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Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35: redefining stalking

Tom Cackett reviews the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35, a compact thermal unit that is enhancing his stalking experience

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

Axion 2 XQ35

Manufacturer: Pulsar

Why everything changed with the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

An admission: I’ve joined the thermal club. I always vowed not to use a thermal, fearing it would make deerstalking feel too clinical and would strip some of the romance from the activity. On several occasions, however, friends accompanying me on stalking trips have brought along a thermal spotter. I’ve seen the benefits it can offer. Carcass recovery, for example, becomes much simpler, you can spot stray footpath walkers and, to the task at hand, deer that are invisible to the naked eye. I was initially put off by the cost of a thermal unit, with many retailing at prices over £2,000. However, everything changed when I discovered the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35. (Read more on thermal spotters here.)

The price tag was a much more manageable £1,639.95, and it wasn’t a large cumbersome brick that I would find annoying to carry around all day. Its compact size also meant I wouldn’t feel compelled to use it constantly. The Axion 2 weighs 0.3kg, is 152mm long and 74mm wide, which makes it truly pocket-sized, and it neatly fits in most binocular harness size pouches, which is where I keep mine.

Pocket-sized powerhouse

I ordered my Axion 2 from Scott Country, which supplied the unit along with a hand strap, neck lanyard and a spare battery. Also included in the box was a warranty card and a QR code that, when scanned with your phone camera, would take you to the online electronic instruction manual. Like a typical bloke, I attempted to set up the Axion 2 without consulting the instruction manual and, amazingly, I was pretty successful. The only time I had to consult the manual was to connect the unit to the Stream Vision app via Wi-Fi, which is a testament to how intuitive the Axion is.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

The Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 features eight different colour palette options

Tech specs

  • Built-in W-iFi allows it to connect to the Stream Vision app available for any smartphone 
  • Video and photo recording capability 
  • An 11-hour battery life 
  • Waterproof up to 1m 
  • Eight different colour palette options 
  • Variable magnification (from two to eight) 
  • Detection out to 1,300m (for a 1.8m tall object) 
  • Standby mode to conserve battery. 


Many products offer Wi-Fi app connectivity these days, but very few of them provide trouble-free connectivity and usage. I’m pleased to report that only once have I struggled to get the Axion 2 to connect to the Stream Vision app, and I believe the fault was caused by the Axion being on marginal battery. As soon as I plugged it into power, the problem disappeared and hasn’t returned. Through the app, you can access any photos or videos you’ve captured through the unit itself, allowing you to share them with friends or on social media. Capturing footage is very simple and is done with two presses of a single button. The unit stores all footage on an internal memory card that has plenty of capacity. 

Even though my unit came with a spare battery, I must admit I’ve never actually used it. The Axion 2 has an 11-hour battery life, which lasts me through two to three stalks, possibly more. The key to this impressive battery life is the standby mode that you can put the unit into when you’re out stalking. 

All you need to do to wake the unit up is press the power button once, and it springs back to life. The power button is located on the top of the unit along with all the other controls, so your fingers naturally sit on them when you hold the unit to your eye. 

As well as quickly taking photos or recording video with the buttons, you can also adjust the unit’s magnification, access a quick menu or the full menu. Through the full menu, you can customise the unit by changing the colour palette, adding a display within a display (PIP), or altering the brightness or contrast. 

Heat signatures 

I had initially assumed that an entry-level thermal unit like the Axion 2 XQ35 might only allow me to spot heat signatures at close ranges, or might only identify a heat signature without offering the ability to differentiate between different types of animals giving off a heat signature. Like any thermal unit, it takes a bit of time to get your eye in, but once you have, you can differentiate between a hare, fox or deer through the Axion 2, even at a distance. Speaking of distance, I’ve been able to spot heat signatures at 1,000m. I haven’t really had the opportunity or cause to try any further than that. 

Whenever I review an item I try to be as objective as I can and really scrutinise products, especially if I’ve spent my own money on them, which can be challenging as you tend to view your own purchases through rose-tinted spectacles. However, I strive to be critical because if I’ve made a mistake, I’d like you, the readers, to learn from it. On this occasion, I’m struggling to find faults with the Axion 2 XQ35. The only criticisms I have are that in misty or foggy conditions the unit sometimes struggles to identify heat signatures, and it does occasionally refresh the image, which can disrupt your viewing experience. However, I believe these issues are linked to the limitations of current thermal technology rather than the Axion 2 itself. 

Woodland stalking 

I’ve found the Axion 2 most useful for woodland stalking, where deer are better camouflaged, and it can be difficult to spot them among foliage or in the shadows. With a thermal, they suddenly stand out like a sore thumb, and it almost feels like an unfair advantage. The same is true if you’re ever sitting in a high seat staring into a woodland – you’ll spot the deer long before they emerge into the field. Where the Axion 2 XQ35 might not compare to other more expensive thermals is when you try to analyse your quarry; you’ll struggle to tell a roebuck from a roe doe at a distance, but get close enough and you will. 

For £1,639.95, I think the Axion 2 XQ35 is a fantastic option for those looking to buy a thermal without needing to take out a small loan. The functionality of the XQ35 means I wouldn’t dare call this an entry-level thermal. I think this unit would suit the needs of the average deerstalker without needing to spend any more of your hard-earned cash. However, if you are well-heeled there’s also an LRF version for anyone willing to dig a little deeper that comes in just under £2,000. 

Supplier: Scott Country International 


I’ve found the Axion 2 most useful for woodland stalking, where deer are better camouflaged