It wasn't that long ago that everyday shooters could only dream of accessing the night-vision and thermal capabilities made available exclusively to military fighting forces. What technology wasn't guarded closely by the U.S. Department of Defense was far too cost-prohibitive for even avid shooters to consider adding to their hunting or shooting rig. This year, more night-vision and thermal optic options are available to consumers than ever before, and many of them at prices that bring this technology into the realm of possibility for those looking to enhance their rifle platforms. Here are 10 of the most innovative optics we've seen in the night-vision and thermal market for 2018:
Armasight | BNVD 51 The Armasight (by FLIR) BNVD is a dual-channel night-vision system with a large, 51-degree field-of-view. The BNVD uses advanced, multi-coated optics and is durable, thanks to its composite housing. Operating from a single AA battery or a CR123A, the BNVD has a run time of up to 20 hours. It is also equipped with an integral infrared illuminator for reading in the dark.
Armasight | PVS-14 51 This versatile, single-tube, night-vision device can mount to a firearm, attach to a helmet or headgear and also be used as a stand-alone monocular. It boasts a wide field-of-view and a built-in IR illuminator to help you see in the dark. The PVS-14 51 runs off of a single AA battery for up to 50 hours.
ATN | X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14 Smart HD Day/Night Riflescope ATN built on the success of the company’s X-Sight II and added a number of innovative features to its latest model. Battery life is enhanced to 18 hours, and the night-vision mode is refined with a high-definition output, thanks to the optic’s new dual-core processor and Ultra HD sensor. The new platform allows for Wi-Fi streaming and video recording in 1080p, and a built-in ballistic calculator ensures users are on-target at any distance.
Magnification: 3-14X Resolution: 600 lines per mm Reticle: Multiple patterns & color options Length: 13.8 inches Weight: 33.6 ounces MSRP: $699 (800) 910-2862; atncorp.com
ATN | ThOR 4 384 50 mm Thermal Scope The ThOR lineup of thermal optics from ATN is back in a fourth-generation format. The latest iteration is loaded with new technology in the design and construction of the built-in, dual-core processor. This enables the ThOR 4 to offer more capability at a lower price than ever before. Stand-out elements of the thermal optic include recoil-activated video, one-shot zeroing and an enhanced battery life of 18 hours.
FLIR | Breach PTQ136 Featuring the new FLIR Boson core and a compact design, the Breach thermal sight provides incredible capability in a lightweight, consumer thermal optic. It can be concealed in a pocket or mounted to a helmet thanks to its mini-rail feature. Additional features include onboard still and video recording, as well as seven color palettes for fast detection.
Magnification: 1X (optical); 1-4X (digital) Internal Memory: Up to 1,000 images and 2.5 hours of video Refresh Rate: 60 Hz Length: 5.5 inches Weight: 7.4 ounces MSRP: $2,495 (877) 596-6115; flir.com
FLIR | ThermoSight Pro PTS233 Designed to mount to a Picatinny rail on your firearm, the PTS233 delivers clear, high-definition thermal imaging with a wide field-of-view, seven color palettes and multiple reticle options for greater precision. Perfect for short- to medium-range engagements, the ThermoSight Pro also offers shot-activated video recording. Controls are simple to use and ergonomically located.
Magnification: 1.5X (optical); 2X or 4X (digital) Reticle: 4-MOA dot; line dot; cross center dot; cross; crosshair (each in four color options) Refresh Rate: 60 Hz Length: 8.7 inches Weight:23 ounces MSRP: $2,199 (877) 596-6115; flir.com
Leupold | LTO Tracker HD Thermal Viewer With a startup time of less than 3 seconds, eight different color palette displays and 10-hour battery life (on a single CR123 battery), the updated LTO Tracker also features increased resolution and distance capabilities. All these new features, however, haven’t changed the compact size and light weight from that of the original LTO.
Meopta |MeoNight 1.1 Night Vision Device Valuable as either a hand-held, night-vision monocular or firearm-mounted in conjunction with a riflescope, the MeoNight 1.1 takes the mystery out of the dark. It is set at 1X magnification, but an optional 3X booster is offered. The MeoNight 1.1 can detect human-size subjects out to 600 meters and includes an external brightness control. It can be mounted ahead of a riflescope or directly to the scope’s objective with an adaptor.
Pulsar | Trail XP50 LRF Thermal Riflescope With the ability to detect human-size heat signatures as far away as 2,000 yards, Pulsar’s brand-new Trail XP50 LRF Thermal Riflescope also offers an integrated laser rangefinder accurate out to 1,100 yards. Thirteen digital reticle options, 8-hour battery life and the ability to save the zeroing profiles for three separate rifles make this one versatile thermal scope.
Sightmark | Photon RT Digital Night Vision Offering remote viewing over Wi-Fi, built-in audio and video recording and six reticle options total, the Photon RT night-vision scope offers the ability to see in the dark out beyond 200 meters. Four color options in the display round out the impressive list of features in this affordable night-vision offering.