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Presenting 5 of ATN's best thermal scopes from 2022, to help hunters decide which thermal scope is best suited to their style of hunting.
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Purchasing a thermal imaging scope is a serious investment for a hunter, yet the obvious benefits of a thermal scope over its night vision cousin have driven rapid sales growth. Thermal imaging excels in all light and weather conditions and provides outstanding target detection capabilities, even when the target is stationary behind grass, foliage, smoke, and dust.
Yet having made a purchase, the last thing you need is to find your new asset doesn't perform to expectations. We've asked our experts to review the two different ranges of thermal imaging scopes ATN offers and select the five best to aid you in your decision. We'll first help you understand the difference between the two ranges of thermal scopes, then run you through the five our experts have selected and give you some specifications.
ATN's premium range of thermal imaging scopes is their MARS 4 series. Each scope from this series comes loaded with an extensive range of technology and is ideally suited for professional hunters and serious amateurs. The generation 4 thermal sensor has a resolution of 640x480 at 60 Hz, with an outstanding thermal sensitivity of less than <25 mK.
Core tools include a smart range finder, the ability to set multiple weapons profiles, and a ballistic calculator measuring environmental conditions like humidity, altitude, temperature, pressure, wind direction, and speed.
Several reticle types and color options are available, with a smart MIL dot reticle allowing you to program the variance between hash marks. Sighting in involves a one-shot zero where you take one shot, adjust the reticle for offset, and you're done.
The MARS 4 thermal imaging series records video at 60 frames per second and can dual stream via wifi and Bluetooth to an external device and an internal micro SD card simultaneously. If you sometimes forget to record, turn on the recoil-activated video option and let it automatically record the action to the SD card when you take each shot. Despite the huge range of features, the MARS 4 series boasts an ultra-low power consumption to give over 16 hours of continuous operation. Recharge is via a Micro USB, Type C connector.
The MARS LT range of thermal imaging scopes is an affordable and lightweight range designed for close-range hunting. It's ideally suited to the average hunter seeking access to thermal imaging technology at an entry-level price. However, the LT range includes some premium features from the MARS 4 range, notably the one-shot zero capability and multiple reticle patterns.
These lightweight scopes weigh in at 1.4 pounds or 650 grams and are ideally suited to users where weight is a critical issue, especially when using air rifles or crossbows. They offer a white hot/black hot switching option and use one of two thermal sensors. Four of the six scopes in the LT range have sensor resolutions of 320 x 240 pixels operating at 12 µm/60 hertz, while two have 160 x 120-pixel sensors at 17 µm/60 hertz. While light, these scopes are strong and made from hardened aluminum alloy to resist the recoil when used on high-caliber weapons. The battery charge in these scopes exceeds 10 hours of continuous use.
Our experts have chosen the following thermal imaging scopes to cover a range of hunting needs, scope capabilities, and budgets.
The MARS 4 640 1.5-15X is a top-of-the-range thermal scope, giving a variable magnification range from 1.5 to 15 times, with a field of view of 24 x 19 degrees. This model is perfect for shooting over long ranges and when targeting big game. Powering the ultra-sensitive 640 x 480 thermal sensor is ATNs powerful Obsidian IV Dual Core T processor allowing selection between black hot/white hot and color modes.
Boasting all of the specifications listed previously for the MARS 4 range, this thermal scope has good detection, recognition, and identification ranges of 1050, 530, and 330 meters, respectively. An option available to all MARS 4 models is the addition of an auxiliary ballistic laser for long-range hunters, linking to your field of view at the press of a button.
At the time of writing, the MARS 4 640 1.5-15X retailed below €3,500.
The MARS 4 640 2.5-25X offers serious long-range viewing when hunting large game and provides a field of view of 12.5 x 9.7. Like the 640 1.5-15X reviewed above, this scope provides serious thermal imaging capabilities for experienced hunters, offering a fast frame refresh rate to ensure images don't drag or lag when your game moves. Powered by the same ATN Obsidian IV Dual Core T processor, the display offers a high-definition resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.
Given the greater magnification, the detection, recognition, and identification ranges of the MARS 4 640 2.5-25X are significantly improved, with detection possible at 1,950 meters, recognition at 800 meters, and identification at 475 meters. As with all scopes in the MARS 4 range, the 640 2.5-25X is designed for high-caliber weapon applications, with impact-resistant electronics, and constructed from hardened aluminum alloy.
At the time of writing, the MARS 4 640 2.5-25X retailed below €3,700.
The MARS 4-40x is at the top of the ATN range of thermal imaging scopes, offering a dual-core thermal sensor and smart high-definition optics. The longest of all the ATN thermal scopes, the MARS 4-40x still manages an eye relief of 90mm and mounts using standard 30mm rings. The field of view is 8.3 x 6.2, with detection, recognition, and identification ranges at 3,300, 1,450, and 800 meters, respectively.
The MARS 4 range is compatible with the ATN radar system, which displays the location of hunting party members on a map overlay on your phone, and shows the tagged game in your scope's field of view showing relative direction and range to the target. In common with the other MARS 4 thermal scopes, the 4-40x has a Smart Mil-Dot reticle with a range of 1.0 to 10.
At the time of writing, the MARS 4 640 4-40X retailed below €4,000.
The LT 320 4-8X is one of the higher specification thermal scopes from ATN's production series, designed as a lightweight scope for close-range hunting. The 4-8x sensor has a resolution of 320 x 240 at 12 µm, with a fast refresh rate of 60 Hz, powered by ATN's Obsidian Core LT processor.
The display resolution is a high-definition 1280 x 720 pixels, and detection, identification, and recognition ranges are 1510, 680, and 400 meters, respectively. The LT 320 4-8X weighs only 1.4 lb or 650 grams, making it perfect for short-range lightweight applications.
At the time of writing, the MARS LT 320 4-8X retailed below €1,800.
The MARS LT 320 5-10X is at the top of ATN's production range of thermal scopes, offering a 5x to 10x variable magnification with a field of view of 11.6 x 8.7. Its specification is the same as the LT 320 4-8x but has greater detection, recognition, and identification ranges at 1620, 710, and 415 meters, respectively.
Like all thermal scopes in the LT range, the 5-10x weighs only 1.4 lb or 650 grams, mounts with standard 30mm rings to give 90mm eye relief, and offers a 3-year warranty.
Thermal scope technologies are increasing as their prices continue to fall, making their use more attractive and affordable to hunters. When looking to decide which thermal scope to buy, hunters should consider four parameters;
Where your hunting involves close ranges, and weight and cost are an issue, the MARS LT range of scopes is ideal. While not as feature-rich as the MARS 4 range, the LT series offers essential hunting functionality, good sensor resolutions and sensitivities at a great price and a wide range of variable magnifications.
If you're a serious hunter, hunting over longer ranges with higher caliber weapons, and you're less weight or cost-sensitive, then ATN's premium range of MARS 4 thermal scopes might be for you. These scopes have some of the best light sensitivity specifications and come packed with ballistic calculators, dual streaming recording capabilities, and an outstanding 16 hours of continuous use.
Whatever your experience or budget, you'll find one of the five thermal imaging scopes from this review will more than adequately meet your hunting needs. Whatever your choice, you can be confident that all ATN scopes are backed by a three-year warranty, with ATN experts available to answer your queries or concerns during and after purchase.
We have teamed up with the wonderful folk at Highland Outdoors, John Forsey, UK Shoot Warehouse & Eley Hawk to offer one lucky reader the chance to win wildfowling kit worth over £1,500.
Wondering what to buy your loved ones this year? Well, if game shooting is their hobby, look no further than our Christmas gift guide for game shooters!
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