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What’s The Best Thermal Scope? Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Long Range Scope Header
Thermal scopes are advanced tools that we use for hunting. They make our nighttime hunts phenomenal and exciting. But, equipment like these are complicated, and finding the best thermal scope to use on your firearm is not an easy feat, either. So, my team and I decided to round up our best choices in this guide. Let’s dive right in.

OUR #1 RATED

ATN ThOR-HD 640

ATN ThOR-HD 640

OUR #2 RATED

ATN ThOR 4, 384×288

ATN ThOR 4, 384x288

OUR #3 RATED

Trijicon Electro-Optics REAP-IR 35mm

Trijicon Electro-Optics REAP-IR 35mm

1. ATN ThOR-HD 640

ATN ThOR-HD 640 is a 2.5-25x Smart HD Thermal Rifle Scope that sports a 640×480 Sensor with WiFi features. It also has advanced ballistic calculators that compute shots based on the shooter’s surrounding environment. By entering the range and wind readings, the Obsidian Core will calculate the precise shot for you.

This scope thermal imagery also features a built-in Smart Rangefinder that utilizes two clicks and a simple shift to range your target. Then, its reticle will automatically adjust its point of an impact once the target is in range.

Furthermore, it comes with Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities for easy controls and lets shooters view live streams. Like the ATN X-Sight II HD, ATN ThOR-HD is rugged and weatherproof and can even handle up to .30 caliber rounded because everything is sealed up and dustproof.

ATN ThOR-HD 640

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2. ATN ThOR 4, 384x288

ATN ThOR 4, 384×288 is powered by ATN’s Obsidian IV Dual Core that features a higher thermal sensitivity and near-silent shutter. It also features an Ultra-Sensitive Gen 4 Sensor capable of capturing clear images with improved resolution, smooth gradations, and higher sensitivity even in total darkness. This thermal scope can determine the exact ballistics for expert long-range shots by measuring its range, wind, multiple-weapon profiles, and angle to target, temperature, and humidity.

It also features a Dual Stream and Video Recording, Ultra-Low Power Profile, and an ATN Battery Pack 20000mAh with up to 22 hours of continuous operation. This scope also boasts an ATN ABL Laser Range Finder that determines longer distance targets. Both Thor 4 and Thor HD have Quick Detach Mount systems, so you can move them from platform to platform and still retain zero.

ATN ThOR 4, 384x288

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3. Trijicon Electro-Optics REAP-IR 35mm

The Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm is a compact yet powerful weapon sight locating targets in any light condition. It is constructed from 6061 Aircraft-grade aluminum and uses a stadiametric rangefinder for precise accuracy. This thermal scope also features an 8x E-Zoom Scope that delivers excellent speed and accuracy.

Like the Trijicon IR Hunter MKIII 35m, this well-warranted and affordable product use 640 x 480 pixels and a refresh rate of 30-60Hz for a top-notch resolution and image quality. It also offers a magnification range between 2.5 and 20 x magnifications. It has an excellent battery life, multiple mounting options, and other useful features easily accessible through an uncomplicated menu.

Trijicon Electro-Optics REAP-IR 35mm

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4. Pulsar Thermion XP50 Thermal Riflescope

The Pulsar Thermion XP50 Thermal Riflescope is a thermal imaging rifle scope that easily spots animals traditional glasses won’t see. It boasts a 1,975-yard detection range that provides powerful rifles with precise shots to take down deer from a distance. This Pulsar Thermion XP50 1.9-15.2x Thermal Riflescope also comes with a 1024×768 HD AMOLED display that provides high-end views of potential targets.

It has a built-in recoil activated recording, five rifle profiles, and 50 zero saves. You can even use most Pulsar scopes on multiple weapons without recalibrating the settings each time. It also has a picture in picture digital zoom that lets shooters focus on a certain target without losing their broader field of view.

Much like the Pulsar Helion XP50, it has a stadiametric rangefinder that pings the target’s distance for precise measurements downrange. Moreover, it provides 13 different reticles, each designed to fit a variety of shooting styles.

Pulsar Thermion XP50 Thermal Riflescope

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5. ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope

The ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope is an advanced thermal sight that features a high-resolution image performance even in total darkness using its 384X288 sensor. This scope picks up even the smallest amounts of heat given off by the target subject.

It also features a built-in ballistics calculator that determines the exact drop and range regarding a target downrange, helping shooters save ammunition and can produce one-shot stops when the system is used correctly.

It has a 12X9.5 basic angle of viewing, a smooth zoom system, high-resolution recoil activated video recording, and has a Firmware upgrade.

ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope

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6. ATN Thor LT 320 2-4x Thermal Rifle Scope

The ATN Thor LT 320 2-4x Thermal Rifle Scope is a budget-priced night thermal optic with an upgraded New Cutting-Edge 320×240 12um resolution sensor. This thermal scope is the lightest thermal scope in the ATN ThOR line.

It provides more versatility to mount to an air rifle, crossbow, or other platforms where weight is crucial. It uses the new internal lithium-ion battery that can last up to 10 hours of run time. Besides being easy to mount having standard 30mm rings, it also has easy navigation controls for a faster hunting experience.

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7. AGM Secutor TS25-384 Compact Thermal Imaging Riflescopes

The AGM Secutor TS25-384 Compact Thermal Imaging Riflescopes is also one of the best thermal scopes that boast a 24-hour operation under any weather and environmental conditions. This thermal scope is made of high-grade construction materials that are weatherproof, lightweight, and tough.

It is powered by two CR123 batteries that last up to 5 hours of continuous work. It comes with an optional external (5V) battery pack with high-capacity capable of increasing the total operation time to up to 44 hours. Additionally, this thermal device has extended capabilities such as a WiFi module, external video recorder, or a monitor.

AGM Secutor TS25-384 Compact Thermal Imaging Riflescopes

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8. Pulsar Core RXQ30V

The Pulsar Core RXQ30V riflescope delivers powerful shots boosted with an absolute resolution for the targets’ best imaging, irrespective of the distance, and the climate conditions while shooting.

It features a high optical magnification range and zooming ability to locate targets even if it’s miles apart without missing the shot’s quality. It has a wide FOV and an objective lens that makes shooters comfortable watching out for their targets. Lastly, it has a complete view up to 250 ft. yards with immense clarity that is also efficient in picking up heat signatures even in long ranges.

Pulsar Core RXQ30V

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9. ATN ThOR 4 4-40x, 640x480

The ATN ThOR 4 4-40x, 640×480 rifle scopes also sport an Ultra Sensitive Next Gen Sensor capable of capturing crisp, clear images even at the furthest ranges with improved resolution higher sensitivity.

Like the other ATN X-Sight 4K Pro and ATN ThOR line series riflescopes, it also has a ballistic calculator that determines range, wind, angle to the target, temperature, multiple-weapon profile, and humidity. It has a RAV (Recoil Activated Video), Dual Stream Video Recording, SD card, Obsidian Core, and Ultra-Low Power Profile that last up to 16 hours or more of continuous operation.

ATN ThOR 4 4-40x, 640x480

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10. FLIR 432-0019-22-00S Ocean Scout 640 Handheld Thermal Scope

FLIR 432-0019-22-00S Ocean Scout 640 Handheld Thermal Scope is a rugged, compact thermal night vision scope that lets you see other vessels, Buoys, landmarks, and floating debris in total darkness at distances up to 5,085 feet (0.96 nm). It features a high-resolution LCD and FLIR’s industry-leading thermal sensor technology like the Thermosight Pro.

The Ocean Scout 640 scope also features a high-resolution FLIR tau thermal core with 640 x 480-pixel resolution for better long-range performance and enhanced detail. It also has a video output that lets shooters view its thermal image on any TV, monitor, or multifunction display with a composite video input like the Thermosight Pro.

It has user-adjustable brightness control and 640 x 480-pixel thermal resolution with an 18° x 14° FOV. Lastly, this scope has an internal Lithium-Ion battery pack that provides greater than 5 hours of operation, built-in LED Task-Light enabled when ocean scout is powered off, and a Wireless Display.

FLIR 432-0019-22-00S Ocean Scout 640 Handheld Thermal Scope

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What Are Thermal Scopes?

Thermal scopes are sighting devices combining a compact thermographic camera and an aiming reticle. These devices use thermal imaging radiated from the target’s body heat. It does not use ambient light, so you can perfectly lock your targets even in complete darkness.

They can be mounted on various rifles, weapons, and guns. Often, these thermal weapon sights are used by hunters to aid in the detection of the game. These scopes are best for hunting feral hogs, coyotes, or rodents such as rats.

What Are The Benefits?

Benefits

Many hunters and shooters opt to have a thermal scope because of their benefits.

1. It aids in detecting game

A thermal scope detects even the slightest heat radiated from a target, making every shot more precise. Animals generate heat. They are also warmer than their surroundings, so it is easier to detect them using thermal imaging.

2. It recognizes targets

A thermal scope recognizes live animals using their temperature displayed either as black hot and white-hot or even other colors depending on the thermal scope’s features. These colors represent their temperatures. Most of the time, these scopes can quickly identify targets. These sighting devices are only handicapped during extreme cold weather conditions.

3. It is durable

In today’s technology, a thermal scope had become as sturdy as night vision scopes. These devices can now withstand extreme weather conditions and years of abuse. They can even stand up to 30 caliber recoil. It also uses special lenses that are far more durable than ordinary lenses.

4. It has high-quality objective lens

A thermal scope uses high-quality germanium lenses, bringing the picture into better focus, captured by the microbolometer. It lets shooters see clear and crisp images, often partnered with a wide FOV.

5. It has dual purpose  

A thermal scope lets shooters see even in total darkness because it doesn’t use ambient light to produce high-end images. Since it uses heat radiated from live targets, shooters can enjoy using this clip-on thermal scope during day and night hunting escapades.

Is It Better than Night Vision?

thermal vs night-vision

While both technologies are best in hunting games, we find the thermal scope better vs night vision scopes because it outranks the night vision scope for its dual-use. Thermal scopes can be used during day and night, while the night vision scope usually performs better during nighttime.

Another thing that we liked about thermal scopes is their ability to detect targets using body heat. We can use this sighting device in total darkness, unlike the night vision scope that still needs a light because it uses light to sight and lock targets. Although night vision scopes are more budget-friendly, we find these scopes as excellent investments worth every penny.

Either way, night vision and thermal scopes are both excellent partners in hunting games. It’s just a matter of preference.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

thermal imaging

Thermal images work a little like the human eye. Instead of picking up on visible, reflected light, thermal imaging devices detect the heat released by an object. As you already know, objects, both hot and cold, emit heat. As that heat moves outward from the object, a thermal imaging device can see it. Like a camera, these devices have an optical lens, which focuses the energy onto an infrared detector. [1]

In other words, thermal imaging doesn’t rely on ambient light like night vision scopes. It picks up thermal patterns instead. This technology detects the subtle temperature differences and then creates a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram.

Factors to Consider

key factors

Battery Life

One of the factors that you need to consider is its battery life. Since thermal sights operate on battery power, you need to find a thermal scope with long battery life. Most scopes can last up to 8 hours on a single charge. Some thermal imaging scopes also provide an external battery that can extend its battery life.

Reticle Options

Although a top-tier thermal optic has various pre-programmed reticles, we recommend that you choose a thermal optic that offers more reticle options. These options could be simple crosshairs, center dots, and the elaborate MIL-Dot configurations. Whether you intend to hunt or use these thermal sights in big games, you need to determine the reticles that your hunting expedition needs.

Durability

You also need to consider the durability of the thermal scope. Usually, an excellent thermal scope uses an aluminum body to make sure its long life span. Aluminum is more durable than just pure steel. When it comes to the lens’s durability, since thermal sights use germanium lenses, it is more sturdy than ordinary lenses.

Magnification

Make sure to buy thermal optics that provide at least 10x up to 22x of magnification. The level of magnification must be aligned with your shooting pursuits. Also, the thermal scope’s magnification can either be optical or digital, so it would be up to you to decide which one to choose. Learn how to measure MOA here

Resolution

Thermal optics use digital technology to create a viewable image projected on a digital display, so it projects images with higher resolution.

Remember that screen resolution is the most critical factor in determining the clarity of the images your thermal optics will display. So, we suggest that you get a thermal scope with the highest resolution and thermal sensor you can afford.

resolution

Detection Finder

If you want to own up your hunting game, you need to have a thermal scope with a detection finder and a thermal sensor that could give up an adequate range. Excellent thermal optics detect infrared heat signatures of objects and animals in the FOV at different ranges. Different sighting devices have different detection ranges, so find a thermal scope that can detect from mid-rang up to longer ranges, if possible.

Color Options

Thermal scopes project different color options. As mentioned earlier, these colors determine the temperature of the living targets for identification. However, the most common colors used are black and white. These color options may display heat signatures as darker or lighter on the grayscale.

Extra Features

It’s not a secret that the best thermal scopes are expensive devices, so it’s best to get your money’s worth. It would be best if you found thermal optics that offer extra high-tech features.

Find scopes with digital compasses, laser rangefinders, GPS location, ballistic calculators, recoil activated video recording, fast refresh rate, and Wi-Fi streaming.

extra features

Mounting System

Thermal scopes can be mounted right in front of your daytime scopes using an extended standard Picatinny rail system. Therefore, we suggest that you look for thermal scopes that are compatible with most rifles and guns.

Weight & Size

Since thermal scopes carry more technology than traditional scopes, it’s not surprising that it weighs a ton more than traditional scopes, too. But having a heavy scope to add to your already heavy rifle could be challenging. Therefore, you need to find thermal scopes that are compact and lightweight.

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Warranty

In case of malfunctions or natural defects, you won’t have to worry if your high-budget thermal scope has a great deal of warranty in it. Manufacturers offer different warranty deals for their products, so you have to choose these products. Some may offer a limited lifetime warranty of three years; some will offer five up to 10 years. Either way, these warranty deals are added protection to your devices, so you must always carefully think through it.

Pricing

Since thermal scopes use the advanced technology of thermal imaging and special lenses that protect them, they cost more.

However, even with the relatively high price of these devices, many hunters still choose to own them because they are the best partner in hunting and could also be considered an investment. However, before purchasing, you must still try to find a top-grade yet affordable thermal scope.

price

Customer Feedback

Based on our research, most customers find these thermal scopes efficient and money-worthy. They like how these products can detect targets even at long ranges. They also find the ballistic calculator useful and easy to use. The top-grade resolution of the images and fast refresh rate is also a huge plus for hunters. Overall, hunters who bought thermal scopes are happy with their purchases.

FAQs

On average, a thermal scope lasts up to almost 10,000 hours of glitch-free performance. However, these devices will last depending on how you use them. No matter how many rechargeable batteries can ramp up its life or how many special high-tech features it has, as long as you callously use these devices, it won’t last you that much.
No. It isn’t illegal to own a thermal scope, just like how a night vision scope is also legal. However, based on our research, California law states that it is illegal to have any attachment, apparatus, or similar contrivance designed or adaptable to firearms. It includes using an electronic telescope and projected infrared light source, enabling the operator to determine and locate objects during the nighttime visually.
The military uses the AN/PAS-13B Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS), an infrared thermal sight developed for the United States military. This thermal scope is designed to use small arms in the U.S. military’s inventory or as a standalone observation device. This thermal scope first became operationally capable with the U.S. Army in 1998.

The top 10 thermal scopes mentioned above are excellent thermal scopes for hunting feral hogs, coyotes, or rodents such as rats. These scopes have special features that hunters find useful while hunting, such as a range finder, built-in rangefinder, ballistics calculator, and HD video recording and streaming.

And Our Top Pick For The Best Thermal Scope is...

After this comprehensive research, our top pick for the best thermal scope is the ATN ThOR-HD 640 because of its special features. It has a high-tech sensor and advanced ballistic calculators that compute shots by entering the range and wind readings, making every shot placed more precise.

We also liked its built-in Smart Rangefinder and reticles that identify targets at different ranges. Another advantage is its Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities for live stream viewing. This rugged and weatherproof thermal scope is sealed up and dustproof.

ATN ThOR-HD 640

Our #1 Recommendation

ATN ThOR-HD 640

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