white, though there are times, particularly where owing to shooting pressure the rabbit population becomes wary of white light, where I will use red. Though I know some shooters who swear by green light, I have to say I’m not a big fan of that particular colour. However, the choices are there and are easily selected by a control knob located just behind the head of the torch.
I was out for about an hour and picked up half a dozen rabbits. I used red and white light and have to say the red LED was impressive in its intensity. As far as detection range is concerned, as lampers will be aware it is extremely hard to give accurate readings as so much depends on the ambient conditions and soil colour. Where I am in Devon, the red soil gobbles light up, especially the red spectrum. However, on a far from ideal night I found the white light completely effective out to around 300 yards for positive identification and the red about 50 yards less. The green was not far short of the white-light performance.
After returning home, I left the light running to see how long it would last on one charge. It attained the manufacturer’s claim of three hours on full power. Clearly as you don’t have the torch on continuously you have more than enough juice for most lampers’ requirements, but you can always carry a spare battery in which case you are guaranteed a full night’s use. Incidentally, when I left the torch running for a protracted period I was very surprised how cool it remained.
Overall I thought this Predator Pursuit torch did everything a night shooter would want it to, and did it very well. It is not the cheapest on the market, but with a lifetime warranty on the torch and its controls and a three-year warranty on the LED and electronics I thought it offered very good value for money. It was certainly robust and gave the impression that with the sort of use most lampers would give it, you would get years of use from it.
There is a dedicated red light made by the same manufacturer, and an IR version of the Predator Pursuit which allows you to switch between 850nm, 940, and visible red light. I am particularly interested in the latter and hopefully will report on it in due course.