The 5 Best Thermal Scopes — Infrared Rifle Optic Reviews 2023

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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 Thermal Scope

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

Armasight Predator Thermal Scope

The Armasight Predator is a powerful thermal optic that’s perfect for reaching out and seeing through the darkness. The Predator is a variable optic that has a digital magnification level that ranges from 2 to 8 power and allows for you to see your target regardless of where they are hiding. The Armasight Predator uses Flir technology to see through the darkness without interruption. This sytem is capable of picking up faint to high signatures and giving you a clear view of what your target it.

The thermal system is a high definition design with an outstanding level of clarity. Lesser scopes often turn heat signatures into big muddy blurs. A thermal optic like the Predator allows you to easily distinguish what is what. You won’t see white hot blob, you’ll see the outline and shape of the creature or heat source you are looking at.

The Armasight Predator is perfect for close to moderate range shooting and will easily allow you to hit your target. You can choose between 6 different easy to use reticle systems. You can even run no reticle just for observation use. The Armssight Predator is perfect for hunting or security and police work. It’s reliable, dependable, and gives a crystal clear picture.

Armasight Flir Predator 336 | 3 Hogs Taking Dirt Naps

ATN Thor HD 384 Thermal Scope

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 “Thermal Scope”

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!

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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