If you are looking for a thermal scope, Trijicon is definitely the way to go. Trijicon has been producing rifle optics for around 40 years now, and they are at the forefront of thermal technology. After closely going over their options for thermal scopes, and researching each one, I compiled this article with everything you need to know about your next thermal scope.
From my research, I found that the best overall Trijicon thermal scope is the Trijicon Electro-Optics IR PATROL M250XR. Compared to the rest, it has the best magnification abilities, a respectable battery life, the lightest weight in its class, and has the most mounting options.
The Best Trijicon Thermal Scopes
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Individual Reviews of Each Trijicon Thermal Scope
#1- Trijicon Electro Optics SNIPE-IR 35mm
- 2.5 times optical zoom
- 35mm focal length
- Weighs 24.6 ounces
The SNIPE IR is likely your best option when it comes to clip ons. A clip-on thermal scope just attaches in front of a normal scope and essentially allows you to turn any normal scope into a thermal one. These work great when you do not want to dedicate an entire rifle setup to being used at night. You can easily take this on and off your picatinny rail whenever you need to.
To start, this scope has a 2.5 times optical zoom which is coupled with a 8 times digital zoom. Together you will achieve a 20 times clear zoom. The Snipe-IR also has a 35mm focal length and a 12-degree field of view. This is a wider field of view than most thermals on this list, so you will not be as zoomed in initially, but you can see more of the surrounding area and pick up more targets.
This scope weighs 24.6 ounces, which will change the normal balance of any rifle since it has to be placed after a normal scope. The Snipe-IR also has a respectable 3.5-hour battery life. However, this thermal clip-on scope is the most expensive scope on the list, costing $9,999.
#2- Trijicon Electro Optics IR PATROL M250XR
- 4.5 times optical zoom
- 60 mm focal length
- 7-degree field of view
- Weighs 27 ounces
If you want to invest in one of Trijicon’s thermal scopes, you may as well get one that can do any job you need. The IR-Patrol M250XR is very versatile and can be used as a stand-alone scope, or a monocle attached to a helmet. Another unique feature is just how compact it is while also performing at the highest standard. This thermal scope has a 4.5 times optical zoom, but it also has an 8 times digital zoom. Combined this gives you a maximum of a 36 times crisp zoom. It also has a 60 mm focal length and a 7-degree field of view, these two factors are going to naturally make your target appear bigger regardless of zoom level.
This thermal scope is also fairly light for what it can do, weighing close to 27 ounces. The biggest negative about this scope is its battery. It has a minimal battery life of 2 hours. You can get more out of the battery with some conservative settings, but to stay this light, sacrifices were made. Lastly, the IR-Patrol M250XR costs $8,999, which is about standard for its class.
#3- Trijicon Electro Optics IR HUNTER MK3 60mm
- 4.5 times optical zoom
- 60 mm focal length
- 7-degree field of view
- Weighs 37 ounces
The Trijicon IR hunter MK3 is made specifically for hunting, and it does that job perfectly. This is a stand-alone scope that is a bit hefty. The overall build of this scope is not super big, but it still weighs 37 ounces. Most of the blame for that large weight is its battery capacity. While you are out in the field hunting, you need to have plenty of battery power. This scope can run for 6 hours, giving you plenty of time to complete any night hunt.
This scope features a 4.5 times optical zoom, but also has a 8 times digital zoom. Combined, you will have a 36 times zoom and will be able to see targets that are much farther away than you can shoot. This scope also has a 60 mm focal length and a 7-degree field of view, so once you find a target, you can really focus in on it without having to max out your magnification.
#4- Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR Type 3 60mm
- 8 times optical zoom
- 60 mm focal length
- 7-degree field of view
- Weighs 32 ounces
The Reap IR Type 3 is a world-class thermal scope that rivals any scope on the market. Different from the norm, it has a base optical zoom of 3 times. Then it has a 8 times digital zoom, making the total maximum zoom possible 24 times. That is less than the 36 times we saw in previous scopes, but it is plenty enough for most users. Plus with its 60 mm focal length and 7-degree field of view, you can easily focus on targets at close and long ranges.
This scope also has a 4-hour battery life, which is exceptional considering that it only weighs 32 ounces. Another great thing about this scope is its ease of use. Everyone that has used one of these scopes mentions how easy it is to configure. This is the case with many Trijicon thermals, but it was repeated in every review for this scope.
The only negative about this scope is the price. It costs $9,499 which is $500 more than similar Trijicon scopes, but you really get what you pay for. After using this scope and seeing the overall quality and versatility of it, that $500 difference will be worth it if you prefer its design.
#5- Trijicon Electro Optics REAP-IR Type 3 35mm
- 8 times optical zoom
- 35 mm focal length
- 12 degree field of view
- Weighs 16 ounces
While the REAP IR 35mm may look a lot like the last one, it has a few unique and arguably better features. As you can see from the name, one difference is the focal length. This scope has a 35mm focal length and a 12 degree field of view. It also does not zoom in as far as the 60mm model. This model has an optical zoom of 1.75 with a 8 times digital zoom, for a total of 14 times max zoom.
This is less than half the zoom of other scopes on this list, but that sacrifice allows Trijicon to make this scope much lighter. 14 times zoom is still a long way, so the weight difference may be worth it for many users. One area they did not compromise is in the battery capacity. This scope still has a 4-hour battery life. Lastly, it is the cheapest scope on this list, costing $7,999.
Trijicon Scopes Buyers Guide
Why Pick Trijicon
If you just want a thermal scope you can quickly get out in the field and use, you may be reluctant to pay the Trijicon price. I get it. However, you really get what you pay for with these scopes. Compared to other popular, and cheaper scopes, there is no comparison when it comes to quality. If you were not so impressed by the above specs, here are all the features that set Trijicon apart from the rest.
We can start with the material of the scopes themselves. They are made of 6061 Aircraft-grade aluminum and uses nitrogen purging for waterproofing. So these scopes are extremely durable and are not going to break if you drop it or hit it on something while in the field. Plus the waterproofing feature will keep you from ever having to worry about your scope while you are using it, they are up to any task.
Possibly the most important aspect of any thermal camera is the picture quality. All of these Trijicon thermal scopes come with a 640×480 resolution, and a 12-micron pixel pitch (the distance between sensors, smaller is better). These scopes also have a 60 hertz refresh rate. These three factors all combine to make an extremely clear picture, even at long ranges. Trijicon leads the industry in thermal imaging quality, and this is one thing that makes them so much more expensive. The crisp and clear picture is undoubtedly worth it.
The system itself is also easy to use when it comes to Trijicon. Each of these scopes comes with an ergonomic thumbstick where you will give the scope inputs. You can change a host of options in these scopes as well. Including the MaxPol white hot/black settings. There are 3 levels of white hot and 3 levels of black hot that you can switch between, as well as an edge detector mode. You can also have a few options when it comes to reticles.
Another factor that is important for many consumers in this space, is the fact that Trijicon scopes are made in America. Of course, this is awesome because we all want to buy American, but it also means that there is not any part of the manufacturing process that is done elsewhere that could be a potential quality weak link. So keeping everything close to home just means that the overall quality of the scopes will be closely monitored and kept in check.
What Thermals Scopes Can be Used For
There is actually a difference between thermal scopes and night vision. Night vision scopes work by taking in what little light there is and amplifying it into a picture that we can see. Thermal scopes actually detect radiation, aka heat, and require zero light to function. So you will be able to see farther, and better with a thermal scope. Plus since thermal scopes do not rely on light, you can also use them during the day.
This means you can leave your thermal scope on a rifle that you plan to hunt with during the day as well. Regardless of how much light there is, you will get the same image in your thermal scope. If you are a hunter, just make sure you are not hunting outside of time regulations for your particular game.
Scouting is one thing that thermal scopes can be extremely good at. With these scopes, you can see straight through thick brush and foliage. So if you get to a vantage point, like a tree stand, or a hill, you can look for thermal signatures from quite a ways away. This even works on a foggy morning. Fog and smoke are completely transparent in a thermal scope.
These scopes are also useful for tracking. Since they pick up heat, they can literally see if a track is still warm. This would be very helpful if you were trying to follow an animal trail and you were not sure if it was fresh or not.
Thermal scopes can also help after the hunt. If you have a blood trail, it will light up like a Christmas tree in your thermal scope. Blood is obviously warm, and even the smallest drops will light up in your scope. Combined with the ability to see a warm track, you could see how much easier it would be to track an animal with one of these scopes.
The most common reason civilians buy these thermal scopes is likely for hog and coyote hunting. These two animals are a nuisance and cause plenty of issues for people and ecosystems. Hogs tear up billions of dollars worth of agricultural fields every year, and coyotes are relentless killers for any ecosystem. So the government has pretty much said, good luck use whatever method you want to harvest as many of these animals as possible.
These two types of animals are often more active at night and tend to think they are more or less safe to go out in search of food. Although a few guys with AR-10’s and Trijicon thermal scopes can put down dozens of hogs in a matter of a couple of hours.
Most Important Features of a Trijicon Thermal Scope
When you go looking at thermal scopes, there are a ton of numbers and specifications that get thrown in your face. They can get a bit overwhelming, but there are likely just a few features that you are really worried about. So let’s take a look at the main features of thermal scopes and what those specifications mean.
The image is likely the most important feature for these types of scopes. Even if the rest of the scope is perfect, a bad picture means a bad scope. The first thing that you want to look at when you are investigating image quality is the resolution.
The most common resolutions you will see are 240×320 and 480×640. It is always better to have a higher resolution. Here, a 480×640 resolution scope is going to have 307,200 pixels, while the 240×320 only has 76,800. So the 480×640 resolution scope has 4 times the pixels than the 240×320, which is going to make its picture much better.
Next, you will likely see plenty of people talking about the microns of a thermal scope. This is actually referring to the pixel pitch, which I know also doesn’t mean anything to most of us. The pixel pitch is the distance between thermal sensors in the scope. All of these scopes have a ton of sensors in them, but some are more efficient than others.
These Trijicon scopes have a 12 micron pixel pitch, which is the best in the industry. Other scopes have a 17 or even 35 micron pixel pitch. The smaller the number is, the more sensors they can fit in the same amount of space. The more sensors, the better the picture will be.
Lastly, there is the refresh rate to consider. Most scopes have a 30 or a 60 hertz refresh rate. This number just represents how many times your image updates in a single second. The higher the number the better. 60 hertz will give you a crisp picture, but 30 hertz is still fine and will conserve battery life. Trijicon thermal scopes have the ability to do either 30 or 60 hertz and you can pick the one that is best for you. 60 hertz is going to give you peak performance, while 30 hertz will make your battery last longer.
Magnification & Focal Length
Depending on what you plan on using your thermal scope for, you may or may not want to be able to zoom in a long way. Some scopes on this list can zoom all the way to 36 times in! That is a long way, but it is not necessary for most applications. For most shots under 200 yards, a 12 or 14 times zoom is way more than you need.
If you are reaching out to ranges of 500 yards or more, you may want to go ahead and get one of the scopes capable of a 36 times zoom. Generally, these high zoom scopes will also have a larger focal length and smaller field of view. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is not much you can do about it if you want to be able to zoom a long way.
Smaller focal lengths comes with a larger field of view. This just means that you will be able to see a wider area in your scope, but not be as zoomed in on your target. This could be good for allowing you to see multiple targets and shift to them quickly.
Stand-alone VS Clip-on
A big decision you have to make about your thermal scope is if you want it to be a stand-alone system, or if you want it to work in conjunction with your current scope. Clip ons are great if you want to be able to move them around and do not want to build a rifle specifically for thermal hunting. Plus they are still able to perform nearly as well as dedicated stand alones.
Stand-alone scopes generally have better battery life and slightly better performance. Although they are typically heavier. Although if weight is an important factor, do not forget that you need a normal scope with a clip-on, which will add to its overall weight.
Ability to record
A lot of your thermal scopes have the ability to record what they see. Trijicon scopes can absolutely record their screens. If you are interested in recording your hunts, this can be an awesome addition to your video.
If you want to record a hunt, make sure to have a portable storage device and battery pack. The recording is going to take more out of the battery and may cut your hunt short if you are not prepared.
The next thing to think about is how you would like to mount your scope. Thermals come with plenty of options when it comes to mounting. You can get them with a throw lever, clip on, or a basic picatinny rail.
It all depends on what you want to use it for and how often you want to move it from one surface to another. You just need to have an idea of what your setup is going to look like before you buy your Trijicon thermal scope.
Are there any legal restrictions on thermal scopes?
Who can buy a thermal scope?
Can thermal scopes be used during the day?
Are these thermal scopes durable?
Thermal scopes are extremely useful in many different situations. Trijicon is the industry leader in making quality thermal scopes. No matter your application or desired specifications, you can surely find a Trijicon scope that fits your needs. Plus these scopes have an extremely clear picture, have a great battery life, are super durable, and can zoom as far as you will ever need. If you are serious about getting a thermal scope, Trijicon is the way to go.