Stand-Alone VS Clip-On Thermal Imaging Scope Review


On the Hunt for a Good Thermal Scope

When I started searching for thermal scopes, I found a lot of useful information online but I wasn’t really sure about all the info I was being fed. I found few reviews on thermal rifle scopes to validate manufacturers’ claims, so I decided to write one myself.

In the U.S. today, there are many thermal scopes for sale on the market, sold by a wide range of companies. In my search, I also noticed many companies overseas producing thermal scopes at a lower quality and cost.

I was searching for a thermal rifle scope that could stand the test of time. I really wanted something on par with what the U.S military used: a solid, rugged scope that would hold up in all conditions.

The Two Models of Thermal Rifle Scopes

There are many thermal vision rifles scopes on the market, falling under two main categories. One is the stand-alone model thermal imaging scope and the other is the clip-on thermal scope. So, aside from the obvious, what is the difference between these two thermal vision rifle scopes?

The stand alone models are similar in many ways to a basic optical rifle scope as they mount similarly and both have internal reticle. Depending on the stand alone model one gets, other similarities can be found as well: adjustments for windage, fog and terrain elevation. The downfall I discovered with stand alone scopes was that they had to be zeroed in for a particular rife, making them non-interchangeable. More or less, this model is a basic rifle scope with thermal technology built into it.

Once I discovered the clip-on thermal imaging scope, everything changed. The clip-on model was engineered by the U.S Military for the main purpose of being an all-around thermal rifle scope. These scopes didn’t need to rely on being zeroed in, and they could be used in both day and night time operations. Now here is what I really liked about the clip-on model – I could use my basic daytime rifle scope and just “clip” this revolutionary optic piece right on to it. This instantly transforms my rifle scope into a thermal rifle scope. If my basic rifle scope is zeroed in and on target, my clip on is ready to go. All I needed was any of my trusty rifle scopes and a clip-on, and I had the ability of thermal vision.

Such an Amazing Invention!

My interest was so overwhelming that I ended up searching for a clip-on thermal scope for sale. I found one for a decent price and made the purchase. Once it arrived, I immediately attached it to my Nikon Monarch Gold scope. In seconds, my daytime optic became a thermal weapon. It was easy to attach and simple to use. Requiring no zeroing in, it was ready to go in literally minutes.

It wasn’t long until my new thermal rifle scope became my favorite toy. After all the research I did on optics, night vision, thermal vision, mounts, clip-ons, stand-alone only models and everything in between, I knew I would have no buyer’s remorse.

Thermal has Come a Long Way

I served in the U.S Army in the 1990s and in those days all basic foot soldiers had were NVG’s or night vision goggles. These things were bulky and totally uncomfortable to wear, especially when wearing a helmet. What the NVG did was gave me the ability to see in the dark. Night vision goggles relied on a source of heat and sometimes didn’t work in super-dark conditions, or in extreme-hot environments. To fire a rifle while wearing night vision goggles was just impractical and extremely uncomfortable. Not only uncomfortable to wear while firing, the limitations of these were that you couldn’t see what was behind an object. But, in those days, NVGs were better than nothing when it came to firing and seeing in the dark.

Night vision and thermal have come a long way since those days. The modern thermal rifle scopes provide extreme clarity that allows you to literally see every movement. When I first tested my thermal rifle scope, I spotted a black bird at about 75 meters away and could see its every little movement.

Not Only for Hunting

I must say the thermal vision scope I purchased was the most interesting products I have ever bought. I’ve not only used it for hunting, but also to find out where heat loss in my home was coming from. And, on dark nights when I hear noises outside my house, I can look and see if it’s a prowler or just an alley cat.

On a final note, I must say that thermal rifle scopes work best in cold environments, still making this an excellent addition to any hunter’s arsenal since most in-season gaming falls in colder months. These work without fail especially in brisk cold weather. Thermal will give any hunter leverage that he just doesn’t have with a regular scope.

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