In late October 2016, Leupold released a hand held thermal optic called the LTO Tracker as an accessory for the modern hunter. Unfortunately, they’ve been made of unicorn teeth since the intro, and we have yet to receive ours for testing and evaluation despite our desperate pleas. Good news then that Leupold had one on hand for the 2017 SHOT show.
Leupold bills the LTO as a great tool for observation and game recovery as it relies on thermal signatures instead of the visible light spectrum. Looking through the digital display, it isn’t hard to imagine using this during the walk up to the blind in the early morning hours, and after the shot to find a blood trail and track it. I managed to snap a few photos over RF’s shoulder as he gave various attendees a look see through the LTO.
The menus and buttons seem to be well laid out and intuitive – proven by the fact that I was able to navigate it without looking at the manual in about 30 seconds. We call that clownshoe blogger proof around these parts. Image resolution seems pretty good, and using the digital zoom, it was easy enough to pick out facial features a few booths down in broad daylight. My experience with thermals has been that they do their best work in the cool of night, so I look forward to using this for some daytime hunting if the situation arises. It isn’t on the level with a $7000 weapons mounted optic, but then again, it doesn’t cost nearly that much.
Upon fiddling with the buttons a bit, I found a setting to turn on a set of crosshairs. The look on my face gave it away as Leupold’s PR man said, “You found the crosshairs eh?” Turns out the LTO isn’t weapons rated, and though he said Leupold’s engineers claim to be able to do a bit of firmware updating that will allow you to zero those crosshairs, Leupold doesn’t have plans to do that with the LTO, though they did indicate that the technology shows promise, and a small format thermal can’t be much further off.
Either way, the LTO uses a 30 mm tube, so it should be fairly easy to mount up if they decide to change their minds. My personal opinion is that they’ll likely do a firmware update and harden the internals, raise the price and sell it for ~$1000. Speaking of, MSRP on the LTO is $875, but it looks like various etailers are selling it for $650-$700. We’re promised one for review, so stay tuned.