Pulsar Axion XM30 | XM30S vs XM38, Axion Key XM22 Thermal Monoculars Review

Pulsar Axion XM30S XM30 vs XM38 Key XM22You know it is true:

Pulsar is a top brand in thermal imaging world.

Among the various thermal imaging products that this industry leader has launched, its thermal monoculars are particularly very popular –

including the Pulsar Axion series (XM30 / XM30S / XM38) and Pulsar Axion Key thermal imagers (XM22 / XM30).

But what are the differences among these models, and which one should you buy?

Pulsar Axion XM30 vs XM38 Thermal Monoculars Review

Pulsar Axion is available in two versions, varying by the focal length of the main Germanium lens —

i.e. Pulsar XM30 with 4x focal length, vs XM38 with 5.5x native magnification.

This innovative line of compact thermal monoculars utilize a 320 x 240 thermal sensing unit at 50Hz frame rate to capture the infrared radiation released by objects, and translate the varying infrared energy into a visual image called thermogram. This thermal image allows user to see many things that are invisible to naked eyes.

Unlike night vision gadgets that rely on at least some ambient light for detection, these thermal imaging monoculars do not require any visible light to generate an image.

The Pulsar Axion thermal imaging monoculars are excellent for usage in darkness, at night-time, and also throughout the day in challenging climate condition (such as haze, smog).

These thermal imagers work great for hunting, scouting, wildlife observation, search operations, law enforcement, surveillance, and where there are obstacles (eg. branches, tall yard, dense hedges etc) that restrain the detection of a target.
 
 
The brief video below shows an overview of Pulsar Axion XM compact thermal monoculars:
 

 
Featuring color 1024×768 HD AMOLED microdisplay in eyepiece, the powerful objective lens in combination with a 12 µm pixel pitch core provide phenomenal discovery abilities.

They provide magnification of 4x digital zoom – continual zoom and 2x, 4x stepped zoom. These optic magnification with digital zoom features can provide superb identification of standard 1.8 m (6 ft) tall objects in complete darkness and long-distance –

with the detection range of Pulsar Axion XM30 / XM30S is 1300 yards, while Pulsar Axion XM38 offers even longer detection range of 1860 yards.
 
 
In the video below, HansETX gives a great Pulsar Axion XM30 review – including its differences vs the other Axion thermal monocular models (eg. XM38 and Pulsar Key XM30).

You can check out more user reviews >> here to see what they say.


 
Both Axion monoculars are equipped with a rangefinder that help to determine the distance to focal subjects, whilst the picture in picture mode include a small second display on the photo which can help when zooming in on a subject.

Their professional grade thermal sensor with substantially smaller pixel pitch of 12µm is capable to produce enhanced images with more details and smoother edges, when compared to thermal sensor with 17µm pixel pitch that is equipped to most of the other thermal imagers on the market.

Unlike LCD, the HD AMOLED microdisplay in these Pulsar thermal scopes do not need backlighting, so best for working in dark conditions.
 
 
The video below shows Pulsar Axion XM38 thermal monocular review by Optics Trade.

More user reviews can be found >> here for your reference.


 
With built-in video and still-photo recording capability, you can capture still-images and record videos (eg. live streaming and shot-activated video recording when recoil is detected).

These contents are saved on the thermal monocular, come with 16 Gb inner memory.

You can then enable the Wi-Fi connection, and utilize the Stream Vision App to transfer or share the great video clips and photos that you have captured.

The high resolution thermal sensor, alongside the professional-grade 12µm pixel pitch, ensure high quality videos and images are taken.

To give you a better understanding of what you’ll be getting –

Check out the Pulsar Axion XM38 vs XM30 video below shows side-by-side comparison of the image quality at various distance of 50m / 100m / 150m / 200m / 250m / 300m / 350m… till 500m away, alongside their zoom functions.

(this is a non-English video but you don’t need to know the language to see the difference)


 
The Pulsar Axion XM30 and XM38 thermal imaging monoculars are constructed with a robust housing for durability, with the housing material has been upgraded from the composite technopolymer (used in majority of the Pulsar products) to rugged Magnesium alloy.

Both products are IPX7 waterproof-rated for protection versus heavy rain, and even complete submersion in water as much as 1 metre deep for 30 minutes.

However, the robustness and durability of these thermal imagers do not mean they are bulky and heavy; In fact, it’s quite the opposite:

The highly portable Axion series are indeed the lightest, smallest, as well as the most compact thermal monoculars launched by Pulsar to-date.

As shown in the key comparison of Pulsar Axion XM30 vs XM38 below –

XM-30 weigh only 8.8 oz, while XM-38 weigh 9.5 oz due to the larger 38mm objective lens.

  Pulsar Axion XM38

Thermal Monocular

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate

HD AMOLED 1024x768

5.5 - 22 Magnification

F38/1.2 Objective Lens

Germanium lens

1850 yards Detection Range


Wi-Fi Connectivity

Stream Vision compatible

Video Recording Function


Weigh 9.5 ounces

Discontinued

Pulsar Axion XM30

Thermal Monocular

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate

HD AMOLED 1024x768

4 - 16 Magnification

F30/1.2 Objective Lens

Germanium lens

1450 yards Detection Range


Wi-Fi Connectivity

Stream Vision compatible

Video Recording Function


Weigh 8 ounces

Discontinued

Pulsar Axion XM30S

Thermal Monocular

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate

HD AMOLED 1024x768

4.5 - 18 Magnification

F30/1.2 Objective Lens

Germanium lens

1450 yards Detection Range


Wi-Fi Connectivity

Stream Vision compatible

Video Recording Function


Weigh 8 ounces

Latest Model

 
These thermal imaging monoculars are ergonomically designed to fit completely in one hand or in a standard-size pocket, whilst it guarantees comfortable grasp and handling.

They are equipped with B-Pack mini batteries that can be quickly charged, either in the unit connected to USB or with included charger station; Every purchase of Pulsar Axion thermal imager comes with a APS3 rechargeable battery and a battery charger.
 

The Latest Pulsar Axion XM30S (vs XM30 / XM38)

According to Pulsar:

Yukon Advanced Optics Worldwide informs that starting from November 2019, Axion XM30 and Axion XM38 Thermal Imaging Monoculars are discontinued.

Since then, the company has released Pulsar Axion XM30S compact Thermal Imaging Monocular in year 2020; This Axion XM30S model is a full-featured analog of Axion XM30 and Axion XM38.

While all Axion monoculars have the same thermal sensor resolution / pitch / frame rate specifications, their key differences are:

  • Magnification: Axion XM30S is 4.5 – 18, vs 4 – 16 of XM30, and 5.5 – 22 of XM38.
  • Objective Lens: F30/1.2 for Axion XM30 / XM30S, vs F38/1.2 for XM38.
  • Detection range: Axion XM30 / XM30S is 1300m (1450 yards), vs 1850 yards of XM38.

Just like Pulsar Axion XM38 and XM30, the XM30S monocular also has these features:

  • 8 color palettes (eg. “white hot”, “hot black”, “Rainbow”) that user can select based on varying climates and conditions.
  • Instant Start-up that activates the unit almost instantly, which also helps to save energy and thus prolongs the operation time.

The later part of video below by Drewslab shows some Pulsar Axion XM30S clips at 100 meters and 200 meters with fox size dogs, so you can check out its performance.

Pulsar Axion XM30S has received very impressive user reviews >> as shown here.


 

Pulsar Axion KEY XM22 vs XM30 Thermal Imagers

In addition to Pulsar Axion, there is an entry-level thermal monocular series named Pulsar Axion KEY which includes variations like Pulsar Axion Key XM22 and Axion Key XM30.

They all have the same 320 x 240 thermal sensor, 12µm pixel pitch, and 50Hz frame rate.

  Pulsar Axion

Key XM22

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate


960 x 768 LCOS Display

2 - 8 Magnification

F22 / 1.2 Objective Lens

Chalcogenide lens

1000 yards Detection Range


No Wi-Fi Connectivity

No Stream Vision

No Video Recording function


Weigh 8 ounces

Pulsar Axion

Key XM30

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate


960 x 768 LCOS Display

2.5 - 10 Magnification

F30 / 1.2 Objective Lens

Chalcogenide lens

1450 yards Detection Range


No Wi-Fi Connectivity

No Stream Vision

No Video Recording function


Weigh 8 ounces

Pulsar Axion

XM30S

320x240 Thermal Sensor

12 micron pixel pitch

50 Hz Frame Rate


HD AMOLDED 1024 x 768

4.5 - 18 Magnification

F30 / 1.2 Objective Lens

Germanium lens

1450 yards Detection Range


Wi-Fi Connectivity

Stream Vision compatible

Video Recording Function


Weigh 8 ounces

Latest Model

 
However, Pulsar Axion KEY series have several different/reduced specifications and features vs Pulsar Axion, as follows:

  • Display: Pulsar Axion Key XM22 / XM30 are equipped with 960 x 720 LCOS micro display, vs the 1024 x 768 HD AMOLED microdisplay of Pulsar Axion XM30 / XM38.
  • Magnification: Axion Key XM22 is 2 – 8 (x4 zoom) with F22/1.2 objective lens, vs Pulsar Axion Key XM30 is 2.5 – 10 (x4 zoom) with F30/1.2 objective lens.
  • Lens: Axion Key thermal monoculars utilize Chalcogenide lens, rather than the Germanium lens used by Axion series.
  • Detection range: Axion Key XM22 is 950m, vs 1200m of Axion Key XM30.
  • Pulsar Axion Key series do NOT have Wi-Fi / streaming and built-in video/sound recording features.

Check out the video below that gives a great comparison overview between Pulsar Axion KEY XM30 vs Pulsar Axion KEY XM22:

The Night Vision Guy SA guys have evaluated the Pulsar Axion KEY XM30 Key thermal monocular on the beach from distances between 50 meter and 500 meter, with the results are as shown in the following video:


 

Pulsar Axion Thermal Imaging Monoculars: The Verdict

Pulsar Axion XM30 / XM30S / XM38 are palm-sized thermal imagers that are lightweight and feature-rich.

We especially like their professional-grade 12µm pixel pitch, 320 x 240 thermal sensor unit, 50Hz frame rate, and high resolution 1024×768 HD AMOLED microdisplay.

These capabilities offer superb value at Pulsar Axion’s price point; In fact, you can’t find some of these great specifications on other more expensive thermal imaging monoculars.

With the discontinuation of XM30 and XM38, Pulsar Axion XM30S is a superb thermal monocular to be considered, as supported by its impressive user reviews and rating:

If you like the Pulsar Axion thermal imager but would like to save some bucks –

then the entry-level Pulsar Axion KEY XM30 / XM22 thermal imaging monoculars are great alternatives that you can consider, provided you can accept their reduced specifications (without features like Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in video/sound recording functions).

Check out the video below, if you’d like to have a side-by-side comparison overview of Pulsar Axion XM30S vs Pulsar Axion Key XM30 – to help facilitate your purchase decision.

Which thermal monocular to choose? You decide, based on your preference and budget.

You should be happy with any of the choices above, as all of them represent excellent value at their respective price points.


 
 

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