Welcome back thermal enthusiasts! We have a relatively new thermal scope for this week’s Friday Night Lights. iRayUSA is the distributor for InfiRay in China. They are the same people who make the Jerry C and Jerry F. Well, iRayUSA has a new thermal weapon sight called the RICO MK1 and they have a laser rangefinding module, the ILR-1000, that connects to the RICO to give you laser range finding into the scope. Friday Night Lights is sponsored by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies.
iRayUSA RICO MK1
InfiRay makes a whole host of thermal products. One of these is the RICO MK1. It has a 640×480 thermal sensor resolution and the one they sent in for review has a 50mm lens. They do offer a 35mm version. Here is what they have to say about the RICO MK1
The RICO Series was built to do two things: Make the best image possible and be easy to use. The heart of the RICO Series features a high performance iRay Micro II core and an extremely high contrast AMOLED HD display. RICO takes its image processing one step further with Advanced Image Correction and Automatic Image Optimization courtesy of the MATRIX III image algorithm. Unmatched image quality paired with an intuitive and easy to use interface, picture-in-picture picture function, 6 hour run time, Aluminum alloy housing, 1000 G shock resistance and 32 Gb of internal memory gives you all the tools you need to take your hunt to the next level.
The RICO Mk1 series sets itself apart with iRay’s incredibly powerful MATRIX III image processing algorithm. The system is optically and electronically optimized and produces an image that pushes the boundaries of long-wave infrared image clarity.
A high quality and efficient li-ion 3.7 V, 4400 mAh battery pack operates the Mk1 for a minimum of 6 hours, and up to 10 hours on standby. The battery can be quickly removed and replaced with a new with external power connected to the USB-C connector if you don’t want to power off.
As they said in their product description, the RICO MK1 uses a proprietary Li-Ion battery seen below. It is a decent-sized brick that plugs into the side of the RICO MK1 housing. It is held in place with locking tabs that are actuated by the locking ring on the side.
Replacement batteries are a bit pricey at $169 each. I would have preferred if they just used 18650s that the user could easily pop in and they don’t cost as much.
The RICO MK1 comes with a rather large mount.
The factory mount is very long and suited for a traditional hunting bolt action rifle. The lens cantilever mount positions the RICO MK1 closer to the shooter’s eye since this thermal sight does not have a long enough eye relief for bolt guns. However, this becomes a little problematic when you want to use an AR-style platform. Angelo of iRayUSA was kind enough to send out a smaller ADM mount that they found to be better suited for use on AR platforms.
Using The RICO MK1
To InfiRay credit, the RICO MK1 is easy to use. There are some aspects that are not entirely straightforward but I will go into detail about that in a bit. Looking at the photo above, the RICO MK1 has just four buttons. It also has a dial just behind and above the objective lens to focus.
The first button is power, followed by magnification, menu and then image and video capture. The magnification and image capture buttons serve a dual purpose. They act as up and down buttons for navigating the on-screen menu.
The magnification and image capture button actually has a third hidden function. When you connect the IRL-100 laser range finder, pressing both buttons simultaneously connects and activates the laser range finder.
When this happens, a second reticle shows up on the screen showing you where the laser range finder is ranging so you can aim it.
The IRL-100 is great for ranging with your thermal scope. Many thermal scopes use stadiametric ranging which measures the height of an object using a reticle in the scope. This is based on generic universal heights associated with said object and target. The problem is that it is not precise. And you can have false positives. What if you are ranging a smaller deer or coyote? Not all coyotes are the same size and with thermal scopes, it is hard to gauge distance just by looking at something. A small dog could be closer but a larger dog could appear to be the same size at further distances.
The IRL-100 attaches to the Picatinny rail on the side of the RICO MK1. It is plugged into the USB-C port on the side of the RICO.
The downside to this is that now you cannot run a portable power supply to the RICO MK1 and use the IRL-100 at the same time. I did experience a little bit of vampiric battery drain from the IRL-100 but Angelo said this is due to the old firmware. I updated the firmware and that seemed to solve the problem. I did find the IRL-100 to be a tad bit slow at ranging. Often it would to get a good return so I would have to press the range button a few times before it would get a good result. Often I found if I kept the IRL-100 steady like on a bench or tripod, the range finder seemed to work a bit better. The first one they sent seemed to be defective and could not range past 400 yards and due to operator error I had it set to meters and was confused as to why the ranges the IRL-100 were off from my Vortex Razor rangefinder. Once I switched the internal menu to display distances in yards, the difference in ranging went away. There isn’t much I could do about the slow ranging on the IRL-100 though. Hopefully, this too can be fixed and upgraded via a firmware upgrade.
Phenomenal Thermal Image
While there are some minor issues with the RICO MK1, it works very well at detecting heat. Here is my usual testing site looking at the utility shed 530 yards away.
The RICO MK1 has six different reticles and you can change the color of them as well. I prefer this crosshair reticle because when you zoom in digitally, there are more sub tensions in the reticle making it easier to do some Kentucky windage.
One aspect about the RICO MK1 that I would like to see is the image capture. It only captures the thermal image and the reticle. It does not capture the menu or more importantly the range that the IRL-100 displays. I took these images to show some cows and how far away they were, thinking the image capture would also display the range. Sadly it does not. If I recall correctly the image below was just over 500 yards.
One great feature on the RICO MK1 is that it can be paired with their app. This is how you pull the files off the RICO MK1 if you have a MacBook. On a windows based system, you can plug the RICO straight into your computer with the charging cable (which is a USB cable) and pull the files off like a USB drive. I like how the charging cable for the battery charger is the USB data cable. This simplifies ownership and no need to have a cable just for charging the battery.
You need to enable the WIFI mode on the RICO and then connect to it like a WIFI hotspot. Once you do the app connects to the RICO and you can download the images into the app from the Remote Files option. Once downloaded to the app you can share them to your iPhone. Not sure how it works for Android phones.
One feature I really liked is their viewfinder feature. You can remote view the image that the RICO MK1 produces and see what the shooter sees. This is obviously nothing new, other companies have this option but I did not find any lag between the RICO and the app.
Final Thoughts On The RICO MK1
The RICO MK1 640 50mm retails for $5,999. For the thermal sensitivity and great images it produces, this definitely is a great option for a dedicated thermal weapon sight. If you want to use it on an AR platform, I highly recommend getting the ADM mount. The IRL-100 works but for the price and how slow it seems to take to get a positive return, I would wait to see if they improve upon it. Otherwise, a dedicated laser rangefinder can be faster and cheaper, however, ranging a target at night is not that easy. I would like to see InfiRay program the IRL-100 and RICO MK1 to work with a ballistics calculator. Somewhat like the SIG Sauer KILO system. That way when you tag a target with the IRL-100, the ballistics calculator can calculate a firing solution which is then displayed on the RICO MK1 as an aiming/firing solution telling you where to aim to make that shot. That would greatly increase both the IRL-100 and RICO MK1 capabilities that only a few have.
I look forward to seeing what else iRayUSA brings to the US. Check out their website for more information.