If there’s one thing we learned over the years, it’s the fact that skills and equipment work together in improving your hunting and shooting experiences. For instance, the best clip-on thermal scopes are versatile and easy-to-use tools that would help you achieve that goal.
In this round-up review, you will find the best clip-on thermal scope that would suit your style, firearm, and skills.
Top 5 Clip-On Thermal Scopes
1. Trijicon Electro-Optics SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-On Thermal Imaging Monocular IRCO-35
The Trijicon Electro Optics SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-On Thermal Imaging Monocular IRCO-35 is a compact yet powerful scope designed to locate your targets by day or night. It is constructed from 6061 Aircraft-grade aluminum and nitrogen purging for its waterproof function. This thermal scope features excellent speed and accuracy for extreme situations.
It comes with a large field of view and an objective lens diameter of 35 mm with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. It uses 2 CR123 batteries that can last up to 3.5 hours. It also features a 12-micron pixel pitch and a Visrelay Collimating eyepiece optic that eliminates parallax with a 24-hour weapon sighting system. This scope also has a No Shot Zero Sight-In feature that simplifies boresight when attached.
Much like the Trijicon IR Hunter MKIII 35m, this thermal scope also features a GASIR objective lens, an intuitive menu system, and superior ergonomics. It is small, rugged, and is lightweight.
This thermal scope is tested to MIL-STD-810G methods and procedures to ensure its high-quality body. It also features an easy sight-in integration for accurate calibrations with the 4×32 ACOG and 3x and 4x digital zoom day optics and an extensive range of variable thermal rifle sights.
2. Armasight Apollo-Pro MR 640 Thermal Clip-on Sight
The Armasight Apollo-Pro MR 640 x Thermal Clip-on Sight offers some of the best night vision functionality to seasoned veterans with years of experience and someone brand new to night vision technology. This weapon sight comes with a thermal imager clip-on system and an output lens cap.
It also features an Advanced Wireless Remote Control, four different Light Suppressors, a Picatinny Adaptor for Wireless Remote Control, and two CR123A batteries. It offers a simple and quick conversion of daytime scope to thermal scope clip-on that can be mounted in front of daytime scope, with no re-zeroing required.
This scope has high-quality resolution imaging, true magnification, high-end OLED display, video output, and a Quick Release Mount with a Limited three-year warranty after registration.
3. ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm Thermal Clip-On
The ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm Thermal Clip-On is the newly redesigned TICO LT. It is much slimmer and has a more ergonomic system than the previous TICO model. It uses the latest ATN Obsidian LT Core with 12-micron sensors for better image quality and extended range.
Like the ATN X-Sight II HD, it also has an internal and stand-along lithium battery that can last up to 10 hours battery life of in-field use. Shooters don’t have to worry about zeroing this thermal scope. Just mount this scope in front of your glass scope for your Day/Night hunting escapade. However, this scope isn’t much suitable for long-range hunting.
The ATN TICO LT also features an ergonomic design with a USB Type C and a long-lasting internal battery life. Besides having a 50mm objective lens, you can also have ATN TICO LT that provides 25mm and 35mm lenses.
4. AGM Global Vision Anaconda 1x50mm Medium Range Thermal Imaging Clip-On System
The AGM Global Vision Anaconda 1x50mm Medium Range Thermal Imaging Clip-On System is a compact thermal clip-on scope that can be easily attached n up to 8x magnification scopes medium range use. Two CR123 batteries power it, which can last up to 5 hours of continuous work. It also features an optional high-capacity external 5V battery pack capable of increasing the total operation time to up to 44 hours.
Furthermore, the Anaconda scope can also be connected to an optional video recorder for shooting real-time video. It also has an external Wi-Fi module in conjunction with smartphones.
This scope provides a quick conversion of daytime optics into a high-quality resolution thermal scope because it can be mounted in front of daytime scope, with no re-zeroing required. It also has an automatic or manual (silent) calibration, WiFi data transmission, and an on-board SD card of 128MB.
5. TheOpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scope
The OpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scope is another clip-on thermal scope that features detection range and identification distances sensors up to 400 yards and ID up to 150 yards. It also features a 3-6x magnification and advanced heat detection sensors that lets shooters see through complete darkness, smoke, dense fog, and heavy brush.
Thor LT scope also comes with a 30mm tube made from aluminum alloy, lighter than an average scope. It also has an internal Li-Ion battery that gives more than 10 hours of use.
This scope has an affordable price tag while enjoying traditional design. It is also recoil resistant, so it is an ideal option for higher caliber weapons. And since it is lighter than most average scopes, it will make hunters feel more agile and their rifles more balanced.
What Are Clip-on Optics?
Clip-on optics are sighting tools attached in front of the rifle scope mounted on a thermal rifle explicitly built to co-sight. It is usually accomplished by placing it on an extended Picatinny rail or a fore-end bracket with a Picatinny rail. However, some clip-on optics can be attached directly to the rifle scope.
The best thermal clip-on systems are designed to be mounted in front and in-line with the daytime scope. It has thermal imaging capability that allows for long-wave infrared observation and target identification under adverse conditions, including smoke, light snow, light rain, and low light to total darkness.
Clip-on scope mounts in seconds and requires no re-zeroing. It uses the same daytime rifle scope reticle and doesn’t change the rifle’s shooters. It also uses a high-resolution sensor that provides incredibly crisp detail and shading for rich images and aids for easier target identification of a regular rifle.
What Are The Benefits?
- Flexibility and Convenience – It gives shooters flexibility and convenience because, often, a thermal riflescope is only an optional attachment. In other words, shooters can still use their normal day and night rifle scope with or without high-resolution thermal optic attachments like the 3 best clip-on scopes mentioned above.
- Versatility – A high-resolution clip-on thermal scope gives versatility because it can be utilized for hand-held use when detached from any weapon or rifle. It can also be mounted on just about any gun that can accommodate a scope, even on crossbows like the Pulser Core FXQ38.
- Detects the exact location of a target – A thermal riflescope can also detect the exact location of the target because it can also sense residual heat. Thermal hunting scopes can pick up traces of heat signatures, which helps determine if a track of a recently shot animal is still fresh.
- Ideal for Daytime and Nighttime Use – Thermal scopes can be used for daytime and nighttime use. These scopes also have a more significant advantage than a regular night vision scope because it can work for a dark and bright environment since it uses temperature instead of ambient light.
- No zeroing required – Thermal scopes do not require shooters to zero. Therefore, shooters don’t need to go through the hassle of swapping optics and possibly lose their zero in the process.
Generally, the best clip-on thermal scopes provide at least 4-5 hours of battery life using a pair of CR123 batteries. However, if you want more battery life, it would be best to consider getting the best clip-on thermal scope with an external battery pack.
You may also check if the manufacturer sells a compatible battery pack separately. We also recommend looking for a scope that comes with a rechargeable battery, which may be expensive but will have a more long-lasting battery life.
It is best to consider looking for a thermal scope made from an aluminum body because it is more lightweight than steel but is as sturdy. We recommend buying a waterproof clip-on thermal scope because it ensures continuous hunting through rain and snow even without worrying if the scope accidentally falls in the water.
Also Read: What’s the Best Thermal Monocular?
It is imperative to have a bright and crisp display when hunting and tracking animals, especially during nighttime. It would be best to consider the clip-on thermal scope magnification range because it enlarges the image size several times when zooming in on a target. Some scopes feature higher magnification ranges up to 16x or more and use digital zoom.
However, some models do not feature this functionality. We recommend models with optical magnifications because they use lens adjustments to zoom in on images and targets. Hence they project images clearer even at a maximum magnification level.
To get your money’s worth, you must consider buying the best thermal scope with extra features like the Pulser Core FXQ38. Thermal scopes are naturally expensive, so it is reasonable to choose models that offer additional performance and convenience.
Features such as Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming purposes, GPS location, and digital compasses are the best examples. Some models also come with ballistic calculators, recoil activated video recording, and laser rangefinders.
The refresh rate is an important feature that every shooter must consider when buying a clip-on thermal scope. If the refresh rate is high, it may also mean that it would cost more but will come with higher quality, too.
We recommend getting models that feature a refresh rate of 30 – 60 Hz because it makes the image refresh faster and will project a better and more precise image. However, it would be best to consider that models with a 30 – 60 Hz refresh rate would drain the scope’s battery faster.
It would be best if you also found thermal scopes that are versatile enough to be mounted on different system rails.
Since these clip-on thermal scopes are attachments in front of a day and night scope, binoculars, and other sighting devices, they must be compatible with the firearms you intend them to use.
Thermal scopes also have color modes that vary from one model to another. These colors are constituent colors of the images combined to end up with the final image, so deciding which color mode your thermal scope must-have is essential. Some scopes may have RGB scale, grayscale, or CMYK scale. Some models even have up to nine modes that shooters can change based on different conditions.
Reticle patterns are essential to be considered, too, because they have the intersecting lines engraved on the thermal scope’s eyepiece. You would want to get a model with the best reticle patterns, so you will also have the best shooting capability. Reticles also help shooters stay in a position to provide accurate shooting even from a longer distance.
Thermal imaging data is collected at the speed of light in real-time from a wide variety of platforms, including land, water, and air-based vehicles. It is superior to visible imaging technologies because thermal radiation can penetrate smokes, aerosols, dust, and mists more effectively than visible radiation so that animals can be detected over a wide range of normally troublesome atmospheric conditions. 
The recommended minimum display resolution for clip-on thermal scopes is 384×288. With this resolution, the image quality is ensured to come out pretty good, and you can detect animals as far as 500 yards. On the other hand, a 640 x 480 clip-on thermal scope will let you see as far as 1,000 yards, and image quality is excellent for more money.
Weight & Size
Clip-on thermal scopes are attachments on added sighting devices mounted on a thermal rifle. So, getting a heavy and bulky thermal scope isn’t an ideal option. It would be best to find a compact and lightweight clip-on. Why? Because it is not just good for portability, but it also ensures a more stable balance and better accuracy. So, our best advice would be to get a lightweight clip-on scope, especially when your day scopes are already on the heavier side.
Lens sizes are also important factors to be considered when buying a clip-on thermal scope. Some scopes feature different objective lens sizes ranging from 20mm up to 100mm. However, we highly recommend getting a clip-on with a minimum of 50mm objective lens because it is great for close and mid-range hunting. However, if you want to go for long-range shots, we suggest getting at least a 75mm or 100mm lens.
Scope Detection Range
Thermal scope attachment models come with different detection ranges from close to mid- to long-range shots. However, most standard options offer short detection ranges. Therefore, you need to buy a thermal clip-on that ensures that your rifle’s effective range significantly surpasses the range. Fortunately, with the never-ending improvement of technology, shooters can now find models with very long ranges.
A thermal scope is useless, no matter how excellent its features are, if it isn’t compatible with your day scope device. Therefore, you need to ensure that your clip-on scope is compatible with your day scope.
You need to understand that size is not an issue, as most clip-on scopes are designed to go with a wide range of day scope lens sizes. The most important thing to consider checking clip-on scopes is their magnification, as it needs to be compatible with the magnification of your day scope, too.
Of course, you also need to consider the warranty for the best clip-on thermal scope. Some models offer different warranty lengths. Some have a limited offer lifetime warranty that can last up to three to five years. If you are lucky, you can also find manufacturers that offer ten years of warranty, or if you hit the jackpot, you’ll find scopes that offer a warranty that can last longer.
If you are considering getting one of the best clip-on thermal scopes, you probably have some money to burn. However, the next question would be, how much are you willing to spend in getting a high-end thermal scope? Remember that even the cheapest thermal scope costs at least $1000.
The good news is, you’ll probably get your money’s worth because most scopes offer excellent features that a regular day scope couldn’t provide. Just think of it as an investment, and then you’re good to go. You’ll find some of the best ACOG clones and alternatives here.
Based on our research, most customers find thermal scopes worthy of their every penny. They were happy with the extra features these thermal scopes provide, such as Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming purposes, GPS location, and digital compasses. Some customers also pointed out how useful some models come with ballistic calculators, recoil activated video recording, and laser rangefinders. Overall, customers are satisfied with buying the best clip-on thermal scope.
Yes, you can use a thermal clip-on scope during the daytime. Since these sighting devices do not use or depend on ambient light to work, unlike a regular day scope and night vision scopes, bright lights have no impact on them. It is one of the best advantages of thermal scopes over night vision scopes. Make sure to check if it’s legal to use thermal scopes in your area.
Thermal scopes use thermal imaging technology that uses temperature differences to create patterns to help hunters see both in the day and nighttime.
Thermal devices read heat signatures of objects and convert that into visible images, regardless of the light conditions. Because thermal imager technology uses heat emitted by objects in tracking and detecting, shooters do not need ambient light to see their targets.
And Our Top Pick For The Best Clip-on Thermal Scope is...
Based on comprehensive research, our top pick for the best clip-on thermal scope is the Trijicon Electro-Optics SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-On Thermal Imaging Monocular IRCO-35. This thermal scope is a compact yet powerful scope designed to locate your targets by day or night. This clip-on thermal scope is also made from 6061 Aircraft-grade aluminum and is nitrogen purged, so it is weatherproof and waterproof.
It also features a 12-micron pixel pitch and a Visrelay Collimating eyepiece optic that eliminates parallax with a 24-hour weapon sighting system. This scope also features a No Shot Zero Sight-In feature that simplifies boresight when attached.
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