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Night vision vs. thermal #5928460 09/14/15 09:50 PM
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Missed a big porker this weekend in my feeder because I tried for a head shot but couldn't hardly see it. It was pretty dark..dark enough to where I wouldn't even consider trying to shoot a deer. I should've gone for a body shot and likely would've gotten him, but I tried for the all-pro shot in the ear because my wife was with me and I wanted to show off. Lesson learned...I walked away with my tail tucked wishing I would've just shot it in the body. Got me thinking though...we have a ton of hogs but they are normally spotted after dark on the cams. My next purchase will be some type of night vision/thermal scope so I can hunt at night. My question to you all is....what do you prefer, night vision or thermal. Pros? Cons? Particular suggestions? My budget is about $2000. I have zero experience with either so I honestly don't know where to start. Thanks in advance.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5928621 09/14/15 11:35 PM
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Thermal, but that budget won't get you thermal. You need about 3 grand on the low end. IMO, thermal is the only way to go if you can swing it. No comparison.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: dfwroadkill] #5928632 09/14/15 11:45 PM
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Thermal is first choice for me too. You might have a little difficulty with positive identification at first, but you'll see more critters than you ever could with a gen 3 night vision setup. The price is higher, but it's worth every bit of it. Wait and save till you've got the money for thermal and you won't be disappointed. You can get a good start with an Apex XD50 thermal sight for around 3k. Thermal prices seem to be slowly coming down so time would be on your side if you were saving for it.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5929398 09/15/15 02:12 PM
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+1 on thermal. I've hunted at night with NV and thermal. Thermal sees heat, so if it has a heat signature, you can see it. Plus, thermal works during the day. The few times I have hunted with NV, I have a contrast problem with NV. We would drive around at night with an electric golf cart using NV and thermal. The NV is great for "seeing" in the dark. But when it comes time to engage a target in the woods, you lose the contrast to find and engage your target. If your target is in a wide open field, the NV will work fine. In heavy cover,, NV struggles to get enough definition to actually see your target. If you used thermal, you will see anything with a heat signature, and it stands out nice and bright, often through heavy cover (as long as it's not being blocked by heavy cover). I have shot rabbits in heavy cover where my buddy with the NV (PVS-14) didn't even know what I was shooting at.

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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5929676 09/15/15 05:15 PM
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Thermal is much better, but with 2 grand in the budget, you need to look at NV with a great IR Illuminator; a package you can probably put together for about half of your budget.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5929891 09/15/15 07:21 PM
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PULSAR 750 NV will be under $2000

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5929999 09/15/15 08:28 PM
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For less than 2k you can buy a Armasight Nemisis 4x quick silver in Gen 2. While it comes with an IR illuminatator, its not the best. You can buy several better ones and still be under 2k for the whole deal. I have the Nemisis 6x quick silver Gen 2. I'm very satisfied with it. Although in hindsight I wish I had bought the 4x version.


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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930116 09/15/15 09:48 PM
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Thanks for all the insight...I'm looking at reviews on everything you all mentioned. This is going to be a tedious process of picking out the one I want. I just don't want to go with the NV and then wish I would've gotten the thermal. I will be stand hunting the majority of the time so will definitely have some thicker areas I'll be hunting. So the thermal sees through obstructions as well? i.e., brush, cover.. My budget can go as high as $3000, I just figured $2000 might get me somewhere. Like I said I have no experience with these so I was just assuming. Any other thermal suggestions outside the Apex XD50?

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930146 09/15/15 10:06 PM
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Why not lease/rent the ones you are interested in. The place is on theTHF.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930194 09/15/15 10:32 PM
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For $3000, you can gen a Pulsar Apex XD38a or an Armasight Predator. I have looked at the Predator for Third Coast Thermal and am starting some field testing of the Apex HD38a tonight. They are both low magnification scopes, but should handle typical night hunting distances. Based on testing of the Predator, I figure adult hogs out to 250 yards under very good conditions is possible. I was able to ID and take a coyote at 150 yards and a bobcat at 120 yards. We shall see how things go with the Apex XD38a, but I suspect the results will be comparable.

The real differences in the scopes will be their features, I think, more so than their capability. The Predator, based on the Zeus line, has more color palettes (background colors), but fewer reticles to choose from. Both range from ~1.5/1.6x native magnification to 6x digital zoom. The Predator does it in 2 zoom levels and the Apex will zoom in increments or in one large step with a zoom button. The Apex also has picture in picture with the small picture being zoomed, which is pretty cool. The Predator has an aluminum housing and the Apex has a polymer housing. The Predator has a 25mm lens, and the Apex has 38mm. The Predator has a 336x256 17 micron 30 hz core and the Apex has a 384x288 25 micron 50hz core. The Predator is fixed focus and the Apex has objective focus. The Predator is advertised at up to 3 hours and the Apex of up to 5 hours on 2 CR123 batteries. Both are rated for approximately .308 caliber rifles.

I have previously hunted with the Predator and found it quite functional. I have also previously hunted with the XD50 prototype of the Apex and liked it as well. Tonight, I start with the XD38a.


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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930261 09/15/15 11:14 PM
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If you are going to spend $2000, you are going to wish you had that $2000 back to put towards your Thermal in another year or two. LOL. Really, I struggled with the same thing, and spent money on night vision Gen 1/2/3 before biting the bullet and getting a thermal. Now I hardly even touch my regular NV stuff. Thermal will spoil you but quick - and i find I use it for LOTS of stuff, not just hunting pigs. In fact, I rarely go out in the field after dark without my thermal nearby - and have been known to sit for HOURS after sunset - until the wee hours of the morning - just watching critters with the thermal.

Besides a weapon sight, you can use it to do surveys, look for lost/downed animals, or just get an idea of what is coming while deer hunting before daylight. In west texas, you can use it to spot Mulies at great distances, across canyons, etc. where regular binos would be hard pressed to find the animal. If I had a dollar for every time I've located an animal with the thermal that someone next to me couldn't see with binos, I'd probably have enough to buy another thermal.

That being said, thermal is not perfect. First, it DOES take a while to get to distinguish animals, especially at distance. Determine hogs from deer is USUALLY not much of a problem, but so far as telling bucks from does, or axis from whitetail, or what that low "blob" is (cat, rabbit, fox, etc.) - it gets much more difficult and takes practice.

Secondly, they are a real b-i-t-c-h to try to sight in. With only a thermal signature, most targets will look like a big blob and you will NOT be able to tell where you are shooting without a spotting scope. The probably comes in with trying to put the crosshairs on the exact same spot after subsequent shots to make adjustments. And the digital offsets are not as easy as "dialing to the hole". Most regular scopes take me exactly 2 spots to sign in perfectly. With my thermal, I am lucky to get away from the range shooting 2 boxes.

Maybe I am doing it wrong - but I really have trouble sighting it in - and NEVER have been able to get pinpoint accuracy - if I can get it within 3-4", I am happy! Last time, though we had it sighted in, but my future S-I-L used it on a group of pigs at like 20 feet and fired 7 times at head shots and nary a pig dropped. Still trying to figure what's up with that.... smile

Third, you can't see antlers - unless they are in velvet, or you are really, really close.

Fourth, sometimes - you can have trouble picking out a single target from a group at distance. For example, you have 6 pigs under a feeder at 150 yards - you might see one big blob and not be able to distinguish individual heads. The good news, at night with a thermal, you can usually walk up to pigs and get 30 feet away no problem.

Fifth, the lower end thermals (up to $5K or so) get really fuzzy really fast when you start to zoom. My thermal is crystal clear and sharp at 1x, a little fuzzy at 2x, but still usable. But at 4x, it is really grainy/fuzzy. But if you spend a little more, and get more photosensors - this problem goes away with money. smile

At first, I had trouble justifying $5K for something just to kill pigs - but now that I have one, I can use for so many other things - it is WELL worth the money. I've had mine for just over a year now, and I have probably used it 600 hours already. I wish I had another one, so I can leave one sighted in on the gun and another I can use as a monocular just to spot stuff.

Oh, BTW, it works great on the water at night when boating.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930306 09/15/15 11:39 PM
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While sighting in a thermal scope can be a bit more difficult, I pretty much always need a spotting scope on a paper target at distance, whether it be with a day scope, NV, or thermal. I have steel targets and usually shoot a target at 50 yards to make sure a new scope isn't too far off before going to 100 yards for zeroing. You don't need a spotting scope to see the impacts on a steel target, LOL, sometimes not even at 100 yards, if there is just one spot and a lot of paint comes off. That is what I did today before moving to a paper target with a chemical hand warmer used for a target. The handwarmer and tape holding it all heated up and I simply aimed for the center. I knew the ammo would group well with the rifle, so after walking in shot, taped the target and put two shots into the handwarmer at 100 yards, so now I have a confirmed zero.

You can zero on steel, but it is better to use a smaller target on paper, such as a chemical handwarmer, foil or aluminized can work (have used both) and supposedly a piece of duct tape will work. All that is needed is that you have a target that is a different temperature than the background.




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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: Double Naught Spy] #5930521 09/16/15 01:11 AM
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Doublenaught spy I would like to hear your opinion of the xd38a vs the xd50a. They are both priced about the same at sportsmans guide, so I am kinda wondering what't the difference. If there is a difference in the core ie 17u vs 25u then that is worth considering. Don't see any value in 30 hz vs 50 or 60hz. 30 is plenty fast enough for the human eye.

Drilla4rilla, the critters can hide behind cover. You can't see through it with thermal, but you can see where the heat leaks around the edges. You will see a lot more with thermal than gen 3. I've had coyotes disappear in tall grass while watching them with the thermal, and picking them up with the pvs-14 gen 3 that I own. I wouldn't have know where to look and would not have been able to pick them out from the beginning with just the gen 3. I simply do not go hunting without thermal anymore. I went through several "experiences" with night vision before I settled on thermal and wish I had saved the money and went to thermal at the get go.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930777 09/16/15 03:35 AM
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I'll chime in with a suggestion for you.
While I have two thermal scopes, A Thermal monocular and a digital NV scope with a good illuminator is what I use most of the time on stand.
You can get a used thermal monocular and a decent digital scope/illuminator combo for under $2.5 grand. I use a thermal eye x50 and an X sight.
With the monocular, it's easier + quieter to scan for critters than a scope mounted on a rifle and it's safer too.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5930855 09/16/15 04:53 AM
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Unless your going to go Txlawman on hogs you can get by very well with a digital scope and a Thermal handheld like a hacked Flir E4. You said yourself your main hunting will be in a stand. Myself I use my E4 to scan with then shoot with a Digital Scope. I just got a Resolute Scope and am really impressed with it. My whole set-up both the scope and the Flir cost around $1200. Mind you the Flir I have is used for inspection and is modified for better resolution.


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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: Double Naught Spy] #5930869 09/16/15 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted By: Double Naught Spy
While sighting in a thermal scope can be a bit more difficult, I pretty much always need a spotting scope on a paper target at distance, whether it be with a day scope, NV, or thermal. I have steel targets and usually shoot a target at 50 yards to make sure a new scope isn't too far off before going to 100 yards for zeroing. You don't need a spotting scope to see the impacts on a steel target, LOL, sometimes not even at 100 yards, if there is just one spot and a lot of paint comes off. That is what I did today before moving to a paper target with a chemical hand warmer used for a target. The handwarmer and tape holding it all heated up and I simply aimed for the center. I knew the ammo would group well with the rifle, so after walking in shot, taped the target and put two shots into the handwarmer at 100 yards, so now I have a confirmed zero.

You can zero on steel, but it is better to use a smaller target on paper, such as a chemical handwarmer, foil or aluminized can work (have used both) and supposedly a piece of duct tape will work. All that is needed is that you have a target that is a different temperature than the background.





This is pretty much what I do, but none of hot hand/heat packs that I have ever used puts out enough heat to give a good edge. Plus, like you - the best you can get is the "size of the warmer" accuracy, which is usually several inches across. Plus, I don't know about you - but at 1x the heat packs are almost invisible at 100yards - they are so small. And at 4x, the resolution blurs the target a lot. On a warm day, the ambient temps "bleed" into the lines from the pack at 100yards. I am limited to sighting in at 50 yards - which is generally good enough because MOST of my night shots are 50 yards or less, because you can walk right up to them.

I have experimented with some thermal targets that express grid lines - but it takes about 30 minutes for me to make one these targets (won't give away my secrets for making them).

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: shoots100] #5931169 09/16/15 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted By: shoots100
I'll chime in with a suggestion for you.
While I have two thermal scopes, A Thermal monocular and a digital NV scope with a good illuminator is what I use most of the time on stand.
You can get a used thermal monocular and a decent digital scope/illuminator combo for under $2.5 grand. I use a thermal eye x50 and an X sight.
With the monocular, it's easier + quieter to scan for critters than a scope mounted on a rifle and it's safer too.


This ^^^

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5931288 09/16/15 03:05 PM
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I agree thermal is the way to go, you just can't beat it's performance for night time hunting. If money is tight and you can't get thermal now I wouldn't spend the $2000 on night vision and wish you saved up for thermal.

Another option is to go cheap for now and maybe look into getting a IR scope like the Sightmark photon for around $500.(or have someone get it for you for a Christmas/birthday gift LOL). The photon is well worth the money and won't break the bank, you may find that this scope may satisfy your hunting needs.

If not, then start saving up for the big plunge into thermal, sell everything, work an extra job, pickup aluminum cans or what ever it take to do it right and you'll be glad you did.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5931803 09/16/15 08:34 PM
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Even though I'm happy with my Armasight Nemisis I wish I'd have saved up for thermal. No kidding, I DID take a job overseas just so I could afford to buy thermal! I'm going to buy the best that I can afford now.


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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5931854 09/16/15 09:10 PM
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Thermal all the way. Comparing NV to thermal is like comparing black powder rifles to an AR-15. Both will do the job, one will do it much better.

I bought a $700 IR scope, sent it back very disappointed with that particular company and scope. I spent many times that on a thermal scope and will be paying for it for a while on my credit card. It is worth every penny I will pay for it.

Do lots of research, watch lots of video, ask lots of questions. Your journey is just beginning. I did about 3 months of research before laying down my money.


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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5931968 09/16/15 10:36 PM
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In my limited experience I've chosen the HD38A for scanning and the N850LR for shooting. They both give a great image and I got the pair for $4300.

Once you get a thermal scanner you'll never go back to anything else.

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Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5932834 09/17/15 01:36 PM
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frdb3ar You've got a good combination. I think you need both thermal and some type of night vision. There are times when one doesn't work as well as the other. I've missed seeing some coyotes with the thermal and picked them up with the night vision. Not sure why, but I think the fur kept the heat signature hidden in corn. I saw their backs moving through the tops of the young corn or I wouldn't have gotten my shot. Hunting with thermal has made my hunts much more productive. I only wish I had bought into thermal earlier, but the first pricing was way out of my league. Even today, I can't see how a 14k thermal is so much better than a 3k one. I can think of a lot of rifles I could buy for 11k. Ha!

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5933300 09/17/15 06:42 PM
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Here is my humble opinion. I have a digital scope. I can see in the dark with an IR torch. I have little doubt I could use it to kill a hog - but it is less than optimal. Biggest issue is that I would have to be swinging a heavy gun around pointing it all sort of stuff to look through the scope. Likewise, as a scope - it does not work all that well as a monocular.

a week after buying the digital scope - I ordered a psv-14 (helmet attached). It can see MUCH better in the dark than the digital (that sees NOTHING w/o the IR torch). I have several rifles set up with IR lasers. I can walk and scan w/o much effort - and the laser will allow me to shoot. HUGE improvement.

but... I noticed that it still has difficultly seeing in shadows (bright areas limit the gain, so shadows are still dark). Some animals seem to be aware of the IR torches - not really scared, but aware. So I got a 640x480 thermal monocular. Would not want to walk with it - but it is mind blowing how many more animals you see when you scan with thermal. That said - it is a monocular. It is not the end all be all solution for a scope (it is great - but it's software makes sighting in painful at best - plus digital magnification kills the resolution).

As for something to sight in with - I put a nail in my target. just heat it with a lighter for a few seconds - it will glow for a bit (couple of minutes). Want longer - maybe fill a cartridge with water and freeze it. Ice will take a while to melt - just make sure it does not drip on your target.

Right now I would love a thermal scope to go with my monocular - but that is another 5k, so not on my short list of spending money.

Last edited by jgc; 09/17/15 06:44 PM.
Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: jgc] #5933500 09/17/15 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted By: jgc
So I got a 640x480 thermal monocular. Would not want to walk with it - but it is mind blowing how many more animals you see when you scan with thermal. That said - it is a monocular. It is not the end all be all solution for a scope (it is great - but it's software makes sighting in painful at best - plus digital magnification kills the resolution).


1X NV is admittedly better for walking around as concerns being able to see where you are stepping, but it ends there. I am not sure how, after owning a monocular, you equate that the software in a thermal makes it less than desirable as a scope. I have seen other posts like yours that state that sighting in with a thermal is difficult. This simply isn't true. I currently own two thermal monoculars and two thermal scopes and have used quite a few others. My choice has always been to use a handwarmer. I am dialed in after a handful of rounds or so, punching the center of the warmer. I think those that say this just don't have experience with the operation of the gear.



Originally Posted By: jgc
As for something to sight in with - I put a nail in my target. just heat it with a lighter for a few seconds - it will glow for a bit (couple of minutes). Want longer - maybe fill a cartridge with water and freeze it. Ice will take a while to melt - just make sure it does not drip on your target.

Right now I would love a thermal scope to go with my monocular - but that is another 5k, so not on my short list of spending money.


OK, basically two sentences there. In the first one you tell us how you sight in a thermal scope. In the second you tell us that you would love to have a thermal scope, but it isn't affordable to you now. I'm confused.

I have never tried it, but I'm thinking a heated nail head at 100 yards is not going to be optimum for sighting in a thermal. Your crosshairs alone would cover it up.

Re: Night vision vs. thermal [Re: drilla4rilla] #5933551 09/17/15 09:43 PM
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Ok i guess ill put on my 2cents. I see people posting about "Digital is all you need". This is true if you are just trying to get one easy pig. Ive had multiple experiences where after the first shot the pigs run off but they stay close by, sometimes coming back and sometimes just hanging out in the brush. If they hang out in the brush and you have a digital scope, youll never see them. I have a digital scope but since Ive gone to thermal Ill never turn back. My digital is for sale in the classifieds btw lizard

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