Phill Price tries a new lamping system from across the Pond
Phill Price tries out a lamping system designed in the US - as we meet the Wicked Light
The busiest time of the airgun hunter’s year is fast approaching, so I was happy to see a new lighting system arrive from the good folks at Scott Country, now the European distributor of Wicked Lights. One look at the name tells you that this is an American brand, because nobody else would call themselves Wicked Lights! Inside the padded storage case is a very comprehensive system that gives you absolutely everything you need for a long night out on the rabbits. The lamp offers three output colours at the twist of a dial, and it focuses from a wide flood to a light spot. The output is also dimmable, a feature that I found very useful. The lamp is 7¾”, slightly larger than most of those specifically designed for your average airgun, but isn’t excessively heavy. It runs on the popular 18650 Li-ion battery, which I know well to be durable and easily replaced should you lose one.
The lamp can be used as a hand-held torch, but comes with a sturdy, sophisticated scope mount and a remote switch that converts it into a proper gun light. The mount has a scope ring that you clamp on for a secure fit, and this naturally suits 30mm tubes, but comes with adaptors that clamp 1” bodies just as well. This ring has a section of Weaver rail that the lamp mount fits onto, with a quick release – which is really important. When you want to put the rifle in its case, or into your gun cabinet, you must be able to remove the lamp quickly, but it must go back into the same place and the Weaver rail connector takes care of that. All the parts are chunky and substantial, suggesting that they’ll take the knocks in their stride.
The lamp mount has thumb wheel adjusters that allow you to centre the beam’s output exactly on your crosshairs, a process that
“At a turn of a dial on the side, you can swap from white to green or red light to suit the situation”
takes just seconds to achieve. Once set up, it’s a true ‘fit and forget’ mechanism.
At a turn of a dial on the side, you can swap from white to green or red light to suit the situation, and as you change colour, the beam stays centred on your crosshairs so you can do it at any time without the need to make adjustments. You can also focus the beam from a flood to a tight spot, and then dim or brighten the output to suit the moment. Dimming can also be controlled from the remote switch, which is great.
I could see that the people who designed this have been out in the field and have experienced the same problems and frustrations as the rest of us, and made a product to address them. The slip-on rubber ‘halo shield’ is a good example. This flexible tube slides onto the front of the lamp, and allows us to ‘cut’ any light that might reflect off the barrel or silencer to obscure the view of our quarry. I’ve had this happen to me in the past and it can be incredibly frustrating when a rabbit is right there, but you can’t get your sights on it well enough to take a shot.
There’s another sign that these people actually hunt – there are two batteries in the kit. For me, it’s vital to carry a spare one along because they always seem to go flat at the worst possible moment, but with a spare in my pocket I can swap to a fully-charged one in seconds. The full set-up weighs 1.6lbs (750 grammes) so you most certainly know it’s on board, but it’s not uncomfortable in use.
In use, the wide beam seemed quite diffused, even at full power, but once focused to a tight spot the light was sharp and clear. Interestingly, the spot beam is square and very intense, which is where the remote dimming control became so important. I was able to scan well ahead, perhaps several hundred yards to spot rabbits, and then drop the power right down when I’d closed the gap to a shootable distance. I noticed that the three different colour outputs seemed very different in their power to my eyes, the red appearing to be particularly intense, showing just how each individual’s eyesight is different. My shooting pal who was with me saw the green as stronger.
This is my first encounter with the Wicked Lights brand, and it’s clear to me that this is a well thought out and comprehensive system, designed for hard field use. There’s nothing flimsy about it, and the adjustability allows it to be adapted for any hunting situation you could imagine, from long-range rabbits to up-close rats around the farmyard. Based on what I saw, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from this brand. I
A twist of a dial lets you select three colours instantly.
Despite the sturdy build the lamp isn’t overly heavy.
The whole kit fits into this padded case.
A Weaver rail section creates the interface.
This quick release lever locks the halves securely.
The mounting system is strong and adjustable.