IRay Rico RL42 thermal weapon sight
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- Last updated: 06/07/2022
InfiRay is a Chinese company specialising in thermal imaging devices and their aim is to achieve an affordable thermal viewer or weapon sight that gives the best possible image in all weather conditions. There are two models in the Rico range. The RL42 sight with a 384x288 12 μm <40mk thermal sensor and the RH50 with its higher resolution 640x512 12 μm <40mk sensor. They retail for £3094.95 and £4464.95 respectively. Both units feature the high-performance IRay Micro II core coupled to an AMOLED HD display, so high contrast sharp images are achieved.
This Rico RL42 model (on test) establishes its high-resolution images by using the internal image processor and IRay’s MATRIX III image algorithm.
The controls are all well placed with intuitive and easy to use interfaces and includes a picture-in-picture (PiP) function which is becoming more popular these days. The unit shows a tough aluminium alloy outer shell and comes with an IP67 waterproof rating and 1000G shock resistance.
Visually, the RL42 looks like many other generic thermal or night vision units as it still has the older style Picatinny under-rail fitment and not the newer looking tube/day scope mounting system. However, the rail is adjustable via four Allen screws so that eye relief can be established on a variety of guns to suit your needs. The mounting clamps are quick-detach (QD) and gave a good return to zero on quality scope bases. They also allow the unit to be removed and used as a hand-held observational scope if needed.
The unit shows a satin black coating and weighs in at 830-grams, it’s no lightweight but it’s sturdily built. Dimensionally it’s quite compact (250×65×58mm) and sits lower than similar sights, making it easier to view comfortably. A flip-open objective cover keeps water and dirt off the 42mm lens and a concertina rubber eyepiece stops extraneous light from falling on the display screen.
To the left side is an additional Picatinny rail for a laser rangefinder option and behind this a USB-C port. On the right is the battery housing that has a nifty flip up and twist opening catch. This is used to pull out the Li-ion 3.7V/4400mAh battery, which provides 6-hours of life and up to 10-hours on standby. It’s a bit tight but a nice idea. An external power source can be connected to the USB-C connector if needed.
On top, and to the front of the Rico is the focus wheel. It’s large and knurled for easy grip and it focuses from 3m up to infinity, making it ideal for rats. It’s very smooth and precise too. However, I would still prefer it to be side-mounted, but thermals don’t seem to offer this.
Next, you have a bank of four large rubberised buttons. Foremost is on/off with a short press to calibrate and a longer hold to put on standby. Next is zoom, and each press increases the magnification in steps (4, 8, 12 and 16x) and if you hold it down the picture-in-picture (PIP) appears. The third button accesses the menu and the fourth button can be used to record images and video, which are then stored in the 32GB of internal memory. These files can be transmitted via a wired or WIFI connection. The Rico is easy to use with the menu led operating system, although it is worth mentioning that I had to download the manual.
The main feature of the unit is its high image quality. The Rico series is embedded with an infrared and independently developed high-performance VOx detector. The image processing features advanced image correction and automatic image optimization as a result of the powerful MATRIX III image processing algorithm. Coupled to the detector resolution of 384×288 and smaller pixel size of 12 μm, instead of the normal 17 μm, and you achieve a super smooth image, plus the 50Hz refresh rate ensures no lag of images.
The picture is very sharp and shows no hard edges or lag at all, only vivid and detailed thermal images. It also offers less eye strain and makes the detection of heat sources much easier. The high contrast AMOLED micro display with HD resolution offers sharp images and vivid colours too. There is also an Ultraclear Mode designed for bad weather, like fog and rain. It helps to achieve a better image than similar thermal scopes.
The PiP function provides a 2x magnified image of the reticle area and is positioned at the top of the display, thus magnifying the target while maintaining visibility of the entire field of view. The actual detection range is 2600m for a 1.8m tall object but when used in the field to detect small game, it is obviously far less. The unit offers white-hot, black-hot, colour, red and highlight colour options for detection.
You can zoom from 4x to 16x magnification but the image becomes more pixelated past 12x, but it’s still a nice option. There are seven reticles to choose from, which include a dot, crosses, German-style, mildot etc. The colour can be changed to black, white, red or green to suit your needs.
There are three distances options for zeroing and the process follows the X and Y coordinate correction method. So, enter the zeroing mode via the main menu and adjust the reticles coordinates, which are shown in the top left corner of the display. A moving dot shows the new zero position which the reticle then adjusts to. It is easy to use, even for me!
You can fit a laser rangefinder to the Rico which is accurate to ± 1m out to 1000m. It includes a scanning mode and as an optional extra, it costs £514.95. The unit features a built-in accelerometer and digital compass, which can highlight cant and angle issues in the field so that you can correct them before you shoot.
I like the build quality and size of this Rico unit. I mounted it on a Bergara B14R custom rifle first and it fitted a treat. The balance was great, so even shooting freehand or off sticks it felt very stable.
All of the controls were easily accessible and I sighted in the unit during daylight hours. I found the menu led process easy to navigate and soon had the Bergara zeroed in at 50 yards with Norma .22 LR subsonic rounds.
During use, you will instantly notice how clear and smooth the image is when there is a good temperature difference between objects, either night or day. This is partly due to the RL42’s detector/sensor having a ≤40 mK Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD) rating. This is the most important parameter in regards to the quality of a thermal imaging device as it describes its thermal sensitivity. The millikelvin (mK) shows when the temperature value signal (target) is equal to the noise signal (background). Noise or background will interfere with a quality image so NETD is rated thus, <40 mK (Excellent), <50 mK (Good) and <60 mK (Acceptable).
I chose a dot and German type reticle for rats at close range and the more common 30/30 type ret for rabbiting, but there’s plenty of choices. The zero distance has three range profile option so you can switch between any for a different rifle, or a longer range zero.
The white or black-hot image shows plenty of definition on the hot target and they pop out from the background well. Looking from a hillside to a field can cause a momentary overexposure but the Rico soon recovers with a well-balanced contrasty image. In total darkness, we had some great bunnies with the Rico as they had no idea we were there.
I am very impressed, and I suspect the new IRay range of thermal devices, which are distributed by Highland Outdoors, are going to put the cat amongst the pigeons a little. The price point makes these units very appealing.