NiteSite Dark Ops Elite Wolf Digtal
- By Pete Moore
- 2 Comments
- Last updated: 22/05/2018
With the large amount of night vision (NV) systems now available to the hunter, one British name stands out as possibly the most successful; Nite Site. I suppose you could call it a ‘plug & play’ system, as it attaches to your standard day scope, without having to change its position and uses a digital camera and infrared (IR) illuminator. They have been around for a few years now and in that time the design has been up-graded and expanded with improved components and a range of user-specific models.
The basic concept has changed little, but things certainly have in presentation, specifications and ability, so let’s take a look! The sight comes cased (nice one) and includes an adjustable power IR illuminator with a 3.5”, dimmable viewing screen at the rear, which fits onto the scope’s body tube (1” and 30mm clamps) supplied. A digital camera fits onto the eyepiece bell, which effectively looks through the scope and relays the image to the screen at the rear of the IR unit. Two, flexible, rubber adaptor tubes (35 & 40mm) are included to suit most diameters of bell. Power is supplied by a remote battery that can be strapped to the butt. There are just two cables; POWER-IN to the camera module and POWER/SIGNAL-OUT to the IR/ screen unit.
The main premise of the system is that Holy Grail of not disturbing the scope’s daylight position! But there’s no such thing as a free lunch, with the camera and tube protruding well out of the eyepiece bell, taking up valuable butt room, so moving your head well back and up. I have to say I found this awkward, as combined with the height of the viewing screen over the scope makes for the ultimate heads-up position, with not a drop of cheek weld/head support. As a rifleman, used to snuggling my cheek up to the butt and looking through an in-line optic, it felt very unnatural and remote with no real connection to the gun.
However, the digital image was good, certainly compared to some other, dedicated systems, as was the ability to select a scope with a suitable reticle. The Nite Site really scored, initially with airgunners, then we rim/ centrefire guys. On that point, you do need to experiment with optics, as some don’t do well, whereas others do. One essential criteria is a side parallax for the target, as the camera module has its own integral focus wheel for the reticle.
The original Nite Site has evolved into three choices, with different amounts of IR LEDs, all with the RTEK prefix to suit gun types and shooting distances/quarry; Viper (1 x IR) 100m and well suited to airguns and 22 rimfires. The Wolf (3 x IRs) 300m and the top end Eagle (5 x IRs) 500m, these two being ideal for high power rimfire and centrefire use.
RTEK technology offers a dimmable screen, one-button recording to a micro SD card; plus, integral Wi-Fi enables live video sharing to a mobile device using the FREE NitePlayer mobile app. Available for iOS and Android devices.
On the earlier RTEK version, the IR LEDs worked on an 850 nM (nanometers) frequency, which produced a dull red glow in use. Although warm-blooded mammals cannot detect IR, they can pick up on the red glow, which can spook them. For example, if you shoot and miss a fox, they’re smart enough to avoid the red glow next time! The introduction of the Dark Ops upgrade changed this to 940 nM, which has no visible emissions, so one less thing to worry about, but one more for Charlie!
Along with the evolution of the sights, Nite Site have also added two other products; the hand-held Nite Searcher digital viewer, which is an excellent tool and an IR-mountable laser rangefinder (LRF). The latter is exciting and solves one of the biggest problems with night shooting; determining how far the target is. It’s a blind design, in that it has no lens system, just a projector and receiver and readout screen at the rear. However, the IR picks it up and it can be seen in the screen. It mounts in parallel with the IR unit with a special bracket; so, with a bit of practice, you can be pretty sure of being on target!
The 850 nM RTEK range are still excellent and cost-effective units, but the newer 940 nM Dark Ops is better still and their Elite version even more so! On test, is the Wolf Elite package, which adds a welcome car charger to the mains unit and best of all the LRF with bracket and new remote cable/ switch for easier operation. Also included are a tough carry case, micro SD card and adaptor, 6Ah Lithium-ion battery and stockmountable pouch, anti-recoil clamp, 24-month guarantee (1-year on battery) and a Ferrite cable clamp, which fits on the power line to the IR/viewer unit. This material amplifies magnetic fields and is positioned approx. 6” from the dog leg connector. The Viper and Eagle are also available in Elite versions.
For testing, I decided to use my SGC Speedmaster, straight-pull AR15 in 223 Rem, with a full-length Picatinny base on the receiver/forend, which offered more mounting latitude. I chose a KonusPro F30 6-24x52 FFP with Mil-hash reticle. I moved the scope forward and set the butt plate to minimum length of pull (LOP) giving enough eye relief to use it easily in the day. This also offered valuable space on the butt for a more conventional shooting position. It occurred that with the height-adjustable comb and LOP set to maximum, the battery pack could be positioned on the comb via its elastic/Velcro strap to act as an effective head support. Which proved to be so.
Yes, the mandatory, ‘heads-up’ stance remained, but head support was much improved and therefore the shooting position. After some experimentation, I positioned the IR/screen unit an inch in front of the zoom ring and it all came together quite practically. Last year, I used an RTEK Eagle on a Browning T-Bolt as is and got my head around the new position required as I dropped a fox with this rig. I know other shooters who do not have this problem with the Nite Site, so I guess it’s just me! However, a butt with an adjustable comb/ LOP along with a longer Picatinny rail does offer greater mounting flexibility! I would say have a try first to see if you are compatible with the set up.
Then it’s just a matter of fitting the LRF and clamp, which doubles as a recoil stop and working out which side it should be on. As a right-hander, the left worked for me with the remote pressure pad on the forend. To cut clutter, I wrapped the ‘line-out’ cable to the screen around the scope’s body and routed the battery cable out of the way too. You must be aware of this spaghetti; as if not stowed away, it could impede bolt operation or even get pulled out.
The camera unit is simple with an ON/ OFF button rear left and the SD card slot rear right. Practical is the single push, red button that starts and stops recording. Reticle focus is a slotted wheel at 10 o’clock top left. Controls on the IR/screen are a dimmer bottom right, which is useful, as it reduces glare that might bounce off your face and alert your quarry. IR illumination is a drum at 12 O’clock, Nite Site says that the Wolf offers a run time of 5.7 hours at half power.
I zeroed the scope, which does not change with the Wolf fitted and then worked out my drops and used the Mil-hash vertical lines as hold-over range markers, quicker and easier at night than dialing the drop in. One aspect of the design is that the camera adaptor tube can be accidently moved off line, which results in the reticle not being central in the screen. This can happen when taking the rifle out of its case, or by getting in and out of vehicles/positions. It’s a moment’s work to realign it, but just be aware!
Price-wise, there’s a difference between the standard Dark Ops and Elite units, this is mainly down to the inclusion of the LRF in the latter package. However, it’s worth noting that buying it all together saves you £50 off the LRF. I’m stopping here this month, as there’s still a lot to say, so I’ll see you in the field with the RTEK Wolf Dark Ops Elite next issue, to see how it all comes together!
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