Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF thermal binoculars, military quality for civilians

The Accolade has stirred quite a lot of interest due to the novelty of the device, being Pulsar’s first Thermal Binocular system targeted to the hunting, sporting and commercial market. We tested the entry level Accolade XQ38 model here, with a 384x28 sensor and 3,1x native magnification. 

Accolade XP50 LRF, high performance all around

Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF thermal binoculars with its Cordura carry case.
The Accolade on top of its Cordura carry case. The delicate Germanium optics are protected by a foldable cover that is hinged directly on the housing.

Today, we received the flagship product of the whole Accolade range, the XP50 LRF, based on a high end 640x480 resolution Microbolometer sensor, with 17 μm pixel pitch, and a 50 mm focal length, fast 1:1.2 Germanium front objective lens that offers a 2,5x native magnification. Using a powerful 8x magnification ratio digital zoom, a maximum magnification of 20x is achievable.

The control panel of the Pulsar  Accolade LRF thermal binoculars
The control panel of the Accolade LRF; apart from the focus on the objective lens and eyepiece adjustments, all functions of the device are operated with only five buttons.

All this is also available in the Accolade XP50 “vanilla” version of the optronic device, however what makes the XP50 LRF stand apart from the rest of the (few) thermal binoculars on the civilian market is the integrated high-performance laser range finding capabilities up to 1000 meters / 1095 yards with the measured distance reading directly in the eyepiece display. Obviously, there are other thermal binoculars that feature laser rangefinders on the market, but most, if not all, are military or derived from a military only model, with all the limitations and high costs associated. Depending on the market, these professional devices may be even classified as military equipment and therefore simply not available to civilians; not so with the Accolade LRF, as Pulsar specifically designed the device with the civilian features and affordability that the Hunting and Sporting market demands.

That is not to say the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF is limited in any way. The thermal performance, both in image quality, resolution and sensibility, is exceptional considering the price (about 5800 euro MRSP including VAT in Europe), and the laser range finding feature is very well implemented, both in hardware – the LRF module is completely enclosed in the housing, with an elegant and streamlined design – and in software, with a seamlessly embedded functionality and user interface.

The Germanium front objective lens of the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF.
The Germanium front objective lens of the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF. Note the two sensor windows of the laser rangefinder module, for once perfectly integrated in the device chassis.
A detail of the underside of the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF
A detail of the underside of the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF, with the ID panel. The eyepieces are adjustable for diopters and interpupillary distance.

Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF: our test

We tested the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF thermal binoculars on the range, and in both urban and field environments. With highly reflective targets, we measured distances up to 1150 m, while in the field, against bushes, trees and large rocks, we measured up to 710 m (a large, white rock). Although the thermal image is not hindered by smoke and light fog, the LRF is quite affected by them (it uses a 905 nm infrared laser), reducing considerably its range.

The Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF with IP5 proprietary battery pack
The Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF uses a IP5 proprietary battery pack, that is also used in all high end Pulsar optics.

Accuracy is quite good, as measured distances against our reference hand held rangefinder did not differ by much, a couple of meters at most – and at a known distance shooting range, the difference was nil up to 300m and differed by 1m at 500m.

Speed is reasonably fast, on some very dark targets it may take up to one full second, though.

The Accolade XP50 LRF also offers TPA (Target Position Angle) function, so that the site angle is shown during the LRF measure, and also THD (True Horizontal Distance), the corrected distance to a target based on the site angle value; both are useful when making ballistic calculations in a hunting or sporting shooting situation.

Testing the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF in the field
Testing the Pulsar Accolade XP50 LRF in the field.

In regards to the image produced by the 50Hz framerate 640x480 Focal Planar Array microbolometer sensor of the Accolade XP50 binocular, it’s absolutely excellent. It is very difficult to return to lower resolution devices once experienced what a true VGA thermal sensor can do. The OLED full color microdisplay in the eyepiece is also exceptional, with a crispness and quality that is really on a par with the best professional devices in the industry. We were really impressed with the Pulsar Accolade XP50 binocular. The asking price, about 5800 euro, may seem steep, but devices with this level of quality and performance only five years ago were reserved to the military, well over ten grand – and almost double that when paired with a laser rangefinder.

For more informaton, please visit the Pulsar website.

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