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Advice needed thermal scope

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by osage48, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. osage48

    osage48 Well-Known Member

    I am going to buy a thermal imaging weapon sight in the next several weeks. I am looking at the ATN 640 2.5x 60hz. I have seen it for around $12,500. I have seen some reviews on the 30hz version that were pretty good. Does anyone have any knowledge or advice to pass on? Can you recommend another manufactuer or model?
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    i don't own any thermal yet, but have been looking lately myself. i'd stay away from ATN at any price. my friends with thermal seem pretty keen on the raytheon stuff, and that T60 seems cool
  3. modarmory

    modarmory Active Member

    Second - stay away from ATN.

    FLIR, L3, and Raytheon are the top manufactures of thermal devices.
    For weapon mounted thermals our top sellers are the FLIR T50 and the Raytheon W1000.

    To understand your needs and what you look to accomplish:

    How far of a detection range are you looking for?
    Other qualities that are important?
    Hunting Coyote, Hogs, survelliance, other?
    Do you have night vision to use along side with your thermal?

    It is important to know that the human eye detects at 24hz. Anything below begins to look like gas station surveillance camera. With the ATN being at 30hz the image will be fairly accurate unless driving on an ATV or detecting fast moving prey there will be a delay.

    Beware of digital zooms - you lose resolution as you zoom. It is better to have a built in magnification or attach an external magnification lens.

    Vox technology has some down sides that a user needs to be aware of such as constant recalibrating. Especially important during night time when the temperature begins to drop rapidly.

    We are happy to help guide you in the appropriate direction. We do use all of the equipment and can let you know our experiences when hunting coyotes and hogs.
  4. hq

    hq Well-Known Member


    I know you don't export so unfortunately I'm not a potential customer for you, but can you explain why I should avoid ATN? Many other professionals say the same, so while I wanted something gun-mountable, with a reticle (varmints + observation), I ended up ordering a relatively cheap FLIR PS-24 from a local retailer instead and postponed the purchase or a real thermal riflescope at least a year or two. Appalling refresh rate (9Hz?) doesn't really matter when we're not talking about a rifle sight or tracking fast moving targets.

    I didn't have much time to do research, I needed a thermal monocular ASAP so I had to make a decision, but I'd really like to know what to look for when buying a thermal sight. Let's say, for example, for the use I have in mind:

    - Observation, the device detached from the rifle. Up to 250-300 yards, deer-sized animals.
    - Pest control as a rifle sight-, foxes, racoon dogs, even minks at up to 300 yards.
    - Temperature is usually between 0 and 50F during hunting season, 70-80 on warm summer nights.
    - Guns... usually AR-platform in either .223 or .308, the recoil won't be excessive and it's further tamed down by suppressors.
    - I have a gen 1 night vision device, but prefer not to use it. Russian. Heavy. POSP mount.
    - Battery life is a consideration.

    Other uses would be on a boat, but that's not very important. I'm rarely on water at night.

    I originally budgeted about $6000 for a combo device like ATN, but gave up the reticle requirement and ended up spending about a third of that. As I mentioned, it'll take a while before I'm buying my next device. I might just educate myself about the subject meanwhile.
  5. modarmory

    modarmory Active Member


    Even when you are scanning the image still jumps/is delayed with a 9Hz rate.

    Since we do not export, our knowledge is limited about systems that are exportable. As far as companies go the better of the two is FLIR.

    ATN's are not servicable and are not made in the USA. They are trying to move towards American made products but a large majority of their prodcuts are Russian.

    For thermal devices that are weapon mountable the price tag usually is around $12,000.00.


    I'm hesitant to provide any other information since our knowledge is limited as far as exportable thermal goes. Best of luck in your search.
  6. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Thanks, modarmory.

    Let's just forget the "exportable" clause for a moment. I'm definitely not going to break any laws, US or international, but I may be able to source lots of items that aren't generally considered possible to export from the US, but in some circumstances are. A good part of my collection consists of "impossible to have" items. :)

    I didn't know that ATN is mainly of russian origin; that may or may not make sourcing one fairly easy for me, but I most likely don't want one. One alternative I've considered is Aselsan Piton/Boa, but there seems to be very little information available. I'm a bit wary of chinese thermal sights like KA701 and basically anything made by manufacturers like Hubei.

    So, getting back to the practical question, what would you recommend?
  7. modarmory

    modarmory Active Member

    HQ - FLIR or L3. Its hard to forget the non exportable part....
    If people are looking for entry level handheld thermals i recommend L3 over FLIR. Yes FLIR looks great on paper but when you actually take it to the field... different story.
    From the vox constant recalibrating, rechargeable batteries that last... 30 mins in the cold and to a fixed focus - it all is a pain. L3 entry level thermals have none of those issues.

    Clipon thermals only tend to work with a 4 or 6x power scope but they are not that great.

    The Raytheon Thermal sight because of the $$$, processing technology and built in magnifcation (to name a few) makes this unit extremely attractive. It doesn't look that attractive on paper but when we compare them side by side during demonstrations people are amazed at the quality of image even though its a 320 x 240 system. Yes we compare them next to FLIR 640 x 480.

    I hope that helps!
  8. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Thank you. First hand experience is priceless, much better than just reading spec sheets and trying to make decisions with them. Not being familiar with term "L3", quick google search found mainly ATN L3 scopes. Is this what you mean by it or does "L3" have a generic meaning I'm not aware of?

    While I'm anything but brand loyal, I have very good experiences of Raytheon marine radar systems and knowing the military contract connections of the company, I'm not surprised that their thermals get recommendations.

    Recent changes in export restrictions have improved the availability of <9Hz thermals and simple Dept of Commerce export licensing for anything up to 384x288 resolution and 30Hz has reduced the amount of red tape considerably. I'm not 100% sure if that applies to thermal scopes and weapon sights like it does to thermal monoculars.
  9. modarmory

    modarmory Active Member

    L3 Warrior Systems, L3 EOTech, L3 Insight ... OOPS!

    They are most known for their holographic weapon sights and military lasers such as the PEQ15
  10. hq

    hq Well-Known Member

    Got it, thanks. I've had a number of EOTech (and earlier Bushnell Holosight) holographic sights over the years. Apparently I've missed the fact that they offer thermal sights as well. I'll have to look what's available and keep track of how the technology is going to advance during next months or, more likely, a couple of years.

    Preliminary tests with iron sights and PS24 have been more promising I originally thought. A bit ghetto, yes, but being able to hit raccoon-sized targets at 70...100 yards was a real surprise. Sights are miserably out of (fixed) focus with the PS24, but warming them just a bit with your fingers gives two glowing "dots" to line up with the target.

    I've even thought about making a simple picatinny/weaver to 8mm screw adapter to mount the PS24 on the rifle, but I doubt the device itself can stand the recoil.
  11. modarmory

    modarmory Active Member

    The fixed focus is a big let down.

    That is smart to warm up your iron sights!

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