Mat Manning gives his verdict on the InfiRay Rico RL42 – a high-end thermal riflescope that promises seriously hot round-the-clock viewing
Technological advancements in night vision optics have far exceeded anything that most shooters could have imagined just a few years ago.
The InfiRay Rico RL42 thermal riflescope is at the top of the tree when it comes to the evolution of after-dark optics, and I have been having a great time putting it through its paces over the past few weeks.
Before we go any further though, I will point out that the Rico is not cheap and retails around £2,999.99.
Three grand is a serious amount of money to fork out for a thermal optic to plonk on top of an airgun but remember that this is one of the best out there.
Shooters who do enough after-dark pest control to justify such an outlay and can stretch to that kind of money will be investing in something really special.
For the rest of us, I think it’s very interesting to see just what this sort of high-end gear is capable of, even if we ultimately have to settle for something more modest.
The draw of thermal sighting is stealth.
Because these optics see heat, you don’t need a lamp to spot your quarry in the dark, and that means there is no conspicuous light to put it on edge.
Apart from helping to keep you hidden in the gloom, thermal riflescopes also give you an amazing insight into just what is going on in the darkness around you.
They enable you to see the heat signature of rats and rabbits even when they are partially obscured by undergrowth, and the result is that you will spot quarry that may well have evaded detection if you were using infrared night vision or a lamp.
And don’t forget that thermal rifle scopes also work by day, so you can enjoy that high level of detection ability right around the clock.
And there are plenty of serious squirrel shooters who use thermal gear by day in order to spot these bushy-tailed pests hiding amongst the leaves and branches in their treetop haunts.
Key specs – InfiRay Rico RL42
SUPPLIED BY: Highland Outdoors (highlandoutdoors. co.uk)
MODEL: InfiRay Rico RL42
LENGTH: 250mm (including eyecup)
WEIGHT: 1030g (including mount)
EYE RELIEF: 55mm
DETECTION RANGE: Up to 2,197m
FEATURES: Picatinny mount and spare battery supplied, video and photo capture, gravity sensor, e-compass, choice of zero profiles, reticle designs and colour palettes.
OUT OF THE BOX
Lifting the Rico from its box, the first thing to strike me was just how solidly constructed it is. The build quality is excellent and it weighs a very solid 1,030g with its mount fitted.
Despite its weight, it measures a fairly compact 250mm from end to end, including the soft rubber eyecup.
The supplied mount provides a rock-solid attachment to a Picatinny rail and has quick-release couplings. Mounting was absolutely perfect on my Weihrauch HW100 BP; it felt very well-balanced and, fixed on the forward section of the rail, placed the eyecup in exactly the right spot at the front of the cheekpiece.
Highland Outdoors also sent me the InfiRay Laser Rangefinder, which is compatible with the Rico and adds £499.99 to the price tag.
The Rico comes supplied with two rechargeable batteries, each delivering a runtime of up to six hours depending on what features you use. The battery slots into the right-hand side of the unit and is held firmly in place by a twist-lock mechanism.
To switch the Rico on, you simply give the front Power button a long press. Give it a short press when switched on and the unit goes into Standby mode, from which another short press pings it straight back into action. This mode is a great way to extend battery life and achieve a much longer runtime. To switch off completely, you just give the Power button another long press.
The first time you switch on the Rico you need to use the rear focusing dial to bring the text on the display into focus for your eye.
Despite being very sophisticated, the Rico is very simple to use and the only control you really need to use once you’ve got it set up is the front focus dial to bring the target into sharp relief.
This dial sits just above and behind the 42mm objective lens – that’s just the right place and it’s easy to operate with gloved hands.
FEATURES AND FUNCTION
The Rico has a lot of clever features for those who want them. The controls are all very intuitive and are accessed via the three buttons that sit behind the Power switch.
The front one is referred to as the Up/Zoom button, the middle one is the Menu/M button and the rear one is the Down/Photo button.
The most significant function that most people are going to need to carry out is zeroing.
This is accessed by pressing and holding the Menu button to open the main menu and then using the Down button to scroll down. When the Zeroing option is highlighted you press Menu to select it.
The Rico enables you to set and save multiple zero profiles for different guns, ammo or distances, and these are selected and opened using the same controls. Once you have opened the profile you want in the Zeroing mode, you then take a shot at a target using the usual aim point at the centre of the reticle.
After taking the shot, keep the crosshair on the bullseye and use the controls to shift a small white cursor along the X and Y axes until it corresponds with where the pellet struck. A press of the M button then saves your new zero setting. In theory, you should be able to get the Rico zeroed with a single shot, but it took me three or four to fine-tune it.
With zero set, the Rico is ready for action but there are lots of other clever functions to take advantage of. If you’re tech-savvy enough to use a mobile phone, you will soon master this thermal gunsight’s advanced controls. I won’t explain all the control procedures here because they don’t make for very interesting reading.
I actually reckon that most shooters will be able to find their own way around them, but InfiRay has produced a very clear online manual that explains how to access and set up all of the Rico’s functions.
To skim over some of the Rico’s features, the most basic menu gives you fast access to brightness settings and five different colour viewing palettes. My favourite colour settings for rat and rabbit shooting were White Hot and Red Hot.
Delve into the advanced menu and you can choose from seven reticle designs and whether you want them illuminated in black, white, red or green. This menu also enables you to select Ultraclear mode for improved viewing in rain or fog and to switch wifi connectivity on and off. Switch wifi on and you can connect the Rico to your phone via a free app.
One advanced feature that I really like is the Gravity Sensor. Switch this on and dials on either side of the screen show you the vertical and horizontal angle of your gun, which means you know the exact elevation of any shots you are taking as well as whether you are canting your rifle.
Other controls you might need to use during the shoot can be accessed on the fly. A quick press of the Up/Zoom button toggles zoom between 4x, 8x, 12x and 16x, and a long press activates Picture in Picture mode with a square at the top of the screen showing a view with twice the magnification of the sight’s main image.
Shooters who like to capture the action from their hunts to watch and share later on will love the Rico. A short press of the Down/Photo button takes a photograph of the sight picture, while a long press records video. There is no need to mess about with memory cards as the Rico has its own onboard storage and you can download saved files via the supplied USB cable.
The one other feature that I want to give special mention to is the rangefinder. Yes, it is an extra and does add to the cost, but it makes a huge difference. It is impossible to accurately gauge range through a thermal sight, but this add-on enables you to do it with the press of a button – two buttons, actually.
InfiRay’s rangefinder attaches to the Rico’s Picatinny siderail and plugs into its USB connection.
Press and hold the Up and Down buttons to activate it, and range to target is displayed at the top right of the screen in metres or yards. Give the two buttons another press and you can toggle between a single ping to get the range to a fixed target or continuous ranging to track distance or multiple targets.
IN THE FIELD
The Rico is an absolute pleasure to use in the field. It is easy to operate and felt very at home mounted on my HW100 BP. It didn’t feel overly cumbersome and came to my eye very comfortably.
InfiRay states the Rico’s detection range for a man-sized object as 2,197m – that’s well over two kilometres. I didn’t manage to stretch it that far but it certainly provides detailed viewing way beyond what most shooters could ask of it.
Image quality is excellent, which makes for clear identification. I have used some expensive thermal sights that show quarry as blobs, which makes it difficult to distinguish their kill zones.
That is not the case with the Rico, which has more than enough clarity and definition not only for you to be confident of what you are shooting at, but also to know that you are aiming at exactly the right spot to achieve perfect pellet placement.
My usual approach is to start out with it on 4x magnification so I have a wide field of view for spotting quarry and then ramp up the magnification, usually to 8x or 12x, for extra precision when taking the shot.
When it came to accurate shooting, I found the rangefinder invaluable. Having the Rico mounted on a bullpup meant it was high above the barrel, which amounted to steep variations in holdover and holdunder. With the gravity sensor dials helping iron out cant and the rangefinder displaying exact distance to my target, any guesswork was eliminated from shot placement.
The Rico is fantastic. I used it for after-dark rat and rabbit shooting during the test and it was flawless. It is a significant cost, but shooters who can afford it will be buying an excellent, tricked-out thermal riflescope that is a cinch to use.