Mar 14, 2020 | 12:23 am 71 0

How to choose a thermal rifle scope

How to choose a thermal rifle scope

There have been significant advancements in thermal technology, that have led to cheaper, higher quality and smaller devices. With so many options and varying features, the field has become cluttered in determining the best thermal riflescope for your need. Dependent on need, there are thermal rifle scopes with the ability to identify targets at 1,000+ meters, and there are also price driven models with identification ranges in the 200+ meter range. We will review the specs to look for in choosing the best thermal scope for your budget and needs.


Night vision scopes, being image-enhancement technology, uses electronics and amplifies the amount of light in dark circumstances and uses this light to enable you to view in the dark. If there is no light, night vision will not generate an image, unlike thermal imaging.

Thermal imaging works by detecting the heat (IR radiation) being given off by an object, such as an animal, a human or car, that is why such unit may be used in complete darkness.

Moreover, thermal rifle scopes are passive infrared weapon sighting systems which allow operators to spot heat signatures day or night at the rain, through deep/tall grass, fog, dust, and smoke.

Such characteristics make thermal scopes more effective in certain applications.

Police and security officers can use both thermal and night vision scopes, particularly for surveillance, but a thermal system will deliver more effective detection in such environmental conditions as fog, dust, or smoke. Hunters can use night-vision devices (NVDs) to maneuver through the woods at night, but a thermal type of scope will be more effective for spotting a resting or otherwise still animal in thick foliage or wooded areas. And rescue teams can more easily locate an injured or unconscious person or other signs of life on land or in water even in fog or smoke, and day or night.

Selecting a thermal scope for your rifle can be a difficult and confusing task. The internet is a wonderful source of information but there is little to control the validity of that information. Today, many thermal rifle scopes are listed from a variety of companies. There are also many foreign knock off type scopes or low cost “commercial” scopes that have questionable long term value. The true thermal weapon sights are military grade systems designed for the rough conditions of combat and law enforcement scenarios. If you are going to spend thousands of dollars on a precision thermal sighting system you should invest in a quality piece that will work now and for a long time to come.


Specs to look for when choosing a thermal scope

When you are on the look-out for the type of scope you need and the amount of money you want to invest in it, take time to get to know some of the most important features, you will need your thermal rifle scope have:


Magnification is the ability of a thermal scope to enlarge a distant object by magnifying it. Most thermal scopes come with specific details regarding their optimal magnification distances. Note that a higher magnification may reduce the resolution of the image, and the refresh rate may be slightly slower.

Resolution of the scope and sensor

You need to know what your thermal sensor resolution is, not just the resolution of the scope. Some scopes will have an 800×600 display but a thermal sensor that is only 320×240. This means that your thermal image is never going to be as clear as the same scope with a 640×480 thermal sensor.

Scope Detection Range

A very high-quality thermal scope will allow you to positively identify the target at up to 4,000 yards while an entry level scope can limit you to 1,000 yards or less.

Reticle pattern

Some thermal scopes come with a four-line standard reticle while others may feature a single-dot reticle for pinpoint accuracy. If you are going to go night-hunting using a thermal scope, a crosshair four-line reticle will be very useful.

Refresh Rate

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.

Zoom type

A digital zoom magnifies by using software, and it is more affordable. An optical zoom, on the other hand, makes use of a lens and delivers a crisper image, but it is pricier.

Battery life

A good quality thermal scope may offer power for nearly 8 hours after a single charge.


Thermal rifle scopes are a big investment, so you should pay attention to the warranty length.a


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