Contrasting heat signatures on a man and recently shot boar seen through a thermal imaging monocular

Comparing the Helion XP50 Monocular to the Trail XP50 Thermal Riflescope


Pulsar Helion thermal imaging monocular
The Pulsar Helion thermal imaging monocular has variable magnification, sees in complete darkness and has on-board video recording.

A Warning for Southpaws

The Helion XP thermal monocular is very similar to the Trail XP50 thermal scope in function—the button layout, menu layout, and image quality are configured for use in the right hand. The downside to that is, unfortunately, I am left-handed, so the ergonomics are a little off and the units are a little harder for me to use. I cannot just simply switch hands due to the heat sink being on the left side of both devices. With the Trail, it’s not as big of a deal due to it being mounted to a firearm most of the time. I suppose I can mount the Helion to a tripod with the built-in screw hole for that purpose or I could just suck it up and be right handed like everyone else.

Helion Thermal Monocular Review

Contrasting heat signatures on a man and recently shot boar seen through a thermal imaging monocular
Varying color pallets can give detailed contrast to your image in the field. This is through the Pulsar Helion XP50. Photo by Jay Idriss.

Where the menu functions differ the most is, the eight color modes of the Helion instead of just the two modes of the Trail—black hot or white hot. I can utilize the different color palettes but still find myself reverting to the white-hot for identification purposes. I am fond of the hot-red, it gives you a good perspective of where the external hot spots are on the object you are looking at. I like the violet color mode least—nothing against purple, it just seems like it has the least definition.

The Helion does not have a reticle option because it is not designed for mounting to a firearm, making the Helion lighter in weight compared to the Trail. This also helps when someone watching the onboard recordings understand you are not unsafely pointing a firearm in someone or something’s direction. The lack of a reticle also keeps the screen free of clutter.

I prefer the focus ring on the Helion as opposed to the knob on the Trail. The ring allows you to make finer adjustments and get the image in perfect focus. It is also a lot easier to turn in cold weather conditions, with or without gloves.

Pulsar Trail thermal imaging riflescope.
The Pulsar Trail is the scope you need when hunting predators at night.

In conclusion, the Helion is an amazing piece of equipment. Pair it with a rifle-mounted thermal scope such as the Trail XP 50 and you have a very effective and deadly combination. Of course, the Helion has many more astounding features that I didn’t name such as being fully waterproof, no trouble working in freezing conditions, and Stream Vision just to name a few.


About Trayven

Trayven grew up fishing the Sabine River bottoms of East Texas with his father, Joe Nixon. By second grade, Trayven was already duck hunting the private lakes and oxbow surrounding where his family lived. In the summer of 2005, the Nixon’s moved to Hawks Double Mountain Ranch in West Texas. This is where Trayven’s love for hunting and the great outdoors became an addiction and lifestyle. While majoring in Wildlife Management at Tarleton State University, he met his wife. After a few years working in the oil fields, Trayven, his wife and children are back at the ranch to help his father, uncle and brother guiding hunts.

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