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ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope | Hands-on Review

Thermal scopes are advancing faster and becoming more effective and functional than ever before, and the Thor 4 Thermal represents the next generation of thermal scopes.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope Side View

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The ATN Smart HD scope line was upgraded significantly and bolstered with additional features to create the Thor 4. In addition to solid thermal imaging thanks to a sensitive next-gen sensor, the Thor 4 also packs in up to 16 hours of continuous use, takes up to a 64GB micro sd card, and has social features like direct sharing and dual-stream video.

ATN itself has been one of the most well-known names in optics and thermal imaging for recreational shooters, professional shooters, and even law enforcement. They also have lines of monoculars, binoculars, night vision scopes, and even clip-on optics, though their Thor 4 line of scopes is what we’ll be digging into today.

ATN was kind enough to let us try out this bad boy for a test and it did not disappoint. We dug into every single option in the menu and tried out every feature of the scope. The model we tried out was the 4.5 -18x with the 384×288 sensor. So all of our observations will be based on those specs.

ATN Corp Optics & Scopes logo

We’re going to take a look at all of the features that make this scope one of the more incredible examples of prosumer-grade thermal optics. For balance, we’ll also make sure we cover some of the negatives of the Thor 4 in our pros & cons section. Before we wrap up, we’ll also be sure to visit some use cases, to see if the ATN Thor 4 may be right for you, as well as what guns it’s best suited for.

ATN Thor 4 Main Features

There are several scopes in ATN’s Thor 4 thermal line, and while the technical specifications of each will change, the primary features and benefits of the scope line will be present in all models.

Industry-Leading Obsidian IV Dual-Core Processor

One of the leaders in image processors is ATN’s Obsidian IV dual-core image processor. The Obsidian core leverages industry-leading processing architecture while making the use more intuitive. The ATN Obsidian IV dual core processors allow full 1920×1080 HD resolution images to be processed instantly, from the ultra sensitive next gen sensor.

ATN Thor 4 Dual Core Thermal Sensor Icons

The ARM processor has two dedicated coprocessors with advanced spatial noise reduction filters. This results in some of the cleanest, clearest images you’ll see in non-military thermal optics. This is all powered by ATN’s Obsidian architecture, which is based around power-frugal 32 nanometer technology, so you still get relatively good battery life.

HD User Screen

The image quality of the Thor scopes is incredible, and while this is easy to see on larger screens that you send the video to, users that choose to use the screen directly on the scope enjoy no reduction in image quality. The ATN Thor scopes have a stunning 1280×720 HD display screen with.

From our testing, close images are incredible sharp as you can see in this picture of our dog. You are able to see individual hairs and hot spots. At longer distances, the image can be a little more pixelated but that is to be expected. We were testing out the 384×288 sensor so the image with the 640 would be even better.

Thermal image by the Thor 4 Scope of a dog
*Scope was not mounted on a rifle for this photo

Smart Mil-Dot Reticle

One of the biggest reasons to get on the smart HD thermal rifle scope bandwagon is that optics like the ATN Thor 4 384 and the Thor 4 640 give you reticles, multiple patterns & color options that automatically adjust based on your aim and the information from the thermal sensors.

From white hot to black hot to every color of the rainbow, you are sure to find a color mode that fits your needs. We found that adjusting the contrast and brightness also can make a big difference in customizing the image to your preferences.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal Color Modes
Some of the various color modes you can choose from

You will have the option to use the Thor 4’s reticle in two different ways. You can use it as a standard, standalone mil-dot reticle, or it can be combined with the advanced ballistic laser. When used as a standalone reticle, it will have hash marks, but the user will need to have predetermined and verified the distance between the hash marks already.

When paired with the ABL, the mil-dot becomes a smart reticle and allows you to use the ballistic calculator to refine your shot to surgical precision. You can use the ballistics information of your load to program the distance between hashes.

Auxiliary Ballistic Laser

ATN’s Auxiliary Ballistic Laser, ABL, is one of the cornerstone features, and it enables several other levels of functionality with the scope. It provides the foundation for the ballistic calculator, the smart reticle, and other similar functionality.

The auxiliary ballistic laser, ABL 1000, will act as a smart range finder, and allow you to see instantaneous adjustments to your smart reticle commensurate with the range detected. If you are using your ATN Thor 4 as a social way to hunt, the ABL 1000 will also be recorded with your shot.

Ballistic Calculator

The ABL also forms the foundation for the built-in ballistic calculator. You can pair the auxiliary ballistic laser with the Thor 4 to have instant feedback on your projected shot.

The ballistic calculator even factors in the range, wind, multiple weapon profiles, angle, temperature, and humidity to provide you with a real-time reticle adjustment for optimal shot placement. The climate info is relayed from the onboard e-barometer.

This built-in range finder functionality can prevent missed or ineffective shots, as well as wasted ammo. You might get another shot, but ammo is still relatively expensive and limited, so anything that can help limit wasted rounds can be incredibly valuable.

One-Shot Zero

ATN Thor 4 One Shot Zeroing
Built in Ballistic Calculator and One-Shot Zeroing

One of the many easy to use features of the ATN Thor 4 smart HD thermal rifle scope is the one-shot zero. It requires the gun to be anchored to prevent movement, then after a single shot the reticle can be moved to overlap the point of impact, and then the settings are simply saved. This reduces the overall amount of time that is spent zeroing the scope in during the ownership lifetime.

Shooting Profile Manager

The built-in shooting profile manager lets you completely customize your Thor scope to the rounds and circumstances under which you’re shooting. You can provide multiple variables that help the ballistic calculator adjust the smart reticle for your needs. You will be able to provide information such as the drag coefficient, ballistic coefficient, bullet weight, muzzle velocity, the range that you’re zeroed to, and even the height of the scope above the barrel of the gun.

These variables and more can all be set from the scope interface itself, or by downloading the Obsidian app and using the app to customize the ballistics. Each profile you create and be saved edited, and deleted when or if needed. This lets the user create profiles for different guns, different ammo, and even different game situations or other shooting needs.

Recoil Activated Video

Many shooters are interested in video recording but have to viable way to ensure that they begin recording when the time is right. Getting footage of their shots can be crucial for novice shooters, which makes any scope in the Thor 4 line a great scope for those still learning.

A few clips we recorded when testing out the Thor 4. (Scope was not mounted on a rifle when videoing the dogs)

The Recoil Activated Video, RAV, begins automatically recording video when the built-in accelerometer detects the first movements of recoil. RAV, recoil activated video can be the difference between a hunter getting footage of that unbelievable shot, and simply telling the story later.

RAV will record video before and after the shot and will store it directly to the micro sd card housed onboard. This lets all shooters, regardless of skill level, focus entirely on their shooting and let the scope record the video.

Wi-Fi Video Streaming

Not only can the Thor 4 record video with the RAV feature, but it can simultaneously record and stream the footage live from the scope, just as the shooter would see it. This means you can watch your live scope image on any other computer, even mobile digital devices. Users on Android and iOS can download ATN apps to receive video streams from the shooter.

This opens up a wide range of options related to both convenience and comfort. With an HD thermal rifle scope like the Thor, you have some of the best options in the next generation of thermal sensors, paired with a groundbreaking image processor, allowing you to send full resolution HD night vision video to any device or person you give access to.

App Management

Users of the Thor 4 can download the ATN Obsidian app, which can connect to your mobile device via iOS or Android Bluetooth. The Obsidian app lets users easily set their scope up and get it ready for use, as well as change any of the internal settings on the fly.

This gives you unprecedented amounts of control over how your scope functions and how you are able to truly get the most out of it. You can even use the app to use the scope as a thermal camera capable of capturing stills and video.

Magnification Options

No matter what you plan to use your Thor for, there is undoubtedly a magnification option for you. While the magnification offerings across the ATN Thor 4 384 & 640 will be different, there is significant overlap and you should have no problem finding something to fill your needs.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope

All of the scopes in the Thor line have variable magnification. The Thor scopes with the 384 sensors will bottom out at 1.25-5x, while the lowest magnification for scopes with the 640 sensors is 1-10x. The higher end of the magnification options sees the 384s reach 7-28x, and the 640s can reach out to touch targets with a hefty 4-40x. Both the 384 and the 640 lines also have two other options to fill the zoom gap.

Smooth Zoom

The Smooth Zoom features allow the user to operate a zoom wheel to easily sharpen the focus on potential targets. While you would expect the zoom to be easily-operated on any scope you use, many scopes have a very firm wheel that can make fine adjustments challenging. Despite the smooth feel of the zoom wheel, it is largely unaffected by recoil.

Long Eye Relief

The 90mm eye relief means that shooters that aren’t using a larger screen and shooting from the scope directly can enjoy a much more comfortable shooting position. This more than 4-inch eye relief can be functionally extended to infinity by using the streaming function.

ATN Thor 4 Eye relief cap

When streaming the shot video over wi-fi, the shooter has the advantage of being able to put the image on as large of a screen as they would like. You can send it to your phone to get a little more screen real estate, or you can watch it on a laptop or full-size TV, allowing you to kick back and relax while keeping a close eye on your potential shot.

Long Battery Life

The ultra low power consumption of the Thor 4, even for a shooter that streams video constantly, or does hour after hour of video recording to watch shot hits, means you get more than enough time on a charge. Even with continuous use, you can get up to 18 hours per charge.

Like other HD thermal rifle scope models, the Thor 4 can be charged with a standard 5v USB connection. This also means that you can fast charge the batteries much quicker than you can deplete them, and you have the option to plug the unit in and continue to use it while it charges.

ATN Customer Service

One of the reasons that ATN has been a consistent leader in thermal scopes for many years, is its commitment to awesome customer service. It’s no secret that ATN scopes, particularly those like the Thor 4, can be incredibly costly, and shooters that spend that kind of money want to make sure that they are going to be supported in the event that they have any issues, problems, or other support requests.

ATN maintains such great customer service that its scopes are at the forefront of thermal imaging and nocturnal shooting. Those that invest in any ATN product are able to contact ATN support with any challenges, their customer service team is trusted in the gun community for providing solutions to problems.

ATN Thor 4 Mounted on a rifle

Additional Features & Settings

  • Compass
  • Video
  • Photos
  • Thermal sensitivity
  • Metering
  • NUC
  • Color palettes
  • Pixel correction
  • Microphone
  • Recoil activated video
  • Brightness
  • Interface Widget settings
  • Sleep timer
  • Reticle style options
  • Languages 
  • Ballistic Calculator
  • Zero Reticle
  • Ballistic profiles (export/import from SD card)
  • Environmental settings
  • Remote controller integration
  • Built in rangefinder 
  • Rangefinder pairing
  • ABL pairing
  • USB C charging
  • Micro SD card
  • Levels
  • Zoom wheel
  • Focusing rings

Pros & Cons Of The ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope

With such a robust line of scopes as ATN’s Thor line, it may seem like the scopes are too good to be true. This certainly isn’t the case, and Thor scopes do have some drawbacks and downsides. Here are the ups and downs of the Thor scope family.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope AR15 Rifle
ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope on an AR15

Pros

  • Ideal for shots of 300 yards or closer
  • Great options for putting out video both locally and streaming
  • Massive 18-hour runtime per charge
  • Easy USB charging
  • Single-shot zeroing
  • Built-in range finder and ballistic calculator
  • Long eye relief
  • 60hz refresh rate produces smooth images and video
  • RAV makes video capture simple and intuitive
  • Onboard menu navigation is easy and has tons of features to customize your experience
  • Large buttons are easy to find in the dark
  • The optical zoom we tested of 4.5-18 was far greater than other competitors we’ve tried
  • Massive HD screen with lots of color options that made it easy to find targets
ATN Thor 4 buttons and dial

Cons

We really enjoyed our time with the Thor 4, but there are a few minor hiccups we ran into….

  • High zoom levels (into the digital zoom territory) will often produce pixelated images. This could be improved by opting for the larger sensor and a higher optical zoom.
  • The SD Card gave us a little trouble as we had a hard time getting the scope to recognize it sometimes. We found that the key was to turn off the scope, insert the SD card, then turn it on, format it (make sure you’ve removed any images beforehand), then turn it back on. It was also a little difficult to get out sometimes even with small fingers.
  • The default mount rings were a little bit cumbersome to attach and remove each time. We found that the best way to attach them is to put the bottom on rifle in position then place scope on top before securing the top mounts. Thankfully, ATN sells a quick detach scope mount. Currently, its being offered for free as an add-on when you buy the Thor 4!
  • The Thor 4’s form factor is quite large compared to some other thermal scopes we’ve tested. We had to use the extender mount to fit it on a smaller rifle rail.
ATN Thor 4 vs Burris BTS 50 Thermal Scopes
Size comparison of Burris BTS 50 (top) vs. ATN Thor 4 (bottom)

Best Uses For The ATN Thor 4 Thermal

While most scopes in the Thor scope family are able to be customized enough to be used for just about anything, there are some specific circumstances where they can prove invaluable. Some examples of these situations are hunting, property defense, and personal defense.

Hunting & Livestock Protection

The Thor scopes are going to be great scopes for anyone looking to control invasive species like feral hogs on their property or to protect livestock against predators like coyotes. The magnification of the scopes lets you get the image zoom you need for clear images, while the state of the art image sensor and processing gives you the image and video processing you need for clear and steady shooting.

Hunters can count on the Thor line to give them unprecedented visibility into the otherwise hidden positions and movement of fauna in the dark. When hunting games like hogs or coyotes that are much more active at night or in low light conditions, being able to see, acquire and identify your potential target faster can be crucial to making sure you land your shot.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal scope with deer

The super-fast image and video refresh rate lets follow up shots be made as quickly as your firing cycle completes. The image clarity lets you easily distinguish between your livestock and pets, and invasive elements and predators like coyotes. In situations where similar animals are present, however, such as guard dogs and coyotes, the resolution and image quality is not sufficient enough to discern between the two.

For hunters that count on social media to promote their activity, the ability to instantly share your streaming video, or upload your RAV videos for editing in post-production can be a game-changing improvement over conventional hunting footage. The ability to send live video streaming to other devices also increases the effectiveness of each shot, allowing other devices to act as spotters for the shooter.

The ideal magnification levels for someone looking to use their Thor scope for livestock protection and property defense should be sure to stick to the middle of the road unless extremely high magnification is needed for sure. The higher zoom levels may prove too much for some shooters that won’t make use of them, resulting in potentially lower image quality and decreased effectiveness. Lower magnification may not have the range that a hunter would prefer, though they can be used in some situations.

Personal & Home Defense

Lower magnification Thor models can be leveraged for home and personal defense, allowing the user to clearly see potential invaders much more clearly and with more separation than with other methods. They let the user acquire and follow their target without using attachments like tactical lights that will ruin ocular night vision.

ATN Thor 4 AR15 Rifle

The ability to use a scope that does not increase the likelihood of detection can also be a benefit that lends itself to using a Thor model for home defense. This allows a homeowner to potentially acquire their target without putting themselves in the dangerous position of being seen.

The caveat to using thermal imaging for home defense, however, is that there is no easy way to discern a friendly heat signature from a hostile one. This can lead to potentially dangerous situations unless extreme care is exercised.

Best Guns To Host An ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope

Without a doubt, one of the most popular platforms for pairing with ATN Thor scopes is the AR. The ability of the scopes to be used with endless shooting profiles lends them to be the darling of the high-end AR hunting, culling, and defense crowd. Since guns on the AR platform are available in such a wide range of calibers and shooting setups, combining them with the smart capabilities of the Thor scopes can make them more effective than ever before.

ATN Thor 4 Scope mounted on an AR 15 Rifle

While Thor scopes are great for AR platform rifles, their smart integration also makes them perfect for guns that may otherwise be too challenging to be practical in some situations. The built-in accelerometer and e-barometer, along with the ability to preload your shooting profile, mean you can use Thor scopes with any other rifle. It’s not uncommon to hear of enthusiasts using the smart reticle and ballistics calculator to hunt with much heavier rounds like shotgun slugs.

Accessories To Get The Most Out Of Your ATN Thor 4

Mounting Rings

You will want to be sure that you have the appropriate sized mounting rings to attach your scope to your gun. The scopes in the Thor line all come with 33 mm standard rings included, so as long as those rings fit the rails on your gun you’ll be all set, otherwise you’ll want to make arrangements to have 33 mm rings that fit your gun on hand.

We recommend picking up the fast detach mount that will make your life much easier if you plan on swapping out scopes from time to time.

Thermal Targets

To best facilitate practicing, you’ll likely want to get some steel targets that you can anchor at a distance and subsequently heat up. These heavy steel targets will not only retain the heat for hours, allowing you to easily get in ample practice, but they also provide an audible confirmation of a shot landing.

There are also DIY methods for making targets that absorb and retain heat, making them ideal for thermal target practice at home. You can find plenty of tutorials online, but most of them will be a simple process of taking an insulated material like foam board and covering it in foil or other similar material. This allows them to heat up via solar gain, retaining the heat for some time. The obvious downside to DIY targets is that they are consumable, unlike reusable steel targets.

Fast Charger

The scopes in ATN’s Thor lines all use a standard 5v USB connection to charge. This means that you can always plug them into any USB outlet for a standard charge, but to fast-charge, you’ll want to make sure you have an appropriate fast-charge USB charging block. By leveraging the speed at which USB devices can fast-charge, even in the unlikely event that the battery dies while you’re using it, you’ll be able to quickly recharge the batteries and get back to the hunt.

ATN Thor 4 SD Card Slot and charging port

High-Capacity Micro SD Cards

The scopes in the Thor lines will automatically save the recoil activated video to an equipped SD card. This means the more space you can give your scope, the less you’ll need to make space on the card. The Thor scopes can accept micro Sd cards up to 64GB in size, giving you a great balance between ample storage space and affordable storage media.

This means you’ll be in a prime position to capture everything you need on a single card. In the event that you need more space, you will be ready since 64GB cards are incredibly affordable, and you can easily arrange to have several spare cards on standby.

Choosing The Right ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope For Your Needs

Lens Size & Magnification

Your lens size is largely going to be determined by your magnification needs, and your magnification needs are largely going to depend on what you’ll be using the scope for.

For users looking to leverage a Thor scope for personal or home defense, this consideration will be incredibly important, since the weight of the scope and ability to quickly acquire a target will be vital factors of usability. When you are sticking with relatively low-powered optics, you generally only need to worry about the weight of the scope, however higher magnification requires much larger lenses, which can quickly add weight. The last thing you want to worry about in a defensive situation is heavy lifting.

ATN Thor 4 zoom and sensor size

Those that may be looking to use a Thor for hunting, predator control, or elimination of invasive species are probably going to want a greater magnification level. While applications like these will require much higher levels of magnification, it’s important to remember that getting more magnification than you need will make the scope heavier, and more difficult to acquire or reacquire your targets on.

Sensor Choice

There are two flavors of Thor scopes, and they are delineated based on the type of thermal sensor that is used in their construction. There are scopes that use the 384 sensors and those that use the 640 sensors. The difference in the sensors is their thermal resolution, as higher resolution helps the scope get more usable picture data at greater distances.

The gen 4 384×288 60hz sensor is able to collect data at a thermal resolution of 384×288. The lower magnification models like the 1.25-5x are claimed to be able to detect heat at up to 750 yards, while the 7-28x model can supposedly detect heat at 3000 yards away.

ATN Thor LT vs ATN Thor 4 thermal scopes
ATN Thor LT (Left) vs. ATN Thor 4 (right)

The scopes in the 640 series have a similar 4th generation Obsidian processor that is able to crunch the data needed for 640×480 thermal resolution resulting in 1280×960 HD picture running at 60 fps. For scopes in the 640 series, the lowest magnification level, 1-10x is able to detect heat at up to 830 yards, while the 4-40x is touted to be able to detect heat signatures as far as 3300 yards away.

Detection, recognition, and identification all have their respective cutoff for clarity in resolution. The cutoffs are as follows:

  • Detection- 1.5 pixels/0.75m, 2 pixels per meter
  • Recognition 6 pixels/0.75m, 8 pixels per meter
  • Identification 12 pixels/0.75m, 12 pixels per meter

Final Thoughts

The ATN Thor family of thermal imaging scopes are some of the best on the market today, but you’re also going to pay for that performance and quality. For anyone looking to add a top-tier thermal scope to their armory, the Thor line will give you some of the clearest thermal imaging available outside of the military.

ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope Side profile

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Every scope in the family allows the user to customize and personalize countless variables and points of data so that no matter what you need the scope for or what type of gun you’re putting it on, you’ll be able to get the experience you want. You’ll have the thermal resolution and image clarity you need to make the shot the situation requires.

It is a prime option for beginning shooters, hobbyists, ranchers, homesteaders, and anyone looking for a solid home defense scope. Make sure you keep in mind the thermal resolution you’ll need, and the magnification level that you’ll use, and you will be able to easily match your needs with an ATN Thor scope.

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