Being in control, or at least feeling like you’re in control of a situation, seems to give us hunters satisfaction in our outdoor adventures. Being prepared with the tools needed to go where we want and do what we choose are a large portion of that feeling of authority over our immediate surroundings. That is until the sun sets, when much of our dominance goes out the window.
But things like thermal optics, in this case the Thor 4, can add a heavy hitter to your arsenal that will keep you on top of things in pure darkness.
Meet The Thor
The ATN Thor 4 is much more than just a low-light thermal optic. It also has an incredible array of smart functions like built-in GPS, Bluetooth connection to Apple and Android devices, video and photo recording, and even a ballistic solver built into the riflescope.
There are other simpler features that will enhance your experience with this scope as well. Rings to mount it come included with the scope, and low battery consumption makes the power last longer than anticipated. You can even get it in one of your favorite camouflage coatings. There is much more to get into on the features, so I’ll move along.
When I opened the box to see the scope inside, I was a bit surprised. The Thor appeared to be a complete unit, sealed and ready to go. I pulled out the instructions because I’m an idiot when it comes to tech. The directions were easy enough to figure out, but ATN added help for those of us who struggle with some stickers in various locations indicating the purpose and function of each control.
There were also things such as a charging adapter and mounting rings to install the scope on your rifle. After a few hours of good charging time, I took the Thor outside to see what I was missing in the darkness. I have used other thermal optics before, and I was perhaps expecting a little bit more because of my previous experience. But to be fair, the units I was comparing to this ATN cost three to four times as much. So, there is certainly a grain of salt to take with my expectation.
The Thor was excellent for identifying small animals around the neighborhood inside 300 yards. I zoomed the power in and out using the power wheel on the left side of the housing and then focused using the rotating objective housing. The resolution was more than adequate for identifying and targeting potential animals.
In the field
I wanted to get this scope mounted and into action as soon as possible. Using the provided rings, I mounted it up on my Desert Tech MDRX in .308 Win.
It took some getting used to, but after a bit, I had the Thor figured out. I managed to get it zeroed, though it took me more shots than it should have. The “Nuc” feature was an important one to figure out quickly. As far as I can tell, it seems to calibrate the sensor according to the current field of view. I found that significantly changing your field of view would cause the resolution to vary some, and cycling the Nuc feature on the new viewing area would bring back the image. There is also an “Auto-Nuc” that you can set in the controls to have the device re-Nuc itself every so often.
The display was full of information, possibly more than some folks may want to see. It kinda made me feel like I was looking through the heads-up display of an F-18 fighter jet. Angles on both vertical and horizontal plans are displayed, as well as a compass heading.
There is an assortment of reticle choices you can choose from depending on your needs, and a simple menu that can be cycled through quickly using the buttons on top of the housing. I had already installed a micro-SD card that is used to store images and video clips recorded through the scope.
The Obsidian 4 Application
It was time to get the Obsidian 4 application connected and running, this app is made and offered by ATN for the owners of their products. It allows detail entry and customization for some of the more tedious bits of data you definitely want right.
It took a minute to figure out how to properly get it connected to my phone, but I was in business after watching a helpful video on ATN’s website.
The Obsidian 4 app allows you to customize the data used in the ballistic solver that comes in the scope. You can change calibers, bullet weights, velocities, and other pertinent information used to calculate the corrections for distance. You can also watch through the scope remotely, which is also pretty cool. There is a slight delay in transmission, but you can see everything you need to see and record it to your phone if you like.
The app was easy to navigate and update the information from my gun. To be completely honest, I found it to be an incredible amount of customization. I’m barely smarter than most primates, and I was beginning to worry I was going to screw something up faster than anything. But in a short time, I had it set up to my liking, and I was ready to shoot.
The Thermal Difference
As far as thermals go, I was quite pleased with this one. I could see myself using it quite a bit more now that I am familiar with its functions and features, which are far more than I had anticipated.
Battery life was impressive, even in the ice-cold Rocky Mountains. I could leave the Thor powered up for hours at a time for most of the day's shooting activities. With a full charge after leaving it in the cold garage for two weeks, it still powered right up to about 90%. The actual optical controls (focus, zoom, etc.) were a little more sensitive than I’d have liked, but I guess I can live with it given the thermal advantage the scope offers.
I didn’t use the ballistic calculator much, but I don’t really use them much inside of 300 yards anyway. The pictures and video taken from the Thor were fantastic and easy to get and upload where I wanted them.
Thermal and night vision products are not for the faint of heart. Companies like ATN are doing their best to bring the price down and present options to the general consumer. Nonetheless, it will take a level of dedication and funds outside the normal gun enthusiast. Think of it like NFA items. The added cost and a little more diligence are needed, but the results are too cool to not have. I certainly don’t mean to put you off getting into thermal sight like the Thor, just want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
My only concern with this scope is about longevity, it does come with a 3-year warranty, which certainly assuages some of that concern. I do look forward to spending some more time with this scope and hopefully getting some good video of coyote hunting.