Friday Night Lights: Steiner Nighthunter C35 Thermal Clip-On

    The night of Friday is upon us and we shed some light on this week’s Friday Night Lights subject. The Steiner Nighthunter C35 is an entry-level thermal device that performs better than expected. Let’s take a closer look at this thermal clip-on.

    Steiner @ TFB:

    Steiner Nighthunter C35

    The Nighthunter C35 is a simple design. It is a big metal box with an objective lens and an ocular lens out the back. All the controls are at the top of the housing. There is a D-Pad with a button in the middle.

    Nighthunter C35

    Here is an explanation of what the buttons do.

    On the left side ion the Nighthunter C35, there is a USB-C port, mini HDMI and the throw lever for the Picatinny mount.

    The Nighthunter C35 is powered by a single 18650 battery. You need to use flat-top 18650s, not the longer protected button cells. The unit can run for about 2.5 hours per battery. You can augment this with the USB-C port and run a portable USB power bank but it will not recharge the battery. You need to use the bundled li-ion battery charger in order to recharge the 18650.


    Technical Specs:

    • Quantum Vision
    • 640X480 12μm
    • 50HZ
    • 35MM f/1.0 Focal Length
    • Picture and Video Recording
    • 16GB Internal Storage
    • 2.4 GHZ WiFi
    • Mobile app Connectivity
    • 6 Color Palettes
    • Hot Spot Tracking
    • Picture-in-picture
    • Stadiametric Rangefinder
    • Scene and Shutter Calibration Modes
    • 3 Scene Modes
    • Micro Hdmi Video Out
    • USB-c
    • Rugged Durability
    • Manual Objective Focus
    • ≫ 2.5 Hour Battery Life

    The Nighthunter C35 has a focusable objective lens. Something I very much prefer in a thermal device. It also has onboard video recording and photo capture. It has 16Gb of internal storage and can connect to the Steiner app to live view and download videos or photos. You can plug the Nighthunter C35 into your computer using the USB-C cable and download the videos or photos directly.

    The Nighthunter C35 seems bulky but does not take up that much space. You can see it fits perfectly on my Desert Tech SRS-A1.


    There are a couple of things I do not like about the Nighthunter C35 but they are minor. One of them is the lens cover. It is a rubber cap that snaps into the inside of the objective lens. When removed, it hangs down. There is no way to hold the lens cap from touching the barrel. If I had a shorter scope, I could bring the C35 further back and the lens cap would rest on the handguard. But for now, this is something to be aware of. It is a minor inconvenience.

    The other thing I do not like is the rear eyepiece. It seems unfinished. It is threaded but the Nighthunter C35 does not come with anything that attaches to it. I figure this is for direct mounting to an objective lens of a scope? However, there is no mention of this in the manual. I would like to see a shroud or some type of cover to cover up the rear eyepiece and the objective lens of your day scope so no light can leak in or out.

    Looking Through The Nighthunter C35


    10x looking at black hot

    10x looking at white hot

    When I first tested the NIghthunter C35, the photos did not match the quality of the image I was seeing. With a little more testing I believe this is one of the best thermal clip-ons I have seen for the price, in terms of image quality.

    The difficult part is capturing what I am seeing through the scope. The Nighthunter C35 is great with an LPVO. So I used my Vortex Razor 1-10x. 10x magnification is the most you want to use with the C35 otherwise the pixels get too big and the image does not look that great. I did notice that I often lose the fine reticle of my Leupold Mark5 HD at lower magnification like 5-6x. Same with the Vortex Razor 1-10x however it does have an illuminated reticle. This helps immensely especially if you like to use black hot. Black hot with a black reticle is not a great combination for aiming.

    Here is a house about 100 yards away.

    The details and definition of this house are just amazing. One other thing I dislike about the Nighthunter C35 is the position of the battery indicator. While it is nice to have in your field of view, it is near the center of the field of view which may cause it to obscure something you are aiming at.

    Zoomed in at full 10x you can see the pixels of the thermal screen.

    The Nighthunter C35 has 6 different color palettes. Some of them make it a bit easier to see your reticle.

    Here are two images taken with the Nighthunter C35. I was testing a new material target by IR Tools. The C35 can show the subtle difference in heat from the plastic light covers on my roof-mounted lights.

    Final Thoughts On The Nighthunter C35

    I really like the image the Steiner Nighthunter C35 produces. However, there are some minor issues that I mentioned earlier. These are not deal breakers. What does sting a bit is the price. When the C35 came out it was under $4,000. My friend got this one for $3,500 IIRC. But due to components and costs increasing the Nighthunter C35 is now set at almost $6,000 MSRP. It is a bit heavy too at 785 grams or 27.69 ounces. That is almost double that of the IRay RH25 Micro. For the same price, I rather buy the RH25 for the smaller size, lighter weight and capability to helmet mount it. You would lose a bit on the magnification as the RH25 ocular only allows for a 6x scope to be behind it. Any more magnification and the image falls apart pretty rapidly. If you can get the Nighthunter for the original price, before the price increase, then it will be a worthwhile purchase. For more information check out Steiner’s website.

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    Nicholas C

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

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]