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3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Thermal Rifle Scope

By December 4, 2016Thermal Rifle Scope
Thermal Rifle Scope image

Thermal scopes and weapon sights are by far the coolest optical devices you can install on your rifle or bow. Not only do they offer the flexibility of daytime and nighttime use, but they also deliver in weather conditions when other optical devices just fail. Fog is one such example. Like all other thermal imaging devices, thermal rifle scopes read off thermal signatures of all objects and present the user with an image showing a gradient map of those heat signatures. Most modern thermal rifle scopes feature several color palates as well as all time standard black and white. (Source: Night Vision Guys)

Hunters use thermal scopes so they can find animals or birds on the ground—or game that is hiding or injured. Thermal scopes are extremely useful when hunting predators and pigs at night.

Thermal scopes are also used by Police and SWAT teams for searches, security, and for being able to see what others are doing in the dark.

If you’re interested in purchasing a thermal scope, here are three things to consider when choosing a thermal scope.

thermal rifle scope



The cost of a rifle mounted thermal scope range from $19,600 like the Flir ThermoSight T60 to lower-priced models like the $6,395 ATN Thor.

The T60 is designed to interface with the Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) the scope used by the military to give soldiers the same field of view along with long range target acquisition—while maintaining boresight. It’s long wave thermal imaging sensor provides crisp imagery through total darkness, fog, smoke, dust, and many other obscurants. High-end models like the T60 weight around 1.5 lbs. (Source: Night Vision Guys)

Or you can buy the more affordable Inteliscope Pro+ with SEEK® XR thermal attachment for under $500.


2. Resolution and Refresh rate

A scope with 1024 x 768 resolution is usually the best for rifle mounted thermal rifle scopes while a good system will boast a resolution of 320 x 240. However, resolutions at 206 x 156 (like the SEEK® XR below) will still give you a clear image out to 100 yards. High-end scopes can give you identification out to 250-500 yards. Lower-end models can give you identification out to 100 yards.


Thermal Rifle Scope Chart


When it comes to refresh rate, most models specifications will display this rate in Hz ranging from 9 to 50. Higher frame rate means a smoother image when panning or tracking a moving target. To help get an idea of what to compare this to the standard TV broadcast rate is 25Hz. You may also want to consider the features of the thermal scope such as if it allows for both still and video capture. (Source: Scott Country)


3. Battery Life

Lastly, you will want to consider the battery life of the thermal scope that you are purchasing. The T60, for example, runs on four CR123 batteries and can last up to 5 hours with continuous use while the ATN Thor can run 8 hours – but with 4 AA lithium batteries.

To compare these higher-priced models that may be out of your budget with the lower-priced Inteliscope Pro+ with SEEK Thermal and Free App—an iPhone 7 can run 4 hours with continuous use. Android phones like the Nexus 6P can run almost 7 hours or the Galaxy s7 Edge a whopping 10 hours and 45 minutes. (Source: Android Authority)

In conclusion, there are many variables to consider when shopping for a thermal rifle scope. Your decision will depend on what is going to get the job done for the best price. Stay tuned for future articles as we explore the application and benefits of thermal scopes.

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Photo credit: SEEK® Thermal