Chris Parkin takes two high-end thermal-imaging rifle scopes from Pulsar through their paces and compares like with like
At the top end of its range, Pulsar offers two distinct options: the Trail XP50, which bolts to the Picatinny rail on a rifle for dedicated night operations, and the Core FXQ50, a handheld spotter that will also double up as a thermal-capable optic when mounted to the front of your rifle scope.
Either would deserve their own review but for a more direct comparison, Nightmaster loaned both to trial side by side. I mounted the Trail on to my .223 foxing rifle and zeroed it using my favourite method of a disposable heat pack taped to the back of a steel gong for a nice circular 100m target.
In good dry air conditions, you can see a solid black target on white backing paper, but if there is moisture in the air, all you will see is a direct heat source such as that offered by this target or, ultimately, live quarry. The unit offers zero setups for three rifles with five distances for each, two colours of 13 reticle styles and five levels of brightness display, in addition to the usual brightness and contrast options for the image.
All details are explained in the extensive menu. Four main buttons on top control functions, with on/off to the side and a data port if you want to download any of your saved screenshots or video. Wi-fi will also stream live to a smartphone or tablet. Internal screen focus is controlled with a rear eyepiece collar for your personal needs. Frontal/image focus is adjusted using a dial above the front end, just behind the 50mm objective lens with a base level 1.2x magnification that can be boosted to 12.8x digitally by the electronics.