Wraith HD 2-16x28 day/night scope - test & review
- Credit: Archant
Terry Doe explores the latest, airgun-specific digital day/night riflescope from Sightmark - the Wraith HD 2-16x28 Day/Night scope
We’re well into ‘old dog, new tricks’ territory, this month, folks. In this Editor’s Test, the rifle isn’t the star; it plays a supporting role to a sighting device that really could change the game for dedicated hunters of all kinds. Meet the Sightmark Wraith HD 2-16 x 28 Digital Day/Night Riflescope, supplied by Scott Country – and welcome to a whole new world of possibilities. If you think you’ve seen such a sight before, you’re correct, but what you haven’t seen is a sight that does what this one does, for £599.99.
This Sightmark Wraith HD is designed in Texas, specifically for airgun and .22 rimfire use, and the purpose of this test is to examine the possibilities, practicalities, advantages and drawbacks of the round-the-clock approach this Wraith offers. The last 40 years of my hunting life has been guided by telescopic sights of all kinds, and shooting at night has meant either switching to a dedicated night-vision unit, or using a lamp. I’ve dabbled with the one-size-fits-all day/night option, but now I’m going all in, to see what can be achieved by a mainly technophobic ol’ country boy and an example of cutting-edge technology. First, let’s see what this new Wraith is supposed to do – and then we can find out what can be done with it.
This description was originally labelled ‘BASIC DESCRIPTION’, but before I was halfway into it, I realised that even the basics of what the Wraith HD does makes impressive reading. This battery-powered unit – four AAs will provide a claimed 4.5 hours of continual use – has a digital magnification range of 2 to 16X, adjustable in 2X increments by pressing the forward ‘arrow’ on the Wraith’s central control system.
For daytime viewing, the image is in full, HD colour, courtesy of its 1080P digital imaging capability. At night, with the illumination assistance provided by the supplied 850nm infra-red illuminator, the field of vision extends to a full 200 yards.
Then there’s the recording facility. This device allows us to record our activities, either for broadcast on all manner of media channels, or for our own reference, or to gaze at fondly when it’s belting down with rain, blowing a gale, or doing other unfair things that prevent us going shooting.
Now add 10 reticle design options, 9 colour modes, and a zeroing system that will genuinely make you smile, and you’re on your way to getting your head around this amazing piece of hardware. You’ll need to supply a micro-SD card to accommodate your adventures, plus sufficient batteries to power the Wraith and its IR illuminator, but that’s all you need to explore this brave new world. Let’s get it mounted, switched on, and zeroed, then. How very exciting, I trust you’ll agree.
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As with any sight, correct head-eye alignment is crucial, and it’s vital to take the time to get this absolutely spot on. I chose my Air Arms Ultimate Sporter as the platform for the Wraith, not least because of its stock adjustability. Once I’d clamped the Picatinny adaptor rail to the rifle’s standard dovetail mount, it took me a full half-hour to set the Wraith so its rubberised rear ‘bellows’ just touched my eyebrow, with my head comfortably against the cheek piece.
Next came focusing, and after pressing the central ‘home’ button and holding it down until the Wraith HD came to life, that was achieved in a familiar way, via adjusting the eyepiece dioptre at the rear of the unit, and the forward focus adjuster, until image and reticle were in sharp relief. Now for the electronic stuff.
CHOOSING AND USING
Simple fellow that I am, from the on-screen menu, and following Scott Country’s perfect online instructions, I opted for a glowing red cross, complete with central dot and intersecting aiming marks. ‘Reticle Zero’ confirmed that with a press on the Wraith’s central ‘home’ button, and set about the fascinating zeroing process.
This involves placing your target at the desired range, then either clamping the rifle on aim, or propping it solidly on aim. Next, without moving the rifle, shoot three pellets. Now, again without moving the rifle, using the Wraith’s direction arrows, begin to ‘walk’ the ‘adjustment reticle’ – a bright red ‘X’ – toward the group of three pellets. This is so much quicker to do than to explain, and again, everything is covered in the step-by-step instructions provided, and on the Scott Country website. Once the adjustment reticle is perfectly centred on the group of pellets, press the central button to confirm the setting, and check your zero. I’m not a boastful fellow, as you know, but I got mine right first go. Just saying.
GET THAT TRAINING IN
As far as setting it up goes, that’s it, really, and what should follow now is an intense period of familiarisation. This isn’t a standard day scope, but if you’re going to use it as one, you’ll need to get to know the feel, form and functions of it. One thing I found I didn’t have to re-learn, was the balance and handling of the Ultimate Sporter. This rifle has been one of my all-time favourites from the day the first prototype was dropped into my hands, and I’m a bit protective of its excellent handling qualities. Therefore, I was more than pleased to be able to snap the combo into the aiming position without consciously ‘locating’ the viewfinder. This is a vital, non-technical feature that must never be underestimated. Electronic wonders are marvellous things, but the foundations of accurate shooting must always be accommodated.
SPECIFIC AREAS OF ATTENTION
I’m still not sure why, but I preferred to shoot with the Wraith’s multi-step digital zoom set to 10X, rather than the 12X I normally shoot on with standard scopes. I needed to remember that, when switched off, the unit defaults to 2X – bit annoying but hardly a tragedy – and that meant blipping the forward arrow four times after powering up to toggle through the 2X magnification increments to reach my preferred 10X. For the record, I zoomed all the way up to the full 16X to fine-focus the Wraith and to re-check zero.
On the subject of turning the Wraith on and off, you’ll need to learn how long it takes to do both, because, to prevent accidental activation and deactivation, they’re ‘press-and-hold’ actions, rather than instant. Both become second-nature in short order, even for a terminally forgetful person like me.
INTO THE NIGHT
Once daytime shooting with the Wraith HD becomes efficiently familiar, it’s time to deploy the infra-red illuminator provided with the unit and do a night shift or two. An abbreviated Picatinny rail on top of the Wraith HD fixes the IR illuminator in seconds, and it’s time to make another series of choices. Again, I’m not sure why, but I always lower my magnification when shooting at night, whichever system I use, and that could well stem from the old days when scopes and lamps were nowhere near as good as they are now, and dropping the scope mag’ was the only way to get a useable sight picture.
COLOUR YOUR WORLD
Anyway, you choose the magnification you prefer, then turn your attention to the left-hand arrow on the Wraith’s main control hub. Pressing that scrolls you through the three image options – HD colour for daytime use, and either green or mono for the nightvision option.
Now for that IR illuminator I mentioned earlier. A rubberised push-button at the rear of the illuminator gives three levels of brightness, so set the best level for the range you intend to shoot, and restart your familiarisation regimen.
I find myself increasingly captivated by the possibilities that come as standard with the Sightmark Wraith, and I’m coming up with more and more excuses to be out at night and wandering about with it, sometimes with just the sight itself, rather than having it mounted on the rifle.
During the month I’ve had it, here are a few points I’ve noted: I wish the IR illuminator had a tiny LED on it to show if it’s on or off, because the only way to tell is to look through the Wraith and press the IR’s switch until you see the image brightness drop. Apparently, I could also tell by using my mobile phone’s camera to check if there’s a dull red glow from the emitter, but above all, never, ever stare directly at the lens of the illuminator, OK?
I’ve also noticed that I’m not very good at remembering to switch off the Wraith between uses, and whilst carrying spare AA batteries – I use rechargeable ones – is no bother, I was delighted to hear from Scott Country that a separate battery pack is shortly to be made available, which will give the Wraith HD a full 24 hours of use between charges. The price has yet to be confirmed but £75 looks to be the figure, and that seems like an option well worth taking up.
Even at ‘just’ £599.99, the Sightmark Wraith HD is still a major investment, and if you have no intentions of shooting at night with some regularity, then the potential of this sight won’t be fully realised and you’d probably be better off sticking to your standard scope. However, if you want to take your sport to 24/7 status, then you absolutely have to get yourself behind one of these.
Next month, I’ll take you through the image capture options and reveal my full findings on the game-changing Sightmark Wraith HD. This is already a happy New Year!
SIGHTMARK WRAITH HD SPECS
Model: Wraith HD
Country of origin: U.S.
Type: Digital day/night rifle sight
Weight: 1.1 kg (2.6lbs)
Length: 216mm (8.5ins)
Day/Night mode – full colour for day use, mono or green for nightvision mode
High-definition sensor – high resolution imaging, plus video/photo recording in 1080p HD
8x digital zoom – a 2x optical system up to 16x magnification
Customisable reticles - 10 reticle options and 9 colour options
Main unit powered by 4 AA batteries for up to 4.5 hours of continuous use
HD photo or video recording (memory card not included).
Mounts to a Picatinny Rail
Supplier: Scott Country.
TEL: 01556 50 3587