If you’re at all into predator hunting, getting a thermal scope is a must. Thermal scopes have changed the game for nighttime hunting over the past decade, making it easier than ever to get into the field.
If you’re searching for a thermal scope to complete your loadout, look no further
Here are the Best Thermal Scopes this year
- Pulsar Thermion Thermal Riflescope (Best Overall)
- ATN Thor 4 Thermal Riflescope
- Zeus 336 Thermal Scope
- ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescop
- Pulsar Trail XQ Thermal Riflescope
When it comes to choosing the thermal scope that works best for you, make sure you’re looking at every factor. Things like warranty and company reputation are major indicators of the quality of the product.
Top Rated Thermal Scopes of 2023
We’ve reviewed the best thermal scopes for 2023, below.
Pulsar Thermion Thermal Riflescope – Best Overall
The Pulsar Thermion Thermal Riflescope offers many of the features that hunters look for in a thermal scope. For one, the quality of the images is second to none, or very competitive at least. The technology in this scope has advanced rapidly since the previous model Pulsar thermal scope, which was very popular at the time of the release. Depending on the model that you go with, it either features a 640×480 microbolometer sensor resolution w/ a 17u pixel pitch or a 320×240 sensor with a 12u pitch.
Either way, the Thermion scope has highly advanced sensors and glass which allow for the best shot.
It has a 1,400-yard detection range which puts it near the top of thermal hunting scope ranges.
What really makes this thermal riflescope special is that you are able to record your shot and watch it on your smartphone. This feature is able to be used in both video and still photos, unlike many other thermal scopes on the market.
For longer hunts, Pulsar specifically engineered this scope to have a double battery system. The batteries are easily replaceable, but the scope also does come with a charger to charge the batteries.
If you are a hunter that enjoys hunting during rough weather or plan on taking this scope out into the mountains where the snow might hit you, the Thermion scope is Waterproof Rated. It’s designed to withstand heavy rain, snow and can even run after being placed in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Overall if you are looking for state-of-the-art technology in a thermal hunting scope, this is the way to go.
If you are interested in top-of-the-line quality and performance, this is the thermal riflescope to go with. It features 1,400-yard detection, 8x digital zoom, and built-in recording allowing you to watch your hunt on your smartphone.
ATN Thor Thermal 4 Riflescope
This is the second-best thermal hunting scope that I would recommend. ATN has a pretty good reputation, especially when it comes to thermals.
What makes this thermal riflescope special is its several features. The first is that it has an ultra-sensitive sensor which really brings out the color of the picture, in the scope. This is super handy when it comes to making sure that you see everything that should be seen.
The next is the ballistic calculator. This is a feature that isn’t exactly represented in every thermal scope. The purpose is to ensure that you make the best shot that you can possibly make. What it does is range yardage, check the wind, angles, temperature and humidity, and more. If those are important to you, which they should be, this riflescope makes it easy for you to get dialed in. This is especially convenient when it comes to long-range shots where nothing is guaranteed and animals are either cleanly taken out or missed shots come down to inches.
Similar to the Pulsar thermal riflescope above, you can stream the video of your hunt to your smartphone. Not only that, but you can also use the SD card and check the film out on your laptop or computer. Everything is filmed at an HD resolution.
Lastly, the Thor 4 scope has 18 hours of battery life which greatly outperforms most other thermal scopes on the market.
While the ATN Thor 4 thermal scope might not be considered the top thermal scope on the market, it does offer many competitive features that you as a hunter will enjoy.
This is one of the most popular thermal scopes with w/Ultra Sensitive Next Gen Sensor, WiFi, Image Stabilization, Range Finder, Ballistic Calculator and IOS and Android Apps.
Pulsar Trail XQ Thermal Riflescope
The Trail XQ models feature some of the best functions when it comes to thermal scopes. The excellent images are the result of the 50Hz frame rate and the innovative design which holds all the technology together to be used with ease. The better frame rate allows drawing the heat from the components inside the device to give a superior quality image and better functionality. The Trail XQ features a 384×288 17µm thermal sensor with its XQ38 and XQ50 models.
The detection ranges of the models are between 1350m to 1800m. With its multiple zeroing profiles and 10 electronic reticles, you are overloaded with choices to get the best out of the scope. For hunters, the scope features some additional functions such as the Stadiametric rangefinder which allows target acquisition to be an easy process. It also has the function to stream footages live using your android device through Stream Vision App.
- 50Hz frame rate
- 384×288 17µm thermal sensor
- Detection range between 1350m to 1800m
- Freeze function with one shot zeroing
- The picture in picture function
- As most of the scope in the list, the Pulsar Trail XQ is also expensive
ATN ThOR HD 640 Smart Thermal Riflescope – Ballistic Calculator
The ATN ThOR HD 640 pushes technology to the 21st century. At a billion cycles per second, it has distinct night vision capabilities with the use of a high-resolution sensor. It runs on an Obsidian Core which can crunch huge files with relative ease. The Obsidian Core is a highly specialized computer. You might find it harder to set up your smartphones than using ATN ThOR HD 640. The controls to ATN ThOR HD 640 can be accessed through your smartphone, which is a feature that makes the process a lot more easier.
This thermal scope does not trouble you with complex charts, calculators, or reticles. It is one of the easiest scopes which you can get your hands on. The ATN Obsidian Shooting Solution takes care of all the complex calculations. All you have to do once you have set up the device is to range in and enter the wind readings. The rest of the things will be taken care of by the Obsidian Core. From changing the incline angle, turning through the wind, adjust the distance, and deliver the perfect aim for a perfect shot.
The scope comes with Recoil Activated Video which records the video as the trigger is pulled. The smart rangefinder feature does all the work for you as you simply have to point on the target to get the necessary readings. The scope features amazing ergonomics and comes with an E-Barometer, Gyroscope, E-Compass, and Bluetooth and WI-Fi features too. It is definitely an all-in-one thermal scope. Shop ATN Scopes on Cabelas here.
- Ballistic Calculator
- Smooth Zoom
- Build-in Smart Rangefinder
- Excellent Image Performance
- High-Resolution Video Recording
- Pretty expensive
- Uses disposable batteries
Also worth mentioning, for those of you who want some of the features of a thermal scope without the price tag, the ATN X Sight 4K Pro is where you should look. They’ve made major improvements over the ATN X Sight II with the new 4K line, we own one that’s one of two in our night vision coyote scope system.
Zeus 336 Thermal Scope – Ergonomic Design Featuring All The Necessary Functions
The Zeus 336 Thermal Scope is the perfect example of an ergonomic design that does not compromise on the features necessary for a good thermal scope. It is a balance between the two that makes for an ideal thermal scope.
The scope uses a microbolometer core which is used for most of the Tactical Riflescopes and works well for SWAT, border patrol officers, force protection, and special operations forces. This is because it delivers a crystal clear image during the day and night, and also provides the necessary tools to successfully take a shot at targets.
No matter the type of atmosphere you are at, the scope cuts through fog, dust, haze, smoke, and other hindrances with ease to give you a clear look at the target.
The scope does not emit any visible RF energy or visible light. This makes it easy to hide and not let the target know you are using a scope to mark them down. It is also one of the compact and lightweight scopes of its class. It has an Optical Magnification of 3.4x(PAL)/ 2.8x(NTSC), which is perfect for any thermal scopes. Having a pixel array format of 336X256, this scope gives a clear image to the user and makes it easier to take the shot.
The scope comes with an external battery supply which makes sure you get extended operation time. The device maintains boresight by the use of electronic zoom reticle tracking. It has a digital zoom of 1X, 2X, and 4X with color modes of Black hot, Rainbow, and White Hot, to name a few.
The device has Optional Video Recorder/ Video output with an onboard replay feature. It has shuttered eye guard to maintain light security and prevent backsplash of the face. It also comes with a 3-year limited warranty and 10 years warranty on the thermal core.
- Ergonomic design featuring all the necessary functions
- Rapid start-up
- External battery supply
- Light and compact
- The lens may crack due to recoil
- It is expensive
Similar: Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes
ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope – Obsidian II Core
ATN Thor being featured on the list for the second time is a testament to their prowess at manufacturing thermal scopes. The 384 model does hold the brand’s name atop as it is one marvelous piece of gadget. To start with, it has the Smart Shooting Solution which always you to not worry about remembering charts or doing complex calculations. Instead, the device does it all for you. With just a swift of the scope and a few clicks, the scope will tell you the target’s range.
Powered by Obsidian II Core, this thermal scope proves to be an excellent one to be used during the day or night. The powerful scope delivers clear and enhanced images for you to aim with ease. It is a very useful feature especially for hunters who hunt in the dark. Like the ATN ThOR HD 640, this device comes with a Recoil Activated Video (RAV) feature. It does not matter if you have forgotten to hit the record button. This feature will start recording as soon as the trigger is pulled and get you a perfect recording of the shot.
Some of the other amazing features offered by the scope are WI-FI, Smooth Zoom, Free Firmware Updates, Multiple Reticle Options, E-Compass, E-Barometer, and an ergonomic design. Shop ATN Scopes on Cabelas here.
- Obsidian II Core
- Smart Zoom, multiple reticle options
- E-compass, E-barometer
- Smart Shooting Solution
Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope – Super Fast Video Freeze
Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope is a product that pushes the boundaries of innovations to detect heat signatures. It uses highly tinted green sapphire to help you identify targets even in the harshest of conditions of day or night through obstacles such as bushes, tall grass, and branches. Some of the scopes rely on tube-based night vision, but this product does not need any external light to get clear images for you. The light exposure does not affect the scope.
It has a super-fast video freeze function and does allow you to save parameters of zero for three rifles. Heat signature images of great quality are delivered up to a distance of 980 yards. When it is combined with Picture in Picture technology you can get a close-up view of the target and also see the field of view with ease. Regardless of the environment, you get a high-resolution display through the AMOLED display. You also have the option of viewing with white-hot or black-hot modes too.
Over that, it has one of the best user interfaces and ergonomic designs which allows the proper use of the technology put into it. The display is frost resistant, with three types of calibration, and 13 different electronic reticles to choose from. Shop Pulsar Thermal Riflescopes on Cabelas here.
- Highly tinted green sapphire for easy target recognition
- Superfast video freeze
- OLED display for frost resistance
- Fully waterproof body
- It is expensive
Related: Best Vortex Shotgun Scopes
Hunting With a Thermal Scope
The clip below demonstrates the clarity and quality of vision with a thermal scope. As you can see throughout the video, the coyotes are clearly identified and ethical shots are placed. Of course, without a thermal scope, this would not be the case. We wrote a complete guide on how thermal imaging works, here.
Thermal Scope Buyers Guide, here’s what you need to look for before you buy
Here’s some information about everything you’ll need to know when it comes to buying a new thermal scope.
The resolution defines the clarity of the image you see through the scope of a thermal scope. This makes it a very important aspect to keep a look on as a bad resolution would lead to pixilated images which would not help you with taking the aim. So, that you would not miss out on important elements, it is better to go for a scope with high resolution.
This is closely related to the resolution of the scope. There are two types of zoom – optical and digital zoom. The optical zoom allows you to magnify the image without losing the resolution. But digital zoom enhances the image to zoom it. So, in the process, it may lose out on some of the resolutions and lower the image quality. The best option would be to choose a thermal scope which has both optical and digital zooming capabilities. This allows you to zoom it extensively while keeping the image quality of optical zooming.
Like any other device, the thermal scope also works on the battery. Some of them function for 5 hours continuously, and others can function for more. Some use external disposable batteries, and there are others that use rechargeable.
The refresh rate plays an important part in making the images delivered by the thermal scope to be of great quality. Most of the thermal scope which is available in the market today comes under the category of 30Hz to 60Hz. The value represents the cycle per second the image is refreshed. With the increase in the number of refreshing, the image will appear more lifelike. So, it is better to have a thermal scope that has higher refresh rates to help it deliver quality images to you.
Other functions such as E-compass, E-barometer, different reticles and all adds up to make the scope more efficient. So if you can buy a scope with these added functions, it will be easier for you to use.
Budget and Requirements
Having a look at your budget and your requirements from the scope will help you eliminate those which does not fit the description. So, note down the budget and requirementss before you sift through different models of thermal scopes.
Also Read: Best .300 Wing Mag Scopes
A thermal scope plays an important part in helping you to aim your rifle better. So make sure to follow these guidelines and also check out the products mentioned in this article to get a better idea on which thermal scope to buy.
Hope this post helped you out! Good luck!