They are principally engineered as weapon scopes. However, a high-performing thermal scope is supposed to function effectively as a handheld thermal imager or as a magnified spotting scope. Experts recommend thermal imaging scopes that have a simple design installed with instinctive features, functions, and controls. The list of product reviews provides you with useful buying information, and tips for future purchases.
The focus of Objective Lens
The focus of the objective lens is an important consideration when shopping for a thermal scope. This is so since the focus affects several metrics, such as field of view and magnification.
You should know that the quality of thermal imaging detection is established by the objective lens focus. Different activities will require dissimilar objective lenses parameters. Usually, the scopes are fitted with several objective lenses that vary concerning the focal distance, such as 50 mm, 38 mm, and 19 mm. This info is reflected in the name of the thermal scope you choose.
Optical / Magnification Power
The effectiveness, as well as magnification of thermal imaging scopes, varies greatly, but you need to go for the ideal magnification power. The limits of your imaging scope are determined by your thermal scope’s optical power. The magnification power required by a deer hunter in the woods differs greatly from the optical power required by a bench rest shooter with a target at a thousand-yard.
There are merits and demerits to both low and high magnifications. With low optical power (4X / 6X) you get better target tracking and faster as well as more spontaneous shooting. On the other hand, higher optical power, including 16X+ offers exceptional target resolution. The main downsides to higher magnification thermal imaging scopes are: larger, very costly, and are challenging to use when assuming unsupported positions.
Research and user opinions alike suggest that thermal scopes suitable for offhand shooting at shorter distances (500 yards) should have magnification equal to or lower than 10X. You are strongly urged to go for scopes with more than 10X magnification if you will be shooting your target from a well-supported position, and be ready to pay more since they do not come cheap.
Refresh Rate & Resolution of the Best Thermal Scope
The refresh rate of a thermal imaging scope determines its quality. A more intense image is produced concerning the number of refreshes your thermal rifle scope can achieve. The higher the frame or refresh rate the smoother the image when tracking a target that is on the move.
The most ideal thermal rifle scopes have a refresh rate of 50 Hz or 60Hz. You should always consider scopes that have a frame rate of 30Hz or higher.
When it comes to resolution, you should go for the higher options. Like most graphic software, a low-resolution image is usually distorted.
Normally, an image with unclear details may result in a missed shot. The target is unrecognizable. Professionally, a resolution of 1024 X 768 is ideal for a rifle-mounted scope. However, the best options that are known to be effective include but are not limited to 384 X 288 and 336 X 256 resolutions.
This is a simple, but very important specification that helps you with target acquisition when using your thermal imaging scope. There are many reticles you can choose from, including the popular center dot to other unique and complex patterns. The three most recommended and used reticles are duplex reticle, mil-dot reticle, and BDC reticle.
Duplex is the most popular reticle, which is defined by a thin midpoint crosshair. The crosshair normally grows thicker away from the midpoint. The duplex reticle is suitable for target shooting and hunting. The mil-dot reticle is an improvement of the duplex, with strong enhancements. You will observe dot spacing at the reticle lines near the midpoint. The mil-dot reticle is highly useful for establishing a target’s range when the size of the target is known.
Bullet drop compensator, which is abbreviated as BDC reticle is an emerging improvement as far as thermal imaging devices are concerned. With this particle reticle, you will not have to make any elevation settings adjustments to accurately shoot a target over wide-ranging target ranges. Generally, BDC reticles are better than a simple duplex.
The battery life is without a doubt an important factor that you can inadvertently overlook. You need a scope with a battery that will last longer. Go for a model that can last at least five hours of use. You do not need a scope that will go off when the hunt has just reached its climax. Remember, you are in the woods, and it will take you probably more than five hours to circle back.
The aforementioned thermal imaging scope specifications are among the few that you cannot do without. However, there are other special specifications that you can check out when buying your product.
Our Reviews: The 3 Best Thermal Rifle Scope for Hunting
- Magnification: 1.25 – 5X
- Resolution: 384 by 288
- Description: ATN 384 THOR HD is a smart thermal imaging rifle scope with a state-of-the-art design. This device is installed with high-quality thermal vision capabilities. It is the best thermal scope for surveillance and hunting. It offers you optical power of 1.25 – 5X and a resolution of 384 by 288. The focal length objective lens of this device is 19 mm. It is equipped with special features, such as a 3D magnetometer, 3D accelerometer, 3D gyroscope, in-built Wi-Fi, and smooth zoom. One of the most advanced features of this scope is video recording. Unlike most scopes you will find on the market, this particle model offers a sharp color reticle each time you put it to use.
- The most cutting-edge thermal imaging scope: It features high-quality thermal vision capabilities, and improved night vision technology convenient for surveillance and hunting.
- Video recording: The scope offers an exceptional color reticle every time you use it. ATN THOR scope is targeting error-free.
- More special features than you would have imagined, including smooth zoom, GPS for elevation & geo-tagging, and Wi-Fi streaming.
- The scope may require re-calibration each time you power it up.
- It is one of the most expensive thermal imaging scopes for a fixed budget.
- Magnification: 1.9X
- Resolution: 384 by 288
- Description: The Pulsar Apex is the best thermal scope for a range of precision shooting activities, including law enforcement, surveillance, security, and hunting. It is installed with the ideal thermal resolution of 384 by 288. The long-drawn-out range of modifications offers continuous digital zoom for long-distance sighting. Apart from the up-to-the-minute resolution, the scope is equipped with the ideal refresh rate of 50 Hz. This refreshing rate offers a consistent as well as a vibrant image of fast-moving targets.
- It offers the best thermal resolution of 384 by 288 for efficient image capturing up to one thousand four hundred yards.
- The unceasing digital zoom offers a comprehensive range of magnification for long-distance detection of a target.
- It is installed with a frame rate of 50 Hz and a crispy LCD, combined they provide you with a stable and clear image of fast-moving targets, especially when hunting.
- Focusing on this scope may be challenging after extended use.
- Magnification: 3x-12x
- Resolution: 336 x 256
- Description: Armasight Zeus is the best thermal scope for military, law enforcement, sporting, and hunting events. According to the design, the scope is made for rifles. However, it is the ideal choice for a handheld imager as well as a magnified spotting scope. It is the kind of scope that you can bring along on a 24/7 mission. Apart from its rigid structure, it is installed with state-of-the-art thermal imaging that picks up an image through haze, fog, smoke, dust, and snow. Generally, Armasight Zeus is equipped with all the special features a rigid thermal imaging scope should have.
- High-performing thermal imaging scope and camera suitable for military, law enforcement, sporting, and hunting.
- Has an improved design that is lightweight, compact, and features a user interface that is easy and intuitive.
- Equipped with digital E-zoom of 4X, 2X, and 1X along with six onboard reticle patterns (no reticle, crosshair, cross, cross-center dot, line dot, and dot 4 MOA) that are digitally controlled for better image detection.
- Installed with numerous special features, which are worth paying for, including water/fog-resistance and rapid start-up.
- The scope may stop performing if not handled with extreme care. It can also shut down and fail to power back on.
Finding the best thermal rifle scope is not as easy. To get the best performance, you have no choice but to choose a device that is equipped with all the necessary features a good scope must-have.
The resolution has to be generous, and the optical power must be sufficient. Always keep in mind that a lower magnification and a smaller objective lens will restrict target acquisition and shooting to shorter distances. The choice you make must factor in all your aiming and shooting requirements.