This is a comprehensive Pulsar Axion XM review!
The Pulsar Axion XM thermal monocular is a top choice for hunters because it can detect predators during the nighttime with a clear image. This device has a simple user interface, no learning curve, and you don’t need any guidance to operate it. The compact size snugly fits in the hands.
This monocular is slightly expensive, but that’s common with monoculars due to the use of high-tech resources.
This review will discuss the specs, features, and sizes available on this model, so keep reading.
- Axion XM vs. Key vs. XQ
- Performance and construction
- Model sizes and specs
- What’s in the box?
- User reviews
- Our verdict
Pulsar Axion Overview
These Axion XM monocular devices allow you to expand your visibility no matter what time of day due to their quality thermal sensors that can detect your target from ranges over 1450 yards in complete darkness. They feature some high-quality optics carefully designed for modern-day hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and nature observers.
The Pulsar Axion thermal imaging monoculars are made in Vilnius, Lithuania. You can expect European standard durability with a long lifespan.
The Pulsar Axion thermal imager comes with a pocket-sized ergonomic design and is comfortable to carry on the go. Due to powerful thermal sensors and recording with sound, it’s a game-changer for surveillance. It comes with Wi-Fi capabilities and allows you to stream and share your data with other mobile devices wirelessly.
Built for the outdoors, the Axion thermal monocular has a rugged design and can take on any terrain and weather conditions.
The Pulsar Axion monocular does come with a hefty price tag, but you are getting what you are paying for, and I think its price is well justified once you get to see what the device can do for you.
The primary model in the XM Series here is the Pulsar Axion XM30S Thermal Monocular. But you will also find some other models in this series with minor changes. We will cover all of them later in this Axion review, but our main focus will be on the XM30S in this article.
The following two sections of this Pulsar Axion XM30S review will focus on common features in all variants of the XM30S Axion monocular. In the later sections, we will highlight specific features of each variant.
Pulsar Axion XM vs. Pulsar Axion Key vs. Pulsar Axion XQ
The Axion XM thermal monocular is the top-of-the-line model in this Series. This Pulsar thermal monocular differentiates itself from others as it comes with a thermal camera that allows you to take pictures and make videos with clarity. The viewing experience is quite sharp as it comes with an AMOLED display that produces crisp Pulsar images with great details. These are great for hunting, wildlife and nature, and surveillance.
The Pulsar Axion Key models are pretty standard thermal monoculars with an LCOS display that will not be as clear as an AMOLED display but will still be quite convenient to use in the dark. This Axion sight model doesn’t come with any Wi-Fi capabilities. These budget-friendly models are suitable for entry-level hunters and personal security.
The Pulsar Axion XQ models come with rangefinders in them, and they also feature AMOLED displays for crystal clarity and precise viewing in the dark. These models don’t have cameras or Wi-Fi capabilities in them. These are suitable for long-range shooters and seasonal hunters.
Axion XM30S performance
The Pulsar XM30S has a clear display, and it can detect a human or a beast from a far distance in any light conditions. The pocket-sized drive has a very ergonomic design and robust construction to handle the outdoors.
The Pulsar Axion XM30S thermal imaging scope features an AMOLED screen. It means you’ll see HD images with crystal clear details regardless of the light conditions. The screen turns on instantly, allowing you to spot the game before they disappear.
You won’t have to deal with any blurriness at all, even at the edges. And when you combine it with the thermal sensor of this device, the results become extraordinary. Standard thermal imagery devices don’t come with high resolutions because they would become pricey. But with a high resolution, you get to see clear thermal images.
You can further enhance your view with its variable magnification that allows you to focus on distant and closer objects. This feature is handy for wildlife observers because they want to have a closer look at things.
The Axion SM30S thermal scope comes with a 320×240 resolution thermal sensor which might not seem that big for the price range, but it surely pairs well with the AMOLED display and produces clear thermal images in the pitch dark.
With this thermal scanner, you can recognize the detected prey not only the glowing animal. Detection of your prey should be the first priority when scanning using thermal monocular.
This sensor comes with a frame refresh rate of 50 Hz, which is good enough to produce a high-quality image without blurring. The rate needs to be high, so you won’t have to deal with any flickering on your screen.
And with the higher frame refresh rate, Pulsar has done a fine job handling this issue. A refresh rate of 9Hz is good for an entry-level device, whereas a 60Hz rate is for professional hunters and shooters. I had no problem identifying a predator over 500 yards using this thermal monocular.
The Pulsar Axion XM30S thermal imaging monocular comes with a friendly user interface that doesn’t require you to have any special knowledge before you use it.
It’s a simple display that shows a thermal view, and the modes are pretty simple to use and switch between. Any taken image will display on top of the screen. On the right side, you will see a brightness level to quickly it.
There are 8 different color palettes to enhance your viewing experience in different conditions to prevent eye strain and keep yourself in stealth mode without giving your position away with any unwanted light on your face that the target can see in the dark.
Body and grip
The Pulsar Axion XM30S thermal imaging monocular has a pocket-sized design that you can comfortably hold in one hand. It only weighs less than 9 ounces which means it’s a top choice for using on the go.
Pulsar has used rugged magnesium alloy housing in the construction of this thermal imager. It means that the device is lightweight and rugged, and used in different terrains and weather conditions.
The device comes with IP67 waterproofing, and its operating temperature range is -13F to 104F. But make sure that you don’t use it in sweltering conditions, or it will mess up the thermal sensor’s operation.
The Pulsar Axion XM30S thermal imaging monocular comes with a Pulser video recorder. You can conveniently take pictures and make videos in 1027×768 pixel resolution. The device comes with inbuilt 16GB memory that allows you to store the media and share it later.
You can stream your data to another device using a mobile application for iOS and Android devices over Wi-Fi. It means that you don’t need to keep the device close to your eye for viewing. You can place it on the spot and have a view on your mobile device pretty conveniently.
Pulsar Axion model sizes
There are five different sizes or variants available of the Pulsar Axion XM30S. The most popular among wildlife observers and hunters is the XM30S due to its image recording and Wi-Fi capabilities.
The LRF XQ38 is popular with long-range shooters and property surveillance personnel with a rangefinder.
The below table has a detailed overview of this model’s sizes and variants for your guidance.
|XM30S||Key XM30||Key XM22||XQ38||LRF XQ38|
|Detector||VOx microbolometer||VOx microbolometer||VOx microbolometer||VOx microbolometer||VOx microbolometer|
|Display||1024X768 AMOLED||960X720 LCOS||960X720 LCOS||1024X768 AMOLED||1024X768 AMOLED|
|Frame rate||50 Hz||50 Hz||50 Hz||50 Hz||50 Hz|
|Field of view||7.3X5.5 / 12.8X9.6 degrees||7.3X5.5 / 12.8X9.6 degrees||10X7.5 / 17.5X13.1 degrees||9.8X7.4 / 17.2X12.9 degrees||9.8X7.4 / 17.2X12.9 degrees|
|Detection range||1450 yards||1200 yards||950 yards||1350 yards||1350 yards|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||5.63×1.61×2.72 inches||5.63×1.61×2.72 inches||5.10×1.61×2.72 inches||5.63×1.61×2.72 inches||6.57×1.92×2.87 inches|
|Weight||8.82 oz||8.82 oz||8.11 oz||12.3 oz||14.1 oz|
Pulsar Axion XM30MS Thermal Monocular
The Pulsar Axion XM30S thermal monocular is the best choice for anyone hunting, surveillance, and wildlife observation. It is equipped with an AMOLED display and pairs well with the thermal sensor and provides you with an exceptional display regardless of the conditions.
This monocular comes with Wi-Fi capabilities to share and stream your data on other mobile devices using a mobile application. It comes with a long detection range of 1450 yards, has a pretty lightweight design, and features a thermal video recorder.
The battery lasts 3-4 hours, depending on the mode you’re using. Therefore, it would be better for you to carry a power bank to continue with your activity.
Pulsar Axion Key XM30 Thermal Monocular
The Pulsar Axion Key XM30 thermal imaging monocular is a base model in this series, and it doesn’t come with any Wi-Fi or a rangefinder. However, it is much more geared towards personal security and property surveillance applications.
The Axion Key XM30 does come with a long detection range of 1200 yards, and you can conveniently use it to find a lost hiker in the outdoors. It comes with an ergonomic design and has a lightweight construction, just like the XM30S.
Pulsar Axion Key XM22 Thermal Monocular
The Pulsar Axion Key XM22 thermal imaging monocular comes with a detection range of over 1000 yards. The Axion Key XM2 can detect a human, an animal, or any other object at 950 yards. And is a good choice for personal security and property surveillance.
However, you need to keep in mind that it comes with an LCOS display screen that will not produce as crisp images as an AMOLED display. So, you will have to compromise with clarity, especially at high magnification.
Pulsar Axion XQ38 Thermal Monocular
The Pulsar Axion Key XQ38 thermal imaging monocular is a good choice for long-range shooters and hunters. Therefore, it features a bigger thermal sensor with a 384×288 resolution. It means that the heat signatures that you will see in the AMOLED screen won’t be blurry even at high magnification.
With a frame refresh rate of 50 Hz, you will get a clear picture of even a fast-moving target without any flickering in your view.
This Axion Key XQ38 is ergonomic, but it’s slightly heavier than other models, excluding the LRF XQ38. Its battery can only last for up to four hours, so a battery bank will help.
Pulsar Axion LRF XQ38 Thermal Monocular
The Pulsar Axion Key LRF XQ38 thermal imaging monocular is the heaviest of them, but it still has an ergonomic design. It also comes with the 384×288 resolution thermal sensor, which works in tandem with the AMOLED screen to provide you with crystal clear images no matter what the conditions are.
The Axion Key LRF XQ38 features an inbuilt rangefinder that will allow you to trace an object as far as 1350 yards. Its thermal detection range is the same too. Therefore, you can effortlessly see the heat signature of a beast from a distance in pitch black conditions.
As it comes with a rangefinder, it will be a useful device for long-range shooters and hunters. Plus, with a 50 Hz refresh rate, you can conveniently keep track of a fast-moving target.
All Pulsar products, including the Axion XM thermal monoculars, are covered under a 3-year warranty. This warranty covers any defects associated with the materials as well as workmanship. The warranty period starts from your purchase date and as soon as you register your product with the company.
This warranty excludes any disposable or non-rechargeable batteries. However, the rechargeable battery packs are covered under a separate 1-year warranty that also begins from your purchase date if you have registered your product.
Under this warranty, Pulsar will repair or replace the products at their discretion. This warranty is not transferable, and the manufacturing date also needs to be within 3 years.
Like I have just mentioned, one of the issues that these Pulsar thermal monoculars have is that they don’t come with a long warranty, particularly with the devices that come with a huge price tag on them.
Another issue with these Pulsar XM monoculars is that they don’t come with good battery life. All of them last around 3 to 4 hours. Therefore, you will need a power bank to extend your device’s backup time.
What’s in the box?
- Pulsar Axion XM thermal imager
- Rechargeable battery (AP53)
- Battery charger
- Carrying case
- USB cable
- Lens cloth
- Hand strap
- 3-year warranty
The box contains pretty much everything that you will need to use with your Pulsar Axion monocular.
However, I still think that Pulsar could have slipped in a neck lanyard because a wrist trap will not cut it for some users as it’s not that convenient to use, especially in cold weather with your jackets on.
Neck lanyards are much simpler to use for various applications, and you can quickly grab your device and start using it when you need it.
Pulsar Axion user reviews
The average user rating of Pulsar Axion XM thermal monocular is 4.5 stars, which is pretty good.
Most people found its clear AMOLED display with a thermal sensor very convenient to use. Moreover, many people also commended its frame refresh rate, which is perfect for most applications.
However, some people also complained about these units’ battery life and the fact that you need a battery bank to go with them, particularly for longer outdoor sessions.
This unit sets the bar for thermal units at an affordable price! The image is obvious, and the refresh rate is perfect for what the user is looking for. The size is like no other; it can fit in a pocket of jeans if needed. The setup is user-friendly and easy to use. I have been able to identify coyotes over 400 yards. On the other side of work, this is a handy tool for law enforcement as it has helped in the field for all kinds of different things. You really can’t go wrong with this unit for the price.
If you don’t want to go with Pulsar Axion for some reason, we have listed some alternatives for you.
FLIR Systems Scout III 640 Thermal Night Vision Monocular
The Flir Scout III 640 is a powerful thermal monocular with a bigger thermal sensor with 640×320 resolutions. Its detection range is up to 1250 yards, and it also comes with a slightly better battery life of 5 hours. It has a robust construction and has a wider operating temperature range (-4F to 122F).
Armasight Prometheus 336 3-12×50 Thermal Imaging Monocular
The Armasight Prometheus 336 thermal imaging monocular is a heavyweight unit, but it comes with some heavyweight features like variable magnification, 50mm objective lens, 336×256 thermal sensor, and long battery life.
Pulsar Helion XQ50F 4.1-16.4x Thermal Imaging Monocular
The Pulsar Helion XQ50F thermal monocular is a good alternative as well. But of course, it comes at a much higher price tag. If you can spare some extra cash, you will boost battery life by up to 8 hours here. Plus, the detection range also significantly improves up to 2000 yards, and the device is rated for IPX7 waterproofing.
I have found the Pulsar Axion XM thermal monocular to be a suitable device that can produce clear Pulsar thermal imaging results at excellent frame refresh rates. Some variants of this model come with Wi-Fi capabilities, video recording, and rangefinders.
The XM30S is by far the most popular Pulsar size because it comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, video recording, and live streaming features.
The only issue is that they are not equipped with big batteries. As a result, they are only good for around 3 to 4 hours. So it’s best to combine the battery with a power bank.
You can purchase Pulsar Axion XM thermal monoculars online or can go for in-store purchases from any good quality outdoor optics retailers and other official distributors of Pulsar products located throughout the country.