January 21, 2022
By Brad Fitzpatrick
Thermal optics technology had been progressing at a rapid rate in recent years, and while thermal products aren’t exactly cheap they’re far less expensive than they were just a decade ago. Many hunters are taking advantage of the benefits thermal optics offer including scouting and tracking wounded animals (where legal) and personal security. Thermal riflescopes have changed the game for varmint and hog hunters, allowing for precise accuracy without any visible light.
If you haven’t joined the thermal revolution now may be the time. Here’s a look at four of our favorite thermal products for 2022.
Trijicon REAP-IR Mini Thermal Riflescope
The REAP-IR is a light, compact thermal optic built to Trijicon’s high standards. The 24 mm version measures just 8.4 inches long and weighs around 24 ounces, making it one of the smallest and lightest thermals in the business. But make no mistake, the REAP-IR is loaded with high-end features including a weatherproof thumbstick controller for easy operation, a USB-C connection that allows you to use an external battery pack for extended run time and a trim top-loading battery compartment that makes battery swaps fast and simple. One fantastic feature of this thermal is the ability to swap among MRAD, MOA, and .308 WIN, .223 REM and .300 BLK BDC reticles. Trijicon’s Q-LOC mounting system insures the optic is securely locked on the firearm and allows the scope to be mounted in multiple positions quickly, even in total darkness. The 640x480 thermal sensor and 12-micron technology provide clear images with lots of detail, and this optic is made in the USA. In addition to the 24mm version, there are also 35mm and 60mm models. Total magnification ranges from 9.6x for the 24mm model to 24x for the 60mm version.
Zeiss DTI 3/35
Zeiss has a long history of producing premium optics, but the DTI 3/35 is the brand’s first thermal camera. The DTI 3/35 features a streamlined design that Zeiss refers to as ErgoControl and the button layout is extremely easy to use, even while wearing gloves in total darkness. 2.5x optical magnification and 1-4x zoom comes standard with .5x zoom increments so you can quickly identify a heat signature at night. The camera can be manually focused and the 384x288 sensor with 50 Hz frame rate provides crisp, clear images on the LCOS HD display. The lithium ion battery has a runtime of 7 hours and the USB port allows for charging and data transfer. There’s also a video/photo/live stream function with 15 Gb of internal storage. What’s more, the DTI 3/35 can be used in conjunction with the Zeiss Hunting App on your smartphone. An IP 66 rating means that the unit is protected from heavy rain and the Zeiss has an operating temperature ranging from 14bto 104o Fahrenheit. With a weight of 15.87 ounces and a length of 7.6 inches the Zeiss DTI 3/35 is a feature-rich thermal camera that’s ideal for home security and scouting yet small enough to easily carry in the field.
Liemke Keiler 13 and 35 Pro
Keiler 13 $1,332 | Keiler 35 $3,332 | liemke.com
The Liemke name may not be familiar to all American shooters, but this brand has been building high-quality thermal products for years in Germany. Recently, Liemke products began being sold in the United States and hunters are learning just how much these compact handhelds have to offer. The Liemke Keiler 13 handheld thermal features a 13mm objective lens, ceramic Vox detector with 240x180 pixel resolution and a 17um pixel pitch and an LCOS pixel display with 720x540 pixel resolution and fixed focus. A 1.2x optical zoom, and 2x digital zoom, allows heat signature detection out to 500 yards. The Keiler 13 is powered by a Li-ion battery with a run time of up to 12 hours. This unit weighs just 11.64 ounces, making it one of the lightest thermal handhelds available.
Keiler 35 models come with a 35mm objective lens and offer 384x288 pixel resolution with a 12um pixel pitch and 1,280 x 960 pixel resolution LCOS display in GVGA format. The Keiler 35 also features a manual focus and comes with a rechargeable li-ion battery with at least 7 hours of runtime. Despite this long list of features, the Keiler 35 still weighs less than 15 ounces. Both models offer a 50 Hz frame rate and 16 GB internal storage and multiple color palettes. Videos and photos can be transferred via cable from the Keiler 13 while the Keiler 35 has integrated Wi-Fi that allows you to transfer images and video to an Apple or Android device from up to 54 yards away.
Pulsar Thermion 2 XP50
Pulsar Thermion 2 XP50 thermal riflescopes feature an all-metal housing and they fit into standard 30mm scope rings so it’s easy to mount. This optic is rated to handle hard-recoiling rounds such as .375 H&H Magnum and 12 gauge without any issues. The IPX7 waterproof rating means the Pulsar can survive the worst weather conditions and can even survive being submerged in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. The 640x480 thermal 17 um thermal sensor can detect minor variations in temperature and the maximum effective range for identifying objects is an impressive 1,800 meters (2,000 yards). Best of all, the XP50 is user-friendly and offers a full range of display options including variable color palettes and reticles that are easy to access thanks to one of the most intuitive control layouts of any thermal riflescope. The 2-16x magnification range makes this thermal ideal for hunting at any range and you can access a laundry list of high-end features including picture-in-picture and up to five pre-set zeroing profiles. It also features a dual battery setup (one internal, one accessed through the top turret) and is Wi-Fi compatible.
At SHOT Show 2022 Pulsar unveiled their newest Thermion model, the Thermion 2 LRF XP50 which features a laser rangefinder seamlessly built into the optic housing. The LRF rangefinder ranges targets up to 800 yards and provides rapid readouts for making long shots in any light conditions. More details can be found on pulsar-nv.com.