FLIR’S THERMOSIGHT PRO SERIES PTS223 FEATURES HIGH-END TECHNOLOGY, DELIVERS HIGH PERFORMANCE
Field-testing the FLIR Thermosight Pro PTS223, an infrared optic force multiplier
Iam a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technology. I’m also intrigued by the look and utility of FLIR (forward looking infrared) and a fan of how it is used in the real world.
Working in law enforcement, I get to see and benefit from FLIR in the field, usually obtained from a helicopter. Knowing that someone is checking the area from above with FLIR gives me some reassurance because I know the observer is able to clear an area or simply keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
When the opportunity was presented to use and review a handheld, or in this case weapon-mounted, FLIR device, I jumped at the chance. When they green-lighted the project, FLIR promptly shipped a Thermosight Pro Series PTS223 weapon sight, which happens to be the smallest in the Thermal Imaging Weapons Sight Pro series.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Thermosight Pro makes images from heat, not light. This allows the optic to help you “see” clearly without any visible light, as well as reveal camouflaged people, animals or objects where their heat contrast can be discerned. Using the Thermosight Pro you can see people, objects or animals in difficult terrain in reduced visibility, see through smoke, dust or fog, see camouflage in any lighting condition, and see more and farther than would be possible with night vision goggles. This makes the Thermosight Pro a viable force multiplier in daylight, low light or total darkness.
You can understand why I was anxious to try the product.
The unpackaging revealed a Pelican-style box which serves as a permanent, heavy-duty home for the Thermosight Pro when it’s not mounted to a rifle. Besides the Thermosight, the case contained a very handy quick start guide, a more in-depth user manual, two CR123A batteries, a battery caddy, a USB cable and a keychain 3-inch lens cloth. The batteries and quick start guide are enough to get you up and running, so I started with those. I only went to the manual once I had a
feel for what the Thermosight Pro could do.
The Thermosight Pro has an integrated quickdetach rail mount. Once securely on my rifle, zeroing the optic was a simple matter thanks to the simple layout and intuitive controls. The optic also has the lens cover and battery cap dummy-corded so the entire unit is selfcontained.
Once I powered up the Thermosight by means of its Turn-pull switch, I was quickly able to use its intuitive controls. The on/off switch offers a standby option that allows the user to activate and deactivate the unit using a remote. There is a diopter adjustment that allows you to adjust for optimum image sharpness in the eyepiece. The total diopter adjustment range is covered with two turns of the ring. There’s also a lens focus adjustment ring on the objective lens. This allows for obtaining the sharpest view of the scene. The total focus range is covered with a threequarter turn of the lens.
The Thermosight Pro is available in different versions with options for optical magnification from 1.5x to 6x. It also allows for a 4x digital zoom.
The control panel is immediately accessible on the top of the unit. It is comprised simply of four cardinal directional arrows and a central button. Options include brightness control, scrolling through the color palette, zoom, UCMNUC/ FCC (User-controlled Manual Non-uniformity Correction/ Flat-field Correction), reticle on/off, reticle pattern control, snapshot, record video and a main menu option. To be frank, some of this was more than I could immediately appreciate, but some time on the Thermosight helped me appreciate the many options built into it.
The standout feature, of course, is the thermal image. While looking through the eyepiece, you will see that the screen delivers brilliant, high quality, clean thermal imagery. The Thermosight Pro offers seven different color options that allow you to work in low contrast daylight, total darkness and everything in between.
White Hot is probably the one with which you are most familiar and is good for scenes with high or low contrast. Black Hot makes the scenes appear more lifelike, especially at night. Rainbow HC is a multi-color thermal that displays the temperature of objects in a wide color range. Ironbow simulates the glow of objects that are heated, similar to an iron in the fire. Sepia only uses three colors and displays heat intensity from black to yellow. Arctic sharply displays objects with a higher temperature difference, and finally Outdoor Alert combines the life-like detail of Black Hot with easy-to-spot bright targets highlighted in dark red to bright yellow. It assumes the target is hotter than its surroundings.
My personal favorite option was Outdoor
Alert, as it was the most intuitive and had my subjects stand out in an obvious way. Mind you, I was primarily working either in a structure or at night. It also didn’t hurt that the image made it look like I had Predator vision. When working outside, I would have to switch to White Hot because there was not as much color when everything is warmer.
Regarding the reticle, there are six options each available in four colors. There’s a four MOA dot, something that will be familiar to fans of red dot optics. There’s a Line Dot, with
“…the Thermosight Pro has internal memory that allows the user to record up to 2 1/2 hours of video or take up to 1,000 pictures.”
a dot set in the middle of a broken horizontal line. The Cross Center Dot is a broken crosshair with a dot in the middle. The Cross is a simple “plus sign” option. The Crosshair is a “typical” old school scope crosshair that is immediately useable. Finally, there’s the Crossdash, which is a Mil-dot type design. As mentioned, each reticle can be made to be black, white, red or cyan. In short, the Thermopro features a very useable reticle option for just about everyone regardless of background or experience.
The Thermosight Pro boasts multiple features packed into a compact housing. While heavier than a typical red dot optic, it is still light enough to be practical when mounted on a rifle. When looking through the eyepiece, the HUD (heads-up display) shows 10 pieces of real time information for feedback. There is the reticle, a shot counter, digital zoom, rifle profile, current color palette, digital inclinometer, battery status, compass cardinal direction, compass degrees and a record indicator. From a practical side, you have all the info you need in the moment— more than you’d first expect, and some that you’ll be glad you had after the mission.
The Thermosight Pro’s advanced image processing is built using the new FLIR Boson thermal core. The bright, high-definition display allows for absolute clarity. In addition to the electronic displays, the Thermosight Pro has internal memory that allows the user to record up to 2 1/2 hours of video or take up to 1,000 pictures. The video can be shot-activated, operated manually or operated remotely using the included USB cable. The uncompressed video signal is paired with a high-definition display for better detection and classification in the field. This allows for a versatile and customizable viewing experience.
I was also able to experiment with the Thermosight Pro in tactical training. Ambient light was not an issue, so I had an immediate advantage when in a low-light environment. I was quickly able to recognize heat sources and discern role players in training. This allowed me to address them earlier, even— and most importantly—when they were attempting to conceal themselves or sucked up into a tight space. The consensus from the team was that having one Thermosight Pro in the stack gives us an additional and significant advantage when searching a location.
Regarding a non-tactical environment, I had the benefit of working in the foothills and was able to use the Thermosight Pro in wooded areas where we have the occasional bear and other wildlife. More than anything, I was able to locate small animals that I would not have seen otherwise. The thermal imaging makes detection easy and allows you to then take your time in recognizing and identifying what you have in front of you.
The Thermosight Pro Series PTS223 weapon sight is an amazing piece of equipment. Bringing high-end technology and housing it in a robust package, it is packed with versatile features allowing for customizable viewing and user options.
It has a ton of well-executed features, which means that you can tailor it to your specific mission. Advanced enough to be highly versatile while being intuitive enough to simply pick up and use, the Thermosight Pro Series PTS223 is an absolute force multiplier and a window into the future of firearm optics.
“It also didn’t hurt that the image made it look like I had Predator vision.”
FLIR’S Thermosight Pro Series features a durable aluminum alloy that can withstand drops in the field.
The heat shield on top of the barrel separates the operator from the hot barrel after 20 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition have been fired in rapid succession.
With the doublestack magazine located at the center of the shotgun, between the shoulder and support hand, balance is not a problem.
FLIR’S Thermosight PTS233 Pro Series thermal core creates outstanding imagery for better detection and classification—day or night—and the author said it has a “ton of wellexecuted features” so you can tailor it to your specific mission.