The Trail riflescope series from Pulsar is indeed a breakthrough in thermal scopes.
Not because of any one single feature or specification, rather because all its functionalities, features and qualities are rolled into one almost perfectly balanced device that offers a completely new experience in the use of a thermal aiming device.
Based on the same technology at the core of the new Helion thermal monoculars, the Trail line of thermal riflescopes includes two lines: the XP and XQ, and each line is offered with two objective lens options, 38 and 50mm focal lengths.
PULSAR Trail XP and XQ: properties of the thermal aiming devices
As is usual for Pulsar devices, the name of the individual device includes the focal length, i.e. XP38 and XQ50.
The difference between the XP and XQ line is the native resolution of the sensor array, which is 640x480 and 384x288 pixels respectively. Because of the different resolutions of the sensors of the XP and XQ, and since the actual sensor size differs (the pixel pitch of both sensors is the same, 17 µm, therefore the 640x480 sensor is larger than the 384x288), the native magnification of the devices is different; this is commonly called “crop factor”, and is very familiar to photographers. Because of the "crop factor", the XP offers a native magnification of 1.2 and 1.6 respectively for the 38 and 50mm lenses, while the XQ offers a magnification of 2.1 and 2.7.
Both the XP and XQ versions offer digital zoom, in fixed steps or in smooth, continuous mode. Digital zoom is up to 8x for the XP and 4x for the XQ. The Trail family of riflescopes all also share the same tough and durable housing, built with composite glass fiber reinforced Nylon techno polymer material, that is IPX7 rated – meaning it can withstand full immersion in 1 meter of water for thirty minutes! The Trail is also considerably more compact than previous generations of thermal riflescopes from Pulsar, a definite advantage.
Power is supplied by a proprietary rechargeable battery pack, that is already standard across many optronic devices built by Pulsar. The battery pack is very easily replaced as is locked into the device by a lever that has to be pulled up to release the pack. The battery is completely sealed and once mounted and secured, the contacts are completely waterproof.
Included with each Trail riflescope is a ‘standard’ IPS5 battery, that allows about 8 - 10 hours of continuous operation. Additional batteries are optionally available: the beefed up IPS10, offering 16 - 20 hours of operation, and normal AA or CR123 lithium batteries adapters.
The battery pack is easily recharged without removing it off the Trail riflescope, using a wall adapter and a Mini-USB connector on the housing of the scope.
Although compact, the Pulsar Trail XP riflescope is hefty, weighing in at 950 grams including IPS5 battery and QD mount. The Germanium objective is protected by an integrated door type cover, and the eyepiece features a ribbed rubber extension to prevent stray light from the microdisplay to bleed out of the eyepiece and protect the shooter from the recoil of the firearm while providing optimum eye relief.
The main controls of the Pulsar Trail riflescope are located on top of the device; four buttons in line, each with a different shape and texture so that the shooter can easily identify its function by feel alone without having to break hold or lose target. The focusing knob is also on top, slightly forward from the button console, and above the objective lens. The power on/off button is the only control placed on the side of the Trail. The OLED microdisplay integrated inside the Trail riflescopes is a black & white 640x480 unit that is surprisingly crisp and clear; the quality of the eyepiece itself has also been improved. The eyepiece offers ± 5 diopters of adjustment, that can be set with a traditional focus ring.
The Trail line offers full 50 Hz high refresh rate, for the smoothest possible image even when following high speed targets and panning rapidly across the field during observation.
A small wireless remote that can be attached on the rifle is included. It can replicate most of the functions of the main console on top of the Trail, and adds an encoder knob that can be used to cycle through menus, and set magnification, brightness and contrast in a very intuitive way; it is however not as waterproof as the thermal riflescope.
PULSAR Trail XP thermal riflescopes: with integrated wireless remote control
A very innovative technology that is shared with the Helion line of thermal scopes and other Pulsar upcoming digital devices is the 2.4 GHz WiFi connection, that can link to compatible Android or IOS smartphones and tablets using the free Stream Vision app.
This technology not only allows video streaming from the Trail to the connected device through the Stream Vision app, to display what the shooter sees in his riflescope and share videos on YouTube, but also remotely control and manage the device, and update its firmware when necessary.
Another shared feature is the built-in DVR recorder with 8GB of internal memory.
Integrated accelerometers and a gyroscope can be used to increase accuracy displaying rifle cant with angles greater than 5° with an arrow in the field of view indicating direction and lateral tilt values. Additionally, it can be programmed to turn off the device when the rifle is resting in a non-shooting position.