Every year I do a review on some of the best items I have come across over the year and 2017 is no different .
I have done a lot this year, and I have been so many places and it has been wonderful. I have been so very lucky to have met and experienced the most wonderful people and been to the most amazing places but along with this I have managed to get the enjoyment out of playing with some of the best gear on the market.
So this year instead of just giving you a list of the top 10 bargains I have tried for the year I am going to open the books a little and include items in my wish list for 2018 and there is a few.
There will be some old favourites of mine and some new stuff that I got to try out and some of the gear I already purchased myself after trying (its been an expensive year).
But where to start ???
In the spirit of Christmas “Lets start at the very beginning as it’s a very good place to start” (song lyrics from the Sound of Music).
Firstly the year was started with my years review of the
Bestard BG3 Explorer boots: £210
Can you believe it has been nearly 2 years since I first slipped my feet in those boots?
Well it has, and they have literally been through hell and back and still keep going.
I am not gonna sugar coat my findings on these, they are dirty and abused and used in every condition you can imagine that the Highlands can throw at them, wading through river and burns (Scottish word for a stream), deep snow and ice, water errr water eerrrr and yes you guessed it more water, long grass , pheasant shoots , deer stalking, woodland hiking, climbing and yes of course going to the shop and doing the school runs all this and more .
If these fall apart or leak tomorrow I will be heart broken as I still have not got round to buying a spare pair YET.
Pulsar Quantum XQ30V Lite : £1299
I had the pleasure to test this for Thomas Jacks Ltd and really did fall in love with it so decided in the end I could not live without it and it has been one of the best purchases I have made this year.
Genuinely, and finally, thermal imaging has come down to an affordable level, by no means is this unit top of the range but it is very very good and noone can deny that.
2017 brought a dramatic change to the thermal and nightvision world with Pulsars release of the Helions and their Quantum Lite models not just in their technology but also in their price with even their best products being as low as £2500.
The real game changer though was this little XQ30V with its 50hz refresh rate ( like its more expensive brothers and sisters) and its massive detection range that up until now was only affordable to the most dedicated of hunters.
The Quantum XQ30 takes the technology of the Quantum series that was top of the range and being sold for 3 to 4 thousand pounds a few years ago into a more affordable category and allowing those that just could not afford it to experience the true beauty of thermal hunting.
I understand for many £1300 is still a lot of money for most people but the price has genuinely come down over the last year or so for this technology, it does give hope that the prices will further decrease prices specially in regards to thermal hunting scopes.
Must really be my top buy of the year and well worth the money as for me a real game changer in the Pest control world.
CZ 455 : £550
An upgrade to the classic CZ452 that many fell in love with the CZ455 is proving to be a worthy addition to the Rimfire family.
I have the CZ455 in .22lr and this rifle really does constantly amaze me. It shoots better than I can and constantly out performs me everytime whether it is with a day scope on or a Nightvision scope I just cannot fault it.
Every fault I have had has been down to me, whether it has been lack of maintenance on the moderator (which I now clean religiously once a month) or just me having an off day as we all do from time to time.
I have literally shot over 10 thousand rounds through this rifle in the last year and the year before I must have shot around the same, shooting everything from foxes and rabbit to targets and cans.
This little rifle is so adaptable and easy to use I do initial tests of every scope I review on this first and along with an Apex rail that I can put on and take off anytime I like it allows me to test between Dovetail and Rail mounting systems with ease.
The CZ 455 come in .17 , .22lr and .22WMR and I have not heard many complaints about them. I have shot this rifle even out to 300 yrds with very little hassle and regularly shoots out 150yrds at long range bunnies and keeps going night after night with very little maintenance.
What more can you ask for and if your looking genuine working vermin control rifle straight of the box no one will argue at the value of this little beast.
Kestrel Sportsman with Applied Ballistic: Around £450 in the UK
This year I had my eyes open to the long range world for real, I had the privilege to be invited to compete with Gerald Delk at the 2017 Bushnell K&M GapGrind Precision Rifle Series competition in Tennessee, USA.
Those who know me must be fed up hearing about it but this is a highlight of my life (other than the birth of kids and marriage etc. etc.), i have been truly like Howard Walowitz on “The Big Bang Theory” after he went to space (don’t watch it??? well you should it has to be the funniest sitcom out at the moment) I just went on and on and on abotu how good this was and that was and how attitudes are far better over there and anyways I am still going on about it so you will not be surprised to see one or two products I played with on this list while I was over there.
The Kestrel is a brilliant bit of kit specially out to long range ( I hear some say in their heads that you can do everything you need on your phone but you cannot get the same battery life from your phone) it is easy to use once you have your load data installed on it.
I seen the benefit of this little device while at the competition and I can see how robust it was out in the field as part of your kit.
With a built in anemometer (wind speed meter) it really allows you to make very accurate adjustments to you shooting specially past 400yrds where even the lightest of winds can effect your calculations.
It is very easy and quick to use and without a doubt is definitely on my wish list for 2018
Vortex RZR HD2 4.5-27×56 rifle scope: £2500
Best shopping around:
Another one of my wishlist from the Precision Rifle Competition in Tennessee,
Amazing scope and from Vortex.
Up until just before my visit to the States I had never used to the top end Vortex scopes before and I was given a loan of one from a friend to get used to before the competition and there was a clear difference between the lowend Vortex’s that I have used in the past this one.
I was shocked, the glass on it was crystal clear even out to 1200yrds on 18 power, I could track the bullet watching the haunting trajectory as it arcs into the target. I have seen this in the lamp and on the field through highend hunting scopes but never through any Vortex and definately even the hunting scopes struggled with the clarity I experience with RZR.
You do get what you pay for and it is a 34mm tube and a bit of weight not ideal for a back slap across the mountains of Scotland but I am told they do do a Lite version of the same scope that is just as clear and accurate.
A must for the Target shooter but I am told the top end Bushnell is of the same calibre which I am so eager to try but at the moment the Vortex Rzr HD2 is at the top of my wish list.
Yukon Photon 6×50 RT: £599
One of my most eagerly waited arrivals this year for me was the new Yukon Photon RT.
I have been in love with Photon series of day/nightvsion scopes for years now so it is no surprise it is on here .
These scopes offer amazing night shooting capabilities on both rimfire and centrefire setups and a very low cost compared to its competitors.
Pulsar this year brought out the stream technology with built in recording on a lot of their nightvision products and this was also installed in the new Yukon Photon RT allowing you to record and monitor your shooting without buying expensive MPR’s and DVR’s.
The upgraded built in IR and a few little tweaks such as the lighter front focus wheel and the position of the operating buttons have a lot of difference specially to us “left” shooters.
Definately a going to be a must buy for me.
Laserware X70 : Between £70 to £150 for full kit
I have to say still impresses me this Torch kit, the laserware X70 is a hard working zoomable torch with spot out to and past 400mteres of bright white LED light and with the interchangeable pills it really makes a very good versatile lamp.
Bushnell Trophy Trail Camera : £180
Another tool for the arsenal and many shooters tend to forget the benefit of it is the trail camera ,
i own a number of them now and I am always on the hunt for good ones.
I use the Acorn and Bestok as well as couple of other cheap camers that are under the £100 mark, but if you truly want quality in your images Bushnell are by far the best and the quality of build is outstanding.
MTM Tactical range box : £65
Gotta be one of the best buys this year and I use it for all my gun cleaning bits as well scope rings and tools.
I use it a lot for zeroing the photon onto the rifles and boresighting as well.
think it is funny though as I believe if I am right that I picked this up at the stalking show for around £30 at the Moray Outfitters stand along with a heap of ammo boxes.
Bargain at half the price.
NightForce SHV 3-12×56 : £650
I know I have just finished the review on this scope, but I have to put this in the list.
Reason I give for this is that it is a very good scope, ok it is SFP scope but that not the complete end of the world.
It is a very good day and lowlight scope and it really did perform well is some very harsh conditions.
How can I complain about a scope when I shot it out to 500yrds easily and had 10 deer within a week with it on top of the rifle .
Well worth the £650 in my opinion.
These are just some of the items I have tested and reviewed this year and i have to admit I have had a lot to choose from.
Christmas is just round the corner and these are all great gift ideas.