FLIR Brings Thermal Optics to the Masses with $3,500 R-Series

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Thermal optics are fantastic for those who hunt nuisance species like hogs, but they’ve always had one huge problem: the price. A typical thermal rifle sight has traditionally been in the same price range as a small car, which puts it out of the reach of the average shooter. The reason for that price is that thermal optics have usually been marketed primarily towards the military, with civilians a secondary consideration. Now, FLIR is introducing a line of thermal optics designed and priced specifically for the consumer — the R-Series.

Unlike some other watered down versions of military-intended products, the R-series optics seem to have all of the same bells and whistles that you would expect. In addition to the optic itself, the the scope features a USB port that will not only charge the optic, but allow you to record the video to a secondary device. It also seems to work really nicely — I had a chance to test it out at the Crimson trace Midnight 3-Gun Invitational last weekend and it was a joy to use.

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The base model RS24 ($3,499 at Optics Planet) offers a 1x thermal sight with no digital zoom, and the only thing you gain with the increased price tag in this series is increased zoom capability. So really, for hunting things in places like Texas, the RS24 is enough scope for your needs.

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The sight uses a standard ACOG mounting system, and comes with a LaRue mount from the factory. If you want to change mounts though, the ACOG mounting design is something that a number of different companies support, so finding additional options should be easy as pie.

The only downside: the scopes aren’t built as tough as their military brethren. The biggest caliber the FLIR reps recommend is .308 Winchester and even that has only been tested to 10,000 impacts. Of course, 5.56 can be handled with ease, along with 300 BLK, but the bigger calibers would require one of the higher-end series scopes to work for any length of time.

The R-Series launched at SHOT Show this year, so they’re still very new to the market. But at this price, even I’m tempted to pick one up.

comments

  1. avatar Royal T says:

    This will be perfect for my Hi-point carbine.

    1. avatar K-Bizz says:

      Lawl.

    2. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

      You have to spend 10x the cost of the rifle on your optics. That’s what all the cool people say online.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        The first Hipster FLIR. Perfect.

      2. avatar The Brotherhood of Steel says:

        Yup, I usually get ripped on because I like my guns naked. No optics, lights, lasers, grips, any of that stuff. I don’t rip on people that do like it, to each their own, but that’s how I was trained. Too keep it simple and rugged for the worst case scenario. So Iron sights and a bayonet. Only attachments I want. However the fact that stuff like this is becoming more readily available for regular people is a great thing. Keep the prices coming down.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Yep, I can spend 3,500 bucks on a night vision device that, not surprisingly, only works at night for my 450 buck rifle or I can(and did) put a 200 buck scope on my rifle and call it good.

          I’m far enough along in years that my hunting rifle wears glass.

  2. avatar TT says:

    I guess I’m not part of the masses. I won’t spend $3,500 on a gun, much less a sight. What’s the likely per hunt cost of this thing?

    1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

      This…

      Seems like all of Leghorn’s reviews these days are of shit most of us can’t get/own or can’t afford. If we want gun porn, we’ll buy print mags so we can get pictures taken by better photographers…

    2. avatar danthemann5 says:

      One of the many hats I wear is that of an infrared thermographer, and I use a FLIR infrared camera for work. When it comes to IR imaging equipment, $3500 is very inexpensive, and FLIR makes top-tier IR imaging equipment.

    3. avatar TheBear says:

      I don’t think the masses spend over a grand on much of anything other than a car.

      1. avatar Toby in KS says:

        Heck, the car I drive cost me $1500. Runs just fine.

        I also shoot deer at 500 yards with a $350 Walmart rifle/scope combo. I do just fine on the frugal side of life, thank you.

        Thermal imaging is drooly, but there is no way I will buy it unless it can be found for $500 or less. Its how I roll.

        1. avatar TheBear says:

          I hear you and most of my friends are that way.

          On the other hand, I’m about to start carrying a $3k pocket knife. 😛 When I was a kid someone told me to buy quality and you’ll only cry once. I’ve taken that advice to heart. As a result, I may not have things by the time other people do, but when I get mine, it’s better.

  3. avatar MRB says:

    There different sized detector arrays, up to VGA, so that is one thing more $$ gets you. No mention of noise/sensitivity (NEDT), but it’s probably ITAR limited to be not so great, which would limit performance out at longer ranges. 30Hz frame rate is probably less an issue for a TWS than for goggles, where you need 60Hz to avoid motion sickness.

    Expect these to continue to drop in price as next generation 12-micron pixel arrays ramp up.

    1. avatar TT says:

      It’s all ball bearings nowadays. Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads . . .

      1. avatar Smack says:

        I love your body, Larry.

    2. avatar Jus Bill says:

      No, expect these to drop in price once Chinese companies start manufacturing them in Vietnam.

      1. avatar MRB says:

        Actually, it already is the Indians, French and Isareli’s. Possibly Turks too.

    3. avatar NotoriousAPP says:

      We’ve been working on 12 pixel for a little while now. It’s coming along albeit slowly. Wafer level packaging of these devices was not as easy as people thought but it does bring the price down considerably.

  4. avatar JT says:

    $3,500? Might be worth mounting on a drone to help track pigs.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    “Only” $3.5K? I’ll take ten!

    1. avatar CB says:

      Yeah, I know it’s sexy Woodhouse. That’s why I bought ten. Now arrange those by color, from black to slightly darker black.

  6. avatar KingSarc48265 says:

    Costs 3X more than my truck!

    (its not a very nice truck)

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Want to sell it? My 18 year old is getting his license soon.

  7. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    I’d have to collect A LOT of coyote bounties to make up for the cost…

  8. avatar Jon in NC says:

    Ill stick with my $10 scope from Wal-mart or my iron sights !

  9. avatar SigGuy says:

    How does a thermal sight work for a 3-gun competition? Are the targets heated before each stage?

    1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

      Beer, meet nose.

    2. avatar danthemann5 says:

      Thermal imaging equipment works based off of surface temperatures. Different materials absorb, reflect, and radiate heat energy differently. A bare steel target would appear as a mirror to infrared due to its low emmissivity and high reflectivity, which would contrast with a non-IR-reflective background. A coated steel target wouldn’t be so reflective due to the coating. Since it would reflect and emit IR radiation differently than the background (trees, dirt, etc.) it would stand out.

      1. avatar SigGuy says:

        Haha, my question was only half serious, but thanks for the detailed explanation. I was just imagining guys with battery powered hair dryers standing in front of all the targets in between shooters.

    3. avatar Chris says:

      Actually, that would be bad ass. Kind of like tank gunnery where heated targets pop up and you have to engage them with the appropriate gun, i.e. 120mm cannon, .50 cal, coax machine gun. They could have a “range rifle” and drop a stage into this http://www.crimsontrace.com/company/crimson-trace-midnight-3-gun-invitational/ next year. Both Crimson Trace and FLIR are HQ’d here in Oregon. Someone make this happen.
      The more I think about it, the more fun I think it would be.

  10. avatar doesky2 says:

    Anybody have some great links on how to hack a known-good solution using off the shelf cheapo stuff for non-serious fun?

    Like for back yard rat and coyote suppressor blasting….

    1. avatar CA.Ben says:

      I think the traditional hack involves a powerful flashlight and excessive amounts of duct tape.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      This company makes a FLIR add-on for the iPhone. It’s about 350 bucks.

      Trying Out the iPhone Infrared Camera: The FLIR One

      http://www.wired.com/2014/08/a-review-of-the-iphone-infrared-camera-the-flir-one/

      1. avatar doesky2 says:

        That’s more like it. Bookmarked.

    3. avatar over-educated economist says:

      Unfortunately, NV is one of those places where you get what you pay for. If there was a super-cheap, super-effective option that was weapon or helmet mountable, you’d be hearing all about it.

  11. avatar big blue says:

    I’d rather be able to rent one than buy.

  12. avatar Fuque says:

    $3500 Bucks is considered priced for the consumer??…Some people are out of touch with reality..even half that price is a bit of a stretch.

    1. avatar Layne says:

      It’s relative to what it is…. A $3500 grilled cheese sandwich would not be very exciting, but if this is the cheapest thermal scope on the market, well that’s interesting. And if it’s still more than you can spend then you just aren’t going to get a thermal scope and this article wasn’t written for you (or me).

  13. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    ah…one more piece to get me that much closer to divorce court…

  14. avatar Chase F. says:

    Honestly, most hog hunters will only need night vision; the only difference within hunting ranges is that thermals make it ridiculously easy to pick the hog out of the background, but for 3-4 times the cost of a gen II scope, that advantage doesn’t seem worth it. Any sort of night sight is an improvement over just looking through a dark tube, and I would prefer to get the cheapest night sight that will withstand whatever caliber I choose to hunt hogs with. I am of the school of thought that believes that you should never spend more than your rifle’s cost to put glass on top of it… Then again, I suck at shooting long range.

  15. avatar Paul53 says:

    Can I have my disability checks direct deposited to their account? Only $3500? That’s a lot of musket balls!

  16. avatar Illinois Minion says:

    That would be great for my pistol. For clearing the room at night.

    You know, for the kids sake(tm). I’m never going to grow up…

  17. avatar Logez says:

    What happened to the thermal that was being raffled off to TTAG survey takers? Did I miss that going down?

    1. avatar Toby in KS says:

      +1… but I think it was just NV.

  18. avatar Anonymous says:

    Thermal optics are also helpful for detecting if the ATF were shooting at US citizens when later they claimed they were not.

  19. avatar neiowa says:

    About time the made one for shooting. Have been producing “low cost” thermal for FD (and cops) for a couple years. Pretty good stuff and certainly very competitive in cost to performance compared to the existing options.

    For the capability all their stuff is quite reasonably priced.

    Market is not for hunters. Sales will be to the prepper/zombie market (and perhaps Texas hog hunters).

  20. avatar mike says:

    Some Nightforce and US Optics scopes are in this price range….which a lower priced Leupold could match just the same. So i’d rather spend the big bucks on the FLIR… at least it gives you a unique capability.

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