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Buying a thermal monocular is a big investment, so we know you are putting a lot of thought into your purchase. We have reviewed the best thermal monocular devices and ranked our favorites below.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 Thermal Monoculars of 2022
- 1.1 1. AGM Taipan Thermal Imaging Monocular
- 1.2 2. AGM Mobile G2 Guardian Smartphone with Built-in Thermal Monocular
- 1.3 3. AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro
- 1.4 4. ATN OTS-XLT THERMAL MONOCULAR
- 1.5 5. ATN OTS 4T Thermal Smart HD Monocular
- 1.6 6. ATN OTS LT Thermal HD Monocular
- 1.7 7. ATN ODIN LT 320 Compact Thermal Monocular
- 1.8 8. PARD TA62 Thermal Imaging Monocular
- 1.9 9. FLIR Breach PTQ136 Multifunctional Thermal Imaging Monocular
- 1.10 10. Pulsar Axion XM30F Thermal Monocular
- 2 Applications of Thermal Monoculars
- 3 Types of Thermal Monoculars
- 4 Your Guide To Buying
- 5 Extra Features To Look For
- 6 Our Team's Selection Process
- 7 And Our #1 Thermal Monocular is…
Top 10 Thermal Monoculars of 2022
1. AGM Taipan Thermal Imaging Monocular
The AGM Taipan Thermal Imaging Monocular is our overall pick for best value. This thermal imaging monocular has a 12 μm, high sensitivity infrared detector and packs in features like video recording, distance measurement and highest temperature target tracking, and wifi connectivity, with a very reasonable price tag and a 3 year warranty.
Further expanding the value of this great little device are the options available for lens magnification and resolution, so you can pick the best option that fits your budget and still get a thermal monocular that will work well for hunting and security purposes.
On the higher end, AGM offers 3 magnification options for the Taipan with the 384×288 thermal resolution giving the user high image quality and detection ranges between 708 – 1180 m. The Taipan’s lower resolution option has a 256×192 thermal detector and two magnification options with detection ranges of 460m or 710m. One review of the lower resolution Taipan said that while resolution isn’t fantastic, it is still very usable at short range.
The rechargable battery lasts a respectable 7.5 hours and has a standby mode to help extend that battery life. Even with all of its features, the sturdy Taipan is lightweight. Depending on the thermal resolution and lens magnification, it weighs between 0.57 – 0.69 pounds.
Those who want to make sure you get the most for your money should be able to find an AGM Taipan option that will work for your needs.
2. AGM Mobile G2 Guardian Smartphone with Built-in Thermal Monocular
You may wonder how a Smartphone made it on our list for Best Thermal Monocular. Rest-assured you are still in the right place. The AGM Mobile Guardian G2 Smartphone with built-in thermal monocular is a workhorse worthy of consideration.
Weighing in at 0.82 pounds, the Guardian G2 is heavier than a standard smartphone but it still weighs less than several of the options on this list. The weight is justified when you factor in the features included in this device, like night vision, IR detection, 8GB or 12GB RAM Memory + 256GB ROM storage, high/low/average heat detection, GPS, compass, distance measurement, and Bluetooth and wi fi connectivity to name a few.
The waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof Guardian G2 is the most durable of the options we reviewed. It even comes standard with Corning Gorilla Glass which is able to withstand deep scratches without the glass breaking. A promotional video from AGM Mobile shows the device being hit with a bat into a body of water and continuing to work perfectly.
With all of the features packed into one device, the price tag is quite reasonable, making this a great all-in-one tool, especially for those who like to be prepared for potential emergencies.
Want to learn more? Check out our full review of the AGM Guardian G2.
3. AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro
Although the AGM Asp Micro TM160 is our budget pick, it has no shortage of features. Heat detection, distance measurement, video recording, and wi-fi come standard meaning this thermal device can compete with others that cost 2-3 times as much. Even with all these features, it is still one of the lightest devices we reviewed at just 0.55 lb.
Its battery life is impressive too. The built-in rechargeable lithium battery provides 10 hours of continuous use when not using Wi-Fi. It even has a standby mode to help extend its battery life.
With 0.5-2x magnification, the Asp Micro TM160 has a detection range of 250 m and provides four color palettes to work with. The waterproof Asp Micro TM160 also gets high marks for durability and with the AGM 3 year warranty, you should be able to get your money’s worth out of it.
The biggest drawback is the low 160×120 thermal detector resolution. If you need a solid, entry level short-range thermal imager and don’t mind a lower resolution, we think it is the best thermal monocular for your money.
4. ATN OTS-XLT THERMAL MONOCULAR
Our entry level pick, the ATN OTS-XLT is a great step up from our budget pick but remains very affordable. This thermal device is good for new users because of its simple, easy-to-learn controls. It offers all of the extra features of thermal devices that are much more expensive, like video recording, smart rangefinder, wi-fi, and 8GB storage capacity. It can even detect the highest temperature spot in the scene and mark it on the display for you.
The OTS-XLT provides four color palettes plus scene selection, which help with detection and identification in many different conditions. Two lens magnification options provide detection ranges of 670 or 850 m. The rechargeable battery provides 10 hours of continuous use.
This option does have a few drawbacks that may make it unappealing to some users. At 0.81 lb., it’s a bit heavier than some of our other picks. It has a smaller field of vision and, like our budget pick, the 160×120 thermal resolution may not provide a clear enough picture. Even with these drawbacks, we still think this feature-packed thermal imaging monocular is a great choice for those who want an easy to use, quality device.
5. ATN OTS 4T Thermal Smart HD Monocular
Our upgrade pick is the ATN OTS 4T Thermal Smart HD Monocular. This thermal imager tops our list because of its consistently clear picture quality which results from its high-resolution thermal detector, and display. If you need a device that will provide excellent picture quality for detection and identification even at extreme long distances, the OTS 4T is for you. ATN provides options for many budgets starting around $1,699 depending on thermal sensor resolution (choose from 384×288 or 640×480) and lens magnification.
The OTS 4T is packed with features including video recording, image capture, distance measurement, image stabilization software, wi-fi, and Bluetooth which allows the device to pair with your smartphone using the ATN Obsidian 4 app. The app lets you simultaneously record video to the SD card inside the device while streaming at HD resolution.
The rechargeable battery supplies an impressive 16 hours of continuous use making this an ideal thermal monocular for hunting and search/rescue since it can be used for long periods of time when you are away from an outlet. It even has an optional sleep mode that will further help maintain battery life. We haven’t seen another device, even at much higher price points, that can boast a battery life as long as the OTS 4T. This durable option is weather resistant but not waterproof. However it does have ATN’s 3 year warranty to help protect your investment.
Another reason we really like the OTS 4T is that the controls are easy-to-use and intuitive. Plus the device itself is very ergonomic in design. Given that, the biggest drawback is its size. Depending on the model, it weighs 1.87 to 1.98 lb and measures up to 10.2” long. The size is to be expected and acceptable given the multitude of high-quality features and functionality it provides.
6. ATN OTS LT Thermal HD Monocular
The ATN OTS LT thermal HD monocular is a no frills pick for the user that wants a powerful thermal imaging monocular with just the essential functionality.
Two options for thermal resolution (160×120 and 320×240) and four options for magnification mean that this quality thermal imager has an option that will fit your needs and budget. Even the lower resolution option provides crisp, clear images at close ranges. The OTS LT is just one of those tools that you can rely on to work when it needs to.
One reviewer said that it “Does what it’s supposed to and super easy to use damn near perfectly preset right out of the box.” Another reviewer said it was great thermal monocular for hunting hogs. Still another reviewer says it is “probably the best investment in hunting accessories I’ve ever purchased”.
A slight downside is that the OTS LT is surprisingly large and heavy given the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of extra features. At 1.2 pounds and 7.68″ long it is one of the larger devices on our list. But given its glowing reviews and the numerous options for purchase, we like this for a no frills choce.
7. ATN ODIN LT 320 Compact Thermal Monocular
The ATN ODIN LT 320 Compact Themal Monocular is another no-frills option that is both versatile and ergonomic to use while helmet-mounted or hand-held. It is our top choice if you plan to use your thermal imager as a helmet-mount thermal device with the ATN Universal Helmet Mount Kit. It is lightweight and compact, weighing in at just 0.62 lb. Plus, its simple controls and ergonomic design make it easy to use without looking, a must when the device is mounted. Three options for lens magnification give you a long to extremely long detection range (535 to 1510m) all with very clear images.
The trade-off for such a lightweight device is its almost laughable battery life of 2.5 hours provided by the included lithium-ion battery. ATN does offer an optional rechargeable battery that could help with that. Even with the lower battery life, we still think this is a great option if you plan to use your thermal monocular as a helmet-mounted device because the simple controls make it easy to use without looking.
8. PARD TA62 Thermal Imaging Monocular
We were lucky enough to meet the guys at Pard at Show Show 2023 and try out their newly released TA62 Thermal Imaging Monocular. We were impressed. The small device can fit in your pocket, yet its 12μm thermal imaging sensor can detect even subtle differences in environmental temperatures and its lens magnification allows detection at 1500 m.
High 640×480 resolution paired with six color palettes and three scene modes give enough versatility to provide crisp images even in poor weather or smoky conditions. Plus it is equipped with PARD IREA (Infrared Image Enhancement Algorithm) that constantly enhances the image in real-time, reducing distortion and increasing contrast.
The features included in this thermal imaging monocular range from the usual video recording and wi-fi to a few extras that aren’t available in most of the other options on our list. PIP mode lets you view a 2x magnified image in addition to the 8x digital zoom. Plus it has a red dot laser. Battery life could be considered mediocre at 5 hours when compared to other options on the list.
This particular model doesn’t have distance measurement, although the feature is available in their LRF models. This is definitely an upgrade pick, but the quality resolution, clear picture, and extra features justify the price tag.
9. FLIR Breach PTQ136 Multifunctional Thermal Imaging Monocular
While other options on our list are compact and lightweight, at 0.46 lb. and measuring 5.5 × 2.7 × 1.9 in., the FLIR Breach PTQ136 Multifunctional Thermal Imaging Monocular is the lightest thermal device we reviewed. It can be helmet-mounted, a feature in which a lightweight and compact design is a must.
Its small size isn’t the only reason we like this little workhorse. This option is recommended for use at close-range but boasts detection out to 335 m. With the 320×256 thermal detector resolution and seven color palettes the FLIR Breach can provide a nice, clear picture in many different conditions. The device itself has a 3 year warranty, but the detector has a whopping 10 year warranty, making the higher price tag a bit more palatable.
This device does not have a lot of extra bells and whistles, but it does offer a compass and video recording with internal memory. Our biggest complaint is that the included lithium battery only provides 90 minutes of use.
10. Pulsar Axion XM30F Thermal Monocular
While the Pulsar Axion XM30F Thermal Monocular doesn’t take top spot in any of the categories, it deserves an honorable mention for being a close second in almost all of them. Its lightweight size, high thermal resolution, and long-range thermal detection up to 1420 m make this thermal device a great option and one you should consider if your top choice isn’t currently available or is out of your price range.
It offers all the features you may want like video recording, built-in memory, and a stadiametric rangefinder, and can connect to the Stream Vision 2 App via wi-fi.
A waterproof rating makes it durable enough to be used in many conditions. Plus the 8 color palettes let you customize your view on the 640×400 AMOLED display. It supplies just 5 hours of battery life which is fairly average when compared to many of the other options we reviewed.
Applications of Thermal Monoculars
What military individuals would need is a thermal monocular that has great durability. It should be weatherproof, fog-proof, dustproof, and impact-resistant for any situation they may fall under. The thermal sensor resolution should be focused on avoiding surprises during operations.
Night vision is necessary for law enforcers to track criminals or offenders who may be hiding. The best thermal monoculars are needed to ensure the safety of cops or other officials assigned to chase an offender in hiding. They can easily detect thermal energy or radiation with a reliable device.
This is very useful during hunting, especially if the target is obviously far away and can hide well. It also provides safety, considering that wild animals lurk, which can attack you. Still, you can see even in the dark with a thermal monocular.
Types of Thermal Monoculars
Handheld thermal monocular devices are the most commonly used by wildlife observers and hunters. The main reason is they need a compact and lightweight tool to bring with them wherever work takes them. These are needed to be durable as the user is mostly on the move at all times.
These are the ones that are mounted on a helmet or other headgear. This is rather convenient since it will free your hand, which you can use for other activities such as climbing or pulling other items.
Your Guide To Buying
Thermal imagers are complex and fragile. They may be used in hunting, search and rescue, law enforcement, security, and, of course, military exercises. But their usefulness doesn’t end there. Many amateurs use them in all kinds of conditions when hiking or watching wildlife.
Although they can be used in complete darkness, the usefulness of thermal imagers is not limited to nighttime use only. They are particularly useful in less-than-perfect environmental conditions where your vision may be limited. They can help you “see” into thick brush or wooded areas. When buying a thermal monocular, you will be bombarded with lots of specifications and likely some terminology that you may not be familiar with. Hopefully our guide will help you narrow down the right thermal monocular for you.
How does thermal technology work?
Thermal technology “sees” heat or electromagnetic radiation emitted by objects within the infrared spectrum and converts the radiation to an image that we can see.
The capability of a thermal imager to detect heat signatures accurately is the device’s most essential function. The best indication of a thermal monocular capability in this area is the thermal sensor measured in µm (microns).
This would depend on how much resolution it provides. Choose a thermal sensor that has a prime objective lens that can display higher resolution. You have to note that if your target is at a far distance, a high resolution is necessary to ensure you have the right target.
In this case, it would depend on the length of time your battery would last. Having a low-quality battery will cause you too much inconvenience. All other features are useless without a reliable battery that lasts longer.
Thermal Sensor Resolution
The higher the resolution, the better quality you will get on the image. This is pretty common for anything that has glass on it. You have to consider the refresh rate on this feature, especially if your target is on the move.
Refresh Rate (Hz)
The usual refresh rates in thermal monoculars are 60Hz, 50Hz, 30Hz, and 9Hz. Slower refresh rates cause the image to blur, especially for a fast-moving object. On the contrary, higher refresh rates allow the image to appear smoother on the screen.
Detection range allows you to tell how far you can spot your target using the thermal imager. The detection range is from 100 yards to over 1,000 yards for high-end models.
The operating temperature range may depend on the battery limitations, as this is how most electronic devices function. It would be best if you check on the capacity of the thermal monocular that you choose if it can withstand blazing heat or the coldest nights.
This should be the first thing to consider as the weather conditions change and affect your thermal monocular. Add to that stress and other factors that may bring a negative effect to your device.
Whether using the thermal imaging device at work or in recreational activities outside, it is more than an inconvenience if you can only use it for a short period. The best thermal monocular scope should be usable without recharge it until you need to.
It is important to have multiple color palettes, even in a cheap monocular device. The right color represents each situation.
A reliable thermal imaging device should feature a clear digital zoom, allowing the user to have a close-up view of your target. Higher magnification converts to more zoom; however, it can affect image quality. Choose the one that offers optimal zooming capabilities, but it can be expensive.
Ease of Operation
Complexity is not something a user is in search of. The easier it is to maneuver, the better it is. You can enhance designs and their features, but it should never be something that would take a genius to operate.
Budget & Warranty
It is understandable that if you search for high-quality materials, you should expect a correspondingly high amount. However, some manufacturers still manage to pull down its cost but do not lessen the quality.
Extra Features To Look For
This is a common feature of a monocular scope these days, but the best thermal scope would automatically calculate the distance from the target.
Wifi & Bluetooth
The advancement of technology greatly helps in using these devices. Once connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, they can see what object they see from their mobile devices.
It will provide the angle observation accurately with a reliable built-in compass. This is important, especially if you are on a hunting expedition in the woods that is unfamiliar to you.
Our Team's Selection Process
We always see to it that the product we include has all the functionalities and features working as it claims to be. Our selection is not based on which is the best cheap thermal monocular scope but on how it provides answers to the users’ needs.
We also check on materials and processes upon creating the device as there are too many claims made, yet the products are not made efficiently. One way to verify these manufacturers’ claims is to see how customers reacted to their purchases.
And Our #1 Thermal Monocular is…
Our overall pick for best thermal monocular is the AGM Taipan Thermal Imaging Monocular. With many factors to consider, we were impressed with the number of high-quality features at a great price.
In our opinion, this thermal imager provides the most value for the money and most people should be able to find an AGM Taipan option that will work for any need.