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Thermal Shift

Tools of the modern hunter.

Hunting has evolved and so has the hunter. The landscape is different for many, pulling them away from unit draws, tree stands and the rut, and driving them toward coyotes, feral hogs, and other varmints. Think land management and varmint control. These hunts give us a little more freedom in the way of weapons and technology that we can use. Think less traditional and more modern if you will.

For the modern hunter, or at least myself, the foray into hunting has been aided by improvements in equipment such as rifles and optics and by the proper utilization of technology. These products have helped make hunting more interesting, and even accessible in some cases. One product category that has been crucial to the growth of the modern hunter is thermal and night vision optics. And while there are many brands to choose from Armasight is making quite an impact with quality wares and innovative feature sets.

If you own just a few acres (or have a friend who does), it is important for you to know what’s coming on and off your property and how it might affect your life and those around you. Here in Arizona, coyotes are seriously out of control with many roving the most populated neighborhoods, where they can’t be controlled, snatching up family pets while the owners can do nothing. Those of us outside city limits don’t get a break either, and every night the wails of several packs of dogs can be heard outside. With several little pets of my own vigilance is a must. I often see coyotes roaming in the middle of the day just outside our wall but the night is their optimal time. I was at a disadvantage in monitoring their antics until I got my hands on a couple of units from Armasight.

Sidekick 640 Mini Thermal Monocular

Compact and robust, the Sidekick 640 is a mini, thermal monocular unit. It’s beyond handy. Keep it with you in the truck or side by side—always at the ready. With the optional MNVD/Sidekick helmet mount, its use is expanded and you’re prepared for hands-free, helmet-mounted use. I don’t consider myself a tactical junkie but I have a couple of helmets—something everyone should have one of, even if not ballistic. This unit fits perfectly into any regimen I may choose to develop. I can carry it with me or slap it on a lid and peruse the property.

The Sidekick 640 wears the title of smallest multi-functional 12-micron 640 thermal imaging monocular to exist on the market. The resolution is excellent. I’ve been slow to venture deeper into thermal because I often felt like the product wasn’t where it needed to be. I believe in real-world use. Time is my most precious asset so wasting it is not an option. Thanks to its three-button layout, the Sidekick is easy to use even for a novice to thermal imaging. This means less time wasted and no frustration. With this in mind, this product becomes something I want to use versus one that is simply useable. There is a difference.

Immediately, I put the Sidekick into action searching the dessert for coyotes, and even javelina. The picture is crisp and clean and with several different imaging modes and image detail enhancement, you’re likely to find the perfect settings for you. Again, changing modes and settings is a simple feat.

Tech specs include multiple color palettes, a 1.5-hour runt time on a single CR123A battery (battery extender included to provide 5.5 hours run time), image detail enhancement, video recording and image capture, compass, and much more. You can find those on the included link.

Contractor 640

The Sidekick 640 is a great force multiplier when paired with a TWS (thermal weapon sight) like Amrasight Contractor 640 TWS. The Contractor 640 includes many of the same features of the Sidekick such as multiple color palettes, image detail enhancement, USB video stream and compass. But it also gets upgrades in the way of a Wi-fi video stream, Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities, Inclinometer, levelometer, picture in picture mode, and integrated stadiametric rangefinder—to name only a few. The Contractor is truly feature-rich.

The Contractor 640 has a magnification range of 3-12x with a 50mm objective. This is an excellent magnification range, filling the sweet spot for close targets and far targets. In the precision shooting world, a common mistake is running too much magnification on your optic so the range of this Contractor 640 is excellent. With this in mind, there is also a 2.3-9×35 and a 4.8-19×75 model available as well. In my opinion the 75mm objective is a bit too much.

The Contractor 640 features eight different user-selectable reticles. Simply scroll through the settings to find the one you like the most. I set the Contractor atop my suppressed 300 Blackout bolt action rifle which was built specifically for handling ‘yotes around the property. Shooting subsonic rounds coupled with the Contractor thermal makes for a hushed deadliness that makes me tingle all over.

According to Armasight, you’ll get 4 hours of runtime at 20 degrees Celsius from the Contractor 640. It too has an intuitive functionality so making changes to settings isn’t hard at all, and I didn’t use the owner’s manual for anything but zeroing the unit.

Solid Combo

While you could get away with the Contractor 640 TWS by itself, the combo with the Sidekick makes the most sense for a couple of reasons: safety and convenience. The problem with running a TWS-only is that you have to point the muzzle of the host weapon at whatever you’re looking at. This is fine if you’re on several acres of wide open space and only observing animals. But you should never use a weapon-mounted optic (that’s on the weapon) for observation of anything else or in the direction of people or residences.

If you’ve had to spend a considerable amount of time on a rifle optic searching and waiting for anything, you know how boring and tiring it can be. Handheld/helmet units like the Sidekick let you positively ID your target or potential target without any weapons being used. You’ll be less fatigued, not to mention they are smaller and can go more places.

Both units come with two CR123A batteries, USB-C cable, lens cloth, soft case, and manual. The Contractor adds a quick detach mount and thermal zeroing target. Whether it’s coyotes, pigs, or some other varmint that presents a challenge when the light gets low, the Sidekick 640 Mini Thermal Monocular and Contractor 640 TWS 3-12x50mm can help. This type of technology makes sense for the modern hunter or savvy shooting enthusiast. Now that I have my hands on one, I wonder how I’ve gone this long without taking more advantage of thermal imaging. Maybe the right product hasn’t come along until now. Yes, it’s an investment, but one with solid returns.

For more information head on over to armasight.com.