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thermal imaging scope reviews

Pulsar Axion XM30s Thermal Imager (Monocular) Review

Hunting is a thrilling sport, but the excitement dies when you face poor visibility conditions.

In heavy fog or darkness, a regular sight cannot help you. 

In such conditions, you need help seeing your prey - this can be in the form of a thermal scope, a night vision device, a thermal binocular, or a thermal monocular.

This article reviews the Pulsar Axion XM30s Thermal Imager, one of the most popular thermal spotting scopes sold today.

It is a compact and lightweight monocular packed with numerous high-performance functions that hunters really love. 

Although the XM30s is an entry-level thermal imager, it is thoughtfully designed and packaged. It is compact enough to fit inside most coat pockets, yet light enough to carry around. 

It is ergonomically designed to offer outstanding grip and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

It measures 143 x 41 x 69mm and weighs just 250 grams. 

The XM30s is ruggedly built. The housing is made of magnesium, which makes it durable, corrosion-resistant and lightweight.

Inside the housing is a precision-machined sub-frame constructed with a magnesium-aluminum alloy that adds to its durability. 

The strong housing ensures that the device can survive extreme conditions while its subframe safeguards the fragile internal component from damage. 

The XM30s optics include a powerful objective lens paired with a professional-grade thermal sensor to provide an excellent detection capability.

The thermal sensor detects the heat signature of different objects and enables the device to focus on them even over large distances. 

In fact, the XM30s has a detection range of 1,300 yards, even in complete darkness. It also helps you to focus on your target with the 4x digital zoom. 

Another great feature of this unit is its picture-in-picture function. Once it is active, it displays another small magnified image on the top of the screen.

The smaller image helps you zoom in on your target while ensuring that the rest of the field stays visible. 

The included video and still recording camera is excellent. With this feature, you can capture photos or record footage of your experiences. Just press the REC button to start recording. 

The imager will save captured media on its built-in storage, which you can share with your family or friends using a Wi-Fi connection.

Internal storage capacity is 16 GB, which means it can store hundreds of photos and a few hours of recordings. 

The XM30s is powered by the B-Pack Battery Pack which is good for up to three and a half hours of continuous use. The pack is quick and effortless to replace, so all-night use is a breeze. 

Charing the batteries is super-fast with the provided charging station. You can also charge them without removing from the unit by connecting to a USB cable.

Pros and Cons

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  • Ruggedly designed for long-lasting durability
  • High-performance thermal sensor
  • WiFi connectivity
  • 1300-yard range
  • IPX7 rated


  • Three hour battery life
  • Image loses quality as you zoom in 

Unique Features

thermal imaging scope reviews

Pulsar is a well known and trusted brand in the optics market. 

The Pulsar Axion Xm30s is a high-performance device with tons of unique features, such as:

One-Handed Operation 

The most notable aspect of this device is its ergonomics.

It is a compact and lightweight device you can easily hold in one hand. 

It is easy to hold, too - and the controls are within easy reach for single-handed operation.

It easily slips inside most pockets, so you won’t have to worry about taking extra gear with you. 

Technical Features

The technical specifications of this device also set it apart.

The 320×240 12 µm core sensor combined with the Sony HD Amoled 1024 x 768 display provide crisp, detailed thermal images in a range of colors. 

The XM30s provides a 5.5x base magnification that you can increase to 18x with digital zoom.

The professional-grade thermal sensor enables it to detect animals and hot objects at an extra-long range of 1,300 yards. 

Built-in Storage

Unlike many of its predecessors, the Axiom XM30s has built-in storage for recording video and capturing photos of your experience.

You can store up to 16 GB of media on the device.

The record function is simple. All you have to do is press the REC button, and the thermal imager will automatically record and save your footage. 

Live Video Streaming

thermal imaging scope reviews

Another feature that sets the XM30s apart from most thermal imaging monoculars is its Wi-Fi connectivity.

You can connect the device to your smartphone and use the Pulsar Stream Vision App to stream your hunt with friends.  

8 Color Palettes 

This device offers eight color palettes to enhance your viewing ability.

These include the traditional white-hot and hot-black, of course.

Other color palettes include red monochrome, sepia, violet, red hot, rainbow, and ultramarine. 

Each of these color palettes has unique advantages. For example, white-hot offers incredible versatility while violet facilitates faster object identification.

You can choose a palette according to the situation to enjoy a clear and sharp image every time. 

Issues & Concerns

thermal imaging scope reviews

The XM30s thermal monocular does have a few limitations and issues, however.

Short Battery Life 

The Pulsar Axion XM30s works on a compact B-Pack Battery Pack. The battery pack provides at most three and a half hours of use. 

This battery life may be alright for people planning to finish a hunt through dusk. 

But most night hunters will need to carry at least one spare battery pack. 

Image Distortion

The XM30s has 5.5x base magnification, which delivers quite sharp and detailed images.

It also provides up to 18x via digital zoom, but the more you zoom in the fuzzier the image becomes. 

Care and Maintenance

thermal imaging scope reviews

While the XM30s is a user-friendly device, it still requires proper care and maintenance to keep it in its optimal working state. 

Device safety, proper storage, and regular cleaning form the core of the maintenance you should give to your thermal monocular.

Here are some tips to keep it protected and functional.

Don’t Neglect the Instruction Manual 

While most thermal monoculars for hunting are quite simple to use, you should never neglect the instruction manual. Reading it carefully at least once will save you from potential issues. 

It is your best friend that will guide you through every step of setting up your device to using it effectively.

It also includes some useful troubleshooting tips that will really help you in the long run. 

Never Take it Apart

The Pulsar Axion XM30s is an advanced piece of equipment, so no matter what you do, never take it apart.

Its components are extremely fragile, while the device itself is so complex that an entire team of professionals constructs one of these. 

So even if your unit is damaged or does not work properly, don’t try to take it apart yourself. It will be a costly mistake that can actually damage your device. 

Clean it Properly

The key to making the most out of your equipment is to clean it properly. For this purpose, the instruction manual is your best friend.

It narrates all the necessary steps to cleaning your device the right way and what cleaners to use and avoid. 

For the best results, make a point of cleaning your thermal monocular after every use. 

Be Careful While Handling the Objective Lens

thermal imaging scope reviews

The objective lens is the one positioned farthest from the eyepiece. It is a sensitive and delicate piece of glass treated with various coatings for quality performance. 

However, while these layers improve the lens’s performance, these coatings can be damaged with the slightest mishandling.

Therefore, when attempting to clean the objective lens, be extra careful. 

Store It Carefully

Your Axion is not a toy. It is an advanced piece of equipment you simply cannot leave lying around.

You have to be careful about its storage.

It’s best to refer to the instructions for proper storage walk-through; however, here is what you should do:

  • Always remember to turn off the device after use.
  • If you are putting it away for long, remember to remove the battery as it may corrode, causing serious damage to the device.
  • The device comes with its own carry case. Make it a point to place it inside the case for safekeeping.
  • Store it in a cool, dry place away from exposed electrical wires, flammable objects, and high heat. 


The Pulsar Axion XM30s comes with a three-year warranty for the device and a two-year warranty for the battery pack. 

Pulsar guarantees the unit against any and all manufacturing defects for a three-year time period, starting from the date of initial purchase.

If the buyer cannot present the proof of purchase, i.e., the receipt, the warranty period will start from the date of manufacture. 

You have to retain the warranty card, which is proof that the product is free from any defects.

And if a fault is detected in material or workmanship, the company will cover the repair costs. 


  • Objective Lens: F30/1.2
  • Thermal Sensor: 320x240 12 µm
  • Magnification: 4-16x with PIP
  • Picture in picture: Yes
  • Display Type: Sony Amoled Display
  • Display resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Battery: B Pack Mini Battery Pack System
  • Video recording: Yes
  • Frame Rate: 50 Hz
  • Waterproof rating: IPX7
  • Detection Range: 1,300 yards 

Where to Buy

If the Pulsar Axion XM30S is the one for you, you can find it at

About the Author Rob Carson

I work in commercial construction, in Dallas, TX.

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