Dou­ble Whammy!

Airgun World - - Contents -

Richard Saun­ders tries out not only a Nite Site rangefinder, but an FX Ver­mi­na­tor

Shorter days of­ten mean that win­ter shoot­ing trips have to be car­ried out in dark­ness, or at least in light val­ues that com­pro­mise the ef­fec­tive­ness of a stan­dard scope, and that means hav­ing to in­vest in lamp­ing or night-vi­sion kit.

For me, it’s the Nite Site Viper, a prod­uct I have been us­ing for years. I like it be­cause I can scan fields and pick tar­gets at air­gun ranges with­out hav­ing to re-zero. How­ever, most of my night-time shoot­ing has been around farm build­ings for rats, with ranges that are pretty much a known quan­tity, but when it comes to rab­bits at night, my suc­cess rate is much lower be­cause I strug­gle to es­ti­mate ranges ac­cu­rately. As a re­sult, I’ve tended to use lamp­ing gear rather than the Viper, and just re­cently, the rab­bits on my golf course per­mis­sion have be­come a lit­tle lamp shy. So, when the course owner called to tell me that the bun­nies had been mak­ing their own bunkers on the ninth green, I wasn’t too con­fi­dent of be­ing able to do much about it.

I’d steeled my­self for an as­sault on the garage to un­earth my lamp­ing gear when I re­ceived an email of­fer­ing the chance to test Nite Site’s laser Rangefinder. If that wasn’t for­tu­itous enough, a phone call an hour later asked if I’d be in­ter­ested in field test­ing an FX Ver­mi­na­tor.


Weigh­ing just 150 grams, the rangefinder at­taches to the in­frared beamer mount on any of Nite Site’s NV prod­ucts, and sits along­side the view­ing screen. Pow­ered by a three-volt CR2 battery, it mea­sures dis­tances in yards or me­tres, as well as in fog or nor­mal con­di­tions.

With the unit po­si­tioned so the flick­er­ing laser, which you can see on the screen, is aligned with your ret­i­cle, the rangefinder con­stantly up­dates the dis­tances of what you’re aim­ing at. The read-out also pro­vides battery life, and the ex­tent in de­grees to which your aim is el­e­vated or pointed down­ward.


The Ver­mi­na­tor Mk II is a black, syn­thetic, take-down ri­fle. The bar­rel is fully shrouded, un­like that of the Mk I, and a one-piece ac­tion re­places the old two-piece. The stock fits around the 400cc buddy bot­tle and sets you up nicely to use the pis­tol grip. Charg­ing to 220 bar gives a claimed count of more than 350 shots at 12 ft.lbs. through the FX’s Smoothtwist bar­rel, which con­cen­trates ‘ri­fling’ to the last few inches. An hour on the range to set up the Viper and rangefinder on the Ver­mi­na­tor, and get used to the silky-smooth side-lever and 12-shot .22 mag­a­zine, and I was ready. Rab­bits don’t have the best eye­sight, re­ly­ing in­stead on their hear­ing, sense of smell and abil­ity to feel vi­bra­tion – su­per-pow­ers they seem to dial up at night. I stopped every 20 me­tres to scan the fair­way, and was soon im­mersed in the dark and thrilled at the sen­sa­tion of mov­ing qui­etly, with every sense on over­drive. I turned my Viper on again for an­other scan and could see three rab­bits be­tween 30 and 60 me­tres away, ac­cord­ing to the Rangefinder.

They were stand­ing on their hind legs and clearly aware of me – the clos­est was on the verge of mak­ing a run for it. From a sit­ting

“the flick­er­ing Rangefinder in­di­cated the near­est to be 30 me­tres away”

po­si­tion, with the FX Ver­mi­na­tor rest­ing on my knees, I checked the Rangefinder again, con­firmed the range at 28 me­tres, and placed the ret­i­cle at the base of the rab­bit’s ear. The gun popped and the pel­let streaked across the Viper’s in­frared beam be­fore hit­ting with a meaty thud. The rab­bit did a back flip and then lay on its side, kick­ing its feet for a sec­ond or two.


I re­sumed my wan­der­ing, the Ver­mi­na­tor slung over my shoul­der, and headed to­ward an area that has pro­duced a few rab­bits in the past. In day­light, it’s a straight­for­ward stalk be­cause a ridge hides your ap­proach as long as you keep low and avoid sil­hou­et­ting your­self. In the dark, with that ob­sta­cle re­moved, it would be eas­ier still.

The Viper showed the ghostly im­age of half a dozen bun­nies, and the flick­er­ing Rangefinder in­di­cated the near­est to be 30 me­tres away – ex­actly my zero range. I was so smug; rab­bit num­ber two was as good as mine … and then I kicked my shoot­ing sticks and scared them all off. With that les­son in hu­mil­ity well learned, I pre­pared to call it a night. I have a habit of fin­ish­ing my golf course ses­sions with a cup of tea on a bench at the top of a hill that pro­vides a view of the town lights to the south. As an added ben­e­fit, the bench faces a hedgerow that is home to a few rab­bits.

I poured my tea, the Ver­mi­na­tor rested on the sticks and in my lap, and then sensed rather than saw some­thing move. I lifted the ri­fle to check. Sure enough, the Viper’s screen re­vealed a fully-grown rab­bit. I cocked the ri­fle, grate­ful for the quiet side-lever ac­tion, and took aim.

Hav­ing shot from the bench many times, I was con­fi­dent that the range was 30 me­tres and al­most didn’t bother to use the Rangefinder un­til I re­minded my­self that I had come out was to test it. I turned it on and was glad I did. The bench must have been moved from its usual po­si­tion be­cause the flick­er­ing in­frared pulse showed the rab­bit to be just 18 me­tres away. I would’ve sworn it was much fur­ther. I was tempted to ig­nore the lit­tle screen and rely on in­stinct, when I re­alised the shot would be a true test.

At 20 me­tres the .22 Ver­mi­na­tor would need a mil-dot of hold-un­der. Trust­ing the tech­nol­ogy, I lined up the shot, and once again, the Ver­mi­na­tor spat and I glimpsed the Air Arms pel­let which, sure enough, found its mark with lethal ac­cu­racy. It’s early days – or nights – yet, but I al­ready think I’m on course for a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in my night hunt­ing. I

Even with Nite Site NV gear at­tached, the FX Ver­mi­na­tor is highly ma­noeu­vrable and com­pact.

Nite Site’s Rangefinder takes the guess­work out of judg­ing dis­tances in the dark

In the dark, the Rangefinder mea­sures in both me­tres and yards in nor­mal con­di­tions, and in fog.

I’ve used the Nite Site for years and know it very well.

Nite Site Rangefinder slots in next to the Viper’s view­ing screen and you won’t no­tice the ex­tra 150 grams.

You have to load the first pel­let into the Ver­mi­na­tor’s mag­a­zine skirt-first. AA Di­abolo Field pel­lets work well.

FX Ver­mi­na­tor’s slick side-lever cocks and cy­cle pel­lets from the 12-shot .22 mag­a­zine.

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