Remington RB9712A Night Imaging System

14 July 1999
By peteR

My experiences with night vision equipment is limited to some past experiences working with a number of what are now "antiquated" systems, and a very interesting attempt to affix a small 1st generation night vision monocular to a Leupold scope back in 1987. The release of a night vision system that could be mounted on a conventional telescopic sight or switched between rifle/scope combos quickly and easily indeed got my complete and undivided virtual attention.

I coincidentally had some kinfolk visiting from the Dark Continent who are always looking for new and innovative products to market at home. Night Vision and infrared laser sights were two things on the shopping list. Night Vision devices have a number of obvious defensive uses and are very handy not only to members of the Law Enforcement and Military communities, but also for individuals involved with maintaining endangered wildlife from predators of either the two, or four legged variety.

After some pleading, begging, and groveling, I managed to obtain an RB9712A from the combined effort of Linda Blackburn of Remington Press Relations, and Remington's Law Enforcement Division's Greg Foster.

The unit shipped to me was Greg's personal sight and I was limited to about three days (err, Nights) for evaluation. I wish to thank both of them for their wonderful assistance in making this happen for Sniper Country.

The night sight tested is the "Alpha" version, and the "9712B" version is even more of a wing-dinger of an accessory-nearly doubling the capabilities with five times the life expectancy of the earlier unit. Ah, we can only dream of possessing such an instrument!

I won't go into a bombastic, windy, drawn out, soliloquy about the history of night vision equipment which started with the WWII era "Vampir" of Nazi fame, other than to state that for our purposes there are two types: those requiring an illumination source, and the state of the art versions that does not!

Early night vision units suffered from short tube lives, large cable-attached battery packs, and truly elephantine sizes and weights. The current versions are far smaller, less bulky, and have vastly superior capabilities.

The Remington 9712 is a representative example of today's technology, having a physical size and weight of not much more than a 12 oz. soft drink can! Unlike the objective lens mounted Simrad KN-250 unit familiar to some Sniper Country readers, the RB9712 series can be instantly snapped off and used as a hand held unit for scanning purposes.

The RB9712 can use existing light-starlight, light ambient city glow, or moon light-to enhance the user's night vision, or can be used in conjunction with either an infrared spotlight or red lens covered conventional spotlight to further illuminate the target area or increase the range.

The light spectrum visibility range built into the internals is at the 400 to 900 nanometer range. Users of certain special application laser devices will understand the significance of this to the tactical rifleman.

The one major caveat with either the Remington 9712A or 9712B is to never use them in bright light and to avoid potential sources of bright light. This will cause irreparable damage and certainly void any warranties. As with most night vision devises the operator must be careful when employing the unit, taking into consideration the likelihood of external spotlights and motion detection activated lighting systems of which he might have been unaware.

Arrival of the care package from Remington revealed the RB9712 is shipped in a black Pelican type watertight case with a couple adapters, spare batteries, a well written instruction manual, and lens cleaning tissues. The external finish of the unit is a matte non-reflective charcoal black. The body has a teardrop shape to ease handling and I could not find any sharp edges.

The engineers at Remington Arms designed this unit to use AAA batteries as opposed to the impossible to find foreign power sources, or expensive camera batteries. I really appreciated the fact that the unit was powered by plain easily available at darn near any store AAA batteries! In fact, the foam inserts in the case are pre-cut to hold four additional spare batteries (only two batteries are necessary to power the unit).

The on-off switch is located in the end of the battery port and is protected against accidental disruption of use via a small shroud. The cap itself is knurled for its entire 1" length and the batteries are sealed via a pair of o-rings. It is of the press on-off variation and very positive in action with a mild audible click.

Sitting just below the battery port is the eyepiece lens assembly and fine focus wheel diopter, which is edged with 1/8" coining. This is used to adjust the focus to the operator's eyesight or fine tune the reticle image. Located on the port side just ahead of the switch is a small lanyard attachment. Located on the belly of the RB9712A is the cut for the objective lens coarse focus lever. This cut is about 120 degrees of the body circumference. Press the rod to the top for use on a telescopic sight, and then adjust slightly to the bottom of the cut for preliminary focusing.

For use as a hand held surveillance tool/non-magnifying monocular the best image is obtained with the rod/lever in the downward position.

Adapter Bushings

The two neoprene bushings offered can be used to adapt either version to conventional rifle telescopic sights, spotting scopes, monoculars, VCR's, and cameras. This I did play with extensively from the surveillance mode and took a couple pix.

Mounting system

The RB9712 affixes to the scope via the band type clamp dubbed a "Speed Clamp" over the ocular lens assembly. The gull wing shaped toggle type handle is 1/2" wide by approximately 1 3/4" long and only requires about ninety degrees of movement to snap down tight around the adapter bushing. It is very fast and easy to accomplish regardless of finger strength or dexterity.

I tested the unit on my B&L 10x Tactical, a Leupold and Stevens 3.5-10x50mm, and a Burris 8-32x44mm scope and on various and sundry rifles. The only unusual or irregular thing of note was that the fluted surface of the objective lens on the B&L made installation a little more "interesting" than the L&S or Burris scopes. I had to place the rifle muzzle down on the shooting mat and gently press the 9712 to fit the B&L.

One item of great importance is the necessary use of a stock extender cup to move the sharpshooter rearwards. This compensates for the extended rearward length of the RB9712. You will need to relocate your check weld aft when operating with this sight. Another important item worth noting is that you have to use "High" scope rings when mounting your standard telescopic sight on a bolt action rifle. This is clearance issue and is necessary to allow the bolt to be cycled for ejection and feeding of a fresh round. Semi-auto carbines and rifles would probably be able to get by with standard height rings.

Eyecup

For storage or transportation, a Butler Creek bikini style set of rubber lens caps is provided and should be kept affixed. For shooting, a protective eyecup is provided and is of the bellows design. It is 3 inches in length. It attaches to the end of the 9712 via a flange and groove type mount. This unit does not have a diaphragm slit and is open for the entire 1 3/4" diameter internally. Make sure you attach the eyecup before firing the weapon or there is a pretty good risk of obtaining a semi circular laceration from the recoil of the rifle bashing the eyepiece against your eyebrow. I have not done this personally, but have observed and treated it at the range once or twice in my shooting career. In darkness it is second nature to crawl the stock to get a little better sight picture, especially with a limited FOV and single dimensional depth of field. The other reason you never want to forget to attach the eye cup is that nice soft green glow emanating from the back of the scope can potentially make your face one heck of a target for a heated exchange of pleasantries.............

A small perforation exists at the first annular ring in the eyecup to prevent "eye sucking" when removing your face from the unit. IMPORTANT: This is not a defect and should be left as is! My body/facial structure makes it very difficult to use a flat eyecup and obtain a good sight picture with a conventional rifle stock. Hand held use of the rifle presented absolutely no difficulties. I happened to have both a 1987 vintage WEGU curved eyecup and Scope Enhancer in house and found that either could be attached to the eyepiece, with the WEGU unit conveniently having an internal groove that mated with the eyepiece flange. The Scope Enhancer needed to be secured with a STS automotive type hose clamp due to the lack of an internal groove. The recently introduced Dvorak "Soft Eye" may also fit (1.595" Outside objective Diameter) but I have not handled one yet.

Stock extender

The stock extender will be very familiar to owners of Remington Tactical rifles. It is a seven-inch long section of an H-S Precision stock that's been cut off and prepped for quick donning. It boosts the length of pull approximately 3 inches to compensate for the RB9712 unit. To install it the 1" wide Velcro band located at the tip is unfastened and the unit is slipped over the recoil pad of the rifle. The strap is then wrapped around and secured. I found that my Eagle Industries Shooters stock pack would still lock into place over the extender providing certain benefits like a slightly raised platform.

If you have an elastic cuff type ammo holder it may not work as the band may interfere with installation of the stock extender. Once installed the extender is fairly rigid with little lateral or horizontal movement. I doubt it would survive a HALO jump due to the simplicity of the installation system but for static purposes it should serve admirably. I believe a larger width Velcro band of from 1 3/4" to 2" would provide a greater margin of stability for the heavy handed among us.

Lenses

The objective lens markings on the RB9712 specify that it is a 25mm diameter 1:13 TV lens. Field of view is 40 degrees and the focus range is 16" to infinity when used as a monocular system. The depth of field seems "flat" to those unfamiliar with NOD equipment and lacking some three dimensional attributes. The eyepiece lens is larger in diameter at 1 1/16" diameter and due to the lens location, as previously mentioned, should always be protected by the Butler Creek caps or the eyecup.

When the 9712 is mounted up to a scope it has the same field of view and focus range as the scope. In an attached letter Greg Foster, of Remington's Law Enforcement Division, recommended that lower magnification levels, in the area of 3-6x would provide optimal performance with the unit.

Use and focusing

To install the 9712 on the rifle a number of simple steps are followed.

Its takes all of about five minutes to do this, and all operations can be performed in total darkness due to the simplicity of the system.

To test this out I first clamped it to my Model 700 Police/ B&L 10x44mm Tactical combo and was able to get the reticle pretty well into focus with a little dialing of the coarse and fine adjustment wheels. Removing it, swapping inserts and attaching it to a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10x50mm scope is where this unit came into its own!

Using Greg's' specified magnification range objects that seemed a little muddy at 10x just lit up at lower mag levels.

A series of photos were taken through the eyecup with a 49mm autofocus SLR camera at a Chevy Camaro sports car parked about sixty yards away at 01:00 hrs. Even after being outside for 30 minutes and letting my eyes adjust to the darkness, I could not make out anything specific on the side of the vehicle, just the darkened silhouette. Use of just the telescopic sight (Leupold Vari X III 3.5-10x50mm) helped a little bit.

Installing the RB9712 to the Leupold made what I will conservatively call, a phenomenal difference. The door handle, keyhole, mirrors, fender louvers, and some minor vehicle damage repairs were now readily observable. The closest fixed illumination source was a single streetlight about one hundred feet diagonally to the right of the vehicle. The smaller car was at 25 yards or so and images were taken at 3.5, 6, and 10x magnification settings.

I tried this out on a Burris 8-32x44mm RA scope mounted on one of my fancy pellet rifles and shot groups outside in darkness at 10 and 25 yards. These were focused using the objective lens to "dial in" the target at different magnification levels. The rifle grouped just a little larger than under daylight conditions at around 1/4"-3/8" c.t.c. I heard some squawking from a nearby tree and a quick look showed a roosting crow. One shot later the nocturnal complaint department was closed for the night.

I tried the RB9712 under a number of differing poor lighting conditions ranging from rural farmland tree lines, to semi-lighted urban streets, and was able to get what could be considered a very reasonable sight picture. Target acquisition was quite fast, especially considering all testing was done between 1 and 3 AM.

As an additional test, I placed a Butler Creek ARD over the objective lens and looked at the same two vehicles. The image was very close to the same brightness level and walking down to the target area and looking back at the system I could not see the lens assembly reflect any light back at the FOP. The scope and camera lens could be very clearly seen from the "target" location when uncovered for comparison.

The only test that I was not able to perform-due to the time constraint on returning this product-was a live fire evaluation with my .308 and the 9712 attached. It is important check the effects of muzzle flash and any "bloom" effect one might experience before using this unit "on the job."

The tactical versatility of this tool for surveillance, and nocturnal shooting applications vastly exceeds its price, especially when compared to the competitors' offerings which are incidentally double, to triple, the cost!



Remington Factory Technical Specifications
 
Objective Lens (when used as a monocular):
Field of View :
40 degrees
Focus Range :
0.4m (16 inches) to infinity
 
Objective Lens (when coupled to a scope):
Field of View :
Same as Scope
Focus Range :
Same as Scope
 
Eyepiece Lens:
Diopter Adjustment :
+2 to -6 diopters
Eye relief (for monocular) :
20mm (approximately one inch)
Eye relief (with scope) :
Approximately 75mm (three inches)
 
Imaging tube specs: (RB9712A)
Resolution :
30lp/mm min.
S/N :
18 min
Sensitivity (white light) :
300 A/lm min.
Sensitivity @ 830nm :
25 mA/W min.
Luminance gain :
9,500 lm/lm min.
Mean time to total failure :
> 2,000 hours
 
Power:
Power Source :
2 AAA alkaline batteries
Approximate battery operating time :
> 45 hours
 
Miscellaneous:
Approximate weight :
794 grams (1 3/4 lb.)
Operating Temperature :
-29 C (-20 F) to +49 C (+120 F)



Remington Arms Inc.
Law Enforcement - Government Sales Division
870 Remington Drive P.O. Box 700
Madison, NC. 27025-0700
336-548-8899


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