Shopping for the best thermal scope under $2000?
You have come to the right place.
We understand the need for a thermal scope for many uses, including hunting. However, not everyone can spend tons on one piece of optics.
If you’re in the same boat, don’t worry. This article lists some of the best options of thermal scopes for just under $2000.
After going through this, we are sure you will enjoy your purchase without putting much pressure on your pocket.
What's In This Buying Guide
This buying guide gives you a complete picture and a thorough knowledge of the world of thermal scopes. It contains reviews, comparisons, making and breaking features of the product, and much more.
We first introduce our top thermal scope picks under $2000. We have made a quick comparison table and reviewed them in detail as well.
We then discuss the important features you should look into when buying a thermal scope. These features mostly relate to the users' situation, preferences, and settings.
After that, we take a look at why thermal scopes are so popular, their main uses, and why you need to invest in them.
In the end, we’ve named our favorite pick, so make sure to check that out too!
Best Thermal Scopes Under $2,000
ATN ThOR-HD 384
Best for Night Hunting
14 x 8 x 5 inches
OpticGuru Thor LT
Best for Hunting in Limited Light Conditions
AGM Global Vision Rattler
Best For short to medium range shooting
7.37 x 2.46 x 2.33 inches
Pulsar Core RXQ30V
Best for Hog Hunting
2x, 3x, 4x
9.4 x 2.6 x 2.4 inches
ATN Thor LT
Best Value for Money
11.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches
1. Best for Night Hunting: ATN ThOR-HD 384
With its 384x288 thermal sensor, the ATN ThOR-HD 384 is perfect for hunting hogs, varmints, coyotes, predators, and pests at night. The thermal sensor can detect and identify targets at around 500 yards, even at night.
The ThOR 384 incorporates ATN’s obsidian core, which promises powerful features and better performance.
The ATN ThOR-HD 384 features a 384x288 sensor built on updated technology that, unlike the previous scopes, detects heat energy instead of light. The ability to do so makes the scope usable in complete darkness. Plus, it has a zoomable 12x9.5 angle of view.
The smooth zoom feature, along with the 2-8x magnification, allows you to magnify the target without moving or leaving your stance. As a result, you don’t lose your advantage point, nor do you risk making noise during movements that might alert the animal.
The ATN 384 is made from hardened aluminum alloy, but it’s still pretty lightweight. It is anti-corrosion, and IP65 rated for weather resistance, so you can use it in fog and light rain too.
But that’s not all.
A ballistics calculator and a built-in smart rangefinder help users align their shot with the target, maximizing shot accuracy. The features are especially helpful for beginners and when hunting fast animals.
Other features of the 384 that help with shot accuracy include an e-compass, an e-barometer, and a gyroscope.
The ATN HD 384 can record videos and pictures in high quality (1280x960 resolution at 30 fps) and supports Recoil Activated Video. And it has a battery life of up to 8 hours.
Lastly, you can connect the ATN scope to smart devices over Wi-Fi and use the smart device to stream the recorded video. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
Issues and Limitations
The only issue with this otherwise premium thermal scope is that it tends to lose focus after the initial shot. It sometimes also freezes up when messing around with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features.
2. Best for Hunting in Limited Light Conditions: OpticGuru Thor LT
The high sensitivity, advanced heat detection sensors of the OpticGuru Thor LT detect heat signatures under varying scenarios. You can use it to spot game in total darkness and in fog.
It can read heat signatures even through smoke and heavy vegetation.
The Thor LT features a slim 30mm aluminum alloy body that is resistant to harsh recoil from high-caliber weapons. It can also take operational abuse and rough handling that comes with hunting.
Plus, a 3-inch eye relief ensures user comfort. It ensures your eye doesn’t tire out, nor does it hurt from constant contact with the scope’s metal body.
The scope is lightweight and easy to handle. It doesn’t add much weight to your gear and is not a burden to carry. In fact, its build and weight add balance to the rifle, making the user feel agile.
The 69Hz thermal sensor features a white-hot mode and a black-hot mode. Both these modes feature a red crosshair reticle to ensure shot accuracy.
The Thor LT is powered by internal lithium-ion batteries that last for up to 10+ hours.
Issues and Limitations
The weather-resistant ThOR LT thermal scope does not support video recording, nor does it capture images. If you want to record your hunt for viewing later, then you might want to look at other options.
3. Best For Short to Medium Range Shooting - AGM Global Vision Rattler TS25-384 Scope
The AGM Rattler TS25-384 thermal scope has a detection range of 650 yards, making it perfect for short to medium-range shooting. Its compact design, 4.5-hour continuous operation time, and video streaming/recording capability make it a great pick.
The AGM global vision rattler has a compact and feature-rich design that offers hours of operation and excellent-quality thermal images even in tough environmental conditions.
It is durable, sturdy, waterproof, and shockproof, so you can conveniently use it on your hunting or shooting adventures without it getting damaged. You can use it as a rifle scope or as a handheld monocular.
The AGM Rattler scope has two objective lens options: 25 mm and 35 mm.
The 25 mm objective lens has a maximum detection range of 882. This makes it perfect for law enforcement, patrolling, and short to mid-range hunting.
It is equipped with a highly sensitive thermal detector with 384 × 288 thermal resolution and thermal image processing technology to provide great quality, crisp and clear images.
The images are presented on a 0.39-inch OLED display with 1024 × 768 resolution. This scope does an excellent job of providing clear thermal images even under harsh environmental conditions like darkness, smoke, dust, rain, fog, snow, etc.
The Rattler scope is powered by two CR123 batteries and offers 4.5 hours of continuous operation time, which is not bad. But you can connect it to an external 5V power bank via a USB connector to increase its operating time.
With this scope, you can also live-stream videos or record images or videos to watch them later.
The AGM Rattler TS25-384 has adjustable color palettes. You can choose between white-hot, black-hot, fusion, and red-hot.
In the fusion color palette, the hotter parts are displayed in white. So the image colors go from white, yellow, red, pink, to purple as the temperature decreases.
Finally, the TS25-384 is backed by a three-year limited warranty.
Issues and Limitations
Perhaps the greatest drawback of the TS25-384 is the unintuitive menu setting. It would be better if the menu options were a bit more user-friendly.
It also takes too long to boot up.
4. Best for Hog Hunting: Pulsar Core RXQ30V
The RXQ30V is great for tracking hogs and other animals, especially at night. It can track animals in the dark with great speed and is suitable for both close-range and long-range shooting.
Whether you’re dealing with just one animal or you’re in a multiple-hog-shooting situation where speed is of the essence, the RXQ30V is what you want. The PIP function of the scope really comes in handy in this case.
The Pulsar Core RXQ30V has a base magnification of 1.6x that you can increase to 6.4x. And the 50Hz refresh rate allows you to view both dynamic and slow-moving objects pretty easily.
The thermal rifle scope has a high-resolution 384x288 core with a suitable 50Hz refresh rate, so image quality is not compromised.
The scope houses the Iris technology and offers enhanced recognition and detection. So, you can easily spot your target among thick vegetation or at a larger distance. The detection range goes up to 985 yards.
The picture-in-picture (PIP) function is also quite useful, especially when you want to take quickly shoot multiple animals in a herd. You can keep an eye on your target while also having a full field of view.
In addition, the overall design of the RXQ30V is quite user-friendly and ergonomic. The 2x, 3x, 4x digital stepped zoom allows you to change the magnification without taking your eyes off the target. And the weaver mount rail makes it very convenient to slide the scope on and off the rifle as needed.
In addition, there are three rifle saves in the scope that also offer three zero saves. This way, you can easily use the scope with different rifles.
The Pulsar Core RXQ30V is IPX7 waterproof rated, so you can use it in heavy rain and thick snowfall, and haze and fog. It is also very lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh down the firearm.
This scope is adaptable to various external power supplies, including USB and DS. The package includes wireless remote control, a hex wrench, and an external power supply adapter, among other things.
And despite the below-$2000 price, the Core RXQ30V features the freeze function, which helps with one-shot zeroing.
Issues and Limitations
The biggest limitation of the Core RXQ30V is the lack of a focus ring for manual adjustment, so you only get fixed focus. But this is pretty justified, considering the scope’s price. Plus, the focus to infinity works fine at different ranges.
Plus, at 6.4x digital zoom (the highest magnification), the device is nearly unusable because of the poor resolution at that point.
5. Best Value for Money: ATN Thor LT
The ATN Thor LT is a more affordable alternative to the costlier models in the Thor series. This is because the company focused on providing a no-frill scope with just the basics needed for a successful hunt: long battery life, one-shot zero, decent resolution, and zoom.
The ThOR LT is available in a range of options. You can choose between a low-res model with a 160x120 sensor and a mid-res scope with a 320x240 sensor. The former comes with 2 magnification options: 3-6x and 4-8x, while the latter comes with three options: 5-10x, 3-6x, and 2-4x.
The 160x120 model is great for short-range hunting and is particularly suitable for beginners. And the 3-6x has a detection/identification range of 475/100 yards.
Meanwhile, the 320x240 scope is great for mid-range hunting. The 2-4x lens has a detection/identification range of 715/200 yards, while the 5-10x lens has a detection/identification range of 1620/415 yards.
And even though budget models usually have a 30Hz refresh rate, the Thor LT has a 60Hz refresh rate, making it easy to track moving targets.
The ATN Thor LT has a sturdy but lightweight aluminum alloy body. And it is usable with a range of rifles, including high-caliber rifles.
The Thor LT, too, carries advanced heat detection sensors seen in many other ATN models, making it suitable for use in fog and thick vegetation.
Other noteworthy features include one-shot zeroing, two adjustable color palettes (white-hot and black-hot), and a 1280x720 HD display.
The Thor LT offers 10+ hours of battery life, so it’s good enough for a day-long or night-long trip.
We believe this scope is the ideal choice for beginners. You can use it with many different rifles, and it is easy to handle. The lightweight and uncomplicated one-shot zero function and the relatively low price are suitable for most beginners.
Issues and Limitations
The biggest limitation of the ThOR LT is that it is not suitable for long-range hunting. The 160x120 sensor, in particular, has a limited detection range.
Plus, the zoom capability is also quite limited. The image starts to get grainy at lower resolution as you zoom in.
Thermal Scopes Under $2000 Buying Guide
Now that we have taken a detailed look at some of the best thermal scopes under $2000, let’s get into some technical details.
The following are some features you should take into account when buying a budget thermal scope.
User’s Level of Expertise:
The foremost thing to consider is your expertise level regarding hunting and the use of thermal scopes.
Certain features provide agility and enhance performance, like a lightweight body, quick zeroing, stepped zooming, etc. Users at all skill levels appreciate such features.
However, additional features like a ballistics calculator, a compass or inclinometer, profile saving, etc., further add ease of use. Such features bring true convenience of use to beginners and improve shot accuracy.
While many beginners work with one type of reticle, professionals switch between reticle designs based on the need.
So, seasoned hunters will appreciate scopes that carry features like multiple reticle designs and colors, a good detection range, etc.
Each hunter has his or her own preference for the hunting field. Some like thick, dense forests, while others like plains. Many hunters prefer hunting night animals, while some go out during the day.
This is why the preference of field condition is an important factor to consider when it comes to thermal scopes.
People who like to hunt game in thick vegetation might want to opt for a robust sensor that can detect heat signatures among the forest foliage. Meanwhile, those who like to hunt varmints on plains might prefer multiple polarities and background colors.
You need to consider the weather conditions, too. Those who use the scope in rain and snow should opt for water-resistant models or, better, waterproof models.
Battery or DC Charging:
The choice between scopes that run on direct power and those that run on batteries depends entirely on you.
People who cannot keep multiple battery sets in their gear prefer direct charging scopes. Similarly, those who do not go far from their camp and can conveniently return to charge devices mostly opt for directly charged batteries.
However, people who go on long hunting trips spanning over a few days without access to much electricity buy thermal scopes with disposable batteries.
Why Should You Choose a Thermal Scope Under $2000?
You might find yourself wondering, why buy a thermal scope under $2000? Is it worth the investment? Will you get quality features in budget thermal scopes? These are all genuine concerns and must be addressed before investing money.
Budget thermal scopes usually under $2000 are not of low quality. They just provide the necessary features at a much affordable price.
Such thermal scopes have a sturdy build and accuracy-enhancing characteristics like a rangefinder, compass, or ballistics calculator. But mostly, they have short to medium-range magnification powers.
These budget thermal scopes are ideal for beginners since they have all the necessary features that involve a learning curve. Once they get the hang of thermal scopes, they can move to higher-end, costlier, more advanced models.
Most thermal scopes under $2000 are suitable for short to mid-range shooting. So, if you are not looking for a specialized thermal scope and only want to use the optics for medium-range shooting, we recommend going for budget scopes.
Similarly, those who only use their thermal scopes occasionally will find it a waste of money to invest in expensive high-end thermal scopes. For them, too, thermal scopes under $2000 are ideal.
Features to Look at When Buying a Thermal scope within $2000
It is important that you are aware of the necessary features and characteristics of a good-quality thermal scope before making the purchase. Features that make or break a thermal scope include:
Magnification power determines the usability of a thermal scope. Most thermal scopes under $2000 are suitable for short to medium-range use. However, within this range, too, there are several variations.
Some only go up to 4x and are used for short-distance shooting, while others can go up to 8x magnification.
It is best to get stepped magnification models as they allow you to achieve the desired magnification power without losing the point of focus or taking your eyes off the target.
If you want scopes for medium-range hunting and viewing, make sure that the model you buy can go up to 6x-10x.
Like any other optics, image resolution is quite important when it comes to thermal scopes.
Thermal scopes do not provide a standardized video-like format; rather, they provide the view of the field via different color pallets. This makes the resolution of the projected image even more important.
Some scopes have 17 micro pixels pitch that provides clarity to the image, while others have multiple color pallets to increase readability.
The scope resolution should also be higher than the sensor's resolution for a clearer and precise image. A sensor resolution of 384x288 is quite good in budget thermal scopes.
Thermal scopes that support video recording usually record in 1080p. This HD quality is great for detecting small details.
Reticle Pattern and Colors:
There are several designs and colors of reticles available, and the preference of a certain type is entirely up to you.
The four common reticle colors are black, white, green, and red. Red and white are popular choices when hunting in the dark. A black reticle might prove more useful than a white one during the daytime.
The refresh rate determines how quickly the image you see is processed. The faster the refresh rate, the better.
Slower refresh rates take longer to process the images and hence create lag in the video. Thermal scopes under $2000 support a refresh rate of 50Hz or 60Hz, which is sufficient for most uses.
Most brands offer warranties for either parts of the scope or the whole scope.
It is best to invest in models that not only carry the required features but are also backed up by a warranty. In case there is damage to a part that you can claim in warranty, you don’t have to spend more money and buy a new scope.
Final Verdict: Which is the best thermal scope under $2000 and why?
We believe the ATN ThOR-HD 384 is the best thermal scope under $2000 from amongst our picked options.
Despite its affordable price, it is built on modern technology and includes quality features like RAV, ballistics calculator, and rangefinder.