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Home » Thermal Imaging » Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Scope Review | Optics Trade Reviews

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Scope Review | Optics Trade Reviews

The Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 thermal monocular is a device that was first shown at IWA 2022. A lot has happened since that time, including the release of the product to the public. The monocular is designed for use in a variety of situations and has a number of features that make it an attractive option for consumers.

Interested in this Pulsar model?


Pulsar Optics

Pulsar Optics, based in Lithuania, is the top manufacturer of thermal imaging solutions for personal use inside the EU. Since the early 2000s, this company quickly became known for its innovative and high-quality optics, which have been used by consumers and professionals alike in a variety of settings. Pulsar Optics has continued to produce industry-leading products over the years, and its products are now some of the most sought-after in the world.

Pulsar Optics is also one of the few brands that manufacture night and thermal vision devices entirely within Europe. Even though many brands try to enter the market by claiming to be European companies, most of them outsource their product production to Asia. Even big brands like Zeiss outsource some of their products to China. Pulsar is different in this regard. They do produce all these devices by themselves. We have visited their factory a couple of times and it's nice to see that things are still done in Europe. Thanks to its continued innovation and dedication to quality, Pulsar Optics is sure to remain a leading player in the optics market for many years to come.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Magnesium Body
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Magnesium Body

Pulsar Axion 2

In 2022, Pulsar came out with a replacement for the Axion XQ38. Pulsar came out with 4 different models. There are 2 XQ models - one with laser range finding and one without. There are 2 XG models.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 LRF vs XG35 LRF (NEW 2022) | Optics Trade Debates

Pulsar Axion 2 Thermal Monoculars:

The Pulsar XG models are very special because they feature a new sensor with 640x480px resolution in a compact device. Before Axion 2 XG models, Pulsar has not sold this sensor resolution in such a compact device form.

Of course, Pulsar also produces the XM models, which have an even smaller build. But in comparison with the top-notch XG35 line, Pulsar Axion XM devices have limited performance capabilities with 384x288px sensor resolution and APS3 battery.

Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF

The Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is affordably priced at €2490, especially when you compare it to other devices with similar sensors and lens sizes. Additionally, this device offers the best optical performance in its class. Pulsar consistently provides better products than the competition at lower prices.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Magnetized Lens Cover
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Magnetized Lens Cover

Physical Properties

The XG35 is 15 centimeters long and 7.5 cm wide at its widest point--only slightly larger than Infiray Finders. Its power indicator, located on top of the housing, is a great feature. Too many times we forget the device is ON and needlessly waste battery.

There is a magnet hidden inside the padded carrying strap. When you uncap the soft rubber cap of the objective lens, the magnetized cover clips onto the strap. It doesn't seem like something important, but when you are using Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF out in the field, this is one of the nicest things you can imagine. We lost plenty of removable lens caps in our time.

Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF weighs about 350 grams. That's 50 grams more than the non-LRF version of this XG model. Pulsar Axions are all made out of magnesium. They're impervious to liquid damage with a waterproofness rating of IPX7. That means they can be submerged in one meter of water depth for 30 minutes. They work from -25/+40°C. 

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Control Buttons
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Control Buttons

Button Operation

Let's talk about the button operation. Axion 2 devices have an additional button on top of the LRF. It operates the rangefinding function, which is neat. A definite upgrade from the XQ38 model that had the LRF operation incorporated into one of the standard buttons.

The main controls stayed the same as on 1st generation Axions. That means 4 standard buttons: the MENU button, the UP and DOWN buttons, and the POWER button. It'd be nice to have a separate button for videos and photos. But on a device this small, it makes sense why Pulsar avoids cramming too many controls close together.  

The quick menu appears with a short press of the MENU button. You can use it to adjust the screen brightness and contrast. An advanced menu will come up if you press and hold the button. This is where you can find detailed device settings like changing the display color palette or operation modes.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Removable APS5 Battery Pack
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Removable APS5 Battery Pack

APS5 Battery

It's good that the APS5 battery is removable. If anything happens and the battery performance is affected, you can get it serviced as a stand-alone piece. That gives you an extra layer of security. Users with devices that have built-in batteries need to send the whole unit for repairs.

But you can just buy another battery. They're quite cheap, all things considered. Having a spare battery is also smart as you can carry it in your pocket on the hunt. When the main APS5 is spent, you can replace it with a fully charged one in a matter of seconds.

*INSERT: Real Battery Life Youtube + CTA blog link button

The battery life is 7 hours, which is shorter than on XQ models. But that makes perfect sense as the more powerful 640x480px Lynred sensor of Axion 2 XG monoculars needs more energy.  

5-Second Start-Up Time

Start-up time is important when choosing a device, and Pulsar always comes out on top. Some producers claim that their devices are up and running in as little as 5 or 10 seconds, but our tests have shown that it can actually take up to 30 seconds for the device to boot. When comparing official specs with reality, Pulsar outperforms the competition. The real start-up time of  Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is 5 seconds or less.

Check out Optics Trade Blog posts and YouTube videos about real startup time.

See the *REAL START-UP TIME* of Axion 2 XG35 LRF!

Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF | Optics Trade Real Start up Time

Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF Sensor

Now, it's time to look at the sensor. The sensor resolution is 640x480px. To preserve the compact Axion casing, the pixel pitch (the space between pixels) of Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF is 12 microns.

There is always a debate about which pixel pitch contributes to better optics -17 microns or 12 microns. We won't get into it here. All we'll say is that the optical performance of this device is just astonishing. The sensor refresh rate is 50Hz. The device has 3 calibration modes - automatic, semiautomatic, and manual.

The sensor has a range of detection of 1750 meters. So we're going into the territory of Helion XP50. But this model is much smaller than Helion and has an LRF function.

The NETD value, or “Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference” is the minimum temperature difference between two points that the device can distinguish. The temperature sensitivity of Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is 40 milliKelvins, which isn't bad but could be better. In comparison to other companies, Pulsar leads the civilian market with devices that have a NETD as low as 25 mK.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - 35mm Objective
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - 35mm Objective

Optical Performance

You can use Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 without removing eyewear because the soft rubber eyepiece has a great fit either way. Users who don't wear glasses but could use some help can adjust the diopter. The maximum sight correction possible is +4/-5.0 diopter points.

1024x768-Pixel Display

The display has 8 color modes. The best colors for object detection are White Hot, Black Hot, and Red Hot. Meanwhile, Rainbow and Ultramarine will help you more easily recognize and identify objects. For long observation at night, go with Red Monochrome, Sepia, or Violet.

The high-contrast AMOLED display not only makes the colors pop and appear more accurate but also saves on power and has a quicker response time. This provides users with crisper and smoother images, even in cold weather. The 1024x768 screen resolution paired with the XG35 sensor produces some of the most detailed images imaginable.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Testing | Optics Trade See Through

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Monocular Testing | Optics Trade See Through

Magnification and FOV

The magnification goes from 2.5x all the way to 20x, which gives you versatility for almost any hunting situation and landscape scanning. The 35-millimeter objective lens has a fast departure of 1.0. On the base magnification power, the field of view is almost 220 meters on 1000 meters (217.73m to be precise).

Image Focus

Device focus can be switched up with the rotating wheel on the front lens. The focus adjustment goes all the way from three meters to infinity. Yes, 3 meters is not the best Pulsar could do but to be fair, close focus also isn't a particularly important feature. You'll rarely need it.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

Advanced Features

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 lets you film and take image captures of what's on screen. There are 16 gigabytes of internal memory for photos and videos.

Thanks to Wifi connectivity, you can control your Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 remotely through a smartphone. For this purpose, Pulsar updated its mobile app. The new Stream Vision 2 application is one of the best on the market.

Pros

The Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 offers many benefits, including being one of the most advanced thermal devices available. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is a class above current XQ models when it comes to optical performance. The image quality is great with a 35mm fast-aperture lens, 640x480px sensor, and 1024x768px AMOLED display. The viewing experience is coming close to the Helion XP50 Pro. It's not identical, but it is close.  

Additionally, it is well-constructed with a high level of finish and quality materials. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 eyepiece is comfortable for use with glasses. We also like the additional button for the laser range-finding module. This makes it a great choice for anyone in need of a reliable and effective thermal device.

Stream Vision 2 enhances the user's experience with Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35. Pulsar was one of the earliest thermal and NV manufacturers to develop a mobile app, which has now become commonplace.

Pros Summary:

  • durable materials and compact build
  • 640x480px Lynred sensor
  • 3-second start-up
  • individual LRF button operation
  • light-up POWER indicator
  • optical performance
  • 1024x768px AMOLED display
  • removable battery
  • Stream Vision 2 mobile app
  • made in the EU
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Rubber Eyepiece
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Rubber Eyepiece

Cons

What are the negatives? The market availability of Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is a real problem. No matter what store you're perusing, Pulsar Axion 2s are never in stock. Most serious dealers in Europe like Optics Trade notify each customer individually of what's the projected time of order fulfillment. This timeline can be anywhere from 3 months to a full year

The acceptance of long wait shows just how dedicated Pulsar's customer base is. Even with premium optics, waitlists are a rare practice, usually reserved for collector editions like Leica Zagato. There's more to that. Many brands can only compete with Pulsar because their production volume can meet the market demand, not because the devices are that good.

Pulsar makes premium devices with ultra-sensitive sensors that have NETD below 25 mK. But reducing the 40 mK NETD factor of Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 would increase the price. Since most competitors cannot match the XG sensor quality as it is, it doesn't make sense for Pulsar to give this model another boost.

The LRF doesn't show an equivalent horizontal range (EHR) and there is also no ballistic software. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 device build is better suited for right-handed users than left-handers.

Another thing that shows room for improvement is the insertable tripod adapter. Needing to carry a separate tripod accessory around is impractical. On the rare instances where fitting the device on a tripod would be beneficial, you'll surely realize you forgot the adapter at home. Not only that, the threaded screw for the tripod mount is located right under the objective lens - instead of on the underside of the unit. This flaw in the design is unusual for Pulsar.

Cons Summary:

  • not enough Pulsar devices in stock
  • basic LRF function with no advanced measurements
  • not optimal for left-hand use
  • shorter battery life with XG Axions (7h) than XQ (11h)
  • fitting the device on a tripod
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Scope of Delivery
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Scope of Delivery

Scope of Delivery

Pulsar supplies several accessories: a soft carrying bag with a long strap, a blue lens cloth, a tripod adapter, and one APS5 battery. You also get 2 manual booklets; one for the Axion 2 series and another for the Stream Vision 2 app.

Looking for More Axion 2 Accessories?

  1. Pulsar APS5 Battery Pack
  2. Pulsar APS5 Battery Charger 
  3. Pulsar Flat Glass Mount 
  4. Pulsar Tree Mount

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Competition

Now, let's look at the competition. We are always in favor of keeping the market competitive. But the segment of thermal monoculars shows that Pulsar is still on top of their game. Chinese rivals are not quite there in terms of overall quality but many things can change in a couple of years. For now, Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is heads and shoulders above the rest. Especially when the European place of manufacture and relatively affordable pricepoint sweeten the deal.

InfiRay Finder FH35R vs. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

The main competitor is Inifray with their Finder line of thermal monoculars. InfiRay Finder FH35R is even smaller than Axion 2 models but doesn't have an interchangeable battery. The plastic construction material and image quality also are not on the same level as Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35. What's better about FH35R is that it's easy to use with the left hand as well. InfiRay Finder FH35R costs 2699 EUR. With the 90-euro difference between Pulsar and IniRay, the price is hardly a factor. What is a decisive factor for many is the country of origin. While Infiray thermal devices are made in China, Pulsar makes Axion 2s in Europe (Lithuania).

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Capped Objective
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 - Capped Objective

Conotech Tracer 35LRF vs. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

Conotech Tracer is not a serious competition as it only comes with a 384x288px VOx uncooled sensor. However, in addition to Tracer 35LRF, Conotech also offers Conotech Tracer 50LR with a 50-millimeter objective lens. You can get a little bit more out of the Tracers due to their larger lenses, but they are bulkier than the XG35 LRF and made from plastic. Conotech products come from China.

HikMicro Gryphon GQ35L vs. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

Last but not least, there's the HikMicro Gryphon. That model does have an interchangeable battery but is also made out of plastic. With magnesium chassis, Pulsar has a better fit and finish. Gryphon is the strongest rival to Axion XGs because it does offer similar optical performance. We can argue that Pulsar is a little bit better. But the decision between Gryphon and Axion 2 XG is not cut-and-dry.

Many customers tell us that they prefer Hikmicro image quality over Pulsar. Not without reason, as thermal devices largely depend on software algorithms. So you will have two camps. But user preference aside, the form factor and price cannot be debated. Gryphons are bigger and more expensive. Like InfiRay, Guide, Conotech and TermTac, this is another optics brand that manufactures in Asia.

See the VIDEO REVIEW of this Pulsar Axion 2 model!

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 | Optics Trade Reviews

3-Year Pulsar Warranty

The warranty on this device is 3 years. Pulsar also provides repairs for out-of-warranty devices. The company has post-sale service centers in Lithuania, Latvia, and Scotland. So you know this is a manufacturer that you can rely on for years and years.

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Price

In a device that is so compact, the 2490-euro price is almost too competitive. There is no similar device on the market with the same sensor, the same lens, identical image quality, and laser rangefinding capability.

When this device was first shown to Optics Trade as a prototype, the projected price was much, much higher. We don't know why Pulsar decided on a lower price point as they can afford to dictate market prices.

This device is even cheaper than similar optics that are made in China with plastic housing and no LRF. Many competitors limit their products' guarantee to a year or two max. Pulsar is made in Europe and it comes with a long warranty (3 years). 

Interested in this Axion 2 LRF scope?

Final Thoughts on Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35

The Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Monocular is a high-quality piece of equipment that offers superior performance when compared to other thermal imaging monoculars on the market.

The device is small and lightweight, making it easy to carry around, and its image quality is top-notch. In addition, the Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 features a laser rangefinder for accurate distance measurements. The only considerable downside of this device is the stock availability. However, taking into account all that it has to offer, the Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 is well worth the wait.

Axion 2 LRF XG35 Photos

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Monocular
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star
Product Name
Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35 Thermal Imaging Monocular
Price
EUR 2790
Product Availability
Available in Stock

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