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Do you want to get the best affordable thermal scope for the money? In this post, we will review some of the top options to help you make an informed purchase.

Thermal scopes, also known as thermal imaging scopes or infrared scopes. They are optical devices that utilize thermal imaging technology to detect and visualize the heat signatures emitted by objects and living beings.

Whether you’re an avid hunter, a dedicated nature observer, or a security professional seeking to enhance your nocturnal surveillance, our curated selection of budget-friendly thermal scopes will help you make an informed decision.

Let us get right into it.

Best Affordable Thermal Scope

1) Pulsar Trail XP38 1.2-9.6×32


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The Pulsar Trail XP38 belongs to the renowned Trail product range, which includes two lines of riflescopes – Trail XQ38/XQ50 and Trail XP38/XP50. The XP models, like the XP38, feature a state-of-the-art 640×480 thermal sensor with a 17 µm pixel pitch, providing exceptional image clarity and accuracy. With a fast 50 Hz frame rate, the XP38 ensures comfortable viewing during dynamic, rapid motion situations.

One of the standout features of the Pulsar Trail XP38 is its versatile variable magnification, offering a wide field-of-view for quick target acquisition and the ability to zoom in for precise shot placement. Depending on the model, you can achieve up to 9.6x magnification, ensuring optimum customization for your specific needs.

The XP38 also boasts an innovative built-in video recording function, allowing you to capture both videos and photos during your observations. With an easy transfer option to your PC or laptop via wired or Wi-Fi connection, you can conveniently document and analyze your experiences.


  • Cutting-edge thermal technology
  • Variable magnification
  • Built-in video recording
  • Long detection distance
  • High shock resistance


  • Cost


2) Armasight Zeus 336

Zeus 336

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When it comes to high-quality thermal imaging weapon sights, the Armasight Zeus 336 stands out as a phenomenal contender. Built on FLIR’s Tau 2 VOx microbolometer core, this thermal scope is a potent addition to any hunter’s arsenal. With a feature-rich configuration, it’s equally appealing for law enforcement and military use.

Constructed from CNC machined aircraft-aluminum alloy, the Zeus 336 is rugged yet compact. It’s among the lightest and most compact scopes in its class. It boasts a rapid start-up time and is water and fog-resistant. The MIL-STD-1913 compatible quick-release mount makes the installation process effortless, ensuring the scope is securely fastened to your weapon.

Equipped with a 336×256 pixel array format and a 17-micron uncooled FLIR core technology, the Zeus 336 delivers crisp images. The AMOLED SVGA display has an 800×600 resolution which is ideal for clear target acquisition.

What’s more, the Zeus 336’s thermal imaging cuts through obscurants like snow, dust, smoke, and fog. This is a huge advantage for hunters as it enables day and night usage without any hindrance. Also, since it doesn’t emit visible light or RF energy, it’s nearly impossible for others to detect its usage.

One of the standout features of this scope is its Silent Shutterless NUC (SSN) technology. It allows for extended periods between mechanical shutter events, further reducing image noise, and providing a seamless viewing experience.

In addition, the digital e-zoom function (1x, 2x, and 4x) ensures that you can zoom without losing the boresight. This feature translates to high-level target accuracy.


  • High-quality thermal imaging
  • Rugged and durable construction
  • User-friendly interface with extensive customization options
  • Quick-release mount for easy installation
  • Silent Shutterless NUC (SSN) technology for reduced image noise
  • Extended battery life with an external battery pack
  • Suitable for both day and night use
  • Comprehensive warranty


  • Limited battery life


3) ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope


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The ATN ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope is another excellent option. It’s equipped with a 384×288 sensor that excels in detecting heat signatures. This allows you to spot prey effortlessly, even through obstructions like grass or brush.

Moreover, its night vision capability is so advanced that it can provide a clear image even through light fog or rain. This means that your hunting need not be limited by daylight hours, as this scope ensures you’re prepared for a full 24-hour hunting experience.

The ATN ThOR HD 384 simplifies your life with its built-in smart rangefinder. There’s no need to carry additional gear as this rangefinder calculates the distance to your target with precision. This not only reduces the weight of your gear but also streamlines your shooting skills.

With the Recoil Activated Video (RAV), you can record and relive your triumphant moments. The scope offers high-resolution video recording and allows you to use an SD card for storage. This means you can effortlessly capture your adventures without the clutter of cables.

We recommend it because it offers an impressive 22 hours of continuous use.


  • Effectively detects heat signatures
  • Built in ballistic calculator
  • Smart rangefinder
  • High resolution recording
  • Extended battery life
  • High resolution recording
  • Extended battery life
  • Smooth zoom


  • High price point for beginners


4) Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope



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The Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope is an exceptional choice for those seeking high performance without breaking the bank. It offers a resolution of 384×288 at 17µm, translating to highly detailed and crisp thermal imaging. This is essential for spotting and identifying game, even in adverse weather conditions.

One of the standout features of this thermal riflescope is its high refresh rate of 50Hz, ensuring smooth and comfortable viewing even during rapid motion. This is critical when tracking moving targets and guarantees that you don’t miss a beat.

The Pulsar Core RXQ30V is built for toughness. Its frost-resistant AMOLED display ensures flawless performance across a wide temperature range of -13°F to 122°F, making it the perfect companion for hunts in various environments.

The RXQ30V comes with Pulsar’s popular Picture-in-Picture (PiP) function, which allows for precise shot placement while maintaining a broad field-of-view. This is essential for ensuring accuracy and effectiveness.

The Pulsar Core RXQ30V can be easily attached or detached via a Weaver/Picatinny mount, making it highly compatible with a variety of firearms.


  • High resolution imaging
  • High refresh rate of 50Hz
  • Variable magnification
  • Robust temperature range
  • Green sapphire display minimizes eye strain
  • Weaver/Picatinny mount makes it easy to attach or detach from a variety of firearms


  • Takes some time to learn how to use it


5) AGM Rattler TC19 (Clip On)


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The last thermal scope on our list is the AGM Rattler TC19-256. Its ability to adapt to challenging environments sets the AGM Rattler TC19 apart.

The Rattler TC19 is particularly user-friendly when it comes to integration with day scopes. Its design allows for swift attachment in front of day scopes with up to 8x magnification, making it ideal for short to medium-range use. This makes it highly applicable for hunting, patrolling, and overwatch scenarios.

This unit is laden with features that make it stand out. The built-in video recording and picture capture capabilities are perfect for documenting your hunting exploits. The AGM Connect app compatibility and Wi-Fi hotspot feature allow you to easily store and share images and videos. The 16GB onboard storage ensures you have ample space for your files.

Constructed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use, the AGM Rattler TC19 is both waterproof and shockproof. The inclusion of a high-quality quick detach mount from American Defense Manufacturing adds to the reliability and ease of use.

With a 3-year warranty, this thermal imaging clip-on system offers great features and peace of mind.


  • Compact and lightweight
  • Suitable for harsh conditions
  • Easy integration with day scopes
  • High sensitivity sensor
  • Good resolution
  • Good battery life
  • Reliable warranty


  • Limited detection range


Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Affordable Thermal Scope


Determine your budget range for the thermal scope. Affordable options can vary in price, so having a clear budget in mind will help you narrow down your choices.

Detection Range

Consider the maximum distance at which the thermal scope can detect and identify objects. This will depend on the sensitivity and resolution of the device. Determine the range you need based on your intended use, such as hunting or surveillance.


The resolution of the thermal sensor determines the clarity and level of detail in the images. Higher resolution generally translates to better image quality but can increase the cost. Look for scopes with a resolution that suits your needs without breaking the bank.

Refresh Rate

The refresh rate indicates how quickly the thermal scope updates the image on the screen. A higher refresh rate provides smoother and more fluid images, especially when tracking moving targets. Aim for a scope with a refresh rate of at least 30Hz for satisfactory performance.


Consider the build quality and ruggedness of the thermal scope. Look for scopes that are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, shock, and recoil. A durable device will be more reliable and have a longer lifespan.

Battery Life

Check the battery life of the thermal scope. Depending on your usage requirements, you’ll want a scope that can last long enough to fulfill your needs without frequent recharging or battery changes. Look for scopes with efficient power consumption and consider additional battery options if available.


Determine the level of magnification you require for your activities. Higher magnification allows for better target identification and engagement at longer distances. However, keep in mind that higher magnification can also reduce the field of view.


Consider the weight, size, and overall ergonomics of the thermal scope. It should be comfortable to handle and use for extended periods without causing fatigue. Look for scopes with user-friendly controls and interfaces.

Additional Features

Evaluate any additional features or functionalities that might be important to you. These could include video recording capabilities, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, image stabilization, ballistic calculators, or compatibility with smartphone apps. Decide which features are essential and which ones you can compromise on to stay within your budget.

Warranty and Support

Check the warranty and customer support offered by the manufacturer. A good warranty will give you peace of mind and protect you against any potential defects or issues with the thermal scope.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Affordable Thermal Scope

1) What is a thermal scope?

A thermal scope, also known as a thermal imaging scope, is a device that uses thermal imaging technology to detect and display heat signatures emitted by objects or living beings. It allows users to see in total darkness or low-light conditions and provides visibility through obstacles like smoke, fog, or foliage.

2) What is the average price range for an affordable thermal scope?

The average price range for an affordable thermal scope can vary depending on the brand, model, and features. However, as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, affordable thermal scopes generally fall within the range of $1,000 to $2,500. Prices may have changed since then, so it’s always a good idea to research current market prices.

3) Which brands offer the best affordable thermal scopes?

Several brands offer affordable thermal scopes with decent performance. Some popular brands in the thermal imaging industry include Pulsar, ATN, FLIR, Leupold, and Seek Thermal. It’s recommended to read reviews, compare models, and consider customer feedback to determine which brand and model suit your specific needs.


When it comes to finding the best affordable thermal scope, it’s crucial to strike the perfect balance between quality and price. While the market offers a wide range of options, our comprehensive analysis has highlighted some standout choices that provide exceptional performance without breaking the bank.

By considering factors such as budget, specific requirements, and the intended use of the thermal scope, individuals can make an informed decision to suit their needs.

We hope this post helped you make an informed purchase.


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