While it’s no doubt that hunting takes a certain amount of natural skill and determination; the right equipment is of equal importance.
Day and night hunters alike rely on advanced technology to act as an extra set of eyes & ears in the field. Hunting is more than just being in the right place at the right time. Successfully taking down a target means all your equipment must work together. From your rifle to your selection of scopes.
The hunting niche is constantly growing in popularity. As a result, so is the availability of accessories that can be used to enhance your personal experience. Thermal rifle scopes that clip onto your rifle take your hunting game to the next level. We just love these feature packed scopes brought to us by the leaders in the industry.
We took the time to take a closer look at some of the best clip-on thermal scopes on the market right now. Using this guide you’ll be able to compare and select the best one for you.
Here are the best clip on thermal scopes you can buy:
- Trijicon SNIPE-IR 35mm - Best Premium Clip-On Thermal Rifle Scope
- AGM Global Vision Anaconda 1x50mm - Best Value Clip-On Thermal Rifle Scope
- AGM Global Vision Anaconda Micro 1x50mm - Best Compact Clip-on Scope
- FLIR Apollo-Pro MR 640 50mm - Best Long Range Clip-On Thermal Rifle Scope
What Is A Thermal Scope?
Night hunting is a popular activity across most of the United States. A thermal rifle scope is used by hunters to gain enhanced vision while hunting at night.
Thermal scopes use infrared sensors to capture the heat omitted by all objects in your scope’s range. They deliver this captured heat energy as reflected imagery back into the hunter’s eye piece.
Thermal imaging scopes are used for night hunting and can also be used during the day unlike night vision scopes. They are your eyes in the dark. A traditional day scope is used during daylight to more easily take down your targets from a distance. Day scopes are purely lens and magnifier based unlike thermal scopes that use sensors & light detectors. A day scope cannot help a hunter at night. This is why clip-on thermal scopes are necessary when hunting at night.
About Thermal Clip On Scopes
Clip on thermal scopes typically clip onto your rifle and sit directly in front of the hunter’s daylight scope. The device makes use of the high magnification of the daylight scope to extend its own viewing range. They essentially work together.
Depending on the quality of the screen and the depth of zoom, imagery may become blurry should a higher magnification daylight scope be used. You will still, however, be able to shoot much longer distances by using a thermal clip-on scope.
A thermal clip-on scope can also be used on its own, simply attached to the riffle. Its distance ability will be less without the day scope but will you will still be able to see your targets in the dark.
Thermal clip-on scopes are usually lightweight and non-bulky. They clip easily onto your rifle and won’t add much weight. These scopes are helpful in almost any hunting scenario. Here’s what you’re missing out on!
There are many advantages of investing in a clip-on thermal scope.
First and foremost is the convenience factor. They’re lightweight and won’t bog you down during long hunting trips. Hunters that spend multiple days and nights out in the field need to be mindful of how much weight they bring along.
A clip-on thermal scope eliminates the need to change or re-zero your day scope when you switch between day and night hunting. Most clip-on scopes available on the market have the ability to keep your day scope’s zero.
Unlike individual thermal imaging scopes, clip-on one's work in unison with your day scope magnifier to extend their scope range.
Using a clip on thermal rifle scope frees your hands from having to switch between your rifle and thermal monocular to locate or track your target. You are free to concentrate on your shot instead of juggling between equipment.
Perhaps the most important benefit of using a clip-on scope is the extra layer of safety it provides the hunter when out in the field. As darkness descends, and terrain is unknown, there are many dangerous elements that can come into play. A clip-on scope provides consistent, quality night vision. It decreases the risk of any danger or creature sneaking up on you while your scope was out of reach.
A bonus feature is that most clip-on thermal scopes can also act as a thermal monocular which standalone thermal scopes cannot do. This two-in-one feature makes the imaging technology far more versatile than ever before.
While night hunting, there really is no need to switch between your thermal rifle scope and monocular. Using your rifle with its thermal scope to spot can be tiring if you are not used to doing it however it does help ensure you don’t miss your target after you have spotted it. This can happen when having to switch between a thermal monocular and back to your rifle.
Things to Keep In Mind Selecting a Clip On Thermal Riflescope:
While the advantages of these nifty devices are vast there are still a few points we’d encourage you to keep in mind while trying to find the best one for you.
When looking at clip-on scope options, consider your own rifle’s mounting system. Make sure the thermal scope you’re looking at investing in is compatible with your gun’s mount/rail system. Incompatible scopes may require the additional purchase of an adapter to successfully clip onto your rifle.
Quality matters. A high-resolution display-screen is important if you plan on using your day scope in conjunction with a thermal clip-on. Zooming further than around 4x on your day magnifier can create blurred imagery on your thermal screen display which will distort what you see making it harder to take your shot.
Purchasing a unit with high thermal imaging capability will take care of these issues, but at a higher price.
If you intend to use your day scope and thermal imaging rifle scope simultaneously there’s a chance your day scope’s zero could be slightly thrown off. Keep this in mind and be sure to re-zero the scope before each use. This is imperative to ensuring your aiming accuracy.
Lastly, take these general features into consideration:
Determine your personal preferences around each of these factors and pick the scope that provides what’s needed.
What follows are three comprehensive reviews of some of the most impressive clip-on thermal scopes on the market. We categorized them into:
What rates highest on your priority list?
Top 4 Best Clip-On Thermal Scopes
1. Trijicon SNIPE-IR 35mm Clip-On Thermal Imaging Scope
Best Premium Clip-On Thermal Scope
This high-end creation by Trijicon is a night hunter’s dream.
First, we must mention the sleek, matte black exterior of the Snipe IR’s body. This thermal scope can make even the most inexperienced hunter look like a field professional. It’s designed to clip to the top of your rifle, just in front of your daylight scope. The Snipe is an advanced solution to 24 hour hunting excursions.
The resolution is high enough for there to be little to no discrepancy in imagery regardless of how much you need to zoom in. The image quality has to be seen to be believed on this military grade thermal clip-on.
The Snipe-IR also has the ability to be used on its own as a standalone thermal scope without the help of a daylight scope. Impressively, it can also standalone as a thermal monocular.
Marketed as the most user friendly thermal scope out there, the latest NO SHOT ZERO technology is relatively simple to get the hang of.
The Snipe-IR is our pick for best premium clip-on thermal scope. We just love its versatility. You’ll be able to jump between uses as the hunting experience unfolds and never be left in the dark.
The most notable features of the Trijicon Teo Snipe are:
- A thermal resolution of 640x480
- High resolution 12 micron thermal detector
- A display resolution of 640x480
- Can be used in conjunction with a daylight scope
- Battery life: 3.5 hours (refresh rate set at 60 Hz), 2-5 hours (refresh rate set at 30Hz)
- Field of view: 12°
- Clip on mount, or standalone bracket
- Weather resistant
2. AGM Global Vision Anaconda 1x50mm
Best Value Clip-On Thermal Scope
Next up we have the AGM Global Vision Anaconda 1x50mm Medium Range Thermal Clip-On scope that seamlessly transforms your day optic device into a thermal imaging device. First things first, this is a lean machine with its measurements of 8.2 x 2.7 x 3.1 inches so it will fit in with the rest of your supplies effortlessly.
It can be used on up to 8x magnification scopes and is perfectly suited towards medium use range. As if that weren’t enough, the Anaconda can also shoot real time video via connection to a video recorder or external Wi-Fi module. It comes with everything you need including a wrist strap, USB cable and a lens tissue along with its operator’s manual.
There’s no re-zeroing required and it mounts easily in front of any daytime scope. Multiple color palettes, a waterproof build, three-year warranty and wireless remote control capability are all features that make the Anaconda one to watch.
Sealing the deal is its 4-hour battery life that is sufficient to last for most excursions. The scope is powered by two standard CR123A batteries. Overall, it’s exceptionally easy to use and its simple clip on design means that it can be used by anyone—pro and novice alike.
The AGM Global Vision Anaconda’s most notable features include the following:
- Thermal resolution of 640 x 512
- Display resolution of 800 x 600 pixels
- 14.8 – 11.8 degrees Field of View
- Objective focal length of 50mm
- Battery life lasts up to 4 hours
- Refresh rate 60 Hz
- Mounts in front of any day scope with no re-zeroing required
3. AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro Compact 1x50mm
Best Compact Clip-On Thermal Scope
The AGM Global Vision Anaconda-Micro Compact 1 x 50mm is a thermal imaging weapon sight clip on scope that is compact and lightweight. This makes it an ideal hunting partner for your rifle.
The micro’s compact size makes it fit in your pocket while still having enough magnification to spot your kill, even in low light environments.
The AGM Anaconda can detect even the slightest change in temperature thanks to its uncooled thermal detector which has a 384 x 288-pixel resolution. There are 10 brightness levels to select between, so it caters for many scenarios.
The 50Hz refresh rate means you will always see the most vibrant, clear picture of your target. This clip-on imaging system allows you to go from day to night use in just a few clicks and it can increase the magnification up to 8x. It’s powered by two CR123 batteries that give up to 5 hours of uninterrupted use.
If you require additional battery life you can purchase an external battery 5V pack that can increase the total operating hours. You can enjoy as much as 44 hours of use.
Another nifty feature is it can be connected to an optional video recording device. This setup can use Wi-Fi to connect directly to your SmartPhone where you can record real time videos.
This AGM clip on’s most notable features include:
- Video recording ability
- Wi-Fi enabled
- External power supply for added battery life
- Digital zoom 2x 4x 8x
- Can capture snapshots via app
4. FLIR Apollo-Pro MR 640 50mm
Best Long Range Clip-On Thermal Scope
When it comes to thermal scopes FLIR is a favorite, time and time again. All of the brand’s products come with impressive warranty periods and the FLIR Apollo-Pro MR 640 clip on thermal scope is no different.
This scope takes the win for the best long-range clip-on thermal scope. It’s rare to see a thermal scope with this kind of range capability excel in performance simultaneously.
What makes the Armasight so unique is that it connects to a mobile app to optimize performance. The scope is synched to valuable data such as a compass and live weather patterns. This is transmitted to the user for the duration of the hunt.
Unlike other scopes, the Armasight has the ability for on board video recording while out in the field. An SD card imbedded in the device captures the visuals that can be watched later. The unit has many palette options for image viewing: White / Black / Sepia / Fusion / Rainbow / Rain.
Some features worth noting are:
- A thermal resolution of 640 x 512
- A display resolution of 800x600 OLED
- Can be used in conjunction with a daylight scope
- Battery life up to 7 hours
- Field of view: 12.5° × 10°
- Refresh rate - available as 30 Hz and 60 Hz
- Clip on adapter
- Weather resistant, not proof
As you consider these product breakdowns, keep your own equipment needs in mind as well.
If you’re looking for the best all around clip on thermal scope with excellent performance - AGM Global Vision Anaconda is the one for you. We love this brand and the quality range of products it delivers.
The military grade build and image quality of the Trijicon Snipe-IR isn’t to be overlooked either. If you have the extra dollars to spend, this scope will withstand even the harshest conditions. It is a high-end device for the more serious night hunter.
Those looking for long-range capability can’t go wrong with the FLIR Apollo Pro-MR - a favorite amongst beginner and professional hunters alike.
Don’t be caught in the dark. Choose the clip-on thermal scope that is just right for you, today. Our best advice: spare no expense! You never know what’s lurking nearby…
As always, very appreciative of your expertise! The only problem I see with these recommendations on “clip-on” thermals is that they all require an extended rail on which to mount them. In my case, I’d like to use them on my long-range rifles, free floating, attached to the scope, for example on my Benelli Lupo 300 Win Mag or Seekins Precision Hvak 308. What are your thoughts on the Leica Calonox Sight?