Best Thermal Scope for 2021 – Top 10 Powerful And Easy-To-Use Models

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A wide range of thermal scopes are available out there and amidst such a variety, it can be somewhat hard to find the best thermal scope for 2021 season.

We aim to make the task easier for you by bringing together a thorough guide on your way to finding a suitable scope as well as a comparison of top thermal scopes from leading brands.

After reading this guide, not only will you be able to find a thermal scope that fits your needs the best, you will compare various scopes with ease and find one that you like within your budget range.

best thermal scope things to consider


Thermal Scope - How Does It Work?

All animals (such as Coyotes, Hogs, Deer…) emit a certain amount of heat. This heat, although invisible to our eyes, can be detected from afar using thermal imaging sensors.

Thermal imaging sensors can, for instance, detect an animal even when it is hidden from the plain sight by detecting the animal’s heat signature and creating a heat map based on it.

The surrounding environment around an animal also carries some amount of heat; thermal imaging brings the heat differences between the target animal and the surrounding area in contrast.

On a more technical level, the infrared heat signature of an image is received by a lens inside a thermal scope.

This signature is scanned by the lens and a thermogram is created based on it. This thermogram manifests to the viewer looking through the thermal scope.

Compared to night vision scopes, a thermal scope can work perfectly through smoke, haze and debris.

This versatility that thermal scopes bring makes them favorable professional hunters, shooters and law enforcement agencies alike.

best thermal scope for coyote hunting
Editor's Picks

Best Thermal Scopes Reviews - Best 10 Recommendations

Best Feature

Product Name


The Best Scope Overall

Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope

The Scope with the Best Value Proposition

ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes

The Scope with the Best Image Quality

IR Defense IR Hunter MKII 640x480 Multi-Use Thermal Weapon Sight

The Best Scope for Beginners

ATN Thor 4, 640x480, Thermal Rifle Scope

The Best Premium Thermal Scope

Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm Thermal Weapon Sight

Best Affordable Thermal Scope

ATN ThOR LT 320 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope

The Best Thermal Scope with Smart Assistance

ATN ThOR-HD 2.5-25x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes

The Best Entry-Level Thermal Scope

ATN OPMOD ThOR LT 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope

Great Scope for the Price

Pulsar Core RXQ30V 1.6-6.4x22 Thermal Riflescope - Great scope for the price

The Thermal Scope with the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity

ATN ThOR-HD 5-50x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes
Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope - The Best Scope Overall

Topping our list is a thermal scope from Pulsar. What should you expect from the Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope?

Firstly, you can use this scope and mount it on any 30mm rings. It not only attaches to your gun easily but also has an excellent refresh rate. Besides, you also own one-time digital zeroing, 15 different reticles in up to 4 colors—black, red, white and green, and 8x digital zoom. Thanks to that, you have a very comfortable level of magnification and adjustment to aim at distant targets.

Another notable feature is the detection range up to 2.500 yards with 320x240 resolution and 12um pixel pitch core. All of them support your shooting performance very well for various hunting purposes.

What’s more?

You can connect this scope to your smart device to record and use the feature of picture-in-picture digital zoom. Not to mention, the product also has 16GB of built-in memory, Wi-Fi connectivity for Pulsar’s Stream Vision app, and built-in recording with trigger activation for your convenient recording and storage.

Here’s something interesting for you.

The product is rated IPX7 waterproof. That means you no longer worry about heavy rain or snow. And even if the product sinks in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, it still works well.

  • Multiple color schemes
  • Clear image quality
  • Well-built and high-quality
  • Advanced technology
  • Quite expensive and heavy

Final Verdict

When you need a thermal scope that allows you to use it with 30mm ring rifles easily, you won't be disappointed with the Pulsar Thermion XM50. Come and give it a try now!

ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes – The Scope with the Best Value Proposition

The next scope we are going to cover, ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm, loses first place but only for a notch.

To put it simply, Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope is a far more versatile and competent product. But, with its affordable price, solid resolution (384x288), an integrated ballistic calculator, this scope still has a lot to offer to an average buyer.

But that's not all.

For a scope that comes with such a lucrative price tag, ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm represents one very feature-rich package. Some of the things you get are GPS pinpointing, Wi-Fi capabilities, the option to choose between a couple of different viewing angles, and the ability to automatically record all of your shots.

But, all these things would mean very little if the manufacturer hasn't checked all the essential core specs right.

Fortunately, no such mistakes were made.

For a start, the scope features a 25 mm diameter, which makes it suitable for the majority of the hunting rifles you can currently find, while 2 – 8x magnification makes sure you will be able to score big games even from a great distance.

Where this unit somewhat comes short are the image quality and power. The thing that bothered me the most is that the 4 AA batteries you are asked to use tend to drain rather quickly. But, that's not so unusual for a scope in this price range.

  • Solid core specs
  • Feature-rich package
  • Smart shooting capabilities
  • Great value proposition
  • Power-consuming

Final Verdict

In spite of a couple of shortcomings that are frequent in this affordable price range, ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm is still one very capable product aimed at novice hunters.

IR Defense IR Hunter MKII 640x480 Multi-Use Thermal Weapon Sight – The Scope with the Best Image Quality

IR Defense IR Hunter MKII may not be the best-rounded product on this list, but none can argue that the image quality you get allows for one seamless and cutting edge hunting experience.

For a start, the unit packs a resolution of 640x480 pixels, which is incredibly high for a modest 27 mm viewing lens. This novel spec makes sure that you will get only the best image quality regardless of the prey's distance and be able to squeeze 35% more magnification than you would get with a regular thermal scope.

And then there is the refresh rate.

Pushing this spec as high as 60Hz, IR Defense IR Hunter MKII makes sure that you won't lose any motion or image quality.

Aside from this, the scope is mostly business as usual, which is, by no means, a bad thing.

The overall build quality is above the average and ergonomic, although the unit falls somewhat on the heavier side. Battery life is rock-solid and allows you 3.5 – 5 hours of autonomy (depending on how often you use the additional features), and the ballistic correction is always nice to see.

However, aside from excellent image quality, the scope hardly pushes the envelope in any other area. Also, the additional equipment you need to get to use the unit (e.g., DVR and cables) is incredibly expensive.

  • Excellent resolution and refresh rate
  • Bunch of useful features
  • Solid battery life
  • Good build quality
  • Expensive equipment
  • Average core specs

Final Verdict

If not for the excellent image quality, IR Defense IR Hunter MKII could be considered an average piece of hunting gear. But, this feature alone singlehandedly pushes the product to the very top of the thermal scope market.

ATN Thor 4, 640x480, Thermal Rifle Scope - The Best Scope for Beginners

Let’s explore the outstanding features of the ATN Thor 4 Thermal Rifle Scope.
When it comes to the thermal scope, ATN always gives you the best products.

With ATN Thor 4, you get the Gen 4 Ultra-Sensitive 640x480 sensors to capture clear images at the farthest range with improved resolution, high sensitivity, and smooth color enhancement even in complete darkness.

Like the ThoR-HD 640 model, this ballistic computer also makes it easier to hit targets when determining the correct ballistic for long-range shots. For different loads, you have various profiles, including temperature, humidity, wind, angle, and range, to make sure you're always aiming correctly.

For more accurate firing, the ABL Laser Range Finder helps identify your target at greater distances, sending data to the ballistic computer via Bluetooth to make POI adjustments to your sights. Also, the magnification of 4-40x offers you the best shot in a long-range.

And the best part? They are the ATN Quick Detach Mount and ATN X-Trac Tactical Remote Access Control System. These systems support you to move the scope from platform to platform quickly, and control features like Ballistic Calculator, Rangefinder, etc.

You can see an upgrade for Thor 4 is a dual-stream video recording. You can not only stream video to your mobile device in HD resolution, but you can also record to the SD card simultaneously.

Last but not least, you will no longer have to worry about your battery dying while hunting prey because this scope can work continuously for up to 22 hours. Besides, you can quickly recharge it and use the power for other devices.

  • Super easy to sight in
  • Perfect quality of the image
  • Excellent build
  • Clear thermal view
  • Good resolution
  • It’s a bit complicated to insert or remove the Micro SD card

Final Verdict

All in all, when you want to buy a scope that attaches to standard rings and is compatible with any of your old rifles, choose ATN Thor 4 now. After that, you can find it easy to use in the long run with sharp images.

Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm Thermal Weapon Sight – The Best Premium Thermal Scope

This product asks you to pay a small fortune to get it. But, rest assured, this price is, for the most part, well-warranted.

Without the intention to sound overly enthusiastic, Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm is simply one quality and competently put-together piece of hunting tech.

The resolution and the image quality are simply top-notch – with 640 x 480 pixels and a refresh rate of 30-60Hz, you will hardly miss anything moving ahead of you. Even better, you will always be able to tell what you're looking at, even at a great distance.

What distance are we exactly talking about?

Well, Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm gives you the option to choose anywhere between 2.5 and 20x magnification, which is simply extraordinary.

Combine these awesome features with good battery life (depending on what you use, you can reach the 5-hour mark), multiple mounting options, and a bunch of useful features easily accessible through a simple menu. What you'll get in the end is a hunting scope that makes very few mistakes along the way.

As a matter of fact, the only thing we can take away from this story is the unit's weight of 590 grams, which can prove to be overwhelming for novice hunters. Also, the price is simply too high for an average consumer.

  • Excellent core specs
  • Sharp image
  • Feature-rich product
  • Excellent build quality
  • Good battery life
  • A bit too pricey
  • Too heavy for inexperienced hunters

Final Verdict

Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm is one excellent scope that makes very few mistakes along the way. However, it’s hefty price tag keeps it securely out of the reach of casual weekend hunters.

ATN ThOR LT 320 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope – Best Affordable Thermal Scope

ATN ThOR is a company that stands as an undisputed champion of the hunting gear market. Although they missed the first place of this roundup, the rest of the products that found their way here speak only in favor of this brand.

Although it represents an entry-level product, ATN ThOR LT 320 3-6x doesn’t break away from this tradition.

Sure, some specs you can find in this package can be considered limiting. For instance, the sensor resolution of 340x240 pixels means you will lose quite a lot of image quality when zooming on the prey. The zoom, on the other hand, is nothing to write home about. The maximum magnification you get is only five times.

Finally, when you look at the average aluminum body, you have every right to ask what's so special about this product.

Well, for a start, there is an affordable price that makes the package more than suitable for all novice hunters. Then, there are the rock-solid core specs like the refresh rate of 60 Hz, battery life of up to 10 hours, multiple reticle options, and lightweight, ergonomic design. Put them together, and you will get a pretty capable thermal scope that works quite well in most of the feasible hunting scenarios.

So, we can't get really mad about a couple of shortcomings we have mentioned above. The things that are within this scope's performance range are performed with ease and grace.

  • Excellent price-value ratio
  • Monstrous battery life
  • Solid performance
  • Ergonomic design
  • Low resolution
  • Entry-level specs

Final Verdict

In spite of a couple of shortcomings, ATN ThOR LT 320 3-6x still represents an excellent pick for all novice hunters who don’t want to spend a small fortune on their hunting gear.

ATN ThOR-HD 2.5-25x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes – The Best Thermal Scope with Smart Assistance

Some of the products we have covered on this list, try to check as many boxes as possible. Others are putting more of their eggs in one basket.

ATN ThOR-HD 2.5-25x 50 mm definitely belongs to the latter group. That doesn’t make the product bad, though.

But, what is the killer feature that tries to sell the scope to the wide masses? This time we are talking about the so-called Obsidian Core that allows you to enter the surrounding variables like range and wind readings. Once you are done, the unit will calculate the short trajectory and readjust the reticle.

All of this works quite well in a real-life scenario.

The resolution of the scope is also pretty nice - 640x480 pixels make sure that you will get a solid image quality regardless of zoom level and the range of the target. Speaking of, the magnification level goes up to 25 times, which is more than enough for most hunting scenarios.

Finally, professional hunters will definitely appreciate built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities that allow for seamless video streaming.

On the other hand, the refresh rate is limited only to 30Hz, which makes the overall output slow and jerky. Also, four AA batteries used to supply the system are far from the ideal power option. Solid life of up to 8 hours does make this problem more manageable.

  • Excellent smart assistance features
  • Solid resolution
  • Lightweight and durable build
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities
  • Sub-par refresh rate
  • Used four AA batteries

Final Verdict

ATN ThOR-HD 2.5-25x 50 mm is a scope that makes a perfect choice for hunters who don't want to perform complicated ballistic calculations. This novelty is paid for by underwhelming image quality.

ATN OPMOD ThOR LT 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope – The Best Entry-Level Thermal Scope

In a world of thermal scopes, ATN OPMOD ThOR LT 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope sits at the very bottom of the ladder. Not for the lack of quality, though – everything we have on display here can be considered top-tier for this product segment.

It’s just that the product is obviously aimed at casual people who are still stretching their hunting muscles.

What's great in this case is that not everything you get in the package reeks entry-level.

For instance, the rock-solid refresh rate of 60 Hz produces one more than smooth and precise output. A battery life of 10 hours is something that sets the standards even for some far more expensive competitors, and the magnification that ranges between 3-6x is not that shabby either.

But, this is the point where the limited production budget of this scope starts to show its ugly face.

The sensor resolution of only 160x120 pixels is barely usable in poor weather conditions, the weight of 640 grams is too taxing even for experienced hunters, and advanced features and Wi-Fi connectivity are all but absent.

We have to point out, though, that despite these limitations, the manufacturer was kind enough to grace the unit with its trademark Obsidian Core feature.

So, when all is said and done, we can conclude that for a price that goes just above a big grand, you get quite a lot of value. Still, we suggest that you invest a couple of hundreds of dollars more.

  • More than lucrative price
  • Smart ballistic assistance
  • Solid build quality
  • Some specs are quite good
  • Obviously, an entry-level product

Final Verdict

ATN OPMOD ThOR LT 3-6x is limited by its entry-level budget in more than one way. Still, if you are a casual hunter not obsessed with fancy features, you will find a lot to enjoy here.

Pulsar Core RXQ30V 1.6-6.4x22 Thermal Riflescope - Great scope for the price

Want to track the moving objects faster than ever before? Looking for the best tech to detect heat signatures without breaking the bank? Pulsar Core RXQ30V deserves your attention.

What allows the Pulsar Core RXQ30V to identify targets precisely is its highly tinted green sapphire. That is, because, not only is the green display easier on the eyes, but it also allows for longer scanning times without any eye fatigue.

Also, while the base magnification of the Pulsar Core RXQ30V is 1.6x, you can increase it all the way up to 6.4x. How? This model has three digital zoom settings – 2x, 3x and 4x. Use the last setting with the base magnification, and you’ll have the maximum magnification power of 6.4x. Notable notice - this scope doesn’t have a focus ring for manual adjusting, which can be a big downside, but considering its price, it’s completely ok. Focus to infinity works just fine on all distances.

More importantly, the Pulsar Core isn’t only for viewing static or slow moving objects. Instead, thanks to its refresh rate of 50Hz, this model allows you to view dynamic, moving objects with equal ease.

Moving on, you won’t have to spend more than 5 minutes to mount this device on your tripod or weapon. It has a quick mount mechanism which allows easy on/off application. The similar utility is on offer with the 3 rifle profiles of this model which allows 3 different persons to use it.

Finally, despite costing less than the Pulsar Trail XQ, this model provides the freeze function to provide one-shot zeroing. Equally impressive is the 985-yard detection range of this model. However, one feature which this model lacks is the IRIS technology which we saw in the Pulsar Trail XQ.

  • Detection range of 985 yards
  • Green sapphire display
  • One-shot zeroing
  • External power supply adaptable
  • No focus ring
  • No video output

Final Verdict

The Pulsar RXQ30V is a high-end thermal scope which provides a sapphire green display, a 50 Hz refresh rate, and is rated IPX7, all for significantly lower than all others on the market. What more can you ask for?

ATN ThOR-HD 5-50x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes – The Thermal Scope with the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity

Last but not least, we have yet another scope from ATN’s long list of products. Unfortunately, this one warrants the least level of attention.

You see, while all the previous units had something working to their advantage, ATN ThOR-HD 5-50x 50 mm feels pretty uninspired and without any strong selling points. That doesn’t make it bad, but you have a lot of better options here.

So, what does ATN ThOR-HD 5-50x 50 mm exactly offer?

Well, the solid sensor resolution of 640x480 pixels, a solid refresh rate of 50 Hz, and solid battery life of 8+ hours should give you a pretty good idea about what we are dealing with here.

Of course, not all features and specs are so generic. For example, the magnification that goes all the way up to 50 times is definitely top-tier. The power supply that consists of four AA batteries sits at the very opposite end of the spectrum.

Still, it would be worth mentioning that this package is very feature-rich. The good people from ATN made sure to supply the unit with all the trademark bells and whistles like Recoil Activated Video (RAV), Ballistic Calculator, Smart Rangefinder, and so on.
Wi-Fi connectivity is truly top-tier.

In the end, the biggest problem we have with this package is the price tag that hands on it. At this price point, you can find some much better offers.

  • A bunch of useful features
  • Solid build quality
  • Good core specs
  • Excellent magnification
  • Lacks proper selling points
  • Uses four AA batteries

How to Choose a Thermal Scope?

1. Magnification

Magnification is the ability of a thermal scope to enlarge a distant object by magnifying it, allowing the viewer to see it up-close. Magnification has its pros and cons. If you are going to use the thermal scope for viewing objects at long distances, you need to have a thermal scope that offers good magnification.

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However, greater degrees of magnification may often come at a cost to the quality of the image. For instance, if you are viewing objects at long distance through scope magnification, it may pixelate or distort the image, worsening the details of the target.

Most thermal scopes come with specific details regarding their optimal magnification distances.

Some may even come with multiple magnification options, allowing you to balance between image quality and image magnification based on your needs.

A greater magnification may also reduce the resolution of the image and the refresh rate may be slightly slower. This means that if you use a thermal scope to magnify a very distant object that is moving, or if you magnify such an object while on the move yourself, you may experience some lag in the image refreshing.

2. Resolution

Much like the digital displays, a thermal scope relies on an imaging technology which makes use of image resolution to display a clear and crisp image. A simple rule of thumb with thermal scope resolution is: the lower the resolution is, the lower the quality and clarity of an image will be.

And the higher the resolution is, the clearer the image will be.

Another upside to a high resolution is that you are able to zoom in at target objects without losing too much of the image quality. This is not true for low-resolution scopes which begin to display a distorted and pixelated image when zooming in on an object.

Resolution is incredibly important in a thermal scope and if you end up purchasing an expensive scope with poor resolution, it will be a waste of money. So your best bet is to ensure that you find a scope with the highest possible resolution while staying within your budget limits.

3. Color Modes

Thermal scopes come in monochrome or color options. A monochrome thermal scope displays the heat map in shades of grey.

Depending on the settings of a monochrome scope, it may display a warm object as brighter than the surrounding environment.

A color thermal scope, on the other hand, is able to display the differences in temperature through various colors, providing a colored heat map.

best thermal scope for hunting

Both types of scopes are highly effective although if you’re looking for the absolutely best option, the color scope may help you navigate in the dark, smoke or haze more accurately.

The upside for a monochrome scope is that although it is almost as effective, it costs significantly less.

4. Reticle Patterns

Different thermal scopes come with different reticle options. A reticle is simply a crosshair pointer that helps you accurately close in on a target object. Some thermal scopes come with a four-line standard reticle while other may feature a single-dot reticle for pinpoint accuracy.

best thermal scope under $1000

Among four-line reticles, you can choose from reticles with thicker lines and those with fine lines. Some thermal scopes may come with a variety of different reticle options, allowing you to switch between them as needed. And yet other scopes may come with no reticle pattern at all.

At the end of the day, the choice of a reticle pattern really depends on your needs and preferences. For instance, if you’re going to go night hunting using a thermal scope, a crosshair four-line reticle will be very useful. On the other hand, if you are not going to use a thermal scope for very accurate and targeted viewing, you may even do away with the reticle and go with a scope which doesn’t offer one.

5. Refresh Rate

The refresh rate of a thermal scope is simply the rate at which the scope refreshes the view. As a general rule of thumb, the more frequently a scope refreshes the scene, the more clearly will you be able to detect any movements in the scene.

On the other hand, if the refresh rate is too low, you may see a sort of lag in the image being viewed through the scope.

Most thermal scopes come with a 30 Hertz or 60 Hertz refresh rate. Choosing the right refresh rate really depends on your preferences. If you are going to use the thermal scope for static viewing with the target objects moving slowly, a 30 Hertz refresh rate is fine.

However, if you are going to use the scope to view objects that move quickly, or if you are going to use the scope while moving yourself, a 60 Hertz refresh rate will deliver you a far clearer result.

6. Optical or Digital Zoom

Most thermal scopes come with either a digital or optical zoom, or a combination of both.

Zoom allows you to magnify a distant object or target while viewing it through a thermal scope. A digital zoom accomplishes this by making use of software.

It works fine when you are zooming in at an object located close by but if you zoom in on a distant object using a digital zoom, the resulting image may have a significantly lower resolution.

An optical zoom, on the other hand, makes use of a lens in magnifying a distant object and is able to retain most of the quality of the original view. As a result, magnification using an optical zoom delivers a crisper image.

A good balance between the two is to get a thermal scope which utilizes both digital and optical zoom in magnification.

7. Objective Lens

Objective lens is the lens that is used in a thermal scope. The most important thing to consider regarding an objective lens is its diameter. If the diameter of the lens is small, it offers a narrower field of view and will not operate very well in low light conditions because it does not admit sufficient light in.

On the other hand, if the diameter of the lens is large, it offers a greater field of view. At the same time, a larger lens lets in more light, allowing you to see more clearly through the scope in low light circumstances.

Some scopes may even come with adjustable objective lens, allowing you to tweak and control the focus of the scope better. If you are going to use the scope to focus on distant objects while maintaining good clarity, an adjustable objective lens is best for you.

8. Battery Life

Thermal scopes operate on battery power. The battery options can vary greatly and usually the more high-end a scope is, the longer is the battery life it offers. Unlike night vision scopes which can offer a much extended battery life on a single charge, thermal scopes have a more limited battery life.

best thermal scope for the price

A good quality thermal scope may offer power for nearly 8 hours after a single charge, which should be sufficient for a single excursion in dark circumstances. Most (if not all) thermal scopes use lithium ion batteries. Some scopes may even come with spare batteries or a quick 1-hour charger to boost the battery power in times of urgent need.

9. Dimensions

The dimensions of a thermal scope may refer to many things, such as the size of the eyepiece, the length of the scope or its weight. In general, scopes which carry larger lenses or feature a wider variety of features tend to have larger dimensions. This also means that they are heavier than their lighter counterparts. Scopes with smaller lenses and more basic features consequently weigh less.

You have to determine your own needs and preferences when finding a thermal scope of the right dimensions. For instance, if you want to view objects over longer distances and need a thermal scope that can work steadily for long hours, you will need one with a larger lens and a larger battery.

You will have to be ready to carry such heavier scopes, however, which can become quite tiresome when you are outdoors for many hours. Scopes with larger dimensions also cost more in comparison to the more basic and lightweight dimensions.

However, in the case of the high-end scopes, the manufacturers may be able to deliver exceptional quality and all the relevant features in a very compact design.

10. Material

A wide range of materials may be used in the construction of a thermal scope, especially when it comes to lens material. In general, glass lenses are not used in thermal scopes simply because glass is an insulator material and does not allow passage of heat. This makes it impractical for thermal scopes because such scope’s very function depends on receiving heat signals from the target objects and creating heat maps based on that.

Germanium is a more commonly used material in thermal scope lenses. Germanium is made into a transparent glass-like material. It then provides the same lens-like properties as glass while also allowing thermal information to pass through its surface. In general, germanium is quite expensive as compared to glass which may explain the most thermal scopes’ prices.

Zinc Selenide is another material that may be used in the construction of thermal scope lenses, although it is less frequent. ZnSe is particularly well-suited for use in conjunction with the infrared spectrum which also makes it very well-suited for thermal scopes as well.

11. Weight

A thermal scope which offers more power options and comes with numerous extra features may also carry more weight. In comparison, a scope with a fixed power source and carrying only the rudimentary features, may weigh a lot less.

The weight of a scope is an important factor because you will probably mount the thermal scope of your rifle. You may have to carry your rifle for extended periods of time when on hunting or shooting excursions.

At such time, it is worth your while to trim down the weight of your equipment as much as possible. On the other hand, if you’re not going to have to carry the rifle and the scope for long periods, you may not concern yourself too much with the weight and go with slightly bulkier models without worrying.

12. Brands

A huge variety of thermal scopes are available in the market today. These are offered by a number of brands and companies. Following are the most acclaimed, recognized and popular brands in the thermal scope market.

  • Armasight
  • ATN
  • FLIR Systems

Armasight has been around for a long time and the company’s name is synonymous with quality night vision products.

These include the huge range of thermal scopes offered by the company. Armasight’s thermal scopes come with a huge and diverse variety, and are meant for everyone from law enforcement agencies and military units to professional hunters and commercial users.

Best Feature

Product Name


The Best Scope Overall

Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope

The Scope with the Best Value Proposition

ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes

The Scope with the Best Image Quality

IR Defense IR Hunter MKII 640x480 Multi-Use Thermal Weapon Sight

The Best Scope for Beginners

ATN Thor 4, 640x480, Thermal Rifle Scope

The Best Premium Thermal Scope

Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR 35mm Thermal Weapon Sight

Best Affordable Thermal Scope

ATN ThOR LT 320 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope

The Best Thermal Scope with Smart Assistance

ATN ThOR-HD 2.5-25x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes

The Best Entry-Level Thermal Scope

ATN OPMOD ThOR LT 3-6x Thermal Rifle Scope

Great Scope for the Price

Pulsar Core RXQ30V 1.6-6.4x22 Thermal Riflescope - Great scope for the price

The Thermal Scope with the Best Wi-Fi Connectivity

ATN ThOR-HD 5-50x 50 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scopes

Thermal Scope and Night Vision Scope

best thermal scope 2021

If you are looking for a way to be able to view clearly even in low light conditions, you can choose from thermal scope and night vision scope. Both of them allow you to see in low light, although both use different methods and have their own advantages.

Thermal imaging simply works by detecting the heat being given away by an object, such as an animal, a human or a car. If the object being viewed is significantly hotter than the surrounding atmosphere, a thermal scope is able to detect it and make the object clearly visible in contrast to the surrounding area. Thermal scopes use this method to detect even small temperature differences.

Most thermal scopes display the heat map in shades of grey, so that the object that is hotter than the surrounding area may appear lighter in contrast to the surrounding. More advanced thermal scopes may display a color map where various temperatures in the view are displayed in various colors.

Night vision scopes, work differently. A night vision scope simply amplifies the amount of light in dark circumstances and uses this light to enable you to view in the dark. High-quality night vision scopes may be able to utilize starlight and moonlight being reflected off ground or the tree leaves to illuminate an otherwise dark scene.

However, there must always be some light for a night vision scope to work at all. The lower the light, the poorer will be the result of the scope.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are thermal scopes so expensive?

This question is a bit misleading because most of the entry-level thermal scopes are not that expensive to begin with – most of them sell for just above 1,000 bucks.

But, you are probably asking about the units with a bit heavier price tag. The answer to your question lies in the advanced features these scopes are packed with. For instance, most of the advanced units feature things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, ballistic assistance, and multiple color mods.

All of them make hunting easier but also have an effect on pricing.

What is the best thermal rifle scope?

In our honest opinion, that would be the Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope.

The scope features multiple color mods, crisp image quality, a bunch of advanced features, and solid build quality. What's even better, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get it.

What else could you ask for your future night hunting sessions?

What is the best thermal scope for the money?

The opinions on this are split.

As we just said in the previous section, Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope packs one incredibly good value proposition.

But, if you want to get something more affordable that still offers an excellent hunting experience, we suggest that you take a look at ATN ThOR-HD 2-8x 25 mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope. It still offers some killer (no pun intended) specs but sits at the very bottom of the price ladder.

How long will a thermal scope last?

This one really depends on the unit you are buying and how you are going to use it.

On average, modern thermal scopes are able to hit pretty solid 10,000 hours of glitch-free performance.

Buying a unit with an IP certification and quality rechargeable battery can ramp up these numbers even higher. But, once again – the numbers vary from product to product.

And Our Top Pick Is...

We chose the Pulsar Thermion XM50 as our top pick.

As we mentioned above, this thermal scope gives you the best value. We love its one-time digital zeroing, 15 different reticles in up to 4 colors—black, red, white and green, and 8x digital zoom. These features help us to use the scope effectively and easily.

We also like that it has a very clear image quality and accurate shooting for most hunting purposes. And it fits our gun with 30mm rings well for perfect night hunting trips.

But that is our opinion. If you think another scope suits you better, read this review, and you will undoubtedly find the best choice.


At the end of the day, the best thermal scope is the one that is able to offer the features and performance level you desire without constraining your budget.

As stated above, you have to determine the features that you require from a scope as well as other preferences before you assess various scopes.

The 10 thermal scope reviews provided above shortlist some of the industry-best thermal scopes from the leading manufacturers in the market.

Choosing one scope based on our reviews will most certainly bring you to a good decision. However, if there’s a model you’re interested in and was not featured in this article, you can apply the knowledge we shared and inspect the scope in detail to make a purchasing decision.

We wish you successful night hunting!

2 thoughts on “Best Thermal Scope for 2021 – Top 10 Powerful And Easy-To-Use Models”

  1. Can a THOR-HD 384 be up graded to a Thor HD 640 5 50x. can this sensor and lens be swapped. What does the numbers all stand for?


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