Are you trying to purchase a thermal scope that best suits your need but you don’t know where to begin? Then this article is for you. Making the right choice is always daunting. And that’s where we chip in; with an extensive review of the best thermal scopes that you can find on the market to help you make the best choice. For hunters who would love to improve and simplify those hunting moments, you will need to arm yourself with an exceptional thermal imaging scope.
A thermal scope is a combination of an aiming reticule and a thermographic camera. It is typically used as a sighting device. The scopes are always mounted on different types of arms from small ones to large ones. Because of how effective they are, these devices have become household properties in the army and hunters alike. They are significant assets for any hunter. The nights are no match for these machines.
How Does A Thermal Scope Work?
Every object (including animals) emits certain heat amount. This heat might be invisible to us, but it is possible to detect it via a thermal imaging sensor. Thermal imaging sensors, for example, can even detect an animal that’s hidden in a field by detecting the heat signature of the animal and then creating a map based on the results. The animal’s surrounding environment also carries some heat. Thus thermal imaging functions by contrasting the heat differences between the surrounding area and the target animal.
On a technical level, an images infrared heat signal is obtained using an inbuilt thermal scope lens. The signal is then scanned by the scope after which a thermogram is created. The viewer sees this thermogram via the infrared scope, and you can interpret it to distinguish between animals, moving objects, fixed buildings, and plants.
The Science behind Thermal Imaging
Thermal imaging functions by heat detection given off by objects like a car or human beings. Should the object that’s under view be hotter significantly when compared to the surrounding atmosphere; the thermal scope still detects it and makes it more visible.
Many thermal scopes display heat in grey shades. Due to this, an object that is hotter than its surrounding area appears lighter in contrast to the surrounding. Advanced thermal scopes display the color map where different temperatures under view display in different colors.
In comparison to infrared scopes (these sometimes need time to get amplified), a thermal scope functions perfectly to generate pictures in dark environments as well as via debris, haze, and smoke. This versatility is what makes it a selling point for shooters, professional hunters, and the law enforcement agencies.
Tips To Consider When Buying Thermal Scopes
Apart from the scope brand which everyone is interested in, several factors have to be put to considerations.
Scope and sensor resolution
Don’t just focus on the scope resolution, the thermal sensor matters too. The scope resolution could be bigger; let’s say a display of 800×600, but the sensor resolution is relatively small. It means that you will never have a clear image with such a resolution difference.
Magnification is the ability to enlarge an object at a distance. You need to know if the image resolution will be affected by a higher magnification using your scope of choice. Such effects cause a slow refresh rate. Unless you want an intruder to see you as you’re struggling to refresh the lens, these are significant features to look out for.
Resolution and zoom typically go together. Zoom comes in two types; that is the digital and the optical zoom. An optical zoom allows you to magnify on targets without losing its resolution. However, the digital one utilizes software to get nearer to the target and to zoom very far without the help of other technology. Consequently, it always results in lower resolution images. Combining these types in infrared scopes is a great way to achieve the digital’s extended zoom, with the optical’s image quality.
While some are equipped with four-line reticle, others come with only a single dot to facilitate the accuracy of the pinpoint. A four-line reticle for your night hunting is more ideal for obvious reasons.
The thermal scope that provides additional power options, and consists of several additional features also carries more weight. A scope which is light in weight is that with a fixed power source, and one that has rudimentary features only. A scope’s weight is crucial because you’ll probably mount it on your rifle. You might also want to carry the gun for extensive time periods when you are on shooting or hunting excursions.
On such occasions, it is advisable that you cut down on the weight of the equipment as much as possible. On another hand, if you aren’t carrying the rifle and the scope for longer hours, it might not be necessary to go hard on yourself with too much weight; slight bulkier models will do just fine.
Infrared imaging scopes of un-cooled types may get costly. Models cost between $1,500 to over $8,000. The rule here is that the more expensive an infrared scope is, the greater the magnification and the wealthier the feature set. When selecting a good scope, it is true that you should have your budget in sense; but why would you sacrifice functionality for a cheap scope?
Remember, it’s a device which you’ll use for eternity, and hopefully, it shall earn you victory in use. Consequently, be sure to balance your wallet with your need. In addition, infrared imaging technology is getting more mainstream, and hence the prices in future may drop. Actually today, these devices cost just a fraction of their price a few years back.
Several materials can be used in thermal scope construction; more so the material used in making the lens. Scopes don’t have a glass lens; because glass naturally prohibits heat passage and that’s not a good choice. Heat signals are crucial for the functioning of a scope. In most thermal lenses they use Germanium material. Germanium is made of a transparent material. It provides similar lens properties as the glass while also allowing thermal information to pass via its surface.
On a general note, Germanium is a big-time wallet digger in comparison to glass. That defines the majority of the thermals scopes. Zinc Selenide, another material that’s used in constructing thermal scope lens is less frequent. Zinc Selenide is well suited perfectly for combined use with infrared spectrum that also makes it ideally suited for thermal scopes too.
These scopes use battery power, and the battery life is different on every scope. A scope with a lot of functions normally has longer battery life. On a single charge, a quality scope should offer up to 8hours. Most use lithium-ion cells. And some are equipped with an extra battery or a fast 1-hour booster.
Armasight is a brand that has an excellent reputation for its thermal imaging, and is well-recognized for the thermal vision products. These thermal vision products benefit shooters, law enforcing agencies, and hunters as well.
The company offers hallmark versatility and quality which is reflected by the thermal scope of Zeus 336 from Armasight. The scope is useful and operates perfectly; both during the night and daytime. The designation of the scope was made to best suit those conditions.
Armasight has this scope’s controls designed with user-intuitiveness in mind. The electronic menu, the combination, as well as direct button adjustments, are well stipulated in that any new user can navigate via them without any hitch, per say. Besides, it permits users to have the control customized quickly to reach a scope performance that’s desirable while on the go.
The mechanism of mounting that’s functional in Zeus 336 is very intuitive, permitting a user to dismount or mount the scope to a firearm directly. The scope provides an electronic zoom which is of high quality with options of 1x, 2x, as well as 4x. 3.4 x optical magnification is also offered, and it provides exceptional magnification quality.
The scope supports video-out capability. This is to say that a user can easily record imagery of the scope and have it viewed in PAL and NTSC formats. This scope offers a technology of thermal imaging that’s of high quality; and it eases clear viewing through a fog, dark, snow, and haze without impacts on the quality view of this scope.
The scope’s display is AMOLED SVGA with an 800 x 600 resolution. Unlike the majority of thermal scopes, notably, this scope offers a refresh rate of 60 Hertz that makes it perfectly suitable to view as well as to use even if the target object is in motion at higher speeds. Armasight has the scope equipped with different options of colors, allowing users to choose their variants such as white hot, black hot, and modes of multi-colors to contrast clearly. This scope is a superb choice for casual enthusiasts.
- Compact and light.
- Ergonomic design which features every necessary function.
- Fast start-up.
- Compact and light.
- Battery supply on the external.
- It is costly.
- As a result of recoil, the lens might crack.
IR Hunter Mark II
IR Defense stands as a new company in the market of thermal imaging scopes. However, that has not deterred the company from continuously producing authentic thermal scopes. The Mark II scope consists of a range that’s over 1000 yards. It is an amazing nightly excursion companion more so during night hunting escapades. It features a refresh rate of 30 Hertz that’s sufficiently good if the object that’s being viewed and the viewer are moving slowly or are static. The Mark II scope provides a 640 x 480 resolution quality which delivers an image quality that’s fairly decent when you aren’t using the feature of magnification. Nonetheless, if you’re still using some magnification, you need not worry because the resolution is always useful to view clearly in the dark.
This scope is inclusive of magnification options of 2.5x as well as 20x digital. 20x magnification offers maximum possible zoom. However, you might not attain a perfect image quality on such a magnification. This scope consists of 640 x 480 OLED display. Once charged, it offers a five-hour battery life. The scope’s provided field of view is 120. Mark II has high resistance to foggy conditions and water, so it’s readily useable through every weather condition. With a weight of 840 grams, it is light in weight. Consequently, you can carry it for more extended hours and it is well convenient for storage.
- This device is long lasting.
- It produces very crisp images.
- Should you be in a situation of running battery low and you need to save on the battery power, all you have to do is choose the option of refresh rate to 30 Hz.
- It comes with a shuttered eye guard.
- It features ergonomic designs that allow a user to operate and handle it comfortably and efficiently.
- A refresh rate of 60 hertz is efficiently fast.
- It has housing that’s made of aluminium alloy of 6061-T6 which is waterproof and shock resistant.
- The riflescope may be used as independent stand-alone equipment for viewing, for sightseeing, or it may be clipped to a weapon.
- The IR HUNTER features LaRue LT 681 Picatinny mount that has fast release lever.
- The scope also comes with soft storage case.
- The manufacturers gave it a backup warranty of 3 years.
- It is quite costly.
- It does not come with a remote control.
Pulsar Trail XQ
For those who want to record pictures or videos, Trail XQ features an extra storage facility and a recorder. You also can link up with Android, via Wi-Fi and mobile units that are iOS-based through a mobile app. Stream Vision software has the trail connected either with a tablet or a Smartphone which enables you to receive footage in real- time mode. It is also possible to remotely operate it via your Smartphone as well as stream pictures to YouTube. Moreover, this versatile Trail possesses a gyroscope / accelerometer which identify angles accurately.
The XQ50s variable 2.7-10.8x magnification gives way for the broader field of view which allows fast target acquisition as well as an up-close image to place an accurate shot. A reliable 384×288 sensor offers detection range for person-size targets even to 1850 yards.
Pulsar Trail XQ50 is IPX7 dustproof, fog proof, and waterproof. It functions flawlessly at temperature ranges of -13- 122o Fahrenheit. It boasts of a simple user interface having button locations that are ergonomic. With 8 GB internal memory, inbuilt video recording, pixel pitch of 17 microns, Stream Vision App- Wi-Fi compatible, and frost resistant 640×480 AMOLED display, never has it been easy to capture your experience’s footage.
XQ50’s favorite “black hot’ and ‘white hot” modes, refresh rate-50 Hz and 13 digital reticle selections offer users with thermal mapping, fluid imaging, and vibrant field of view. PiP (picture-in-picture) endures accurate, repeatable performance. Other features include a wireless remote, carry case, stadiametric rangefinder, and in-built accelerometer.
At high 50Hz refresh rate, the Trail gives satisfactory viewing throughout rapid, dynamic motion. The trail’s highlight is an ability to connect the device via WiFi with mobile units that are iOS-based and Android using Stream Vision, a free mobile app. The app connects the device with iOS/Android mobile unit (tablet or Smartphone ) that enables you to attain footage in real time mode, for distantly operating the device with a Smartphone, and have the image online streamed perceived by a device onto YouTube.
- Fully waterproof.
- Amazing detection distance.
- Adjusting requires special tools.
Armasight ORION 5X
The Armasight ORION 5X Gen 1+ is a scope that has night vision which is highly advanced to enable you to aim as well as hit targets at long range with exceptional precision. Amongst its high conspicuous advantages includes a high-performance IR810 infrared illuminator. It improves tactical efficiency at low light situations. The device is constructed magnificently with peculiar ergonomic features which make it simpler to operate. You’ll notice this scope maintains an up class precision even if targets go beyond 50 yards.
If in particular, your concern is all focused on its durability, then you’ll get ultimate assurance in the sound engineering which features a rubberized body that’s both water-resistant and rugged. Hunters that go out in drizzly weather looking for hogs will find this scope essential and very handy. The scope is made with reticle brightness that’s variable which enhances clarity even in adverse light conditions.
The Armasight ORION 5X also has shockproof optics that are reliable which guarantee greater protection levels against shocks and impact. Typically, hunting at dark as well as in open area fields exposes the machine to shocks which may compromise both durability and performance. All avid hunters must comprehend the need to maintain their night vision scope to prevent moisture and water.
One of the leading causes that lead to discoloration and damage is long term water exposure. Should you be interested in having your shooting skills in long-range sharpened, then you should consider the magnification nature of the night vision scope. Regarding power, many reviews find the Armasight ORION 5x quite outstanding amongst its standing competitors.
Another distinguishing advantage is the usage ease of this rifle scope. The manufacturers made certain to include user-friendly controls which make it amazingly easy to adjusting for better precision. The infrared illuminator and the elevation and windage adjustment are usually controlled by functions that are user-friendly. These enable you to have the rifle engaged for rapid and fast action. On many occasions, the hitting target odds depend significantly on your scope adjusting ability as well as great swiftness aims.
- Designed for focusing on long range.
- Has a superior magnification.
- Extended battery life for a long action.
- Water resistant design.
- It consists of multiple ergonomic features.
- Robust construction for long-lasting usage
- Some users complain that the screen at times flickers when shots are being taken.
- Other users find the scope uncomfortably heavy.
The Inteliscope Mount’s a mount that’s Picatinny-compatible for a cell phone. This lets you record some fantastic POV footage while using the same cell phone as rudimentary electronic sight. It also has a free application that you can find on iTunes and Google Play. It enables you to use your camera and phone screen as a zoom optic that’s variable with quality but entirely dependent on your mobile’s camera app.
The Seek XR Camera brings thermal imaging technology power to a smartphone. With 206 x 156c resolutions and a 20-degree field of view, it is incredibly bright. Total darkness target detection is easy; even up to 1,800 feet.
Among the essential advantages which come with this Inteliscope is that it will keep you safe at all costs. How? With this Inteliscope Thermal Scope Bundle, a shooter can aim safely at targets which are located near obstacles without even exposing their head.
- It’s very durable courtesy of its rugged construction.
- The tactile finish that’s rubberized on this Intelscope PRO+ protects it against sliding on smooth surfaces.
- It is pocket-friendly in comparison with average thermal scopes found on the market.
- You have the chance to record shots, save and share without switching devices.
- It is light in weight.
- works perfectly with any smartphone that’s available on the market.
- It consists of user-friendly modifications.
- Works with a Picatinny rail.
- It functions as both day and night scope. It is easy to toggle between night and day with just a single tap on the screen.
- You can improve your shooting skills by taking the Inteliscope to a range.
- It permits you to safely and conveniently shoot around corners, and without exposing your head
- Some of the technical features such as its optics don’t match to any of the powerful thermal scopes.
The best thermal scope is one that you can afford but still has the desired features to manoeuvre and offer top level performance. As earlier mentioned, the features matter a lot! The five thermal scopes that we have reviewed above are some of the shortlisted scopes from leading manufacturers out there. You can never go wrong with any of them.