The Trijicon SNIPE-IR is a different type of scope to all others within the IR series, and it’s not just the price tag that sets it apart.
The SNIPE-IR thermal imaging scope is a clip-on.
This is both great and bad news for the buyer.
As a clip-on, it has its obvious benefits, but imaging quality is sure to degrade by the time it reaches your eye… right?
This is Trijicon we’re talking about and this is a high-quality thermal scope made to military 810G standards and made in the USA.
Put aside your preconceptions and see how it stands up as one of the best clip-ons in the market.
What We Like: Clip-on Mode
What We Don’t Like: Price
Best Uses: Night Shooting, Day Shooting, Tactical Use, Hunting, Scouting, Varmint Control, Surveillance
- Thermal Resolution: 640x480
- Pixels: 12 microns
- Refresh Rate: 30 Hz/60 Hz
- Eye Relief: 1.06”
- Color Modes: White Hot/Black Hot
- Battery: 2x CR123/4 hours
- Dimensions: 7.4 x 2.95 x 3”/24.6 oz
Our Verdict: The SNIPE-IR is a versatile thermal weapon sight, but it’s best suited for use within its design as a clip-on. In so saying, the SNIPE has extremely impressive imaging quality, so if you want the best of its type for under a 5-digit budget, this is it.
Who is the Trijicon SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-on Best Suited to?
Between all the scopes within the IR series, the SNIPE-IR is the most expensive of the lot. Why buy it versus all the other awesome models? It’s a clip-on.
For the type of quality Trijicon dishes out with the SNIPE, it’s well worth the buy if you only want to buy once and you want to spend less than 10 grand. Either clip it in front of your day scope or use it as a dedicated thermal scope. You can zero it in either way and achieve highly accurate shots on your targets day or night.
How Does the Trijicon SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-on Perform?
Trijicon is a giant in the civilian, law enforcement, and military worlds for providing durable, dependable, and high-quality weapon sights. IR Defense and Trijicon come together to provide the IR series of scopes aimed towards those who want the best and the SNIPE-IR is the high-end product of the line.
With its 12-micron 640x480 thermal sensor, it has the absolute best thermal imaging quality available in a thermal scope, so it’s no wonder why it’s such a costly product. You can switch between Clip-on and Hybrid modes for your needs and further move between six levels of polarity for the best sight on your target be it hogs, coyotes, steel, or perps.
Waterproof to a meter, lightweight at 24 oz (approx.), and optimized to be used in front of a day scope, the SNIPE-IR offers a lot in a compact package.
Features & Benefits
The SNIPE-IR is designed to provide the primary function of being a clip-on. With a length of 7.4”, you will need to make sure you have enough room on your rail to mount it. It goes in front of your current optic to provide seamless pass-through thermal vision with all the benefits of your day scope.
To “zero” the IR to the day scope, you must align it to your day scope’s reticle. Trijicon introduces their new No-Shot Zero Sight-In feature, but most of us will be confirming zero with at least a couple rounds. It’s not difficult but it does take a little time and effort.
Unfortunately, it does require adjustment if you’re moving the thermal clip-on between different weapons. While you can get dead-on, if you’re dismounting and remounting quite often without adjustment, the point of impact shift stays under 1 MOA at 100 yards.
Standalone Thermal Scope
The SNIPE-IR can also be used as a standalone thermal vision rifle scope if you’re mounting it to a weapon that does not have a dedicated day scope. Through the settings, you can move into Sight-In Mode and bypass the Clip-On Mode.
Upon entering sight-in mode, a reticle will appear on screen for you to align with the bull’s-eye or where you want your POI to be. Take a shot and align the reticle with the first POI and save the successful sight-in adjustments.
You can also use this Hybrid mode for enhanced target ID.
For a 640x480, you can imagine the image quality is excellent and it is. To retain sharpness and clarity through several glass lenses by the time the image reaches your eye is a difficult thing to achieve, but such is the point of clip-ons.
The Trijicon SNIPE-IR has the BAE Systems MicroIR Thermal Core with 640x480 thermal resolution and 12-micron sensor. Combine the high-end thermal core with a 35 mm scope and you have an optimal FOV of 12-degrees which is plenty for night hunting up to around 400 yards.
With a magnification base of 2.5x and 8x zoom, extremely high magnification is possible, but thermals with excellent resolution past 10x usually costs more than $10K. With that in mind, the VisRelay eyepiece both eliminates parallax and demagnifies the display to support more magnification power from the day optic. As such, 4x optical magnification of the day scope is the optimized magnification to effectively see and read the menu within the FOV. In Hybrid mode, you can use less optical power from your day scope.
Higher magnification comes at a loss of brightness and will essentially halve the resolution of the thermal. Hence, its higher 640x480 provides a lot more enhanced clarity and brightness than any other inferior thermal used at high power in this price range.
Trijicon IR scopes typically have poor battery life of 2-5 hours and this is also true of the SNIPE-IR. However, Trijicon states that the two CR123 batteries provide about 2 hours each of use but you can actually get about 6 hours in one run at 60 Hz.
You can also toggle into the Power Save Mode which is the 30 Hz refresh rate. Use it for the conditions and your needs or to further conserve battery life. While it may seem as easy as just selecting the refresh rate you want, you must power down the optic and then restart it with the newly selected refresh rate. Tedious, yes, but worth it to have the option.
It comes as no surprise that the Trijicon SNIPE-IR is one very expensive thermal imaging scope and is the priciest model out of the entire IR series. The main benefit is that it’s a clip-on and can be used in tandem with your day scope, but it’s not as long range as you would assume.
For spotting use, you can see out well past 600 yards to even 1200 yards. For shooting, the ranges will be much lower, more like around 500 yards and less. So, it really depends on your intended use if the SNIPE-IR is the right thermal for you.
However, if you’re in the market for a dedicated thermal versus a clip-on, you can opt for the Reap-IR that has the same thermal core and save yourself some money.
The SNIPE-IR is best used with 4x scopes because the screen is optimized for full visibility at 4x. This would include the Trijicon ACOG. However, it’s also commonly used with Trijicon’s VCOG and with Eclan scopes.
It will also be compatible with other day scopes even with a minimum magnification of 1.5x as the display shrinks to support the use of more power. It can also be mounted and collimated to weapons with day scopes mounted 1.3-1.5” (35-40mm) above the rail.
The SNIPE-IR IRCO-35 comes with the Mini D-LOC mount. It’s incredibly easy to attach to the rail and ensuring it’s hand-tight mounted for ultimate stability and accuracy. Best for use with continuous Picatinny rails.
The Trijicon SNIPE-IR can be mounted to a helmet as a 2.5x thermal with the separate purchase of the right helmet assembly hardware. It does not provide 1x power as a standalone optic, so this isn’t a helmet-mounted optic made for everyone.
The SNIPE-IR features the thumbstick navigational system as is so with the REAP-IR and IR-PATROL models. It’s recessed, waterproof, rugged, and multi-directional. It may not be as intuitive to use as buttons, but it’s a lot more durable and is easy to find in the dark and without looking. It will take some getting used to.
The SNIPE-IR has Edge Detect, three Black Hot and three White Hot Polarity Modes, Digital Focus, and Image Capture features.
Edge Detect is an extremely convenient feature that outlines the target, reduces the overall brightness of the display and background, and minimizes night blindness.
The SNIPE-IR is a decked-out thermal scope for those who demand accuracy and results in a thermal clip-on.
It’s not a type of buy that is bought every day, so be sure that it meets your needs.
Since many hunters and shooters have multiple guns but can only buy one thermal, this clip-on makes the decision easier to have one device that can be used on multiple platforms. It will need adjustments every time it’s dismounted and moved to a new platform, but then again, you’re spending under $10K.
We’d say the pros far outweigh its drawbacks. In context, this type of thermal quality in a pass-through thermal optic in this price range is worth having – if you can afford it.
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner 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. When not glassing the local wildlife, you can find him in the garden with his German Shepherd.