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Mar 14, 2020 | 12:23 am 54730 1

How to choose a thermal rifle scope

How to choose a thermal rifle scope

No matter how many problems and specific inconveniences there are in a modern person's life, there is no doubt that we must thank fate that allowed us to live in such an interesting era.

Literally every morning, we wake up and, studying the news feed at breakfast, we learn about new and breakthroughs in science that allow us to explore new horizons. Modern technology has given us opportunities that no one could have thought of a couple of decades ago. They make us better, stronger, and more efficient.

A striking example of the results of such a scientific leap was the development of technology for recognizing objects in impenetrable darkness. Half a century ago, humanity dreamed of such an opportunity, and today we have a choice in which version of equipment we use.

On the one hand, we have night vision devices that work by amplifying the incoming light signal. On the other hand, some devices level the night's darkness and interference from bad weather conditions.

And today, we will focus on a detailed examination of the devices of the second category. They are not so well known in popular culture, but they are no less effective. They work thanks to unique technologies. And, for sure - they will give you an unforgettable and unique experience of use.

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 rifle scope for your need. Depending 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.

How does thermal scope work?

As we already mentioned, today, there are two main types of technologies that allow us to solve the fundamental problem of our body's deficiencies - the inability to recognize objects in low light conditions. It's no secret that evolution has provided even domestic cats with such a simple function. We were deprived of this elementary advantage up to the invention of two technologies by scientists.

The first one is similar to the vision system of the same cats. Night vision is provided by enhancing weak streams of light that render the object under observation up to the visible range. However, today we are not talking about him but a more intriguing version.

This section of the military and civilian industry is called thermal imaging.

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

IR radiation
Signal processing

From the outside, it may seem like magic. A device that can be in your hand, fixed on your head or helmet, or attached to a rifle will give you tremendous information about the environment you are monitoring.

You get the result of observation in the form of visualization of thermal signatures of objects. With modern advances, infrared cameras, which are the heart of the device, have become much better quality and sensitive. This was due to the optimization of infrared optical image sensors' production process, a fundamental part of the device. Thanks to this, today, you have the opportunity to use compact and lightweight devices that give amazing results.

One of the main indicators of devices is the field of view. There are three main options: a 6 ° telephoto counterpart, 23 ° standard optics, and a 48 ° wide-angle lens. Without going into technical details, we can draw the following conclusion: one of the advantages of a thermal imager is that the distance to the object does not affect measuring the temperature signature, and therefore does not distort the image.

What opportunities does this technology provide you? Limitless. To see the object, both at night, and in snowfall, and the rain, and in fog, you need a little. The object's temperature needs to be above absolute zero. All further will be done by the technician. And you will see a high-quality and informative image with different light intensities correlated with temperature.

Moreover, thermal riflescopes are passive infrared weapon sighting systems that allow operators to spot heat signatures day or night in the rain, through deep/tall grass, fog, dust, and smoke. And this opportunity makes this technology even more attractive to us, infinitely expanding our capabilities.

When do you need a thermal scope for your rifle?

In the previous section, we covered the basics of thermal imagers as is obvious, the ability to register and display temperature fluctuations of objects and heat signatures in general. Such characteristics make thermal scopes more effective in certain applications.

It is only natural that such fantastic opportunities do not leave anyone indifferent. And if you think that such a technique is in demand only for military purposes and hunting, you are wrong. Today, the fields of equipment application based on thermal imaging technology are so extensive that it is simply impossible to list them completely.

Police and security officers can use both thermal and night vision scopes, particularly for surveillance. A thermal system will still 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.

Technology not only saves lives but also reduces financial damage. Today, no large-scale building renovation is complete without assessing leaks and thermal insulation, carried out using thermal imagers. Even with minor repairs to your plumbing or heating in your home, these devices can help you save money. After all, you don't need to disassemble and dismantle half of the bathroom to find the problem.

Modern medicine also does not neglect the results of the development of modern technologies. The equipment that displays the temperature background is incredibly in demand both in active treatment and in diagnostics.

In general, like any scientific breakthrough, thermal imaging is confidently being introduced into all areas of our life, and this process is ongoing. And, for sure, this section will soon receive a completely unexpected continuation.

Thermal or Night Vision scope – which better for you.

Today we are talking about one of two advanced night vision technologies. It isn't easy to give an advantage to any of them. It all depends on the goals and objectives that you set for yourself when buying an expensive device.

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.

This means that when using a night vision device, you must have certain conditions. For example, if there is a full moon in the sky, producing light, the image will be perfect. But, if the location is not illuminated, then the device becomes useless. And you either have to use artificial light sources or rely on your own eyes. We reject the last option immediately, and with the first option, you get a threat to be unmasked since the artificial source is clearly visible under certain conditions.

Also, keep in mind that night vision devices become quite limited when the weather is far from ideal. Fog, heavy rain, blizzard - all this makes it impossible to use the device.

With thermal imagers, everything is completely different. Based on a remote measurement of the temperature regime of the objects of observation, their operation principle allows you to obtain an optimal overview. The actual picture you get will be different. But, in terms of information content, they do not differ from each other. Moreover, with a thermal imager, you can also distinguish between traces and thermal marks under certain conditions.

The optimal condition and the only correct answer will be to have both types of devices in their arsenal. Believe me, they will be useful to you, and you will remember us with a kind word more than once if you do just that. But, don't forget that both technologies are complicated to manufacture and engineering specification. And it is quite logical that their cost is very high. Not everyone can afford the pleasure of acquiring the optimal set of tools.

If you are limited in the financial side of the purchase - very carefully and prudently analyze the purposes for which you are buying the device. And if thermal imaging is your choice, then our advice is for you.

Best AGM thermal rifle scopes

If we talk about philosophy, then ours has always consisted of a simple rule: "Either do well or do not do at all." Quality and reliability are the main priorities of AGM Globalvision products. It is important that our clients feel free in what they do, forgetting the fears that their equipment may fail them.

Good things cost money because we put an incredible amount of resources and effort into bringing you the best. And we do not see any point in offering and advising you analogs that are inferior to our products in all respects. So let's look at the best from the best manufacturer.


The lightweight, reliable, ergonomic sight allows many modifications for hunting at night and poor visibility conditions. It is hard to say if there are any weaknesses in this masterpiece of fig art. AGM PYTHON TS50-336 is flawless both from a technical point of view and from an aesthetic perspective.

Besides, this utilitarian device has the unlimited capabilities of modern digital technologies. Starting from a wireless control panel and ending with additional modules that are possible for installation.

This is a cheaper device but not inferior in functionality. Consistently high build quality and the best materials have long become the hallmark of AGM Globalvision. AGM SECUTOR TS25-384 proudly demonstrates this with its own example.

5 hours of continuous operation and 44 hours, when connected to an external battery, connect to the network and other digital devices—unchanging rugged beauty in design and ergonomic solutions from professionals who know all your needs.

A version of the previous model with a 75 mm lens system. This device has everything that our devices are valued for. AGM SECUTOR TS75-384 is ready to be your reliable companion on your adventures, delivering real pleasure with every use.

All additional features and technical solutions, at the same time, remain identical across the entire line of devices.


The word "micro" in the name of this amazing device is used solely to emphasize its compactness. All its other indicators, including quality, reliability, ease of operation, and ergonomic, can only be described by the word "maximum."

Available with two lens options, AGM PYTHON-MICRO TS35-384 has a 5-hour battery life and more than 40 hours of operation when connected to an external battery via a USB connector. A significant bonus is the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network, which makes streaming or recording videos straightforward and intuitive.


Perhaps this is Cadillac among thermal imaging scopes. Longwave, uncooled scope that can operate 24 hours a day, so you can afford not to dismantle it. The aircraft-grade aluminum alloy of which the device is made will reliably protect an expensive device and allow it to work for an incredibly long time. Water-resistance is another bonus that will convince you that the device will not be scary in the harshest conditions.

PYTHON's proven and user-friendly interface will open up the incredible benefits of today's digital world. Color palettes, grid templates, and many more settings and functions. Needless to say, when you connect to the network, your possibilities will become almost limitless.

Specs to look for when choosing a thermal scope.

Don't get us wrong. The models we presented in the previous section were not attempts to sell them. We just wanted to introduce you to an amazing product that is considered one of the best on the market.

In fact, it is not enough to have money and the desire to buy a thermal imager. After all, spending a couple of thousand dollars on impulse is not the smartest thing to do. First, you need to analyze in detail the device market and your needs. After weighing all the nuances, we advise you to choose an individual device that will delight you for a long time, including the fair price you paid for it.

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 to 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.

Portable thermal imagers have optical magnification parameters of no more than 5 and magnification during digital processing - up to 8. Some devices claim up to 20. But, remember that fantastic numbers are usually realized by lowering the quality of the final image. Moreover, the minimum magnification gives a wide field of view and allows you to assess the real size of the target more objectively.

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 will never be as clear as the same scope with a 640×480 thermal sensor.

This is one of the most important parameters of the equipment, if not the most important. In many ways, he determines the cost of the device, and the visible results of operation depend on this parameter.

Don't chase the market for optimal readings. As practice shows, the overpayment will be significant, but you will receive a moderate increase in quality.

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.

A lot or a little depends on the working conditions and your tasks. In any case, this indicator is in direct proportion to the lens diameter and angle of view. The larger the diameter and the smaller the angle, the greater the operational detection distance you will get.

But, do not forget that a thermal imager's capabilities are not the only factor affecting how far away you can detect an object. This object's size and contrast are the difference between the thermal radiation from the object and the background.

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.

Typically, the sights of thermal imagers are mounted on weapons using brackets. In addition to reticle of various types, they also have several sighting profiles. In fact, being monoculars, they differ from them in high reliability and resistance to shock loads to not be damaged when recoil from a shot.

Refresh Rate

As a general rule of thumb, the more frequently a scope refreshes the scene, the more clearly you will detect any movements in the scene.

Everything here is simple and clear as with PC games, the faster you get information, the higher the frame rate. The standard frame rate range is 7.5 to 60 Hz. If you are in the mood for thoughtful and calm observation of the territory, you can save money and not buy a high range device. If your goal is active and dynamic hunting, your choice is at least 30 Hz.

Zoom type

Digital zoom magnifies by using software, and it is more affordable. On the other hand, an optical zoom uses a lens and delivers a crisper image, but it is pricier.

Once again, don't be fooled. Some manufacturers skillfully juggle these types of image enlargement. But, in fact, you will get a real magnification of hundreds of times, although the image quality is unlikely to be satisfactory.

Battery life

A good quality thermal scope may offer power for nearly 8 hours after a single charge. Pay attention to which batteries the device comes with. They can be both removable and non-removable.

Manufacturers often manipulate the battery life, claiming that it can hold a charge for 40+ hours. True, they forget to clarify that this time is relevant if the device is connected to a portable charger.

Also, remember that the battery is a sensitive part of the device. She is afraid of moisture and works less at sub-zero temperatures.

Simultaneously, the main rule is: a reliable manufacturer will not equip his device with an unreliable battery. And, if you purchase high-quality equipment and properly maintain the battery, it will serve you for a very long time.


Thermal rifle scopes are a big investment, so you should pay attention to the warranty length. After all, if you spend your own money, you probably expect to get the most out of your purchase. And any long-term prospects are permissible only with a reliable partner.

Thermal imagers are incredibly complex and fragile devices. This is the essence of the work of scientists, engineers, and assemblers. If a reliable company is ready to share the responsibility and service of its product with third parties for a significant period, this company can be trusted.

Also, do not neglect to study such an issue as customer support. Trust me, friendly and competent support is vital, especially if you bought your first device.

The best tool for learning this side of the issue is to study forums and advice from friends. Unfortunately, no one has yet invented another tool for an objective assessment of such services. The only good news is that as soon as you find the best manufacturer for yourself, you will stay with him for a long time and will no longer ask yourself such questions.

Thermal imager accessories

Without a doubt, when you become the owner of this device, you will need accessories for it. They are mainly of a utilitarian and practical meaning and should not be neglected.

In addition to cables, covers, cases, and transport straps, there are many other add-ons that you will definitely want to buy.

For starters, it all depends on how you are going to use the thermal imager and what type of thermal imager you purchase. Mounts for helmets or the head, rails for weapons - consider these nuances before buying, and you will save yourself many problems in the future.

Additional devices are also offered in large quantities. We are willing to argue that even if you are not considering the need to buy, say, a rangefinder now, you will definitely want it in the future. Indeed, over time, the prospect of seeing the distance to the goal will become so seductive that you will acquire it without hesitation.

You will also want to analyze your actions during the thermal imager's operation or share your impressions with your friends. And the ability to connect a video encoder to the device will be key. Therefore, take care of this before buying a device.

Remote controls, extra batteries, interchangeable lenses, covers, and cases - believe me, it will be a long and exciting journey with many surprises.


Unfortunately, this article's size does not leave any opportunity to go into detail about such amazing technology, so we would like to highlight a few questions that readers periodically ask.

The main types of thermal imagers.

It would seem a simple question, the answer to which has long been found. Nevertheless, let's try again to classify this subspecies of devices for monitoring in conditions of poor visibility.

Let's start with the fact that thermal imagers are divided into observation and measuring instruments.

Surveillance devices are the main and most common type of device. It includes many devices for amateur, security, military, hunting, and search purposes. They measure an object's surface temperature signature and convert it to a rendered image using a color gradient. Conditionally speaking, these are exactly the devices that we encounter most often.

Measuring thermal imagers is a special-purpose class. Their functionality has been expanded due to the ability to visualize the observation area and measure the temperature of objects in this area. These are even more sophisticated and technologically advanced devices, often requiring specific skills for the operator. And the areas of their application are also very narrow and specific, although critical—medicine, technological and production processes, and construction work.

What determines image quality?

Surely, everyone knows about this, but let's make one more emphasis.

In a nutshell, the matrix's thermal sensitivity, resolution, and pixel size are responsible for the picture. Logically, the higher the indicators of these parameters, the better the operator's image will be received. In this case, the display and characteristics of the observation location are, in fact, secondary factors but have a significant impact on the final result.

The choice for semi-professional purposes - medium-range and good ability to decipher the contours of objects. And leave the great details for the military or millionaires.

Work in different seasons and times of day

The ideal working conditions of the thermal imager are cold winter nights. The temperature contrast during this period is optimal, and the device easily gives an informative and high-quality picture.

The warmer it is, the more thermal noise occurs in the output pattern. The same goes for daytime. Unlike night vision devices, a thermal imager will be relevant in the daytime, but thermal contrast will again be a key factor.

What does the thermal imager not see?

Despite the fantastic features, the thermal imager has its limits. To hide from his gaze, it is enough to hide behind an obstacle that will hide your temperature readings. Walls and solid barriers are great choices to turn invisible. And glass is generally kryptonite for the device.

But, remember that if you hid in a tent or under a thick blanket, you would become invisible exactly until you heat the shelter with your warmth.

In general, the market offers various solutions for hiding from the lens of the device. Different prices and degrees of efficiency. It is definitely better to be in the category of a hunter than a subject of observation.


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 that information's validity. Today, many thermal riflescopes are listed from a variety of companies. Many foreign knocks 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 combat and law enforcement scenarios' rough conditions. If you 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.

If you have read this article to the end, you are most likely at a crossroads. You can take the path of critical savings and buy a cheap and unreliable device, or you can find a reliable partner who will provide you with all the conditions for your purchase to please you throughout the entire period of operation.

In any case, we will be happy to help you, at least with advice, and familiarize you with the work we are sincerely proud of. Follow the link to view our products, each of which we consider an amazing masterpiece that has embodied thousands of hours of work by hundreds of amazing people. And we look forward to sharing our pride with you.

You can find more information about thermal imaging here:
Top things you should consider before buying a thermal imaging device
Interesting Facts About Thermal Imaging Scopes
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