Best Thermal Scope: Our Top 9 for Day & Night Hunting

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You don't have to deplete your savings to afford thermal imaging.

I created a list of the best thermal scopes at various price points to best fit your needs.

I included a criteria for top thermal brands like Steiner, Bering Optics, and AGM.

Sig Sauer also enters the market, and ATN comes through for us with budget-conscious options.

Top 9 Best Thermal Scopes in 2024

tt-table__imageOPMOD THOR LT 3-6X
  • Sensor: 160x120, 60Hz
  • Magnification: 3-6x
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageBering Optics Hogster Stimulus
  • Sensor: 256x192, 30Hz
  • Magnification: 2.3x Optical, 4.6x Digital
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageAGM Secutor TS25 384
  • Sensor: 384x288, 50HZ
  • Magnification: 1.2x Optical
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageATN Thor HD 384 2-8X
  • Sensor: HD Display, 384x288,
  • Magnification: 2-8x Smooth Zoom
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: iOS & Android
tt-table__imageATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5X
  • Sensor: Gen 4 384×288, 60Hz
  • Magnification: 1.25-5x Smooth Zoom
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: iOS & Android
tt-table__imageATN Thor LT 160 3 6x
  • Sensor: 160x120, 60Hz
  • Magnification: 3-6x
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageSig Sauer Echo 3
  • Sensor: 30Hz
  • Magnification: 1-6x
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageBurris BTC 50
  • Sensor: 400x300, 50Hz
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No
tt-table__imageSteiner CQT
  • Sensor: 320x240, 60Hz
  • Magnification: 1x Optical, 2-4x Digital
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: No

Why Trust Us?

After hundreds of hours of hand-testing thermal scopes in the field and at the range, and thousands more hours researching and writing about them, we feel we earn the title of experts when it comes to optics!

We purchase as many of the optics for our tests as possible, and run them through their paces to make sure they will perform at the range and in the field.

Our combined decades of experience from wildlife observation and hunting, to big game hunting and competitions has been integral in putting together this round-up of the best thermal scopes.

Get the inside scoop on how we test optics here.

Beyond the needs of specialized and professional applications, hunting with thermal just wasn't done until recently. It wasn't available in the civilian market, and it wasn't affordable. With today's availability and price drops, it's conceivably become a must-have tool for many day and nighttime tasks.

Teledyne FLIR Thermal in action with fusion color palette
Image Credit: FLIR Teledyne

So, how does it work and what should you look for? Let me nerd out for a moment.

Thermal imaging scopes display temperature data, and the sensors that read thermal signatures vary in quality.

Infrared imagers (thermographic cameras) operate in the 700-1000 nm of the light spectrum. The best thermal imagers are able to operate in the 8000-15,000 nm part of the spectrum. 

Wavelength Ranges of Electromagnetic Radiation
mage Credit: Light-Measurement Wavelength ranges of electromagnetic radiation chart

While we see and interpret the image on the display as color differences, they are actually temperature differences. Everything is scanned within the FOV (Field of View) from objects to the terrain that emits radiation.  Sounds cool, right?

Thermal Imaging Examples
Image Credit: Wikipedia

But, is a thermal weapon sight "too much scope?"  How can you use a thermal scope to justify purchasing the expensive tech?

  • Day/night hunting and scouting
  • Law enforcement/Military use
  • Professional, tactical, security, and surveillance
  • Home defense, SHTF, personal security
  • Wildlife observation (if you're really obsessed!)

If you're serious about being the hunter and not the hunted, let's move on.

Thermal Rifle Scope Reviews

1. OPMOD Thor LT 3-6X - Best for the Money

Image Credit: Optics Planet OPMOD ATN Thor LT 320 Thermal Scope

The OPMOD thermal scope is Optics Planet’s modification of ATN’s Thor LT 3-6x scope. With a couple extra features and a limited lifetime warranty, it's affordable thermal with a price tag that's hard to beat.


  • Price
  • 10+ hours
  • Custom reticle
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Included FREE QD mount


  • Only White Hot/Black Hot color modes

What makes an optic worth the money is largely subjective. I set the criteria to affordability, comparability to similar alternatives, and it must be high performing. I reckon the OPMOD covers it all.

ATN OPMOD THOR LT 320 Black Hot White Hot Modes
Image Credit: Optics Planet & ATN White Hot mode (left) & Black Hot mode (right)

The OPMOD Thor maintains all the favorite features of the ATN Thor but with a couple mods that make it a specialized thermal scope for any type of hunter. From subtle features like the OPMOD logo to much more obvious ones such as an included QD (Quick Detach) mount, every detail is appreciated. I certainly see the value since ATN doesn't include a mount.

Optics Planet made a special reticle. It’s a 68 MOA circle dot that is literally one of the most popular reticles for its fast target acquisition and aiming points. In my opinion, the inclusion of this reticle was a brilliant idea.

OPMOD ATN Thor LT 320 control panel and one shot zero
Image Credit: Optics Planet & ATN LT button control panel (bottom left) and One Shot Zero example (bottom right)

As an ATN Thor at its core, it has the classic One Shot Zero feature, multiple thermal displays, ultra-low power consumption allowing more than 10 hours of use, and long identification, recognition, and detection ranges. If you want the original brand name model, the ATN THOR LT 320 3-6X thermal scope is worth taking a look at.

I really like that it's ultra-lightweight and compact. You can even mount the 1.4 lb scope to air rifles and crossbows. How's that for scope versatility?

Available at: Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

2. Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus – Best for AR10

Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus on Scar 17
Image Credit: GunsAmerica #HUNT365 Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus mounted on Scar 17

As the name implies, the Hogster Stimulus is designed for hogs, coyotes, and all types of predator and pest control. With its low price point for a VOx 256x192 sensor and 12um thermal core, the Hogster is an affordable thermal scope for the AR-15 and AR-10 for long-range performance.


  • Price
  • Geranium optics
  • Multiple features
  • Dual power source
  • Rugged build


  • No video recording

The Hogster Stimulus is a dedicated thermal rifle scope with 2.3x optical magnification and 2x digital magnification (4.6x). It has a 19mm objective lens system made with Germanium glass as is expected with quality 12 micron (um) thermal cores.

Hogster Stimulus and other gear
Image Credit: HuntTXhogs Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus showcased with other gear

With stats like this, I find it easy to believe that the imaging quality is exceptionally clear and sharp. It has White Hot, Black Hot, Red Hot, and Colored Hot Palettes as seen through the 1280x960 LCOS display. In my opinion, detecting hogs to 900 yards and coyotes out to 460 yards is exceptional, long-range performance. However, recognition distances will be limited to 225 and 165 yards.

Adjustable features include four reticle patterns with four color options, focusing, and manual control of brightness, contrast, and sharpness. Additional features include a stadiametric rangefinder with a digital inclinometer, Blind Pixel Calibration, and standby mode. What it doesn’t have is image/video recording capabilities - that's a shame because I'm a fan of built-in recording.

When it comes to ruggedness, it’s tough enough. It’s nitrogen-purged and water-resistant to IP66 standards. It’s shockproof and is recoil recommended for.308 calibers – perfect for the AR10 for hog hunting. However, if you want to switch it up for smaller game like foxes and varmints with an AR15, you can save up to four zero profiles with the Hogster.

Hogster Stimulus features
Image Credit: GunsAmerica #HUNT365 Hogster Stimulus battery compartment (top left), quick release mount (bottom left), rubber eyecup (top right), and button control panel (bottom right)

In my experience, it's an invaluable feature to have a dual power source system. It takes 2x CR123 batteries to power it but an external power supply can get you some extra time in the field. When it comes to accessories, I tend to think along the lines of "give me more." So, of course, I'm excited that a quick release mount for Pic rails in included - bonus!

I noticed that it has a 4-year limited warranty - that’s at least an extra year longer than competitive manufacturers. For what is considered affordable for a thermal, the Hogster Stimulus makes for a value buy.

3. AGM Secutor TS25-384 - Best Thermal Scope Under $5000

AGM Secutor TS25 objective lens
Image Credit - AGM Global Vision

This Secutor scope is made for shooters who demand a compact device with professional-grade quality. Not only does it fulfill these needs, it also comes within budget.  Quality and affordability - two birds with one stone, right?


  • Price
  • Professional-grade
  • Close-range
  • PIP
  • Mount included


  • Limited digital features

The Secutor TS25-384 thermal scope comes with everything you need to get shooting right away. While many scopes don’t come with a mount in the box, the Secutor does - bam, instant value.

I really like the mount which is a quick release model with dual-lever clamps for confident security and dismounting convenience. You can have five profiles each with their own zeros. Along with having 11 color palettes and 5 reticle patterns with 4 reticle colors, you also have a PIP (pic-in-pic) mode in 2x digital zoom.

AGM Secutor TS25 features
Image Credit: AGM Battery compartment (top left), button interface (top right), side profile (bottom left) and objective lens (bottom right)

When pixels become an issue, as is the case with thermal scopes, it's easy to deal with. Though I didn't deal with this exact model, the AGM thermal monocular I used had the same NUC features. Auto NUC will take care of it or you can manually do it yourself with a press of a button. An advanced feature allows you to repair defective pixels within the screen.

In my opinion, the Secutor with its 25mm aperture, 384x288 resolution, 17-micron sensor, and 50Hz refresh rate is best suited to close-range shooting and detection. While it can reach out to 500 yards, its recognition range is 250 yards, and is likely for best employment under 200 yards.

AGM Secutor in action
Image Credit: AGM

I think the thermal scope is a short-range champ with better than good thermal imaging and resolution. While it doesn’t have video recording, streaming, and all that extra stuff, you can attach a recording device if you want it.

The AGM Secutor TS25 has fundamental features with the best quality you can find in such a compact scope. Real performance and real quality summates to real and professional-grade results.

Available at: Amazon and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

4. ATN Thor 4 384 2-8X - Best Thermal Scope Under $2000

ATN THOR 4 384 Thermal Scope
Image Credit: ATN Corp

You'll need the strength of a mighty Thor at your side - not the superhero, but the ATN Thor thermal imaging scope for hog and coyote hunting. With smart technology, ballistic data, and long-range detection, productivity is the word of the day. If you're a 'yote chaser, check out my 5 favorite thermal scopes for hunting coyotes.


  • Price
  • Smart technology
  • Multiple digital features
  • Long range detection
  • Lightweight


  • Quality control issues
ATN THOR 4 side profile and button panel
Image Credit: ATN Side profile (left) and button control panel (right)

Personally, I prefer lightweight gear and for a thermal optic weighing in at 1.55 lbs, the Thor meets my criteria. It comes with an interchangeable quick release mount to rapidly pack up and shed weight. 

Like most tech gadgets, the Thor doesn't like to get wet.  It's only water resistant, so don't get caught in a pour-down with the rain-shy thermal scope.

ATN THOR 4 in action
Image Credit: ATN White Hot mode (top) and Black Hot mode (bottom)

The ATN scope has a 2-8x power range.  Since it's digital, it can get grainy at the high end, but it'll still give you some distance reach.  I'm impressed by the detection range at 800 m, recognition at 400 m, and identification at 250 m.

Of course, it connects to both WiFi and Bluetooth.  A plethora of digital features include a Ballistic Calculator, Smart Rangefinder, and GPS.  As is expected, there are multiple reticle patterns and colors available to take advantage of.

ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope Reticle Options

If you have any quality issues upon box opening, the Thor 4 384 smart thermal scope is covered with a 3-year warranty.

Available at: ATN and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

5. ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5X - Best Budget Thermal Scope

ATN Thor 4 384 Mossy Oak BreakUp Country Finish
Image Credit: ATN Corp Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Finish

The Thor 4 rifle scope series was hunter and shooter inspired.  I really like it when manufacturers listen to what we have to say about the products we want. If you need the kind of detection that keeps you at a distance while you can watch and stalk your unwitting prey, the Thor 4 was made to provide it. 


  • Price
  • Smart technology
  • 60Hz rate
  • Multiple digital features
  • Gen 4 Sensor


  • Quality control issues

With low power, a max detection range of 750 m and an identification range of 205 m, it's not the most powerful Thor 4 there is, but it does price better for the cost-conscious buyer.

ATN THOR 4 Black and White Hot Modes
Image Credit: ATN Various reticles with Black Hot Mode (left) and White Hot Mode (right)

The thing is, I've discovered that complaints are related to firmware glitches and device failure (unintentional power off).  However, this isn't an ATN-only problem.  Many comparable alternatives can have electronic issues too.  I think it's helpful to know that the Thor scope has a 3-year warranty.

For a cheap thermal scope, it has good stats. With a dual core 4th gen sensor and a 60Hz refresh rate, it will prove advantageous with moving targets.

ATN THOR 4 side profile and button panel
Image Credit: ATN Side profile (left) and button control panel (right)

It has many digital features that you may have heard of: Ballistic Calculator, Smart Rangefinder, One Shot Zero, and Video Recording and Dual Streaming.  I think there's more features than you'll ever use, but it's your prerogative to incorporate them in the hunt.

ATN Thor 4 384 rifle mounted
Image Credit: ATN Various Thor 4 models mounted to rifles

From my personal experience with ATN thermal imaging, I've deemed the best feature to be its ultra-low power consumption rate.  You'll get 18 hours of practical use before needing to recharge your Thor.

It's designed to be a high-performing and smart optic, but it's still at the entry-level end for a digital scope.  If you’ve got a strict budget to stick to, the Thor 4 may be your only, but worthy, option.

6. ATN Thor LT 160 3-6X - Best for Hunting

ATN Thor LT 160 Thermal Scope
Image Credit - Sportsmans Guide

Are you a varmint hunter that wants to take down coyotes up to about 200 yards? Do you want to spend less than $2000 for a thermal hunting scope? The Thor LT 160 is the answer to your thermal needs.


  • Price
  • Standalone scope
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • One Shot Zero


  • Limited range
ATN Thor LT 160 in action
Image Credit: Sportsmans Guide

The Thor LT 160 may be low in resolution, but it has specs that work well for its intended use. I recommend it for close-range work inside 150 yards. This is a good compromise for buyers on a budget that want legit thermal technology.

With no-nonsense hunters in mind, it doesn’t come with all the perks and benefits of the Thor 4 series. The LT version is about as minimalistic as it can get for thermal, but in my opinion it’s worth every penny since thermal just doesn’t get as cheap as this.

ATN THOR LT 160 Black Hot and White Hot
Image Credit: ATN Black Hot mode (left) & White Hot mode (right)

With 60Hz, it can keep up with squealing hogs on the run, and you can save ammo and get sighted-in fast with ATN’s One Shot Zero.

With the lack of extra features, you actually save on weight and power. With the new thermal core and sensor, you have a battery that lasts 10+ hours and a 30mm tube body that weighs only 1.4 lbs. It’s tough too, and it handles recoil just like its higher-end cousins.

ATN Thor LT 160 battery charging and button interface
Image Credit: ATN (left) & Sportsmans Guide Setting the zero (top right) and battery charging port (bottom right)

If you’re hunting this season and need a thermal at the lowest price possible, I know that the Thor LT 160 is your best bet.

7. Sig Sauer Echo 3 - Best Hog Hunting Thermal Scope

TFB tested Rifle mounted Sig Sauer Echo 3
Image Credit: TFB Rifle mounted Sig Sauer Echo 3 and KILO3000BDX rangefinder binoculars

The Echo 3 is a thermal reflex sight. Yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Mount to AR. Wait for cover of darkness. Hog hunting on! We must be on the same wavelength.


  • 1-6x power/10-degree FOV
  • BDX-enabled
  • LevelPlex Anti-Cant System
  • Motion-activated display
  • Quick disconnect mount


  • Price

I think for something so small and tiny, I cringe at the price tag especially since it’s not even a rifle scope. While it looks more like a modified red dot on the outside, it's a high-performing thermal device that you can mount to your AR for hog hunting, SHTF, personal defense, etc. With its quick disconnect mount, remove it if you don’t need it for daylight shooting.

Sig Sauer Echo 3 mounted with quick disconnect mount
Image Credit: TFB Rifle mounted with quick disconnect mount

It has 6x magnification and a 10-degree FOV. It'll hold up to heavy loads and repeated use. It also has the trade-marked LevelPlex Anti-Cant System with scope cant sensitivity that can be corrected for down to 0.5-degrees. I saw the LevelPlex in action on our field-tested Sig Sierra6 riflescope.

The Echo 3 also has Sig's BDX compatibility. It also has multiple reticles to choose between, a tons of elevation and windage adjustment travel, and 0.5 MOA adjustment increments.

The Echo is designed with hog and predator hunters in mind, so a convenient feature you’ll appreciate is the MOTAC that is responsible for standby mode and auto power on when it senses motion. There's not much the Echo 3 is without. For the money, I'd say it better have everything!

Available at: Europtic and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

8. Burris BTC 50 - Best Clip On Thermal Scope

Burris BTC 50 side profiles
Image Credit - Burris

In general, clip-on night vision and thermal scopes are expensive and this is ever true of the BTC clip-ons from Burris. The BTC is the larger clip-on in the series and whilst ready to be paired with a day scope, adapters are a separate purchase.


  • Clip-on
  • 50mm objective lens
  • Digital zoom
  • Great thermal specs
  • Recoil-proof


  • Adapters sold separately
Burris BTC 50 lenses and separate accessories
Image Credit: Burris Objective lens (top left), eyecup (bottom left), optional objective bell adapter (top right) & optional rail mount (bottom right)

When you’re buying a clip-on, you either need a mount for aligning it with the optical axis of the daytime scope or the correctly sized adapter ring to attach to the objective bell. Unfortunately, the BTC comes with neither. You’ll need to purchase these separately, and Burris will have their own line of mounting options for their clip-ons as an optional purchase.

The scope is a 400x300 resolution, 17-micron, and 50Hz thermal clip-on. I recommend it for coyote hunting, varmint hunting, and of course, blood tracking and shooting at night.

Burris BTC in action
Image Credit: Burris BTC Thermal Clip-on in action

My favorite feature is that it's super lightweight at just under a pound, and it’s completely waterproof. These key features are extremely hard to come by with thermal devices. It has a 4-button interface, manual focus ring, and as expected, it can be used as a handheld monocular.

Burris BTC rifle mounted
Image Credit: Burris

Although it is recoil limited, as are all thermal scopes, it is rated beyond .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor. For a clip-on that can hold its own past a .308, is repeatable for long-range shots, and has user adjustable settings, I'd say it’s a winning thermal as a clip-on device.

Available at: Amazon and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

9. Steiner CQT – Best for Surveillance

Steiner CQT Compact Thermal Scope
Image Credit: Steiner

The Steiner CQT combines both reflex red dot technology with thermal imaging to provide a professional, military-grade optic for law enforcement and even serious hog hunting. Alas, it’s ridiculously expensive.


  • CVT technology
  • Close quarter sight
  • Red dot
  • Magnifier compatible
  • Made in USA


  • Price
  • Thermal sensor location

For such an expensive thermal sight, it only has a 320x240 12um core, so it’s clear that the new, cutting-edge technology is what pushes this sight off the price charts. Other specs include its 60 Hz refresh rate, 60 mK sensitivity, 1x magnification, and an 18mm lens.

Steiner CQT features and in action
Image Credit: Steiner & Optics Planet Power switch (top left) and snap-on sunshade (bottom right)

I'm curious about the location of the low-profile thermal sensor. It can, without thought, be blocked by the thumb over the handguard or even by front sights and other accessories. I think that's kind of odd.

The CQT has a heads-up display with a window size of 32 x 23mm. It has multiple dot reticles that includes crosshairs, circle, or box. The 2.5 MOA dot is separate to the digital reticles and likely to be the favorite as it is mine. The crosshairs and detected thermal signatures appear green much like green phosphor in night vision.

Steiner CQT Mode Examples
Image Credit: Optics Planet Thermal imaging in action examples

Now I'm blown away by the CVT (Clear View Thermal) technology that is utterly unique. While the thermal sensor is in play, you still have a natural world view as you have with a heads-up reflex sight. The thermal imaging is overlaid onto the 800x600 OLED display over all targets with heat signatures.

With three palettes: Full, Patrol, and Outline modes, you can have as much thermal highlighting as you want and adjust for brightness. At max intensity, the red dot will run for more than 1000 hours. The thermal will run for eight hours with 2x CR123A batteries.

Steiner CQT thermal modes
Image Credit: Steiner Thermal imaging modes: Full (top left), Patrol (top right) & Outline (bottom left)

Digital magnification of 2x, 3x, and 4x is also available, and it works well with separate magnifiers. Detection for vehicles is over 1000 m with id at 450 m (approx.). For humans, detection is 450m, recognition 250m, and ID is at 200m (approx.).

I would personally expect that the Steiner CQT is military-grade tough, submersible, and shockproof to 1000Gs. It is. It also has a sunshade that can be engaged by snapping into place when needed.

TFB Profiles of the Steiner CQT
Image Credit: TFB Rear-side of the display and power switch (left) and control panel and disengaged sunshade (bottom right)

Rumor has it that Steiner will release a cheaper civilian version. But for professional use right now, the CQT is about as duty grade as it gets with combined red dot and thermal imaging performance.

Available at: Amazon and Optics Planet (use code TTAMERS for 5% off at Optics Planet)

What to Look for in a Good Day/Night Thermal Scope

Thermal scopes are not cheap and is still new compared to night vision. With a lot of things to look for, I'll break it down by comparing fundamental features. By the end of this thermal riflescope guide, I'll help you to understand the specs, capabilities, and limitations of thermal scopes.

FLIR Apollo 640 Thermal Riflescope

Night Vision VS Thermal Imaging

NV VS Thermal
Image Credit: Optics Planet Night vision (left) VS thermal (right)

Night vision and thermal imaging are different. Night vision relies on ambient light, amplifies it, and provides a brighter image than what is seen with the naked eye. The detail provided is far greater than thermal but passive night vision is restricted to nighttime use.

Thermal imaging doesn't provide the kind of detail night vision scopes do.  Instead, it measures temperature signatures in the lightwave spectrum that cannot be seen by the human eye. 

Thermal is well-known for its extended detection range. Although thermal can be used in both day and night conditions, they're even more effective at night when temperature differences between objects and the surroundings are vastly different.

For more on the differences between the two technologies, check out our comparison article.


Thermal imaging of a deer herd
Image Credit: FLIR Teledyne

The best thermal scopes for patrol/duty use and other professional applications may start at $3000 and can be as expensive as $10,000. However, practical alternatives for duty use to home defense and hunting range from $1000-$5000. 

It wasn't too long ago that cheap thermal was impossible to find for under $1000. Now, you can. I would recommend reviewing sensor/detector specs along with the price point to determine if it will suffice for the application. I think it's better to spend a little more to acquire better thermal resolution. After all, you can't shoot what you can't identify.

For example, 160 x 120 sensor resolution is entry-level thermal imaging for beginners. In my experience, it's usually sufficient for close-range work with identification inside 100 yards and detection to 250 yards (approximately) on humans.

ProductSensorPixel Pitch (Microns)Price Range
OPMOD Thor LT160 x 120 pixels17 mmUnder $1200
Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus256 x 19212 mmUnder $1500
AGM Secutor TS25 384384 x 28817 mmUnder $2500
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8x384 x 28817 mmUnder $2500
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5x384 x 28817 mmUnder $2000
ATN Thor LT 160160 x 12017 mmUnder $1000
Sig Sauer Echo 3320 x 24012 mmUnder $2500
Burris BTC 50400 x 300 pixels17 mmUnder $3500
Steiner CQT320 x 240 pixels12 mmUnder $10,000
Thermal Scope Detector, Pixel Pitch & Price Comparisons


TFB Sig Sauer Echo 3 and Steiner CQT
Image Credit: TFB Sig Sauer Echo 3 (left) and TFB Steiner CQT (right) compact thermal scopes

Thermal imaging scopes have notoriously been big and heavy. Today, I'd say the average weight for a standard thermal rifle scope is around 1.5-2 lbs.

However, lightweight is in while bulk is out. I'd categorize scopes in the 1-1.5 lb range a lightweight scope and those under 1 lb to be ultra-lightweight.

While thermals are similar in length to daytime rifle scopes, and some even shorter, the internal components needed to provide thermal imaging makes them wider.  The overall size and weight will influence your hunting or tactical weapon and sight system. Some are getting even more compact as they look like red dot reflex sights!

An alternative to the riflescope design is the clip-on system.  Not only does it shed bulk and weight, it's designed to be used in front of your daytime scope and should be easily removable and attachable.

ProductWeightDimensions (L x W x H)
OPMOD Thor LT1.4 lbs11.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches
Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus0.69 lbs4.52 x 2.36 x 2.25 inches
AGM Secutor TS25 3841.43 lbs9.8 x 2.8 x 3.2 inches
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8x2.03 lbs13.5 x 3 x 3 inches
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5x1.93 lbs13.1 x 3 x 3 inches
ATN Thor LT 1601.4 lbs11.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches
Sig Sauer Echo 30.89 lbs4.3 x 2.6 x 3.3 inches
Burris BTC 500.875 lbs7 x 2.3 x 2.4 inches
Steiner CQT1.3 lbs5.2 x 3 x 3 inches
Thermal Scope Weight & Dimensions Comparisons

Detection/Recognition Ranges

Human 50 yards Black Hot Nighttime
Human 50 yards nighttime with field-tested AGM Asp-Micro thermal imaging

The top thermal scopes can provide over 1000+ yards of detection range on targets regardless of day or night conditions.  However, the distance at which you can recognize and identify what your target is will be significantly shorter.

Detection ranges are not universal and will vary between manufacturers, models, and quality. Some manufacturers will not disclose these ranges as environmental factors can affect performance. Other manufacturers will disclose ranges that have been acquired in ideal testing conditions.

The gist I'm trying to forewarn? Advertised detection ranges are estimates and are not guaranteed.

Tip: Increasing magnification can help to quickly recognize a target in the distance, but it can also cause poor pixelage resulting in a grainy picture.  Sensor and display resolution will also determine sight picture quality.

OPMOD Thor LT475 meters240 meters160 meters
Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus1000 yards300 yards150 yards
AGM Secutor TS25 384500 yards250 yards125 yards
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8x960 meters480 meters300 meters
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5x750 meters335 meters205 meters
ATN Thor LT 160475 meters240 meters160 meters
Sig Sauer Echo 3700+ yards400 yards (approx.)Not disclosed
Burris BTC 50750 yardsNot disclosedNot disclosed
Steiner CQT400 meters222 meters145 meters
Thermal Scope Detection Range Comparisons

30Hz VS 60Hz

Refresh rate hertz examples
Image Credit: WasdRo (video) Refresh rate example of moving target from slowest frame rate (left) to fastest (right)

These numbers and others (i.e., 50Hz) indicate the refresh frame rate that keeps the sight picture updated and looking as natural as possible. I'd think that you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference between 30 Hz and 60 Hz, but it can make a difference in some situations.

If you're on a moving platform or consistently observing/hunting moving targets, the higher the refresh rate, the better.

It is worth remembering that higher refresh rates can drain battery life faster. Take note that there is high-performance value in long-lasting thermal scopes with high refresh rates.

ProductRefresh RateThermal Battery LifeBattery Type
OPMOD Thor LT60 Hertz10 hoursInternal battery
Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus30 Hertz4 hours2x CR123
AGM Secutor TS25 38450 Hertz5 hours2x CR123A
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8x60 Hertz18 hoursInternal battery
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5x60 Hertz18 hoursInternal battery
ATN Thor LT 16060 Hertz10 hoursInternal battery
Sig Sauer Echo 330 Hertz6 hours2x CR123
Burris BTC 5050 Hertz3 hours2x CR123
Steiner CQT60 Hertz8 hours2x CR123A
Thermal Scope Refresh Rate, Battery Life & Battery Type Comparisons

Scope Durability

Russian waterproof thermal scope in a fish tank
Image Credit: TFB Russian waterproof thermal scope submerged in a fish tank

With everything a thermal imaging scope must provide, I categorize and treat them as fragile devices. Most thermals are only water-resistant at best and recoil-rated up to .308 caliber loads.

With that, it's fair to say that I'm impressed by thermal rifle scopes that have a higher recoil resistance and are waterproof even to submersion.

I'd still recommend checking out the warranty just in case things aren't as rugged as they intend to be.

ProductWaterproofRecoil RatingWarranty PeriodWarranty
OPMOD Thor LTWeather-resistant416 Barrett/375 H&H3 yearsATN Limited Warranty
Bering Optics Hogster StimulusIP66.308 cal4 yearsBering Optics Warranty
AGM Secutor TS25 384IP67.308 cal3 yearsAGM Limited Warranty
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8xWeather-resistant416 Barrett/375 H&H3 yearsATN Limited Warranty
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5xWeather-resistant416 Barrett/375 H&H3 yearsATN Limited Warranty
ATN Thor LT 160Weather-resistant416 Barrett/375 H&H3 yearsATN Limited Warranty
Sig Sauer Echo 3IPX4.308 cal5 yearsSig Sauer 5-year Warranty
Burris BTC 50IP67.308 cal3 yearsBurris Thermal
Steiner CQTWaterproof1000 G2 yearsSteiner eOptics
Thermal Scope Waterproofness, Recoil Resistance & Warranty Comparisons

Extra Features

Various features of smart thermal scopes
Image Credit: Sig Sauer & ATN Various smart features of a thermal scope from video recording to ballistic data correction

Additional features can include rangefinders, image capture and video recording capabilities, and everything from accelerometers and GPS to WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.  While I personally find some of these features helpful, others are fillers and can interfere with ease of use and unnecessarily drain battery life.

I would recommended checking out if the extra features are built into the scope or if they're only available via connection to a smartphone/app. Details like these may influence your decision.

However, regardless of added, digital features, I'd advise seeking out fundamental quality first. Features such as sensor resolution, durability, and battery life should always be the priority over tempting add-ons.

ProductKey Features
OPMOD Thor LT68 MOA circle dot reticle, QD mount included, 3-6x magnification, digital features, super lightweight, great price
Bering Optics Hogster StimulusExcellent for hog and coyote hunting, extra long-range detection, 12-micron pixel pitch, ultra-lightweight, included quick release mount, excellent quality for the money
AGM Secutor TS25 384Professional-grade, PIP mode, built-in image/video recording, multiple digital features
ATN Thor 4 384 2-8xUltra-long battery life, multiple smart digital features, 2-8x magnification, long-range detection, WiFi/Bluetooth, built-in image/video recording
ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5xUltra-long battery life, 1.25-5x magnification, smart digital features, close to mid-range detection, built-in image capture/video recording, WiFi/Bluetooth
ATN Thor LT 160Best value thermal scope, great for hunting, close-range detection, no-nonsense interface for no-nonsense hunters
Sig Sauer Echo 3Compact thermal reflex style design, 1-6x magnification, multiple features include MOTAC, BDX, and LevelPlex, QD mount included, super-lightweight
Burris BTC 50Clip-on thermal scope, completely waterproof and recoil-resistant, super-lightweight, great for hog and coyote hunting, close to mid-range detection
Steiner CQTBest red dot and thermal CVT technology, 1x optical magnification, high-resolution display, sunshade included, close to mid-range detection, Made in America, duty ready
Thermal Riflescope Features Comparison


What is the Best Thermal Scope you can Buy?

Best for the Money: OPMOD Thor LT 3-6x
Best for AR10: Bering Optics Hogster Stimulus
Best Thermal Scope Under $5000: AGM Secutor TS25-384
Best Thermal Scope Under $2000: ATN Thor 4 384 2-8x
Best Budget Thermal Scope: ATN Thor 4 384 1.25-5x
Best for Hunting: ATN Thor LT 160 3-6x
Best Hog Hunting Thermal Scope: Sig Sauer Echo 3
Best Clip On Thermal Scope: Burris BTC 50
Best for Surveillance: Steiner CQT

How Long does a Thermal Scope Last?

On average, thermal scopes last almost eight hours on a single charge. Most models will vary between 2-10 hours. More recently, ATN has managed to manufacture ultra-low consumption thermal scopes that provide 18+ hours of continuous use.

Why are Thermal Scopes so Expensive?

In general, thermal scopes are expensive due to the specialized internal components. There are also cost differences with various features such as wireless connectivity, palette mods, ballistic applications, and more. Be that as it may, thermals start at a reasonable price point of around $1000.

How Far can Thermal Rifle Scopes See?

How far thermal rifle scopes can see depends on factors such as sensor resolution and magnification. Generally, even entry-level thermals can detect heat signatures at 1,000+ yards. High-end thermals can detect past 4,000 yards, but target identification is another matter.

Can You Hunt with a Thermal Scope During the Day?

In contrast to night vision scopes, you can use a thermal scope during the day without damaging components. Instead of amplifying light, thermal scopes read heat signatures. The dual-use functionality is a major benefit of choosing thermal over night vision and making the most of your purchase.

Thermal Rifle Scopes: Ultimate Detective & Hunting Tools

Thermal imaging can illuminate clues that night vision cannot reveal.  With thermal, suspects and game at far-off distances are detected. For the intelligence agent, vehicles that were recently used are exposed.  For the hunter, track blood trails of recently downed game.

It's obvious that thermal has made hunting and intelligence gathering more productive. Remain covert. Have the strategic advantage. See details no one else can see. Get the best and be the best. Join the thermal team - it comes with bragging rights!

Further Reading
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Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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