Shopping for a clip-on thermal scope for your hunting rifle?
If you have been looking for a clip-on thermal scope then you’ve come to the right place.
Clip-on thermal scopes are designed to quickly clip onto your existing day scope. A clip-on thermal scope allows you to quickly switch between normal and thermal optics without removing your riflescope.The biggest advantage of a clip-on is convenience. Instead of constantly switching between your day scope and thermal scope, you keep your day scope on the rifle and attach the thermal clip-on only when you need to see through bushes, smoke, dust, or some other obstruction.
A thermal clip-on is also handy when it gets dark.
A clip-on thermal scope is versatile in that you can also use it as a standalone monocular to survey your surroundings.
By the way, you don’t need to re-zero your riflescope when you attach or remove the clip-on.
What’s in This Buying Guide?
In this buying guide, we review and compare the best clip-on thermal scopes you can buy online. We also give you tips on what to look for when shopping for a clip-on thermal scope.
If you are looking for a normal thermal scope, look at our reviews of the best cheap thermal scopes.
If you wonder whether to buy a thermal or night vision scope, read on the differences between thermal and night vision
Top 8 Clip-on Thermal Scopes
ATN TICO LT 320 25 mm
Best For Extended Range
1280 x 960 pixels
ATN TICO LT 160 25 mm
Best Budget Thermal Scope
1280 x 960 pixels
PRG Defense TC50-Micro
1x optical; 2x, 4x digital
AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro
AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3
Burris BTC 35 1 x 35 mm
Best Multi-Reticle Thermal Scope
theOpticGuru Thor LT
Best for beginners
Bering Optics BEAST-C 336
The ATN TICO LT 320 25 mm provides excellent image quality even at extended ranges. It has a detection range of 910 yards, a recognition range of 455 yards, and an identification range of 299 yards.
- 8-hour battery life
- Wide field of view
- 3-year warranty
- Accurately detects smaller game at a distance
- Weather-resistant, but not waterproof
The ATN TICO LT 320 Digital Thermal Clip-On provides excellent imaging performance even at extended ranges. Its 320 x 240 sensor provides 910/455/299 yards of detection, recognition, and identification range, respectively.
The TICO LT thermal sensor has a 12-micron pixel pitch and a 60 Hz refresh rate that generates clear and crisp images up to 900 yards.
This thermal scope is compatible with 45.5mm to 50mm objective lenses. The TICO LT 320 includes a 25 mm objective lens with an 8.8 x 6.6° field of view and magnification of 0.5-1x.
The optics produce clear images on a white-hot or black color palette and display them on the HD-resolution 1280 x 960 micro-display.
The TICO LT 320 is really intuitive to use.
The built-in lithium-ion battery provides an incredible run time of up to 8 hours.
And while this unit may not be waterproof, it is weather resistant.
This ATN clip-on thermal scope comes with additional accessories like a carrying case, USB cable, and a lens tissue for proper storage and maintenance of the scope.
Finally, it is backed by a limited 3-year warranty.
Issues and Limitations
The main problem with the TICO LT is that it is not waterproof, it’s weather-resistant. Which means you can’t use it in heavy rain or drop in a creek.
The ATN TICO LT 320 Digital Thermal Clip-On is perfect for long-range game hunters who want the best resolution down-range.
The TICO LT is a basic budget thermal scope without all the bells and whistles that make the scope difficult to use. It has an extended battery life of 10 hours.
And with its 625-yard detection range and 210-yard identification range, the LT 160 is perfect for mid-range shooting.
- Long battery life
- 160 x 120 sensor with a 17-micron pixel pitch
- No zeroing required
- 3-year warranty
- Not for long-range hunting
- Can’t handle large recoil
The ATN TICO LT 160 25 mm is equipped with a 160 x 120 sensor and delivers a detection/recognition/ identification range of 625/315/210 yards.
The LT 160 has a 17-micron pixel pitch and a 60 Hz refresh rate, which is starting to be an old standard today.
The LT 160 comes with a 25mm lens that offers a 6.2 x 4.7° field of view to make sure you have an eye on the surroundings.
Images are displayed as white-hot or black hot on the 1280 x 960 HD micro-display, which is kind of overkill for the limitations of its thermal image sensor, in our opinion.
ATN claims the LT 160 can mount within seconds on rifle scopes that use 45.5-50mm objective lenses.
It has an internal lithium-ion battery that offers up to a 10-hour battery life.
The LT 160 comes with additional accessories, including a carrying case, lens tissue, and USB cable.
Issues and Limitations
The ATN TICO LT 160 has an identification range of just 210 yards and a detection range of 625 yards, which is only barely suitable for long-range hunting.
The ATN TICO LT 160 is the base model in the ATN TICO LT thermal scope series.
And even though it is a basic model with a 160 x 120 sensor and a 25mm lens, it is good enough for mid-range hunting.
If you want the best bang for your buck, the Anaconda TS50-Micro by PRG Defense is the best clip-on thermal scope.
It provides good thermal optics at a reasonable price.
- Good resolution and refresh rate.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Long battery life.
- Optional WiFi module.
- Video out option.
- HD OLED display.
- Not ideal for long-range hunting.
The Anaconda TS50-Micro is packed with many great features and high-quality thermal optics, for a relatively affordable price.
Let's start with the optics. You get a 384x288, a 17-micron sensor paired to a 50mm objective lens with up to 4x zoom.
These specs are good enough for most hunters.
You get a comfortable 60mm eye relief and a high definition 1024x768 OLED display on the eyepiece end of the scope.
The Anaconda TS50-Micro is compatible with all kinds of day scopes with magnification up to 8x. The scope itself has two levels of digital zoom; 2x and 4x.
The TC50-Micro is one of the lightest clip-on thermal scopes you can get, making it a good choice for hunters who don't want to add too much weight to their rifle.
Despite its compact and lightweight design, it is designed to withstand rough conditions and strong recoil. The TC50-Micro is waterproof.
Battery life from the two CR123 batteries is about 5 hours. You can get up to 44 hours with an external battery pack, which is sold separately.
Another accessory you might want to get is the external WiFi module. It turns the TC50-Micro into a smart scope that you can control from your smartphone.
If you'd like to record video with the TC50-Micro, you'll also need an external DVR.
Issues & Limitations
If you often hunt in open ranges, the Anaconda TC50-Micro is probably not the right clip-on thermal scope for you.
Given the average 384x288 resolution and 50mm objective lens, you'll detect animals only up to around 500 yards. To recognize which animal it is, track it, and make a successful shot, you'll need to be even closer.
If you do a lot of long-range hunting, we recommend a clip-on with a 640x480 resolution, a 75-100mm objective lens, and 4x or more in zoom.
The Anaconda TS50-Micro
is a great choice for looking for a well-priced clip-on thermal scope with good optics and build quality.
AGM Global Vision is known for manufacturing exceptional thermal imaging and night vision weapon sights, thermal scopes, and clip-on systems.
The compact and lightweight AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro is a great addition to any hunter's bag.
To use correctly, the Anaconda should be mounted in front of your daytime glass to provide enhanced thermal capabilities without having to re-zero your optic. It does not provide magnification, just night vision.
- Lightweight product crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum
- A waterproof and shockproof scope that you can use in any weather
- Turns your daytime optics into a powerful riflescope
- Designed with a high-resolution OLED display
- Powerful batteries offer almost five hours of working time
- A fixed magnification rate of 1x may be a hindrance when you need to zoom in more.
The AGM thermal clip-on system is constructed with an uncooled thermal detector and has a pixel resolution of 384x288, which allows it to capture even the slightest temperature variation in the field.
It is designed with a typical OLED display with 1024x768 pixels, thus ensuring that thermal images are vivid and sharp.
You can also record these images and videos by connecting wirelessly to the app. The thermal sensor can process, detect, and deliver even with a range of temperatures varying from -25 to -50 degrees Celsius.
This thermal imaging scope has ten brightness levels, so you have the option to change the display brightness depending on the ambient light and your target.
Moreover, the thermal sensor has a refresh rate of 50Hz, thus providing you with a crystal clear and vibrant picture of your target.
This thermal clip-on system is fitted with a high-quality 50mm objective glass lens. With a magnification range of 1x and 24mm eye relief, you can easily get your target in sight without causing any eye strain.
The AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro Compact Imaging Clip-on System can change your daytime optic into an impressive thermal imaging scope without any special tools.
These scopes are shockproof and waterproof, thus allowing you to use them on weapons with heavy recoil and in any weather conditions.
Limitations and Issues
The AGM Global Vision clip-on system offers a fixed magnification of 1x, which means it's definitely not the right choice if you're looking for a clip-on scope to replace your day glass.
The AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro is an effective clip-on system that transforms your daytime optic into a night hunting riflescope.
Lightweight and compact, the AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 is a thermal imaging accessory that ensures a perfect hunting experience.
With innovative features, such as rapid conversion from daylight to nighttime conditions and Wi-Fi data transmission, this sleek and stylish night vision system is a must for a memorable hunting expedition.
- Quickly converts daytime scopes into night vision devices
- Mounts in front of any daytime scope
- Quick-release mount
- 7x magnification
- Long battery life
- 80mm objective lens
- Fixed magnification can be a disadvantage.
The AGM Comanche 22 NL3 is constructed using the latest innovations in night vision clip-on technology.
It delivers exceptional versatility, reliability, and clarity to ensure an outstanding mid-range nighttime shooting experience at the lowest possible price.
You can easily mount it to a Picatinny or a standard Weaver rail in front of an existing day scope to transform it into a Night Vision device without needing any zeroing.
Equipped with wireless remote control and a quick-release mount, you can use this scope with day scopes having up to 7x magnification for excellent performance.
This night vision system easily converts your daytime scope into a night vision device, allowing you to successfully carry on your hunting activities, whether it is nighttime, dawn, or dusk.
Its 80mm lens diameter delivers images that are brighter and higher in contrast.
This system uses a 3V CR123A or a single Alkaline 1.5V AA battery that is easily available and allows you to enjoy your hunting trip for extended hours.
Limitations and Issues
The AGM Comanche 22 is not very good at handling recoil, which is why it is not suitable for .308 Win calibers and stronger. As a result, you might be limited in what you mount this clip-on to.
The Comanche 22 is a great night vision clip-on scope that works efficiently to provide you with instant night vision benefits.
Equipped with 60 hours of battery time, this scope will last for the hunt, patrol session, and whatever else you need it for.
The Burris BTC thermal scope features a high-resolution screen with adjustable brightness and contrast. Its multi-reticle capability allows you to aim at different distances with more accuracy.
- High-resolution screen
- 4 color palettes
- Adjustable brightness and contrast
- IP67 rating
- Cannot save images
The Burris BTC 35 provides high-quality thermal imaging for spotting downed deer and camouflaged prey.
It is designed to work as a handheld thermal monocular, not a fixed scope. You can mount it on your regular riflescope, however, to make it a fully-operational thermal riflescope.
It features 4x power zoom, so you can easily focus on prey at a wide range of distances.
Plus, the multiple color palettes provide different contrast in different lighting conditions, while the multi-reticle capability allows accurate shooting in different hunting conditions.
The included color palettes are black hot, white-hot, red hot, and green hot.
The BTC 35 is equipped with hot track technology, which helps you to spot heat signatures in the field swiftly and conveniently.
This spotter-scope also features a stadiametric rangefinder to calculate the range of targets at a distance. It works on CR123 batteries and has a useful battery life of 3 hours.
Issues and Limitations
The Burris BTC 35 doesn’t let you save images or videos to view later, which is slightly disappointing, considering its price.
This unit has a high-resolution screen with adjustable brightness and contrast.
Alongside offering multiple color palettes to fit different ambient lighting conditions, while its multi-reticle capability allows you to shoot accurately from different distances.
The Thor LT Thermal scope is a minimal product without any bells and whistles that you may find in pricier thermal scopes. As a result, it is one of the most affordable products available.
With many essential features such as one-shot zero, zoom, long battery life, and decent resolution, Thor LT is perfect for people who have just taken up hunting or do not have a big budget for a thermal scope.
- Long battery life
- Advanced heat detection sensors give you visibility even in total darkness
- 30mm tube scope constructed from hardened aluminum alloy
- Lightweight and easy to mount
- Recoil resistant to high caliber weapons
- Not suitable for long-range shooting
- One-shot zero function tends to slip
The Thor LT is a perfect combination of quality, affordability, and performance. Designed with a 160x120 sensor, this scope is great for short-range hunting and beginners.
Moreover, it has a high refresh rate of 60Hz that makes it easy for shooters to track their target.
As you move the rifle to track your game, the image remains almost perfectly smooth.
The high refresh rate of the ThOR LT is especially handy when hunting packs of animals such as boars or coyote. After your first shot, you'll still see the remaining targets clearly as they scatter.
The Thor LT is equipped with an impressive 1280x720 HD display, which is a higher resolution than most thermal scopes in this price range.
This scope is remarkably light and very easy to use, too.
This Thor LT scope offers more than 10 hours of battery power, which easily covers most hunts.
With hardened aluminum alloy construction and weather-resistant IP rating, this scope can not only face adverse weather conditions but provides a bit of recoil resistance.
Limitations and Issues
theOpticsGuru ThOR LT lacks some modern features like ballistic calculations and WI-Fi streaming, which are often included in today's thermal scopes.
However, this ThOR LT is highly effective in detecting body heat through smoke, fog, dense vegetation, and total darkness.
theOpticsGuru Thor LT is a great option if you want a simple, economic, and no-frills thermal scope.
If you are looking for a night vision clip-on system with a high resolution, look no further than the Bering Optics BEAST - this scope offers an impressive sensor resolution of 336x256 pixels and an amazing display resolution of 800x600 pixels.
- Compact and lightweight
- It can be mounted easily in front of daytime scope
- Superior build
- Easy-to-use control buttons
- Water-, dust-, and shock-proof
- Switchable image polarity
This Bering Optics lightweight thermal imaging clip-on system is designed for long-range detection. Even at a distance of 1000 meters, shooters will have no trouble in detecting targets.
The Bering Optics BEAST is nitrogen-purged to deliver optimum performance in hunting and shooting grounds.
This feature also makes this clip-on waterproof, thus enhancing its ability to perform in extreme weather conditions such as fog, smoke, dust, haze, and many others.
Constructed with military-grade material, this night vision clip-on system is highly durable. It is powered by two CR123 rechargeable batteries that offer almost four hours of continuous operation time.
Another great thing about this product is that it is designed with a battery status indicator, which allows you to monitor the charge left in the battery.
Issues and limitations
Some shooters have found the reticle of this clip-on very small, which makes it hard for them to make out the different markings.
The Bering Optics BEAST C366 is a lightweight, durable, and compact clip-on system that is ready for action in any lighting or environmental conditions.
Clip-on Thermal Scope Buying Guide
Buying a thermal scope usually requires extensive research of many products to find the best one. This can be daunting.
To save you a bit of time, the following buying guide will walk you through all you need to know to select the right clip-on thermal scope for your application.
Benefits of Clip-On Thermal Scopes
If you want, you could certainly buy a full-size thermal scope for your rifle. But if you also make heavy use of your day scope, you'll need to constantly switch between it and the thermal scope once it gets snowy, foggy, dusty, or dark.
Instead of constantly switching between the two, why not add thermal imaging capability to your current day scope?
That's exactly what a clip-on does. It mounts on your rifle in front of your day scope, allowing you to view thermal optics through your day sight.
A clip-on is designed to be easy and quick to mount and remove from the rifle.
So when you need to quickly switch to thermal imaging (e.g., if an animal is hard to spot through the bushes, or it becomes foggy), it takes just a couple of seconds to attach the clip-on.
Thermal clip-ons don't need re-zeroing once you've mounted it on your rifle. As long as you've already zeroed your day scope, you are good to go.
Another advantage of clip-on thermal scopes is that they are usually lighter and smaller than a full-size thermal scope.
This makes for easier portability and ensures you don't add too much weight to your rifle.
Some clip-on also offers a video recording option via a video-out port and cable. This is handy if you'd like to record your hunts.
What are Clip-on Thermal Scopes and How Do They Work?
Clip-on thermal scopes are designed to be quickly attached and detached from your rifle to see in low-lighting conditions as you need it.
Clip-on scopes provide flexibility in your hunt by letting you quickly convert your daytime optics into a powerful night-time hunting tool.
Clip-on thermal scopes mount on a rifle quickly and do not require zeroing.
They are equipped with powerful sensors and multi-coated glass optics to provide crisp and clear images of your hunt, even in poor lighting.
Some clip-on thermal scopes can be directly attached to the rifle, whereas others require an extended Picatinny rail or a four-end bracket with a Picatinny rail to attach to the rifle.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Clip-on Thermal Scope
Generally, you'd look for the same things in a thermal scope that you look for in a clip-on thermal scope. Here are the most important ones.
Make sure the clip-on is compatible with your day scope. Size is not really an issue. Clip-on thermal scopes are designed to go with a wide range of day scope lens sizes.
The most important thing to check is magnification. Manufacturers of clip-on scopes will recommend the minimum and maximum zoom of the day scope you can use the clip-on with.
The most important thing is the thermal capability of the clip-on. How far can it be? How good is the resolution? Can you zoom?
- Thermal resolution: 384x288 is the recommended minimum for a clip-on thermal scope. With this resolution, image quality is pretty good, and you can detect animals as far as 500 yards. A 640x480 clip-on scope will let you see as far as 1,000 yards, and image quality is excellent for more money.
- Objective lens size: Get a clip-on with a minimum 50mm objective lens. 50mm is great for close and mid-range hunting. If you do a lot of long-range hunting, get a 75mm or 100mm lens.
- Zoom: Most thermal clip-on offers up to 4x zoom, with pricier models going as high as 12x. This zoom can be digital zoom only or a combo of optical and digital zoom. The latter is better if you want to zoom in without making the image all grainy.
- Refresh rate: We highly recommend a 60 Hz refresh rate for hunting instead of a lower 30 Hz frame rate. It eliminates lag when you are moving or tracking a moving animal.
Size and Weight
A compact and lightweight clip-on is not just good for portability; it also ensures you don't make your rifle too heavy, affecting balance and accuracy.
If your day scope is already on the heavier side, look for a lightweight clip-on thermal scope.
A bright and crisp display is important to easily detect and track animals. We recommend getting a clip-on with a display resolution of at least 640x480. For even better viewing, get an HD display with a higher resolution of 800×600, 1024x768 or higher.
As you check the display, check whether you can adjust the brightness of the display and change color palettes of the thermal image.
Most clip-on thermal scopes provide around 4-5 hours of battery life using a pair of CR123 batteries. If you want more battery life, your best option is getting an external battery pack.
Check if the manufacturer sells a compatible battery pack separately.
Unlike full-size thermal scopes, most clip-on scopes don't have built-in video recording and streaming. The best alternative they offer is to connect an external digital video recorder (DVR).
If you'd like to record videos of your adventures, make sure the thermal clip-on has a video out option.
We highly recommend buying a waterproof thermal clip-on. This ensures you can keep hunting through rain and snow. You also don't have to worry if the scope accidentally falls in the water.
Clip-On Thermal Scopes: Advantages and Drawbacks
Clip-on thermal scopes essentially give you the best of daytime and nighttime scopes without the hassle of dismounting, mounting, and zeroing two scopes. This saves you time.
You can mount clip-on thermal scopes on most rifles that accommodate a scope.
Clip-on scopes typically offer lower sensor resolution than a stand-alone thermal scope. So, some optical performance is certainly lost.
It can also be difficult to identify colder objects with a clip-on thermal scope. These may include grass, trenches, or other obstacles.
Identifying game at range is also limited for the same reason.
Final Verdict: What Is the Best Clip-On Thermal Scope?
Overall, we think the Pulsar Core FXQ50 is the best clip-on thermal scope for most hunters. It is reasonably priced and offers excellent optics. In addition, it is waterproof and one of the lightest thermal clip-ons you can buy.