Pulsar is a fast-growing Belarusian manufacturer of night vision and thermal imaging devices. They are known to update their sales catalogue at a rapid pace, maintaining their position in this developing yet highly competitive market. What is more, they cut down the prices of NV optics, making them more easily accessible to civilian customers.
In the second half of 2017, Pulsar launched the Forward F digital NV clip-on systems that turned out to be a huge hit. Nearly two years later and their incredible popularity is still going strong. Many a time, Pulsar customers have to simply wait in line for the production to catch up with the demand of the market.
This year promises to be no different as Pulsar made sure to solidify their position at the centre of attention. At NSSF SHOT Show 2019, the company unveiled two brand new night vision devices. The first one is the Axion thermal imaging monocular, a worthy successor to the earlier models that belong to the Quantum Lite line of products. But the biggest industry buzz is reserved for the new thermal imaging riflescope Thermion.
The first thing that gave us a double-take is the very shape of this thermal imaging riflescope. It is no different than the one previously reserved for classic riflescopes. This is an extraordinary feat, something that we have not seen before in night vision or thermal imaging optics. Just another proof that Pulsar is making sure to always stay one step ahead of its competition.
You might wonder why we’re making such a fuss over something that may seem superficial. But there’s more to the shape than meets the eye, quite literally. Since the 30-millimetre tube of the device matches those of classic riflescopes completely, finding the perfect mounting solution is made easy. There are plenty of manufacturers who produce 30-millimetre rings, giving the customer the versatility to mount their Pulsar Thermion as they see fit.
Pulsar Thermion thermal imaging riflescope has a very light housing made of magnesium alloy. Magnesium alloy is one of the most durable materials currently used in the industry of sport optics, providing unparalleled protection from the elements and an incredibly favourable strength to weight ratio.
Now enough about the shape of things to come, let’s focus on the optical performance. There are 5 models to choose from, the range being similar to the Helion series: XM30, XM38, XM50, XP38 and XP50. The number, as we are used to, stands for the objective lens diameter. The bigger the lens, the narrower the field of view, but you are able to see more details. XP models boast a better resolution of the microbolometer (640×480 instead of 320×240), which is why the user is able to see even more details. Because of this, they will be priced higher. Some might think that 320×240 is a low resolution, but Pulsar used a smaller pixel size with the XM models that have this resolution (12 μm). Furthermore, Pulsar managed to achieve an impressively crisp image on the display with the help of software. The detection range depends on the model. Interestingly, XM50 has the best detection range (2500 yards / 2300 meters) and XM30 the weakest (1450 yards / 1325 meters). Nevertheless, even 1450 yards is enough for most hunting purposes. Pulsar responded to the popular demand and now there are 8 different colour modes (e.g. White Hot, Black Hot, Ultramarine and Red Monochrome) to pick from.
The eyepiece has three buttons and the blue-coloured one is the power button. The other two can be used to manipulate with the magnification setting and starting/stopping the recording. Pulsar found a nice solution for the turrets. The left one serves for menu selection, and the top one hosts the external battery, covered with a cap. If the user unscrews the cap of the turret on the right, he or she will find a micro-USB port underneath. Its purpose is charging the battery and the transfer of files. The objective and ocular covers are provided.
Pulsar Helion supports the Stream Vision app. That means that this thermal imaging riflescope allows for Wi-Fi connectivity, letting the user to comfortably access and modify device functions with the help of a smartphone (Android or iOS). Pulsar prepared another treat for social media-conscious hunters who want to share their adventures with others and enjoy the feeling of community, no matter the limitations of time and space. Now all observations can be recorded or shared with an audience directly, via live streams on the Youtube platform (with Thermion, you can capture images and videos). Don’t worry if you’d rather keep your spoils for yourself. With 16GB of built-in storage for pictures and videos, Pulsar Thermion has you covered.
The AMOLED-display displays nicely-contrasted, crisp images, full of vivid colours. You will be able to see the smallest details, such as branches, leaves, and grass. Pulsar claims that the device is extremely recoil-proof, capable of withstanding the recoil of .375 H&H or 9.3×64 (6000 joules). For Thermion, Pulsar uses a dual battery system – it features an internal and an external battery. The external battery is said to provide an additional 6 hours of operating time, which means that there are 8 hours of operation in total (At Shot Show, I also learned that the external battery will be available in two sizes, the small one providing 4 hours of additional battery life and the big one providing 6. The big one will also take up more space and thus need a bigger cap). The user can turn on the Picture-in-Picture mode. A magnified image will be displayed in the at the center of the upper part of the display, taking up 10 % of the field of view but providing additional details of the observed object. The device is IPX7 waterproof rated, meaning that it is protected against rain and snow. It can also be submerged up to 1 meter (3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes.
Once again, Pulsar came up with something new. They never fail to amaze. The expected release date is late Summer, while the retail price will be from 2800 $ all the way to 5000 $ in the US (depending on the model, of course). We can expect a great demand for these.
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