The 5 Best Thermal Scopes — Infrared Rifle Optic Reviews 2019

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Photo by Program Executive Office Soldier / CC BY

Thermal optics are interesting devices. My experience with them has been tied mostly to the military, where I used them quite a bit. Thermal optics give you the ability to see body heat, which renders camouflage and concealment nearly useless. A good thermal optic is designed to provide the user with a crystal clear view of their potential targets. Thermal scopes rely on a high refresh rate to see a moving target, so keep refresh rate in mind while you’re shopping for thermal scopes.

Thermal optics are quite expensive and it’s important they are durable. These sights utilize electronics, so they need to be sealed and prepared to take shock and resist water. It’s important to differentiate between a scope and a monocular. A scope can be mounted to a rifle and has a reticle for shooting, whereas a monocular is made just for viewing.

Below we’ve compiled what we consider the 4 best thermal scopes on the market.

Sig Sauer Echo 1

Sig Sauer has dived into the firearm accessory markets in the last couple of years. Sig is mainly known for their firearms, but their expansion into optics, suppressors, and everything else has been a hit. The Sig Sauer Echo 1 is a very unique scope. It’s a thermal scope, which is largely unique, but where the Sig sight differs is that it is a reflex sight. It’s designed for close quarters shooting and combat. There is an option for 1 or 2 x magnification, which makes it lighter, smaller, and much easier to use.

The Echo 1 is designed to be used with both eyes opened, like any reflex sight. This allows you to have a wide field of view, with a clear peripheral vision. The small device has a 30 hz refresh rate which is perfect for the non-magnified optic. This makes it easy to track targets and aim rapidly. The unit has a close focus distance of 1 meter. The optic weighs a mere 14.7 ounces and is only 4.3 inches long.

The Echo 1 by Sig Sauer is a very well built optic and does give tactical rifles users an awesome option. The Echo even has an impressive runtime of 8 hours. Compared to an Aimpoint, that’s nothing, but compared to other thermal optics it’s awesome. This is a strong contender for the best thermal scope period.

Features of the Sig Sauer Echo 1 Thermal Sight

Pulsar Apex Thermal Riflescope

  • Pulsar Apex XD38A Thermal Riflescope
  • Price:
  • Price as of 06/25/2019 05:15 PDT
    (more info)
    Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Pulsar is pretty well known for their night vision and thermal optics. This is a variable optic that gives the user magnification between 1.5 power to 6 power. This gives the user a decent spotting range, and allows them to have a wide field of view at 1.5 power. The Pulsar Apex has the ability to see up to 950 yards for a human-size target. This is an excellent option for the hunter looking to take a few hogs at night. The Pulsar Apex riflescope uses either black hot or white hot to signify thermal heat.

The Pulsar Apex delivers a nice and clear resolution when scanning for targets. This is due to the scope’s core resolution of 384×288. The 50 hz refresh rate gives the user a perfect refresh rate for scanning targets, especially at 6 power. Thermal units eat battery, and they eat fast, but the Pulsar Apex does allow for the use of an external power source to provide a longer life in the field.

The Pulsar Apex has viewing modes for mountains and forests as well. These modes help make up for the obstacles that may be in the way. The Pulsar Apex has a video output feature for filming, which makes it convenient for shooters who want to record their shots. Want a great thermal rifle scope? This is the ticket.

Pulsar Apex XD38 – Thermal Rifle Scope

ATN Thor HD 384

The ATN Thor line of rifle optics is quite popular and well known. They’ve been around for quite some time and have had a solid reputation for quality, clarity, and accuracy. The Thor line is a large one, but we are looking at the HD 384 specifically. I feel the 384 provides the perfect balance of size, weight, clarity, and function. As a hunter’s companion, this is an awesome piece of gear.

Video outputs are great and extremely handy. They often involve wires and cords which can get in the way. The ATN Thor 384 has the ability to wirelessly stream to devices like cell phones and tablets. The ATN Thor also has a setting that begins recording when it senses the recoil of the rifle. This allows the user to film and tack their targets, and also gives them a direction to search if the game sprints away after being hit.

The ATN Thor comes in a wide variety of different magnification levels, including 1.5 to 5 power, 2-8x, 4.5-18x, and 9-36x. The sight has a built in range finder that allows the user to instantly change position to compensate for elevation. The ATN THor line is easily one of the highest high-tech thermal optics, and is also, needless to say, one of the best thermal scopes too.

ATN Thor HD 384 50mm Thermal Scope – First Coyote Hunt

Inteliscope for Android and Iphone

  • Inteliscope Pro+ Smartphone Mount, Black
  • Price: $75.00
  • Price as of 06/25/2019 05:15 PDT
    (more info)
    Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Thermal optics are quite expensive, and the technology is quite new in comparison to night vision technologies. However, the Inteliscope aims to change that. For a relatively inexpensive price, you can equip a thermal optic to your weapon. The Inteliscope uses your cell phone, combined with a plug and play thermal optic, and a picatinny rail mount. Because of the differences in ports you do have to ensure you buy either the Apple or Android variant.

Once attached and plugged in, you can zero the system. Of course there are a few compromises you have to make when purchasing a thermal optic that’s more budget-minded. First off there is little magnification. This is more or less a close range optic used for shooting within a hundred yards. Keep this limitation in mind, and depending on your shooting style, might not be a limitation at all.

The Inteliscope does give you a very wide field of view, depending on your phone’s screen size. You can also effortlessly and easily film video while using the optic. The Inteliscope offers a reticle library for easy customization. There is also even a GPS location and compass direction indicator. If you’re on a budget, this just might be the best thermal scope for the money.

Seek and Find

Thermal weapon sights are quite effective at making it impossible to remain hidden in the dark, or during the day. Thermal sights are excellent for tactical and hunting uses. Thermal optics give users an inhuman technological advantage for their user. Regardless of the time of day, thermal scope can and will find their targets. Good luck!

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