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Night Hunter

10:14 17 February 2012

The elevation adjuster is shown here pulled  up into the unlocked position

The elevation adjuster is shown here pulled up into the unlocked position

Archant

If you have to control vermin in low light conditions, then Jim Royce has the scope for you

Many factors affect this, including the quality of the lenses and coatings, plus the size of the objective (front) lens as well. This large lens gathers up all the available light and funnels it toward your waiting eye. It’s actually rather more complicated than that, but in principle that’s what we need to know. The Nighteater range was designed for Australian hunters who cull large numbers of kangaroos at night with a lamp, in much the same way we cull rabbits, so it’s no surprise that the features that work down under work well for us too.

The 50mm objective lens is huge compared to most, giving the very best use of any light to let you see that rabbit in a shady area just at dusk, and creating the difference between making a kill and going home empty handed. To make the most of this capacity we need to dial the magnification to the optimum setting where the light exiting the ocular (rear) lens fills our eye’s pupil to the maximum, but with no waste. So for a 50mm objective we need seven times mag’ to give us the correct exit diameter. Being a variable power model, this is possible and shows one of the advantages variable power scopes bring.

Dirty Job

The range of magnification allows this scope to be used from close range hunting, like culling feral pigeons from around farm buildings, to long-range target work. Take the first example. Those dirty pigeons like nothing more than sitting around in the rafters and pooping on everything below. I’ve never met a farmer who likes having bird guano splattered all over his best tractor and every other piece of plant and equipment in his store, so they’re always keen to get rid of the pigeons, and the nasty diseases they bring with them.

To do this work I’ve always found it best to drop the magnification of the scope right down to four or five times, as this gives a bright view allied to a wide field of view. A mottled pigeon sitting high on a rafter in a dark corner of a barn is tough to see, so having a wide field of view makes finding them through the scope much easier. and once you’re locked on, that bright image helps with placing your shot directly into the side of the bird’s head for a clean kill. This can be tough work but satisfying and will stand you in good stead with your farmer friend.

The Nighteater range is right up-to-date in terms of its build. They feature side-wheel parallax adjustment that allows easy focusing for the clearest image alongside the elimination of the dreaded parallax error. This surprisingly, is at its worst at close range which is the opposite of what you’d expect. The Nighteater focuses right down to 10 yards which is just what an airgun scope needs.

The elevation (up and down) and windage (right and left) adjusters and also very modern being semi-tall exposed ‘sniper’ types with a clever trick up their sleeve. The drum you see lifts to unlock and make adjustments and then clicks back down to securely fasten them. In this way they can’t be accidentally turned, affecting your zero.

Right at the back we find a fast-focus adjuster that’s used to get a sharp image of the LRX reticle. This was one of the first multi aim-point reticles on the market in what many people refer to as the Christmas tree style. Through practice you can learn and memorise different points along the trajectory of your pellet’s flight and how the additional aim-points relate to them. For example if your .22 was zeroed at 30 yards, the first aim-point down might relate to 35 yards giving you a definite aim rather than a guesstimate. Once you have this sussed, your accuracy will improve without question.

Included in the price are some highly useful accessories; including a 3” sunshade extension and a set of flip-up lens covers which stay on the scope while you’re hunting, ensuring that the lenses stay clean and dry right until you’re ready to take your shot, which can be very important, especially in rainy weather.

It’s quite a big scope at 390mm long and weighs in at 793 grams so isn’t ideal for lightweight carbines. It looks the part though, on full-sized sporters.

So if low light hunting is your bag, then this is a scope worth having a good look at, offering great performance in a modern package at a good price too. n

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