2020 Honest Review | Best Clip-on Thermal Scopes


There are a lot of options when you are looking for a thermal scope. Unfortunately, a lot of them simply won’t be worth your time. But finding the right thermal scope is worth the effort. Here, we’ll help you find the perfect scope for you.

Comparison of the Best Clip-on Thermal Scopes

  • Ultra-Sensitive Gen 4 Sensor With High Resolution
  • Laser Rangefinder
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity and Smartphone Integration
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  • High-Resolution Display With Clear Images
  • Remote Controls Are Easy to Use
  • Light, Portable Build
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  • Digital Detail Enhancement Gives Sharp Images
  • Brilliant Scene Optimization Sharpens Focus
  • Wide Range of Features Through Smartphone Integration
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  • AMOLED Display With Crisp Images
  • Detection Range Up to 1950 Yards
  • Can Be Used as a Normal Riflescope
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  • High-Resolution OLED Display
  • Selectable Ballistic and Quick Activation Reticles
  • Wireless Remote Control
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How to Choose a Clip-on Thermal Scope

Thermal scopes are an excellent way to make hunting easier and find game that is hiding behind cover. But what should you look for in a thermal scope?


This is probably the most important feature to pay attention to when you are picking out a thermal scope. Make sure you pick out a scope that will have the proper magnification for the range you will be shooting from,

ATN ThOR 4 1.25-5x HD Thermal Riflescope


Thermal scopes are some of the most delicate scopes out there, as they have a lot of components that can break if you are too rough with the scope. Make sure to choose a scope with a sturdy build so that the electronics in the scope are well protected.

Extra Features

Thermal scopes are high-tech devices, many of which come with a lot of extra bells and whistles. Some users may want something that’s fairly simple, but you may benefit from some of these added features. Keep an eye out for scopes that have video recording, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and/or a digital compass.

Battery Life

The battery life on thermal scopes can vary widely, so check before you buy. If you go on long hunts and will be using the scope for prolonged periods without being able to charge, you may want to choose a scope with longer battery life.

Quick Take - Best Clip-on Thermal Scopes

These are our recommendations for the best clip-on thermal scopes:

  1. ATN ThOR 4 1.25-5x HD 
  2. Pulsar Core FXQ38 
  3. Armasight by FLIR Apollo 640 50mm ​

Review of the Best Clip-on Thermal Scopes

Now let’s look at the reviews of some of the best clip-on thermal scopes. We’ve researched the best products and selected the scopes that we believe are best. Remember, there’s no one scope that’s best for everyone! Compare all of the main features of the scopes to find the one that’s best for you.


  • Recoil-Activated Video Captures Every Shot
  • Ballistic Calculator Makes You More Accurate
  • Excellent Resolution so That You Can Clearly See Your Target


  • Some Functionality Issues With Digital Features

The ATN ThOR is a thermal scope that comes at a reasonable price, while still having a great range of features.

The ThOR has excellent resolution, so you’ll get clear gradations that will help you distinguish objects in your field of view. Many thermal scopes suffer from a low resolution. That’s not a problem here.

It also has an excellent ballistic calculator that gives you range, wind, humidity, and angle to your target.

Where it stands out is with its wide range of extra features. It has recoil-activated video, so you won’t have to worry whether you pressed record.

Although it’s a high-performance tool, all the extra features don’t put too much strain on the battery. You’ll get about 18 hours of use per charge, which should get you through most hunts.

Bottom Line

This is a scope that promises you a lot of functionality. And, for the most part, it delivers. Excellent resolution, a great ballistic calculator, and a whole suite of digital features make this a great choice for those that want a high-end thermal scope.

Pulsar Core FXQ38 Thermal Monocular/Front Attachment


  • One of the Best Displays You’ll Find
  • Can Be Used as a Normal Riflescope
  • A Detection Range of Nearly 2000 Yards


  • No Recording
  • A Bit Expensive

This is a scope that will cost you a lot. But there’s a reason for such a high price tag. The Pulsar Core FXQ38 is one of the best-performing thermal scopes you can find.

This scope stands out with its attention to detail and high-level performance. It has an excellent return to zero option.

You’re going to spend a lot of time looking at the scope’s display. Fortunately, the display here is excellent, with clear, bright images that won’t cause eye fatigue.

It also has great remote control functionality built in, so that you can control all of the features of the scope without scaring your target. And you can also take off the thermal lens and use it as a normal riflescope, making it versatile.

For all of the performance you get with this scope, it’s pretty lightweight and compact, adding just 190mm to the riflescope length and it weighs in at 400 grams without batteries.

What’s not to like about this scope? It doesn’t include video recording. This may not matter for some users, but it’s a little disappointing in a scope at this price. It also only allows a zoom up to 3.1x.

Bottom Line

This is one of the best thermal scopes you can buy, giving you high-resolution images on a clear and bright display. It has an incredible detection range and excellent remote controls. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s a great option for those looking for high-end performance in their thermal scope.

Armasight by FLIR Apollo 640 50mm Thermal Imaging Clip-on System with FLIR Tau 2 640x512 17 Micron 30Hz Core


  • Zoom Up to 8.1x
  • Great Battery Life
  • Digital Features Useful
  • Very Durable With Solid Build


  • A Bit Expensive
  • Image Quality Good, But Not Top-of-the-Line

This is a high-end thermal scope loaded with features. It’s pricey but well worth it for those that want great digital enhancement, magnification, and smartphone integration.

The digital detail enhancement uses some computing wizardry to make the most of the image. This gives you clear images with great contrast, so you can recognize objects easily.

The digital magnification allows you to zoom in up to 8x. This is an impressive number and can be quite useful. However, the images will begin to blur as you reach the maximum magnification.

The scope also contains digital features that let you integrate it with your smartphone. This lets you use the scope as a ballistics calculator, with information on wind, humidity, temperature, and other climate data. For the most part, these features work well and can help out accuracy on hard shots.

It gives you great performance with a long battery life. Most users won’t have any issues running out of juice midway through a hunt.

Bottom Line

This scope comes with a pretty hefty price tag, but if you need a thermal scope with some of the best range of any option, as well as a suite of digital features, it’s an excellent option. The build is excellent as well and it comes with a great warranty. It’s an investment, but one that will pay off for most users.

Pulsar Core FXQ50 Thermal Monocular/Front Attachment


  • Converts to Normal Rifle Scope
  • One of the Lightest Thermal Scopes
  • Excellent Digital Display With Clear Images
  • Incredible Detection Range, at Nearly 2000 Yards


  • No Recording
  • On the Expensive Side

This is an excellent high-end scope for those that need performance in a light, compact design. It’s expensive, but worth the investment.

This scope is nearly identical to the FXQ38. The only difference? The focal length of the lens. A longer focal length means that the scope has a higher magnification, but a narrower field of view.

If you are picking between the FXQ38 and the FXQ50, consider what you are using the scope for. If you need a wide field of view, then go for the FXQ38. If, however, you want the highest level of magnification, you should choose the FXQ50.

Either way, you’ll get one of the best displays that you’ll find on any thermal scope. It gives clear, bright images and it won’t fatigue your eye.

It has a quick release and return to zero option, something that isn't often found in other thermal scopes. And it’s one of the most versatile thermal scopes that you will find, as you can simply remove the lens and use it as a regular riflescope.

It packs all of this performance into a compact build with great battery life, making it an excellent choice for those who travel.

It doesn’t have recording, which is a shame given the price. And the zoom only goes up to 3.1x, which may be too little for some users.

Bottom Line

This is an excellent choice for those that need a long-range thermal scope with a great detection range. It’s a bit expensive, but it justifies the price with its great performance and lightweight, compact design.

Armasight by FLIR Apollo-Pro LR 640 100mm Thermal Imaging Clip-on System with FLIR Tau 2 640x512 17 Micron 30Hz Core


  • Great Video Output
  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Wide Range of Smartphone Integration
  • Crisp, Clear Display That Highlights Objects


  • Quite Expensive

This is one of the highest-end thermal scopes you can find, offering a staggering array of features.

The first thing you notice with this scope is the OLED display. It makes every image clear and crisp and gives you excellent differentiation.

Where it also stands out is with its range. The long focal length of 100mm gives this scope an incredible level of magnification. If you plan on hunting game from long distances, this is the best thermal scope for you.

Although it does all of the basics well, the scope also has some added features that help justify its price. It integrates with your smartphone, so you’ll be able to geotag and track your location whenever you use the scope. You’ll also get compass information, weather data, and terrain maps.

Additionally, you get clear video output, so you can have a record of every shot. These are bells and whistles, sure, but they are still great features, and they are all functional.

What’s the downside of this scope? It really comes down to price. This scope really is an investment. If you need a scope with incredible range, clear images, and a wide range of digital features, this is by far your best option. It just won’t come cheap.

Bottom Line

Simply the best performing scope you can find. It has incredible image quality, a great display, and a wide range of digital features. If you are willing to spend the money, it’s about as good as a thermal scope gets.

Types of Thermal Imaging Systems

There are a few different main types of thermal systems that you should be on the lookout for. The type you’ll want to choose will vary, depending on your needs, so pay careful attention to the features of each system.


Some thermal scopes will also serve as digital recorders. This will allow you to track every shot and replay it later. Many of these will be recoil-activated. Not every thermal scope will feature this, so check before you buy.


Thermal scopes vary widely in their ranges. Some are designed with long-range shots in mind and feature a long focal length. Others are designed for close-range hunting. Make sure you check to see what range lengths a scope is built for before purchasing

Cryogenically Cooled Systems

These thermal scopes keep components cool, which leads to a better image quality. They tend to be more fragile and more expensive. However, they are much better at detecting a difference in temperature.


There are a lot of great thermal scopes out there. Thermal scopes can be quite an investment, so you always want to be sure that you are making the right choice. With our guide and reviews, you can be sure that the thermal scope that you are choosing is the right one for you.

People Also Ask

You may have some questions about thermal scopes and whether they are right for you. Here, we’ll answer some of the common questions we get about thermal scopes

How Do Thermal Scopes Work?

Animals emit a type of light called thermal infrared light as a result of the heat that they put off. Thermal scopes work by taking this light, and making it visible to the human eye. The sensors in the scope convert the thermal infrared light and turn it into data on a display.

Can I Use a Thermal Scope During the Day?

Thermal scopes work by measuring the temperature that an object emits. That means that they can be used anywhere and anytime, regardless of the lighting conditions. An animal’s body is warmer than its surroundings, so you’ll still get an image during the day.

Who Makes the Best Thermal Riflescope?

There is no simple answer here, and it will depend on what type of thermal scope you want. ATN makes excellent thermal scopes for rifles and they are affordable. But other brands, such as FLIR, make great thermal scopes for hunting. The answer really will depend on your particular needs, as well as how much money you want to spend.

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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