Best Thermal Scopes: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Thermal scopes utilize heat signature imaging technology, allowing you to target in low lighting conditions and at night. Although this thermal technology was initially for the military, thermal scopes are now easily accessible to hobbyists and nighttime hunters, though they are quite expensive, with the average price ranging between $100 and $5000 and above. Below is a review of the best thermal scopes on the market and a detailed buyer’s guide.

If you own a AR 15, we also have a list of the best scopes for AR 15.

5 Best Thermal Scopes

Best Thermal Scopes Overall: ATN Thor 4 Thermal Riflescope

  • Magnification Type: variable, digital
  • Magnification: 4.5-18x
  • Resolution: 384×288
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Color options: various pallets
  • Battery life: up to 22 hours
  • Weight: 2.2lb
  • Dimensions: 13.8 x 3 x 3 inches

At a glance, the smart HD thermal ATN Thor 4 Thermal Riflescope may look like a standard traditional optic due to the exterior build that includes standard mounting rings and tubes. However, beneath the seemingly basic exterior features, it is a powerful unit powered by the ATN Obsidian IV Dual Core.

It mostly stands out for the wide range of smart features such as a built-in ballistic calculator, video record, smart range finder, 3” eye relief, smart mil-dot reticle, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The ballistic calculator allows you to set up to 6 profiles and account for the range, temperature, humidity, and angle of the target to ensure a perfect shot each time. It comes with an ATN X-Trac Tactical Remote Access control system that you can use to operate the various smart features.

The ultra-sensitive next-generation sensors enable heat signature detection even at a long range. The 60Hz refresh rate ensures that it can detect targets that are in motion.

It has several color viewing modes, including the standard black hot and white-hot and other colors. The display contrast and high resolution produce high-quality images of the target.

The classic ergonomic design has a user-friendly interface and a wide field of view. It is easy to mount on most guns as long as they have 30mm standard mount rings.

It comes with a battery kit that provides up to 22 hours of continuous use. The battery unit easily recharges while still using the scope, and you can also use the kit to power other devices.


  • Easy to use
  • Easy to mount
  • Wide range of smart features
  • Long battery run time
  • 3-years manufacturer warranty


  • Poor customer service

Best Thermal Scopes Runners Up: AGM Global Vision Rattler Thermal Scope

  • Magnification Type: Fixed, Digital
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Resolution: 384×288
  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Color options: Black hot, white-hot, red hot, and fusion
  • Battery life: up to 4.5 hours
  • Weight: 3.55lb
  • Dimensions: 7.37 x 2.46 x 2.33 inches

The AGM Global Vision Rattler Thermal Scope operates effectively in all weather and environmental conditions. It is available in two objective lens options to suit your focusing needs. The 25mm lens is best suited for short-range shooting while a 35mm lens model is suitable for medium-range missions.

You get a clear target with the 384×288 thermal detector and 1024×768 OLED monitor, even in extremely harsh conditions, like smoke, fog, smoke, snow, and rain. People mostly use it for hunting and patrolling.

It offers various color pallet options, and you can switch the modes seamlessly. It has an onboard wi-fi module that enables live video streaming. The in-built battery can last up to 4.5 hours of continuous operation time. You can continue to charge it while still using it to a battery pack using a USB connector to increase the operating time.


  • Compact
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Different color modes
  • Ambidextrous handling
  • 3-year warranty


  • Heavy compared to other thermal scopes on the market

Best Value for Money: The OpticGuru Thor LT Thermal Scope

  • Magnification Type: Variable
  • Magnification: 3x-6x
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Color options: Grayscale
  • Battery life: 10 hours of continuous use
  • Weight: 1.4lb
  • Dimensions: 14.8 x 4.1 x 3 inches

The OpticGuru Thor LT thermal scope is a high-quality unit sold at an affordable price. Its construction incorporates advanced heat energy detection sensors that make it suitable for use even in extreme weather conditions such as dense smoke, fog, or vegetation.

You can use this scope for a range of applications, including hunting, surveillance, and day and night shooting. It is best suited for close-range shooting within 200 yards. The manufacturer indicates that its detection range is 475 meters, recognition is 240 meters, while the identification range is 160 meters.

It has a 3-6x digital magnification makes it possible to zoom into the target for a better view. The 60hz refresh rate makes it easier to keep up with moving targets.

It has a 30mm tube scope made of hardened aluminum alloy, making it lightweight and offering excellent recoil resistance even when used with high-caliber rifles. It is much lighter than most of the thermal scopes on the market, enhancing its portability. It comes fitted with a Li-ion battery, which has ultra-low power consumption and high performance. The battery lasts up to 10 hours with consistent use.

This standalone best thermal scope has multiple reticle options. The 160×120 resolution is reasonable though not excellent. It also comes with a USB cable, eyecup, lens tissue, and scope cover. However, it does not come with a mount.


  • Great value for money
  • Simple minimalistic design
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to mount
  • Easy to use
  • Long battery run time


  • Not suitable for long-range

Best Premium: Pulsar Thermion Thermal Riflescope

  • Magnification Type: variable, digital
  • Magnification: 3-24x
  • Resolution: 640×768
  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Color options: 8 pallets
  • Battery life: up to 7 hours
  • Weight: 2.0lb
  • Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 3 inches

If you want to get a premium-quality thermal rifle scope and do not mind spending up to $6000 for it, go for the Pulsar Thermion Thermal Riflescope. It has a premium-quality construction for high performance and offers both the basic features and a wide range of convenience features. It has a wide range of applications, including boating, hunting, tactical shooting, competitive shooting, and more.

The aluminum construction is lightweight yet sturdy and durable has IPX7 waterproofing against heavy snow and precipitation. It operates smoothly when submerged up to three feet in water for 30 minutes.

Its build incorporates a revolutionary electronics unit that enables an instant start-up, helping with energy optimization. You can switch off the thermal rifle scope when it is not in use and quickly switch it on when you need it.

This thermal hunting scope has BAE sensors with eight color pallets, which provide a customized display. Red hot, ultramarine, and rainbow indicate intense hot spots, while white-hot and red hot are the basic spectrums. When using the riflescope for prolonged periods, violet, sepia, red, and monochrome palettes reduce eye fatigue.

The Thermion line of rifle scopes has a dual-battery system with an internal and an external battery for prolonged operational time. The battery can last up to seven hours.

The scope’s notable convenience features include stream vision app compatibility, variable digital zoom up to 8x, and video and still photo recording. By pairing up the thermal scope with the Stream Vision App, you can use a smartphone as a remote control or for a secondary display. It also makes it easy to transfer files and settings.

One of its most outstanding features is the high resolution – 640×768 – which produces crisp images. It is also suitable for long-range detection up to 2400. It has a 50Hz resolution, enabling smooth image transitions when targeting moving images. It is recoil rated up to 6000joules making it suitable for use with large caliber rifles.


  • Wide range of application
  • High-quality build
  • Suitable for both short and long-range detection
  • Wide range of convenience features
  • Exceptionally high resolution


  • Quite Pricey

Best Budget: ATN OTS-XLT Compact Thermal Viewer

  • Magnification Type: variable, digital
  • Magnification: 2-8x
  • Resolution: 160×120
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Color options: black hot, white hot, and color
  • Battery life: up to 10 hours
  • Weight: 0.8lb
  • Dimensions: ‎6.85 x 2.64 x 2.09 inches

The ATN OTS-XLT Compact Thermal Viewer has a compact and lightweight design that includes smart features, such as video recording and image capture. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and makes the perfect hunting companion, but it is also suitable for rescue and search missions.

It comes with 8 GB of internal storage. The thermal monocular has an advanced power source that keeps it in action for up to 10 hours of continuous use. The smart range finder can detect how far the target is within 263 yards.


  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Low power consumption
  • Has a video recording feature
  • Smart range finder
  • 2-year warranty


  • Does not come with a mount

Best Thermal Scopes Buying Guide

Best thermal scopes

With so many thermal scopes available in the market with different features, narrowing it down to one can be a daunting task. Below is a look at the essential features and factors to consider when determining which thermal scope to buy.

Image Clarity

The image clarity depends on the resolution rating of a given scope. The lower the resolution, the lower the quality of images and vice versa. No matter how powerful the thermal device’s sensor is, seeing the target is difficult with low resolution. As such, you want to go for a thermal scope with a high resolution so you can see the target even in low lighting.

Note that models with a higher resolution are usually priced higher. Even if you are on a budget, do not compromise on resolution. Go for scopes with the highest resolution within your budget range.


The magnification feature allows you to zoom in on the target. Some thermal scopes have a variable magnification feature, while others have fixed magnification. Those with a variable magnification either employ optical or digital magnification. Digital magnification uses software to zoom images. The image quality is usually lower compared to optical magnification. Optical magnification uses lens adjustment to zoom images in.

Detection Range

It refers to the distance within which the scope can sense heat signature. Each model has a stipulated range. Most have a short detection range, although there is also a selection of long-range models on the market.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is a crucial factor when aiming at moving targets with thermal imaging scopes. It refers to the number of times the image changes per second. Refresh rates are usually indicated in hertz (Hz), with most models rated at 30Hz, 50Hz, or 60Hz. The higher the refresh rate, the more seamless the image transitions.

Reticle Options

Reticles provide a more accurate targeting. It is usually a network of lines, dots, patterns, or crosshairs inside the scope that give you a clear representation of where the target is.

There are different reticle options, and each is suitable for specific applications, like target shooting and hunting. If you have excellent aiming skills, you may choose a scope without a reticle. Otherwise, go for one with multiple reticle options.

Size and Weight of the Scope

The best scope size depends on the size and weight of your firearm and the primary use of the scope. If your rifle is small, you want a lightweight and compact unit. Also, consider if your shooting activity involves lugging your rifle and shooting accessories on difficult terrains. In such a scenario, you want to keep the overall luggage weight as low, light, and compact are suitable.

Objective Lens Diameter

The objective lens diameter plays a crucial role in how well you see the target. It is directly proportional to the field of view. Therefore, the wider it is, the wider the field of view.

Battery Life

The last thing you want is your battery running out in the middle of a shot. Although it is good practice to always bring an extra battery for your shooting expeditions, you want a scope with a battery that lasts for a considerably long time. Models that come with a high-quality battery are often pricier upfront but will be economical in the long run as you won’t need to change the battery too frequently.

Color Options

While some scopes provide monochrome and grayscale thermal optic images, others offer a full-color spectrum. A wide array of color options can be confusing, especially for beginners, while with the monochrome or grayscale spectrum, it is easy to spot the target. The latter also works well when there are multiple targets within your frame. Some thermal imaging scope models offer you the flexibility to switch between the different color modes.

Additional Features

Certain models have additional features that provide convenience and enhanced capabilities. Some additional features include GPS location, WI-FI connectivity, recoil-activated video recording, laser rangefinders, ballistic calculators, and digital compasses.

Manufacturer Warranty and Guarantee

Since thermal imaging scopes are quite pricey, you must buy one with at least a 2-year warranty and a satisfaction guarantee. Read previous customer reviews to ascertain that the manufacturer honors warranty claims and return policies.

Best Thermal Scopes: FAQs

What is the Difference Between Thermal Rifle Scopes and Night Vision Scopes?

Often, people confuse night vision scopes for thermal rifle scopes. While both are used to seeing at night and in low lighting conditions, they have different operating mechanisms.

A thermal scope focuses on detecting heat energy on the target as the target’s temperature is usually higher than the surroundings. It does not require visible light to function. As such, it can focus on even the smaller targets in extreme darkness.

On the downside, thermal scopes do not provide precise details. They take a bit of practice to master focusing and are also much pricier than night vision scopes.

On the other hand, a night vision scope has an infrared illuminator that uses ambient light such as moonlight or starlight to improve clarity in low lighting conditions or darkness. It provides a detailed image of the target and is easy to use even for beginners.

Notably, while you can use a thermal scope in all lighting conditions, a night vision scope is only limited to nighttime and low lighting conditions.

The Best Thermal Scopes: Conclusion

A thermal imaging rifle scope has a wide range of applications, including hunting small and large animals, tactical shooting, and competitive shooting. They are best suited for short to midrange targeting within 250 yards. However, with a high magnification level, you can use them for long-range shooting, too. The most critical features to look out for in a thermal scope are a high resolution, magnification, and refresh rate.

Our pick for the best thermal scope is the ATN Thor 4 Thermal Riflescope. Although the exterior has a standard build, it packs up a wide range of smart features that make it quite powerful. Its sensors are ultra-sensitive, enabling target detection even at a long range, and the battery can last up to 22 hours.

Best Thermal Scopes


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