In the world of thermal imaging, there are a ton of options out there in today’s marketplace that can make the decision overwhelming when purchasing an optic. So, let’s go ahead and muddy the water a little further, shall we? Let’s dive into the new realm of affordable thermal imaging scopes for today’s hunter.
When it comes to the thought of thermal imagining optics, the word “affordable” is usually not one of the words that come to mind. However, due to the increasing technology available to companies in the world today, the price of thermal has been driven down with the latest innovations that companies are putting out to reach new, untapped markets. Pulsar and ATN are companies most people are quite familiar with, so in this review, I want to make a comparison between a new product from ATN, which is the ThOR LT and Pulsar RXQ30V. These optics were designed to allow hunters to get into the thermal game without breaking the bank, so let’s see how they compare!
The RQX30V is first on the list. To start with, this unit runs off 2xCR123A batteries with a spec’d battery life of 4 hours. It can run off an external power supply, provided you use an adapter. It is a 384×288 core with a 640×480 AMOLED display, weighing in at 17.6 oz. without the batteries, and is a 17 micron with 50 Hz refresh rate. It also has a 50mm eye relief, has a 2x, 3x and 4x digital zoom and sports a detection range of 985 yards. Pre-2019 models come with a high-contrast green sapphire display, while post-2019 models come with a black and white display. If you are a person who likes traditional green night vision, then this will seem almost second nature to you if you have a pre-2019 model, with a thermal twist. Personally, I am not a big fan of the green color for thermal, but I am a traditionalist, I like Black Hot/White hot for my color settings.
Next up, is the ATN ThOR LT. This unit has a self-contained rechargeable lithium-ion battery that sports a 10+ hour runtime. You can also run this off an external power supply using the provided USB to USB-C charging cable that comes with the scope. The LT is a 160×120 core with a 1280×720 HD Display, weighing in a 1.4 lbs and is also a 17 micron, but with a 60 Hz refresh rate. It has a 90mm eye relief, and comes in two different zoom models, 3-6x and 4-8x and has a 475 / 625-yard detection range. ATN did take the traditionalist in mind when designing this, as they offer two color modes for their optics, which also happen to be the general crowd favorites: Black hot and white hot.
Now, in the beginning of this review, we talked about cost and being affordable, so in this, I will have to say the clear winner would be the ThOR LT. The 3-6x (Retail $1,199) and ThOR LT 4-8x (Retail $1,399) are far more affordable than the Pulsar counterpart, which tips the wallet scale at $1,899. As far as performance, you will notice the difference between the two lies in their cores. The LT Is a 160×120, while the RXQ30V is a 384×288. The difference between the cores detection capability and why the LT isn’t too far behind a core that has double its specs lies in the display and software of the device. Utilizing a 1280×720 HD display and top of the line firmware allows the LT to be a power packed unit that holds its own, even when put up against something that is essentially double its size.
If video recording and all the fancy gidgets and gadgets are your forte, then the LT isn’t going to be high on your list, but then again, neither will the RQX30V as neither one was designed to do anything other than be serve as a functional thermal optic. While Pulsar has made some excellent optics throughout the years, I must say this new ThOR LT has been quite a pleasure to use. From sitting down at feeder hunting at 100 yards, to doing some nuisance animal removal around the farm and even some light property surveillance from time to time, this optic hasn’t let me down yet. I don’t ever have a need or the space to take shots outside of 250 yards, so for me, this little scope has been truly incredible for what it was designed. To top it off, for the price point, there is nothing else available on the market today that affords me as a hunter and conservationist the capability to use thermal imaging and come in under $1,400 retail. While some people are brand loyal, and I can respect that, I have and always will be bank account loyal, and for me, this new ThOR LT checks all of the boxes that I could ever need!
See the Amazon price with the special Discount of ATN ThOR LT and Pulsar Core RXQ30V