The Best Pulsar Thermal Scopes of 2022

Written By Jared Whitlock

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Pulsar offers some of the best thermal scopes on the market. There is a lot to choose from, so we wanted to give our readers a detailed look at some of the best models.

Hunting at night is a completely different ball game. To be successful you really need a high quality rifle scope. And a thermal scope is an excellent choice.

Pulsar offers high-end thermal scopes. These aren’t the run of the mill thermal scopes you find on Amazon. A Pulsar thermal scopes will likely cost you between $3,000 and $6,000.

But Pulsar is one of the most reliable brands, offering some of the best rifle scopes for serious hunters. So, are they worth it? Let’s find out.

The Best Overall Pulsar Thermal Scope: Thermion 2 XQ50

Our Top Pick
Pulsar Thermion 2 XQ50 Thermal Riflescope

This is a top-of-the-line thermal imaging rifle scope that offers unparalleled performance and quality.

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The Pulsar Thermion 2 XQ50 is an excellent choice for hunting and precision shooting. Its top-quality components meet all the criteria and outperform most of the competition, as can be seen from a glance at the specification sheet.

The Pulsar Thermion 2 XQ50 is a top-of-the-line thermal imaging scope that features a powerful 384×288 microbolometer sensor. This sensor is highly sensitive and can detect extremely slight variations in heat signatures from up to 1,968 yards away.

The scope delivers highly-contrasted images on an immaculate 1024×768 AMOLED display. In addition to its massive detection range and outstanding image quality, the Thermion 2 XQ50 also features a true 50mm objective lens.

Buy this scope with confidence.

The Thermion 2 XQ50 also won our best overall thermal scope of any brand this year in our recent article – The Best Thermal Scopes of 2022.


The Best High-Tech Pulsar Thermal Scope: Thermion 2 LRF XP50 Pro

Best High-Tech
Pulsar Thermion 2 LRF XP50 Pro
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The Pulsar Thermion 2 LRF XP50 Pro is the perfect choice for techies that want a top of the line thermal riflescope that has all the features you could ever desire.

Looking for a powerful and reliable thermal imaging scope? Look no further than the Thermion 2 LRF XP50 Pro! With a sleek design and built-in laser rangefinder, it’s perfect for anyone looking for a top-of-the-line scope.

It has a 640×480 pixel resolution that can detect heat signatures from up to 2,000 yards away, and it has a crisp 1024×768 AMOLED display. Plus, with an impressive 10 hours of battery life, it’s perfect for those long hunting trips.

But be aware, this scope doesn’t come cheap. It is one of the most expensive thermal scopes on our list but well worth the money in our opinion.


The Best Pulsar Thermal Scope for Night Hunting: Trail 2 LRF XQ50

Best For Night Hunting
Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XQ50 Thermal Riflescope
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This new Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XQ50 thermal imager is the real deal! With a highly sensitive NETD 40mK thermal imaging sensor, you’ll be able to see amazing detail even in the toughest weather conditions when other thermal scopes might experience issues.

You won’t miss a thing during rainfall, fog, or even cold mornings. The thermal imaging with sharp contrast and rich detail enhances the identification of animals and small features such as branches, leaves, and even grass.

You get the built-in laser rangefinder– a great feature. It’s attached to the side of the scope making it easy to use. There are three rangefinder reticles that are supported by the PiP (Picture-in-Picture) mode.

All these features make the Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XQ50 our best choice for night hunters, and those that need to a clear image in the dark of night.

Looking for a thermal viewer that isn’t a scope? Check out our recent article about The Best Thermal Monoculars of 2022 to see some of the top choices on the market.


The Best Pulsar Thermal Scopes of 2022

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of our 3 favorite thermal scopes by Pulsar.


Thermal Scope Buying Guide

So what’s the magic formula for picking the best scope?

Fact is, there isn’t any.

I have to say, picking the right thermal scope from a wide range of products can be a tough task. But once you know what to look for in a scope, the task gets much easier.

Here are the main points that you need to keep in mind.

The Resolution

The first thing to note is- the resolution of the thermal sensor is different than that of the thermal scope. Quite simply, the better the thermal resolution, the better will be the image quality. A higher resolution also allows you to zoom in on the target, without losing image quality. 

Entry level sensors come with a resolution of 384×288. The more expensive sensors have a resolution of 640×480 or 640×512 and offer more image clarity and definition.

Ideally, you should pick the best sensor resolution that your budget allows. In case you’re planning for long-distance shooting, a high-quality sensor is the best choice. However, the overall image quality depends on the resolution of the sensor as well as the scope. 

If the resolution of the scope and the sensor are the same, image quality won’t be the best. In most cases, the scope resolution is higher to provide the best image quality.

Magnification

Magnification is one aspect of the scope that you can’t ignore. It allows you to get optically closer to your prey and increase the overall accuracy levels. 

Keep in mind, magnification and resolution of the scope are inversely proportional to each other. 

If you choose higher magnification, the overall image quality can suffer unless the scope has the right resolution.

Pulsar thermal scopes come with varying magnification levels. It can be anywhere between 1.6x-22x. This can include both the digital and the optical zoom range. 

A good level of magnification is needed for shooting hogs or coyotes at night. However, some users prefer fixed levels of magnification for their lenses so that the resolution is unaffected. 

Scope Detection Range

The detection range of the scope is the distance up to which it delivers a crystal clear image. Every thermal sensor has a range beyond which it fails to gather the necessary data. The top-grade scope can deliver clear images up to a distance of 4,000 yards. Naturally, they come with a higher price tag. 

On the other hand, the entry level scopes can be limited to a distance of 1,000 yards. If you’re a newcomer in the world of hunting, an entry-level scope that comes at an affordable price is a good option to pick.

Refresh Rate

This is another aspect of the lens that determines the overall viewing experience through it. Basically, it’s the number of images that are viewed in one second and is indicated in Hertz. The refresh rate depends on the capability of the processor that powers the scope. 

In some scopes, there might be some lag between the actual collection of the image and it being refreshed on the screen. A higher refresh rate means a smoother projection of images on the screen.

For a thermal scope, a refresh rate of 50 to 60 hertz is considered to be good enough.

Lens Diameter

If you don’t know this already, the front part of a rifle scope with the maximum diameter is the objective lens. Lens diameter is an important factor for any rifle scope. 

A bigger objective lens not only allows more light to come in but also increases the overall field of view. In hunting, a better field of view increases the overall chance of spotting your prey in the wild.They also offer better low light performance.

The objective lens is mentioned in the specifications of the lens. For example, in a 4-12×50 mm lens, the first two digits indicate the magnification. So the lens supports a 4x to 12x zoom. The objective lens diameter is 50 millimeters. 

Don’t forget, larger objective lenses can make the rifle heavier.

Battery Life

Like any other sensor, the thermal sensor also needs a power source to function. When you’re out with your rifle, good battery life is an important factor. We feel that a top-grade thermal scope should provide at least eight hours of continuous performance. 

 Many scopes are powered by lithium-ion batteries that can last anywhere between 6 to 8 hours. On top of that, you also get USB-charging. 

If you need a longer power supply, an external battery pack can be a good choice. These can supply power to the scope for more than 2 hours at a stretch.

Price

Last but not the least, we come to the price factor. Needless to say, the type of scope that you need to choose will depend on your budget. 

The price of thermal scopes can start from anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000. However, these are entry and mid-level scopes with low sensor resolution and fewer features.

The professional-grade scopes can cost anywhere between $2,500 to $5,000. So they are pretty expensive. They have higher resolution and more high-end features. 

Beyond that, there are the top-quality thermal scopes that cost beyond $5,000. They offer the best all round performance from all aspects.

If you’re starting out as a hunter, an entry-level scope is good enough to start with. For regular hunters, a scope that offers better clarity and more advanced features is a good pick.

Maintenance of a Thermal Rifle Scope

The point is, a thermal scope isn’t the most durable part of your rifle. The optics are rather fragile. So you need to handle it with care and maintain it properly. 

Here are a few points that you need to take note of.

  • Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions about the care and maintenance. Follow them to prolong the life of the scope and to get the best performance.
  • It’s best to use rubber or latex gloves to handle the optics. Oil or dirt from your hands can degrade the performance.
  • Never use any sharp tools to handle the scope or place them on a rough surface. Even though scopes come with some protective coatings, scratches can happen.
  • In order to remove smudges and fingerprints, you can use a ball of surgical cotton dipped in reagent grade acetone and isopropyl alcohol. Do not rub hard as that can lead to streaks.
  • If the optics get highly contaminated make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Note that new or unused optics need not be cleaned.

FAQs About Pulsar Thermal Scopes

How do thermal rifle scopes work?

Thermal scopes have sensors that detect the infrared radiations or heat signatures that objects generate. The resultant image is called a thermogram.

This is converted into electrical signals to create a final visual image. The difference in temperatures between the various surfaces makes the target stand out from the environment.

Do I choose a night vision scope or a thermal scope?

Night vision technology amplifies the ambient light to create an image. The limitation is, they can only be used during the night. The biggest advantage of thermal scopes is they serve as a twenty-four-hour imaging choice.

Another advantage is that it can see through smoke, fog, or even tall grasses. Their detection range is also more than night vision devices. But keep in mind that you will need to pay more for thermal scopes.

Can sunlight affect the performance of a thermal scope?

Pulsar thermal imaging scopes can be used in bright light conditions without any issues. That said, it is suggested that you do not point the device directly at the sun or any other bright energy source.

This might affect the overall accuracy levels of the device. Also, it’s best not to use the device at very high temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Centigrade. That can have an adverse effect on the performance.

What are the different types of Pulsar thermal imaging scopes?

The Pulsar scopes can be classified into three main categories. To start with, there’s the Trail 2 LRF range, which is the latest. There are two models in this category.

The next category of Pulsar thermal scopes is the Trail LRF range. There are four different scopes in this category.

Note, the term LRF indicates a laser rangefinder. Each of these scopes come with an in-built rangefinder.

The last group of scopes from Pulsar are the Thermion range. They are high-quality scopes that come without rangefinders. There are four scopes under production in this category.

How do I update the firmware on a Pulsar rifle scope?

For this you need to install the Stream Vision App on your smartphone. Then you need to connect the thermal device with the smartphone by turning the WiFi on. Once connected, you can go to the menu in the app and check on my devices.

There you will find the “ check for updates” option. Once the firmware is downloaded, you can connect back to the device and the update will be installed through WiFi.

What is the Warranty on the Pulsar thermal scopes?

Pulsar products come with a warranty of 3 years against defects in material and workmanship. The warranty starts from the date of purchase.

In case you don’t have proof of purchase, the warranty coverage commences from the manufacturing date. Note, the rechargeable battery packs have a one year warranty on them.

Conclusion

The fact is, Pulsar has a wide range of products at different price points. So no matter the type of shooter you’re, there’s something that will match your needs.

Our team has combed through the details to point out the best and worst aspects of each product. Also, we have added all the necessary points you need to check before picking a scope.

All said and done, here’s a recap of the best choices:

Obviously, the final choice will depend on the features you need and the budget. Now that you have gone through our Pulsar thermal scope review, it’s your call.

About Jared Whitlock

Jared hold a Bachelors in Engineering from the University of Louisiana and currently lives in Utah. He has been hunting all across the United States for over 20 years and always makes sure he has the latest technology and gear to keep his hunting at a top level.

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