8 Of The Best Thermal Scope Reviews – Pick the Right for the Money

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Thermal Scope Reviews

When you’re looking for your best thermal scope, you should pay close attention to two factors: compact and lightweight.

This can be an essential part of your hunting/shooting gear, so you need to find one that functions extremely well as a spotting scope with magnification and as a thermal imaging device.

It’s possible to find a scope with a basic design that still delivers all the function and control you need in the field.

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Top 3 Best Thermal Scopes (Summary)


Image Product Details  
ATN ThOR-HD 384 1.25-5x, 384x288, 19 mm, Thermal Rifle Scope w/ High Res Video, WiFi, GPS, Image Best for Hunting and SurveillanceATN Thor HD 384
  • Optical power ranging from 1.25x to 5x
  • Magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
Trijicon Teo Snipe-IR Thermal CL Teo IRCO-35 Snipe-IR Thermal CL Most CompactTrijicon Teo
  • Battery life of up to 4 hours
  • Good magnification for focusing on far distances
  • Lightweight
Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope, Black LightestFirefield NVRS
  • Durable titanium alloy
  • Adjustable reticle brightness
  • IR illuminator

For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.

One of the key elements to look for, maybe the most important function, is the focus performance of the objective lens. With the right lens you will have suitable field of view and sufficient magnification. It’s as simple as this: The quality of thermal-imaging equipment depends on the objective-lens focus. Scopes may have various objective lenses that control the focal distance. This means the name of the scope and the advertising information should include such numbers as 50mm, 38mm and so on, depending on the type of scope you’re buying.

Try to find the best magnification power in the optics, so the scope works for the specific conditions in which you hunt or shoot. If you’re a deer hunter working in the woods, you’ll need a different power than you will if you’re target shooting in the open at 1,000 yards! In general terms, you might be better with lower power (4x or 6x) for better target tracking, when you have to shoot quickly. Higher power scopes may provide better resolution when viewing the target, but the scope will be larger and will usually cost more. Experienced shooters and hunters feel 10x is a comfortable break point.

These reviews will look at the best thermal scopes for hunting. As you read the reviews, be sure to focus on the details that fit your situation best. While each product has its enthusiastic fans, you’ll probably find that any of these quality scopes will work well in the field.

8 Best Thermal Scope Reviews

1. ATN Thor HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope...

The ATN Thor HD 384 offers optical power ranging from 1.25x to 5x, with 384 by 288 resolution. The focal length is 19mm.

This is certainly a state-of-the-art product, which is probably why it’s marketed as “Smart.” You get a magnetometer, accelerometer, gyroscope (all 3D), built-in Wi-Fi, and zoom. You can also save video recordings with the ATN Thor.

Some of the features that stand out are excellent thermal detection, sharp color reticle, smooth zoom operation, GPS (elevation), geo-tagging, and Wi-Fi. You may have to make some calibration adjustments when you power up, but the performance will probably be worth it.

ATN ThOR-HD 384 1.25-5x, 384x288, 19 mm, Thermal Rifle Scope w/ High Res Video, WiFi, GPS, Image

AA battery life seems to be outstanding with this scope. You’ll also find this product to be light and manageable, which is excellent for the benefits you get.

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2. Trijicon Teo...

Trijicon Teo Thermal Scope has a thermal sensor of 640 x 480. Weighing just 4.47 pounds, it is lightweight enough to be transported from one place to another easily.

Boasting a sleek digital focus enhancement and digital focus contrast, this item will enable to see long distances in great detail. It also features a stick system controller that makes it easy to operate.

With optical magnification of 2.5x and digital magnification of 20x, you’ll be able to see as far as 300 yards in complete darkness. The black and white display offer lifelike images that will enhance your hunting experience.

This device has dimensions of 6.5 x 3.0 x 2.95 inches, which make it compact and easy to store. It comes with 2 batteries that offer an operation time of up to 4 hours.

Trijicon Teo Snipe-IR Thermal CL Teo IRCO-35 Snipe-IR Thermal CL

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  • Lightweight and compact
  • Good magnification and other features for focusing on far distances
  • Battery life of up to 4 hours


  • Device system might be subject to lag

3. Firefield Nvrs...

Firefield Thermal Scope features a 42mm lens and a magnification of up to 3x, making it a cheap device that offers strong light gathering abilities and a clear display of long range objects.

Weighing two pounds, it is a very lightweight option. The body of this device is made of highly durable titanium alloy which makes it waterproof and weather resistant.

It features a high-power IR illuminator that improves the image quality of targets in low light conditions. The quick-detach mounting system makes it easy to switch optics or sights without losing quality.

This device has a red duplex reticle that features incremental bright adjustment which allows you to quickly adjust to your environment in low lighting conditions.

Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope, Black

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  • Made of durable titanium alloy
  • Features an adjustable reticle brightness for better acclimation
  • Has an IR illuminator


  • Mounting system might be defective

4. Leupold LTO Tracker 2...

With Leupold LTO Tracker 2 Thermal Scope you will be able to see clearly in the dark, track games, assist in search and rescue missions and other situations requiring a heat source. It features a beacon mode that makes recalibration of the onscreen color to a cool grey for better vision in warmer environments.

Make sure to hit the beacon mode as you adjust to changing temperature and terrain. This way you will get the best out of the thermal readings.

Considering the structure, it’s enclosed in a full aluminium casing of about 5.5 inches in length and 7 ounces in weight. Also, it is tested to be fully water proof, withstands extreme weather conditions and amplifies identification of objects at long distance.

The compact design makes it easy to carry around and the screen brightness is adjustable for quiet or dark places. The gorilla glass full circle saves the screen from impacts and scratches. In addition, its six color palettes allow you to choose the appropriate color setting that suits your surroundings.

Leupold LTO Tracker 2 HD Thermal Viewer

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  • 100% waterproof and resistant to harsh weather condition
  • Has a lightweight aluminium casing
  • Amplifies objects from long distance


  • Screen isn’t of that high quality

5. The opticGuru Thor LT...

The opticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scope is designed to let you focus with as little effort as possible. With the help of this scope, thermal vision is as easy as breathing.

Body heat from animals can be detected even through plants and fogs. The highly defined heat detector sensors ensure that you see in complete darkness through heavy shrubbery, plants, trees and a heavy fog.

The 30mm tubular scope is made from hard aluminium alloy and resistant to recoil from higher grade weapons. Performance is top notch with low power usage and the internal Li-Ion battery lasts for more than 10 hours ensuring that it can be used for a long period of time.

It is lighter than other average scopes and thus easy to carry around and the rifle is well balanced. It is ideal for hunting particularly at night.

theOpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Rifle Scope w/10+hrs Battery & Ultra-Low Power Consumption (160x120,

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  • Long lasting battery life
  • Easy to use and has an excellent night vision
  • Quite affordable
  • Does not require the use of visible light to get a sharp image


  • Does not have a scope mount
  • Long range use is a bit tricky

6. Pulsar Trail XQ50...

When it comes to optics for law enforcement, hunting and personal protection, Pulsar Trail XQ50 is one of the best on the market. The thermal scope is made for long distance thermal imaging, precise placement delivery and measurement of heat signatures from a distance of almost 2,000 yards.

It has a lot of cool color palettes and the most interesting ones include the white hot and black hot. The reticle is a 13 digital reticle and the 50Hz refresh rate lands you fluid imaging and makes customized thermal mapping.

This product has a battery life of about 8 hours and the battery is rechargeable. Also, it is water, dust and fog resistant device that functions smoothly under severe environmental condition such as a temperature of -13 to 122 F.

The unit has easy to use and user-friendly interface with its buttons located at places that are easy to access. Its high-resolution sensor and AMOLED display that are resistant to frost give clear thermal images unparalleled by other similar scopes.

Pulsar Trail XQ38 2.1-8.4x32 Thermal Riflescope

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  • Can be used to see clearly at long distance
  • Has a user-friendly interface
  • Features several accessories


  • A bit expensive

7. FLIR Scout...

FLIR scout is a thermal scope for outdoor use especially at night and in surroundings with poor lighting. This monocular enables you to see people, wildlife and other things that are about 100 yards from you making it perfect for exploring nature.

What makes it unique is it easy to operate and still image and video recording features. It weighs next to nothing making it easy to hold in one hand and can detect heat signatures in complete darkness whether you are in the corner of your home or in the country side.

As of the design, the outer casing is weather resistant, rugged and can withstand almost any condition. Also, it has a user-friendly interface with four simple buttons and there are options to choose among the nine video palettes it offers.

It has a rechargeable battery that can be charges for about five hours. The on-screen menu is easy to navigate and quite responsive. In addition, the color schemes are responsive to change and can be scrolled through for the best possible images.

FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular Green, 6.0' x2'x 2' (L × W × H)

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  • Eye pieces makes provision for eye glass wearers and there is no difference
  • Has a rechargeable battery
  • Weight is very light


  • Field of view is a bit narrow

8. Leupold LTO Quest...

Leupold LTO quest is designed for seeing into the woods and the surrounding areas.

This is possible thanks to its ability to view objects up to a distance of 50 feet and even small things such as a bumble bee and tracks left in the forest by deers.

What makes it stand out is its great use in searching for people lost in the woods at night as long as the battery is well charged. It does this thanks to its outstanding 300 lumen flashlight with a high, low and strobe settings.

It has eight filter options and the thermal imagery is quite nice with a good detection range. The battery life has a runtime of four hours and comes with a USB charger, which can easily be charged with an adaptor.

Leupold LTO Quest Thermal Viewer, Quest (173096)

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  • Sensitive and has a good detection range
  • Setting is easy to adjust
  • Outstanding lumen flashlight


  • Does not have a user manual

Other Details

Three additional details you should consider when choosing the best thermal scope are refresh rate, reticle and battery life. The quality of a thermal scope is determined, in large part, by the refresh rate. A higher rate means a smoother image when tracking the target. Most veterans suggest buying a scope with a refresh rate above 30Hz. You also want to get a scope with excellent resolution, so you get the target details you need.

Reticles generally come in three categories: duplex, mil-dot, and BDC. Duplex seems to be very popular, with a midpoint crosshair that is thin at the center but widens away from the midpoint. The mil-dot reticle is considered an improvement on this basic design because it can help determine target range. BDC stands for bullet-drop compensator. This technology allows you to shoot more accurately over various ranges without making elevation adjustments.

Battery life is just what the name implies. Don’t overlook this function when purchasing your best thermal scope. Five hours should be a minimum for the best thermal scope, under normal circumstances.

In the recent past, the technology behind hunting and shooting equipment keeps changing, we are constantly eager to know the very best night vision scope to use on our rifle.

In the past 3 decades, the world has witnessed some giant strides in night rifle scope technology and it is now available in the mainstream market.

Thermal sight equipment can now be bought easily by the average shooter, even with better design features than they were before now. 

If you are considering buying a personal night scope, either for hunting or as an add-on to your rifle, thermal scopes make for the best option you can reasonably explore.

A lot of hunters are beginning to opt for thermal imaging equipment to have an edge in their game they love to participate in. 

Most game animals are nocturnal, if the hunter has no means of enhancing his sights at such times of reduced illumination, he or she might likely not get anything for his labor while hunting at night. 

Thermal scope equally assists hunters in gunning down wild hogs, which are fast becoming a nuisance. These hogs are very cryptic and so, hunting in the dark increases the chances of getting close to the range of the game.

Installing a tactical gun with a magnifying scope for 308 rifles equally gives you an edge. Be it that you are looking at a break from the conventions, you want your rifle to have some military look or you work with the armed forces and you will like to have an edge against your possible enemies while it’s dark, you will get so many alternatives on the thermal scopes that will best satisfy your needs. 

Tactical scopes are usually limited relative to sporting add-ons in terms of heaviness, size, batteries as everything gets to be a very vital point to reflect on when you are faced with a choice of selecting between two alternatives.

Most certainly, the budget is something to consider when you are considering any variant of night sight or thermal scopes. 

As a result of the sophisticated technology necessary to drive this equipment, there is a need for a better budget than most conventional rifle optics. Even as you can choose to invest huge sums of money on your thermal imaging purchase, you can always get a budget-friendly alternative anytime you need it.

Ensure you to the necessary findings, because if you go to the field with a lousy scope, you will end up sacrificing some features on the altar of cutting down costs.

Be it that you are making use of your thermal scope for sporting or for expert purposes, here is a guide for you because it can be challenging for those who do not know much. 

Although it is true that thermal scopes are more cryptic than the conventional rifle optical add-ons, the makers are usually more concerned with selling their brands, and as such, there is a myriad of information that can assist you to choose a quality spotting scope which will perfectly match your needs.

What is a Thermal Scope

What is a Thermal Scope

Almost everyone knows that thermal scopes are widely employed when it comes to managing apartments and such instances, however, thermal scopes are equally made use of in hunting games for better visibility. 

To some persons, thermal optics and night optics basically come with no difference, while a few others who are informed understand that theirs is a difference, but they cannot tell exactly what the difference is.

Thermal sight scope for guns for quite some time now has proven to be effective in usage especially in the military and tactical instances, and the scopes have equally proved to be of great benefit to hunters, especially when gunning down boars.

The thermal sighting gun scope is essentially a sighting aid that is made up of a compact heat-producing camera and well as an aiming device. 

This kind of scope can be coupled to a number of small firearms and even on much bigger rifles. 

Such premium crossbow scope has been in use for long among the armed forces and in tactical cases because of their potencies. Thermal scopes make for a very handy companion to the hunters. They aid clear visibility for hunters to easily sight their target when darkness sets in.

Maybe you are considering ways to enhance your hunting skills and simplify your process of hunting down games, a very powerful thermal sighting gun scope is what you must have.

The best thermal scope ought to ease your search for animals and birds roaming about while you are hunting. Such scopes should be able to work perfectly well regardless of the weather situation even when other optical add-ons have fine dysfunctional. And it is quite essential to get the ideal riflescope for your particular needs.

Aside from military uses, thermal sighting gun scopes can equally be used by the armed forces and as well for hunting games. A lot of people who are opting for thermal scopes these days are expert hunters. The particular one you purchased is a function of what you want to use it for.

Benefits of Using Thermal Scopes

As a smart hunter, you must always be on8 the lookout for ways to take advantage of everything. Then, you will notice that the thermal scope that can bring a red dot sight when hunting has a lot of benefits for you. 

You can basically hunt down deer, wild hogs and other games. Looking for ways to make use of your thermal scopes will not be difficult thereafter. More specifically, here are the benefits of using a thermal scope.

Better Tracking of Wild Deer

Better tracking of wild deer using thermal scope

The thermal scope becomes a very necessary add-on to your rifle if you are on the trail of a deer. Peradventure you have ever attempted shooting a deer when it is dark, you will understand how difficult a task that can be. 

If you can go to the market with adequate information, you will certainly buy a thermal scope that can save you time hunting deer. Of course, you ought to get on the trail for the game as usual, however, using the thermal scope will give you the edge of checking through the broad idea of where the deer scurried to and you really be amazed at how easy your tracking gets.

There are friends who will even invite you down to help them trail their deer, just because of the scope you have on your rifle.

Spot Turkeys That are Roosting With Ease

Spot turkeys with ease using thermal scopes

Yet another thing that most people do with their sight for bows is hunting for turkeys. Nothing is more thrilling than to watch a huge bird strut and nothing can be more frustrating than the pains of not sighting any game at all.

 If you have an idea of the common grounds where turkeys do roost, then using a thermal scope can get you that precise shot you need to feel the turkey. You can go into the bush before nightfall these days for a catch. 

You can skim through the rooftops to check if you can find any turkey perching quietly. Agreed, turkeys are somehow quite cryptic and challenging to figure out as it’s only the head which shows a markedly different heat profile and in the springs, the trees can shield them with some cover. 

Although the thermal scope can offer the possibilities of sighting the turkeys. This is yet another thing that gives the hunter using a scope of an edge that should be fully leveraged on. Sighting birds is one thing in turkey hunting and making use of a thermal scope will certainly aid this task.

Sighting Hogs and Coyotes from Afar

Thermal Scope Benefits - Sighting Hogs and Coyotes from Afar

More often than not, most people use their high-quality, compact binoculars for coyote and hog hunting during the dark hours. Rifles are mounted on tripods and the thermal scope is used to scan and spot the games. 

As soon as the hunter sight the coyote or hog, the scope is reached for. If you lack a thermal scope, you will easily note that it is an important time-saver you lack as you don’t need to be stocked while bending over circles that are in the scope. Similarly, the thermal scope makes scanning easy. 

If you are attempting to spin circles using the gun only, you’ll be directing the gun in every way and this brings it close to the hunter, which is something quite bad. As the scope isn’t coupled to a gun, it is the easiest means of finding out a game.

Spot Rabbits With Ease

Spotting rabbits with using using a good thermal scope

Again, rabbit hunters, you can put your gear into a hunting backpack and get a good thermal scope and hunt down your favorite game – rabbits. I understand that everything is about dogs, but then, there are some cases that demand that you use a thermal scope. 

For instance, when rabbits are hidden along with the patch of brush, in the grasses and on hunting fields for coyotes and hogs. You can also leverage the high-quality thermal scope to send your dogs to the right direction.


Using thermal scope as a surveillance is it's biggest advantage

One big advantage of having a thermal scope is the ability to use it for surveillance anytime it is necessary to do that. 

For instance, if a fleet of cars is parked close to a house, you can tell the longest of the cars and the ones that are recently parked. This is because the longest ones will be much cooler while the ones recently parked will be much hotter.

In cases of marauders or unwanted trespassers invading your house while it is dark, you can easily detect them using a thermal scope. 

The hide-and-seek game is quite reduced with the use of thermal scopes. It is only the windows that can reduce the efficiency of thermal scope. Similarly, the thermal scope cannot work through a glass obstacle. 

Aside from this, the thermal scope can see obstacles even during the night or spot any watershed you love to have.

Home and Mechanical Checking of Home Security

In these reviews of top-rated crossbows, we hold that if you happen to be a home inspector or a curious person who wants to know the vent where hot or cool air is leaving a house, a good thermal scope is good for this purpose.

What do you think of an HVAC system that was wrongly fitted or a leaking pipe? A high-quality thermal scope is a very handy tool in this regard. Similarly, one can easily detect the hottest or coldest region of the machine which could be getting hit. Anywhere temperature is important, a thermal scope is very useful as a tool.

How Does a Thermal Scope Work

Service check of gas furnace with thermal camera

Have you ever wondered what the technique behind thermal scope is? In the beginning, when the thermal scope was built for the armed forces, those who use thermal scope could see what was initially invisible. 

Generally, every animal will radiate some infrared rays in the form of heat as an everyday physiological and metabolic activity; that heat energy is what the user of such thermal scope sees when making use of the thermal scope. Similarly, users can as well make use of night vision goggles for hunting and get a good result as well.

As most of the objects we find around us that are organic do radiate heat energy one way or the other, most of the thermal scopes will detect the variations in the heat level that exist between the game and the immediate surrounding.

There are Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors which are a special variant of infrared thermal sensors which is used by a lot of rifle scope to detect infrared rays. A lens present inside the scope detects all the incident infrared rays; the light beam is thereafter checked by an infrared sensor element inside the array, and the elements provide a thermogram. 

The heat-graph, called thermogram is produced on the scope almost immediately such that it looks like it is happening in real-time. Such a thermogram is thereafter refined and sent to the eyepiece for the viewer to see through the scope.  

The images sent can be useful in detecting where precisely a target is, whether it is hiding inside a bush or it is crouching on the ground to avoid rainfall. Most of the external factors like weather or poor lighting will not reduce how dependable such imaging types can be.

If you use an arrow and bow to hunt instead, you can let the arrow sit in the arrow rest while you prepare to fire your launches.

Pros and Cons of Using Thermal Scopes

Close-up view of Infrared industrial camera

Pros of Using Thermal Scopes

It is cheap to buy and you can set several zeros for varying distances, loads or rifles. Besides, most thermal scopes come with a 7 preloaded reticle system and allow you to document videos and photos captured during your hunting session.

Again most thermal scopes are water-resistant and use a full High-Definition display. The hours of usage is continuous because it has a detachable battery pack and a recoil-resistant mechanism. 

It is equally fog-proof and dust-proof with the ability to zoom in on the game sighted. Thermal scopes are usually fairly durable and loaded with so many user-defined imaging facilities. The display of the scope is illuminated and very lucid.

Cons of Using the Thermal Scope

Sometimes thermal scopes can be heavy and even add to the rifle weight especially when you take a rechargeable flashlight alongside while hunting. Some thermal scopes can be very difficult to operate and it can freeze especially during cold winters. The battery life of some thermal scope is rather limited and the night-vision span is rather limited relative to other types.

Types of Thermal Imaging Systems

Types of Thermal Imaging Systems

When we talk of thermal imaging systems, there are basically two systems we have on the market today, the near-zero cooled and uncooled ones. This is the mechanism behind their operation to give vivid thermal imaging:

Uncooled Thermal Imaging

Most thermal imaging facilities make use of the un-cooled thermal imaging system. The rifle to be used might Amos have some add-ons such that you can always hang it on your shoulder strap

The wafers or boards that sense infrared rays work at optimum temperatures; and consequently, there is no need for extra materials to maintain the major thermal elements under 32°F. 

Because additional facilities aren’t required the system is quite noiseless and this is a kind of advantage to the users. Such class of sights offer incredible temperature-varying details but are not as sensitive as other classes.

The Cryogenically Cooled Thermal Imaging System

The cryogenically cooled thermal imaging seems to be more costly than the former type. It makes use of in-built elements that are confined and cooled-down to sub-zero temperatures. Such a class of thermal imaging devices might feature a sight hum that is not really visible when looking at the entire set-up from afar. 

Regardless of the extra cost, the system offers an incredible benefit because they have improved the sensitivity when juxtaposed alongside un-cooled thermal imaging types.

Such best night vision scope can detect low-temperature variations from a distance in excess of 1000 feet distance from the object. 

However, a turn-off with cooked thermal imaging is that it is not as sturdy as the un-cooled thermal imaging systems despite the additional components added to it for cooling.

In most instances, a lot of thermal imaging scopes being produced are the un-cooled types. The cooled thermal scopes usually capture a broader temperature range and useful in most civilian instances, but then, because they are usually expensive, their usage is majorly restricted to a thermal image in professional cameras.

Types of Thermal Scopes

As far as rifle thermal scopes are concerned, there are basically two mainstream classes of scope system you can use to maximize the thermal image technology while on the field for hunting or surveillance next time. These two classes are the clip-on and the standard types.


Shoulder portrait of an army elite troop wearing a helmet armed with a rifle equipped an optical scope

The clip-on sights make use of a thermal image maker that can be coupled using rails to the scope. It is very good when used together with a magnifying scope for 308 rifles

They work perfectly fine, and most of the scopes in this class can be used singly but they usually feature a moderately-reduced zoom feature, as such, it is best to use them alongside another scope. 

As your standard scope can be seen via the screen of the thermal imaging scope at very magnified levels, we can reasonably expect some inconsistencies in the resolution of the thermal imaging obtained.


Standard thermal scope hanging on a necklace type strap

This is the variant of thermal scopes that make use of in-built thermal imaging detectors. The images made by this class generates immense heat details by leveraging on multiple colors, or it can display the thermogram image in a single-image output. Thus basically is a function of the maker as well as the parts of the imaging system.

Thermal Imaging vs Night Vision

When you’re looking for a scope that will perform in low-light conditions, you have choices. You can use a thermal-imaging device or a night-vision device. First, you should understand a bit about how your eyes work at night.

Thermal Imaging vs. Night Vision

The human eye has rods and cones at the back, both of which are sensitive to light. But, they work differently. Rods help you see in dim light but don’t allow you to see color. Cones deliver color but don’t work as well in low light. A night-vision scope will deliver more detail but the color will be missing, because it intensifies the available light. This equipment works if there is some light for it to intensify.

Thermal equipment measures the difference between the heat of an object and the amount of heat in the surrounding area. Thermal-imaging cameras and scopes can detect very small temperature differences, but you’ll see the image in shades of grey.

With this basic difference in mind, consider the conditions in which you hunt or shoot most of the time. Night-vision technology has limitations similar to those of the naked eye. If there isn’t enough light available for the night-vision scope to work with, it doesn’t “see” well. In fact, this technology doesn’t work well if there’s too much light either. Twilight hours can be difficult with night-vision technology.

On the other hand, thermal scopes and cameras aren’t affected as much by the light visible to your eye. They depend solely on the heat given off by a target and the temperature of surrounding air, trees and so on. If there is a temperature difference, the best thermal scope will deliver a good image, regardless of the amount of light.

What Makes the Best Thermal Scope

Close up view of a scope mounted on a rifle

When you decide to make use of a thermal scope for hunting in low light, you’ll need to know which one will work best for your purposes. You can begin your search by following some of the suggestions about features and functions already mentioned. Look for a scope that delivers excellent focus from its lens. This determines what you see, so you should find one that gives you the best “picture” of the target area.

It’s also important to consider how far you’re going to be from your target, on an average basis. This will help you determine the magnification you should be looking for. As mentioned, you may want a higher-powered scope but you’ll have to carry a larger piece of equipment. You’ll track your targets more quickly with a scope of around 4x or 6x power.

If you’re going to shoot at a target several hundred yards away, you’ll need more magnification. You can also try to find a quality scope with variable magnification. Once you’ve narrowed your search based on this information, you may want to start looking at prices for scopes with similar functions and performance. As mentioned from the beginning, you will also need to look for a scope that is compact in design and lightweight, so you don’t carry any more weight than necessary.

How to Choose the Best Thermal Scope

If you want to choose a quality spotting scope, you must understand that the best of thermal scopes are not cheap or not-so-costly ones. The technology behind them is not as much old when compared to the night-vision scope and this offers a possible explanation as to why it is still costly relative to the night-vision scopes.

Nevertheless, thermal scopes capture a broad range of temperature and can capture a wide spectrum of targets since it senses heat to do this. 

While it is true that thermal scopes can be used in spotting targets both during the day and at night, it works best at night because of the marked variation between the temperature of the outdoor environment and that of the target.

Good thermal scopes can detect even the slightest temperature variations and it’s capabilities to achieve this is a function of how sensitive the thermal sensor is. 

You will equally need to look at how the display resolution will have an effect on the quality of the image. Again, regardless of the fact that high-power scopes can broaden your range, pixel resolution usually reduces as the magnifying power of the lens gets increased.

Here are some things to consider while going for the best of thermal scopes or even a premium crossbow scope.

Magnification and Sensor Resolution

Different scopes with different magnification and sensor resolutions

As opposed to the conventional night-vision viewing devices, the thermal scope captures a broader range of temperature and this can be as much as 1000 yards longer than the scopes on some of the other night vision types. 

Although this might be unnecessary a consideration for the majority of the hunters it is important that you critically examine the range you would love to hunt and go for a magnification that perfectly suits you. 

The majority of the scope functions best at 15 times magnifying power. You can also get a cheap scope with a magnifying power of 5 times.

The sensor resolution of your rifle thermal scope provides the pathway through which you can get a neat, sharp and clear image. As such, it is expedient that you look at the resolution rating if your scope before buying it. 

If the pixilation is too high, the vertices of the target will be wobbled. The implication is that the target will appear blurry to you. It is even possible that some vital elements are omitted.

The necessary thing here is an incredibly-great resolution that perfectly fits on the gun’s scope and will not break the bank. You can as well attach other add-ons which will bring a red dot sight when hunting, making it easier to spot prey.

Sensor Resolution

A man looking through a monocular thermal scope

The sensor resolution appears to be yet another important consideration when choosing the best thermal scope. This is even more important than the scope’s magnification. Look at this like the camera resolution present on a digital camera. 

Although the magnifying power of the thermal scopes is not in the order of megapixels and good enough, you don’t even need this. The only thing you will see is a patch of color which isn’t as detailed and you needn’t bother yourself about this. The shape is all that matters here.

With this in mind, if you happen to be a skilled hunter, you will certainly want the accuracy of your shots more than any other thing. In order to secure this, you must be able to differentiate the various parts of an animal that can possibly have and scope with high sensory resolution can achieve this. 

The fair expectation from an average to high-quality thermal scope should have a resolution in the order of 640×480 screen resolution. Anything less than a 320×240 resolution will not achieve what you the precision you need from your scope.


Thermal scope mounted on a long range rifle with bullets on the left side

The range of your thermal scope and even sight for bows is somehow linked to the magnifying power of the scope, although it should be distinctly spelled out. 

How sensitive the heat sensor has a telling effect on the distance from which it can detect heat radiation. You need a scope that can see ahead farther than what you set to hunt with initially, just in case. 

Thus, you can easily hunt games that are hundreds of yards away and carefully wait while your target draws near for you to fire a carefully-targeted shot.

Certain rifle scopes have the range in excess of 1000 yards, however, you can reasonably expect to see a normal scope that can sight in the order of 300 to 500 yards range. 

Whichever of the two will be ideal for the majority of the hunters. It is not even safe for you to shoot beyond a few hundred-meter yards at night for as a safe practice.


Thermal Scope Durability

The entire resilience or sturdiness of all outdoor gadgets should always be a thing to consider. This is because it will need to battle with dust particles, rainfall, fog or time-to-time rough-handling and every other damaging effect of weather elements. 

Choosing the best thermal scope and high-quality, compact binoculars which is very durable is one big thing to consider. If the scope comes with a warranty, it is a symbol of durability and most thermal scope usually has this.

A thermal sighting scope is a specially-crafted and highly-sensitive piece of gadget. In most cases, it will be necessary to treat them with a measure of care. 

Most probably, you will not be able to have a thermal scope you can rough-handle like a Dane gun, but at least you can buy a scope that can still function well even in terrible weather conditions. Be careful of choosing the lousy and cheap thermal scopes and the possibilities of packing up with time. It is important that you don’t end up wasting your money on cheap and low-quality scopes.


Thermal scope mounted on a rifle with extras and add-ons

Because thermal scopes are a bunch of advanced-technology pieces, the implication is that there are quite a number of extras and add-ons that can be loaded into the thermal scope. 

It could range from something as simple as a replaceable reticle to something more tangible like the video recording.

 Each brand comes with its own unique niche and there are some with sophisticated alternatives. You can even use a backpack and put your gear into a hunting backpack.

 There are thermal scopes that have rangefinders, a meter to gauge the rifle inclination and the Geographic Positioning System. These days, one can easily find a thermal scope that has BlueTooth or WiFi that can assist you in a recording.

A few of the extras are merely added to help in attracting customers to their brands, however, some of them are real and genuine features.

Although you might not be so thrilled with this feature, a good thermal scope that has WiFiwhich can broadcast straight-up to your smartphone can be something you will love to have.

Consider each scope differently and never ignore the general quality of the thermal scope for the add-ons. Extras will increase the cost of your thermal scope, so don’t be caught unawares.

If you read through the reviews of top-rated crossbows, you’ll notice that some of the more sophisticated scopes can even come with a ballistic-paired technology with a compatible application. 

This ensures that sight in is quickly completed by analyzing the bullet drop with respect to the caliber and load. Furthermore, the application can equally live stream audio, video, and in fact, get some controls on the scope. This is a highly-powerful feature you don’t want to miss out on.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which the thermal scope refreshes contribute so much to thermal imaging. Majority of the thermogram scopes available for purchases featuring a refresh rate that could be some 30Hz to 60Hz per second. 

This stands for the frequency of the image getting refreshed in the order of cycle per second. A thermal scope image that gets refreshed time-to-time looks more real just like a real-life image. As such, it is highly essential that you select a refresh rate that is higher than 30Hz. This will guarantee you a very lucid and clear image even when capturing a moving target.

Battery Life

Detached battery from a thermal scope

Yet another important thing to look at when going for the best thermal scope is the battery life of such a scope.

 Even if you will use night vision goggles for hunting, you will still need a thermal scope with a very long battery life. As with the majority of 21st century devices, your thermal scope will need a power source to come up. 

As such, aside from the fact that you will need an arrow rest and let the arrow sit in the arrow rest, you’ll need a long-lasting battery.

There are scopes with batteries that can go for 5 hours without a break at all and there are some whose battery can last for longer hours. 

This is equally a function of the type of batteries the particular scope is using. It is essential to get a scope whose battery life is relatively long, especially if you wish to spend more time in your hunting expedition.

Reticle Option

Reticle option as an extra add-on to thermal scopes

With the aid of a reticle in the thermal scope, the rifle owner can target the objects they are sighting with much precision and accuracy. 

Some thermal scope has a very thin and fine-tuned reticle while other scopes do have reticle with very thick lines. Some thermal scopes have a wide array of reticles from which one can choose. 

Others have none. It is highly essential to make some findings on the scope and be certain of how well it can aim targets before investing capital on it. It might be necessary to take a rechargeable flashlight along when going for hunting to complement the reticle and improve the efficiency of the scope generally.


There is no uniform price tag on thermal rifle scopes as it varies with different brands, from the cheap brands to the very costly ones. A very-costly thermal scope can cost you some $19,000 but you can still get some that will be as cheap as below $500. 

Your choice is a function of how much you wish to commit to the purchase of the scope. The more-costly scopes have greater capabilities than the relatively cheaper versions. Although, you can get a very cheap version that can be highly effective.

Size and Weight

When you are looking at the highly-incredible advanced technology incorporated into the making of thermal scopes, you can be so carried away that you will not even remember that you still need to hang it on your shoulder strap and move around with it while on the field. A very lightweight scope, around 1 to 1.5 pounds, will certainly be more compact and easy to drag through the jungle and more easy to stay on the target when shooting extemporaneously.

On the contrary, heavy scopes that weigh around 2 pounds are more durable and come with more features incorporated into them, as such, it is necessary that you examine what is necessary as a shooter and how precisely you wish to use the scope.

Peradventure you are considering buying a thermal scope to equip the armed forces team, it is very likely that you will not be taking your rifle on a long hour journey, so you might not mind taking a heavy scope along. 

However, for a rabbit, goose or coyote hunter walking some meters through the jungle, the lightweight scope is absolutely necessary.

Detection and Recognition Ranges

Thermal scopes can cover more than 1000 yards of detection range for objects aimed through the scope. The best night vision scope will give you this incredible recognition range, although the distance you can distinctly see your object is very much less than 1000 yards.

The range a particular thermal scope can cover will vary across different models, manufacturers, and quality of the thermal scope. 

The best night vision scope sensor should be given prime consideration you wish to look into. Although high magnification can help you to sight a target that is miles ahead, the pixel rating of the scope reduces as the magnification gets increased. How good the sight image will be is also a function of the pixel resolution of the thermal scope.

Thermal Scope Detection and Recognition Ranges

Additional Features

The number of extra features you can attach to your thermal scope is almost limitless and these additional features ease the process of targeting and shooting down your targets. 

There are range finders that work with laser beams, GPS systems, recording sets, geographic compass as well as gyroscope which can increase your accuracy as a marksman. The one thing about it is that these additional features will cost you some extra cash.

If you don’t plan using your thermal scope to fire shots for a distance longer than 200 yards, it isn’t very necessary that you get a laser beam range detector or a gyroscope for example. When choosing your magnifying scope for 308 rifles, you need to consider very critically, how sophisticated you wish to have your thermal scope look.

Thermal Scope vs Similar Devices

Thermal Scope vs Night Vision Scope

A comparison image of thermal scope vs night vision

Although the night vision scope might not be as costly ad the thermal scope and might even look like the thermal scope but there are some advantages that the thermal scope has over the night vision scope. 

For instance, the thermal scope works perfectly fine regardless of the surrounding light such that whether it is daylight, moonlight or totally dark night, it will still work fine.

 Some people are bothered about the cost difference in a thermal scope and night vision scope, it is, however, important to understand the day-night duality in the capability of thermal scope.

Night vision scope, even when the conditions are perfect for working can still be limited by suspended particles such as haze, smoke or fogs, obscuring the visibility. 

High-quality thermal scope with a backpack where you can put your gear into a hunting backpack is not limited by any of these visual obstructions, but rather, sighting the target is aided when there is smoke, fog or haze in the atmosphere. 

This is because the heat emitted by the target usually creates a heat signature, making it easy for the shooter to easily spot the target.

Night vision scope needs some ambient light to function to the optimum, but thermal scope only senses heat to function and can clear out fog, smoke, and brushes along its way, providing a very clear vision for accurate shots.

Stand-Alone vs Clip-on Thermal Scopes

An image comparing stand-alone vs clip-on thermal scopes

Some manufacturers of thermal scope are always making a clip-on type thermal sighting scope which is Avery minimized or even zero magnification heat optics which clips onto a rail mechanism beneath a normal optic to offer heat capacities with no need for a special scope.

With clips-on sights scope, you can make use of your normal scope until there is the need for a thermal optics. 

They are so flexible that they can be used with or in the absence of scope. They can be used when coupled to a rail and can be used hands-free. 

The reviews of top-rated crossbows will show you that clip-on thermal scope is cheaper than standalone thermal scopes.

However, the stand-alone thermal scopes allow for more features to be added to your rifle and maintains a fairly good image resolution even when magnified.

Thermal Scopes vs Monoculars

A comparison between thermal scopes vs monoculars

Quite a number of monoculars have coupling points where they can be attached to a rifle. In fact, some clip-on are merely monoculars with attachment points where they can be coupled to the rail system of the rifle. 

However, thermal monoculars are more vast than thermal scopes in terms of use cases. This is because there are myriads of instances where they can be utilized which us totally outside the shooting realm. They are the best for low-light hunting as well as spotting targets.

Nevertheless, the thermal scope has the advantage of performing fine on mounted weapons because of the high magnifying power. They have additional features that can aid shooting although that could come at a high price tag. Don’t forget that you can equally use night vision goggles for hunting to obtain a more effective result.

Thermal Scope Attachments

Thermal scope being attached to an add-on to ease sighting precision and accuracy

These are add-ons or more correctly expressed, clip-on features usually added to a rifle to ease sighting precision and accuracy of the gun. For instance, they aren’t heavy and will not add to the weight of the rifle. 

Similarly, the need for changing your zero-point when you toggle between day and night-mode becomes eliminated when you use thermal scope attachments. They retain the day’s scope zero.

The thermal scope attachments you might need include a good mount that can work well with any rail pattern. 

A power pack is yet another attachment that can make your thermal scope last for long hours. If the battery can be detached, it is a good feature to add. 

A rain cover will shield it from moisture even if it’s waterproof while a cleaning cloth is generally needed for better protection.

Again, thermal scope attachments alongside the magnifier help in broadening the horizon of the scope range. 

They give you the luxury of swapping between the gun and thermal molecular to keep track of the target. Then, you can keep all your attention on making precise shots. You can equally get an arrow rest on which you can let the arrow sit in the arrow rest.

How to Sight in a Thermal Scope

How to Use Thermal Scopes

Step 1

Buy a High-quality thermal scope whose magnifying power and resolution meet your demand.

Step 2

Couple the thermal scope to your rifle at the rail on the top

Step 3

Power the thermal scope on

Step 4

Sight in or zero your thermal scope to the normal day or night adjustment

Step 5

Check if the eyepiece lens gives the clear image and resolution you would love

Step 6

Check if it works fine by sighting the heat variations in targets at a far distance

How to Zero a Thermal Scope

Step 1

Get a unique target that can work well with thermal sights

Step 2

You can place a bright halogen-light just close to the target which shines very brilliantly

Step 3

Give the scope so e time to calibrate

Step 4

Get a metallic take, say aluminum tape

Step 5

Set the aluminum take on a piece of cardboard or plywood

Step 6

You should be able to aim your target well through the cross-pattern made

Step 7

You can equally use a chemical hand warmer attached to the target

Step 8

Test the thermal scope whether it brings a red dot sight when hunting

How to Maintain a Thermal Scope

Step 1

Dust off loose particles from the lens surface using a very good air bulb

Step 2

Remove finger patterns and other smudges by soaking a cotton fabric in an organic solvent and using it to clean the optics surface

Step 3

You can clean stubborn stains using the drop and drag method where you use a soft tissue to wipe the surface of the lens using the same organic solvent like acetone

Step 4

In the case of oil spillage or oily contaminants, you can change the solution to vinegar and follow the drop and drag method alike. Your high-quality, compact binoculars should be shining bright again.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

Although in most cases,  high-quality scopes come with a high price tag, however, it is still possible to buy “spend more to get less” when it comes to buying thermal scopes. 

That is why it is essential to go through reviews of top-rated crossbows and thermal scopes to get adequate information on the type of scope you need and the precise qualities you would want in them.

Do’s and Don’ts To Do With a Thermal Scope


  • Always put on powder-free gloves when handling your thermal scope
  • If you notice any cosmetic or packaging error, it is best to contact the manufacturers
  • It is best to clean optics when they are unmounted


  • Never attempt to tweak the optics
  • Don’t touch bare copper or bare hold
  • Avoid the optics coming in contact with a rough surface
  • Never clean new optics because it might have been laced with UV rays

FAQ About Thermal Scopes

Wild boar view seen through thermal scope

Can a thermal scope see through walls?

It is not possible for a thermal scope to see through walks. In fact, it is actually difficult for a thermal scope to see through glass.

Can a thermal scope be used in daylight?

Yes, the thermal scope can work perfectly fine during the daylight and in the dark as well.

Can a thermal scope see through the fog?

A thermal scope works on the principle of infrared, heat-producing radiation which melts fogs, smoke, and haze to give a cheat heat profile of the target

Can you put a thermal scope on a crossbow?

Yes, a thermal scope is like every other ammunition attachment that can be coupled to the crossbow too

How long is a thermal scopes lifespan?

This depends on the brand, function and how well you maintain your scope. You can reasonably expect your thermal scope to last as long as 5 to 8 years if properly maintained.

Why do you need a thermal scope?

A thermal scope is necessary because it gives you the edge by allowing the hunter to see targets that are far away using the heat emitted from their bodies. Besides, the shots are more precise because the scope can be used to focus on a target.

What thermal scope does the military use?

You can choose a quality spotting scope for the military; you can use a heavyweight and high-quality scope because it has high magnification and will not be carried through a long distance.

What is the best thermal scope for coyote hunting?

A lightweight thermal scope makes the best choice for coyote hunting.


You’ll have to do some serious shopping to find the best thermal scope for your specific hunting or shooting activities. When you start searching, look closely at the details because this is a big investment for most hunters. Pay particular attention to resolution and optical power, as mentioned several times. Lower magnification and smaller objective lens may limit target acquisition and distance coverage.

The FLIR has its enthusiastic users, but then so do the Armasight, ATN, and Pulsar. The warranty might be very attractive for some buyers, while the display features of the Pulsar will draw a lot of fans. The bottom line is: You’ll need to do your best to match the numbers to your type of hunting.

Getting accurate shots over a long distance is a very hard thing to achieve with rifles. A lot of people struggle yearly to establish this fact. 

Getting such accuracy is of high relevance to hunters, leisure rifle enthusiasts, armed forces and other classes of rifle users as well. The established method is a steady, top-quality rifle scope.

Most certainly, rifle scopes are a complex subject. Although, the underlying logic has not changed over the past 5 decades, then, the materials and the variants available in the market has undergone a complete overhaul. It is further intensified by the expansion in the optics world and quite a few brands can be gotten into the market.

If what you seek is high-quality, compact binoculars that can perform to the optimum, reading through this guide is your surest bet, as you will certainly find more information that will guide you to buying the best rifle scope with great performing features.

Photo of author

Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of soutdoors.com and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “8 Of The Best Thermal Scope Reviews – Pick the Right for the Money”

  1. You left out Pulsar Trail XQ Thermal Riflescope which is high-end but should be in this list of the best thermal scopes. I have tried it out and its one of the best thermal scopes if not the best.

  2. I have a Pulsar Trail XP50
    Compared with the above reviews I only can understand that
    this one is left out if the editor is paid by others than Pulsar.
    I bought my XP straight after it was out in 2017 an duse it actively.
    Never any problems and a really long battery time.
    The only thing what irritats me is that when hunting in Sweden, in the forrest, it is to good.
    It is anoying to whatch mouse flying up an down in the bushes at 70 yards while one is waiting for wild boar…

    • Thanks Willis for useful information, Pulsar Trail XP50 is a good one. Our list is picked on different categories, it’s the reason Pulsar Trail XP50 left out.


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