Nowadays, rifles are not used exclusively for military purposes. Many avid hunters, such as boar hunters, are also using these weapons. To improve the overall experience of using this type of weaponry for hunting, especially during the night, use of the best thermal imaging rifle scope might be necessary. But no matter how cool it sounds, very few gun owners actually have thermal imaging scopes. One of the reasons for this is the assumption that this type of rifle accessory is troublesome to use. Since thermal imaging scopes have only been available for the general consumers in the recent years, their usage is not yet widespread.
However, a thermal imaging rifle scope will be a very useful accessory for your gun. Not only does it improve your performance, it also hones your skills in using your rifle. Also, a thermal imaging scope will help you to quickly spot intruders and trespassers in your home.
What is a thermal imaging rifle scope?
A thermal imaging rifle scope allows you to see your target in the dark. This accessory uses the thermal imaging technology which enables the user to see the ambient heat that any object emits. Usually, these scopes will display the target either as a bright object over a dark background or something fluorescently-colored.
Regardless of the visual setting, the best thermal imaging rifle scopes make hunting at night a lot easier.
Thermal imaging rifle scopes: How Do They Work?
The thermal imagining was originally designed for military and tactical purposes. The military developed this technology to enhance their combat efficiency, especially in dark and challenging terrains.
Most of the objects around us naturally discharge heat. This heat or thermal energy is what a thermal scope detects. Moreover, the best thermal scopes have ways to differentiate the target object from its environment. This application is right, considering that all things are emitting heat.
Most of the best thermal imaging rifle scopes are using the Forward Looking Infrared (FUR) system. This system utilizes infrared in enhancing the heat vision that the scope can see. An FLIR rifle scope gathers any infrared light that it sees. Afterward, an infrared detector analyzes the light that passed through. The final output of this would be a thermogram.
Usually, the best rifle scopes can produce a thermogram within one-thirteenth of a second. Therefore, you will never notice any delay in the visual output of your thermal scope.
The FLIR is useful when it comes to contrasting its target to its ambient surroundings. It can tell you if an object is hiding in the trees or the bushes. It can even locate your target even it is raining hard. Furthermore, the performance of an FLIR does not deter even in the presence external factors.
Two types of Thermal Imaging System
Uncooled thermal imaging – Many of thermal imaging devices use this process. The reason for this is that this kind of thermal imaging system operates under standard temperatures. Therefore, a thermal device with this mechanism is cheap because it doesn’t need any accessories to keep the thermal elements under 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, rifle scopes under this type are quiet.
Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging – Although this type of thermal imaging system has a steep price, it has a lot of advantages. First, it can assess small temperature differentials between the target and its environment. Second, this type of rifle scope is more sensitive than the un-cooled system. However, this kind of thermal imaging is not as reliable as the other system and requires relatively significant amounts of consumables. Perfect for hunting and tactical use, not so much for survival.
How to choose the best thermal imaging rifle scopes
Just like with any other products, there is a set of guidelines which you have to follow if you wish to get a quality thermal rifle scope. Here are some of them:
A thermal imaging rifle scope requires a battery to operate. Usually, lithium batteries are the best power source for these devices. If the thermal scope can last up to 8 hours on a single charge, then that is more than acceptable.
The quality of thermal sights relies on the refresh rate of the thermal scope. The more refreshes your scope can do, the more vivid image will be produced. If you are looking for a thermal imaging scope, always choose those that have refresh rates from 30Hz. With this level of refresh rate, you will always be able to track your target smoothly even if it’s on the move.
After considering the refresh rate, you should pick a thermal rifle scope with a high resolution. The reason is as same as with any graphic software. An image with low resolution tends to pixelate. As a result, your might miss because of the distortions in the image that rendered your target unrecognizable.
There are two types of zoom for a thermal rifle scope to utilize: the optical and digital zoom.
The optical zoom enables you to enlarge the object without pixelization. On the other hand, the digital zoom uses software to magnify your image of the target as such. The only catch here is that if the digital zoom has no backup enhancing software and the matrix is relatively low-res, you can expect lower resolutions as you closing in on your target.
The reticle aids the user to get more precise aims when using a thermal rifle scope. There are many varieties of reticles, from the primary central dot to the standard crosshair. It is up to you to choose what you prefer.
Germanium vs Standard Glass
A quality thermal rifle uses a thermal scope uses Germanium glass over the standard glass. Standard glass is an insulator. Therefore it is poorly suitable for thermal imaging purposes. As an insulator, glass absorbs and distorts the infrared light. The only thing you should consider is that rifle scopes with Germanium are quite expensive.
The price should always be a consideration. For thermal rifle scopes, the price may vary from less than S1,500 to more than $10,000. By these figures alone you can see that these rifle accessories are not cheap at all. However, you should not sacrifice the quality just because you are on a tight budget. If you want to save money, better use a quality regular scope. The more expensive the rifle scope, the more performance and service it can give you, and this is especially true for thermal scopes.
The display of a thermal imaging rifle scope can either be colored or monochrome. Your preferences are the only things that matter when it comes to this display output. The monochrome thermal images are less confusing, the colored ones provide more information.
Best Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes
The ATN Thor 640-5x is one of the best choices you can have for a thermal rifle scope. This scope is one of the newest versions of the scopes made by ATN, a well-known manufacturer of quality thermal scopes and night vision devices. The scope is sturdy, compact but also very lightweight. It uses quality digital imaging for zooming in on targets and objects. It also has a refresh rate of 30Hz, which is considerably fast by modern standards.
This scope comes with an 800×600 pixels OLED color display. You can also adjust the brightness of the visual output using the digital control. It has a lot of innovative features, too, which includes color selection, reticle type, as well as windage and elevation adjustment. Specifically, you can choose five different colors of the reticle: blue, black, white, red, and green. These reticles can also move their position automatically due to the E-Zoom technology of ATN.
Moreover, the ATN Thor 640-5x uses the Vanadium Oxide Microbolometer (Uncooled) system of thermal imaging. Therefore, this rifle scope can operate under standard temperatures and does not require consumables.
The best of all is that this thermal imaging rifle scope can perform up to 8 hours. It doesn’t matter if you are going to hunt all night long, the ATN Thor 640-5x can provide quality visuals regardless!
The Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 thermal rifle scope is an excellent choice for law enforcement personnel, marksmen, and any mid-range hunters. Specifically, this scope is made from CNC aircraft aluminum alloy to ensure its toughness. The quality of this scope makes it as a reliable yet low-cost accessory for any rifle owners.
Among the thermal scopes of Armasight, the Predator has one of the sturdiest constructions. Additionally, this thermal scope doesn’t add too much weight to your rifle when you attach it.
In regards to its thermal imaging system, it utilizes the latest Tau 2 17-micron (un-cooled) FLIR. The utilization of this FLIR is one of the reasons why it is relatively cheaper even with its top quality.
The Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 has a simple user-interface. Even those are not into gadgets will have no trouble learning how to use this scope. It has the LED (VGA 640 x 480) display type. Moreover, it has a pixel array format of 336 x 256. All of these contribute to the quality of visuals this scope can produce.
It also has various color modes and six built-in reticle patterns.
Moreover, the Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 has eight hours of battery life and can be controlled via a wireless remote. Other than that, it has a video recording feature which you can utilize on an onboard monitor.
For tactical purposes and extreme operations, you can rely on the Pulsar Apex XD50A Thermal Riflescope. This thermal imaging rifle scope can detect humans up to distances of 1,400 yard! Furthermore, it has viewing and identification modes perfect for rocky and forest terrains. Also, it uses the IRIS technology to amplify its recognition and detection capabilities.
Its refresh rate is 50Hz, which is more frequent compared to other brands. This feature is additionally complemented with a sharp thermal resolution of 384 x 288 and edgy LCD of 640 x 480 pixels. As a result, you can view your target without blurs, delays, and stops.
The Pulsar Apex XD50A Thermal Riflescope also has a 2-8x optical magnification capacity and 4x digital zoom. There are ten electronic reticles that you can choose for this thermal rifle scope. It has two viewing modes: the hot white and the hot black. If you have a recording with defective pixels, the Pulsar Apex XD50A Thermal Riflescope will be able to mitigate it.
Aside from the default battery, you can also attach an external power supply to it for longer performance.
The Zeus 336 3-12×42 is one of the best products of Armasight. It is a compact and lightweight thermal rifle scope with an easy-to-use interface. It is an excellent choice for tactical operations and hunting enthusiasts for improving their accuracy and detection ability in sight-obscuring terrains.
The Armasight Zeus 336 3-12×42 also uses the Tau 2 VOx microbolometer (uncooled) thermal imaging system. Aside from being an excellent rifle scope, this device can also be used as a handheld thermal imager and a spotting scope. It has a quality imaging that will able you to detect objects even they are obscured by the dust, fog, smoke, haze, snow, or any type weather obstructions. What makes the Armasight Zeus 336 3-12×42 a good choice is that is the hardest to detect. This scope doesn’t emit RF energy or is otherwise visible compared to other night visuals.
This scope also has the temperature adjustment option so that it can be adjusted to changing and sensitive weather conditions. It is waterproof and can be operated wirelessly via a remote when in its standby position. Moreover, it has video recording output that can be viewed on its built-in replay platform.
You can also zoom your target from 1x to 4x without losing the aim due to its electronic zoom and various reticle options.
The best thing is that the Zeus Thermal Imaging Weapons Sight integrates different technologies to improve its accuracy and boresight retention. This feature is unachievable with ordinary ballistic drums or traditional boresight adjusters.
While it is last on the list, the quality Pulsar Quantum HD38S Thermal Imaging Scope should never be underestimated. This thermal scope can help you view targets, either utilizing “white hot” or “black hot” thermal imaging, from distances of up to 1,000 yards.
Aside from tactical purposes, the Pulsar Quantum HD38S Thermal Imaging Scope is also a perfect accessory for hunting, covert operation, reconnaissance, hunting, and even search-and-rescue operations.
This thermal riflescope uses a technology that allows the user to adjust its three calibration modes. This feature allows anyone to balance the visuals of monocular depending on the environment.
The quality of the thermal vision the Pulsar Quantum HD38S Thermal Imaging Scope gives is simply top-notch. It can track heat signatures even amidst fog and snow. The thermal imaging can also penetrate even a daylight smoke. Moreover, it has three brightness modes for different settings: city, forest, and identification.
The Pulsar Quantum HD38S Thermal Imaging Scope uses the Germanium glass just like the other thermal scopes. It has a refresh rate of 30Hz to give you a smooth display even you are observing fast-moving objects.
This scope uses OLED display of 640×480 and a microbolometer sensor (uncooled) of 384×288 pixels. It also has a 2x digital zoom and magnification of 2.1x to 4.2x.