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Pulsar's New Axion XQ30 Pro: Best Handheld Scanning Thermal?

Holding a thermal scope up to scan all night isn't practical, but Pulsar's Axion XQ30 Pro offers the same superior image quality in a handheld package for easy scanning at night.

Pulsar's New Axion XQ30 Pro: Best Handheld Scanning Thermal?

In 1965 the first AN/PVS-2 Starlight scopes hit the fields of Vietnam. At more than 12 inches in length and weighing in at more than 6 pounds, they were considered advanced technology. This was a military-only night vision device, and the civilian world would have to just fantasize about what it was like to use. While crude, it did help soldiers see better in the night. Fast forward 59 years and technology that blows the Starlight out of the water is available to the average, everyday consumer, and there are few companies that are pushing the consumer technology market as much as Pulsar. Well known for their variety of thermal optics, they are now offering a new handheld that you will definitely want to add to your kit list.


The new Pulsar Axion XQ30 Pro thermal imaging monocular is designed as a significant upgrade to the Pulsar’s previous Axion XM30F. The Axion XQ30 Pro is by far the most compact model in the Pulsar product line, making it easy to use and carry. The thermal is small and designed to fit easily in the hand. The symmetrical design, coupled with the ergonomic placement of buttons on the top of the unit, ensures comfort for both left and right-handed users. The Axion XQ30 Pro has several standout features, one of which is photo and video recording. The built-in video recorder is great when it comes to filming or taking photos of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. One press of the REC button captures footage that can be shared easily with friends and family. The 16 GB of internal memory provides substantial storage for hours of video and tons of photos.  Or, would you rather just stream your feed to nearby friends? The optic has a built-in Wi-Fi module that connects the device with either Android or iOS smartphones using the Stream Vision 2 mobile application. This feature provides real-time image transmission to the mobile device screen, remote control digital functions, and much more. So, if you are hunting, for example, your partners can watch what you are seeing at the same time on their phone. The app also provides users with cloud storage space for photos and videos taken with the device. The thermal also has several options regarding the screen palette. While we are accustomed to white hot or black hot, the Axion XQ39 has eight different color palettes to choose from. White hot, black hot, and red hot are optimal for object detection while rainbow and ultramarine help increase chances for recognition and identification. It also has red monochrome, sepia, and violet which are great for long observation in the night.

An image captured with the Pulsar Axion 30 Pro, notice you can even see the antlers on an animal in the dark.

The Axion XQ30 Pro is equipped with a larger and more sensitive European-made Lynred sensor with NETD (Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference) of less than 25 mK (milli-Kelvin) degrees. For those of you, like myself, who don’t have degrees in thermal engineering, this means the optic is highly sensitive and provides us with a crisp image. It also has three amplification levels combined with new filtration algorithms and fine brightness and contrast adjustments, increasing your chances for early detection under heavy weather and high humidity conditions. These settings provide optimized rendering of the target and background objects. It also has a picture-in-picture function. With a 13.3-degree field of view, it allows users to quickly spot heat signatures over a wide area while still maintaining awareness of the surrounding environment. Lastly, on this topic, it has a high-contrast AMOLED display that has improved color rendering, power saving, and quick-response, providing sharp and smooth images even under frosty conditions. The AMOLED display is a major advancement to traditional LED that is used in most screens. On a more nuts and bolts level, the thermal has a quick-change APS3 rechargeable battery that provides seven hours of continuous operation on a single charge. The battery is removed from the housing and replaced with a new one in seconds. The unit can be quickly charged with any charger supporting power delivery protocol via an ordinary USB Type-C power cable. The same sources can be used for the external power supply of the thermal as well. Wrapping it all up is a rugged magnesium alloy housing. The housing is light and strong at the same time. The housing reliably protects the internal components from shocks, drops, moisture, heat, or cold. At the same time, a metal housing effectively removes the heat from electronics, minimizes image noise, and increases the consistency of the device's operation during long-term observation. Lastly, the unit is IPX7 waterproof-rated for protection from heavy rainfall, snow, or other precipitation. The unit is designed to run flawlessly, even after submersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.


While the list of everything the Axion XQ30 Pro has to offer is impressive, you may have the lingering question of just what you would use it for. Well, the compact and high-performance nature of the thermal makes it a must in a variety of applications. First, I see it as a great tool for hunters. The earlier we can see the game and get ready, the better our chances are of success. Where I have personally used thermal was when I was searching for downed animals. Beyond hunting, it is an excellent security tool. Having the ability to search dark and potentially dangerous areas with a thermal is a security gold mine. No longer do we need to wonder if we heard something in the backyard. We can simply grab the Axion XQ30 Pro and look for ourselves. It can also be used by hikers and campers. Think you hear a bear off in the dark distance? Use the Axion XQ30 Pro to find out. The list of great uses for this thermal is endless. So yes, you need one. The Pulsar Axion XQ30 Pro is a solid versatile thermal that will serve you well while simultaneously being enjoyable to use. 

Pulsar Axion XQ30 Pro Specs

  • Sensor: 384x288 pixels at 17 µm (NETD <25 mK)
  • Objective lens: 30mm focal length / f1.2
  • Magnification: 2-8x (X4 zoom)
  • Detection range: 930 yards
  • Resolution: 528х400 pixels                     
  • Built-in memory: 16GB             
  • Length: 5.67 inches
  • Width: 1.61 inches
  • Height: 2.71 inches   
  • Weight: 10.6 ounces with battery
  • Manufacturer: Pulsar

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