Shopping for the best thermal scope under $2000?
You've come to the right place.
If you're budget is no more than two grand, this guide reviews and compares 5 excellent rigs to consider.
So let's dive in!
What's In This Buying Guide
This buying guide provides our top 5 picks for thermal scopes under $2,000.
We start with a list of our favorites for several different needs plus a quick comparison table, followed by reviews of each.
Then we discuss the key features you should look into when buying a thermal scope in this price range.
Best Thermal Scopes Under $2,000
ATN ThOR-HD 384
14 x 8 x 5 inches
OpticGuru Thor LT
Best for Foggy Areas
FLIR Thermosight Pro PTS233
Best image quality
8.7 x 3.3 x 2.7 inches
Pulsar Core RXQ30V
2x, 3x, 4x
9.4 x 2.6 x 2.4 inches
ATN Thor LT
Most convenient use
11.5 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches
1. Best Technology: ATN ThOR-HD 384
The ATN ThOR HD-384 is an outstanding-quality thermal scope available at a surprisingly affordable price.
The ATN ThOR-HD 384 features a 384x288 sensor and a 12x9.5 viewing angle.
The smooth zoom allows you to track a target without moving or leaving your stance.
This scope offers two features that maximize shot accuracy: a ballistics calculator and a built-in smart rangefinder to help users to align their shot with the target, gaining maximum accuracy.
The ballistics calculator assesses the trajectory of the bullet. It takes into account external factors like wind, distance, elevation, etc., to calculate the trajectory of the fired bullet. Utilizing this feature helps improve shot placement by adjusting the point of impact. The built-in rangefinder calculates the distance between the user and the target.
With the onboard photo and video recording, you won't have to carry a separate camera if you’re using the ATN HD 384.
It also supports Recoil Activated Video (RAV), which starts recording video as soon as a bullet is fired.
Finally, the scope can stream recorded video to an internet TV or another device.
2. Best for Foggy Areas: OpticGuru Thor LT
One of the best times to go out for a hunt is near dawn. The stillness of the atmosphere is perfect for spotting animals. But there’s a catch; many areas experience fog during that time, reducing visibility.
Ordinary thermal scopes cannot detect heat signatures through thick fog well. However, the OpticGuru ThoR LT is the perfect option in such cases.
Boosting a sturdy aluminum body, the Thor LT can take operational abuse and rough handling that comes with hunting.
It has advanced heat detection sensors that can detect heat signatures under varying scenarios. You can use it to spot game in total darkness and in fog.
The scope is also usable in areas with thick smoke and heavy vegetation. Animals are often hard to detect when they are hiding in thick vegetation.
But, with this scope, you will not face that problem. The high sensitivity heat detector can read heat signatures even through the greenery.
Plus, who doesn’t love to work with the traditional design of a thermal scope?
With all the modern advancements, it is hard to find a slim 30mm body in a thermal scope. But the Thor LT combines both features into one.
It fashions a traditional 30mm body made with aluminum alloy and is resistant to harsh recoil from high-caliber weapons.
Furthermore, a 3-inch eye relief ensures user comfort. When out in the field with the scope against your eye for the whole day, an eye relief can make quite a difference.
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 does not pose a problem, even if you have to carry it all day long, nor does it add much to the gear weight. Moreover, 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. As the name suggests, in the white-hot mode, the color mode portrays the heat signatures as white against a black background and vice versa in the black hot mode. However, both of these modes feature a red crosshair reticle to ensure the accuracy of the shot.
Internal lithium-ion batteries are used to power this scope. The batteries can run for up to 10+ hours as the scope works on very low power consumption. In fact, one set of batteries is enough to get you through the day or night.
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 Image Quality: FLIR Thermosight Pro PTS233
Arguably, the most important feature in a thermal scope is its image quality. A clear depiction of the field of view is the main reason why thermal scopes are preferred over other types of scopes. Their heat-detecting capacity can detect what other scopes might miss.
Therefore, image quality is paramount to the effective usability of a thermal scope. The FLIR Thermosight Pro gives image quality serious consideration.
This scope holds one of the best image quality you can get for the price. There is a FLOCOS display for image clarity and multiple color palette for easy detection of objects in the projected image.
The viewfinder has a bright display, making it easy for the user to see the field in darkness. However, the best part is the 12 micro pixel pitch that works with an industry-leading chip to provide high-quality video processing. Thereby, you get minimized lag and enhanced quality.
Featuring a sturdy design, the scope is made with aluminum, best known for withstanding harsh use. The layout looks bulky, but it is quite lightweight and weighs less than 1.5 pounds.
A strong body protects the powerful hardware of the scope. You can use it in all sorts of weather conditions, including rain, haze, fog, and smoke.
There are several advanced technologies in this scope that, along with its completely digital operation, eliminate the guesswork in the field.
A digital compass or inclinometer is included in the body to enhance the precision range and target orientation.
The scope is fully equipped to provide a customized experience to users based on their preferences. It has different types of reticle designs, including crosshair, Dot 4 MOA, Line Dot, Cross Center, and Dot. These reticles are available in different colors too.
Lastly, the scope is easily mounted onto the rifle via Picatinny rails. It has a storage capacity for videos worth 2.5 hours and 1,000 pictures.
Issues and Limitations
The battery run time for the FLIR Thermosight Pro is quite low and lasts for only up to five hours.
4. Most weather-resistant: Pulsar Core RXQ30V
Hunters face a lot of varying weather conditions, making it important to invest in gear you can use under all weathers.
Most thermal scopes are well capable of performing in hot, dry weather. Their detection power is not diminished on a hot day. However, not all are water-resistant.
Water resistance and water-proofing are essential features that a scope must have to be able to perform in rain and snow. We picked the Pulsar Core RXQ30V for that very reason.
The Pulsar Core RXQ30V is weather-resistant and usable in all seasons. Thanks to the IPX7 technology, this model is completely waterproof, making it usable in heavy rain, thick snowfall, haze, and fog as well.
The Nylon-made thermal rifle scope has a high-resolution 384x288 core with a suitable 50Hz refresh rate, which means that there is no compromise of image quality either.
Housing an Iris technology, the scope offers enhanced recognition and detection. As a result, you can easily spot the target among thick vegetation or at a larger distance. The detection range goes up to 985 yards.
The overall design is quite user-friendly and ergonomic. The 2x, 4x stepped digital zoom allows users to change the magnification without taking their eyes off the target. The weaver mount rail makes it very convenient to slide the scope on and off the rifle as needed.
Moreover, 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.
This scope is adaptable to various external power supplies, including USB and DS. The package comes loaded with wireless remote control, a hex wrench, and an external power supply adapter, among other things.
Issues and Limitations
This Pulsar scope lacks a video recording function. There are options available with a 60Hz refresh rate compared to the 50Hz refresh rate of this Pulsar scope. However, if you want a scope for a non-crowded field, the 50Hz does the job well too.
5. Most convenient use: ATN Thor LT
Both beginners and professionals appreciate the convenience of use in a scope. No matter how good an optic is, working with it in the field becomes difficult if it is complicated to use. Therefore, convenience of use and a user-friendly layout are valued features.
The ATN ThOR LT is known for its convenient use and exceptional performance.
The renowned ATN Thor LT is made up of aluminum alloy, ensuring a sturdy body. And it is usable with a range of rifles, including high-caliber rifles.
This scope, too, carries advanced heat detection sensors seen in many other ATN models. The enhanced heat detection capabilities make the scope usable in fog and thick vegetation.
What’s best about this scope is that it is lighter in weight compared to other scopes. This adds balance to the rifle assembly and imparts agility to the user.
To further enhance ease of usability, the scope offers a one-shot zero function that prevents waste of time and ammunition. All you have to do is bring the zero reticle to your first point of impact, and that’s all.
Moreover, the low power consumption offers 10+ hours of battery life, which is sufficient time for a day-long or night-long trip.
We believe this scope would be the ideal choice for beginners. It is usable with many different rifles and is easy to handle.
The lightweight and uncomplicated one-shot zero function would suit most beginners quite well. Furthermore, the price is justified for beginners.
Issues and Limitations
Unlike many other ATN scopes, the ATN ThOR LT does not support video recording. Also, it has a slightly shorter battery run time.
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.
Therefore, scopes that carry features like multiple reticle designs and colors, a good detection range, etc., are more appreciated by seasoned hunters.
Every 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.
Therefore, the preference of field condition is an important factor of consideration 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, even waterproof models.
Battery or DC Charging:
The choice between scope models charged either by direct power or run on batteries depends entirely on the user.
People who cannot keep multiple battery sets in their gear would prefer direct charging batteries. Similarly, those who do not go far from their settlement or camping 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?
A commonly asked question is why buy a thermal scope under $2000. Is it worth the investment? Do we 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 bring the necessary features in a much affordable price range.
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.
Beginners need to learn the basics of firearms optics before they can move on to high-end features. For such purposes, budget thermal scopes are ideal since they have all the necessary features that involve a learning curve.
Practicing on a budget scope before moving to specialize thermal scope is a smart move that not only saves time but also enlists better operational learning of the scope.
Another reason why thermal scopes under $2000 are a good option is that they provide a smooth transition between night vision scopes and high-end thermal scopes since budget thermal scopes have the perfect combination of features. Such scopes help them polish up their skills before investing in high-end models.
Moreover, most thermal scopes under $2000 cover short to mid-range shooting requirements. Therefore, if you are not looking for a specialized thermal scope and only want to use the optics for short to medium-range shooting, then it is not wise to invest heavily in high-end thermal scopes.
A budget thermal scope does the job well in an affordable price range. 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 to use the scopes with medium-range detection and recognition, then 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. Therefore, the resolution of the projected image becomes 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.
Moreover, the resolution of the scope should be higher than the resolution of the sensor for a clearer and precise image.
Most thermal scopes do have a higher scope resolution. A sensor resolution of 384x288 is quite good in budget thermal scopes.
Thermal scopes that support video recording usually show the multimedia in 1080p quality. This HD quality is great for detecting small details.
Reticle Pattern and Colors:
Anyone who has used a scope knows that the reticle is a crucial part. Several designs and colors of reticles are available, and the preference of a certain type is entirely up to the user.
Sometimes, users like to use different reticle patterns under different field conditions. Those who want to stick to a certain type should ensure that the model they buy has that reticle shape option.
Meanwhile, those who like to switch between reticle patterns should make sure that the scope supports multiple reticle patterns.
The four common reticle colors are black, white, green, and red. Red and white are popular choices when hunting in the dark. During the daytime, a black reticle might prove more useful than a white one.
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.
Thermal scopes are used in harsh conditions and take some operational abuse. That is why they are made up of sturdy materials like aluminum alloy or nylon.
With proper care and maintenance, they can go a long way. However, for maximum customer satisfaction, most brands offer warranties for either parts of the scope or the whole scope.
It is best to invest in options that not only carry the required features but are also supported by warranties.
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. This saves time, effort, and money.
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. This scope is built on modern technology and brings quality features like RAV, ballistics calculator, and rangefinder into an affordable model.