Looking for Advice

TKO

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Nov 6, 2018
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#1
I have been eyeballing thermals for some time now and am finally in a position where I can make a purchase. I have it down to two, the Trijicon Hunter MK2 or 3, in 19mm or 35 mm and the Flir PTS233. I know these two are pretty far apart in quality which brings me to another question. For those of you that own them do you find that the investment was worth it, do you use them enough to justify the cost?? I have several firearms sitting in the safe that at some point I was excited about and now never use/shoot. I live in Ohio and I have quite a few farm fields to prowl but I am wondering if thermals become an addiction or an individual fad? If they are more of an addiction I would go for the Trijicon, if most of you think its something that gets used a lot initially and then sits in the safe, i would lean towards the Flir-233. Also, do you have to have a monocular to scan the fields or would the 1.5x or the 2.5x optical work good enough? Sorry for nube question if its already been asked many times over!! Thanks
 
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Jan 5, 2014
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Wabaunsee, KS
#2
I suppose the answer is "all over the place" ... but certainly for the folks I know that have the ability to go where the critters are and/or have enough need ... it is the addiction path. If you're a city dweller who has no land and don't know anyone with land etc. and you get a thermal ... well you probably take it out and look up and down the street now and then ... but then it probably sits in the closet mostly.

When I got my first thermal, my expectation was it would be the only one I would ever need. That was an Armasight Apollio 1x, 336(60) back in May 2014. I'd have to make a list and check it twice to be sure ... but it is safe to say I've had over 2 dozen now during the past 4.5 years. Now I have 7 ... and 4 of them are OASYS core devices (2 x Trijicon and 2 x BAE) and I have to say I'm a thermal bigot and an OASYS core bigot.

Most of the time I go out, I take one thermal. The one on the rifle. But most of the time, I'm going out to patrol around my coop area and the pasture where my cattle hang out in the winter. If I'm going with a team or to unfamiliar ground ... and even around here and going a long way, then I take more crap ... 4 of my thermals I can mount on my head for hands free spotting. But the best long distance spotters are the ones on the guns with the most magnification. If you are scanning 1000 yds ... you want as much magnification as you can get ... hecque if you're scanning over 200 yds you want as much as you can get sometimes. If you are inside 100 yds ... THEN you want 1x. You can detect out 1800 yds with 1x (skeet or patrol) ... but can you PID out that far? Well based on inference yes, but could you tell a deer from a yote ? Not unless you could see it move for a while.

If I could only have one though, I'd get the mk2 35mm ... as it is pretty much a "do everything" ... or you can get the reap2 35mm though it will likely cost more.

I'd definitely pass on the small FLIR units, especially if wanting to use then for over 100yds regularly.
 
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TKO

New Hide Member
Nov 6, 2018
22
7
3
#3
I suppose the answer is "all over the place" ... but certainly for the folks I know that have the ability to go where the critters are and/or have enough need ... it is the addiction path. If you're a city dweller who has no land and don't know anyone with land etc. and you get a thermal ... well you probably take it out and look up and down the street now and then ... but then it probably sits in the closet mostly.

When I got my first thermal, my expectation was it would be the only one I would ever need. That was an Armasight Apollio 1x, 336(60) back in May 2014. I'd have to make a list and check it twice to be sure ... but it is safe to say I've had over 2 dozen now during the past 4.5 years. Now I have 7 ... and 4 of them are OASYS core devices (2 x Trijicon and 2 x BAE) and I have to say I'm a thermal bigot and an OASYS core bigot.

Most of the time I go out, I take one thermal. The one on the rifle. But most of the time, I'm going out to patrol around my coop area and the pasture where my cattle hang out in the winter. If I'm going with a team or to unfamiliar ground ... and even around here and going a long way, then I take more crap ... 4 of my thermals I can mount on my head for hands free spotting. But the best long distance spotters are the ones on the guns with the most magnification. If you are scanning 1000 yds ... you want as much magnification as you can get ... hecque if you're scanning over 200 yds you want as much as you can get sometimes. If you are inside 100 yds ... THEN you want 1x. You can detect out 1800 yds with 1x (skeet or patrol) ... but can you PID out that far? Well based on inference yes, but could you tell a deer from a yote ? Not unless you could see it move for a while.

If I could only have one though, I'd get the mk2 35mm ... as it is pretty much a "do everything" ... or you can get the reap2 35mm though it will likely cost more.

I'd definitely pass on the small FLIR units, especially if wanting to use then for over 100yds regularly.
Wow, thanks for the detailed explaination and the advice! I am sure you are right as in responses all over the place but its a start. 7 thermals sounds like an addiction lol. Is it true if I buy a Trijicon MK2 in 20mm that I can upgrade it to a 35mm if I want to?? Thanks again
 
Jan 5, 2014
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Wabaunsee, KS
#4
... if I buy a Trijicon MK2 in 20mm that I can upgrade it to a 35mm if I want to?? ...
Yes.

I started with a mk2 35mm and used that for a year, then upgraded to the mk3 35mm ... and used that for a year, then upgraded to the mk3 60mm ... that cost me an extra $500 ... but it spread the cost out.
 
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TKO

New Hide Member
Nov 6, 2018
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#5
Yes.

I started with a mk2 35mm and used that for a year, then upgraded to the mk3 35mm ... and used that for a year, then upgraded to the mk3 60mm ... that cost me an extra $500 ... but it spread the cost out.
HMMM, that sounds like my angle, If I use it a lot, upgrade it, if I find it just sits around after a year or so, sell it off. I have a supressed 5.56, what type of distance can I expect to get w/ the MK2 20mm? Also, would you be afraid of buying a used MK2 in good condition? Thanks
 
Apr 4, 2011
228
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Fort Worth, Texas
#6
Wig is the expert here but I’ll chime in some too. I have a Pulsar XP50, Reap IR35 gen 1 and had a Flir 233. All have their place but each do it differently. I got the Flir first and had no experience before other than looking through my buddies ATN but was hooked immediately. The Flir was pretty badass. I could see things I had never seen before. Deer en masse after dark when I hadn’t seen any day while hunting. And the Flir served me well and hope it serves its new owner as well as it did me.

But as anything I get interested in I start to tinker. I have a hundred acres not too far from where I live that I can hunt pigs at and do at least once a week and sometimes more. While pming with Wig one night I found myself making a pretty lowball offer on a Reap Ir used off the bay. Like new and all that. I may be the minority but with eBay and PayPal I never worry about getting ripped off and if it sucked I would just complain and get my money back. Anyways they accept and it shows up like new.

Well I get my 123s and load it up and NUC it with the cover on like the instructions say. NUC it again and then wander into the backyard after dark the day it shows up. BLOWN AWAY. Not sure if any of you guys have poor vision like I did when I was young and just managed to get by and then got contacts and realized the leaves on the trees were actually visable or not but it was that kind of difference. The night changed from kinda seeing what was going on with the Flir to full HD.

So I can go on and will if you like but that’s how it is. Flir is great for up close and an option if you can’t swing Pulsar or Trijicon. I would say Pulsar is 70% of Trijicon and has a lot more options if those rock your boat and do what you want them to do. Trijicon is where it’s at if you can afford it from what I have seen. But I don’t have experience with .mil grade stuff.

Used is what it is. I’ve found most people take care of their stuff and stand behind what they sell so I wouldn’t be too worried about that as long as you vet them. For the way I hunt I like to have the ability to scan so I generally use two thermals. The Reap as my scanner and the Pulsar as my shooter. Primarily as I’m playing with the PIP option right now. As for distance I would say the Trijicon 35mm is probably good for spotting way off and PID somewhere in 2-300 range depending on conditions. Others may say more. If you are hunting coyotes and taking 300 yard shots then probably have to have 60mm and maybe not enough even then.

Cliffs- Trijicon if you can afford it. Hunting distance will tell you which model you want.
 
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Jan 5, 2014
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Wabaunsee, KS
#7
... what type of distance can I expect to get w/ the MK2 20mm? Also, would you be afraid of buying a used MK2 in good condition? Thanks ...

Detection: At least 1800yds, that's the farthest I recall, that's cattle in an open pasture.

PID: Yotes at 500yds for sure, father in some conditions.

Shooting: Max 300yds, using the critter as the reticle. But for over 100yds I like a range finder.



All those distances are less in bad thermal conditions.


==
I bought a used mk2 35mm in good condition for my first IRD (a.k.a. trijicon) ... and used SNIPE and a used PATROL ... and now I have multiple experiences with ird/trijicon support, so even less afraid. They will fix it if it breaks.
 

Hobbes442

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Mar 4, 2018
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#9
I have IRHunter mark2 35mm like Wig - I have had for 3-4yrs and love it- I have Radius also - a must for gauging distances at night
 

TKO

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Nov 6, 2018
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#10
Thanks for the excellent input, I think I am going to start looking for a used Trijicon IR Hunter in 20mm and upgrade to the 35mm next year.
 

TKO

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Nov 6, 2018
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#11
I have IRHunter mark2 35mm like Wig - I have had for 3-4yrs and love it- I have Radius also - a must for gauging distances at night
Nce .308 set-up, what distances do you shoot and what are you hunting? Thanks
 
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Jan 5, 2014
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#12
... That thing is so short - what end is the front?
haha





Yeah that's a lot of crap on there but I think I'm gonna have to add one more. The carbine is 11 pounds 10 OZ plus or minus a little, depending on the number of rounds in the magazine. But I can still hold it up with no strain. That's mostly because it is so short. This carbine is primarily designed to be a "night spotter with a barrel" ... though for short distances ... out to even 200yds it can and has killed. And it can stretch out to 300yds as well, though it is just "peppering" after that. But it is a great spotter to use in conjunction with the UTCx on the rifle.
I still need to add an HPR103 to provide azimuth, inclination and cant. And that will have to go where the radius is now, so perhaps both the radius and the CQBL will be displaced and I presume even the 6 o'clock will be used.
 
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Hobbes442

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Mar 4, 2018
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#13
Very nice, what do you hunt, distances, and what version of the IR Hunter is that?

Nce .308 set-up, what distances do you shoot and what are you hunting? Thanks
shooting 50-225yards - goal is to sneak up close as possible when wind is favorable
 

TKO

New Hide Member
Nov 6, 2018
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#15
Does anyone know if the sensor resolution (640X480) , sensor pitch (12 Microns) and the frame rate (60 HZ) are the same if I buy an older IR Hunter MKII 35mm (PRE Trijicon)? I guess I should be asking what year these upgrades were made? Thanks
 
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Jan 5, 2014
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#16
Yes they are the same. The only hardware difference between the mk2 35mm and the mk3 35mm is going to the 2 latch larue mount for the mk3 versus one latch mount for the mk2
All the other differences are software
 
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EZtoForget

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Apr 11, 2018
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#17
Detection: At least 1800yds, that's the farthest I recall, that's cattle in an open pasture.

PID: Yotes at 500yds for sure, father in some conditions.

Shooting: Max 300yds, using the critter as the reticle. But for over 100yds I like a range finder.



All those distances are less in bad thermal conditions.


==
I bought a used mk2 35mm in good condition for my first IRD (a.k.a. trijicon) ... and used SNIPE and a used PATROL ... and now I have multiple experiences with ird/trijicon support, so even less afraid. They will fix it if it breaks.
How do you like the radius for night work? I just traded a pistol for one. My intention is to slave it to my xp50 to help me with range estimates.
 

EZtoForget

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Apr 11, 2018
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#19
Awesome! I think I made a good choice. To me it seems more versatile than the lrf model of the xp50 and probably faster given the way the software works in order to range with that scope.
 

Hobbes442

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Mar 4, 2018
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#20
Radius is a game changer if you already have thermal . anyone that hunts thermal knows that judging distances is hardest thing at night . this makes the you a lot more confident in your shots now
 

EZtoForget

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Apr 11, 2018
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#21
What is your guys preferred method of zeroing the radius to the thermal. I am using an xp50. I'm assuming I won't be able to see the visible laser through the thermal, but I've never tried looking at a visible laser through thermal either, I imagine there is not heat. Are you just zeroing the thermal then throwing it in a very stable rest with the reticle on a point and moving the laser to that point also? Thanks.
 
Jan 5, 2014
1,277
235
63
Wabaunsee, KS
#22
Hum, I don't think the radius' usefulness has much to do with thermal. I think it is useful period.

In the day time, many hunters might be able to judge distance based on looking at the terrain. Around here, because most of our fields are on a grid system, called "sections" (which are 1 mile by 1 mile) our fields are typically divisions of the sections ... a sq 440x440 yards or 880x880yds etc. And when we reach a new field, we might use our range finders (hand held or otherwise) to construct a quick mental range card, like "That tree line is 660yds, the tree line over there is 330yds, that pond is 311 yds to the center of it, etc. And this sort of range card is fine for approximate distances, but might not be precise enough to shoot with.
So the radius can tell us how far away the critter is and if we've memorized our DOPE sufficiently, we can shoot quickly after accounting for wind and elevation.

With the thermal, perhaps what Hobbes is thinking of, it that under some thermal conditions, it is harder to see the terrain. In this "wash out" conditions (caused by wind, rain, ice, etc.) we might see "a sea of grey". Now the critters still stand out, but the terrain might be "suppressed" and hence, even if shooting on known ground you might not be able to see you usual "tree over there" ... or "fence post over there". However, most (but not all) thermals have an adjustment for this situation that helps a lot and that is variously called "gain" or "contrast". They are synonyms. My military thermals call it "gain" the civilians ones call it "contrast". But no matter. When I boot up a thermal, I'm set to middle of the range. By cranking up 1, 2 or 3 click I can add "contrast" ... and that makes a huge difference. Now the "sea of grey" is a "grainer" but non-sea-of-grey image. I can again see that tree and that fence post. I now have my bearings.

I hear many folks I talk to tell me, "when I got my thermal - I set it up for a good image and I don't touch it" ... well oh my .. maybe I used to do that, but I do not do that any more. I fiddle with my controls all the time. More than half the nights I'm out there (including last night where we had 20-25 MPH wind) I crank up the gain. Usually 2-3 clicks on the UTC or the Mk3 60mm. And without that, I would see sea-of-grey but with it I have my terrain back and by orientation.
I also adjust the brightness. Too much brightness can cause headaches (due to the mis-match of brightness in the two eyes) and reduce your natural night vision. So actually, you want to slowly dial down your brightness while you are out there. I start by clicking it down one notch in the first 5m while I'm nucing.
Oh and speaking of nucing. I nuc a lot. My guideline is 5 times in the first 5 mins. And then at least once every 5m thereafter. And I nuc when I can so I don't need to nuc when I can't (with target critter in sight).
And changing the pallet. When you first get a new thermal, especially one with a different core than you've used before. Experiment a lot with the pallets in different conditions and decided which ones work for you. I usually settle on 2-3 pallets that I use all the time and ignore the others, especially those FLIR "psycedelic" ones :)
I do "invert" which I see a critter or hot spot I cannot ID. And sometimes that helps. I am on black hot 98% of the time, but I switch to white hot, to try to help with PID on occasion.

==

Now do we really even need range finders when hunting at night ??? :)

Well, I am usually using 1 or 2 weapons these days:

5.56(10.3) IMI 77gr
7.62(22) FGMM 175gr

My holds for the 5.56(10.3) are flat out to 175yds ... then 6 inches up for 200yds, 12 inches up for 250yds and 20 inches up for 300yds ... after that I'm just peppering the target.

And for the 7.62(22) ... flat out to 225 .. then 6 inches up for 250 and 12 inches up for 300yds.
At 350yds 1.5 mils
At 400yds 2 Mils
at 450yds 2.5 mils
at 500yds 3.1 mils
Which is as far as I would shoot at a yote.

So, it matters for the 5.56(10.3) at over 175yds ... and it matters for the 7.62 and over 225yds ...
So far, I've shot 3 critters at over 200yds and a third at over 300yds. And that's out of 260 critters over the past 3 years. Almost all inside 100yds. So based on that, I don't need a range finder on my rifle !!! :D
That said, I'm trying to increase my distance and probability of kill on yotes and for that purpose, I think the range finder will help a lot. But I need a year of using it to prove it. The year has already started :) call it 1 Nov 2018, the start of the year.

==
So optimize your image every time you go out and continuously while you are out ... and know your DOPE and make your mental range cards for where you are operating ... and inside a certain distance you don't need to know the exact range ... otherwise, enjoy using your rifle mounted LRF to help with those longer distance shots ... I am ! :D
 
Last edited:
Jan 5, 2014
1,277
235
63
Wabaunsee, KS
#23

AMTGMC

New Hide Member
Sep 9, 2018
13
5
3
#26
Hum, I don't think the radius' usefulness has much to do with thermal. I think it is useful period.

In the day time, many hunters might be able to judge distance based on looking at the terrain. Around here, because most of our fields are on a grid system, called "sections" (which are 1 mile by 1 mile) our fields are typically divisions of the sections ... a sq 440x440 yards or 880x880yds etc. And when we reach a new field, we might use our range finders (hand held or otherwise) to construct a quick mental range card, like "That tree line is 660yds, the tree line over there is 330yds, that pond is 311 yds to the center of it, etc. And this sort of range card is fine for approximate distances, but might not be precise enough to shoot with.
So the radius can tell us how far away the critter is and if we've memorized our DOPE sufficiently, we can shoot quickly after accounting for wind and elevation.

With the thermal, perhaps what Hobbes is thinking of, it that under some thermal conditions, it is harder to see the terrain. In this "wash out" conditions (caused by wind, rain, ice, etc.) we might see "a sea of grey". Now the critters still stand out, but the terrain might be "suppressed" and hence, even if shooting on known ground you might not be able to see you usual "tree over there" ... or "fence post over there". However, most (but not all) thermals have an adjustment for this situation that helps a lot and that is variously called "gain" or "contrast". They are synonyms. My military thermals call it "gain" the civilians ones call it "contrast". But no matter. When I boot up a thermal, I'm set to middle of the range. By cranking up 1, 2 or 3 click I can add "contrast" ... and that makes a huge difference. Now the "sea of grey" is a "grainer" but non-sea-of-grey image. I can again see that tree and that fence post. I now have my bearings.

I hear many folks I talk to tell me, "when I got my thermal - I set it up for a good image and I don't touch it" ... well oh my .. maybe I used to do that, but I do not do that any more. I fiddle with my controls all the time. More than half the nights I'm out there (including last night where we had 20-25 MPH wind) I crank up the gain. Usually 2-3 clicks on the UTC or the Mk3 60mm. And without that, I would see sea-of-grey but with it I have my terrain back and by orientation.
I also adjust the brightness. Too much brightness can cause headaches (due to the mis-match of brightness in the two eyes) and reduce your natural night vision. So actually, you want to slowly dial down your brightness while you are out there. I start by clicking it down one notch in the first 5m while I'm nucing.
Oh and speaking of nucing. I nuc a lot. My guideline is 5 times in the first 5 mins. And then at least once every 5m thereafter. And I nuc when I can so I don't need to nuc when I can't (with target critter in sight).
And changing the pallet. When you first get a new thermal, especially one with a different core than you've used before. Experiment a lot with the pallets in different conditions and decided which ones work for you. I usually settle on 2-3 pallets that I use all the time and ignore the others, especially those FLIR "psycedelic" ones :)
I do "invert" which I see a critter or hot spot I cannot ID. And sometimes that helps. I am on black hot 98% of the time, but I switch to white hot, to try to help with PID on occasion.

==

Now do we really even need range finders when hunting at night ??? :)

Well, I am usually using 1 or 2 weapons these days:

5.56(10.3) IMI 77gr
7.62(22) FGMM 175gr

My holds for the 5.56(10.3) are flat out to 175yds ... then 6 inches up for 200yds, 12 inches up for 250yds and 20 inches up for 300yds ... after that I'm just peppering the target.

And for the 7.62(22) ... flat out to 225 .. then 6 inches up for 250 and 12 inches up for 300yds.
At 350yds 1.5 mils
At 400yds 2 Mils
at 450yds 2.5 mils
at 500yds 3.1 mils
Which is as far as I would shoot at a yote.

So, it matters for the 5.56(10.3) at over 175yds ... and it matters for the 7.62 and over 225yds ...
So far, I've shot 3 critters at over 200yds and a third at over 300yds. And that's out of 260 critters over the past 3 years. Almost all inside 100yds. So based on that, I don't need a range finder on my rifle !!! :D
That said, I'm trying to increase my distance and probability of kill on yotes and for that purpose, I think the range finder will help a lot. But I need a year of using it to prove it. The year has already started :) call it 1 Nov 2018, the start of the year.

==
So optimize your image every time you go out and continuously while you are out ... and know your DOPE and make your mental range cards for where you are operating ... and inside a certain distance you don't need to know the exact range ... otherwise, enjoy using your rifle mounted LRF to help with those longer distance shots ... I am ! :D

I think you need a 224 valkyrie then just send me that radius !
Just really wanted to say I get alot out of your posts and thanks for sharing the knowledge.
I'm interested in getting into coyote hunting in the near future and gathering some insight on NV and thermal.