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Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF Review – The new Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF Thermal Monocular is now available, and it puts 640×480 resolution and laser range-finding capability in the palm of your hand. Since its introduction in 2019, the Axion series of binoculars has continued to bring affordability to the hand-held thermal market without sacrificing quality and features. It has a 3-year warranty and the price of the Axion 2 XG35 LRF 2.5-20X Thermal Monocular is $3499.97. The non-LRF model is available for $500 less at $2999.97.
This monocular falls right in between the Axion 2 XQ35 (384×288 resolution) and top-of-the-line Helion XP50 (640×480 resolution) in image quality and price. Plus you get the option of a laser range finder not available on the Helion monocular.
The Axion 2 XG35 without LRF has all of the same specifications, features, and performance except for the laser range-finding capability. The Axion 2 XG35, Axion 2 XQ, and Axion XM30F monoculars are available and in stock at Outdoor Legacy.
Thermal hunters have become more demanding in their choice of thermal monoculars, so Pulsar is now offering higher resolutions and laser range-finding capabilities to their compact monoculars. High resolution (640×480) was previously only available in the larger Pulsar Helion monocular, but Pulsar has now managed to put 640×480 high resolution into the compact Axion 2 monocular, and still keep it more affordable.
The Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 has a 640×480 resolution, uses a 12-Micron, <40 MKv NETD thermal sensor, and has a 1024×768 AMOLED display screen. The magnification starts with a base power of 2.5X and zooms to 20X digital magnification, and it has a 50-hertz refresh rate for smooth scanning.
The magnesium alloy housing is light and strong. The housing reliably protects the internal components of the thermal imaging device from shocks, drops, moisture, heat, or cold. At the same time, a metal housing effectively removes the heat from electronics, minimizes image noise, and increases the consistency of the device’s operation during long-term observation. It is IPX7 rated for use in any weather.
The Axion 2 XG50 LRF has eight color palettes to choose from for individual preference or improved performance in harsh weather conditions. The 8 color palettes let you observe the field of view more effectively, allowing them to optimize the unit for specific tasks as well as react to changing observation conditions. White Hot, Black Hot, and Red Hot are optimal for object detection, Rainbow and Ultramarine help increase chances for recognition & identification. Red Monochrome, Sepia, and Violet are most suitable for long periods of observation.
The Axion 2 has video and audio recording, WIFI, and streaming capability with the Stream Vision 2 app so you can wirelessly download recordings to your cell phone or share the image live with a companion. A USB type C cable is also provided for charging the monocular or downloading recordings to your PC.
The Axion 2 offers improved 2.4 GHz WiFi and 5 GHz range channels. The 5 GHz connection offers better bandwidth, a faster data transfer rate, noise immunity, and improved connection stability, resulting in more productive and easier operation of the thermal imager with a smartphone.
The Axion 2 XG35 LRF has three sensitivity levels; normal, high, and ultra. The level (or mode) can be changed to match the conditions during the hunt. These different levels of signal amplification in combination with a connected smoothing filter and fine brightness and contrast adjustments, give the hunter the best viewing mode for changes in hunting conditions or types of terrain.
The level is displayed on the bottom of the screen and can be quickly changed using the up-arrow button on top of the monocular.
A high-contrast AMOLED HD display has been improved over the previous Axion models with improved color rendering, power saving, and quicker response. The size of the display is 1084×768, the same as the Helion, and operates in temperatures down to -25 degrees Centigrade.
Of course you will want to compare image quality of the Axion 2 XG35 to the Helion XP50 Pro. The image is not as good as the Helion XP50 Pro, but you get a 640 image plus a range finder. The Helion offers no LRF model. If you want a monocular with a 640x480 resolution and a range finder, the Axion 2 XG50 LRF is the only model available.
The price of the Axion XG35 falls right in between the lower-priced Axion XQ35 and its big brother, Helion XP50 Pro. The differences are the thermal processors and the objective lens diameter. You get a very good image of the target heat source, but the background details are not as good as the Helion and you get more noise on the screen during less-than-perfect weather conditions. The video above gives you an idea of the difference.
The objective lens of thermal scopes and monoculars are made of a very expensive material called Germanium. It is one of the most expensive parts of a thermal scope and makes heat detection (instead of light) possible. The F35/1.0 lens size of the Axion 2 XG35 is one of the biggest differences between it and the Helion with an F50/1.0. The smaller lens saves production costs but limits image quality because of the smaller size.
Although you can see large targets at very long distances, positive identification of game such as hogs or coyotes is about 300-400 yards on clear nights in the hands of an experienced user. The 2.5X base magnification allows the field of view to be a whopping 65 feet wide at a distance of 100 yards. After using many thermal monoculars from 1.5 to 4X magnification, I think the Axion 2 XG35’s 2.5X magnification is spot-on when scanning for coyotes or hogs.
The battery life of the Axion 2 is also better than the previous Axions. The Axion 2 uses the APS5 battery pack (capacity, mAh: 4900) . I got a runtime of over 6 hours while scanning and recording a few videos. Spare APS5 battery packs are available from Outdoor Legacy for $79. You can also plug a power bank into the USB type C charging port for emergency operation or recharging in the field.
The Laser Rangefinder is permanently integrated into the scope and ranges man-size targets out to over 1000 yards.
Operating the laser range finder is very easy. Just center the target on the screen and click the button on top of the range finder module. A small red square will appear on the screen. Place the square on the target and press the button for instant reading that appears in the top right corner of the screen. There is also a scan mode that will keep updating the range from one target to another with continuous read-out.
The laser range finder works accurately out to 4-500 yards on coyote size targets. It is a little tough getting a perfect reading at long distances without a tripod, but pretty easy at around 200 yards. If you are tracking a coyote in scan mode from a long distance you will definitely know when he is within shooting range.
Operation of the Axion 2 XG35 is easy. It has a blue power button on top along with 3 black buttons for recording, zooming the magnification, and moving between menu items when you are making changes in the menu. The center black button is the menu button. The other two black buttons are marked with up and down arrows.
Making a recording is as simple as clicking the rear button to start or stop the recording. You can take snapshots or record videos in 1080p MP4 format.
Zooming is accomplished by pressing the up arrow button. Each push of the button doubles the magnification up to 20X, and then one more push starts you back at 2.5X. A quick press of the power button puts the Axion on standby which turns off the screen and saves power. Pressing the power button when it is on standby turns it back on instantly.
The size and shape of the Axion are similar to a range finder if you are new to Axion 2. The shape, hand strap, and placement of the buttons all combine to make the Axion 2 comfortable and easy to use. The laser range finder (LRF) has a single button operation for point-and-click or continuous scan mode.
When I am on stand, I use continuous scan mode for one-hand operation. I am continuously ranging treelines and other terrain features to get the layout of the area. When Mr. Coyote appears, I get an instant reading on the distance to know when he is in range.
The Axion 2 is so lightweight and compact that you can hang it on a lanyard like compact binoculars or slip it in your coat pocket. It also comes with a tripod mount for long periods of observation or for holding it steady for long-range usage.
The time the LRF shines is the first time you hunt a stand. It is very hard to judge distance at night, especially in large open fields you have never hunted. During these times the Axion 2 XG35LRF puts you on offense and gives you an edge over your prey and your competition during tough varmint hunting tournaments.
Don’t overlook the extra color palettes available besides black hot and white hot. Under certain conditions, I found that some of the more colorful palettes gave me a better image when the humidity was above 75%. Changing colors can sometimes help reduce eyestrain also.
The Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF thermal monocular has several advantages over other thermal imaging monoculars, including:
Overall, I think the Axion 2 XG35 LRF is a very good monocular. You can rest assured that just like all Pulsar products, the workmanship, quality, and features are top-notch. It feels good, works as advertised, and will help you be a better night hunter.
The ergonomics of the Axion 2 are excellent and using it is a breeze for right-handed users. It may be a little more difficult to use for lefties since the LRF module is on the left side. The hand strap can not be moved to the left side. On stand, it is easy to scan but you will need two hands for the operation of the LRF if you are not running scan mode. Of course, you still will need a second hand to focus the objective like most monoculars.
When it comes to image quality, the Axion XG35 is closer to the Axion 2 XQ35 than the Helion XP50 Pro. That being said, my personal monocular is a Helion XP50 Pro, so I am used to the best image available. I do not expect it to be as good as a Helion, but it is a 640×480 monocular and it costs $1000 more than an Axion 2 XQ35. In less-than-perfect weather conditions, you will notice noise on the screen similar to the Axion 2 XQ35. I have provided you with a few videos so you can see the image. The image will be a little better through the Axion 2 than the videos show.
When you first turn on the Axion 2, XG35, you will notice it refreshes the image every few seconds, but after a few minutes, it only refreshes about every minute or so like most thermal monoculars. Also, the entire image will noticeably brighten when you scan up to the horizon but it really did not affect my scanning during my hunts for hogs or coyotes.
The highlight of this optic is the LRF function in a compact package. It is a very good scanner with the addition of a laser ranging function in a very small, lightweight package. That being said, the LRF model doubles the size and weight of the monocular.
If you are a big game hunter, the Axion 2 XG35 LRF is your ticket to success for deer or elk hunting. It is much easier to spot big game with a thermal scanner (where legal) when they are partially hidden by grass or leaves, plus your ranger finder is built in. If not for my thermal monocular, some of my largest bucks in the last few years would have escaped unseen.
|Frame rate, Hz||50|
|Sensor NETD, mK||<40|
|Pixel pitch, µm||12|
|Display type and resolution, pix||AMOLED 1024×768|
|Built-in photo & video recorder||Yes|
|Built-in memory, GB||16|
|Stream Vision 2 app support||Yes|
|Digital zoom, x||2/4/8|
|Lens focus, mm||35|
|Relative aperture, D/f’||1:1|
|Field of view, °||12.5 degrees | 65ft @100 yds|
|Eye relief, mm||14|
|Diopter adjustment, dptr. +4/-5||+4/-5|
|Detection range, m||1300|
|Battery type||Pulsar APS5 Li-ion|
|Battery life, h||7|
|External power supply||5V (USB Type-C)|
|Operating temperature, °С||-025… + 40|
|Level of protection (acc. to IEC 60529)||IPX7|
To purchase a new Pulsar Axion 2 XG35 LRF Thermal Monocular, visit Outdoor Legacy website or call Jason or Hans at (877)350-1818. They will take the time to help you decide what thermal scanner or other night vision optic you need for your hunting needs.
For the latest news about Night Vision Optics, subscribe to the most informative shows on Youtube, the Late Night Vision Show and HansETX. Hosts Jason Roberts and Joel Miller will keep you up to date on Night Vision Optics and entertain you with some great hunting videos. For my reviews on Youtube, visit The Old Deer Hunters.