Why Use Thermal Imaging Scopes

Pit Vipers or Pit Adders are a subfamily of venomous vipers that can be found in Eurasia and the Americas. They have thermoreceptors located between the eye and nostril on both sides of the head. These receptors provide pit vipers with bifocal thermal imagery of their prey, in effect, it enables them to hunt efficiently even in the darkest of night. Humans may not have these built-in thermoreceptors but we can take a leaf from nature’s playbook. This is thanks to Hungarian physicist Kálmán Tihanyi who invented thermal imaging scopes for British anti-aircraft defense following World War I. Now, it is widely used by hunters all over the world for their nocturnal quarries. Numerous components have to be taken into consideration when purchasing your thermal riflescope, such as magnification, sensor resolution, range, durability, etc. We have collected for you the best thermal scope for the money, putting into consideration the benefits and the products’ longevity. But first, let’s have a quick and basic understanding of thermal imaging.


Thermal cameras detect temperature by recognizing and capturing different levels of infrared light. This light is invisible to the naked eye, but can be felt as heat if the intensity is high enough.

7 Best Thermal Scopes For The Money

Everything around us, both living and nonliving things, emit infrared energy as heat. By detecting very subtle temperature differences of everything in view, infrared (or thermal imaging) technology reveals what would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. Even in complete darkness and challenging weather conditions, thermal imaging allows the ability to see the unseen.

1. ATN X-Sight II 5-20x/85mm Smart Day & Night Riflescope 

ATN or American Technologies Network Corporation produces a wide selection of thermal and night vision optical products. This riflescope is not your ordinary scope, it is a “smart” scope, though it may seem pricey but it is definitely a steal of a deal once you’ve come to full terms with its maximum potential. X-Sight II 5-20x/85mm is a high tech sight, powered by none other than Obsidian II Core computer from ATN. Operating at billion cycles per second that produces clear imaging on both day and night. Incorporating the ballistic calculator to this wonderful item which automatically corrects your reticle for the wind based on what the rangefinder on the scope tells you, will pave the way for your accurate shots.

2. Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope

A 985-yard detection range, the Core RXQ30V is packed with a 640x480 AMOLED screen that displays heat signatures in black and white that prevents eye fatigue. With 1.6-6.4 magnification and a 2x/4x digital zoom for clear target identification. Other features include picture in picture digital zoom mode, 10 variable electronic reticles, 3 rifle profiles with 3 zero saves, 1-shot zeroing with free function, white/hot and black/hot viewing modes, rock/forest/identification viewing modes, IRIS technology and increased recognition software. The Core RXQ30V Thermal Rifle Scope runs on 2 CR123A batteries (included). Includes external power adapter, wireless remote, Weaver/Picatinny rail mount, carrying case, and hex wrench.

3. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x 42mm Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope

This is remarkably affordable for a Gen 1 NV scope and for under $500 you can be a proud owner of F16001 NVRS. Built with durable tіtаnіum bоdу weighing almost 2 lbѕ and 9′′ іn lеngth makes it compact, аlthоugh, thіѕ wеіght mіght bе hеаvу fоr ѕоmе huntеrѕ. It compensates though on its соnvеnіеnсе fеаturе, thе quісk dеtасh wеаvеr mоunt that allows уоu tо rеmоvе аnd rеmоunt уоur NVRЅ ѕсоре аt а mоmеnt’ѕ nоtісе іf уоu wаntеd tо ѕwіtсh bасk tо іrоn ѕіghtѕ. In open areas, it can reach out to 75-100 yards with the 805 nm IR activated. It has ІРХ4 rаtіng fоr wеаthеr рrооf рrоtесtіоn and uр tо 20 hоurѕ оf bаttеrу lіfе. If you know your personal hunting abilities and what to expect, this little guy will help see you through the dark.

4. ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope

ThOr HD 384 is powered by Obsidian Core. ATN has upped its game in providing Smart Solutions-- scope-wise. Thermal imaging scopes by ATN are BlueTooth and WiFi capable, enabling you to control your device and live stream feeds from your mobile phone or tablet. Integrated with a smart rangefinder that allows you to range your target in two clicks and a simple shift of your scope.

5. Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Night Vision Monocular

Takes 5mp Photos & 720p Video from 350m distance for night watching or observation. The scope is a handheld digital night vision viewing system that utilizes an infrared-sensitive CMOS sensor. Providing the user a top of the line resolution for a clear image. It uses fully coated optics that increases light transmission and decreases glare. At a rate of 6x, the unit's magnification is not high--but this is a realistic engineering compromise. Higher magnification makes a monocular more difficult to sight and hold an image without trembling, a frustrating issue that rises in subdued light.

6. Armasight by FLIR Zeus 336 3-12×50 (30Hz)

Amongst its class, this thermal imaging scope by Armasight is the lightest and most compact, mainly designed for sporting, law enforcement, and military issues. It can be used on both daytime and night time, which frees you from the hassle of having to remove it from the rifle. Uses two CR123A 3V lithium batteries or CR123 type rechargeable batteries for up to 4 hours of continuous battery life. It also has optional digital video recording capabilities with an SD card slot.

7. Pulsar Trail XQ 

Pulsar Company is a new player when it comes to thermal optics. With their first scope release, the Trail XQ, Pulsar was able to make itself heard in the scopes world. Boasting a high resolution of 640x480 AMOLED display with a maximum of 10.8x magnification and a staggering detection range just shy of 2000 yards, there is no hiding from this scope. It can stream to a smart device using the proprietary Pulsar Stream

Vision app for all the benefits that entail, but it also comes with a remote. This means you can scan with this scope using a smart device and the remote control. It is packed with detection software to help you spot targets in the densest cover.

Overall, thermal scopes can cut through the darkness and take your scouting and hunting to a whole new level. But the best thermal scope is the one with features and performance that complements your hunting abilities and needs. Use your personal skill level as a base prerequisite before purchasing a scope. What works for others might not be effective for you. Self-assessment is vital. Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, let thermal scopes provide you with night sights.

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Andrew Garfield

Andrew is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. He has years of experience in hunting with expert knowledge in hunting tactics, rifle scopes and all types of hunting gear.

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