Finding the best thermal scope for the money can yield more game, for less ammunition.
|Pulsar Core RXQ||ATN Thor||Flir's Armasight|
|Sig Sauer Echo 1|
|Display Resolution||206 x 156||640 x 480||1280 x 960||640 x 480||206 x 156|
|Frame Rate||9 Hz||50 Hz||50 Hz||30 Hz||30 Hz|
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But thermal scopes are notorious for the high prices. Between leading brands such as Flir, and ATN, you could expect to pay anywhere around $3000 or more. But for the experienced sportsman, these prices might be justified. Because most of the best game is hiding in the bushes. So when we have a thermal advantage, we’re more likely to bring home a greater yield. Which can help decrease the chances of being pestered by a nagging wife.
But although these prices might be justified for the serious hunter, and considering engineering, technology, and innovation is built into each thermal imager, most of us don’t have an extra $3000 sitting around.
But we still want to benefit from thermal imaging. So there are some less expensive options available, offering more bang for your buck. But know that when you reduce the expense for highly sensitive, technical equipment, you can anticipate a reduction in quality or performance, or both.
But without further adieu, here are the top 5 thermal imaging scopes for the money.
For an easy $500, anyone can mount their smart phone to their rifle. And although this may sound crazy, the Inteliscope mount can absorb the recoil shock to prevent your phone from breaking. And whether you use an iPhone or an Android phone, you can find the Inteliscope app in your app store. The app is critical, so if you’re using a Windows phone, you’re shit out of luck. But as long as your a common being, then you probably use an Android or an iPhone. And as long as you do, you can benefit from the Inteliscope app, and transform your camera into a thermal rifle scope.
The app is great, and comes with a variety of options. The thermal feature is achieved when syncing your phone with the Seek Compact XR. And the zoom can switch from yardage to feet with a simple poke of the screen. And when you tell the app what type of ammunition you’re using, it will automatically calculate the drop of the bullet or arrow. And additionally, the Inteliscope’s app comes with 4 different reticles, so that you can customize you’re own hunting experience.
Sighting this mount is a little easier than most scopes. And that’s due to the large screen, and also the presentation that the app can provide. The intuitive display uses ballistics to help line in the reticle, so that your shots are precise and consistently on target.
And not only can you customize your view, but you can also record your hunt. One of the benefits of hunting with your smart phone is that it can also record. So keep track of your hunt, and film the great chase so that you can share the thermal footage with your friends and family.
I was skeptical that the rifle’s kickback would throw off the scope’s accuracy. However, after a few field tests, it proved to be pretty stead and reliable. Firstly, the mount can fit on any rifle with a picatinny rail. So AR-15’s, shot guns, cross bows, and a few other common rifles will qualify. Additionally, the mount is built from durable aluminum, with a black, ruberized coating to help absorb the impact. This ensures that you get longevity out of the product.
Your smart phone doesn’t automatically come with thermal viewing. So get the thermal view, you’ll need to integrate the Seek Compact phone attachment. The Inteliscope mount was designed to harbor both your smart phone, and the Seek Compact. And although the Seek appears small, it can spot objects up to 100 yards away, with a temperature range of as little as negative 40 degrees F to as high as 626 degrees F. So with this dual threat, you’ll be able to experience the improved performance of hunting for thermal signatures.
Overall, for the price, the Inteliscope thermal app proves to be a noble addition for anyone looking to gain entry with a thermal scope at an affordable price.
If you’re looking for a thermal hunting scope below $1000, then Inteliscope’s going to be your only option. Because once you start looking for more traditional thermal scopes, everything else is going to be well above $1000.
And the Pulsar RXQ30 is no exception. Chiming in at around $1900, this scope is one of the least expensive options for traditional scopes.
And Pulsar manufacturers quality thermal hunting scopes. Detecting objects as far as 985 yards away, Pulsar’s Amoled comes with a 384×288 screen resolution, and up to a 4x digital zoom display. And by using a signature green saphire tint, the hunter is sure to quickly identify his or her target.
One notable problem with thermal scopes is that hunters and sportsmen don’t always want to use thermal imaging. A few vocal hunters have stated that it makes hunting a little too easy. Which it does. So it’s understandable that a few hunters would like the option to hunt without this handicap. Which isn’t a problem with Pulsar’s Core. It has an easy to install and detach mount. So when you’re looking for a more challenging hunt, you can easily remove the thermal scope, in favor of a different one.
But not only is its detection range spectacular, it’s memory can store up to 3 hunting profiles. So depending on what scenario you’re hunting from, you can quickly pull up your preferred profile.
And there are many more features: picture-in-picture digital zoom, 10 optional reticles, different calibration modes depending on the gun type, and even a pixel repair feature.
Overall, for less than $2000, Pulsar offers an excellent thermal scope with excellent range and reticle options.
Since you’re flirting with scopes near the $2000 price range, it might intrigue you to know that ATN’s Thor is available for the same cost as the Pulsar RXQ. But even though they’re sitting around the same price, ATN is well known for it’s technological advancements for thermal hunting scopes.
Firstly, ATN’s Thor comes with smart shooting, where it actually does the calculating for you. Which is great, because ballistic calculators were never easy to deal with. So no need to factor in wind speed, drop, or distance. As the user, all you have to do is enter the wind readings, and the Obsidian core will compute the rest. Additionally, it comes with a range finder. Just click the site at the top and bottom of the target, and you’ll get an accurate idea of how far away your target is.
And I’m sure you can imagine this scenerio; you’re in the field, ready to pull the trigger. You’d like to start recording, but you’re concerned that you’ll miss your target with the slightest move. You get your kill, but you don’t have footage of the hunt! But that’s no longer a worry with the ATN’s Thor, because it offers Recoil Activated Video. When you set your video to RAV, your video will buffer just as you pull the trigger, leaving the lens enough time to record before the kill, and after. And giving you that footage you wanted to share with your friends and family.
But with all these bells and whistles, it could be assumed that it’s difficult to keep a working memory of your preferred hunting profile. But let it be known that that assumption is incorrect. Because ATN offers a profile manager. So when you finally find a setting that you want to use in every forest, or another setting for every field, you can save that setting, and retrieve it later when you’re back in the saddle.
And it comes with the other common bells and whistles: multiple pallets, customizable reticle, video output.
But in addition to these standard features, you’ll be able to synce your view with your smart watch or smart phone. So take a peak at your smart device, to get additional information. And with that extra assistance, you’ll have a greater chance securing the big game.
The mother of all thermal optics is Flir. Flir is the #1 most recognizable thermal imager. And their scopes not only come with the same recognition, but they also pack the same quality that everyone expects from them.
Flir’s Armasight line comes with Flir’s 10 year warranty. Which is a pretty hefty statement to back up the credibility for one’s thermal scope.
But besides the industry’s best warranty, Armasight is built using FLIR’s Tau 2 VOx microbolometer core. This may sound foreign, but a microbolometer is the device that actually measures an object’s thermal signature. And FLIR is arguably one of the best manufacturers of microbolometers in the world.
And due to this advanced technology, you can witness your target through a high-end OLED display. With a presentation of 336×256 pixels. But even with these advanced visuals, the Predator is still the smallest, lightest, and easiest to transport thermal scope on the market, which makes it an engineering marvel from a technical perspective, and a mechanical perspective.
But with most technological advances, users commonly expect a challenging interface. But that isn’t the case. Because the Predator also taughts an easy-to-use controls, functions, and features. And these simple buttons, create an optimum navigation experience, so that you’re able to adjust your settings in the field, before your target has a chance to run for the hills.
And the thermal images process very quickly, at about 30 hz, which makes it easy to identify your target.
And in addition to these high end bells and whistles, it’s also fitted with the standard features, like pallet selection, reticle options, and video output. So you can record your hunt, and share it with your friends. Or watch it by yourself.
Overall, being a Flir product, it’s pretty incredible that this Armasight is priced less than $2000. So although it still might be steep for some frugal spenders, it’s a drop in the bucket for all the big game you might be missing.
The Echo 1 isn’t your traditional thermal hunting scope. Instead, it’s more of a thermal hunting screen. Which almost leads us to like it more.
Firstly, imagine how cameras used to use a scope to see images. But then they evolved to use a screen. And that’s how I view Sig Sauer’s Echo 1. The Echo 1 reads temperature levels from a microbolometer to detect the an object’s heat signature. And that heat signature is then displayed on an easy-to-view screen.
But not only does it offer a 3″ color thermal screen, it’s also boasting a 30 Hz frame rate so you can instantly get your thermal images. But it also comes with 6 color pallets, so that you can customize your experience.
But although the large screen is nice, it’s lacking in the pixelation, compared to the other scopes on this list, with only 206×156. And although that’s good enough to give you an excellent shot, it’s still far behind the other scopes.
And one of the better features is that the Echo 1 can take individual pictures of the targets your spotting. Or, it can capture burst images for those impressive hunts you’d like to share with friends or family. And it only makes sense to offer camera features, considering that Sig Sauer put so much research into its scope.
And for those creative types, not only can you take pictures or what you’re hunting, but you can also target them 5 pre-installed reticles. These are the common reticles that you’d normally see with any major scope. But, there’s a platitude of reticles that can be downloaded, for anyone looking to customize their hunting experience.
But regardless of some minor technical set backs. The Echo 1 still falls less than $2000, making it one of the best thermal hunting scopes for the money.
A lot of these thermal scopes offer the features. Supercapacitators provide continuos operation, and prevent damage during recoil. Video output so that you can share your hunt with your friends and family. Various reticles and display. Customizable features so that you can target your object in the wind, snow, and rain. Easy to use controls that allow in-field adjustments.
But even though all these are common features for thermal scopes in this price range, they each offer some unique qualities that might make them more interesting than the others. The Inteliscope Smart Mount is the most affordable. But it puts your smart phone at risk. However, that risk is mitigated because of the structurally sound mount with recoil protection.
The benefits to thermal scopes are obvious. But those benefits can be costly. So it makes sense to take some time, and actually look for a qualify thermal scope that can help increase your yield. And although make can exceed $3000 and beyond, there are quality scopes available that don’t even come close to that price range.
So take your time. Conduct some quality research, and discover which thermal hunting scopes not only fit your mount, but also your budget.