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Part 1.

With scaly-tails causing trouble in the garden and a new thermal scope to put through its paces, even the lockdown can’t keep Mat Manning away from his pest control duties.

While I would never describe an infestation of rats in the garden as being fortuitous, I would go as far as to say that the presence of rodents in my backyard has been handy over the past couple of weeks. I am writing this three weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, and being able to control nocturnal pests without having to leave my home has enabled me to put a new piece of thermal imaging kit through its paces without breaking government guidance on selfisolation and social distancing. The Saim SCL35 (IRay) arrived in a package from Optical Solutions a couple of weeks before we were all told to stay at home. Being too busy to set it up, I decided to try it out on some springtime rabbiting sessions over the coming weeks and left the box on my desk. By the time I got around to opening the box, there was zero chance of heading out after any bunnies, so I would have to settle for something much closer to home.

We have kept chickens in our backyard for about 16 years, and the birds inevitably tend to attract the odd rat. The pellets and grain that we feed to the hens provide rodents with easy pickings, but I keep a tunnel trap set and so usually manage to pick them off before they have a chance to get established. The last six months have been very different though, and I can honestly say that I have never seen as many rats. This applies not only in my garden, but also around the farms and estates where I control pests on a far larger scale.

Having rats around our hens is a serious problem. My biggest concern is that these filthy rodents carry Weil’s disease, so I really don’t want them in the garden where my children play. And of course, rats cause further irritation with their burrowing and by stealing my poultry feed. Although we occasionally see them by day, the critters are most active at night, so I thought that some after-dark pest control would be an excellent opportunity to put the Saim SCL35 through its paces.




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Grove City
I was trying to figure out why he would let the Wuflu lock down keep him from rabbit hunting...then I saw he's from the UK.

Am looking forward to part 2 and hopefully some thermal rat killing pics/vids.


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Part 2.

Retailing for £2,595 the SCL35 is a fairly pricey piece of kit, although it is certainly at the more affordable end of the thermal market. The first thing to strike me when I took it out of the box was just how compact it is; it’s only about 190mm long and tips the scales at around 420g. The neat little optic was supplied with a Picatinny-type mount so I coupled it with my HW100 BP bull pup, which is fitted with corresponding rails. The gun and optic paired to make a nice-looking combo which felt great in the shoulder.

The Saim deserves a full review, which I will bring you in a forth coming issue, but until then you can rest assured that I have been very impressed with it. It offers lots of options including magnification up to 4x, various colour schemes, adjustable image quality and brightness, and a selection of reticle designs and colours. These choices are easy to shuffle between via the basic menu and there is also an advanced menu which allows you to make even more adjustments, including zeroing.

Like many of the new breed of thermal rifle scopes, the SCL35 is very easy to use and has a one-shot zeroing feature. All you do is shoot at a target and, in zeroing mode, keep the central point on your mark while using the keys to shift the crosshair over to where the pellet struck. It actually took me more like three or four shots to get it absolutely pinpoint on my garden range, which is still a heck of a lot quicker than using conventional wind age and elevation turrets.

Shooting in daylight, and using the White Hot colour scheme, I could see the 15mm black circles on a white target card with no problems, and pellet holes showed up as tiny hotspots. After zeroing-in and toppling a few targets over a variety of ranges out to 30m to familiarize myself with the setup, I had a good scan around the garden to get an idea of how the SCL35 would cut it for live quarry shooting. My hens, which were about 15m from where I was shooting, showed up very clearly, with sharp outlines, and it was easy to spot songbirds in the trees about 35m away. The true test would come a little later when I would be heading out under the cover of darkness to have a go at those rats.

BOTTOM LEFT There was no mistaking this rat’s heat signature as it ventured out to feed under the cover of darkness.
Dry pellets (left) enable rats to grab morsels and dart off with them, so Mat added water to create a slop (right) so hungry rodents had to linger.