The one thing I’ve not liked about using thermal monoculars for hunting is the way it destroys your night vision in one eye but the SmartRest Fast Grip and Phone Holder setup solves that problem.
It creates a way to put your spotter and remote screen in one hand, so you can hold it out in front of you and see the thermal image displayed on your device, and it has a lot of advantages for night-time shooting.
And it’s not just for walking around, either. The rail on the button of the handle enables you to attach the complete setup to a remote mount of some kind for hands-free use, and if you need to go handheld you simply release the quick-detach lever and are on your way.
The kit comprises the handle, Picatinny-type clamp and rail, a purpose-built bracket and a clamp that holds onto your mobile phone. You may need to purchase a rail for your thermal unit if it doesn’t already have one, and that’s a SmartRest option if you need it.
It’s all solidly built with no plastic parts. The clamp for your phone is well built and has a spring to hold open the jaws against the threaded tensioner, which is convenient.
The clamp holds securely to your phone. I walked for hours and clambered through bush in the dark testing the setup and never looked like dislodging the phone, so I didn’t worry about losing it.
Once you have your phone and thermal clamped in place, all you have to do is connect the devices via wi-fi and the thermal’s app will ensure you see the live picture on screen and have control of various functions.
I dimmed the phone’s screen to achieve two aims: minimise the light’s impact on my night vision; and to reduce the glow it shone on my face.
It didn’t take long at all to decide this was a better way to use a thermal spotter than holding it to your eye. You can see the image clearly, pointing it is instinctive and you maintain a better sense of direction that when you have an eye glued to the back of a spotter.
In a vehicle, I found it much easier to use than having a plain spotter because I could sit comfortably inside while holding the unit out the window and still seeing what was out there.
I didn’t have a setup in the car for a remote mount but from experience with lights I know it’d be very handy to use the rail on the bottom of the grip to fix it to one.
In or out of the car, when you stop looking at the screen and go to move off, you can see what’s in front of you because your night vision is not ruined. That’s a real benefit.
I only had the wrist loop attached to the thermal but would have been much better off fitting a lanyard for around my neck, making it easier to switch quickly from spotter to rifle when a shot presented.
The weight of the grip and bracket isn’t great and doesn’t become a burden over time. In fact, it was such a non-issue I forgot to weigh the setup.
The SmartRest Fast Grip and Phone Holder is a great addition to your thermal spotting outfit, offering extra convenience, improved vision and more flexibility in mounting and carrying your gear.
The Fast Grip and Phone Holder kit sells for $119 (as of December 2022) and is available from gun shops and the SmartRest website.