Best Thermal Scope

Whether you use your gun for hunting buck and hogs, or if you have land and live-stock and you need to keep an open eye on those pesky varmints, it's easy enough for the 10-12 hours a day when the sun lights up the sky. 

But, once the sun sets, taking that shot can be a lot harder than it was before. If only humans could see in the dark, right? Well, now we can, and not just with night vision.

In the modern age, you can also get high-tech thermal scopes, to make your nightly hunt easier. With the best thermal scope, you can have the heat-detecting vision of a snake and the precision of a Jaguar. 

Who doesn’t want to be the ultimate night-time hunter? Whatever you use your gun for, we recommend making the investment.

So we have collected some of the top-of-the-line thermal scopes, to make your rifle, more than just an ordinary firearm.

So, which thermal scope is, the best thermal scope?

Deer seen in night vision scope

Trigger-Finger got a Twitch?

Are you itching to buy a thermal scope as soon as possible, but don’t know which one to get? Is it too much of a hassle to go looking all over the internet, trying to figure out which one is the best one?

We know the feeling and we’ve made sure that you can save your time for hunting by finding the best thermal scopes there are and getting them right here for you.

We have found the best of the best and we recommend that if your trigger finger is twitching to get some thermal hunting done, that you go for TheOpticGuru ATN ThOR 4. 

This is a thermal scope that will put a big smile on your face, you won’t be surprised to hear that, as far as thermal scopes go, the ATN brands are the number one for what they do.

But, this one has great reviews all round. With a ballistic calculator, obsidian dual-core processor, smart range finder, and more. Here are some of the best features you will find on this scope. 

  • 16+ hours of active use 
  • Ballistic calculator feature makes every shot a kill
  • Gives precise distance measurements.

OUR TOP PICK

The OpticGuru ATN ThOR 4 thermal scope is a top of the range piece of equipment and of course, our number one pick.

ATN ThOR scopes are, without any doubt, a must-have favorite amongst hunters and military marksmen alike. 

This specific model is rifle compatible and comes with an obsidian dual-core processor with a 4th generation thermal sensor, an ideal combo for your hunting needs.

It also has a fantastic smart-range-finder, which will range your target in just two clicks and will get you a precise distance measurement faster than a bullet flies.

There is no need for extra gadgets with this outstanding design.

It has a handy ballistic calculator feature as well, this makes every shot a kill.

Making the point of impact adjusted automatically to your ammo type, the range from you to your target, and the environment around you. 

Can it get any better? Yes, it can. It has ultra-low power consumption, managing to take up to 16+ hours of active use.

No more having to cut your hunts short because of a dead battery.

Pair that with its dual streaming ability for video recording, wifi streaming, and simultaneous action that doesn’t reduce the quality of its performance.

Try to say no to this scope! 

Pros

  • Extra-long life.
  • Comes with mounts and a storage bag.
  • The point of impact automatically adjusts to your situation.
  • Precise distance measurement.

Cons

  • SD card sold separately. 

EDITORS CHOICE

For our second pick we have something that could be more interesting so some hunters. 

Are you looking for a scope that is so hardy it could allow you to hunt from inside a lake or pond?

Something that is totally water resistant and also has recoil activation? 

If so, then the Pulsar XQ50 Thermal Riflescope is for you.

Most of Pulsar's thermal technology is handheld or otherwise, but here we find a riflescope with outstanding technology, just for you. 

It has 3.5-14 variable magnification with detailed 384 x 288px resolution and a 7 hour rechargeable battery supply.

On top of that, it has a picture in picture digital zoom with a streaming vision app that connects your scope to any smart device. 

Plus it is built with recording and recoil activation ready and waiting for you.

With 13 variable reticles and one-shot zeroing with freeze function, there’s not much more you could want from this product.

It even has fully water-proof and submersible features that can sit in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

It also mounts on 30mm rings and scope bases but keeps the rugged reliability and simple user interface that Pulsar is infamous for. 

Pros

  • Submersible underwater up to 1 meter. 
  • 15+ reticles in up to 4 colors.
  • Extended heat detection.
  • Variable magnification.

Cons

  • In cold conditions, you may need to use hand warmers to extend battery life.

BEST VALUE

The Optic Guru ThOR LT thermal scope is a great scope designed to be more lightweight than your average scope, it will make you feel agile and your gun feel balanced, perfect for sneaking up on hogs and deer. 

It has advanced heat detection sensors which allow you to see in complete darkness, for those extra cloudy nights when there is no moon-light to assist you.

Not only that but it can also allow you to see in a dense fog that makes you feel like you’re in a horror movie, smoke, and heavy vegetation so that you can hunt in all circumstances. 

It is a traditional design with a 30mm tube scope made of hardened aluminum alloy and is a recoil resistant to high caliber weapons.

It has a maximum performance with minimum power consumption thanks to its lithium-ion battery life of over 10 hours! 

All of this and more means that this scope can be used day or night, in any conditions and can scope from 0-100 yards, it is easy and simple to use. 

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Recoil resistant to high caliber weapons.
  • Great performance with minimum power consumption. 
  • Useable in all conditions.

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a scope mount. 

RUNNER UP

Another fantastic product by ATN ThOR is the ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart. This scope has outstanding image performance with a 384 x 288 sensor.

Known as being ideal for night hunting as it detects heat instead of light you can clearly see in total darkness. 

Having a ballistic calculator to calculate the trajectory of your bullet to get a bullseye on your target.

You can also improve the placement of your shot by adjusting the point of impact.

You can also improve your target shooting skills with the bullet-in-smart feature and become the pro of the local shooting range.

The angle of view is 12 by 9.5 with a smooth 20cm zoom that lets you magnify to target without losing what is in your FOV, much like with step-zoom systems.

This amazing scope also comes with high-resolution HD video which records, takes photos, enables recoil-activated video, and streaming allows you to record all of your epic hunts.

You can also use your phone or tablet as a viewfinder too! 

This handy piece of equipment is irresistible, with a scope made from aluminum, the control panel made of plastic, and being easy to use if you use glasses.

Pros

  • Modern smart technology. 
  • Easily usable if you wear glasses. 
  • Bullet-in-smart feature that improves target shooting.
  • Smooth zoom.

Cons

  • Best as an “entry-level” thermal scope.

RUNNER UP

While thermal scopes are outnumbered by night vision scopes, thermal scopes have one advantage, they come in even more shapes and sizes too!

If you have a thermal scope or night vision scope and you drive around to find your best hunting spots, then maybe you are getting a bit tired of having to detach your scope or having to hold up your gun every time. 

If that sounds familiar, then this is the item for you.

Having many amazing reviews for being handy to use while searching for your hunting spots or your kills, this is Pulsar’s Helian XP thermal Monocular, a handheld device that helps you see where your next kill is.

While not strictly being as scope, it pairs amazingly with a scope, or even if you cannot quite afford the price of a scope but want to get the feeling of using thermal imaging for your hunting trips, then it is priceless. 

It has adult-size heat detection for up to 2,000yards and has 2.5-20 variable magnification with detailed 640x 480px resolution.

An 8 hour rechargeable battery supply and is lightning fast at a 50hz refresh rate.

It has an integrated accelerometer and stadia metric rangefinder.

With a built-in streaming app, you can observe, stream, transfer, and upgrade.

It also has an 8 color viewing palette and an easy to use interface. 

Pros

  • 2,000-yard heat detection.
  • Water-proof, dust-proof, and fog-proof.
  • Integrated streaming.
  • 8GB of internal storage with video recording.

Cons

  • Does not fit onto a gun. Hand-held only.

Buyers Guide

Cost 

So, perhaps you have already decided on what scope is best for you and now you’ve looked at a few online and now you’re wondering, why are they so expensive?

Well, thermal imaging technology is expensive and a lot of them can be up to five figures and you certainly won’t find one under $1,000.

While these prices seem extortionate, thermal imaging costs have dropped since the technology first became publicly available and it will continue to over the years. 

How much you are willing to pay for one, does depend on how often you will use it, what for, and whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert when it comes to shooting and using different technologies for your hunts.

If you are a beginner, then it is advised you get a cheaper model to start with and make your way up to the more expensive and intricate models.

Weight

These scopes include a ton of technology, so are usually fairly weighted. Before buying, you will want to think about how you feel about carrying that extra weight.

If you’re trekking through the woods it may not be so bad. But, if you’re planning on hiking a mountain, your rifle is probably going to be heavy enough without the added weight of a heavy thermal scope on top. 

This is where products such as the pulsar Helian XP Thermal monocular make themselves useful. You will still get the thermal imaging technology, but you can carry it separately so the weight of the gun and the technology are more distributed and not holding you back. 

Magnification

How important is magnification to you? A lot of thermal scopes will not have magnification, while a few will offer it. Usually, magnification on a thermal scope may be unclear, especially if it is optical rather than digital. 

Whether you do or do not need it, or how much is entirely up to you and your hunting pursuits. It will help you get up, close, and personal with your target from a distance, and paired with thermal imaging can be truly amazing.

Products such as the ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart offer this kind of addition, with smart technology allowing you to both zoom in on your target while maintaining thermal imaging without losing any image quality.

Resolution

If you are considering the investment of a Thermal Scope then you will want to consider resolution when you are thinking about which one to buy. It's unlike regular scopes, with its digital technology that makes the image viewable on a display. 

No matter how good high-end the sensor is on your scope, if you have a bad resolution then you will be looking at a poor quality image.

Although thermal imaging technology makes spotting your next kill a walk in the park, it's not your standard night vision and if you have a bad resolution then you are looking at problems with your precision shooting.

So be sure that even if you get a beginner’s scope, you make sure you have a quality resolution.   

Battery Life 

Don't jump the gun when it comes to battery life. If you’re planning on using your scope for hunting and being out in the field, you want to make sure that it’s got enough battery life. You don’t want it cutting out just as you’re about to take a shot. 

A lot of scopes may come with long-life lithium-ion batteries, these are very good for long days and nights out hunting. They have a one-up on standard life batteries, as they make sure that your scope isn’t just dead weight, unable to power up. 

If you want to get a good thermal scope to make your hunts extra interesting, make sure to make battery life one of your top considerations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

“What’s better, thermal or night vision?

When it comes to Thermal vs Night Vision, neither is better than the other. It totally depends on what you need it for and how you intend to use it. 

Night vision scopes are cheaper than thermal, they are also durable and have a wide field of view, but they also can only function at night, and dust, fog, and camouflage obscure the image. 

Thermal on the other hand can track hand and footprints, can see through dust, fog, and camouflage. They are also useable in any and all lighting conditions. But they are heavier, more expensive and you may need to train to fully interpret the image. 

Really it is all up to you are your hunting preferences. 

“Is it illegal to hunt with a thermal scope?”

In the United States, it is currently legal to own thermal or night vision scopes. Though there are laws in states such as California about the possession of certain sniper scopes.

If you are concerned about the legality of owning a certain scope in your state, consult your state’s laws on the subject. 

“How far can you shoot with a thermal scope?”

Generally, you can only shoot as far as you can see, but the distance to view and to shoot with a thermal scope varies by each product.

If you are looking for a long-range you may want to look at ATN ThOR thermal scopes, such as the ATN ThOR LT which can shoot up to 150 yards. Generally, though, you won’t be able to go above 300 yards. 

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