Controlling predators and hogs at night is legal where I live, but it's not easy. Spotlights spook the animals and red lens versions don't put out enough light. Night-vision optics were a leap forward, but even they have their limitations, especially the inexpensive units.
When Trijicon released their line of thermal optics this year, I found my nirvana. Thermal optics work by detecting differences in heat so they work day or night, rain or shine, and they allow you to spot and target living creatures at virtually any distance. Among those products is the REAP-IR, an incredibly capable thermal optic in a surprisingly compact package. At 1.3 pounds and with a length of just 6.5 inches, the REAP-IR is tiny by electronic optic standards. Despite its size, the REAP-IR gives up nothing to larger optics in terms of capability.
Compact Size With Big Features
Due to its compact dimensions, the REAP-IR is equally at home on a carbine, .308-size semi-auto or even mounted on a precision rifle. In fact, this optic is designed specifically so that it can be swapped easily between numerous rifles and used in differing roles. This unit actually stores four separate zeros so the user can trade it between rifles and automatically re-zero it without a trip to the range. Thanks to its digital zoom and choice of selectable reticles, the REAP-IR can serve effectively in short-, medium- and long-range roles. It's even compact enough to be used as a monocular, useful for any nighttime observation and ideal for tracking and recovering wounded game. Living creatures glow in the optic's OLED display as if they're made of neon and blood trails are clearly visible on both the ground and vegetation.
Unlike some of the other products in the Trijicon thermal lineup, there is only one model of the REAP-IR available: a 35mm lens variant with 2.5x of optical magnification and up to 20x of user-variable optical magnification available (8x zoom). This little unit attaches to any Picatinny rail using a patented Mini D-LOC mount.
Lots of Options
There are six settings to alter the image from white/hot to black/hot, depending on what works best in your current environment. My personal favorite feature on the REAP-IR is the Edge Detect setting, which outlines hot objects automatically so that you can spot them easily, and with minimal illumination to damage the user's night vision. This feature, the reticle selection, the digital zoom, and all other relevant functions are all controlled using a single multi-directional thumbstick controller on the side of the unit, ideal for use in total darkness. The diopter adjustment is at the rear of the unit and ranges from -6 to +2. Battery life is up to 5 hours with 2 C123 batteries, depending on the refresh rate and other settings.
Perfect for Predators
During the short time that these thermal products have been on the market, end-users have already found their favorites when it comes to capability. Due to the particulars of the REAP-IR, it has become a favorite of predator hunters. I have spent the past several weeks prowling around at night hunting coyotes with Trijicon's new thermal products and I can't say enough about their effectiveness. What you can see at night through these amazing optics is almost scary; I would hate to be a bad guy on today's battlefield knowing that the good guys have such technology at their disposal.
Trijicon's line of thermal products is also very user-friendly: what I thought would be a complicated product learning curve that would require long study of the owner's manual to operate turned out to be the opposite. These are simple, intuitive and useful devices that I was able to master in a few minutes. Because these optics function by detecting heat rather than by gathering ambient light they can be zeroed easily during daylight hours — especially using steel targets. This is one of many real advantages that thermal optics have over traditional night-vision optics. Windage and elevation adjustments are made in Minutes Of Angle so digitally zeroing the reticle works just like a traditional daytime optic. Using only the 2.5x optical zoom, we were able to consistently shoot sub-MOA groups on 200- and 300-yard steel targets using a suppressed Mk-12 SPR chambered in 5.56mm, day or night.
A Major Innovation
These products are by no means inexpensive and certainly aren't within the budget of every hunter or shooter, but that fact should diminish the importance of this technology. Miniaturization of electronics has been one of the major innovations of the past decades and the REAP-IR is the epitome of that progress. A highly-functional thermal optic that is compact, lightweight and can operate as either a stand-alone sight or work in-conjunction with a day optic is an incredible leap forward. If you want to harness the very best thermal technology that money can buy, I highly recommend that you give Trijicon's thermal optics a try. If a compact unit is your priority, the REAP-IR is where your search should begin and end.