Big Thermal Optic Features in a Small Package

Sightmark’s Wraith Mini 2-16x35 packs higher-end functionality into a lower-cost thermal.

Big Thermal Optic Features in a Small Package

My 100-yard zeroing target was a cardboard rectangle overlaid with four strips of black duct tape laid out to form a cross. Black tape to absorb the sunlight, to become nice and warm and so be visible in my thermal scope, a Sightmark Wraith Mini 2-16x35 Thermal Rifle Scope.

I steadied my Ruger SFAR, chambered in .308 Win, looked through the Wraith and easily spotted the cross. With the thermal set on 4x zoom magnification, I shot three times using Federal Premium Vital-Shok in .308 Win loaded with a 165-grain Trophy Copper bullet. They impacted high and to the right of my aiming spot, the center of the cross.

Using the push-button control atop the thermal unit, I opened the menu, selected “Reticle Settings,” and then “Reticle Zero.” Per the instructions, I next moved the zeroing reticle to the spot where my shots had hit and saved this setting.

I shot three more times, but even with my binoculars I couldn’t see if I had hit the target or not. I made the long walk to the target wondering if I’d missed the target altogether. Had I utterly screwed up the Wraith’s zeroing process, simple though it was, adjusted the point of impact in the wrong direction and shot over the top of the target? 

I felt slightly nauseous.

But when I arrived at the target, I saw that all three rounds had struck the cross dead center where I’d aimed, three holes in the black tape measuring just .70 inches.

Very compact and relatively inexpensive though it was, this Wraith was actually a damn functional thermal. Maybe, I told myself, smaller and much less pricey was the way to go?

Expensive = Good 

I’ve been using thermal optics for over a decade now, and the general guidelines I’ve always followed were: If it was expensive, it was probably good. Very Expensive? Very good. I’d been disappointed a few times, for sure, but the guidelines almost always held true, and I’d found the reverse just as true with the lower-priced units I’d used. 

I got used to assuming a night hunter would likely need a $4,000 to $6,000 thermal riflescope with the expensive 640 sensors to do any serious shooting after dark.

Then I recently received a Sightmark Wraith to use and review. It sported a 384 sensor, smallish lenses front and back, a single control module atop the unit and a suggested retail of just over $2,000.

Cute, I initially figured, but about $2K short of really getting the job done.

Oh, Man, was I wrong!

The Unit

Compact and easy to use, the Wraith is built with a 384x288 resolution thermal sensor. Sightmark rates the unit with a 1,400-yard detection range. Detection here meaning the ability to spot a heat signature, with a shorter identification range (discussed below). The Wraith has a base 2x optical magnification with 1-8x digital zoom.  

The OLED display provided fairly crisp images at my close to mid-range distances. The Wraith offers five thermal color palette modes and nine reticle colors, plus 10 reticle styles. Its five configurable weapon profiles allow the unit to hold multiple zeroes for different types of weapons; this eliminates the need to re-zero the Wraith Mini Thermal every time it’s mounted on a different rifle.

The Wraith’s built-in camera, with audio recording, can take and preserve photos and videos on a high-capacity memory card (not included).

Loaded with the required two CR 123 lithium batteries, Sightmark rates battery life at 3.5 hours with the Wraith set on the video mode and 4.5 hours when running thermal only. It can also operate on external power through the unit’s USB C port.

The unit comes complete with a Picatinny-style mount which is attached to the rifle’s rail with a single bolt. 

Recoil-wise, the Wraith can take on calibers up to and including the .308 Win.


The Wraith’s functions are controlled via a rubber-coated, push-button system located atop the receiver. Push the center of the control to start and close the unit, as well as to enter the various menus once the unit is running. The center of the button is surrounded by four arrows signifying the UP, DOWN, RIGHT and LEFT movement inside the menus. 

So, as noted, zeroing requires the user to push the central button to enter the menu selection. The DOWN arrow is used to move to the “Reticle Settings,” and then the RIGHT arrow followed by the DOWN arrow leads to the “Reticle Zero.”

It’s very easy and intuitive to use, though as with any thermal the shooter will have to practice.  

Essentially the same process of pressing and then directional scrolling takes the user through palette and reticle options, plus weapon profiles, image resolution and brightness settings, etc.  

The Company 

Located in Mansfield, Texas, Sightmark manufactures and sells a wide variety of firearms optics, sights and accessories. In addition to the Wraith, the product mix includes digital night vision units, rifle and spotting scopes and binoculars, plus red-dots, magnifiers and laser sights.

Retailers can purchase Sightmark products wholesale through many of the larger wholesale distributors. But that’s not the only option.

“Brick and mortar retailers can certainly become direct dealers for Sightmark,” said Kevin Reese, Sightmark’s senior media relations and advertising manager. “Currently, Sellmark, the parent company of the Sightmark brand, serves more than 5,000 dealers on six continents.”

For information on working directly with Sightmark as a dealer, inquire by email to or call at 817-225-0310.

Selling the Wraith

It’s not uncommon for customers to come into a store looking for those cool thermals they saw on social media video clips — only to be fairly shocked at the $5,000 price tags. For those customers, Reese suggested sales staff point out the relatively lower priced Wraith.

“Tell them the Wraith has legitimate premium 384-sensor-resolution performance, priced right for recreational shooters and hunters, as well as outfitters,” Reese said. “It’s also the perfect thermal for those night hunting enthusiasts interested in moving from lower-priced digital night vision into higher-priced thermal technology.”

Reese noted that Sightmark’s in-store marketing help includes displays and end caps, product notebooks for professionals working retailer counters, counter mats, signage, store promotions, and setting up a Sightmark vendor day.

“Sightmark sales representatives make routine visits to dealers and distributors in their respective territories and certainly offer training as well as access to digital brand and product resources,” Reese added.

Media Attention

The Wraith thermal has already received a good deal of media in both print and web platforms. They include the print and/or web arms of Ballistic Magazine, Hook & Barrel, Hunting Retailer, Predator Xtreme, Tactical Retailer, the NRA’s American Hunter and and others.  

Various influencers also have the Wraith in hand, have produced and will continue to make videos of reviews and actual night hunts.

Night Hunting  

Most hunting after dark is relatively close up. There are certainly opportunities for longer-range shots when night hunting, but one of the main reasons we hunt at night is because we can get so much closer compared to day times.   

Most night hog hunts I’ve done, for example, have me spotting hogs at a distance with a thermal handheld and then, using the wind to my advantage (hogs have those super-sensitive noses!), moving in for my shooting.

Distances, Images

To test out the Wraith’s detection range and image quality, I spent several hours on a friend’s large dairy farm property in north-central Wisconsin using the Wraith. I arrived before dark and first used a rangefinder and recorded distances of tree lines, hills and various structures. 

Once it was fully dark, I started my scanning with the Wraith as a handheld unit.

As noted, Sightmark rates the unit’s detection of a heat signature at 1,400 yards. I didn’t have an open stretch of land to test this out, though I could easily make out vehicles on a nearby road that were over 1,000 yards away. Of course, vehicles are much larger than the hogs, coyotes and other predators that night hunters pursue.

Turning back to the darkened landscape, I had no problem spotting deer out to 700 yards and knowing they were deer. I also had a pair of coyotes cross a field at 200 yards or so, and they would’ve been relatively easy shots.

I’d estimate the Wraith as having no problems taking on deer-sized game out to 300 yards, on lower humidity nights. (Deer, of course, are game animals and legally can’t be hunted at night.)

The best magnification I found for spotting was 4x, though 6x and 8x worked decently out to 700 yards. After 8x, images got more and more blurry.

I was impressed with the detail the Wraith revealed on structures out to 500 yards or so.  

Also, while scanning a harvested corn field, I noted that I could make out individual short corn stalks left standing out to 200 yards.   

More Shooting

I ended my shooting time with the Wraith and the SFAR firing at two Birchwood Casey Pre-Game Splattering Targets, one of a coyote, the other a boar hog. They were also positioned at 100 yards.

The mistake I made here was using only single strips of black tape to make crosses over the animal targets. Plus, the boar target itself had a darker background, which absorbed sunlight, making the background nearly as warm as the tape.  

My first three shots hit to the left of the cross’ center, two of them just low. I took the credit for that shooting, got into a very steady position and placed the next two Vital-Shok rounds in the center and the third a little left. 

Dead boar. 

The shooting would have been much easier on an actual hunt, the whole boar lighting up the rear lens. At that point, the only question would be where on the hog to hold the center of the reticle. 

After putting the unit through testing, I’d have zero problem using the Wraith Mini Thermal on almost any night hunt and hope to use my test unit soon on just such a hunt.


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