A thermal scope in a riflescope form.
Thermal scopes are absolutely great tools for night hunting and also darn fun to use. Unfortunately, they are expensive. Despite a massive recession, people are still buying thermal scopes and the thermal world continues to expand. More models of thermal scopes have been introduced in the last 3 years than in the previous 10. More models mean more choices, which is good for those of us who hunt predators at night.
One newer option is the InfiRay BOLT TH50C distributed in the United States by IRay USA. The TH50C has a form factor of a traditional riflescope, which makes it a great choice for a bolt-action rifle. For this test and evaluation, I mounted the TH50C to my Sig Cross bolt action rifle.
If you look at the TH50C from afar, it looks just like any other midrange variable riflescope with a 50mm objective. In fact, it looks a lot like my old Leupold 3.5-10×50 scope with the illumination dial near the rear. The TH50C 30mm main tube may be mounted in standard 30mm scope rings or one-piece mount.
While the scope comes with rings, I wouldn’t use them. I had a 30mm LaRue one-piece mount laying around, so that’s what I used in this evaluation. It was a little higher over the bore than what I would normally use, but the Cross has an easily adjustable cheek rest so I could get a good sight picture.
The main controls on the TH50C are on a pad on top of the scope near the eyepiece. Here you may easily adjust the color palette, brightness, turn on the camera, etc., all while staying on the scope. The knurled objective knob is the focus mechanism, and the eyepiece may be focused to suit your eyesight. The knurled top turret has tactile clicks and controls the digital zoom. The side turrets are for power. Once you learn where the buttons are you don’t have to pick up your head to see what you are doing. I found the learning curve to be very short on the TH50C.
The display is unique because it is a circular 2560×2560 AMOLED pattern that gives the user the feel of a regular riflescope. Image resolution is provided by a “12 micron Micro II core with proprietary MATRIX III image processing.” In plain English, the image is very sharp, which is why I didn’t want to send this one back. I normally use a 384×288 resolution thermal scope. The TH50C is 640×512, so the difference is pretty dramatic. While the former is perfectly serviceable for coyotes out to 250 yards, the added resolution of the latter is much preferred.
Power is supplied by an onboard rechargeable battery that uses a standard USB-C connection which is located under the right-hand turret. The left-hand turret houses a battery compartment to power the scope with a user-supplied 18500 or 18650 battery. I only used the onboard battery and hunted for many hours at night in cold conditions, using the standby mode when moving from stand to stand.
There are seven reticle choices, each with four color options. Color palettes are the typical white hot, black hot, red hot, and a couple of funky colored schemes.
Who is IRay, Who is InfiRay, and What is the Difference?
People don’t seem to understand the following, so I will repeat what I said in my last article featuring InfiRay products. InfiRay Outdoors is the manufacturer of the TH50C (and the RICO HD 1280, the ZH38 Zoom, et al). IRayUSA distributes and warranties InfiRay’s products. InfiRay Outdoors is located in China, whereas IRayUSA is located in Texas. One key point is that IRay’s warranty includes a five-day turnaround. If you have to send your unit back to IRayUSA, they will get you a replacement in five days. This service is industry-leading. If you spend thousands of dollars on a thermal it is good to know you will be up and running in less than a week should anything happen under warranty.
What’s In The Box
The TH50C arrives with a rigid case for transportation and storage should you take it off your rifle. Most of us wouldn’t need this, but it’s a good enough case that I wouldn’t toss it away as with many included cases. A front scope cap protects the germanium objective. As mentioned, the included scope rings are not something I would keep.
To thoroughly test the TH50C, I took it on a weeklong trip where night hunting is allowed and where there are plenty of coyotes. The short-form evaluation is this: I like this scope and I didn’t want to send it back. The longer version follows.
Right off the bat, it was easy to use the TH50C. Anyone who has done any amount of night hunting knows that intuitive design is really important. The last thing you want to do is mess around with buttons, struggle to find a feature, or otherwise have your gear get in your way. Turning the unit on, putting it in standby mode, NUCing it, capturing video, focusing, and zooming was all intuitive and simple. This is saying something because the button layout for the TH50C is not like the thermal scope I usually use.
Zeroing was also very easy. I’ve used thermals with a “one-shot zero” function before, but none of them were really a one-shot affair. Zeroing the TH50C wasn’t exactly one shot, but it nearly was. After taking a shot and going into zero mode I could simply hold the scope still in my tripod, aim at the bullseye, and walk the reticle to the point of impact. That got me very close to zero and I made precision adjustments from there. If I can do it you can do it.
The TH50C camera can store video and still photos in the onboard 32 GB of memory. Alternatively, a wifi option may be used to stream to your phone via their app. I used the scope’s memory and never had to worry about running out of space. I also didn’t have to worry about running out of power, which is great. Contrast that to my buddy’s high-end scope of another brand for which he carries a pocket full of 123 batteries to get through the night. It’s one less thing to have to deal with.
It was an easy transition from my usual thermal to using the BOLT at night. We had success almost immediately, and the only times we were unsuccessful had nothing to do with the scope (read missed due to jerked trigger, forgot to turn on the camera, etc.). Some of the items I review are harder to return than others, and this one hurt. I liked it that much.
Familiar riflescope form factor. Intuitive controls. Superb resolution. Great battery life. Great onboard video storage. Functional one-shot zero. 6061T aluminum housing. Industry-leading warranty.
I don’t have any material complaints here save the one everyone complains about – price. It’s just a lot of money, so it’s not for everyone. One minor miss is the rubber eyepiece boot that comes with it is the first thing you lose on the first stand of the first night. Another is the focusable eyepiece is easily bumped out of focus. Really, I’m just nitpicking at this point.
Pixel Size 12 micron
Refresh Rate 50Hz
Warranty 5 years with one week turnaround
Optical Magnification 3.5X
Digital Magnification 4X
Detection Range 2400 Yards
Display Type AMOLED
Display Resolution 2560×2560
Objective Lens Material Germanium
Run Time 8 Hours advertised (6 hours verified)
Color Palettes White Hot, Black Hot, Red Hot, Color, Highlight
Stand-by Mode, One-Shot Zero, Picture-in-Picture
Recoil Rating 300 win./7mm mag
Weight 33.15 oz
Operating Temperature -4F to 122F