Cobra Merlin Gen 1 monocular
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Like many shooters I find myself venturing out in the dark to pursue the humble coney when these creatures are at their most active. The night time world of the British countryside is a most fascinating one, with so much going on that it is often as interesting just to sit and watch as it is to shoot. But if lamping with a bright light washing the countryside ahead for hundreds of meters with its intense glow, I feel like an intruder in the environment and not part of it. So for a very long time been interested in trying a less invasive approach, and when the chance came my way to try out some night vision equipment I was very excited.
From ‘Day’ Scope to Night Vision
The Cobra Merlin is an ‘add on’ NV monocular, basically it can be used on its own as an aid to night vision or, with the use of the correct adaptor, it can be fitted to the ocular end of a standard rifle scope. The advantage of this set up is that you do not have to remove the day scope and replace it with a night vision scope, and you do not have to re-zero.
The Cobra’s adaptor uses clamps with thumb screws to secure itself in place; one clamp being positioned over the ocular lens of the scope, the other clamp then receives the objective end of the Merlin. The thumb screws are tightened by hand, so you shouldn’t be able to produce sufficient torque to damage either the scope or the Merlin. The adaptor can be attached in about 10 seconds and it forms a very secure attachment with no danger of the Merlin coming loose.
The first thing that you will notice when the Merlin is attached to the end of your scope is that the combined length pushes you completely of the cheek piece, so a good stock weld can not be achieved. This is why I think this system best suits a pre-charged pneumatic rifle, as with a springer you need a good stock weld and body contact. but with a PCP that is not quite so critical.
A Gen 1 monocular like the Merlin needs an infra red light source in order to operate in darkness, in the same way that your day scope needs a powerful lamp. The Merlin can detect light on the infra red scale - a form of light that is invisible to the naked eye of man and the creatures he hunts. The infra red light is provided by an IR illuminator (infra red illuminator) - basically a sophisticated torch that omits infra red light. The Merlin equipped with one of these devices is more than capable of seeing clearly on the darkest night, offering the shooter a greenish grey image of the quarry.
The centre of the image is crystal clear but as you move to the outer edge of the ‘field- of-view’ the image begins to fade. I did not find this a problem – in fact I actually liked the way the target area is framed by the faded area. If focused properly the Merlin offers a very clear image, though it is a flat rather than three dimensional one due to the fact that it is viewed on a flat phosphorous screen.
Focusing requires three adjustments; first you need to focus the eye to the phosphorous screen which is achieved by rotating the rear eye piece, you then need to adjust the objective lens of the Merlin to the object being viewed which also requires the correct parallax being dialled into the day scope. If you have never used a night scope before you will be absolutely amazed by the level of clarity and detail that the little Merlin has to offer. If focused correctly the cross hairs of the day scope will be bold and clear; I use a mil dot scope and each and every dot is sharp and easily seen.
Becoming Part of the Night
The Merlin has proven an absolute revelation, allowing me to move about in the darkness like I was a natural part of the outdoors like the fox or badger. The Merlin gives you the magical eye to see and pursue the rabbits as though I was invisible, and having tried this way of hunting I shall not be going back to a lamp. The Merlin may push you of the cheek piece but I found that in the prone position with one of Deben’s new Aimpod bipods fitted the fact that the rifle did not engage the shoulder had no effect on accuracy when using a quality gun like the Daystate Huntsman.
When it comes to rats the Merlin is in a league of its own, the rats having no idea what so ever that they are being watched and targeted, making this little NV unit a must for the serious rat shooter. What most shooters don’t realize is that it does not have to be dark to use a night vision scope. The little Merlin on its own (unaided by an IR illuminator) is magnificent during that hour or so when daylight gives way to darkness at dusk when a day scope begins to fail, a time when the rabbits are beginning to get active. This makes the Merlin ideal for those shooters who try to grab a few hours sport of an evening when they have returned home from work. I have heard quiet a few people say that it is difficult to range find with a night scope, but as I have already said the mil dots on my scope are clearly visible and can easily be used for range finding at night just as they are used for the same purpose during the day.
The Cobra Merlin Gen 1 monocular on test was a x1 (neutral magnification) unit and together with the scope adaptor it will cost in the region of £499.95.