This is the review of the best thermal scopes from Pulsar. In case you’re looking for the best options from the brand, we are here with all the details and the reviews.
As you know, hunting at night is a completely different ball game. So to hit the target, you need a good rifle scope. And there’s nothing better than a thermal scope for beating the darkness.
Have you used a night vision scope before?
If not, we are here to provide all the details that are needed to help you pick the best one.
But the problem is, in most cases, these units are too highly-priced for amateur hunters. Then again, a cheap thermal scope doesn’t deliver the image quality that you seek.
Now, one thing is for sure…
Pulsar is one of the most reliable brands, offering some of the best rifle scopes with thermal imaging.
So, do the products from Pulsar deliver the right balance between price and performance?
Let’s delve deeper and find that out.
|Product Name||Features||Best For||More Info|
|Trail 2 LRF XP50||A 640x480 sensor for excellent images|
1800 meter long detection range
|Best high-end rifle scope||See Latest Price|
Trail 2 LRF XQ50
|Best affordable scope with a rangefinder||See Latest Price|
|Trail LRF XP38||Excellent display|
Long battery life
|Best all-weather scope||See Latest Price|
|Trail LRF XP50||High definition image|
|Best durable scope||See Latest Price|
|Trail LRF XQ38||Crisp and clear display|
High shock resistance
|Best in terms of ease of use||See Latest Price|
|Thermion XM50||2300 meter detection range|
Shock-proof and waterproof
|Best value for money||See Latest Price|
|Thermion XQ50||Improved sensor quality|
A good field of view
|Best Generation 1 scope||See Latest Price|
|Thermion XP50||Top grade display|
Inbuilt Image boost technology
|Best Overall performer||See Latest Price|
|Thermion XQ38||Long battery life|
|Best scope for beginners||See Latest Price|
Here is a detailed look at the best Pulsar thermal rifle scopes to take your shooting skills to the next level.
Let’s dive in.
Looking for a high-tech thermal scope from Pulsar? This rifle scope ticks all the right boxes.
What really stands out is the thermal sensor with a NETD of over 40mK. Coupled with the top-grade display, the scope delivers a clear and bright image.
The overall durability is top-notch. You get a rugged and lightweight magnesium alloy housing that’s shockproof. Beyond that, there’s IPX7 rated waterproofing.
The device comes with three calibration modes- manual, semi-manual, and automatic.
And guess what?
There’s an integrated precision-grade laser rangefinder. It allows single time measurement and has a scanning mode.
You get a high shooting range of 1 kilometer. Also, there are three rangefinder reticles to choose from.
The other thing is about the batteries. You can easily get an output of close to eight hours with the included lithium-Ion battery pack.
We also noted there isn’t any lag while tracking the prey with this scope. Also, there is the image boost technology that allows for generating a sharp image.
In addition, there is the picture-in-picture (PiP) image that allows for additional zooming. The result is better identification and superior accuracy.
The Pulsar Trail 2 LRF also offers eight color palettes. That is one of the highest you get in this category of scopes.
Beyond that, you also get video recording features. There is 16 GB of internal memory for storage.
All in all, this is the best pulsar thermal scope- a flagship product. With top-grade thermal technology from a reputed brand, it is definitely a top pick.
The XQ50 sits low in the product catalog than its sibling the XP50. The main reason is the lower sensor quality and slightly less magnification.
On the other hand, it comes with a relatively lower price tag.
The housing is made from durable magnesium alloy. It’s also IPX7 rated.
And the best part is, even with all these features, this Pulsar Trail XQ50 thermal rifle scope is one of the lightest in this category.
Even though the XQ50 offers slightly less sensor resolution, the image quality is sharp and clear. On top of that, there’s the Image Detail Boost feature for sharper contrast.
Obviously, 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.
What’s more, the button layout is ergonomic. The four buttons of the top are used to control most of the major functions.
So even if the dimensions are on the bigger side, handling the unit isn’t an issue.
There are eight color palettes here. However, you might find some of them not being the best choice for night time shooting.
Then again, you get multiple operating modes that are suited for different external environments. You can also customize the custom contrast and brightness settings in the User Mode.
Without a doubt, this is another high-performing thermal scope from a reliable brand. If you’re an avid shooter, you will love the value it offers.
The XP38 comes as a part of the Trail series of scopes from Pulsar. What really stands out here is the high quality of the thermal sensor.
Even the smallest differences in temperature are effectively captured by the sensor. The result is a vivid and crisp thermal image.
The build quality is typical Pulsar- sturdy and rugged. This also allows the scope to withstand up to 6000 Joules of recoil energy.
Above all, Pulsar has kept the scope very light. One of the lightest that we tested.
The added bonus is the integrated laser rangefinder. It comes with a range of 1000 meters.
You will find the scope feature-rich as most other Pulsar products. These include a weatherproof construction, high recoil resistance rating, and the proprietor image boost technology.
The image boosting feature from Pulsar through is another big advantage. Not to forget, there’s the Picture-in-Picture mode to help improve your accuracy.
The built-in video recorder captures videos and still images with ease. The recoil activated capture mode is a handy addition.
In terms of power supply, the device has a rechargeable IPS5, 5 A-h battery pack. It’s good enough to deliver 8 hours of running time.
The Pulsar Trail XQ38 thermal rifle scope offers good optics and excellent reliability. However, considering the high price, we wouldn’t recommend it for occasional hunters.
The Pulsar Trail XP50 thermal rifle scope with night vision is a slightly advanced version of the XP38. It was the flagship scope for Pulsar in 2017.
The overall construction is solid and the IPX7 rating makes it ready for the outdoors. The overall design including the lens cap gives a rugged feel. Also, it’s on the lighter side of the scale.
It offers all the standard features of the Trail series. In addition, you get a longer detection range of 1800 meters.
The overall ergonomics are top-notch. The main controls are through four buttons on the top. The focus adjustment is controlled separately.
You get a full range of other features as in other Trail-series scopes. A bright AMOLED display, 13 digital reticle options, live streaming, and picture-in-picture (PiP).
One more thing…
The trail series devices also come with temperature sensor stabilization. Basically, it has a heat sink that prevents heat build up in the sensor.
Also, Pulsar AMOLED displays are frost-resistant. So shooting on chilly winter nights won’t be an issue.
The device comes with full video recording features along with 8GB of internal memory. Sharing videos and images through the StreamVision app is pretty simple.
Overall, this is a great scope that offers the right bang for the buck.
The Pulsar Trail XQ38 thermal rifle scope is one of the more affordable options in the trail series.
As expected, it has all the premium features that the Trail series boasts of. It’s just the sensor resolution that has been reduced. That also reduces the overall range of the device.
But make no mistake about it.
The Trail XQ38 is a solid performer that delivers sharp and crisp images that we expect from Pulsar.
However, some users mentioned that the image quality suffers during rains.
That said, the scope offers solid value with its low price tag. So if you want one of the best pulsar thermal scopes without breaking the bank, this is a great choice.
The overall built quality is excellent. The scope will easily withstand rough handle and adverse weather conditions.
The performance doesn’t suffer at extreme temperatures. The standard operating temperature range is between -25°C to +50°С.
The other thing is, the Li-Ion battery pack delivers a solid performance. Some long term users of the scope reported that these batteries can hold on to their performance for a long time.
Other than that, you get the user-friendly interface, the Picture-in-Picture mode, and live streaming feature.
To sum up, even though it isn’t a top of the line product, this is one of the most affordable scopes from Pulsar. We would surely recommend it for casual hunters.
Whether you want to shoot long-range or short-range, the Thermion XM50 scope offers the right level of support all through the day and night.
The scope is loaded with a range of excellent features. Firstly, the aluminum-magnesium alloy offers excellent durability. The lightweight design is also IPX7 rated. So shooting during rain or snow isn’t an issue.
What really stands out is the premium lens quality. The lens comes with a germanium coating that offers a high level of clarity. The display quality, along with the good refresh rates delivers a crisp and bright image.
What you’ll like is the fast start-up time and a lag-free performance from the scope. You also get eight different color palettes to choose from.
Operating the scope is simple. There’s a triple button control mechanism on the eyepiece for the major functions. A smooth-rolling selector wheel that makes controlling super easy.
Here’s something interesting.
The scope comes with a dual Li-Ion power system with an advanced single-cell design. The removable external battery system adds more life to the unit. You can easily change the external pack in the field.
As expected, you can record 1024×768 videos and still images as well. Streaming live through the Stream Vision app is also a breeze. Moreover, you can mount the scope with the standard 30mm rings.
If you’re looking for reliable performance in an AR or bolt action rifle, you can’t go wrong with the Pulsar Thermion XM50 thermal rifle scope.
This thermal imaging scope is the latest offering from Pular in the Thermion range. The point is, it’s a great choice for new and intermediate shooters.
To start with, in terms of design and appearance the scope looks great. The all-metal housing lends it excellent durability. We also liked the fact that it’s compact and pretty lightweight.
Next, it has the latest thermal sensor which has been improved by Pulsar. In terms of display and image details, the XM50 can easily compete with scopes of a higher price range.
Even in complete darkness, the sensor clearly picked targets beyond 1600 meters.
As with the other Thermion models, the performance can be improved with firmware updates. That’s one feature we like.
Even newbie users will find the scope easy to use. The 30 mm mount comes with a quick-detach mount that makes things easier. The other advantage is, there are multiple reticles to choose from
Coming to the power supply, there’s an internal and external battery pack. While replacing the external battery is a practical option, we wished that it lasted longer.
Honestly, you can get around 6 hours of battery life on the field.
Like the rest of the Thermions, the scope also offers a picture-in-picture display.
What you get is a magnified image at the center of your field of view for better accuracy. In addition, there are multiple color profiles to choose from.
Not to forget, it also allows you to capture videos and still images.
In short, the Pulsar Thermion XQ50 thermal rifle scope offers great value for long-range shooters.
The main highlight of this Thermion scope is a top grade 640×480 sensor resolution with shuttered NUC. That results in superb clarity of the images in real-time.
The rugged design is made from aircraft-grade metal alloys. With an IPХ7 rating can handle outdoor conditions with ease.
In addition, the 1024 x 768 AMOLED display does a great job of delivering crystal clear clarity.
Add to that the 50 Hz display rate that makes the scope a great choice for capturing dynamic motion.
What we loved using is the Image Boost technology that the new firmware update has provided. That really sharpens the image quality by a lot.
One more good thing about the Thermion range of scopes is their high shock resistance. The scope can handle recoil shocks from high-powered handguns.
The scope is loaded with twin battery packs- a fixed APS3 and a removable APS2. The overall battery life is around 4.5 to 5.5 hours. There’s a sleep mode to extend the running time.
As expected, there are 7 static and 3 dynamic scaling reticles. You also get detailed MOA values for each reticle.
Apart from that, there’s a built-in video recording and 16 GB of internal storage. Also, the Stream Vision app delivers smooth connectivity.
On the whole, Pulsar has done a stellar job in putting all the features together. We must say, this is a great scope for some bolt action hunting.
This is a newly-launched scope in Pulsar’s thermion range that’s priced slightly less. But it has most of the good features that make it a great choice in terms of value for money.
Firstly, the scope looks great from all angles. The overall built quality is top-notch and it’s rugged enough for the outdoors. Also, you can easily mount it on 30mm rings.
Next, the design is intuitive and makes it extremely user-friendly.
As with the other scopes in this range, the user interface is super easy. You can control the main functions from three buttons located at the top. Another side button gives access to the main menu along with the contrast and brightness controls.
The 1024×768 AMOLED display delivers highly-detailed images. The 50Hz refresh rate is good enough to keep the moving objects smooth.
What about the features?
Well, in terms of features, you get all that you need. There’s a picture-in-picture display, Wi-Fi streaming, multiple color palettes, and more. In addition, there are in-built recording and streaming features too.
The twin battery packs are rechargeable and can deliver anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of operational time.
We feel this lens has all the features necessary for hog and coyote hunters. Even if you’re a newbie shooter, you will love using it.
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 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 640x 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 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.
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.
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 the images on the screen.
For a thermal scope, a refresh rate of 50 to 60 hertz is considered to be good enough.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have listed out a few points that you need to take note of.
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.
For more information on the subject of thermal imaging check out our discussion on thermal cameras.
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.
So now you have the best night vision crossbow scopes listed for you.
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.
To sum up, we have the Trail 2 LRF XP50 as the best high-end option for pro-users in this category. If you’re looking for a scope that offers the best features and performance, go for it.
The Pulsar Thermion XM50 is the best value for money choice. With its stellar features and solid performance, it offers the right balance between price and performance.
Lastly, the Thermion XP50 is the best all-rounder in our list. It combines thermal imaging technology with some top-notch features and superb accuracy. A top-notch performer.
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.