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NITE OF THE HUNTER

As far as lamping equipment goes, Graham Allen thought he’d seen it all, then along comes the Nite-Hunter

Over the years I’ve used all sorts of lamping equipment, from my home made efforts, to top of the range manufactured units. A far more experienced lamper than me, Antoni Pobriarzyn, had tried it all on his Theoben Rapid 7, but he’d never really found exactly what he wanted. He didn’t just moan and put up with it though, he came up with a solution, sourced the components, and after extensive trials, both in the field and workshop, had a unique product developed. Antoni’s main gripes were heavy battery packs, and trailing wires from the power source to the lamp unit. He also hated being attached to his rifle all the time, something I’ve always found annoying too. You can’t just put your rifle down to retrieve a rabbit, in the same way you can whilst shooting in daylight.

Power Supply
Antoni wanted a battery pack small enough to be carried on the rifle, but with enough capacity for a night’s lamping session. This was a tall order, but he spent a lot of time tracking down the right components, and ended up with a rechargeable power supply housed in an attractive leather pouch. It laces onto the butt of the rifle being used, and once in position looks rather smart. Weighing in at only 8 oz, it’s not really noticed after a couple of minute’s shooting. When fully charged via the supplied unit, it’ll power the lamp for two hours, plenty for a lamping session. The battery pack is designed to produce full power for this duration, without a drop off in the beam, and for best results and increased performance, it’s best to drain the battery pack after use. This is achieved by simply leaving the lamp on.

Before and After. Top - The author’s standard Rapid 17 before the Nite-Hunter ‘makeover’. Bottom right - The Nite-Hunter stock fitted to Graham Allen’s Rapid 17 - the lamp and the hidden battery pack hardly effect the handling at all.

Originally, Antoni utilised shop bought lamps that he modified himself, but being the ingenious chap that he is, he soon came up with his own design. I’ll come to that later, but first I’ll tell you about his next brainwave. I don’t know if a cartoon-like light bulb appeared above his head when he first thought of it, but it should have! If the battery pack was small enough to be carried on the stock, why couldn’t it be fitted inside the stock?

Please, no jokes about butt holes…
The ideal place was obviously inside the butt, however, there wasn’t enough space in a conventional Rapid 7 stock, even for his small power pack. So he went along to Custom Stocks, the famous stock-making company conveniently situated in his home town of Sheffield. A version of the ambidextrous Rapid furniture was designed with a slightly thicker butt section, which once hollowed out had enough room for the power pack. The battery is accessed through the buttpad, as it needs to be removed for charging, but Antoni wanted this to be as simple as possible, and his solution only takes a matter of seconds to achieve. The pad is fixed at the bottom in the usual way, but the top is secured by a quick release catch. A twist with a flat blade screwdriver allows the pad to swivel on the lower fixing, the battery can then be pulled from its cavity using the pull tape. Clever stuff indeed. I used the screwdriver on a Swiss army knife, which I’ve always got in my pocket, and once the catch is locked up again, there’s no movement at all.

Nite-Hunter lamping equipment

The ON/OFF switch is a circular, push button unit conveniently situated under the shooter’s thumb. It can be pressed gently for a quick flash, or depressed fully for continuous light. All the wiring is hidden within the stock, the only indication that this is not a conventional stock is the switch and a socket for the lamp lead. I would personally fit the switch a fraction higher, as it would then be directly under the pad of my thumb. This is the only thing I didn’t like, but at the end of the day, I could easily live with it.

Let there he light
As I mentioned earlier, Antoni was very keen to produce his own lamp to complement his battery packs and stocks, so he sourced an efficient little reflector unit and bulb, and housed it in a super strong, yet lightweight alloy body. It’s only 2 1/4" in diameter and weighs 5 oz. The tough black coating should keep it looking smart for years. The reflector is,held in place by a rubber sleeve, which also holds the beam concentrator. Attaching the Nite Hunter lamp to a rifle/scope combination is easy. A thumbwheel scope mount is supplied, and once fixed upside down on the scope tube, clamps onto the dovetail at the base of the lamp. Lamps used with the internal stock system have a curly lead that plugs into a connector on the stock near the switch. Those used with the battery pack have a wire to the pouch and another to the switch velcroed to the grip. As the lamps are so light, they don’t upset the balance of the rifle when combined with the batteries in the pouch or stock.

That’s the build spec then, so how do they perform? In a word, brilliantly! I fitted the interior stock system to my Rapid 17, and the battery pack version to an Air Arms Pro Sport and set off to the range. Under controlled range conditions I used both units in total darkness and connected with every spinner shot at, out to a distance of 40 yards. This is the maximum range at which I’d shoot quarry with a legal limit air rifle, but the beam from these lamps can illuminate objects much further, so they could be perfect for FAC rated air rifles as well as 22 rimfires. Out of interest I went to the 100 yard range and shone the lamp towards the sand bank at the end. I could see all the target numbers clearly through the scope, so these Nite Hunter lamps could even be the thing for foxing with a full bore rifle too. The bunny lamping season is just round the corner, and I’ll be putting these clever bits of kit through their paces as soon as I can.

Conclusion
Well what can I say? These lamping kits are a clever, practical solution to an age old problem. All the components are well made, and should put up with all manner of use and abuse. They’re suitable for all sorts of rifles, for all kinds of vermin control. Yes, you guessed it, I’m impressed!

Prices
The battery pack housed in the leather pouch, complete with lamp and charger is £120. The walnut stock system (for Theoben Rapid rifles only) with lamp and charger is £240. There is also a leather pellet pouch available at £6, and smart leather buddy bottle covers for £18.

Magazine: Gun Mart, October 2002, pages 30-31

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Happy Hunting From The Nite-Hunter