8 Best Handheld Thermal Imager for Hunting – Our Top Picks

Best Handheld Thermal Imager for Hunting
Best Handheld Thermal Imager for Hunting

The market for thermal imaging cameras is growing dramatically. More and more hunters hunt for The Best handheld Thermal Imager for Hunting. Whether you go in search of the best thermal scope or the military handheld thermal imager, this article will provide all the details. We’ve tested 18 products and decided to list the seven best ones.

Going hunting without a good trap is like leaving on a fishing trip with no pole. While you may still catch a few of the fish in shallow water, it will take you longer and not be as fun.

However, there are many ways/traps to hunt effectively and efficiently. But big game hunting is one of the techniques practiced by a number of hunters around the world. This very technique is the use of a thermal imaging camera for hunting.

Thermal imaging cameras allow hunters to see what they otherwise couldn’t because they aren’t able to use ordinary optics. Using thermal imaging helps you capture more prey, makes hunting safer, and even lets you take images at night.

Let us take a quick look at some of the best thermal imagers for hunting that we have tested in-depth and we will also provide you with the user’s experiences with these products.

  • Test and Product Reviews for Best Thermal Imaging for Hunting & Wildlife
  • Affordable Options
  • Smart Options
  • Day and Night Shooting

Best Handheld Thermal Imager For Hunting – Our Top Picks

Here is the list of the top best handheld cameras for hunting. Every thermal monocular has its own unique features and characteristics for its specific functionality. Every camera mentioned here has been experienced personally and described in their specific work area. Before going towards product reviews, you can look at the quick comparison table to make an informed decision.

Best For

Product Name

Features

Our Rating

Price

Best For Single Handed Use

FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal  Monocular

Pocket-sized

Ability to see heat signatures

Batteries: 5-hour Rechargeable

Resolution: 160×120

4.6

Best Smart Thermal Monocular

ATN OTS-HD 384 Thermal Monocular

384*288 pixel HD resolution

Ability to catch heat signatures

Measures precise distances 

E-Zoom feature

4.1

Best Tactical Thermal Camera

FLIR Breach PTQ136 Multi-Purpose Thermal Imaging

Advanced image processing

High definition display 

Up to 1,000 images of internal memory

4.7

Best Night Vision Thermal Imager

FLIR Scout Thermal Imaging Monocular

Starts up in seconds

Rugged Design


640 × 480 LCD Display


Refresh Rate: 60 Hz

4.5

Best For Coyote Hunting

Leupold LTO  Thermal Viewer

100% waterproof


600-Yard detection range

Lightweight and rugged 

7x digital zoom

4.1

Best For Sharp Thermal Imaging

FLIR Scion OTM236

Two CR123A Batteries

Resolution: 320 × 256

Vivid OLED display

4.4

1. FLIR Breach PTQ136  (Overall Choice)

FLIR Breach PTQ136 Multi-Purpose Thermal Imaging Monocular

 

The PTQ136 from Flir is the best and most exclusive handheld thermal camera for hunting in 2022. With its high-definition camera and infrared sensor, you will have an easy time capturing those images that will make your friends jealous.

We find it a great tool for any hunter looking for the ultimate thermal image viewing experience. This product is great for day or night, to see heat signatures, see the weather, and locate animals. With its FLIR Boson thermal core and high-definition display, this thermal imaging monocular presents excellent image clarity and detection.

We like its hands-free operation, which makes it very convenient for use in the field. Multiple mounting points and allows for a wide variety of head mounts, helmet mounts, and to install additional equipment. Also easy to transport and has a mini-rail mount. It is easy to set up and take down.

It’s a very versatile product and has the features to fit a variety of users and situations. It has good internal memory. You can store up to 1,000 images and 2.5 hours of video. For added versatility, it has a USB-C cable for connection to your computer.

For security, it has a lens cover that prevents the camera from being damaged if it is lost. Then it has a hard case that protects the camera and battery.

Another good feature is that it has multiple palettes to choose from, so you can choose the right viewing palette for the situation. It has a built-in compass and inclinometer for navigation. so, don’t make you wander off the path.

The price of this thermal imaging monocular is a bit high, but you are getting a lot of features for the price. It is great thermal imaging monocular for hunting, wildlife viewing, and general outdoor activities.

It is compact, durable, and waterproof, making it a great addition to your camping, hunting, or hiking equipment. An absolute test in the thermal imaging for hunting category.

What We Like
  • High Definition Camera
  • Easy to use and Grip
  • Convenient hands-free operation
  • Multiple mounting points
  • FLIR Boson thermal core for best image clarity and detection
  • The internal memory of up to 1,000 images and 2.5 hours of video

Take Note
  • It could have a remote control, and it could have a power supply

2. FLIR Scout (Best Budget option)

FLIR Scout TK Handheld Thermal Imaging Monocular Green 

 

The FLIR Scout TK is an affordable thermal scope that comes with basic features for people who like to do close-up hunting. This compact scope is pocket-sized so it can be easily carried around for quick spotting. Although the range is only 100 yards, it gives you a clear picture of large animals and even small objects like squirrels at that distance.

It is a compact, lightweight thermal vision monocular for exploring the outdoors at night and in lowlight conditions. It is not only used by both military and civilian law enforcement but also is one of the best professional hunting tools.

Scout’s high-performance VOx microbolometer detects heat signatures in day or night conditions to provide crisp, clear thermal imaging to detect people, wildlife, or other objects.

Colour by Vision uses multiple colour palettes to highlight important details from hot to cold. Scout TK lets you see heat signatures in real-time using the built-in LCD – helping you navigate after dark and easily spot people or animals by their body heat.

You can also capture photos or video clips of what the thermal camera sees. This is a handy feature that you can use for wildlife watching or documenting your hunting experience. This also helps you store important data and keep track of what you’ve seen.

It has a powerful battery that can provide you with about 5 hours of continuous use. While testing this product, I found it easy to handle and was comfortable carrying it around. The thermal camera is small and light enough to carry around while walking, running, or climbing.

It has a thermal resolution of 160 x 120 pixels, which is a standard resolution for a thermal monocular. Undeniably, this resolution is not as high as the Scout TK II, but it is still good enough for close-up spotting.

Our Recommendation

The Scout TK is one of the best budget handeld thermal imagers for hunters and animal spotters. It has a powerful thermal sensor and a super-lightweight design that makes it easy to carry around. Made up of a rugged and weather-resistant shell that is built to withstand harsh outdoor conditions.

What We Like
  • It is a good-quality thermal monocular at an affordable price
  • It is suitable for both hunting and wildlife spotting.
  • Super-lightweight, pocket-sized design that makes it easy to carry around.
  • Can withstand tough weather

Take Note
  • The thermal resolution is limited, so you can’t zoom in and see details.
  • Limited Image performance
  • Low Refresh Rate

3. FLIR Scion OTM236 (Sharp Thermal Viewer)

FLIR Scion OTM236

 

The FLIR Scion OTM236 is a very compact and perfect handheld thermal camera for sharp thermal imaging and hunting that can be used for day and night shooting. It has an easy-to-use interface and a bright display.

It comes with a 2GB internal memory and a microSD card slot. You can expand the memory up to 128GB with a microSD card. It can record videos and images and store them in a memory card. It is a really good handheld thermal camera for hunting.

The thermal sensor of the camera is the VOx microbolometer. It is high sensitivity, highly accurate, and extremely fast. Thereafter, it uses advanced thermal imaging technology to detect objects with high precision. It has a high dynamic range and offers outstanding colour rendering.

The thermal sensor is attached to a display with a 320 x 256 pixels resolution. The camera has a green colour display with a FOV of 12° x 9°.

It has the latest thermal imaging technology and an OLED display that will make it easy to see what is happening on the thermal image even in complete darkness. You will be able to zoom into the thermal image and even record it in high definition. You can also take still images and record videos with them.

It has a refresh rate of 60 Hz. This means that it will update the image at a rate of 60 times per second. This is a very high refresh rate. The camera can be used for both day and night shooting.

It is powered by 6 CR123A batteries and has a waterproof rating of IPX7. The FLIR Scion OTM236 thermal camera can detect a person at a distance of up to 510 meters. It can also detect objects such as cars, animals, and deer.

  • It also has a powerful thermal core, which makes it one of the best thermal cameras for hunting.

Overall, we love it. This camera is very compact and portable. It has a really good thermal detection range, a good display, and its user interface is easy to use. Overall, a really good handheld thermal camera for hunting.

What We Like
  • Fast Refresh rate
  • Good thermal sensitivity
  • High-quality OLED display
  • User-friendly interface
  • Can be used for day and night shooting
  • Can detect a person at a distance of up to 510 meters

Take Note
  • Its price is a little bit high. But it offers good features at that price.

4. GM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160 (Suitable for Short Range Hunting)

GM Global Vision Asp-Micro TM160

 

AGM Global Vision TM160 is the budget-friendly option of TM series of AGM Global Vision. It is one of the best handheld thermal imagers for hunting for under 1000 dollars. This monocular has a high-sensitivity built-in thermal detector that supports a clear view even in total darkness. The monocular is mainly applied to scenarios such as patrolling, law enforcement, searching and rescuing, drug enforcement, anti-smuggling, criminal seizing, hiking, travel, hunting, etc.

  • The camera is equipped with a 6.2 mm lens that is capable of capturing clear images even in total darkness.

It comes with an easy-to-use control panel. You can view your images, track the highest temperature of the target, and set the distance of the target through the control panel. It has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot function that allows you to access your smartphone or tablet.

  • It also supports the distance measurement function after marking the top and bottom of the target.

With its digital zoom function, you can zoom in and out to your target at will. the magnification is 1×, 2×, 4×, and 8×. This is good for viewing objects at a distance.

This night vision thermal imager has a built-in pallet switch that allows you to switch between the thermal and night vision mode. It can detect animals or objects 100 yards away.  Thermal imaging monocular has a resolution of 160×120. This resolution is not very top-grade but good enough to hunt in short range.

It is also equipped with a powerful battery that can be used for up to 7 hours. This is good for long-term use. It also comes with built-in 8 GB memory so that you can save your images and videos for future use.

Overall, it is one of the best handheld thermal imagers for under 1000 dollars. This is a good option for anyone who wants to hunt at short range or for someone just interested in observing wildlife.

What We Like
  • Budget Friendly
  • High-sensitivity built-in thermal detector
  • Easy-to-use control panel
  • Wi-Fi hotspot function
  • Digital zoom function

Take Note
  • Low Refresh Rate
  • Low resolution
  • Not Good for Long Range

5. FLIR Scout III-640 30Hz

FLIR Scout III-640 30Hz 

 

The FLIR Scout III-640 is the latest hunting Thermal scanner from FLIR, a company that has been in the business of providing thermal imaging devices for a number of years. This particular model is their third-generation handheld thermal imager.

Why do you have it? A handheld thermal imager that is worth its weight in gold! It is a fully functional handheld thermal imager that is packed with features that will make it an indispensable part of your hunting kit.

This thermal camera for hunting is built with a weather-proof casing and an IP67 rating, which means it is designed to operate in extreme conditions, such as rain, snow, or even in shallow water. A rugged, weather-tight shell protects the camera from harsh conditions.

It has a 640 × 480 resolution display, which is great for viewing your images. It also has a thermal sensitivity of 640 × 512 which means it can detect heat from human and animal bodies, even in low light conditions.

Another great thing about this camera is that it can capture images in 60 frames per second, which is a great feature for hunters, as it makes detecting moving targets easier.

The Scout III has a field of view of 18° × 14° and a detection rate of 1140 m, which means that it can detect humans and animals from up to 1140 m away.

It is a lightweight, handheld thermal imager, weighs 12 oz, and has a low profile. Easy to carry and operate, this top-notch camera surprises you with its super crisp and clear imagery.

It also comes with a wrist strap that can be used to attach it to your belt or bag. This allows you to use it while carrying it on your shoulder.

The FLIR Scout III is a great device that is easy to use and highly functional. It is worth the investment, and if you are looking for a thermal imaging device, you can’t go wrong with the Scout III.

What We Like
  • Pros:

  • Weather-proof and waterproof

  • Light weight and compact design
  • Comes with a wrist strap
  • VOx Microbolometer Detector
  • Having 640 × 512 Thermal Resolution
  • 60 Hz Refresh Rate

Take Not
  • Relatively pricey

6. Pulsar Axion Key (Best Valuethermal Scanner For Hunting)

Pulsar Axion Key Thermal Monocular

 

The Pulsar Axion Key XM30 is the best thermal imaging monocular in the class of compact monoculars. The hunting thermal scanning camera provides the best-in-class detection and recognition range; nothing comes close to image capture. The camera comes with a built-in video recorder and a 16 GB internal memory bank.

It is a palm-sized thermal monocular from PULSAR that stands out as one of the most advanced and convenient thermal imaging devices for everyday use. It can be easily carried in a bag or pocket, providing an instant and reliable solution for a variety of professional tasks! Essentials of outdoor activities are hunting, fishing, or search & rescue operations.

This thermal camera is the best compact thermal camera for hunting. It has a detection range of 1,300 yards and is suitable for hunting big game animals like deer, elk, bear, turkey, etc. The camera has a resolution of 320×240 and it can detect heat at 12um pixels. It has a high-contrast viewing mode that allows for a better viewing experience.

It has a powerful HD LED microdisplay that makes it possible to see objects in complete darkness. The built-in video recorder makes it possible to record and share footage, which is a great asset for any hunter.

It has an IPX7 waterproof rating. This means that it is suitable for use in water and will not break if you drop it in the water. Additionally, it features lightweight magnesium alloy housing that ensures ruggedness and high structural rigidity. The magnesium housing also makes it lightweight, easy to carry, and easy to grip.

It has the highest magnification rate. The digital zoom of the thermal camera can be increased up to 4x, and 2x, 4x stepped zoom allows you to capture more objects in the field of view. Obviously, the more you zoom in, the more objects you can detect.

Moreover, We love its 8 colours palette that allows you to view the image in a variety of viewing modes. It includes White Hot, Red Hot, Rainbow, Ultramarine, Blue, Green, Violet, and Black.

Its 3200 mAh battery runs for many hours. It can be charged using a USB cable. The battery is easy to replace, making it a good outdoor option.

In contrast to FLIR Scout TK, Axion Key supports the Stream Vision app, a great advantage for amateur and professional users. You can use the app to remotely control the camera, capture and stream video and photos, and view the captured images.

What We Like
  • It has a best-in-class detection range.
  • Waterproof and has an IPX7 rating.
  • High-contrast viewing mode that allows for a better viewing experience.
  • It has the highest magnification rate.
  • Having 8 colour palette
  • HD LED Display for best imaging.

Take Note
  • 320 x 240 resolution is not sufficient when you zoom in to the max.
  • Good value for money but not budget-friendly. If you have a good budget, then go for it.

7. ATN OTS-HD, 384 (Best Smart Monocular)

ATN OTS-HD 384 9-36x, 384x288, 100 mm, Thermal Monocular

 

The ATN OTS-HD is one of the best smart handheld thermal cameras that are capable of capturing high-quality images of objects that are invisible to the naked eye. It can be used to find heat signatures in the woods or even detect hidden creatures in your home.

We love this thermal viewer as it has many amazing features that will make your experience in the woods more exciting. It comprises a 3D Gyroscope that helps to reduce handshakes while recording videos. Its E-compass helps you to navigate your way in the woods.

Accompanied with E-compass, GPS and Wi-Fi features will never get you lost in the wilderness. You can connect them to your phone, pinpoint your location on a map and get real-time updates on your location.

  • It is compatible with iOS and Android devices and can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. This feature helps you view what you see in real-time and share your latest adventure with your friends. You can use the Wi-Fi feature to share your pictures and videos on social media. It is also a great device for training or practicing how to distinguish heat signatures.

It also carries a smooth zoom feature that allows you to zoom in and out ultra-slowly. This feature makes it possible to capture every detail of your target, no matter how small or large it is. Moreover, It has a huge zoom range that will help you zoom in and out at the touch of a button. It also allows you to shoot in low-light conditions. The thermal sensor with 640*480 pixel HD resolution will let you see in the dark and it can also be used as a night vision device. You can also use it to detect animals or any heat source that is hidden in the woods.

Another good feature is that it is firmware upgradeable, which allows you to add new features and functions. An in-built SD card slot allows you to record and store your images and videos. You can also use it to share them on social media platforms.

It is also a great device for outdoor enthusiasts. It is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry and use anywhere.

What We Like
  • Powerful thermal imaging sensor with a large zoom range
  • Good thermal sensitivity
  • Low noise and high-resolution images
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Smooth zoom feature
  • Wi-Fi feature
  • Super Crisp Image

Take Note
  • Battery is good, but it is better to buy an extra pack of batteries.

8. Leupold LTO Tracker 2  (Best For Coyote Hunting)

 

The Leupold LTO Tracker 2 Thermal Viewer is the latest thermal imager from Leupold, a trusted name in the industry. The LTO Tracker 2 Thermal Viewer is designed to offer hunters a high-quality thermal imager with a lot of features and options to choose from.

The Beacon mode makes this Thermal Viewer stand out from the rest of the competition. It is designed to improve the performance of the thermal imager during the daytime. It has a very wide field of view. The images are crisp and clear.

  • It is very lightweight and easy to use.  It has rugged aluminum housing that makes it extremely durable. A worthy addition to any hunter’s arsenal.

We like it’s all prooves! This top-notch Thermal Viewer is waterproof, shockproof, fog-proof, and fog-resistant. It can be used to check your surroundings, track games, and so many other uses irrespective of the weather.

It has good battery life. You can use it for a long time without having to recharge it. It can be used in temperatures ranging from -40°F to 572°F.

It is easy to operate and has a very easy-to-use menu system. The menu system is user-friendly and easy to navigate. It has a 6-color palette that makes it easier to identify objects in a cluttered environment.

It has a very good zoom feature. Indeed, it has a 6x digital zoom feature. This feature makes it easy to identify games at a distance. The digital zoom feature also makes tracking games at a distance easy.

It has a thermal display with a resolution of 390 x 390. It has a field of view of 18°. This is a very high pixel resolution. This is an indicator of the clarity of the images. It has a frame rate of >25 Hz. In this case, the frame rate means that the LTO Tracker 2 Thermal Viewer will capture and display images at a frame rate of more than 25 frames per second.

It has a very compact design and is very easy to carry. As per Leupold standards, it also has good night vision and range. On top of that, very affordable.

What We Like
  • Rugged and waterproof
  • Extremely compact and lightweight
  • Affordable and highly versatile thermal imager
  • Beacon mode to improve daytime use
  • Lenses are fully multi-coated to provide excellent light transmission
  • It has a display resolution of 390×390
  • It has 6 color palettes

Take Note
  • Not all weatherproof
  • The screen quality needs improvement

Best Handheld Thermal Imager Buying Guide

Hunting is a passion for many. Every year, thousands of new and old hunters grab their guns and go out in search of the best thermal game. They blend in with their surroundings and wait to ambush their prey – wild animals. It’s exciting, but it can also be risky if you don’t know the right way to hunt. That said, here are some tips to keep your hunting experience a safe one.

Thermal imaging is a great tool for when you are out hunting. Whether it’s a night dive, searching for animals at night, or something else, thermal imaging cameras are an excellent tool. But thermal imagers can’t see through some things. It is also better to know the complete understanding of handheld thermal imagers before going to lose your pocket.

Before you buy Handheld Thermal Imager, though, there are some things you should know.

  • The Basics

Be clear on what you want to use your thermal imager for. There are many different ways to use a thermal imager. You can use it for a lot of different things, from night hunting to just making sure you don’t get lost. So, before you buy, think about what you want to use it for.

  • Determine your budget.

Once you know what you want to use your thermal imager for, it’s time to think about your budget. A thermal imager isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to ensure you get one within your budget.

  • Check Resolution

The resolution of a thermal imager is important. The higher the resolution, the more detail you’ll see. If you are looking for a thermal imager for a night dive, you’ll want to be sure you get one with a thermal resolution of more than 384 x 288. Along with the thermal sensor, the display resolution also counts a lot. For best results, the screen resolution should have  1280 x 720 pixels.

  • Magnification

If you’re looking for thermal imaging monoculars, you will be looking for a quality device with powerful magnification and impressive range. The magnification will help you see more detail and ensure you can get a clear view of the subject. Digital zoom, optical zoom, or the combination of both are important for tracking games at a distance.

  • Field of View

The field of view is another important factor. It’s important to be able to see what’s around you. The field of view will help you see what’s around you and keep you safe. If you are looking for a thermal imager for night hunting, then you will want to make sure you get a device with a wide field of view.

  • Refresh Rate

The refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz) and tells you how many times per second the image refreshes. The higher the hertz, the faster the refresh rate. Since your target may move in a matter of seconds, this is critical for hunters looking for accurate thermal imaging monoculars for hunting. With a high hertz count of 60 Hz, this thermal monocular works best on moving targets as it drops little information from frame to frame.

  • Detection Rate

If you want to know how far your game is, detection range will give you a general idea of the distance in yards. High-end models can manage 1,000 yards and more, while beginner imagers may stop at a few hundred. Look for a thermal imaging device that can help you perfect your shot.

  • Colour mode

Color mode options are always a good feature and come in different forms. For example, some of them offer five-color palettes while others provide up to eight. The more options the better

  • Body structure

A great thermal vision monocular gives you a solid performance each time you use it. The body, specifically, should be sturdy to withstand bumps and falls. Simultaneously, it shouldn’t be too heavy or bulky.

  • Battery timings

Thermal imagers with long battery life are very critical in the field. These devices have plenty of features, and most consume power extremely fast. You don’t want to stop midway to recharge your thermal imaging device if you’re out searching for wildlife or carrying out routine security checks. It is good to have a thermal imager that can last for 12 consecutive hours.

  • Weatherproof

A thermal imager is an excellent tool for hunting in the rain or snow. But you need to make sure your device is weatherproof so you don’t have to worry about getting your hands or face wet.

  • Additional features

A good thermal imager should have some other features to help you be more productive in the field. These features can include a Laser rangefinder, LED lights, GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Final Thought

A thermal imaging camera is the most popular device for outdoor extremes and big hunting games. They are not just for military and law enforcement but also for outdoors enthusiasts. The extraordinary feature of this imager is its ability to see in complete darkness, making it so popular in the hunting industry. Many thermal imaging cameras are available on the market, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages.

But it’s good to search before you buy anyone.  Always look for your requirements and budget. The mentioned products are reviewed based on their particular characteristics and features so that you can choose the best according to your needs.

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