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Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Imaging Monocular Review | Optics Trade Reviews

The Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 was first displayed to the public at IWA 2020. It’s an upgrade from the original Axion line, hence the number 2 in the name of the model.

Looking for a thermal scope?

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope

Pulsar Axion 2 Series

The Axion 2 lineup is divided into XG and XQ models as they differ in sensor and screen resolution.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is the most affordable out of 4 models available in the 2022 Axion series. You can get the same device with an LRF module, the Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XQ35.

Then there are 2 XG devices that are powered by a bigger sensor inside. That is, Pulsar Axion 2 XG 35 and Axion 2 LRF XG 35

2023 Pulsar Axion 2 Thermal Imaging Monoculars:

  1. Pulsar Axion 2 XG35
  2. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XG35
  3. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35
  4. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XQ35

Axion 2 XQ35 vs. Axion XQ38

The Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is the follow-up device to the first-generation XQ38 model. You could say that this is merely an updated version of Pulsar Axion 2 XQ38 from the first generation of the Axion series. Pulsar kept everything that was good about that model, while also implementing a few improvements.

While it may seem Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 and Pulsar Axion XQ38 are identical on the outside, there have been some impressive updates made to the device build. The germanium objective lens now measures 35mm in diameter and has a fast aperture of F1. For comparison, the older Axion XQ38 had a 38-millimeter lens with an F1.2 aperture.

Nevertheless, the main upgrades to the Axion series happened on the inside. Pulsar Axion 2 models have updated hardware and software. The battery life is extended thanks to advanced software algorithms and a smaller display resolution. What’s also new is that the Lynred thermal detector is a little bit more sensitive than before. NETD factor was improved to 40 millikelvins.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope

Physical Properties

The Axions remain a benchmark in terms of build quality for all thermal devices, for the whole market. Even if you look at devices, which are more expensive. The weatherproof housing is made out of magnesium. The water tightness is IPX7. That means that you can submerge the device into water 1 meter deep for 30 minutes and it will still work.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 has a tripod thread placed right below the objective lens, not underneath the unit as it’s custom.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 - Tripod Thread Screw
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 – Tripod Thread Screw

As for model dimensions, the device is roughly 15 centimeters long and 8 centimeters wide. It weighs 300 grams. There is also a bulkier Axion 2 XQ35 version with LRF. That model is wider due to the laser rangefinding module on the right side of the unit. 

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope – APS5 Battery Insertion
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope - APS5 Battery Insert
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope – APS5 Battery Insertion

APS5 Battery

XQ35 uses APS5 batteries. Pulsar fans are familiar with this battery as it powers a number of Pulsar devices. APS5 battery is removable and you can change it quickly, in a matter of seconds. That’s a big plus.

Pulsar Optics was the first company to produce thermal devices for personal use with removable batteries. Other, early NV and thermal vision models had built-in batteries that once emptied, left hunters unable to continue using the device in the field without recharge. But with Pulsar, depleted battery packs could simply be switched out for new ones.

Need a backup APS5 battery?

Pulsar Battery Pack APS5

Not only is the APS5 battery affordable at 45 euros, but it can also be bought as a stand-alone piece. As an extra perk, users that purchase spare batteries will have no worries about long hours spent on the hunt. We recommend keeping 2 or 3 fully charged packs in the soft carry bag so that you’re always prepared with working backup batteries.

The device can also be charged via the USB-C port on the side of the imager.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 runs about 11 hours of continuous use. You can see how we measured the real battery life of the LRF model in the clip below. For more videos like these, click the blog section titled Real Battery Life.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 LRF | Real Battery Life

384x288px Sensor

The sensor is placed behind a 35-millimeter germanium lens with a fast aperture F1.0. The sensor is made by a French manufacturer Lynred, while the rest of this Axion 2 is produced in-house. The resolution of the sensor is 384×288 pixels with a 17 -micron pitch. So the pixel pitch is bigger than 12 microns, which was the coveted number a few years ago. But bigger, 17-micron pixels are said to be more sensitive than the smaller pixel size. 

Like most Pulsar devices, Axion 2 models have 3 sensor calibration modes: automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. The range of sensor detection is 1300 meters.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope - Open Battery Compartment
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope – Open Battery Compartment

NETD Factor

Axion 2 XQ35 has <40 millikelvins of NETD factor, which stands for the noise-equivalent temperature difference. That means for the sensor to distinguish between 2 different points, they need to have a temperature difference of at least 40 millikelvins. The lower the NETD, the better the image quality. At least that is how it normally works.

In truth, there is a lot of manipulation of this number. Many manufacturers will claim that their product has a NETD of 35 or less, but the image quality is not on the same level as Pulsar. That is not to say, that there are no other factors (like sensor resolution or software algorithms) that massively contribute to the overall image quality. 

So it’s not all about the claimed NETD. You have to try out the device to see for yourself how the device actually performs. If that’s not possible, Youtube clips that show the view-through are a good start. Just note that some of those videos online can be misleading, too. Certain thermal devices have a better quality video output than what’s shown on the screen, in real-time. Axion 2 devices are also an example of this.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope

640x400px Screen

One of the few disadvantages of the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is the screen. Pulsar downsized the 1024×768 display resolution of Axion XQ38 to 640×400 pixels on this second-generation XQ35 model.

To be fair, it’s not something that would hamper the device’s performance on the whole. We also cannot fault Pulsar for the lackluster resolution too much, as the AMOLED screen quality is still more than adequate for the €1690 price tag. If you won’t settle for anything below 1024x768px, there are Axion XG35 models to quench your thirst.

As always, the user can shift between 8 screen color modes.

Control Buttons

The control buttons on this device work the same as with all Pulsar devices. A short press of the MENU button will reveal a basic menu where you can adjust contrast and brightness levels. If you hold down the button for longer, it opens up an advanced menu with even more settings to play around with.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope - Control Buttons
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope – Control Buttons

Optical Properties

The optical quality for this price is still unbelievable as the sensor and software more than compensate for the loss of display resolution. How does that affect the viewing experience? Individual pixels are more apparent than on the pricier Axion 2 XG models. Nevertheless, the optical performance of the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is even better than Axion XQ38‘s. Pulsar just keeps getting better.

This is something that’s worth pointing out. Sometimes the technical specifications of Pulsar devices are less attention-grabbing than the inflated numbers of rival optics. But the eye test shows that Pulsar is still better than the rest.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope - 35mm Objective Lens
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope – 35mm Objective Lens

Start-Up Time

Don’t trust device specs that manufacturers state in instruction manuals at face value. Any seasoned sports optics enthusiast will tell you the reality of these numbers is often disappointing.

In the spirit of objectivity and fairness, the Optics Trade team tests each device to see what the battery life and start-up time are really like. The start time of Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is approximately 4.5 seconds, a little bit less than 5 seconds.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35: REAL Start-Up Time | Optics Trade

For more clips like this one, see the Optics Trade Blog section titled Real Start-Up Time and see how Axion 2 XQ35 compares to the rest.

Magnification

The magnification range of the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 thermal scope spans from 2x to 8x. The field of view at 2x magnification is 186 meters. For a detailed view, there’s also digital zoom.

Focusing is done by rotating the focusing ring on the objective lens. Pulsar is not giving us the data, but the close focus is somewhere between 3 and 5 meters. You’ll rarely need to focus your thermal imager up close, so we’re good with that.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

Photo and Video

As far as multimedia goes, this device has everything that you could wish for. It s easy to take photos and film video clips. The device supports Wifi connectivity. There are 16 gigabytes of internal memory.

Here’s another thing about videos and photos that bears repeating. You get a little bit better resolution with output files than what the real device view-through looks like. Keep that in mind when looking up the optical performance of any thermal device online.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 - USB Port
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 – USB Port for Type-C Cable Connection

Stream Vision 2

The Pulsar mobile app Stream Vision 2 has an edge over other manufacturers as it offers a plethora of advanced functions in a user-friendly workflow. The Stream Vision 2 app is better than the first iteration in every way. You can enable remote viewing, share photos and videos via free Pulsar cloud storage, update software, finetune device settings, and more.

Scope of Delivery

What is in the box? The user receives a soft carrying pouch, a USB Type-C charging cable, a lens cleaning cloth, APS5 battery with 2 battery covers (one for the back and one for the front). You also get a plastic tripod adapter. As mentioned under physical properties, Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 has a tripod thread placed right below the objective, not on the bottom surface of the unit.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 - Scope of Delivery
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 – Scope of Delivery

The Axion 2 device manual is translated into 6 languages. You also get a Stream Vision 2 booklet and warranty card. Note that you can also register your Pulsar device online.

Pros

Pulsar outperforms the competition in every way that matters, from features to performance. The magnesium housing and waterproofing as well as the 35-millimeter F1 lens combined with the 384x288px sensor are unrivaled by any other product on the market. Yes, we’ve seen these technical specifications from other brands before but the devices somehow fail to show the same results.

No one can match Pulsar’s startup time of only 4.5 seconds. In addition, Steam Vision 2 mobile app offers a significant upgrade compared to SV1—the connection is now more reliable than ever and everything works nearly flawlessly.

The removable and rechargeable APS5 battery solution is still the best on the market. We like the speed and ease of APS5 battery replacement mid-use. Also, the battery life is 11 hours per our testing. Pulsar doesn’t advertise the battery endurance of Axion 2 XQ35 as something outstanding, so it’s remarkable that it is as durable as it is.

Last but certainly not least, the €1690 price tag puts Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 well ahead of the competition. Pulsar produces superior devices than Infiray, Guide or Hikmicro yet offers them at a lower price. This makes it very difficult for the competitors to keep up with Pulsar. €1690 is an incredible bargain for a device of this caliber.

Pros Summary:

  1. rugged and ergonomic
  2. removable and rechargeable APS5
  3. 4.5-second start-up time
  4. Stream Vision 2
  5. €1690 price
  6. made in Europe
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

Cons

What could have been done better? In truth, not much. So allow us to be nitpicky here. The screen size – Pulsar could use the same screen as in XG models. Of course, then the device wouldn’t be so affordable. We’d be also happy to have a stand-alone 🎦 button dedicated solely to image and video capture.

In the future, let’s say with Axion 3 or Axion 2 Pro line, Pulsar could increase the temperature sensitivity of Axion scopes to <25 mK. This would give us an even more detailed image. Now, as far as the device build is concerned, we’d like to see the same model available with a 50-millimeter germanium lens.

Cons Summary:

  1. screen resolution
  2. temperature sensitivity
  3. lens size could be bigger
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 vs. Competition

What about other brands that sell thermal scopes? At the moment, the only potential competitor is the Hikmicro Falcon thermal monocular with the promised sensor sensitivity of <20 mK (NETD). All other brands are weak rivals to Axion 2 XQ35, with the exception maybe of the Guide TD series. Those models benefit from being cheaper and offer some similar features. But let’s see what else is available on the market.

Infiray E3 Plus vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

Infiray manufactures E3+ thermal imaging scope, which is made out of plastic and rubber. Axion 2 models are more ergonomic. However, the image quality of Infiray does not trail too far behind Axion 2 XQ35. E3+ doesn’t offer an interchangeable battery, which is a bummer. Note that Infiray is made in China. Infiray E3+ thermal monocular costs €1799.

Infiray Cabin CBL25 vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35

The other Infiray device that is mentioned as an XQ35 alternative is Infiray Cabin CBL25. If you miss the more generous 38-millimeter lens of Axion 1 XQ38, look away. This Infiray model has an even smaller lens diameter than the new Axions. Arguably, the Cabin CBL25 does have a nicer form factor. We also give Infiray points here for having a removable battery. However, the plastic chassis and Chinese manufacture do not compare to Pulsar Axion 2 build quality.

Pard TA32 vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 

Pard Thermal Monocular TA32 with 35mm lens is a device with a similar concept to Axion XQ35. The housing is well-designed but plastic. Pard TA-35, too, has an interchangeable battery. On the other hand, Axion 2 XQ35 has a better optical performance and is made in Europe, not Asia.

Hikmicro Falcon vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 

Hikmicro shows promise with the Hikmicro Falcon. That imager sports a 25-millimeter objective lens with an F 0.9 lens aperture. We have to test the Falcon against XQ35 first. Nonetheless, the new Hikmicro scope looks promising.  

Hikmicro Gryphons are too bulky to compete, made out of plastic, and don’t bring the same optical performance to the table. Not only that, but the Gryphon models are also more expensive than Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35.

Guide TD430 vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 

Next, we have the Guide TD 430, which is cheaper but bigger in size. The housing is made out of plastic. Guide TD430 has an interchangeable battery, which lasts even longer than the APS5 battery pack. It actually has the same lens as the XQ35. Or at least a very similar one. So maybe TD430 is worth your consideration, especially if you cannot wait for XQ35. It’s not an entire class below Axion 2 models and is affordable.

ThermTec Cyclops 335 vs. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 

ThermTec Cyclops 335 is a model from the previous generation of thermal scopes. Indeed, this is apparent when we look at the design. It is similar in form factor to the old FLIR devices. It’s made out of plastic and rubber. The battery is not interchangeable. We wouldn’t put it into a direct fight with Axion, even though price-wise, they are in the same class.  

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Scope

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Price

This Axion model costs 1690 euros. The price of the Axion series is now much lower, and even more competitive. Let’s remind ourselves that Axion 1 models were positioned at €2000. So the upgraded model Axion 2 XQ 35 costs approximately 300 euros less than Axion XQ38 did.

It’s interesting that Pulsar doesn’t keep prices sky-high when they obviously can afford it. Pulsar devices are in incredibly high demand. There’s no reason to believe that this Gen 2 model wouldn’t sell like hotcakes if Pulsar made Axions more expensive. Instead, this company comes out with new devices each year, and every new release is more affordable than the last. Kudos to that.

Where is Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Made?

Pulsar Axion 2 thermal optics are made in Lithuania, so it’s made in the European Union. The sensors are sourced from France. This is something that is also a rare sight in this segment of sports optics. Most thermal devices are manufactured in Asia with mainland China at the forefront of optical production.

Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Imaging Monocular Testing | Optics Trade See Through

Final Thoughts on Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Imaging Monocular 

The Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 is a thermal imaging monocular that offers an impressive list of features for its price. It’s made in the EU, has a 38-millimeter lens, and produces clear images thanks to its sensor and display resolution. The interchangeable battery pack ensures you’ll always have power when you need it, and the robust build quality makes this device suitable for even the most challenging environments.

Interested in this device?

Read More

If you enjoyed this review and you’d like to see more, here are some suggestions!

  1. Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XQ35 Thermal Imaging Monocular Review | Optics Trade Reviews
  2. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 vs XG35 (NEW 2022) | Optics Trade Debates
  3. Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 – Real Start Up Time

Photos of Axion 2 XQ35

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Monocular
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star
Product Name
Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Thermal Imaging Monocular
Price
EUR 1690
Product Availability
Available in Stock

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