February 02, 2024
To a Coyote or Hog hunter, seeing in the dark is a tremendous advantage, practically a superpower. When it comes to predator management, few tools are as beneficial to a land owner as a thermal scope. Thermal scopes use the infrared radiation produced by objects to create an image that is otherwise invisible in darkness. Given that living creatures emit heat, they are easily recognizable against colder backgrounds when viewed through a thermal scope.
Twenty years ago, thermals were almost exclusive to military use due to the size and cost. Computer chips and technology has since caught up and made these devices more practical and attainable. While still far from cheap, the RICO G-series costs less than the military’s.
Guns & Ammo’s sample G-LRF presented a number of preferable characteristics versus the still-available Mk1 model tested previously. It is an inch shorter than the Mk1 and 3.88 ounces lighter. While the two G-LRF models are almost identical in height, the G-LRF is 1.65 inches wider due to the new integrated laser rangefinder function.
Having range-to-target displayed addresses an issue with using older thermals: Estimating range in the dark. Not only is it important for ballistic compensation, a cow at 200 yards can appear as if it were a rooting hog at 50 yards. To use the rangefinder, the shooter doesn’t need to come off the gun, either. The range is displayed on the display screen.
The laser rangefinder continuously measures distance and updates in real time. The rangefinder is intuitive to use and should operate through your night operations before needing to recharge the 26650. If you forget to head outdoors with a fully charged battery, but you remembered to carry a spare, the battery is easily changed in the field.
The four-button controls can be pressed with either hand, but there is a bit of learning required to use the menu. A short press and a long press of a button will produce different results, and many functions require pressing combinations of buttons simultaneously. The Quick Menu and Main Menu are easy to navigate, and the Status Bar provides plenty of information, but there are numerous features to learn such as how to take pictures. I recommend making time to operate the unit with the Owner’s Manual in hand before needing to toggle through its functions in the dark.
The G-LRF is Wi-Fi compatible, and can capture video (with sound) as well as photos. These are automatically saved to the internal 32 GB of storage. There’s even a mobile app that, when connected to Wi-Fi, enables you take photos and video with the G-LRF, saving them to the mobile device rather than the scope’s internal storage.
The Matrix III processor and 50 Hz frame rate keep up with the G-LRF’s movement without much lag time. The 1024x768 HD OLED display on the 384 35mm model, we tested was clear. The screen displays a standard 3X optical magnification and offers a 4X digital zoom. A picture-in-picture function enables zooming in on the target while maintaining a wide field of view.
The included rail mount is well suited for bolt action rifles because it positions the eye guard further back on than an AR-15’s cantilever mount. For this reason, this setup is impractical for AR-type rifles. The RICO Micro MQD mount, developed in partnership with American Defense Manufacturing, is the way to go for mounting the G-LRF to an AR. Recoil rated for .300 Win. Mag., these units come with a 5-year warranty.
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