FLIR’s been making thermal sights for as long as people have been using the technology, but historically they have always been for governments, and always exorbitantly priced.
The R-series of thermal weapon sights are the latest offering from FLIR Personal Vision systems, and offer what looks to be an impressive system for an affordable price. As affordable as thermal gets anyway.
Unlike the T60 and T70 series from FLIR Government systems, the RS units are well under $10,000. The entry level unit, the RS-24 has an MSRP of $3499.
Like the ATN Odin or the Armasight Zeus: the Thermosight RS is a stand-alone rifle sight built on FLIR’s Tau core with a variety of palettes and reticles.
But the FLIR unit is much less a “tv screen” and more like a traditional rifle optic with 3 inches of eye relief and an integral Larue mount. With a 640×480 display in all variants of the RS, you get a clear image through the sight.
Recoil is always an issue with rifle mounting opto-electronics, and FLIR has built a recoil reduction system into the system. A strategic structural design means that the Thermosight is rated for recoil up to a semi-auto .308. One has to wonder what sort of calibers would be useable when combined with a Recoil Rail or similar additional system.
In all, six different rifle sights will fall under the R-series. The lowest magnification and sensor is a basic 1x lens with a 240×180 detecor and the highest is a 16x option with a 640×480 detector. Reticles are identical between models, but some colour palettes are reserved for the higher end units. Interestingly the 320×240 scopes run at a lighnting fast 60hz, while the base models, and the long range 640×480 options run at the standard 30hz.
The high magnification units use a manual focus while the smaller lensed units are an autofocus. All units have ± 6 eyepiece diopter that can compensate for different shooter’s eyes.
All the RS units use a lithium ion battery, which should last around 4 hours depending on the brightness of your display and the temperature of your environment. They charge using a standard USB, and are fully submersible, dust proof, etc.
Most of what you’ve just read is important, but could easily come off a FLIR datasheet. Some personal thoughts from my hands on time with the unit:
It feels like a proper rifle scope, not a camera slapped on a gun. That makes a difference to me.
I love that they included a standard German No. 4 reticle. And the ability to change its colours.
I’m a traditional FLIR guy: I use white hot polarity, or black hot polarity. That’s about it. Its neat that they’ve included a number of other palettes, but personally I’d never use them.
The menu and button interactions are well thought out and labeled. I was maneuvering through before the rep had a chance to explain them and everything made sense.
You can hold down the in or out button for a continuous zoom, which moves a little slow for my taste, but tapping them lets you quickly and easily jump between 4 different existing zooms.
I was worried they’d be heavy. Night vision sights of any kind are often much weightier than they’re daytime counter-parts. These were not. Depending on lens they hover around 2lbs more weight on your rifle.
I like the inclusion of nice looking FLIR branded lens covers, and appreciate the alternate rear eyepiece. This winged eyepiece is actually less for nighttime light discipline and more useful as a daytime block to keep the LCD display visible but keeping your eyeball back from the recoiling scope.
Since its inception Personal Vision Systems has been great at producing civilian and export legal devices. The RS certainly hits the first part of that, but I think it’s unlikely I’ll get to take one into the Canadian Rockies anytime soon. Curiously: as of press-time, there is still some uncertainty on whether the RS will be available in California.
The rest of the Free World should be getting their hands on all the RS variants this Spring.