FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Pulsar Thermion XP50 Thermal Scope

    This week we will take a look at an interesting thermal scope. When you think of thermal weapon sights they have a stereotypical look. The ATN Thor4 has a distinct thermal device look to it even though they tried to make parts of it compatible with traditional scope rings. It still screams thermal device. My Flir T50, while it is a thermal clip on it definitely has a distinct look to it. The Pulsar Thermion XP50, on the other hand, looks like a normal day scope to the untrained eye. However, the aesthetics of the XP50 is only skin deep. The resolution and performance of the XP50 are amazing.

    Thermion XP50 Is A Good Looking Scope

    Why am I making a big deal about the aesthetics of the XP50? Because it looks so cool. Pulsar really tried to make it look like a regular day scope.

    Because the XP50 has a traditional day scope style body you can use any scope ring or mount that you want. I used a 30mm cantilever mount that Sellmark sent with the XP50. It looks at home on the Cobalt Kinetics 27 Expert, the blue accents of the XP50 go well with it.

    The Thermion XP50 has a 50 mm germanium lens and has 640×480 resolution. The front objective lens is rotatable to focus on your target. The rear eye piece has a diopter to help you see the inner display.

    The turrets are vestigial. The side turret cap removes to reveal the micro USB port for recharging the first battery and to download any photos or videos the XP50 captured.

    I mentioned above that the micro USB port is for recharging the first battery, that is because the XP50 has a second battery underneath the top turret cap. The built-in battery is housed inside the rear half of the XP50 body and is not removable. The secondary battery is removable and is charged in a dual battery charger.


    Photo by Pulsar. You can see where the first onboard battery is housed in the XP50.

    At the rear of the XP50 are the main controls. The blue button is the power button. REC is for recording photos or video depending on what mode you are in. Just press and hold the REC button to switch between photos or video and a quick press the start recording.

    The + button controls magnification. Press for stepped magnification 2x, 4x, 8x, and 16x. If you press and hold down the + button, the XP50 will switch to picture in picture (PIP) magnification. So rather than digitally zoom the entire image, you just see a small PIP.

    On the left side of the XP50 is the control wheel. This access the settings menu. A light press of the gray button brings up the brightness, contrast, and range finder. A long press exits this menu and press the button and hold it again will get you into the main menu where you can change reticles, zero the reticle, change color palettes, enable WiFi, etc.

    For use in the day time, the XP50 has an eyecup. Interestingly it is held on with magnets. Other optical devices like some thermal and night vision scopes have an eyecup retaining ring that mechanically holds the eyecup in place.

    Thermal Vision – Be The Predator

    Other than the aesthetics of the XP50, what really amazed me was the resolution. I only have experienced the ATN ThOr4, a FLIR Breach and my FLIR T50 before and the XP50 blows them out of the water.

    Just look at the photos below.

    At a private range.

    The picture above was taken at the same range I tested the ATN ThOr4. I could see so much more with the XP50 and at further distances.

    You can see the PIP zoom at the top of the image.

    Here is a video compilation of some of the tests I did with the XP50.

    The XP50 has a wide range of reticles to choose from.

    Some of them get bigger like an SFP scope.

    At 16X the reticle above has dots for adjusting Kentucky windage style.

    While some of these reticles get bigger when you zoom in, they do not seem to correspond to MOA or MRAD but at least you have a frame of reference to adjust your aim and make corrections like I did when I tried shooting a 1000 yard target.

    In the settings menu you can also change the color of the reticle black, white, yellow, green, blue, as well as some have a red or green dot in the center.


    XP50 Conclusion

    The PIP magnification window is great. I can zoom in on my target but still have a wide field of view for better situational awareness. I did find some of the thermal detection to not be that great in the day time but that is to be expected. In the video above you could see that it does not pick up people that well. I was able to see and hit a steel target at 1,000 yards away but they are painted white which does a great job at reflecting heat. So the steel targets were colder than the ground. Right around dusk, the steel targets at the range I go to would show up much better since the ground is cooling down. I noticed if the target is black then it absorbs more thermal heat and shows up easier in the XP50.

    What truly surprised me was that the XP50 could see almost 3,000 yards away. I was able to see cars driving along the 5 FWY which was approximately 2,888 yards from where I was. However, that is on par with their detection range. Recognition and identification are completely different. While I could detect there were vehicles moving on the 5 FWY I could not recognize if they were cars or SUVs. I could see if it was maybe a semi towing a trailer but I would not be able to ID a car from an SUV at that distance. Real recognition and identification is at much closer distances like 200 yards and in.

    The freezing due to recalibration is a bit annoying and you just have to wait it out. Also there is no audio recording with the video since this was an early production sample sent out for review. However I was told they will have a firmware update that will fix that problem. The XP50 does feature a quick start up. Press the power button and it turns on in just 3-4 seconds. The price is a bit steep though at $5,499.99 to $4,999.99 depending on which retailer you buy it from. However considering the ATN ThOr4 retails for $4,300, I think the capabilities of the Thermion XP50 outshine the ATN and it is definitely worth the money.  For more info go to Pulsar’s website.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]