A thermal scope is a type of optical device that measures the temperature of an object by detecting heat. It’s made out of glass, and it has a dial and a needle-like probe that can be inserted into the liquid inside the tube. The outer surface of the tube may also have a small window through which the user can see the current temperature.
They’re often used in scientific research or for military purposes, but they’re also quite handy for hobbyists who like to experiment with new projects. And because they can detect both hot and cold objects, they can be used in any kind of weather or light, making them ideal for hunting, shooting, and other activities that take place outside. The best thermal scope will depend on your needs, preferences, and budget and whether you want a portable, fixed-mount model or one that you can carry with you. Ahead, learn what factors are important to consider when shopping for a thermal scope, and find out why the following models deserve cheers!
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Thermal Scopes
When shopping for a thermal scope, there are several factors worth considering. The following section looks at these in detail.
Before deciding on which model might work best, think about how you intend to use it and what features would help make that task easier.
- Long-range shooting: For long-range shots, the ability to see clearly and precisely where your shot will land is essential. A high-quality optical sight with adjustable focus helps tremendously when hitting distant targets.
- Short-range shooting: At close range, using an infrared or laser light can be helpful because they don’t reflect off of surfaces like metal does. However, this isn’t as important if you’re only going to be dealing with enemies within 100 yards or so.
- Night vision: If you plan on doing any night hunting, then a low-light-level camera (like those made by FLIR) could prove useful. They have enhanced sensitivity in dim lighting conditions, allowing you to see in the dark without having to rely on lights from vehicles or weapons.
There are two main types of thermal scopes: sights and heads-up displays (HUDs). Sights typically consist of a few tubes that connect to each other and mount onto a gun barrel or a tripod. These are great for looking through but can get very hot during operation. A HUD uses a small display mounted directly in front of the user’s eyes. This allows the shooter to keep both hands free to manipulate the trigger or handlebars. While this makes them more convenient, it also reduces accuracy since the movement of the head affects the view of the target. Also, the brightness of the display may cause problems for some users who wear glasses.
The size and weight of the thermal scope itself aren’t much of a concern since most of them fit inside a large duffel bag. What is important is ensuring that the pack doesn’t add too much weight to the gun system and interfere with firing or moving quickly. For instance, if you’re planning on taking a trip, a heavy thermal scope might not move fast enough to suit you. Or, if you’re a competitive marksman, a heavier scope might give you an edge over rivals.
Most thermal scopes feature adjustable focus, which gives the user the ability to control the magnification level. Sight adjustments usually involve a knob on the side of the tube while head adjustments require a slider along the top of the unit. Sliding the focus up or down adjusts the magnification, making it larger or smaller. Moving the focus closer or f away from the eye adjusts the clarity of the image. Most manufacturers express focal distance in terms of meters; however, some units provide feet instead.
Batteries are one of the three primary fuel sources for a firearm (the others being ammo and gas), so it follows that the battery life over the course of a hunt can determine whether a good weapon remains good until the end or if it needs replacing every time the power runs out. Fortunately, modern batteries tend to last longer than older models, such as nickel cadmium (NiCd for short), which was commonly used before 2006 and has a reputation for causing fires when left exposed to moisture.
Nowadays, many shooters prefer lithium ion (Li-ion) technology, which offers greater energy efficiency and fewer concerns about overheating or catching fire. Still, even with today’s better batteries, expect to get between 15 and 20 minutes of intermittent use out of a pair of Li-ion batteries.
While it’s difficult to put a price tag on experience, there are plenty of ways to measure the value of a product. And when it comes to guns and gear, money certainly matters. If you’re willing to spend upwards of $1,000 on a single item, then you’ll find that you get a lot of bang for your buck. But if cost is an issue, then go for less expensive models that still offer a solid performance.
Types Of Thermal Scopes
Thermal imaging devices are designed for a range of uses, and the same goes for thermal scopes. Before you pull the trigger on your next purchase, make sure the scope is capable of delivering what you need in terms of performance.
Infrared (IR) thermometers
Most infrared thermometers use an array of temperature-sensitive detectors to create an image that’s viewable as either a map or grid depending on the software being used. These tools can be great when checking the temperature in rooms during the winter months, but they aren’t very effective at measuring the temperature of objects like food.
The best thermal scanners offer both visible light and IR capabilities. This allows them to see where heat is coming from while also providing information about the temperature of whatever it is you’re scanning.
Digital camera/video recording
A number of digital cameras now come with built-in video recorders. If you want to keep track of those all-important summer barbeques, don’t risk missing any big moments because your camcorder isn’t capturing everything. Most high-end camcorders even have microphones so you can add audio recordings later. This feature set makes these camcorders some of our top picks for backyard barbeques. They’re easy to use, reliable, and affordable.
Night vision goggles
Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean you have to give up the power of sight. There are plenty of situations outside of the daylight hours where seeing clearly isn’t ideal. For instance, hunting wild game at night requires realistic colors and crisp lines; flying aircraft carriers safely under the cover of darkness requires clear images; reading maps or instruments at night comes standard with every pair of NVG glasses.
There are two main types of night vision technology: traditional and alternative. Traditional means using lenses that were developed specifically for low light performance, such as glass filters. Alternative refers to other kinds of optics, including CCDs and CMOS sensors. Both require batteries, which should be taken into consideration when buying one.
Modern firearms rely heavily on advanced electronics to function properly. Without microprocessors, smart ammunition, and GPS systems, there would be no way to load a round based on location, environmental data, or past performance records. Without this kind of software, there’d be no way to tailor individual rounds to specific needs or preferences. Today, most shooters store their own data, allowing them to access it through apps on smartphones or tablets. Some even go as far as customizing their ammo by creating unique loads for different purposes.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
To begin, we looked for the items that offered the best value in each category. The price point, features, and accessories all play a role in determining value.
In order to come up with our top choices for the finest thermal scope, we started by reading what other people had to say about the models that they consider to be their favorites. After that, we looked through newspapers to find the greatest reviews. In the end, we consulted industry professionals to gain their feedback on the situation. In conclusion, the following are our top recommendations for the best thermal scopes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Thermal Scopes
What is the difference between a spotting scope and a thermal scope?
Spotting optics are designed to be used in short-range, close-up applications. They’re not as powerful as their long-range counterparts, but they do offer greater magnification than most other types of binoculars.
How much does a thermal scope cost?
Thermal imaging cameras can range from $250 to over $800 depending on features and quality of glass used. The MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) for the EoTech Tritium Night Vision Camera with XR25 lens is $599.99, so expect to pay somewhere in that neighborhood for a decent unit.
Can you use a thermal scope without glasses?
It depends entirely on the model. Some require eyeglasses; some don’t. Read the instructions carefully before using it in low light conditions or when there’s any doubt about how it will affect your vision. Also, make sure you get proper eye protection if you plan to hunt in areas where there could be dangerous levels of infrared radiation present.
Are Thermal Scopes Worth It For Camping?
Absolutely! A good night sky watching experience cannot be had without one. Whether you camp at home or travel around the world, a night sky full of stars is always worth seeing.