January 04, 2023
Ever since Hernando DeSoto released wild hogs in the Florida wilderness way back in the 1500s, America has had a pig problem. Feral hogs are adaptable, hardy, and boast a reproductive rate that would make a cottontail blush. Today, there are hogs in over 40 U.S. states, and biologists will tell you it’s only a matter of time until pigs stake their claim to every corner of the continental United States. Farmers, ranchers, and hunters have been fighting back against this onslaught of wild hogs, but pigs have proven to be very clever. One of their favorite tricks to avoid detection is quite simple: hide out during the heat of the day and slip into agricultural fields and pastures under cover of darkness. I still remember listening to dozens of hogs sloshing through a field of rice in east Texas, a field that, just a few hours earlier, hadn’t held anything bigger than a blackbird or bullfrog.
With pigs favoring the cool and quiet of the night, the only really efficient method for hunting hogs is to pursue them at night (where legal). Doing so requires a day/night optic, and that’s why so many hunters have turned to the Sightmark Wraith HD as their go-to hog-hunting optic. Unlike some night vision equipment, the Wraith functions seamlessly in total darkness and full sunlight, so it’s truly an around-the-clock hog-hunting sight. But pigs are just one animal that you can pursue under cover of darkness with the Wraith. As the popularity of predator hunting has increased over the last two decades, coyotes have become exceedingly call shy, and in many areas, the only practical way to hunt coyotes is at night without lights. Game managers have learned that thinning out predator populations is an important component for population growth, and the Wraith is the ideal optic to help knock down the ‘yote population and increase fawn survival rates.
The Hunter’s Eye, Day or Night
The Sightmark Wraith is a digital riflescope. During daylight hours, the optic displays a full color image and the reticle is similar to what you’d see with a traditional riflescope. But one advantage of the Wraith’s digital design is that hunters and shooters can customize their reticle display. Unlike traditional hunting scopes that require you to choose either MRAD or MOA, the Wraith allows you to select reticles that feature either MOA or MRAD stadia lines for making fast adjustments in the field. In fact, the Wraith allows you to select from no fewer than 10 different reticle displays, everything from BDC crosshairs to dots, triangles, and circle dots. Additionally, you can choose from nine different color palettes.
The Sightmark Wraith comes with an IR flashlight that is attached to the optic. The human eye can detect light waves from about 380 (violet) to 740 (red) nanometers. IR, or infrared light, has wavelengths that are longer than 780 nm, invisible to humans and game. The Wraith’s IR emitter releases a flood of infrared light in the 850 nm spectrum which can be detected by the digital optic. Suddenly hunters can see clearly even in low light conditions and without a visible light source.
The Wraith’s IR flashlight is powered by a single CR1232 battery that’s easy to replace. The optic itself is powered by four AA batteries with a runtime of about 4.5 hours. Personally, I much prefer the replaceable battery design to a unit that only offers rechargeable batteries. If I’m in the field and the battery is drained, I can simply reach into my hunting bag and swap out for fresh batteries in a matter of seconds. There are no cords and there’s no need to sit and wait to recharge a battery, which wastes hunting time.
Wraith HD digital riflescopes are available in 2-16x28 and 4-32x50 configurations. Both of these optics feature 1920x1080 HD sensor resolution and 1280x720 HD displays for a clear, crisp picture. Both optics also offer an 8x digital zoom that’s ideal for hunting hogs and predators. In heavy cover, you can lower the magnification for a wider field of view and faster shots at close, quick-moving game, but if the coyotes are hanging up away from the call or there’s a sounder of pigs in an open field, you can increase magnification for longer shots. The IR flashlight allows you to make shots to 200 yards at night and the optic is certainly compatible with higher-intensity third-party IR illuminators for engagements at extended distances.
Every Wraith HD optic comes with a mount for attaching these optics to the rail of your rifle as well as an additional Weaver accessory rail. This allows you to quickly and securely attach the optic to the rifle, but it also allows you to quickly transfer the Wraith HD from one gun to another. Sightmark has simplified the process by offering five different ballistic profiles to be stored in the Wraith HD. Now you can switch from your favorite varmint rifle to your long-range coyote gun or your hog-thumping rifle seamlessly. The Wraith HD is rated for rifles up to .308 Winchester.
The Wraith has a slot for SD cards (up to 256 MB) so you can record HD video or take high-quality images through the optic. It also offers a micro-USB port for external power.
For years, the price of thermal and night vision equipment has made it impractical for most hunters, but the Wraith HD is a great value. Both the 2-16 and 4-32 models come with IR flashlights for an MSRP of $499.97, which makes them a great value. It also puts the exciting world of night hunting for hogs and predators within reach of the average shooter.
Digital optics can be daunting for those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy, but Sightmark has done a good job simplifying the Wraith’s operation. First, there’s a “Getting Started” tab on the Wraith website that leads to a very detailed, easy-to-follow PDF with illustrations on everything from installing the batteries to zeroing the gun. After the batteries are inserted and the unit is powered on you can familiarize yourself with the various reticle layout and color options using the five-button keypad (four directional arrows with a power/enter button in the center).
Zeroing the Wraith HD is simple and fast. After firing a three-shot group, keep the crosshairs on the center of the target while using the arrows to move the adjustment reticle to the point of impact. This should zero the optic, but it’s a good idea to fire another three-shot group to verify POI shift.
I tested the Wraith 4-32x50 HD on a Patriot Ordnance Factory P415 Edge rifle in 5.56. That gun has proven to be very accurate with reflex sights and traditional magnified optics, and I had no trouble zeroing the scope on the rifle (although I do recommend bore sighting as it saves time, ammunition, and headaches). Accuracy was excellent and there were no issues with the rifle failing to hold zero.
Once the Wraith is secured to the firearm and zeroed, you are ready to begin hunting. Turning on the IR flashlight allows you to shoot as accurately in total darkness as you do in full daylight. The nighttime picture is quite good, even in rotten weather conditions (I tested the unit on a coyote hunt on a cold night with off-and-on precipitation). With a memory card capacity of 256 MB, you can record around seven hours of video, and there are a lot of videos online of hunters using Wraith HD digital scopes to hunt pigs and coyotes.
I must warn you, though, that if you watch enough of those videos you’ll probably want to try hog and predator hunting with a Wraith HD. Once you spend a few hours under cover of darkness controlling predators and hog populations with your Sightmark-equipped rifle, you’ll want to stay out longer, and that makes for late nights. But hunting with the Wraith HD opens new opportunities and expands your hunting season. You won’t want to waste the nighttime hours sleeping any longer when you could be in the field. Perhaps you’d better put on another pot of coffee.
Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32x50
- Design: Digital Scope with IR Capabilities
- Power Source: 4 AA Batteries (optic), 1 CR1232 (IR Flashlight)
- Run Time: 4.5 Hours
- File Resolution: 1080 HD
- Zoom Range: 8x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
- Memory: SD Card (up to 256 MB)
- Type of Sensor: CMOS
- Sensor Resolution (Pixels): 1920 x 1080
- Display Type/Resolution: FLCOS/1280 x 720
- Reticle Options: 10
- Color Palettes: 9
- USB Compatible: Yes
- Attachment Interface: Picatinny rail
- Length: 10.5 in
- Weight: 36.3 oz (with batteries)
- MSRP: $499.97
- Contact: Sightmark, sightmark.com, (817) 383-1163