Several outdoors and gun writers - including yours truly - visited the famed Gun Site Academy near Prescott, Arizona, last spring where we got to shoot several of Ruger's newest rifle offerings topped with FLIR's latest thermal optics designed for the consumer market. We also got to try several of the handheld products out, including using them on a daytime scavenger hunt looking for, of all things, stuffed animals that were also stuffed with ice packs. Yes, it doesn't have to be just heat that registers a thermal "signature" with these new units. Even cold spots show up as something outside of the norm.
We tried lots of products, including the new $199 FLIR One Gen 3 thermal camera, which easily attaches to your smartphone and transforms it into a specialized sensor that can detect thermal signatures in your yard and home. Besides revealing people and animals, it can also help identify places where houses are leaking warmth and cold or find water or electrical damage. It uses technology that had a price tag of $19,000 just 11 years ago, according to Angelo Brewer, FLIR’s FLIR Outdoor and Tactical Sales Manager.
The Scout TK monocular is an affordable $599 and offers good clarity out to nearly 100 yards. Scout III models can detect a human’s thermal signature out past 1,200 yards. The top end of this line is a unit sporting a 640 x 480 resolution sensor, 30Hz frame rate and 640 x 480 pixel LCD screen and selling for about $2,700. Them, there's the new FLIR Breach PTQ136 monocular, weighing just 7.4 ounces and easil;y carried in a pocket or purse. Originally designed for law enforcement, it’s retail price of $2,495 isn’t out of reach of some consumers. The image quality through the 1280 x 960 display is detailed.
Below are additional photos from our Gun Site expedition.