Test: Pulsar Talion XQ38 Thermal Imaging hunting riflescope

Pulsar offers a host of Thermal Imaging optics, including two distinct series of hunting riflescopes: the flagship Thermion line, and the prosumer-level Talion.

The Pulsar Talion XQ38 Thermal imaging riflescope features a sleek, streamlined form factor that avoids any snagging.

Introduced earlier this year at the SHOT Show and IWA trade shows, the Pulsar Talion line of compact, lightweight and versatile thermal imaging hunting riflescopes include two base models, the XQ38 and XG35.

Included with the Pulsar Talion XQ38 is an all steel Picatinny quick-release rail-grabber mount that ensures gun zero repeatability to ½ MOA.

Both Talion models are designed to fulfill the needs of enthusiast and professional hunters, at an affordable price point; the thermal engine and housing are otherwise identical, including firmware and image processing algorithms.

The focusing ring of the Talion features a fast adjustment "fin", that when aligned to the power button housing, doubles as accurate indexing system for 70 m focus, a perfect night time hunting shooting distance.

The difference is basically sensor resolution and objective lens. The Pulsar Talion XG35 uses a high performance 640x480 resolution, 12 μm pixel pitch microbolometer sensor built by Lynred (a French company made from the fusion of Ulis and Sofradir), with a NETD of  <40 mK, coupled with a very fast 35mm f1.0 Germanium objective lens, while the Talion XQ is based on a 384x288 resolution sensor – again Lynred-built – at 17 µm (NETD <40 mK), and uses a 38mm f1.2 Germanium objective lens.

Placed on top of the eyepiece, we find the three button control panel surrounded with the rotary encoder ring.

Due to the different objective focals and crop factor, native magnification is respectively 2,5x for the XQ that can be digitally zoomed to 10 (4x zoom), and 2x for the XG that can be zoomed all the way to 16x (8x zoom).

I received a sample of the entry level model, the Pulsar Talion XQ38, for my tests.

The Talion at its core is an innovative riflescope, featuring a lot of interesting and clever solutions, beyond its performance and technological content.

Video: Pulsar Talion XQ38 Thermal Imaging hunting riflescope

The front objective bell of the Pulsar Talion XQ38. Note the focusing ring and fast adjustment fin.

First of all, the form factor is quite unique; compact, streamlined, lightweight and very rugged thanks to the Magnesium chassis construction, the Axion uses a proprietary mounting rail that can be used to fasten different optional mounts, although the standard mount included is a CNC machined steel Picatinny quick-release rail-grabber. 

The eyepiece of the Talion XQ38 can be adjusted to -3/+4 dptr thanks to the rubber armored fast focus ring.

The mounting rail interface offers a set of threaded mounting holes that can be used to adjust the position of the rail grabber so that the eye relief of the mounted optic on the rifle is perfect.

Also interesting is the focusing ring configuration: it features a "fin", that can be used to fast focus the objective akin to what already is offered as a fast zoom ring from most optics manufacturers, but Pulsar designed a continuation of this fin on the housing to place the power on button. By aligning the fin to the housing, the objective lens is automatically focused to a distance of 70 m, a perfect night time hunting shooting distance. 

The battery door is placed in the middle of the Talion’s body and is hinged right below the power button. 

Most of these features are designed to offer complete tactile operation of the riflescope in complete darkness, in other words, by feel alone. The three-button control panel, with raised patterns for positive indication of each button’s function, is complemented by a rotary encoder that is the surrounding ring. The panel placed on top of the eyepiece barrel for easy and intuitive access; the focusing ring is in front, and the on/off button is easily found using the top fin I mentioned.

Even the battery can be replaced in complete darkness the release lock is a lever just in front of the control panel.

Flipping the slide release opens the battery door, which also integrates the battery cradle; it opens up presenting the battery for replacement.

It’s easy to release the lock to open and raise the cover on the upper part of the riflescope and quickly replace the battery, placing it into the cradle integrated in the cover. The Talion XQ38 is powered with Pulsar’s proprietary APS5 Li-Ion rechargeable battery. One cell can power the Talion for up to 9 hours of continuous use. The way the battery replacement works reminds me of a Springfield 1888 "Trapdoor" musket lock.

The Talion XQ38 also sports all of the usual premium features that Pulsar includes in its TI products: wifi with Stream Vision 2 app support, internal video recorder, many image enhancements and filters, and USB C connection with additional power source.

The Talion XQ38 is powered with Pulsar’s proprietary APS5 Li-Ion rechargeable battery; one cell can power the Talion for up to 9 hours of continuous use.

The box includes all that is necessary to use the Talion right out of the box. The Picatinny quick-release rail-grabber is also included, as is all mounting hardware and even the correct Allen wrenches. It takes just minutes to adjust the riflescope on the rail for proper eye relief (it’s about 50 mm, enough for hi powered hunting guns) and then mount the assembly on the Picatinny rail of the gun.

A moment in our live fire tests. We shot small hot water bottles at a distance of up to 200 m with excellent results.

I used a Unique Alpine UPG-1 bolt action rifle chambered in .308 Winchester, a very accurate gun that is capable to hold easily the MOA with commercial ammo at distances exceeding 500 m – a perfect gun for hunting from a post, and in this capability, I also used a KJI shooting tripod. The UPG-1 features a machined Picatinny rail on top of the action, perfect for mounting the Talion rail-grabber.

The Pulsar Talion riflescope is very streamlined, offering very little protruding parts that can snag and drag, making it a slim, fast optical device to use on a work/hunting gun.

The combination rifle/scope/tripod used in our tests: a Pulsar Talion XQ38 Thermal imaging riflescope mounted on a Unique Alpine UPG-1 bolt action rifle chambered in .308 Winchester, and a KJI shooting tripod. 

I must say I am impressed by the compactness and ease of use of the Talion XQ38. The controls placement is well thought out and completely ambidextrous, and the "fuzzy logic" of the menu system, that follows the usual Pulsar pattern for the simplest learning curve, makes getting used to the device a breeze. At the end of the first day, I can say that I’ve explored all the features of the device and can confidently go hunting the following day knowing that the Talion will not disappoint.

The sliding mechanism of the Talion XQ38 Picatinny quick-release rail-grabber mount with multiple fastening posts. Three Allen screws are needed.

I’ve very much appreciated the clever focusing ring fin, the 70 m "reset" given by the alignment with the power button post makes it really fast to adjust to higher or lower distances for razor sharp images of moving game. The selector ring surrounding the control panel is also easy and intuitive to use.

The relatively delicate lens surface of the front Germanium objective element is protected by an integral spring charged lens cover that can be rotated to be out of the way when used.

Performance absolutely lives up to expectations. Resolution of the Talion XQ38 is basically "mainstream" in the hunting thermal imaging market nowadays, with the higher end taken by 640x480 devices, and 800x600 just round the corner – in 2023 – for some flagship models. However, the great 1024x768 resolution AMOLED microdisplay in the eyepiece presents a very good image, helped by the excellent sensibility and dynamic range of the sensor used. 

Warm objects and game can be detected up to 1350 m, although in my opinion a more practical detection distance would be about half of that to have a minimum "shape" to identify as a living object.

The mounting height is perfect for both eyebox placement and firearm operation. The sleek shape of the Talion helps to keep a snag-free, low drag gun package.

In conclusion, for a MSRP of 2499 euro, and with a street price that can be even more affordable, the Talion XQ38 is in my opinion a best buy, especially for the hunter that wants to make "the big step" into thermal imaging, and it will undoubtedly become a very popular TI hunting riflescope.

Goes without saying that thermal imaging and night vision riflescopes may be restricted in some EU countries, therefore caution is required to ensure legality of the Talion in your area before purchasing!

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Pulsar Talion XQ38 specs and price

Pulsar NV - www.pulsar-vision.com
Talion XQ38 
Thermal imaging hunting riflescope
Uncooled Microbolometer, 384x288 pix. @ 17 µm, NETD <40 mK
Objective Lens:
38 mm, D/f' 1.2
2.5 – 10x (x4 zoom)
Field of View:
Detection Range:
1350 m 
Frame Rate:
50 Hz
Eye Relief:
50 mm
AMOLED, 1024x768
Video Recorder:
Yes, with 16 GB Built-in memory
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac with Stream Vision 2 app support
Degree of Protection:    
IPХ7 (acc. to IEC 60529, waterproof)      
Click Value:
17 mm/100 m, elevation and windage   
Battery Type:
APS 5 Li-ion Battery Pack
Operating Time: 
9 h
Body Material:
Magnesium alloy
330x57x67 mm
Recoil Shock Resistance:
6000 Joule
700 g
2499 euro taxes included (price may vary depending on import duties and national VAT)