Best Thermal scopes

Best Thermal Scopes – Top 9 Best Thermal Scopes Review

For the most part when selecting a thermal scope or thermal sighting system, the buyer needs to be aware of several things.

First of all in most cases you are going to get exactly what you are paying for with these systems. Low budget and low grade equipment will fail in the field or at best just provide a minimum of workable performance.

Secondly stay with the name brands. These outfits have been building and designing these night sights for years and as such a whole lot of R&D has gone into them.

As the third point here is by staying with name brand outfits you are also buy better grade materials that make up your sighting system. The average thermal sight has a whole lot of science built into it and as such even a small deviation from the best approach to an issue will return less than positive performance.

My Picks for Thermal Scope

The thermal sight can see where as the old school Star Light or ambient light gathering systems just can’t hold up against them. While the light gathering units pull light even from star light in the dead of a cold black night, the thermal searches for any source of heat. Humans and animals give off heat and that becomes the signature pattern for the scopes cross hair system after dark. As there are many different variations when it comes to thermal scope designs, I will select some different models and give you the reader some idea of what is different about each of them.

Author with AR-15 Mossberg Tactical carbine with night scope attached.

This is a thermal sight that is designed for the advanced shooter as in a professional operator, police, military or government hunter. The system is complicated in that it will produce image stabilization, range finding and ballistics calculating. The unit also retains IOS and Android apps making this a very advanced system.

The image quality returned by the sight is of a high quality and using the 640X480 sensor, the night vision detects even very small amounts of heat energy down range. The sight will allow the shooter to see targets giving off heat in complete darkness.

Shot placement and ranging control is taken care of via the ballistics program system built into the sight. This will aid the shooter in gaining the corrected data (DOPE ) regarding the correct sighting adjustment at longer range targets. This suggests that the scope is built to pull in heat registered target at long ranges. As to exact range the information I have checked through is not giving any specific range limits. 

The unit retains HV video recording and well as very fast zoom magnification as applied to intended targets.

  2   ATN ThOR 4

There is an upgrade model of this sight ATN Thor 4. 640x480 . This new model carries an upgraded next Gen sensor system with WIFI, Image Stabilization, and range finding abilities as well.  The second generation scope also carries the Android Apps and ballistics calculator. As in the first model this scope is of a  professional grade and designed for serious night vision work in the field.  That being warm target events or area shooting applications in a military type setting.

  3   ATN Thor LT

This third in the series of ATN scopes is an advanced model but at a more workable price considereing the number of features involved in the sights design. This is a thermal scope that will pull targets at longer ranges and do so with excellent image quality.

The scope is designed to run on minimum power levels and that means better battery lief in the field. This is an issue I have found with my older series ATN system in that battery power is drained fast. Take coyote hunting for a night long event. You are likely not to make it to first light using some of the older system. Not to say this scope is going to make that trip regarding performance time ether, as weather conditions and time on target can make some major differences in sighting performance levels.

This scope is built in the traditional design, it uses a 30mm well constructed main tube built with a hardened aluminum alloy.

The scope retains a 10+ hour battery life (in general terms), the sight makes use of a “one shot zero” system so as to save of ammunition when pulling in that bullet to a correct impact point. This scope is very light weight and I can say for a fact that some systems I have used turn a firearm like a Ruger Mimi 14 or Ar-15 by example to doubles its normal carry weight. This makes for slower response time when moving from a rest to active shooing position, and also tends to result in fatigue if humped across country for very long. In short this scope works at defeat some of the illustrated issues.

  4   Torrey Pines Logic T12-N Thermal Imaging sight

In general I do not feature optics that are very hard to squire or out of production. In this case, this sight is not currently available at this time. I have included the sight because of its very compact design and that is interesting when a simple sight can be transferred to both rifles and shotguns through the use of a simple Weaver base mounting design.

This sight is very compact and designed much like a HUD display or red dot window sight. It is hard to even understand how enough technology was introduced into this sight so as to allow it to function as a thermal sighting system.

This sight retains an on board image processing enhancement mode. Manual and automatic NUC capability, temperature readouts and battery power readouts as well. The sight retains an auto power saving mode and multiple display view. The effective range is 120m, 80 x 60 pixels, with a box reticle and no crosshairs marked by FLIR Leptons, frame rate 30Hz, shutter, and a total carry weight of 109 grams.  In short a major package in a very small container. Weaver style mounting is fast and carries the ability to remove and remoint in seconds.

  5   Trijicon Teo Reap-IR Mini Thermal

Moving into the real big guys that require your oil well to come in before buying, we have the professional grade ( military ) Mini thermal riflescope. These scopes are so expensive that they are almost never stacked on the dealer shelves. The system are state of the art, the production quality is outstanding and their primary use in the field is to see varmint, game, or bad guys where required after dark.

The scope is a 35mm compact system 640 x 480 thermal sensor, digital contrast enhancement ( dce ), digital focus control ( dfc) stadiametric ranging and an edge detection mode reticle. The scope carries much more in terms of application technology and a study in detail is required if interested in moving int this range of nigh vision optical systems,

  • Scope dimensions 6.5 x 3.0 x 2.95 inches.
  • Scope weight 20.8 oz
  • Battery life 4 HRs CR 123.

  6   Trijicon Electro Optics sniper-ir thermal clip on 35mm compact

This compact sight is designed to fit up front of an optical day sight or stand alone for night operations.  Size matters here and this is a specialized sight for both day and night work when required. ( changeable in terms of quick mounting )

The scope has a no shot zero function, control and is optimized for 4X32 ACOG.  In effect a combat style sight first and foremost.

There is a mass of technical details regarding the optical system, and that over load of information is best left to the serious buyer when the times come to put down the hard cash for the product. In effect, as in all the Trijicon products the sight is battle tested, built as a top of the line product in terms of use in the hunting or military police market. Simply by the fact that I have shot Trijicaon ACOG and scope sights for over 20 years to date with some being civilian and some military based applications, I can assure you the reader there is none better in production today. If you are a pro and demand, the best to save yours or someone else's life, this is the way to set up your night shooting weapon.

During the writing of my last of three rifle books, I interviewed US Army snipers that were fighting in the middle east, and learned first had as to exactly what those brave men encountered in the field. Without question systems like those offered by Trijicon would meet those kinds of needs.

Trijicon night optics meet the task at hand.

  7   IR Defense IR Hunter Mark II 640 60hz 35mm thermal rifle scope

This scope is designed for the hunter and raetains a BAE core Microsolft detection range of +1000 yards. Resolution quality is 640 x 480 with a video frame rate of 30hz. The magnification on the scope is 2.5 x 20 and the battery life of the system is 5 hours of continuous use. The power supply is made up of 2 CR 123A battery's.

  • Warranty period for the total unit is three years.
  • Size mounted 10.3 X 5.4 X 5 inches, Total weight 2.5 pounds.
  • Manufacture IR Defense

  8   Trijicon Teo IR- Hunter Teo. IRMKS-60  Thermal

Up at this point in time, the primary emphasis has been professional night vision optics. Now the worm turns toward the hunter and still in the area of a very high end product but built for the point and shoot gunner that wants to see his target at long range, take it out and proceed on to the next gun hunter situation.  Not that this scope has no added tools because it has all the bells and whistles attached to its core system. But the primary setup is a straight forward night sight, and shoot perfected American built after dark gunning system.

Tack this baby onto your AR-15, Ruger Mini-14 or Ak 47, and your home free after the lights go out.

Features on the scope include the following. The scope retains a 60mm objective lens, 640 x 480 thermal sensor enhanced target recognition (etr), and digital contract enhancement (dce.)  The unit also makes use of a stadimetric rangefinder along with windage and elevation position readouts. The unit has a fixed digital zoom system as well.

  9   Optic Guru Thor LT Thermal

This sight offering is priced a bit lower than some of the other presented here but still retains many of the  other advanced thermal scopes features.  Keep in mind that when you moving to a thermal night sighting system, you are moving into a whole different world of technology and that always comes at a price. This equipment regardless of the manufacture is not cheap as you have well observed by now,

The Optic Guru will still push well over a grand in price, but retains an advanced heat detection system,

The scope will allow you to see in total darkness, fog, smoke and even heavy vegetation. The system is built around a 30mm main tube which allows standard weaver style mount or other  base ring systems to secure the scope to your firearm.

High performance with low power requirements. The unit will use a battery ever 10 hours of service. This scope is designed as a light weight unit, i can attest to the fact that my starlight systems ( lower costing ) double the weight of my rifles and shotguns when set up for field use. Estimated effective range 300 to 400 yards when correctly adjusted for viewing.

For the most part the primary advantage of this scope is it is exactly what it needs to be, a thermal sighting system for night shooting. No other tacked on junk to get in the way. Military snipers I have again interviewed regarding night shooting, and some did just that for full tours in the sand box stated that their systems spotted, sighted, and took on the enemy. As such, end of story, versus making movies, factoring range, and checking the weather on the same optical system.

During one review I was issue one of the highly complicated scopes and found that it was nasty to adjust, took time away from hunting in terms of setup in the field, and in general was not my kind of equipment at all. I guess I am a hunter / shooter first and not much of a tec nerd at all. 

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