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Thermal imagers for hunting – our top riflescope picks

Looking for the ideal riflescope to get the most out of the long winter evenings? Don't miss our top picks for thermal imagers for hunting.

Over the past few years, there has been an ever-increasing use of observation units and thermal imagers for hunting in the shooting world. An array of well-known and not-so-well-known manufacturers are dipping their toes into the market and releasing models. As the landscape of the shooting industry changes, the need for good thermal imagers for hunting is becoming more and more important, as Mark Ripley explains: “Without doubt thermal imagers have been the biggest game changers the shooting industry has seen for decades.” (Read outwitting rats with thermal imaging scopes.)

But with such an array of options flooding the market, knowing what to look for can seem like a daunting task, but we have all the advice you could need. Mark also says: “This leap in technology comes at a price so it’s important to be sure you’re spending your hard earned cash wisely, so here’s a couple of pointers when taking the plunge. Like most things in life you get what you pay for so I would recommend buying the best you can afford. Also consider what type of shooting you want it for and buy accordingly.

“For general foxing and stalking then a spotter with a low base magnification is useful as it will give a better field of view whereas if you generally shoot over wide expanses of land, a slightly higher magnification maybe better suited. As thermal units have digital magnification, all units will pixilate as the magnification increases, so bear this in mind.”

With more manufacturers and more options in the market, prices are increasingly competitive, therefore the use of thermal imagers for hunting has become quite commonplace among foxers and stalkers. But no matter how much you’re looking to spend, getting value for your money is always essential, which is why below we have put together our top picks for the best thermal imagers for hunting. (Take a look at our list of the best torches for hunting too.)


Thermal imager for hunting – our top riflescope picks


1. Pulsar Thermion 2 XP50 Thermal Riflescope, £4,999.99

Best overall

  • Weight: 749g
  • Length: 416mm
  • Magnification: 2x to 16x
  • Range of Detection: 1800m
  • Battery Included? Yes


Sitting atop the hill in our opinion, the XP50 seems to have it all – it pairs long-range effectiveness with a huge field of view – 12.4 degrees horizontally, maximising your chances of picking up your quarry – it has adjustable reticles, colour modes and zero profile to match your rifle and preference, among a much longer list of features. There’s also a picture-in-picture mode to display a magnified version of your target without compromising the field of view, not to mention that it’s dual-powered by an internal battery and external APS2 power source.

The Thermion 2 XP50 can start up instantly from its ‘display off’ mode, and also has an auto shutdown when it detects the rifle at a non-shooting angle. And perhaps best of all, you can pack of all that into a piece of kit that fits standard 30mm mounts. For our money it’s the best scope on the market, and though it certainly doesn’t come cheap, if you can stomach the price, it’s worth every penny.



2. Infiray Iray Thermal Rifle Scope TL35, £3,024.95


Most intuitive

  • Weight: 900g
  • Length: 385mm
  • Magnification: 3.1x to 12.4x
  • Range of Detection: 1816m
  • Battery Included? Yes


Despite being loaded up with many of the latest kit and gadgets, the TL35 is surprisingly easy to use, which can be a welcome relief if you’re in the field and having to set up quickly to avoid missing a shot.

But far more than just being very user-friendly, it’s also designed to look like other traditional telescopic sights. It is a sophisticated piece of kit, but the InfiRay Tube TL35 is very easy to set up and enjoys fantastic picture quality. It’s a tough, dependable, user-friendly gunsight that produces a clear thermal image with plenty of detail, and while this too isn’t the cheapest option on the market, if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to invest in it, you’ll be getting a lot for your money.




3. Pulsar Thermion XM50 Thermal Riflescope, £3,550.00

Best for long range

  • Weight: 898g
  • Length: 402mm
  • Magnification: 5.5x to 22x
  • Range of Detection: 2300m
  • Battery Included? Yes


Featuring state of the art design and a whole host of innovative kit, the XM50 won’t set you back quite as much as its more expensive counterpart, and has more than enough going for it. This thermal imager for hunting excels in providing a traditional aesthetic feel, coupled with a comfortable natural shooting position. Add to this a truly advanced thermal performance, as well as an unbelievable range of clear detection, and you can’t go far wrong with this piece of kit.




4. Pulsar Digex Digital Night Vision Riflescope, £1,390.00

Most affordable

  • Weight: 950g
  • Length: 394mm
  • Magnification: 4x to 16x
  • Range of Detection: 500m
  • Battery included? Yes


Pulsar’s Digex thermal imager for hunting can keep pace with the most expensive thermal imager you could find, boasting a state of the art 1280×720 CMOS HD sensor which takes full advantage of three adjustable IR power levels for your preferred effective range and illumination level.

It offers a fast-focus eyepiece clarifying the on-screen image with an improved eye box for when head/eye position is not totally perfect; an improvement on the older pinpoint sized focal zone.

Three APS2 batteries are supplied along with charger to power the Digex, then one in the illuminator and a spare.

We’ve put it down as the most affordable, but it probably takes home the title of most durable too, with it being fully waterproof and having operating temperatures of -13 °F to 122 °F. It’s let down ever so slightly by the range of detection, but that’s more a symptom of the competition on this list. For most, the range of detection should be plenty.




5. HIK Micro Thunder Thermal Scope, £2,700.00

Most compact/best value for money

  • Weight: 410g
  • Length: 187mm
  • Magnification: 2.1x
  • Range of Detection: 1235m
  • Battery Included? Yes


While it may not be the cheapest on the list, the price is still unbelievable when considering what you’re getting for your money, making it the best on this list when it comes to a straight product-to-price ratio. On that subject, the HIK has a lot going for it – it’s very compact, making it the ideal size to be carried around on long nights in the field, as well as being supplied with a 2.1x magnification lens system and a detection distance of 1235m, which, considering it’s almost on par with items twice its size and weight (and price), is definitely worth your attention.

Using the highly sensitive, SUB 35mK NETD, 384×288 17µm thermal sensor, the HIK Micro Thunder delivers world-beating detail and clarity, all in a compact and rugged little package. It’s really a great no-nonsense bit of kit for someone who takes their night-time stalking seriously.