The Sellmark corporation is home to several well-known brands, including two revered for their digital optics: Sightmark and Pulsar. In the past, Pulsar was synonymous with high-end thermal-imaging equipment, and Sightmark hung its hat on budget-friendly, night-vision products. Each brand fits its respective niche perfectly. However, it was recently realized that much good could come if they intermingled a bit. Through this program came the Sightmark Wraith Mini Thermal, a compact infrared device that can identify warm targets as far as 1,400 yards away.
The Wraith Mini Thermal shares the same housing as its night-vision counterpart sans the Germanium objective lens necessary for this technology to work. Also carried over is the simple five-position, joystick-pattern button set used to power the device on or off and navigate the various menus. A tap of the central button fires up the scope, while subsequent taps will take you to the main menu. From this screen, some of the user-adjustable settings include brightness, reticle color, reticle type and the option to capture either video or still photography. Users can also choose to have the device auto-NUC (Non-Uniformity Correction) or maintain image quality themselves by pressing the left button whenever they feel fit. Thermal NUCing is the digital equivalent of blinking. As time passes, the image degrades slightly until this process is evoked. It takes about a second from start to finish, but during that time, the display will black out. If you don’t like to press buttons when in the field, the auto setting is excellent. However, it comes at the cost of a possible NUC at an inopportune time.
What caught my interest the most with the Wraith Mini Thermal was its ease of use, even without any prior instruction. Although all the finer details are handled through the main menu, in the field, you’ll likely never need to enter it. I’ve worked with digital optics so complicated that I’ve limited their use to casual target work, because I knew I couldn’t count on their complex nature and my adrenaline-dosed brain to work out a solution in time to press the trigger. Sightmark’s Wraith has the most important functions at the top level of its menu, requiring zero navigation to handle the most common tasks.
Zooming from 2X to 16X is as simple as pressing the forward or back arrows, and starting or stopping a recording is accomplished by pressing the right arrow. In photo mode, it’s the same button to snap a picture. The left arrow is reserved for manual NUCing if enabled. If not, its only other use is a long hold to toggle through the color pallets. So, for all intents and purposes, you can boil it down to just three buttons when the chips are down. This leaves focusing, which is done in a refreshingly analog manner by hitting the throw lever on the objective lens to sharpen the target or twisting the ocular lens to tune the viewfinder.
In May I was invited to get some hands-on experience with the Wraith Mini Thermal via an afternoon of target shooting and an evening hog hunt. I found the overall employment of the optic exceptionally user-friendly, as a sole screw was all it took to affix it to a rifle. This is to allow easy transitions between firearms, as the Wraith can store multiple zeros, making the entire process take less than a minute without needing to re-zero.
Later, we stapled an activated hand warmer to a 100-yard target board and used that to zero. To do so, I had to shoot a three-shot group at the target, then hold the rifle steady as I drifted the reticle to my actual point-of-impact. After hitting enter, the reticle recentered, and both windage and elevation were corrected. A few confirmation shots showed me that I was close enough for government work, but I was invited to clean it up further by repeating the process; I declined. Instead, I turned my attention to the sea of steel targets that were glowing brightly due to the heat they’d absorbed from the bright Texas sun. Using one of the MIL-style reticles, I successfully identified and impacted full-size IPSC targets out to 300 yards. The 3-hour range session nearly killed the included pair of CR123A batteries, so I changed them out before heading into the field to await feral hogs.
Once the sun set below the horizon, I turned the optic on and observed a fair amount of wildlife at various distances. I was clearly able to identify raccoons at 25 yards and whitetail deer at 75. I was even able to pick up a possum at 300 yards as it made its way through the brush line. The highlight of the evening was a successful engagement on a pair of hogs we detected at 200 yards and dispatched roughly outside of 100. Naturally, my batteries died right before the fateful moment, but it gave me an opportunity to see how effortless it is to make this swap on the fly.
Overall, I feel this is an excellent option for those looking to top a multi-purpose firearm like an AR-15—or even a nifty rimfire—for some fun after dark. Either way, be sure to stock up on ammunition and keep a pair of CR123A batteries in your pocket.