These five new thermal optics represent the latest in thermal innovation
Staff writer, Tyler Freel, looks though the AGM Rattler V2. Scott Einsmann
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The thermal scopes coming to market in 2024 have better resolution, are more affordable, and are more compact than ever before. You can see those trends as clearly as a coyote at 80 yards through a 640×512 resolution scope in the thermal optics I checked out at SHOT Show 2024. Here are some of the coolest new thermals that should become available this year.
- 1280×1024 sensor resolution
- 1.3 million pixels
- 2560×2560 display
- 2X optical magnification
- 16X digital magnification
- 3,600-yard detection range
- MSRP: $16,000
The Rico HD represents the cutting edge of thermal technology. Consider that the industry standard for a high-quality thermal is a unit with a 640×512 sensor resolution; The Rico HD has more than double that resolution. This detail means you’ll be able to identify animals at long distances and zoom in tight while maintaining a clear sight picture. Of course, that crisp image and versatility will cost you plenty; these will be available to purchase for $16,000 within a month.
- Sensors from 384×288 to 640×512
- 2560×2560 display
- 1,800 to 2,600-yard detection range
- MSRP: $2,095 to $4,495
AGM’s popular Rattler line of scopes and clip ons are getting updated for 2024. They’ll have improved detection range, faster refresh rate, and more battery life. Just like the original Rattler line, they’ll be available in a range of price points, magnifications, and resolutions. The Rattler V2 scopes are available for purchase right now and the clip-on sights will be available later this year.
- 640×480 sensor resolution
- 1920×1200 display
- Magnification: 3X to 24X (thermal) and 1.5X to 12X (digital)
- Thermal Detection Range: 1,800 meters
- MSRP: $5,999
Thermal imaging and night vision have their pros and cons. Thermal doesn’t require ambient light and is better at detection than night vision. But, night vision is better at seeing details, which is helpful for identifying animals. You used to have to compromise, but the Pulsar Merger Duo binoculars combine night vision and thermal into one unit. The binos display image-in-image, so you can see the thermal and night vision images in a single view. In my short hands-on time with the Merger Duo I was impressed with the detail in both the thermal and night vision modes.
- Thermal Overlay
- Magnification: 1x
- Refresh Rate: 50 Hz
- Resolution: 256×192 pixels
- Battery Type: 18350
- Battery Life: 12 hours
- Water Resistance: IP67
- Weight: 18.5 oz
- MSRP: $1,600
The Holosun DRS-TH is a uniquely compact optic that’s designed for fast shooting at close ranges. It has features you’d expect to find on modern thermal scopes like video recording, rechargeable batteries, different color palettes, and reticle options. I got hands-on with the Holosun DRS-TH at SHOT Show’s range day and found the resolution to be good at the close ranges the optic was designed for.
It’s important to note that I shot the above video with the scope cap closed to show what the optic looks like at night. With the scope cap up, looking through the DRS was like any red dot sight — a reticle overlaid on clean glass. I wasn’t able to see how the optic performed on heated targets, but I will be doing a full test and review of the DRS when they become available next month. One of the best things about the Holosun DRS-TH is its price. It’s very affordable compared to competitive offerings like the Sig Sauer Echo 3 and X-Vision XVT.
- 640×512 sensor resolution
- 3X or 4X optical magnification
- 8X digital magnification
- Detection Range: 2,400 yards (3X) or 4,200 yards (4X)
- Onboard ballistic solver and BDC reticle
- Works as a scope or clip-on
- 2560×1920 display
- MSRP: $7,000 (3X) or $8,000 (4X)
Thermal scopes are expensive and the sting is lessened when they’re versatile. The Rico Hybrid is a high-end scope that’s also a clip-on sight. So you could use it on a dedicated night setup or you can move it from rifle to rifle. It could also work as a monocular if you were so inclined. The Rico Hybrid doesn’t have a built-in rangefinder, but it is compatible with InfiRay’s ILR-1000-2, which costs $800. If you use it with the rangefinder, the scope provides ballistic solutions for easy shooting at long ranges. One of the best features is the 4X base magnification, which means you’re starting at a higher optical zoom and you’ll retain better image quality as you zoom in farther. The 4X version is shipping out to dealers soon and the 3X is already available for purchase.