Most people think that thermal imaging technology is only used in the military, building inspections, and electrical inspections. However, thermal imaging devices are extensively used for hunting and spotting animals.
There is always confusion between thermal imagers and night vision devices. Is there is any difference between the two? Night vision devices rely on light to help you see objects in the same way you would during the day. On the other hand, thermal imagers detect the heat emitted by the object, making it easier to spot animals even in pitch darkness.
The two most popular types of thermal imaging devices used for hunting are thermal imaging monoculars and thermal imaging rifle scopes. For a long time, thermal imagers were expensive, large, and impractical for normal use and were only used in the military. However, due to the advancement of technology in the recent past, thermal imaging devices are becoming more practical for everyday use, and prices are also coming down.
Things to consider when buying thermal imaging scopes and monoculars
This is the ability of the thermal imaging scope or monocular to magnify a distant object. Most thermal imaging devices come with details about the magnification capabilities. So, it is very important to understand that there is a difference between magnification and resolution. It is also good to know that an increase in magnification may affect the refresh rate.
When buying a thermal imaging scope or monocular, you should look out for both the resolution of the thermal sensor and the resolution of the device. You will notice that most of the devices will have different resolution power with the sensors. The resolution power of the scope or monocular should be higher than the thermal resolution.
- Detection range
This is a very crucial factor to consider when buying a thermal imaging scope or monocular. The detection range is the distance up to which you can get a clear image of the object. Some high-end thermal imaging scopes and monoculars have a detection range of more than 1000 yards. However, these devices are slightly expensive and mainly used by professionals.
Nonetheless, nowadays, there numerous budget thermal imaging scopes and monoculars of the detection range of 1000 yards. Apart from being budget-friendly, these devices are also easy to use, and therefore they are ideal for beginners and armatures.
- Refresh rate
This is the frequency at which the thermal image is refreshed. A general rule regarding refresh rate is that the more the frequency, the clearer the image. Therefore, a refresh rate of 30Hz or higher is recommended because it will provide a smooth image.
- Battery life
The battery life of a thermal imaging scope or monocular plays an important role. You should look out for devices that can be able to last for longer hours. For instance, the thermal imaging scope should last for eight hours on a single charge.
- Manufacturer/ Brand
Currently, there are numerous manufacturers of thermal imaging monoculars and scopes. Some of the most popular brands include FLIR, Pulsar, ATN, Fluke, and Trijicon. FLIR Systems is probably the most reputable manufacturer in the monocular category. They produce high quality products and offer big warranties. However, their products are a bit pricey.
On the other hand, Pulsar is a more affordable brand with a wide selection of monocular at various price points. Apart from thermal imaging monoculars, they also have a variety of scopes available.
Difference between thermal imaging monoculars and scopes
Generally, monoculars are smaller and compact and can fit in the bag for portability. They are used to spot animals and other objects that are not far away. In most cases, monoculars are cheaper than scopes because they have less magnification, fewer software options and do not have mounting rails.
On the other hand, thermal scopes are designed to enable hunters to get better shot at their target from a distance. Entry-level thermal scopes will enable you to target objects that are 1000 yards or else. However, there are professional thermal imaging scopes that can accurately target objects over 1000 yards.
The high-end germanium lenses and more complex optics used in thermal scopes offer more magnification for thermal scopes, and that is why they cost more. Also, thermal scopes have more software and electronic features than thermal monoculars. Some of the commonly used features include ballistics calculator, range finder, etc.
Magnification and objective size
When shopping for thermal scopes or monoculars, you will notice a number such as 3×15 or 5×50. What most people don’t know is that the first number (3X), refers to the magnification power. So, in this case, the device would magnify the image 3times. The second number indicates the size in the front lens in millimeters.
There is a common notion that devices with the largest magnification and objective size are the best option. However, this should not be the case. First of all, it is good to know that thermal scopes and monoculars with larger magnification are more expensive. Secondly, it is difficult to steady a high magnification thermal scope or monocular without a tripod stand.
Furthermore, a thermal scope or monocular with high magnification power is likely to have a smaller field of view. So, what is a field of view? This is the open observable area you can see through the scope or monocular.
It is very important to consider how you are likely going to use the thermal scope or monocular. For instance, if you are going to use the device for spotting or shooting less than 300 yards, there is no need for a powerful thermal monocular or scope. This will not only save you money, but also it will be much easier to use or operate the device.
Thermal imaging scopes and monoculars are essential tools for hunting. When going hunting, especially at night, these devices will enable you to be both safe and alert. The good news is that these devices are continuing to become affordable and more accessible.