Rifle Scope Comparison and Advice

thermal rifle scope

A Shot in the Dark: Thermal Rifle Scopes Vs. Night Vision

Is your farm being terrorized by wild hogs? Do you have game you’re interested in hunting in the darkness?

If you’re hunting at night, then you need to decide how you’re going to remove the obstacle of darkness. When you can see through the dark then you can make the kill you need to.

Most people have a hard time deciding between using a thermal rifle scope and night vision because both options have their advantages and disadvantages. And neither option is very cheap.

Before you spend your hard-earned money on a hunting accessory, make sure you’re getting the right night hunting gear for you.

Thermal Rifle Scope vs. Night Vision: How They Work

Before you invest in a thermal rifle scope or night vision capabilities, you need to understand the difference between them. Choosing any rifle scope is a serious choice, so it’s best to do your research.

Thermal technology measures and detects radiation. The higher the temperature of an object or animal, the more radiation it will give off. The thermal scope will take a thermogram or a detailed picture of the temperature pattern, and it will detect exactly where live animals are.

The thermal image will look like an array of different colors. The colors represent the intensity of infrared radiation coming from that area.

An animal cannot hide from thermal technology.

Night vision technology requires some level of light to work. Typically, the natural light from the stars and moon will be enough. If not, most night vision scopes are equipped with a low-level flashlight to help out.

Night vision has been used for years. And some of the newer night vision scopes work pretty well in low levels of light, but they still need some light to work. And night vision can only see animals that are in your direct line of vision.

Both technologies work well at night, but you’ll have to decide which will fit your needs better.

The Quality of Image

Without a doubt, the image you get with night vision will be clearer and easier to understand. Anyone looking at a deer through night vision will be able to tell it’s a deer.

It takes some practice and skill to identify animals with a thermal rifle scope. The image you see won’t necessarily help you identify exactly what you’re shooting at. With a little practice, you’ll be able to read the thermal scanner and understand where your prey is located.

You can pay more for a more complicated thermal rifle scope that will get you a more detailed picture. But most of them will just show the array of colors that indicate radiation.

With night vision, you won’t be able to see through thick brush, bushes, trees, or other landmarks. But night vision imagery is much clearer and realistic immediately. If you need to be careful about what you’re shooting, looking at your prey through a night vision scope can be reassuring.

Thermal technology also works at a much longer distance, so if you’re hoping to track your prey from a distance, that’s useful. You will be able to monitor the location of animals at a longer distance with thermal, but only night vision will give you the clear image you might want for shooting.

Consider Your Environment

Before you invest in either a thermal rifle scope or a night vision scope, think about the kind of environment you’ll be hunting in.

If you’re protecting your land from predators, then it might be a good idea to use thermal to scope out the beasts from far away.

Wild hogs can be particularly vicious and smart when they hunt at night. With thermal imaging, you can know where they’re coming from and pick them off before they’re close enough to do too much damage.

And if you’re going to be hunting in the mountains where there isn’t a lot of light available, thermal might be beneficial.

But thermal rifle scopes are much heavier than traditional night vision scopes are. Thermal technology is also easier to damage or break.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of rugged hiking or camping, then you might consider getting night vision. Night vision scopes are tougher so they can handle more wear and tear.

You do need to be sure that your night vision lens isn’t exposed to too much direct light. If they lens is hit with daylight it can be destroyed. So if you do use a night vision scope, keep it properly covered during the day.

The Benefits of Using Both

A night vision scope is typically much cheaper than a thermal rifle scope, but if it’s in your budget you should consider getting both.

Many hunters will choose to use a handheld thermal scope and actually mount the night vision scope on to their rifle. Whichever scope you choose, make sure it’s mounted properly! That’s the only way to ensure your aim is true and your rifle is safe.

A hand-held thermal optic will allow you to monitor and scan your environment for anything radiating heat even if it’s covered by the terrain. Think of this as your long distance x-ray machine that can see through obstacles.

Once you’ve tracked the prey close enough to you and it’s out in the open you can then switch to your night vision scope on your rifle. Some hunters find this combination ideal. You get all the benefits of the precision and long range of thermal, but the clarity and light weight of the night vision.

Both thermal scopes and night vision scopes will give you the upper hand over your prey when you’re night hunting. But both options come with their ups and downs.

If you have the ability to use both technologies then you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits of each. Whatever you’re hunting won’t stand a chance!

Leave a comment below and tell us which technology you use. Does thermal or night vision accompany you on your night hunts?


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