Feedback regarding mid price thermal imaging scope for predator hunting ?

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by westcliffe01, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    I'm looking to expand my predator hunting to night time since that is when they are most active. My activity is exclusively on private land, usually farmland with livestock (hence predation).

    I have been out at night with electronic caller, predator light and a scope with an illuminated reticle, but what scares me to death is that it is impossible to tell whether there might be sheep, horses or whatever behind my intended target (which is only eye reflections - one generally can't see the body).

    To be more effective and safer (which will result in more shots fired) I am thinking of getting a mid range thermal weapon sight. It is a very big ticket item, but I can't see anything else I can do which would give more bang for the buck. We are talking about $8000...

    Is there anyone who can give me any practical advice / feedback on any of these devices ? I have been looking at the ATN Thor 320 sights. There are a few clip on devices now, but I am put off since they mention "light caliber" weapons like the M16/M4 and I want to be able to use this on any rifle I own at this price... The Thor 640's (much better resolution) start at $11k which is well out my budget...
     
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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  3. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    $22k ??? Don't think so. I'm not asking for taxpayer help for this bill....
     
  4. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Did you contact him? Or was it just easier to post a smart reply back?

    Sorry, was just trying to help you.:rolleyes:

    Jeff
     
  5. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    Jeff, the unit he was looking at is a full spec military unit that has been in production since 1998. The $5-8k ATN Thor units will not even be close. He was asking for an opinion on that unit and didn't get a reply yet.

    Its possible that people who own this equipment don't talk much about it.
     
  6. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    It's possible I know the man. lightbulb
     
  7. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    Thermal cameras are great for detecting mammals, but not so good at recognizing the difference between similar mammals. Thermal sights are expensive because they are designed and built to withstand shock and recoil. You could save money by going with a handheld thermal camera, rather than a thermal weapon sight. Once you confirm the shot is safe (no other mammals behind the target) using a handheld thermal camera, you could take the shot quickly using your existing equipment.

    That's what I do during nighttime live fire tests. This is the model I use for range safety.
    FLIR-hs-307-patrol-65mm-thermal-camera

    The model you're looking at has about 1/3 the range of the FLIR because the lens focal length is shorter. The range to detect a man-size object is 450 m for the ATN 320. I'm guessing that the range to recognize a man (tell the difference between two different size and shape men) is only about 113 m. The range to recognize something about half that size (i.e., coyote vs small lamb) is about 56 m.

    So, you can tell the difference between a coyote and small livestock out to about 60 yards, which is pretty short. However, you can detect the presence of large livestock out to to about 900 yds. These are very rough range estimates because range is dependent on the size of the target.
     
  8. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    Bruce, thanks for the critique. Just to clarify, the Thor 320's are mainly available with a 50mm focal length. The Flir unit you refer to is a 65mm focal length. That does not seem to be a huge difference.

    The link you provided says you can recognize a man at 320m with the Flir yet Thor says man recognition at 600m ? This is with the 4.5x version. The 6x specifies 800m ?

    In my current application I would not have a shot past 450 yards under any circumstances and typical engagement is <200 yards at night. Michigan does not allow the use of center fire rifles at night, but I am thinking longer term since a move to CO is on the cards.

    My primary livestock concern is horses and I also need to not engage whitetail deer which are generally at least twice the size of a coyote and move in a completely different manner.

    If brush and tall grass was less of an issue, then I might consider the route you are taking and use conventional night vision gear + a Flir type spotting scope. What surprises me is that the handheld device you linked to starts at close to $6000 and appears to be a LEO only device (I get the impression Flir is not selling to regular citizens by policy). So that particular device seems to be off the table for me anyhow.
     
  9. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't actually suggesting that you buy the FLIR model. I mentioned it as a point of reference. Sorry for not being clearer. The point I was trying to make was that a handheld thermal camera should be cheaper and may be sufficient for what you really need to do (detection more than recognition). Other things to consider: a handheld camera is easier to use for wildlife spotting. Also your zero will change slightly when you swap optics from day to night and back.

    I Googled the ATN Thor 320 and the first one I found had a 19 mm focal length lens. The difference in range roughly corresponded to the difference in focal length (19 vs 65 mm). That's what I would have expected for two lenses of the same f-number. If the 50 mm ATN lens has a longer detection range than the 65 mm FLIR lens, then the ATN lens f-number must be lower. If not, then I would question ATN's criteria for detection. I know that FLIR uses the same standard for detection range that the US Army uses. I don't know what standard ATN uses.

    Incidentally, we had to prove that we were using the FLIR on a government contract to buy it. I'm not clear why sale of the FLIR is so restricted. FLIR may be ultra-cautious because so much of it's business is to the US military.

    Most of the microbolometer detectors on the market have similar sensitivity (0.05-0.1 deg C @ f/1.0). Differences in detection range are primarily due to differences in the lens (focal length and f-number). If I were going to spend my own money on one of these devices, I would compare lens specs carefully.

    FYI, I use an intensified weapon sight (Magnum universal night sight) for weapon aiming on nighttime live fire tests, mainly because I shoot at targets, not mammals.
     
  10. infidel 811

    infidel 811 Well-Known Member

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    West u have a pm
     
  11. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    For the moment, I have a night legal (in MI) 22 magnum rifle which I only use for nocturnal coyote hunting. I presently have a 1.5-4.5 Weaver scope on it with a single illuminated aiming point which is very small. So going forward, I would be removing the low power conventional scope and fitting just the thermal imaging sight. Unlike night vision, one can use a TI system in daylight if pressed but that would only be in an emergency type situation.

    Loss of zero would not really apply unless for some reason I had a need to swap it onto a high power rifle / carbine due to some sort of exigent situation that involved 2 legged predators. Given the way self defense law works, I am assuming that the POI shift would be minimal at the kind of ranges common to self defense situations.

    Perhaps in the future I will consider the addition of a gen 3 or 4 sighting system to round out my capabilities (once you detect something with TI and verify a safe backstop, then you might find it in a NV scope). Right now the few small TI spotters that are available are not very capable and quite expensive, leaving little in the budget for a good NV system to go along with it. I will however weigh this option in case one could potentially put together a better system.
     
  12. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    I get it now. I missed the rimfire part. The longer 50 mm focal length Thor 320 should work fine for that range, even for recognition.

    Let us know how the thermal weapon sight works for you.