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When it comes to night vision gear, the first thing you need to answer when buying (and that’s before you look at the options) is how much you can spend. Now, if you’re one of those people who do find high-end thermal riflescopes useful, and don’t mind spending a bit more on a good one, read on, as we take a look at the Pulsar Trail XP50 thermal riflescope.
Make no mistake, the XP50 is a very, very expensive product. But for many, it’s going to be a “you get what you pay for” since it doesn’t compromise on literally anything – whether it’s build quality, features or optical performance. It is, indeed, worth every penny. So, is it for you? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
The Trail XP50 on the outside
When you first take a look at the Trail XP50, it may not look like something too special. Its black body and rubberized design are fairly common when it comes to outdoor gear. However, come closer, and you’re starting to see that Pulsar didn’t cut any corners here.
The body is made of sturdy, high-quality materials, and is then covered in a rubberized contact surface. This gets you two things. First, when you hold it, you’ve got quite a lot of grip, which means that the Trail XP50 is pretty much impossible to slip out of your hands. And this remains true even when it’s wet. Second, if you do happen to drop the riflescope, you’ll find that the rubber absorbs quite a lot of the impact.
While we’re on the outside, you’ll find that aside from the power button, which is on the side, all of the buttons you need to operate the scope are on the top. They’re in a very accessible location, which is great. You will also appreciate the buttons themselves, as they’re impossible to miss and you’ll feel the click when you press one.
Another welcome addition is the lens cap at the front. While traditional scopes get you a removable cap that you can easily lose, with the Pulsar you get a door-like hinge, so the cap is always there. Oh, and no, it won’t get loose over time and get in the way when you least expect it. At the back, you get a very comfortable rubberized eyecup, which is also great.
Last but not least, since this is an outdoor product, we believe we must mention the weather resistance. The Pulsar Trail XP50 comes with an excellent IPX7 rating, which means that you can drop it in up to 3 feet of water, and it will still work. We wouldn’t suggest testing this, due to the price of the Trail XP50, as well as all the electronics inside. It is still reassuring that even if you get caught out in foul weather, you should be good to go with the riflescope.
Let’s discuss the internals for a minute
While the Pulsar Trail XP50 is very impressive on the outside, it’s actually the insides where things get really interesting. We’re talking both in terms of specifications on paper, and its actual performance. To begin with, you have a 17µm pixel pitch sensor with a resolution of 640×480. The sensor works admirably, and it allows you to detect human-sized targets at up to 2,000 yards. Note, however, that for smaller targets this range may decrease substantially.
When using the Trail XP50, you’ll get the choice between “white hot” and “black hot” modes. Both are very useful but in different situations. White hot works best when you have human and animal targets. This is thanks to the heat that they generate, which makes them “glow”, and subsequently, stand out from the environment. Black hot, however, will let you scan the environment and pick out any details that may seem relevant. Using them in a combination is fantastic. There are also 13 digital reticle options for you to choose from, so you’ll definitely find one that suits you.
Back to the sensor, you will find that the Trail XP lets you choose between 1.6x and 12.8x magnification, and you get a few stops in between. This allows you to scan the scene at 1.6x, and then get close to your target at 12.8x. Whichever magnification you use, you’ll be able to see the results on a frost-resistant AMOLED display with a 640×480 resolution, with a 50Hz refresh rate. The display is excellent and gives you a field of view with plenty of contrast. You also get things such as picture-in-picture, as well as stadiametric rangefinding. All things combined, you have a truly great performer, even though the price is high. If you’re looking for other rifle scopes, have a look at our Best List here.
The last thing we’d like to mention is the “smart” functionality of the Pulsar. For example, you can capture still images, as well as video, for later review. These are easily transferred to your PC or laptop, both via a cable or via Wi-Fi. Speaking of Wi-Fi, you can also use Pulsar’s Stream Vision app for Android and iOS. This allows you to get real-time footage if you’d like a bigger screen to watch from. You can also stream the footage you’re capturing online, which is a nice addition.
Wrapping things up
While there aren’t enough good things that can be said about the Pulsar Trail XP, it’s no secret that if you can afford it, this is one of the best thermal riflescopes you’ll find on the market. It comes with all the essentials covered – stunning thermal performance, excellent build quality and a host of advanced features, and then some. When you consider the scope itself, as well as all the extras you get in the box (battery pack, wireless remote, mounting rail, carrying case), you’ll find that the Trail XP50 is actually very much worthy of the price tag it has.