Is it time to switch to a thermal riflescope?

Many shooters have adopted thermal technology for spotting, but still have a night vision or day-night scope on the rifle.

With practice, it can be an efficient combination, allowing you to find your quarry easily with the thermal spotter, then take the shot with night vision. In the early days of thermal, when it was much more expensive than NV, it made perfect sense.

Things have changed now – and perhaps it’s time to upgrade to a thermal scope on the rifle. Thermal prices have fallen while the scopes themselves have improved, making them a viable option for spotting.

The top-end ATN Mars scope offers a magnification range of 1.5-15x, for instance, making it ideal for spotting a wide area but still allowing you to zoom to take the shot, with no chance of losing the quarry as you swap from one device to another.

A 4th generation sensor allows you to see detail, not just a heat 'blob'

A thermal scope has many advantages over traditional night vision optics, explains Craig Miles of ATN Europe. “It will give you the ability to see through torrential rain or fog, with a much greater detection distance,” he says. “If you’re in a wooded area, or terrain where the quarry might be hiding behind grass, the thermal will pick right through that.”

He adds that ATN’s thermal scopes go up to 40x magnification, which is much greater than night vision. The 4th generation sensor provides excellent image quality, meaning you don’t just find the animal, you can get a better idea of age, sex and condition.

Craig Miles of ATN Europe uses the Mars scope for foxshooting

The ATN Mars scopes mount with standard 30mm rings and offer advanced features such as one-shot zeroing, video recording, a smart mil-dot reticle, and integration with ATN’s ABL laser rangefinder. Battery life is more than adequate, with up to 16 hours of continuous use.

The ATN Mars thermal scope range starts with the LT model at £999, going up to the all-singing all-dancing Mars 4 640 4-40x at £4,299.

For details of the range see Visit

More on thermal scopes from Fieldtester and Fieldsports Channel

The ultimate guide to thermal imaging

Click here to read our ultimate guide to thermal, in association with the experts at Scott Country. 

There’s a dozen films covering everything from firmware updates, to understanding why a thermal image will ‘freeze’ periodically.

Watch the series and become your own thermal expert.

Pulsar Thermion 2 XP50 review

The Pulsar Thermion XP50 was one of the first thermal scopes to follow a traditional tube design. That combined with outstanding performance has made it one of the most popular thermal riflescopes around.

Phil Taylor from distributors Thomas Jacks has been using the XP50 for his own shooting, and is very impressed. In this video he reviews the scope and goes through some of the standout features.

Click here to read the review.

iRay TL35 thermal  riflescope review

Ryan Charlton of UK distributors Highland Outdoors loves his iRay TL35 thermal scope. “I’ve mounted it with standard Tier One 30mm scope rings and you don’t need a high cheekpiece or adjustable length of pull, your rifle just fits.”

He adds “This scope has just been a joy to use. The performance is excellent, and it appeals because of its styling and looks, as well as the price of £2,750. This is more than capable of shooting a fox at 300 yards.”

Click here to read the full review.

Andy Crow tests Liemke thermal

Farmer and shooter Andy Crow has his hands on new kit. German thermal company Liemke has brought out a range of spotters and scopes. Andy takes them foxshooting around his farm in Kent, with the help of grandson Regan and cousin Gary. Watch the video to find out how they get on.

Thermal boar hunt with Infiray

Wild boar are difficult to hunt at night – until you have the latest thermal and night vision, that is. British boar hunter Paul Donegani heads for Portugal to try out a range of thermal and night vision kit from Infiray.

Thermal rabbiting with a rimfire

Paul Childerley is after more than one for the pot. He is protecting crops and preparing the rabbits he shoots for the game dealer. He’s using the HIKMicro range of thermal – find out more at

Is this the ultimate thermal scope?

If you want to fit the very best thermal riflescope, look no further than the Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XP50. This is the top of the Pulsar range – it’s not cheap, with little change from £5k, but absolutely the best performance out there bar none.

This scope will give you a wonderfully clear image in conditions that would defeat lesser units, which struggle with conditions with a small temperature difference such as when it’s raining, foggy or just a cold morning when everything is around the same temperature.

Find out more at the Thomas Jacks website.


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