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Compact Yet Powerful: HIKMICRO NEW Thermal Scope PANTHER 2.0

HIKMICRO have taken the market by storm by focusing on 3 key areas in their product designs - Image quality, usability and reliability.

Exploration is Hikmicro’s core keyword, reflected in their ever increasing range of spotters and scopes, also more recently adding a very impressive trail camera to their lineup.

Catering for all budgets, HIKMICRO offer affordable entry level products through to cutting-edge units. Leaving nothing out in terms of build quality and customer service, Hikmicro have made it their mission to offer equal or better performance for a lower price when compared with competitor brands. I recently had the Panther 2 PQ50L LRF thermal scope out on test and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

I have previously tested the Panther 1 which was a sub 35mk sensor so I was keen to see the new improved Panther 2 with its sub 20mk sensor which improves upon an already impressive image. I’ve been exposed to this new technology from HIKMICRO many times before. Image wise the Panther is extremely sharp with a detection range of 2600 metres thanks to its 12 micron NETD <20mk 640 x 512 thermal sensor detecting subtle temperature differences to create a very detailed image. They ensure clear and detailed image quality even in complete darkness. Its powerful thermal camera will also provide with the most vivid and layered images for reliable game identification and maximum hunting success. This allows the Panther 2.0 LRF  to clearly distinguish between the target and background and brings out minute details of objects.

A very compact little unit and running on a single 18650 battery, my initial concern was that it might rapidly eat through batteries. However, each battery gives up to 5hrs continuous use and comes supplied with two in the box, with additional batteries readily available in almost any shop that sells .

The Panther also combines a little hidden gem – an impressive inbuilt laser range finder. Distance from the game is essential to ensure a safe shot – locking in on distant targets and getting a legitimate range when the target appears. This is located on the top of the unit and with a press of a button will ping a range and display it in the top right corner of the internal 1024 x 768 OLED screen. With 5 different reticule options, 3 reticule colour options and 4 colour palettes (fusion, white, black and red hot) you can customise the scopes display to your own preference quickly and easily. Speaking of ease, the unit has to be one of the simplest I’ve used, with only 3 operating buttons along the left side.

The first button is the power button which powers the unit on and off as well as a short press to put it in standby mode. Next is the range finder button which activates either a single ping of the 600m laser or sets it in scan mode which gives continuous readings. This is a useful feature when quickly engaging multiple targets or those of changing distance – such as a departing fox!

Towards the end of November, HIKMICRO brings out a ballistics calculator to work in conjunction with this feature – The PANTHER 2.0 is HIKMICRO’s first thermal scope with ballistic calculation, ensuring accurate shooting at any distance. Simply enter the required data for your ammunition, scope, and environment to turn your PANTHER 2.0 into a highly accurate long-range tool. The internal ballistics algorithm calculates the suggested aiming point based on the exact distance measured by the built-in laser ranging finder to ensure precise long-range shooting.

The final button also incorporates a jog dial. A short press of this allows access to a sub menu which lets you select contrast & brightness as well as select colour palettes. A longer press accesses the main menu for the rest of your settings. By using the jog wheel to navigate the menu and the central button to select the required option this makes for a simple set up. The jog wheel also activates the scopes zoom function (2.3 optical base magnification and up to 8x digital zoom) giving a max magnification of 18x when not in the menu mode. The scope also has the very useful PIP (picture in picture) feature displaying a magnified image of the crosshair superimposed above the main picture.

Naturally, as a man I’m born with the ability to shoot, cook a BBQ and build things without instructions so finding my way around the menu system proved easy and intuitive – although I confess I did need to look at the instructions once to find out how to record video on the device (of course this was just to save time and I would have quickly figured it out on my own!)

To record footage, including audio, to the scopes internal memory one needs to press and hold the laser button and the menu button together to stop and start recording. The Panther also has inbuilt wifi making it easy to transfer photos and footage directly to your phone or tablet along with the ability to live stream footage directly from the scope should you wish.

Overall build quality looks very good with good ergonomics, compact size and rugged design, a rubber eye cup and a sturdy plastic lens cap to protect its 50mm front lens.

The Panther also has a high shock resistance allowing it to be used on high recoiling rifles and has an IP67 waterproof rating. Zeroing the rifle was a doddle using the simple menu system and freeze frame feature, allowing me to zero the scope perfectly within 4 shots from scratch. The unit performed very well despite zeroing it on a bright sunny afternoon I was still able to clearly see not just the steel target at 100 metres but also the bullet impacts on it!

Taking the scope out in the field I found it simple and reliable to use in the dark and was very impressed with its performance, giving me the confidence to identify quarry species easily out to considerable distance.

For any professional shooter requiring highly detailed images, alongside accurate range detection and drop-compensation I think the Panther PQ50L is an excellent option. I can see two main scenarios where this would be extremely useful:

  • Pest controllers using high powered air rifles at night, where the trajectory of the pellets is lobby and the distances vary dramatically from job to job
  • Night shooters of Foxes and other lawful quarry would benefit from the ballistic drop calculator at longer ranges, as well as the added safety of having thermal imaging over just night vision – night vision has limited range compared to thermal, so a thermal scope is always better for detection of potential hazards in the background when hunting.

The Panther 2 PQ50L retails at just under the £3k mark which I think given its impressive performance and features makes it a very tempting purchase! 

Need to know PQ50L 2.0:

  • 640 x 512 thermal resolution
  • High Sensitivity thermal module NETD <20mK
  • 50mm lens with detection range up to 2600m
  • 1024×788 resolution 0.39in OLED display
  • 600m Laser Rangefinder
  • Price: £2,999.99

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