Best Thermal Monocular 2022

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The best thermal monocular devices are those that pick out camouflaged deer in the daytime and coyotes, boars, and hogs at night with the touch of a button. This article picks out the best thermal monocular for you and your budget, considering what you want to do with them. 

A thermal monocular makes scouting and spotting easier since you won’t have to wield your firearm the whole time. Imaging in darkness is possible with good thermal monocular devices, but you cannot throw your hard-earned money at the first one that pops up on your screen. I’ll now go through the best thermal monoculars to buy in 2022. 

Also Read: 17 Best Thermal Scopes

The 10 Best Thermal Monoculars To Buy

Quick Summary: Our Top Picks For Thermal Monoculars in 2022
IMAGE PRODUCT
AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160
  • Affordable
  • With wi-fi
  • Excellent short-range performance
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AGM Taipan TM25-384
  • Adapts to all environments
  • Spots creatures through fog, snow, rain, and smoke
  • It makes creatures appear 2.5x closer than they are
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Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular
  • 750+ yard range
  • Five palettes, with adjustable intensity on the red hot variation
  • Wi-fi compatible and controllable from your mobile phone
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FLIR Systems Scout TK Mini
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Simple to use with no training needed
  • Nine color settings to choose from
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ATN OTS LT 320 6-12x
  • Long battery life of over nine hours
  • Massive long-range detection capability
  • Fast refresh rate
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Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35
  • Rechargeable battery with long life
  • Many great features
  • It’s able to work at very low temperatures
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FLIR Breach PTQ136
  • Mini-rail for hands-free operation or mounting onto other equipment
  • Light and compact for hiding on gear
  • Higher-end price range
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AGM Asp TM35-640
  • More detailed images due to larger sensor
  • Precise differentiation of thermal signatures
  • Long range detection
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ATN OTS 4T 640 4-40x Smart HD
  • Extremely long-range detection
  • Simple to use with smooth zoom
  • Long-lasting battery life of 16+ hours
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Infiray DP09 Thermal Imaging Monoculars
  • Compact
  • Mid-range resolution
  • Rechargeable CR123 battery
VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →

Various factors make a thermal monocular good enough to appear on this list, and it largely depends on what you will use yours for. I’ve listed ten thermal monoculars that I think will give you the best value for money and get the job done.

AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 – Best For Small Budget

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The AGM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 delivers solid quality without breaking the bank. As the name suggests, the Asp-Micro TM160 is handheld and fits easily into your pocket.

The battery-powered Asp-Micro TM160 features a fixed focus 720×540 LCOS display with 2x, 4x, and 8x digital zoom. It captures pictures and videos in its 8GB storage with a 6.2mm focal lens.

With its 160×120 thermal detector, the Asp-Micro TM160 is not giving you the best thermal imaging in the world, but it quickly detects coyotes and hogs on your property. Weighing only 0.6lbs, you’ll hardly notice it’s there. 

Hunting, patrolling, search and rescue, and hiking are just a few of the activities the Asp-Micro TM160 is best suited to with its ability to detect and mark the highest temperature hotspot. The Asp-Micro TM160 marks the bottom and top of the target and inputs the target height, activating the distance measuring function.

To put it into perspective, hogs and deers are detectable at 120-150 yards, while possums and raccoons are easily noticeable over 100 yards. The Asp-Micro TM160 detects squirrels and similar-sized creatures over 50+ yards. One user reported tracking a field mouse for 35 yards before disappearing. It is one of the best options for short-range hunting. 

As far as small budgets go, the Asp-Micro TM160 is as good as it gets. It delivers on what the specs say and maybe a little more with pricing just right for an entry-level model. 

Pros

  • Very well priced
  • Excellent short-range performance
  • Supports distance measurement and pallet switch
  • Also has wi-fi 

Cons

  • Built-in battery which is not serviceable after a 10-hour lifespan
  • Limited creature identification 

Also Read: 7 Best Night Vision Scopes for Coyote Hunting

AGM Taipan TM25-384 – Best For Hog Hunting

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With its 2.5x magnification and ability to detect heat signatures up to 1,290 yards, the AGM Taipan TM25-384 is the best thermal monocular for hunting hogs and coyotes. Long-range hunters who put the miles into tracking and monitoring big game behavior will appreciate being able to work through the fog and see in the dark.

The Taipan TM25-384 has a 1280×960 LCOS display and a 384×288 infrared detector. It also comes with a 12μm high sensitivity thermal detector which can rapidly spot animals in extreme conditions like snow, smoke, rain, and fog. However, as with all long-range thermal monocular devices, you will find it more challenging to see closer creatures.

You get a fast 50Hz refresh rate on imaging with 8x digital zoom on the Taipan TM25-384. There is 8GB memory for video recording and still images and a wi-fi hotspot function with parameter settings when connected to your phone.  

The AGM Global Vision designers ensured the Taipan TM25-384 was waterproof to complement the device’s extreme weather attributes. You also get three image view variations: fusion, visible light, and thermal, to adapt to any environment easily. 

The Tapian TM25-384 operates on a lithium rechargeable battery with a 7.5-hour operating life when the wi-fi is off. There is an option of plugging in external power for more prolonged usage. Keep in mind that replacing the battery by yourself is impossible.

Pros

  • Adapts to all environments with three image view variations
  • Spots creatures through fog, snow, rain, and smoke
  • It makes creatures appear 2.5x closer than they are

Cons

  • Built-in battery that you cannot replace yourself
  • Limited view of creatures when they’re near 

Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular – Best All-Around Monocular

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Save for the price, and the Burris Thermal Handheld is the best all-around monocular on this list. Clear images, fast refresh rate, five palettes, detection range, and more are all together in this 3lb device for excellent all-around performance.

One of the standout features of the Burris Thermal Handheld is that you can control and record from your phone with a real-time wi-fi connection via the Burris Thermal App. The smooth zoom works exceptionally well as you stay locked onto the target, which can be up to 750+ yards away. 

There are five color palettes on the Burris Handheld: iron, blue hot, black hot, white hot, and red hot. You can adjust the intensity when set to red hot and cut out lingering residual hot spots on very dark nights. The contrast and brightness are fully adjustable thanks to stadiametric ranging.

User reviews of the Burris Handheld testify to seeing animals to the range of this monocular, with one talking about seeing geese flying over 200 yards away at night. Horses are easily visible at over 850 yards, according to Amazon customers. 

The inbuilt battery will give you a non-stop operation of around five hours, depending on how long you have the wi-fi functionality on. There is a power save mode to help extend battery life.  

There are two sizes of the Burris Handheld Thermal. One comes with a 35mm lens, and the more expensive one has a 50mm lens. Both come with the 400×300 sensor, 50Hz refresh rate, and 17μm pixel size, which combine with all the other features for an extremely clear and sharp image at the darkest of times. 

Pros 

  • 750+ yard range
  • Five palettes, with adjustable intensity on the red hot variation
  • Wi-fi compatible and controllable from your mobile phone

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey

FLIR Systems Scout TK Mini – Best For Home Security

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The FLIR Systems Scout TK Mini is the best thermal monocular for exploring and scouting the outdoors at night. Its lightweight and its ability to see people 100 yards away make it an excellent option for personal and home security.

At 6oz, the Scout TK Mini is lighter than the TM160 I mentioned. It even comes with a lanyard so you can hang it around your neck without discomfort. The shell is rugged and weatherproof to withstand outdoor elements.

The TK Scout Mini has a simple four-button interface and starts up within seconds. Something to always remember about such thermal monocular devices is they do not see through glass. There are nine color settings to choose from, and the sensitivity auto-adjusts as you move through different temperatures.

The TK Scout Mini has a 640×480 LCD display with a 160×120 thermal sensor. It has video recording functionality and takes pictures. A short press for images and a long press for video on the interface is all it takes. The Li-Ion battery works for up to five hours and is rechargeable with a USB cable. 

What makes the FLIR Systems Scout TK Mini one of the best thermal monoculars is its portability and user-friendliness. Whether in the great outdoors or the backyard, the Scout TK Mini will keep you aware of the surroundings. You can let your young ones look around as no training is needed to use the Scout TK Mini thermal monocular. 

Pros 

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Simple to use with no training needed
  • Nine color settings to choose from

Cons

  • Minimal creature identification 

ATN OTS LT 320 6-12x – Best For Long Range

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The ATN OTS LT 320 6-12x has the most extended battery life of all the thermal monocular devices listed in this article. The inbuilt battery gives you more than nine hours of operation in this long-range imaging piece. ATN’s OTS LT series has proven popular in the market, with the 320 6-12x being the best thermal monocular for long-range spotting and hunting.

A 320×240, 12µm, 60Hz sensor gives the OTS LT 320 6-12x fantastic focus and clarity powered by ATN’s Obsidian LT Core technology. The Cutting Edge software in the sensor provides the OTS with LT 320 6-12x that extra range. You get two palette settings of black hot or white hot with pixel calibration that helps when conditions are conducive for thermal imaging.

Most users noted that the OTS LT 320 6-12x is easy to set up, and it took them a matter of minutes to get through the settings. The lightweight, compact, and ergonomic design make it easy to carry around, with some users preferring to hang it around the neck. 

The detection range of the OTS LT 320 6-12x is 1800+ yards, the recognition range is 700+ yards, and the identification range is 400+ yards. These are impressive figures for any hunting enthusiast, coupled with a 6-12x magnification appearing in the model’s name.  

The fast refresh rate of 60Hz, HD display, and magnification of up to 12x make the OTS LT 320 6-12x a fantastic option for that hunting expedition, with the pricing matching what you get in performance. 

Pros

  • Long battery life of over nine hours
  • Massive long-range detection capability
  • Fast refresh rate

Cons

  • The battery is built-in.

Also Read: Best Spotting Scope for 1000 yards

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 

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The Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 thermal monocular is a high-end buy with features that make it easy to overlook the price. Pulsar is a solid brand that delivers quality thermal monoculars consistently, with the Axion series being right up there as one of the best.

One of the standout features of the Axion 2 XQ35 is the 640×400 AMOLED display which works at lower temperatures than the LCOS display mentioned in other parts of this article. If you’re going to be hunting over frozen waters, the AMOLED display is the one for you. The Axion 2 XQ35 is set to work at -13F.

The Axion 2 XQ35 comes with a detection range of over 1,400 yards, and that AMOLED display gives you crisp, clear images of the target across eight palette settings. It also helps that the Axion 2 XQ35 is fully booted in just five seconds, with the rechargeable APS5 Li-Ion battery giving a whopping 11 hours of operation.

There is a picture-in-picture mode with 16GB of internal storage available on the Axion 2 XQ35, and you can do both video and still images. You also get 16GB free cloud and Stream Vision 2 storage support. The impressive range of features is packed into a thermal monocular that fits into your pocket.

Pulsar used lightweight magnesium alloy for the housing to maintain ergonomics and the small weight of 0.8lbs while still getting ruggedness and high-quality rigidity. It’s not cheap, but the feature-laden Axion 2 XQ35 is exceptional for all types of hunting, including elk, deer, hog, and more.   

Pros

  • Rechargeable battery with long life
  • Many great features
  • It’s able to work at very low temperatures

Cons

  • It’s not cheap

FLIR Breach PTQ136

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Now here is a thermal monocular made with those in law enforcement and a similar line of work in mind. The FLIR Breach PTQ136 is designed for tactical or covert operations, although it is also helpful in short-range hunting.  

The Breach PTQ136 features a mini rail, which is not common in monoculars, for hands-free operations. It can also be mounted onto other equipment and is a valuable asset for those that rely on body cams to execute duties. At 0.46lbs, the Breach PTQ136 does not add recognizable weight to an officer’s gear or helmet.

There is better day/night classification and detection because of the fantastic image clarity from advanced image processing of the FLIR Boson thermal core. You can spot the heat of suspects, creatures, and objects in absolute darkness, another invaluable asset for law enforcement. 

Big retail sites like Amazon offer the Breach PTQ136 with a 12-pack of the CR123A battery because you will not get more than 90 minutes of continuous operation from the one inside the device. Some users say they used it for more than 2 hours for spotting and viewing only. It is advisable to have an extra pack of batteries with you at all times if you decide to use the Breach PTQ136 for a prolonged period.

It can store up to 2.5 hours of video time and 1,000 images in the Breach PTQ136’s internal storage. Documentation of operations or video evidence is a breeze, with multiple palette settings for viewing.  

Pros

  • Mini-rail for hands-free operation or mounting onto other equipment
  • Light and compact for hiding on gear
  • Video recording

Cons

  • Higher-end price range
  • Limited battery life for more prolonged operations

AGM Asp TM35-640

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AGM Global makes yet another appearance on the best thermal monocular list with the Asp TM35-640. Equipped with a 640×512 infrared detector which captures 300% more thermal heat than the 384×288 sensors, the Asp TM35-640 gives more detailed imaging.

The Asp TM35-640 has a 1024×768 OLED display and 50Hz refresh rate with up to 8x digital zoom, which helps identify creatures. With an identification range of 400+ yards, you can easily differentiate between a buck and a doe when the need arises.

You also get a recognition range of 800+ yards and a detection range of 3400+ yards, which is impressive. The OLED display has more contrast than the AMOLED one, allowing for more precise identification of thermal signatures.  

You can connect your Asp TM35-640 to your mobile phone and set parameters via the APP as you record videos or take still images for storing in the 16GB internal storage. The battery has a five-hour lifespan but is not user-replaceable, something that a few thermal monocular devices have in common.

The Asp TM35-640 supports distance measurement and has palette switch capabilities. Like most AGM thermal monoculars, the Asp TM35-640 marks the top and bottom of the target and inputs target height to realize the distance measure feature. It is suitable for patrolling, search and rescue, hiking, and hunting with its ability to see clearly in darkness.  

Pros

  • More detailed images due to larger sensor
  • Precise differentiation of thermal signatures
  • Long range detection

Cons

  • The battery is not user-replaceable for those that like fast swapping.

ATN OTS 4T 640 4-40x Smart HD

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After all the talk about batteries in this article, ATN weighs in with the best thermal monocular for marathon hunts. The OTS 4T 640 4-40x has a battery life of no less than 16 hours which can be pushed to 18+ hours, depending on the activity. It is the only thermal monocular on this list that gives the confidence to go out hunting without ever thinking about where to find a recharging port. 

You miss fewer details and scan fields much quicker thanks to the OTS 4T 640 4-40x’s 60Hz refresh rate, backed by a 640×480 thermal detector powered by ATN Obsidian IV Dual core. The minimum magnification of 4x, controlled by a simple spin of the zoom wheel, puts the power of scanning without fear of being seen firmly in the hunter’s hands.

The detection range of 3,600+ yards is massive while still delivering high-quality images with a smart range finder. If you’re looking for extreme range, your search ends with the ATN OTS 4T 640 4-40x. It’s a high-end thermal monocular for those willing to spend a little more on getting the best features.

There is an SD card slot in the OTS 640 4-40x capable of taking a 64GB memory card for recorded videos and still images. With the extended battery life, getting a maximum-capacity memory card is not a bad idea. You get wi-fi streaming and Bluetooth on this device, which ATN has touted as the next generation of thermal sensors.    

Pros

  • Extremely long-range detection
  • Simple to use with smooth zoom
  • Long-lasting battery life of 16+ hours

Cons

  • No built-in storage

Infiray DP09 Thermal Imaging Monoculars

Infiray DP09 Thermal Imaging Monoculars

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The last monocular on my list is also one of the smallest, but it still manages to pack a lot into such a compact frame. 

The Infiray DP09 Thermal Imaging Monoculars weigh just 85g and, at just shy of 8cm long/4cm wide, it’s the perfect size for pockets. This makes it easy to take with you wherever you go and won’t weigh your jacket down with unnecessary bulkiness.  

Its compact size is arguably its best feature, but it also comes with a magnification range of 1-2x, ideal for spotting close targets in even better detail. The lens’ thermal sensitivity starts at 60mK, which is good for something at this price point.

With a refresh rate of 25Hz, the Infiray DP09 lacks the fluid clarity of some of the other monoculars I’ve highlighted, but if you’re a patient hunter, this shouldn’t prove too much of a disadvantage. 

The focal length is on the low end at 9mm, but this also means that the FOV is wider than some monoculars. In short, if you’re looking for a thermal monocular suited to something like backyard use, the Infiray DP09 should fit the bill. 

Pros

  • Compact
  • Mid-range resolution (256×192 pixels)
  • Rechargeable CR123 battery

Cons

  • Low magnification range
  • Not as durable as other monoculars

Points To Consider When Buying A Thermal Monocular

Best Thermal Monocular

The best thermal monocular devices do not come cheap, so it is vital to carefully weigh up all your options before parting with your money. In no particular order, here are the other factors to consider while shopping for a thermal monocular. 

Detection range

Generally, better quality monoculars have a longer detection range. Some of the best thermal monocular devices can detect heat signatures up to, but not limited to, 4,000 yards. 

Identifying and distinguishing what you’re seeing is an underlying factor to keep in mind here. Before reaching for your rifle, it’s essential to know whether your monocular has detected a person, elk, or deer. 

If you intend to use your monocular in the confines of the backyard, there is no need to spend extra on a long-range detection device. 

Display resolution

Pixels make up the display, and the more pixels you have, the better the image quality. Cheaper thermal monoculars will have a 160×120 resolution, while at the high-end, you’ll get resolutions of 640×480. 

There is a 500% difference in the number of pixels between a 160×120(19,200 pixels) resolution and a 384×288(110,592 pixels) display. Since more pixels mean better images, you are better off buying a 384×288 than a 160×120 if display resolution is the deal-breaker.  

The certainty at which you can spot and identify creatures strongly depends on the image’s quality on your display. 

Refresh rate

The speed at which a thermal monocular refreshes to present a more natural image is essential, especially if the target is moving or you’re on a moving vehicle or platform. A 30Hz refresh rate might seem the same as 60Hz when stationary, but it is too slow when there is movement. 

Thermal monoculars with a 60Hz refresh rate cost a little more because you can scan a field and spot at a much faster rate. Typically, a refresher rate of 50Hz works well with most thermal monocular devices.   

Battery life

As you have seen in this article, several batteries are not user-friendly for replacing or swapping. A battery that cannot last an hour might not be worth it as you will get very little done, whatever the activity. 

The battery also affects the monocular’s temperature, so be aware of this as well. A battery with a five-hour lifespan but is easily replaceable is not a bad deal. Anything over 12 hours of continuous operating time in a thermal monocular is not typical and will affect the price.   

Operating temperature

Some thermal monoculars will fizzle out if the temperature is too high or too low. The thermal monocular’s response to temperatures depends on the technology or software and the battery. 

Checking on the temperature range before buying will save you the disappointment of losing your target over frozen waters because the monocular failed to work. The operating temperature might be less of a factor if you’re buying a thermal monocular for personal and home security, with little chance of the device ever leaving the house.

Magnification

Magnification

Short-range thermal monoculars have a base magnification that makes creatures appear 1.4x to 1.5x closer. Some don’t have any magnification at all. Mid-range and long-range monocular devices typically have a zoom that starts at 2.5x. 

The best thermal monocular devices have in-built software to reduce image distortion when using digital zoom. Magnification, or zoom, takes more importance when hunting than when used as a body cam, for example. 

If you’re a serious hunter, then the zoom capabilities of a monocular should be high on your checklist, as it might be the difference between a trophy and a tag.  

Color palettes

The settings associated with color palettes help distinguish between targets and the background. Some thermal monoculars have two modes, black hot and white hot. Warmer objects are black in black hot mode, and warmer objects are white in white hot mode. 

That is sometimes enough because you can clearly distinguish between a person and an animal, depending on the display type and resolution. It is also closely linked to how we view the world as humans. A decent thermal monocular will have adjustable palette parameters or settings. 

Identification range

If you’re a hunter that fully understands the different animal movements, then identification range might not be as significant a factor as it is for the rest of us. The identification range is typically less than the detection range on thermal monoculars. 

High-quality thermal monoculars can positively identify a creature and put a clear image on the display for you to see and make your next informed move. A coyote and dog look the same on an average monocular, while a high-quality monocular will save you from explaining why you shot the neighbor’s pet. 

Warranty

Thermal monoculars are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Always look out for the best warranty to cover your investment before buying. Whether for hunting as a hobby, sport, profession or for home security, the thermal monocular forms an essential part of that everyday activity. 

Reliable and trustworthy brands, like the ones in this article, will always offer an affordable warranty on all their products as part of customer care services. Check the type of cover the thermal monocular has to avoid regrets later. 

FAQs

Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions as I round out this article which I hope has been helpful to you. 

How far can you see with a thermal monocular?

It depends on the thermal monocular’s detection, identification, and recognition range. Some monocular devices can spot an object 3,000 yards away, while others will only positively identify creatures within 100 yards. 

The display type and resolution will determine what you think you see in the distance. There is no definite answer to this question, as thermal monocular features vary. 

Which is better, thermal or night vision?

Thermal vision can easily detect an animal concealed in long grass, but night vision is better at identifying and recognizing objects and creatures because it amplifies nearby visible light. However, thermal vision is better overall because it works night and day.

What is the difference between infrared and thermal imaging?

Infrared imaging gives a single temperature measurement of one spot on the target. A spot pyrometer or temp gun, also known as an IR thermometer, is used. Thermal imaging allows you to see an entire scene in thermal by giving temperature readings of each pixel in the entire image. Warmer objects appear in a different color on the thermal image.

Also Read: 7 Best Night Vision Scopes in 2022

In Conclusion, Go And Buy This Thermal Monocular

I think a monocular that does the job while remaining almost unseen is the best thermal monocular to buy. The Burris Handheld Thermal ticks all the boxes for me with all its features. I like the power save mode that allows for precious extended battery life. It is compact enough to hang around your neck or slip into the pocket for little or no inconvenience. 

A 750+ yard detection range with the smooth zoom means I keep both eyes on the prize while ensuring I know exactly what I aim at. There are also five palette modes, with one that is adjustable to make the image even better. 
The refresh rate is just right at 50Hz, with a 17μm pixel size that gives clear and quality images. What are you waiting for? Go and get the best thermal monocular now.  

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