Top 12 Rated Thermal Imaging Scopes

Thermal Imaging Scopes

Humans have evolved significantly over the eons, but one area where evolution has not improved our abilities is our ability to see in the dark. While some species, such as felines, owls, opossums, and the alien in Predator have evolved to develop excellent night vision, humans have not.

Our ability to see is based on the light; this light can either be emitted by the object, such as a lamp or fire, or reflected by the object, including glass, water, or polished metal.

Our Personal Best Choice

Under $2500 category

Best Value Model

Armasight by Flir Predator 366

Best Overall Model

Flir Thermasight Pro PTS 233

$2500 - $5000 category

Best Value Model

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 533

Best Overall Model

Pulsar Trail XQ

Over $5000 category

Best Overall, Best Value Model

Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640

In the darkness, or situations with limited light, our pupils are not able to recognize and process that light to enable us to see images. The species mentioned earlier have evolved with enlarged pupils, so they are able to see in conditions of limited light.

Given this physical constraint, humans have had to turn to technology to enhance their ability to see in conditions of near darkness.

So, to recap, the focus of this article will be on reviewing an even dozen thermal imaging scopes. Primary attention will be on their use in conjunction with a rifle, but they also have functionality as a night vision monocular, or hand-held device. As such, night vision devices can be used for hunting, wildlife watching, human surveillance, navigation, and detecting hidden objects.

Comparison Table

We’ve selected twelve of the best thermal imaging scopes from the Amazon web site, and will be reviewing them during the course of this article.

Learn more on how we came up with the table

As we go through that process, we’ll give you a high-level overview of the twelve units, and then spend some time recapping key features and specifications that may impact your purchasing decision.

The presentation of these scopes within the table is based on sorting by price, from low to high. While we show the ratings captured from the Amazon site, we present these with a note of caution. Of these twelve thermal scopes, only three have been reviewed by more than fifty customers.

Prices shown are for base units only, with no options, such as enhanced warranties or special equipment.

Here is the comparison table, listing the brand and model, link to the Amazon page, price, rating (and number of ratings), and a high-level snapshot of the best features of the unit:

ProductBest FeaturesRating (No. of Reviews)Price RangeView on Amazon

ATN Thor HD384 1.25-5X thermal scope

ATN Thor HD384 1.25-5X

  • lots of video capabilities,
  • including wi-fi,
  • range finder,
  • iOS and Android compatibility

3.8 out of 5
(139)

$

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ATN Thor 4 384x288 thermal scope

ATN Thor 4 384×288

  • ultra-low power consumption,
  • dual stream video recording,
  • recoil activated recording,
  • 384×288 pixels display

3.7 out of 5
(58)

$

Check Price

Armasight by Flir Predator 366 thermal scope

Armasight by Flir Predator 366

  • high-end OLED display and video output,
  • 1X, 2X, and 4X zoom,
  • 10- year warranty on detector

3.7 out of 5
(15)

$

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Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 233 thermal scope

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 233

  • on-board recording and image capture,
  • multiple color palettes,
  • built-in compass and inclinometer to improve shot accuracy

4.0 out of 5
(6)

$$

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ATN Thor HD 640 thermal scope

ATN Thor HD 640

  • built-in range finder and ballistic calculator,
  • HD video recording and photos,
  • wi-fi,
  • iOS and Android compatible

3.8 out of 5
(52)

$$

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Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 533 thermal scope

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 533

  • day or night use,
  • 2.5-hour video recording time,
  • aluminum alloy construction,
  • built-in digital compass and inclinometer for range calculation

3.5 out of 5 (5)

$$$

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Pulsar Trail XQ thermal scope

Pulsar Trail XQ

  • IPX-7 waterproof,
  • direct streaming to Smart device,
  • 8- hour battery life,
  • up to 1800-meter detection range

5.0 out of 5
(5)

$$$

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Armasight Zeus 640 2 thermal scope

Armasight Zeus 640 2

  • HD video recording,
  • 9 color palettes,
  • 4 reticle colors,
  • 1X, 2X, 4X, and 8X zoom,
  • 30 HZ refresh rate,
  • camera, with optional recording capability,
  • power pack

2.5 out of 5
(4)

$$$

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Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 736 thermal scope

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 736

  • up to 2.5 hours on-board recording,
  • 75mm objective lens,
  • built-in digital compass and inclinometer for accuracy

3.0 out of 5
(3)

$$$

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Pulsar Trail XP-50 thermal scope

Pulsar Trail XP-50

  • human-sized heat detection at almost 2000 yards,
  • 1.6 – 12.8X magnification,
  • IPX-7 waterproof,
  • fog proof,
  • dustproof

3.7 out of 5
(8)

$$$$

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Trijicon Hunter Mark III thermal scope

Trijicon Hunter Mark III

  • 35mm objective lens,
  • excellent image clarity,
  • 2.5X magnification,
  • 640×480 pixels resolution,
  • 60HZ refresh rate,
  • 12o field of view

5 out of 5
(2)

$$$$

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Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640 3 thermal scope

Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640 3

  • high-end OLED display and output,
  • 60 HZ refresh rate,
  • 1X – 8X magnification,

4.2 out of 5

$$$$

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Brief Introduction Into Night Vision Technology World

There are two different approaches to increasing the ability to see in the dark. The first is night vision technology, which involves amplification of the little light that is available, such as starlight or moonlight, through goggles, scopes, or night vision binoculars to make objects visible to the human eye.

The other approach is through the use of thermal technology, which does not use light, but rather heat, emitted as infrared rays, to make images visible. We will focus on thermal imaging in this article.

Below are examples of the type of images displayed by light amplification and thermal imaging:

Infrared light vs Light amplification

Thermal imaging devices have a military development history. During World War I, a Hungarian scientist developed the first thermal imaging sensors to help the British view incoming enemy aircraft.

The US Military and Texas Instruments worked together in 1947 to develop infrared line scanners, which have military applications even today (Wikipedia.com).

During the 1990s, the use of thermal imaging devices moved into the civilian marketplace. Technology changes and improvements made these devices much more affordable, and use in thermal cameras, binoculars, goggles, monoculars, and other areas developed.

Other major markets include medical diagnosis and imaging, environmental control systems, security, automotive guidance systems, and many more. Thermal night vision devices still maintain their presence in varied military applications and are used by fire and police in search and rescue missions.

One of the most common thermal imaging applications is thermal cameras. They have several residential and commercial applications, one of the most common being energy evaluations. As an example, if you point a thermal camera at a door or window, you should see very little color differentiation in the image if there is good insulation or weather sealing around the door or window. However, if there is a poor seal, you will see a different color “aura” around the door, which indicates that the air coming in is either hotter or colder than the door and the air already in the room.

A thermal imaging device has many similarities to a normal digital camera, but there are some key differences:

  • A digital camera will only detect visible light and can take photos and capture images because of that light.

  • A thermal device will detect infrared energy, which emanates from a different part of the light spectrum. As temperatures rise, more infrared energy is emitted, which is captured as black body radiation. This can be captured even in total darkness, which is an indication of why these devices are so important in search and rescue operations.

Because of the military-grade technology in several of these models, they are often not eligible for export. Some states also have bans on night vision devices, and these bans are typically related to a gun mounted NVDs. If there are questions about use or applicability in your state or jurisdiction, please check with the appropriate regulatory agency.

Buying Guide

As part of making the most informed buying decision, it’s good to make sure you have a complete understanding of all the available features and specifications on these night vision devices. Detailed comparisons may be necessary; the same specification may have wide levels of variation from one scope to the next.

After you go through this section, what we recommend as a next step is making a list of each of the features or specifications discussed here. Then go through and rate the importance of that feature for your intended application.

Typically, features will fall into three categories – must have (would not buy the product without it), nice to have (not mandatory, but a nice add on I would use), and, for want of a better term, bells and whistles (features I don’t need, and have no relevance to my planned usage of the scope).

When you’ve looked at it from that perspective, you should get a pretty good sense of where the best values are based on your needs and budget. At the end of this article, we will also weigh in with our opinions on the Best Overall Scope, Best Value Scope, and Best Performance Scope, plus name a runner-up in all three categories.

Before we move to the next part of this article, let’s take a quick look at how a night vision device is typically used. Most of these images can also be used as monoculars; a hand-held night vision unit. Primarily, however (and our focus here), is their use as a night vision scope when clipped to a rifle.

An example mounting is shown below:

thermal scope mounted on a rifle

Day/night use

Day/night use

These units will typically be suitable for both day and night use, but the overall image clarity may suffer during daytime use. Clarity will be determined to a large extent by the resolution of the images, and the pixels used in the display of them.

Color palette

Color palette

The color palette will show the differentiated colors between the objects emitting different levels of heat; in other words, the image of a feral hog will be a different color than the grass around it, as they emit different thermal characteristics.

Many of these units have multiple selections of color palettes so to provide the greatest contrast between objects.

Power source/life

Power source/life

All of these night vision thermal scopes need some type of power for operations. Some of these units will operate on standard alkaline batteries, typically AA size. Others will take nickel cadmium or lithium ion cells.

Rechargeable batteries may also be available for some of the scopes. Others will offer power packs, either standard or as an option, to extend battery life. Battery life will also be affected by the other features being used, such as IR illuminators and video recording.

Operating temperature range

Operating temperature range

Night vision scopes may be used in some extreme temperature settings, particularly in search and rescue or military applications, but also in general outdoor and hunting activities. Within the scope specifications, you will normally see a temperature range expressed within which the scope will function.

These are normally expressed in degrees Celsius, from low to high temperatures. You can access web-based temperature converters to express these in the Fahrenheit scale.

Image refresh rate

Image refresh rate

As the images you view are sending IR heat images back to the scope, these images will need to be refreshed on a real-time basis. The image refresh rate represents the number of cycles per second that the image is refreshed, expressed in the measure HZ, or hertz. The more refreshes, expressed by higher Hertz numbers, the sharper, more realistic, and more real-time the image will be.

Durability

Durability

We touched on this feature earlier when talking about the weight of the scope. When you think about the operating conditions for these thermal scopes, they will be potentially impacted by rifle recoil, bumps and bangs walking through difficult terrain, and possibly even drops from a height.

A sturdy frame is required to protect the internal optics and lenses. These frames may run from reinforced plastics to lightweight aluminum alloys right up to titanium alloys.

Measure of accuracy (MOA)

Measure of accuracy (MOA)

MOA measures the accuracy of the shot you take, factoring in the distance of the shot.

For practical purposes, every 100 yards additional distance of the shot will add 1 inch of inaccuracy.

Some of these thermal scopes are factory calibrated to achieve even greater than 1 MOA accuracy. Several of these models will have inclinometers, onboard ballistic calculators, and other features to help the hunter improve the accuracy of the shot.

Reticles

Reticles

Reticles are a series of fine lines in the eyepiece of an optical device, such as a night vision scope, and used to help aim the firearm. They may be in various patterns or shapes but are typically in the form of an X or cross.

Many thermal scopes have variations on reticle displays and colors for specific purposes, such as rifle hunting vs. crossbow hunting, or just for hunter preference. You can see an example of a reticle in the “light amplification” photo on page one of this article.

Magnification level

Magnification level

Magnification levels allow the user to view far-away images, and make them appear closer. You will see magnification expressed like a multiplier – 2X, 5X, 8X, etc. in the specifications.

As an example of how this works, an object 50 yards away, viewed with a 5X magnification level, would appear as if it were 10 yards away (50 yards divided by 5 = 10 yards). In the same example, a 10X magnification would make the object appear 5 yards away (50 divided by 10 = 5).
Range of view

Range of view

Range of view, or viewing distance, will tell you the effective range of the scope.

It’s a measurement of how near you must be to the object to conduct thermal sensing and imaging.
As you would expect, the greater the distance, the lower the clarity of the image.

Within the range of view, there are three important sub-sections – detection, recognition, and identification (DRI). Detection refers to the ability to detect an object from its background – I see something out there.

Recognition phase is when you can identify its class – It’s some kind of animal. Identification is the ability to describe the details – it’s a deer, or man carrying a gun. Obviously, as the range is closer, identification is easier.

Field of view

Field of view

As you look through the scope, without moving the rifle, you will get a very specific field of view (FOV). This is the visible area you can see, normally expressed as a range of degrees from the centerline.

You may also see it expressed as X feet wide at a distance of, for example, 500 yards. Almost all scopes will specify the horizontal field of view; some will also specify a vertical field of view.

Water resistance

Water resistance

Besides temperature, these thermal scopes will also likely be subjected to water, in the form of rain, groundwater, or even lakes and rivers. The International Protection Code has been established to provide a consistent measure of protection rating.

These measures will be expressed in a format of IPX, followed by a number. The higher the number, the greater the level of protection. IPX-4, for example, is water resistant, while IPX-7 ratings indicate that the device will survive immersion in up to one meter of water.

Objective lens

Objective lens

The objective lens is the part of the scope that captures and amplifies the thermal images. It may also be referred to as the objective aperture.

The larger the lens, the greater the ability to capture the infrared rays, and enhance the night vision of the object.
The size of the objective lens is typically expressed in millimeters.

Optics

Optics

The optics is a way of expressing the combination of magnification level and objective lens size (see definitions above). Together, they will convey the level of magnification, such as 4X, and the size of the objective lens; for example, 40mm. In this case, the device optics will be expressed as 4X40.

Screen resolution

Screen resolution

Screen resolution refers to the clarity of the displayed image. The images are displayed in the form of pixels, which are small pieces of an original images. The more of these small pieces that are assembled together, the greater the clarity, crispness, and general resolution of the image.

Resolution is usually expressed as a multiplication of pixels, such as 240 x 320 pixels, or occasionally as the product of the two, or 7,680 total pixels.

Photo and video capability

Photo and video capability

All of these thermal scopes have some level of photo and/or video capability. This allows the hunter to capture screen shots of the images being viewed. In some models, taking photos and videos is triggered manually by the hunter; in others, the video will trigger based on rifle recall, or even via remote control.

Memory storage

Memory storage

With photo and video capabilities, there must be some form of storage or memory for the captured images. Some units will feature on-board memory, some will supplement this with SD cards of various memory sizes, some will utilize USB cables to transfer to other devices like smartphones and computers, and some even have wi-fi capability to automatically stream recorded images to other smart devices.

Warranty/technical support

Warranty/technical support

Warranties on these thermal scopes are typically split into two parts. The first warranty segment will cover the body and other operating parts, like knobs, mounts, and so on. The second part of the warranty will cover the optics portion of the scope.

This warranty is typically two to three times longer than the operating parts warranty. In addition to the warranty, most of these manufacturers will also provide technical support for the user. Since these are of American manufacture, most support services will be domestic-based, but it is still wise to validate this as part of your purchasing decision.

Options

Options

Many of these NVDs have options available for purchase. Most common are power packs, to allow extended power use periods, extended warranties, and enhanced memory storage. As noted, optional equipment is not included in the pricing shown for any of these thermal scopes.

Weight

Weight

As you can see in the photo above, some of these thermal scopes are fairly large and may add some significant pounds to the weight of the gun. As you would expect, there can be a trade-off between the weight of the scope and durability.

The weight will be impacted by the materials of construction, which may range from engineered thermoplastics right up to titanium shells. This factor should be considered based on the expected conditions of operation.

Price

Price

Like it or not, for most of us, the price will be a key factor in making the purchasing decision. In the end, pretty much all of us will have a budget for a purchase like this, and our budget may change what we really want into what we can really afford.

The basic units here run from about $1600 to almost $9000. In the end, though, it is not just the price that’s relevant. The combination of the price, the features, and the specifications that match your specific wants and needs most closely will determine the best value unit for you.

If a unit doesn’t contribute a good value, you are probably better off waiting than buying something that will not meet your expectations.

Best Thermal Imaging Scopes Review

ATN Thor HD384 1.25-5X

You start to wonder at some point if these are rifle thermal scopes or mini-computers. This one has lots of sophisticated electronics, including wi-fi rangefinder, ballistic calculator, and GPS. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android systems and has 1080 pixels high definition video recording and photos.

ATN Thor HD384 1.25-5X

Features and specifications:

- smooth zoom functionality, to let you gradually zoom in to your target, without losing it in your field of vision, as with step systems

- 384x288 pixels heat detection sensor

- several options available, including laser range finder, extended battery pack, and remote control

- recoil activated video and wi-fi streaming direct to your smartphone or tablet

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • A good 3.8 rating, across a large cross-section, at a reasonable $1569 price
  • Records to micro SD card, so memory can be expanded with larger GB card
  • Almost 80% of reviews are 4 or 5 stars
  • Multiple color palettes

Cons

Cons
  • Several complaints about customer service and support
  • Several reported issues with the software, and locking of the screens

ATN Thor 384 x 288

This is the next generation of the first scope that we reviewed. It has most of the same electronics as the first one but has added a more sensitive heat detector and an ultra-low power consumption feature, giving you up to 18 hours of battery life.

ATN Thor 384 x 288

Features and specifications:

- dual-stream recording in HD resolution to SD card and streaming to smartphone or tablet, iOS, and Android compatible

- removable 64 GB SD card for photo and video storage

- 1280 x 720 pixels display

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Pros

Pros
  • A good overall rating, at the lower end of the price scale for our thermal scopes to be reviewed
  • Good onboard data storage, and dual streaming to a separate device
  • 1280 x 720 pixels display capability

Cons

Cons
  • Customer service and support again savaged in several reviews
  • Several complaints about the functionality of apps and software; few about the performance of the scope

Armasight Predator 366 – Best Value

This scope features three different zoom levels, and multiple palettes and reticle configurations. It’s water and fog-resistant, US-made and comes with a 3-year body and 10-year optics warranty. 640 x 480 pixels optics display, 60 HZ refresh rate.

Armasight Predator 366

Features and specifications:

- high-end OLED display and video recording

- 2X magnification, operating range -40oC to +50oC

- imaging cuts through smoke, haze, dust, snow, and fog

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Pros

Pros
  • Lightweight at 1.4 pounds without batteries, yet durable for hunting and military applications
  • Good field of view at 13o horizontal and 10o vertical, 25mm objective lens
  • Good reviews for accuracy

Cons

Cons
  • Battery life not good with standard equipment, but can be extended with the optional battery back
  • No range finder capability

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 233 – Best Overall

This is the last scope on the list under $2000 and comes with a 4.0-star rating (6 reviews). 60 HZ core refresh rate for clear, real-time imagery, including on-board recording (up to 2.5 hours) and image storage. It features an aluminum alloy body, yet a lightweight 1.4 pounds.

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 233

Features and specifications:

- operating range -40oC to +50oC

- can be interfaced with USB video cables, laser range finder

- multiple reticles and palette options

- 12o x 9.5o FOV

- 1280 x 960 pixels display

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Pros

Pros
  • Shot activated video recording
  • Digital compass and inclinometer for precise target acquisition
  • Fully digital for improved detection and classification, day or night operations

Cons

Cons
  • One complaint about software freezing up during operation
  • Poor user documentation

ATN Thor HD-640

This scope has an overall rating of 3.8 based on 52 customer reviews. As with other ATN thermal scopes, it comes with a broad range of electronic functionality, including a ballistic calculator, wi-fi, GPS, range finder, and compatibility with both iOS and Android functionality. The smooth zoom functionality lets you magnify to your target without losing visual sighting of it.

ATN Thor HD-640

Features and specifications:

-640 x 480 pixels thermal sensor

- high-resolution HD video and photo capability, with Recoil Activated Video and automatic streaming to your smart device

- accepts various size SD cards for additional onboard data storage

-1X, 2.5X, and 5X magnification, coupled with a 17mm objective lens

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Pros

Pros
  • Users claim animal identification at 250 yards using 5X magnification
  • Optional laser range finder, battery pack, and remote control available
  • Two-shot zeroing in functionality

Cons

Cons
  • Low battery life. Users state battery pack is a necessity, not an option
  • Some reviewers complained about grainy images

Flir ThermoSight Pro PTS533 – Best Value

This scope is similar to the PTS533 reviewed at #4 above, but with greater magnification capabilities. Like the other scope, this one has fully digitalized operation, for improved recognition and detection. It has a high-definition display, multiple color palettes, and on-board recording and storage for image capture and storage.

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 533

Features and specifications:

- up to 2.5 hours of recording time

- magnification from 4X to 16X, combined with a 50mm objective lens for improved object clarity

- digital compass and inclinometer for more accurate targeting

- aluminum alloy construction for durability, yet only 1.78 pounds

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Pros

Pros
  • 4.5o x 3.5o field of view, not obscured by smoke, fog, rain, or darkness
  • Recoil activated recording, multiple palettes, and reticles
  • 60 Hz refresh rate

Cons

Cons
  • Complaints logged about customer service and support

Pulsar Trail XQ – Best Overall

An impressive array of features and functionality, starting with a magnification of 2.7X – 10.8X combined with a 42mm objective lens and the ability to detect heat signatures of big-game at up to 1800 yards. Picture-in-picture feature provides a magnified image of the reticle at the top of the viewing screen for enhanced shooting accuracy. IOS and Android compatible.

Pulsar Trail XQ

Features and specifications:

- IPX-7 waterproof rating. Submersible in one meter of water for 30 minutes

- day or night operation, integrated video, and sound recording, up to 8-hour battery life

- 640 x 480 pixels display, 8 GB internal memory, operating range -13oF – 122oF

- 13 digital reticle options, 50 HZ refresh rate

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Pros

Pros
  • A nice blend of basic features with enhanced features vs. a lot of “bells and whistles”
  • Perfect 5.0 rating (5 reviews on Amazon, and 15 on a different site)
  • 8-hour rechargeable battery pack
  • iOS and Android compatible, wireless remote control available

Cons

Cons
  • 3-year warranty is relatively short for equipment in this price range

Armasight Zeus 640 2

Featuring 2X – 16X magnification, coupled with a 50mm objective lens, this scope provides crisp imagery in a variety of color palettes and reticle designs. 30 Hz refresh rate, 800 x 600 pixels display, and adjustable brightness controls enhance the image display. Four-hour battery life, with optional power pack available to increase it to 12 hours.

Armasight by Flir Zeus 640

Features and specifications:

- wide FOV of 14.8o horizontal and 11.8o vertical

- weight is 1.5 pounds (without batteries)

- photo capability only; optional video recording equipment available

- user-friendly drop-down menu for easy setup and settings change

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Pros

Pros
  • E-zoom functionality from 1X to 4X without moving from point of aim
  • Special contrast, sharpness, scene optimization, and gain controls to enhance imagery viewing
  • Remote control wireless operation capability

Cons

Cons
  • A surprisingly low 2.4 rating (3 reviews – one five stars and two one star on Amazon; 4×5 star reviews on OpticsPlanet.com)
  • Both 1-star reviews are about the power failure and little customer support to deal with the issue

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS736

With this unit, we are moving further up the Flir Thermosight Pro ladder. This unit features big-time optics, with 6x – 24X magnification, married to a 75mm objective lens. Factor in an HD display, a 60 HZ refresh rate, and day-night operation to create a very useful scope for any application.

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS736

Features and specifications:

- 60 Hz refresh rate

- users claim to kill range of 500 yards

- 1280 x 960 VGA display

- multiple palettes and reticle options for improved display contrast

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Pros

Pros
  • Operating range -20oC to +50oC
  • Digital compass and inclinometer for accurate range finding
  • On-board video storage of 2.5 hours

Cons

Cons
  • Fairly low 3.0-star rating. Found only three reviews between four different web sites
  • Low battery life tends to dictate the purchase of external battery pack
  • Low FOV – 3o x 2.5o

Pulsar Trail XP-50

While there is not a lot of information on the Amazon site, the manufacturer claims human-sized detection at 1970 yards – over one mile. The 640 x 480 pixels display, combined with multiple palettes and reticle options and magnification up to 12.8X makes this one very powerful, long-range scope.

Pulsar Trail XP-50

Features and specifications:

- built-in video recording with 8GB on-board storage

- 50 Hz refresh rate, 1.6X to 12.8X magnification capability

- android and iOS compatible, with wireless streaming capability (with separate Stream Vision app) and remote-control availability

- IPX-7 waterproof, -13oF - +122oF operating range for use in extreme conditions

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Pros

Pros
  • Picture in Picture functionality for a more detailed view of reticle sighting
  • Various color and reticle options make for the highly contrasted display of images
  • Smooth magnification changes so you don’t lose your targeted image

Cons

Cons
  • Love-hate relationship. 75% 5-star reviews, 25% 1-star reviews.
  • Two users complained of receiving used/refurbished equipment.

Trijicon Hunter Mark III

We’re rapidly moving up the price list now; this unit is a 50% premium over the Pulsar unit just above. But with that price, there is an almost complete lack of information on the Amazon site. Looking at other sites, this model is 2.5X35mm optics, with 640 x 480 pixels resolution and a 60 HZ refresh rate, reducible to 30HZ to save battery life. It has a 12o horizontal field of view and a view of 40.5 feet at 1000 yards.

Trijicon Hunter Mark III

Features and specifications:

- multiple reticles and palette options for enhanced image clarity

- lightweight aluminum housing, just over 2# weight, IPX-7 waterproof

- -40oF to +131oF operating range

- can be “stacked” with daytime scopes to increase magnification capability

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Pros

Pros
  • 5-star rating on Amazon site (2 reviews), no reviews found on two other sites
  • Large lateral field of view

Cons

Cons
  • Lack of user information
  • Very little “standout” functionality over lower-priced units

Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640 3 – Best Value, Best Overall

This is the big brother of the Zeus 640 seen earlier (#8) and has a big brother price of almost $7000. It has the best optics of this group, with 3X to 24X magnification, and a large 75mm objective lens. The display is the latest generation 640 x 512 pixels OLED (organic light-emitting diode, as opposed to the more common LED technology) technology.

Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640

Features and specifications:

- electronic zoom tracking functionality, with no loss of target acquisition

- built to military-grade specifications, operating from -40oC to +57oC

- water and fog resistant

Check Price!

Pros

Pros
  • The durable, highly functional unit, suitable from all applications from hunting to SWAT to the military to law enforcement
  • Dual battery backs, plus operates on a single battery for one-hour emergency use
  • Multiple palettes and reticle combinations, with various sharpness and clarity enhancing adjustments

Cons

Cons
  • Only 4 ratings, two unfavorable. Customer support lacking.
  • Price

Conclusion

Because of the wide range in prices in this group of clip on thermal scopes, we’re going to break them down into three groups.

The first group will be those priced under $2500, the second group those from $2500 – $5000, and the last group the two highest priced thermal scopes, the Zeus Pro 640 and the Hunter Mark III. For each of these groups, we’ll give you our recommendations on Best Value and Best Overall.

While we normally also select a runner-up for each category, it doesn’t really make sense here based on the small groupings. So, here is the summary information, all in one place:

Under $2500 category:

One quick comment – while we like both the ATN units for functionality, the customer service and support complaints were fairly consistent against both. If you are willing to risk that, they are both good value and functional units.

Best Value Model

Armasight by Flir Predator 366

Best Overall Model

Flir Thermasight Pro PTS 233

$2500 – $5000 category:

Best Value Model

Flir Thermosight Pro PTS 533

Best Overall Model

Pulsar Trail XQ

Over $5000 category:

Best Overall, Best Value Model

Armasight by FLIR Zeus 640

If you are considering the purchase of a thermal imaging scope anytime soon, hopefully, this will give you some tips on selecting the unit that’s exactly right for you and your application. The commercial technology around thermal imaging is only a couple of decades old, and still in a state of flux.

Advancements in personal security and automotive applications for self-driving cars will enhance features while driving down costs. Be aware of these advances, as today’s hi-tech may well be tomorrow’s garage sale item.

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