Thermal scopes and predator hunting are things I’ve taken a recent interest in. In pursuit of those, I’m testing the new Athlon Cronus ATS Thermal Scope.
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About the Athlon Cronus Thermal Scope 50-640
The Athlon Cronus Thermal scope comes in a package with everything you need, making it incredibly easy to jump into thermal. It has an internal battery, but comes with two external batteries you can use for uninterrupted performance.
This optic also communicates to the Athlon Thermal app via Wi-Fi, allowing you not only to livestream what you see through the scope on a device, but also to control all the settings of the scope. The app also allows video playback, audio recording, and media storage and sharing. (Photos and videos are also stored internally.) I found this app incredibly easy to use and great for preserving the experience. The scope itself has auto-shot to automatically record when you take a shot and eco mode to preserve battery life. As you review the full specs below, it’s important to keep in mind that thermal optics are evaluated on different standards than traditional optics.
From Athlon Optics:
The flagship in Athlon’s Cronus ATS line of thermal optics provides the same exceptional performance you’ve come to expect from the Cronus BTR family. The Cronus ATS 50-640 provides stunning detail and crystal clear resolution. An impressive 8.8×6.6° field of view ensures your quarry won’t slip by you.
- Magnification: 2.36-18.9x
- Display Resolution: 1440 x 1080
- Objective Diameter: 30mm
- Sensor Resolution: 640 x 40 @ 12μm
- Lens System: 50mm F1.0
- Length: 14.7”
- NETD: ≤25mK @ 77°F/25°C
- FOV: 8.8° x 6.6°
- Weight: 35.3 oz
Six Color Palettes: Customize the display to your personal preferences using one of the 6 color palettes options. (Blue Hot, White Hot, Green Hot, Black Hot, Adj. Red Hot) Brightness and contrast can further be adjusted for each color palette to suit your environment.
Sensitive Thermal Sensor: Athlon thermal sensors have a 12 uM pixel pitch, paired with our lower NETD ratings the Cronus ATS line provides cleaner and sharper images due to their ability to differentiate smaller temperature fluctuations and increased contrast.
Wi-Fi Connection: The Athlon Thermal app is available on Apple and Android devices, providing users the ability to record video and and capture exhilarating moments of your hunt.
OLED Display: High Resolution display provides a sharp, high contrast view with vivid color.
Long Battery Life: Athlon thermal scope provides more than 10 hours of use in most hunting situations with the standard battery set. A common USB-C connection also provides the ability to power the optic with an external battery pack if needed.
What’s in the Box
The scope comes in a convenient, zippered carrying case. The case itself is impressive with a padded interior, velcro straps for the optic, and dedicated places for everything. The optic has an integrated front cap and comes with rings, instructions, rear telescoping rubber eyepiece, power cables, battery charger, batteries, and charging brick adapters.
About the Rifle
I am setting up several rifles for night hunting and decided to mount this scope on my ultra-light weight 22 GT build. This is ideal for moving and hiking to different locations. I also added a Silencer Central BANISH Backcountry primarily for sound reduction.
The included rings required a T15 Torx bit which I pulled from my Wheeler Professional Gunsmithing sets. I like to start working with rings by hand, not using any sort of wrench. I pushed forward on the rings in the Picatinny rail and torqued the ring bases to 62 inch-lbs. using the Wheeler F.A.T. wrench.
Next I removed the ring caps and set the scope in place. I used a parallel to level the rifle, then used the bottom of the scope as another reference. As I tightened the ring cap screws I pulled down on one side, also tightening the screws on the other to ensure equal gaps. When all screws were finger tight, I ensured the scope was level again, then torqued the screws in a criss-cross pattern to 18 inch-lbs.
In the Field
I personally found it was easier to set the scope settings via the companion app than by turning knobs on the scope, but it’s important to have both options. Twisting the side knob adjusts the magnification.
I got the scope on cardboard at 50 yards before obtaining a solid 100 yard zero, using hand warmers as targets. Fun fact: if you shoot a rock with a thermal, a small heat signature will accompany the flying pieces. I then moved to the ridgeline, heated some 80 yard steel targets with propane, and engaged them from a tank trap.
Berger .22 caliber 80.5’s ran 3167 fps. Even though they’re match bullets, they’ll inflict considerable damage on a coyote.
When I was done shooting, I removed the bolt from the rifle and all ammo from the area and tied my dog Dennis up at 100 yards to serve as a model as I cycled through the modes. I was very impressed with the resolution of the image, particularly after recently working with a budget model thermal. The auto video recording also worked flawlessly.
As soon as I started shooting this rifle/optic combination I knew it was my dream coyote-hunting rifle rig. The rifle is lightweight, agile, and flat-shooting. The scope felt considerably like a traditional optic and I greatly appreciated the quickly adjustable side magnification (no menus!). The resolution was impressive and I had no issues with the app or scope. Looking forward to some hunting!
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