How to Choose a Thermal Scope?

How to Choose a Thermal Scope?

A thermal scope is a crucial device for outdoor activities like pest control on farms or hunting at night. They provide clear vision in various weather conditions, making it a versatile tool for day and night use. With numerous options available, selecting the right thermal scope can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. To simplify the process, we've put together a comprehensive guide outlining key factors to consider. By the end, you'll have a solid understanding of what to look for when choosing a thermal scope for your outdoor needs.

What to look out for when Choosing a Thermal Scope?

When it comes to selecting a thermal scope, the thermal sensor is the key component that dictates image quality and object detail. Understanding three crucial elements of the thermal sensor is essential: Resolution, NETD (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference), and frame rate.


The pixel resolution of the sensor determines image clarity. Higher resolution results in more detailed images. Pixel pitch, the distance between the central point of two pixels in an infrared detector, also affects resolution. A lower pixel pitch means better resolution. A sensor should ideally have a resolution of at least 384×288 pixels, with a pixel pitch between 12µm and 17µm for optimal image quality.

The HikMicro Thunder Zoom 2.0 Has innovative Optical Zoom

NETD (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference):

NETD measures the sensor's thermal sensitivity, indicating its ability to detect small temperature differences. Lower NETD values mean the sensor can highlight subtle temperature variations more effectively. For thermal scopes, the ideal NETD falls between <25mK and <40mK, ensuring precise detection of heat signatures.

These factors play a crucial role in distinguishing heat signatures and ensuring the quality of thermal images, making them vital considerations when operating in the field.

The HikMicro Thunder Zoom 2.0 has unmatched Clarity and Range

When selecting a thermal scope, the detection range is a critical factor to consider. This refers to the maximum distance at which an object's heat signature can be identified. The detection range depends on variable magnification and the size of the objective lens. For optimal performance, aim for a detection range of 1300 meters or more.

Keep in mind that the objective lens size affects both the field of view and magnification. Larger lenses offer a wider field of view and higher magnification but also increase weight and cost. A thermal scope with a 35mm lens and 8x variable magnification is a good starting point.

DORI System (Detection, Observation, Recognition, Identification):

The DORI system is vital for determining target characteristics:

  • Detection: The ability to detect the presence of an object.
  • Observation: Observing details of the detected object.
  • Recognition: Identifying familiar characteristics of the object.
  • Identification: Clearly identifying specific details to distinguish the object.

Understanding and utilizing the DORI system enhances target identification, aiding in decision-making during thermal imaging.

Image of an animal captured using a HikMicro Falcon Thermal Imaging Monocular on Black Hot Mode

Thermal Scopes and Thermal Clip-ons

Mounting options are essential considerations when choosing a thermal scope, as they determine how securely and conveniently the scope attaches to your rifle.

Mounting Rings: Thermal scopes often come with mounting rings, typically 30mm in size, which simplify the mounting process without requiring additional tools. These rings are compatible with tube-style thermal scopes and are usually included with the scope. However, for compact thermal scopes like the Hikmicro Thunder Series, ensure it includes a picatinny rail mount for attachment.

Adaptors for Picatinny Rails: Some thermal scopes offer the option to mount onto a rifle using adaptors designed to fit onto a rifle's picatinny rail. This provides flexibility in mounting options and compatibility with a wider range of rifles equipped with picatinny rails.

Clip-On Scopes: Another mounting option is clip-on scopes, which attach to a standard day scope. This configuration allows for the thermal scope to be easily attached and detached, offering versatility in use. Clip-on scopes are particularly convenient for those who already have a preferred day scope setup.

Consider your specific rifle setup and preferences when choosing the mounting option that best suits your needs. Whether using mounting rings for Thermal tube scopes, adaptors for picatinny rails, or clip-on scopes, ensure the thermal scope securely attaches to your rifle for reliable performance in the field.

HikMicro Thunder Zoom 2.0 Mounted as a Thermal Rifle Scope


In conclusion, selecting your first thermal scope doesn't need to be overwhelming. By considering the key criteria outlined above, you can confidently choose a thermal scope that meets your needs.

Start by assessing the thermal sensor, focusing on resolution and NETD to ensure clear and precise imaging. Pay attention to the detection range to ensure optimal performance in identifying heat signatures at varying distances. Evaluate mounting options, whether it's mounting rings, adaptors for picatinny rails, or clip-on scopes, to ensure secure attachment to your rifle.

Additionally, consider factors such as reticles and zeroing capabilities for precise aiming, as well as ruggedness and recoil resistance for durability and reliability in the field.

With these considerations in mind, you can make an informed decision when selecting the perfect thermal scope for your outdoor activities. Explore our full range of thermal scopes to find the one that best fits your requirements and preferences.

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