Utilizing a thermal scope can take your hunting game to the next level. Still, the scopes vary significantly in what they bring to the table for you as a hunter and how easily it is to obtain one. Here, we have a fantastic selection of thermal rifle scopes.
As a quick overview, what are the best ones? They are as follows:
- Pulsar Thermion 2 thermal riflescope
- Sightmark Wraith 4K mini digital night vision riflescope
- Zeiss DTI 3/25 & DTI 3/35 thermal imaging night vision
- Trijicon Electro Optics IR-Hunter
- X-Vision XVT thermal scopes
This article goes more in-depth on each thermal rifle’s details and perks. Not only that, but we will also discuss what to consider before purchasing one. However, before delving too deeply into the intricacies of thermal optics, it’s better to define what a thermal scope is and what it does.
What Is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal imaging is the act of converting infrared radiation, which is also more commonly known as heat, into a visible image. It is most notably defined with intense heat areas recognized as yellows, oranges, and reds and cooler areas as greens, cyans, and blues.
Utilized in hunting, this allows you to see your prey in total darkness easily. Thermal imaging helps with whatever you are hunting with a visible heat signature, which you can dial in with your scope and take an extremely accurate shot, all without being able to normally see your target with the naked eye in most cases.
What Is the Best Thermal Rifle Scope?
The best thermal rifle scopes boil down to three basic key factors: utility, affordability, and durability. Overall, you know what you get from the scope, as it lets you hunt at night.
Affordability can mean many different things depending on where you are financially, but getting the most bang for your buck is something everyone can agree on regardless of where you are in the tax bracket. Finally, how well it stands up against the elements, or better, you personally, as you might not be as agile as the scope might allow you to think.
The Pulsar Thermion 2 grandly takes the stage, quickly being one of the best quality thermal scopes we’ll list here. It features thermal imaging sensors that have been tastefully enhanced with thermal sensitivity and a screen display that will display incredibly detailed images and function perfectly in even the harshest cold weather.
This scope is designed to be used by professionals in the hunting industry and the world of security. This little beauty can even store .mp4 files of your hunt so you can review everything long after you’ve finished. Keep in mind this baby is pricey but worth every penny.
When you think of hunting at night, you’d ideally want to be like a phantom, stalking the lands undetected until your prey’s final, unexpected moment. The sightmark wraith makes that vision a reality, offering a 4k resolution sensor for highly detailed visuals on anything within 300 yards of you and records everything in real-time with an AVI video format.
The sight itself can withstand temperatures as low as 32F and as high as 140F, and best of all, the scope itself comes with an IR flashlight to enhance your hunting experience.
The Zeiss DTI series brings a sleek, almost futuristic look to thermal imaging, offering a prominent image for your nighttime hunting needs, with the ability to enhance the contrast on all visuals in foggy conditions, making even the most challenging night hunts a breeze. For those looking to stream hunts, this scope is just for you, as it comes native with this scope utilizing a simple app.
The Trijicon is a sleek, no-nonsense scope that keeps the design basic. However, the internal workings of the scope itself are a technical marvel, featuring a unique 640×480 60 hz visual and a 12-micron thermal image sensor.
You can almost see the pores on anything you are hunting with this bad boy. Not only that, but this scope features unparalleled flexibility when dealing with even the darkest lighting conditions, and it comes with the standard recording functionalities you’d expect of most thermal scopes. Best of all, this scope is manufactured entirely in the USA.
Straying from the traditional scopes offered on most rifles, the X-Vision is a reflex sight. Since it makes this list, it is a Thermal Reflex Sight and is hands down one of the best options for a more close-range scope.
Without sacrificing performance or visual clarity, this scope can detect targets up to 1000 yards out and is compact, keeping your overall weight down and not being as clunky as other thermal rifle scopes in the market. It even sports an IP67 weatherproof rating, so even the worst days out won’t stop this scope from meeting your needs.
What to Consider When Using a Thermal Scope
As noted above, what you need from the scope itself and the price you have to throw at it are some of the most significant contributing factors to bring to the table.
If your budget is open, investing in a scope that gives you a crystal clear visual would be the only thing to consider. However, exposing the scope to nasty weather will make you want something less fancy and more durable. In that case, you must invest in the right scope for the right job.
Thermal scopes are not cheap. At least, it is costly for most people. Your average scope starts at just over $600.
Finding a scope that performs well for you and meets whatever additional requirements you have might cost you a pretty penny. Remember, you get what you pay for, so saving up for a specific scope might be wise.
All thermal scopes are not created equal. To that end, some allow you to (vaguely) see game in the dark. Others are almost cybernetic extensions of your eye, with recording capabilities that would make professional videographics stagger, while some are meant to endure punishment and prolonged exposure to the elements. In that case, pick a scope that fits you and your needs like a glove.
3. Purpose and Usage
Keep the premise of what you are doing in mind while shopping for thermal scopes. For your average hunter, you will likely want a solid visual on targets and maybe the ability to relive everything after the hunt. You may be teaching your buddies how it’s done or getting a better understanding of how you can improve. Thermal scopes are meant to aid night hunting, and just about any thermal scope can aid with that.
4. Reliability and Quality
Cheaper scopes are usually going to fall apart faster. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also true. Even more to the point, the displays they offer might not live up to your standard, so you should thoroughly investigate the thermal scopes you are interested in and ensure they live up to what you expect before purchasing.
5. Reticle Zeroing
Getting your scope zeroed is a practice that translates well from traditional scopes to thermal ones, but it ensures where you aim is where the bullet will go after you fire.
All thermal scopes use batteries, and their power depends on the scope’s power. Suppose you intend on being out on extended hunts. In that case, you should purchase a scope with an additional set of batteries or batteries that can be easily swapped out after purchasing more after your initial purchase.
7. Mounting Options
Be very careful about what kind of scopes are compatible with your mounts. Nothing feels worse than buying a scope you can mount out of the box unless you pre-purchased another one you will use just for said scope.
8. Sensitivity and Amplification
Thermal scopes can either alter the contrast to get a better visual in certain lighting conditions or amplify the overall visual to help aid in seeing your targets. Still, again, this is not entirely true of all scopes. As such, research any you are interested in to guarantee you get what you need.
9. Optical Quality
Seeing what you are hunting is pivotal if you want to have a successful hunt. The only way this will happen is if you purchase a scope that can function perfectly well in the lighting you will be using it in, as well as being functional with the temperature and whether you are hunting in, be mindful of your scope’s limits.
10. Field of View
The field of view or FOV of your scope can dramatically alter your hunt, especially if your location has unexpected dangers that can get up on you relatively quickly or provide an added layer of complexity due to you not seeing everything you need.
11. Weight & Size
Being able to see in the dark is perfectly good and well, but doing so at the price of carrying a small telescope with you at all times will weigh you significantly on the hunt. So, we advise you to be diligent in your research.
However, longer scopes often have more going on internally, typically giving you a better visual overall. In that case, find a median that works best for you.
Thermal rifle scopes are a fascinating sight option everyone should have in their arsenal. Researching which rifle scope will meet your needs and not break the bank will allow you to reach higher levels as a hunter and increase your odds of not coming home empty-handed. Overall, we hope this article was helpful to you, and happy hunting!