The Panther thermal riflescope is the new big cat on the market from HikMicro and as a company they are certainly out to get their claws into the market with this one. Mark Ripley investigates.

For several years now HikMicro have been a leading manufacturer of CCTV cameras and equipment and over the past few years have become a recognised name in the thermal market with their range of thermal spotters and with a good reputation for prompt customer service and reasonably priced products.

An impressive scope from HikMicro

The Panther Pro LRF from HikMicro is certainly an impressive scope in terms of image quality and I can honestly say it’s as good or better than any other thermal device I’ve used. As you may have guessed from its title, the LRF stands for ‘laser range finding’ and as you can see from the image this is housed above the main objective lens giving accurate ranges out to 600m at the touch of a button and displayed on the internal viewfinder.

The scope is a nice compact unit running on a single 18650 battery and mounting directly to a picatinny rail. It’s also been designed to be extremely easy to use with only three buttons. The first is the power button which also allows the unit to be placed into standby power saving mode. The second button is for the laser range finder and the third is a jog dial style button. This jog dial allows you to quickly and smoothly zoom the magnification in and out and a short press of the button allows you to alternate between 4 different colour palettes, white hot, black hot, red hot and fusion.

A press and hold of this button brings up the main functions menu and the jog dial allows for menu navigation with subsequent presses of the button used to select options.

The Panther also allows for photos and videos to be recorded directly to its inbuilt memory, which can later be downloaded via the supported T-Vision app or directly to a PC via a USB connection.

The Panther’s sharp performance comes thanks to its 640x512px, 12 micron sensor with sub 35mk NETD. This highly accurate thermal sensor is able to detect the smallest of temperature changes, meaning it is capable of building a highly detailed image even in the worst weather conditions.

The units 50mm lens delivers 2.6 x optical magnification with a further 8 x digital magnification displayed on a 1024 x 768px OLED screen.

hikmicro

The Panther thermal riflescope

Picture in Picture mode

Like many thermal scopes you can also select Picture in Picture mode (PIP) which I like to use. This gives a full screen view with a magnified image of the centre of the crosshairs superimposed at the top of the screen, and gives both a good field of view as well as the ability to place precise shots.

Another feature which I particularly like is within the one shot zero function of the scope. Here you have the option to ‘freeze’ the image to adjust the point of impact. In other words, once you have fired a shot at your target you simply place the crosshairs on the point of aim and freeze the image. From there you can move the crosshairs on the still image onto the bullet’s point of impact and save it, making the whole process a lot easier!

Similarly to other scopes you can also stream live video from the scope to a smart phone or tablet via the app and you can also use your phone or tablet to control the Panther should you wish to.

The Panther is recoil rated to 750 g/ms allowing it to perform on large calibres such  as .375 H&H without fault.

An IP67 rating means the unit can still be used in the worst of weathers and has a built in lens cover to protect the lens from rain and other debris.

All that combined with a 3 year warranty and a HikMicro team of technicians based in the UK and you can’t go far wrong.

fox in thermal imager

Image quality was excellent

In the field

So how does it perform in the field?

As this scope will no doubt primarily be purchased by fox shooters like myself, I decided the best way to test it would be on a foxing foray.

After zeroing it one afternoon on my .223 I took it out on a local farm with a bit of a fox problem and almost instantly found a fox to test the scope on. Although at bang on 100 yards it was far from a testing shot, the image quality was excellent and I was easily able to identify it when first spotted around 200 yards.

A little while later I again spotted another fox which I shot at around the same distance which was also very clear.

All in all the HikMicro Panther PQ50L is an exceptionally sharp scope with images that look more like a black and white video than thermal, and it does exactly what it’s designed to do with the minimum of fuss.

If you’re looking for a thermal scope that really cuts it, then this Panther’s got the sharpest claws.