Used Thermal Scopes: Where to Buy & Is It a Good Idea?

Man in ghillie suit with sniper rifle and title of article with logo

When it comes to night hunting, nothing beats a high-quality thermal scope attached to your favorite rifle. However, a quick search of brand-new scopes online illustrates how expensive these items can be. If you’re not a hardcore night hunter, it can be hard to drop several grand on one of these products.

So, you may be wondering about used thermal scopes and whether they’re available online. Well, here’s everything you need to know about used thermal scopes and whether buying them is a good idea.

Can You Buy Used Thermal Scopes?

The short answer is yes, you can buy used thermal scopes online. There are several methods of doing this, including:

  • Person-to-Person Reselling – In this case, you buy a thermal scope from an individual. For example, perhaps you met this person at a gun show or on an online hunting forum.
  • Auction Sites – eBay is the most well-known auction site, but some platforms focus on hunting equipment, including thermal scopes. High-quality sites verify seller information so you don’t get scammed.
  • Merchant Resellers – Sometimes, businesses will buy back used scopes and other hunting equipment and resell them at a discount. This option works well because merchants typically only buy scopes in excellent condition. However, you will still have to pay a slight markup.
  • Refurbished Scopes – We’ll get into this option later on, but a refurbished scope is one that’s been used and rebuilt to get back to equivalent-to-new status.

Where Can You Buy a Used Thermal Scope?

If you’re living in Texas, you know that gun stores and online retailers are pretty common in this state. We’ve listed a few Texas-centered locations, as well as general sites that sell used thermal scopes.

Texas Gun Trader

Think of this site as Craigslist for Texas gun owners. Residents can sell guns and other hunting equipment, including thermal scopes.

Now, this site is excellent if you’re looking for an eclectic selection of used merchandise, as there are all kinds of weapons, accessories, and hunting peripherals. You never know what you’re going to find.

That said, the selection is not very extensive because it’s only Texas residents reselling their used equipment. So, if no one wants to sell a thermal scope, you’re out of luck. (1)

Feral Texas Outdoors

This website is focused on hunting optics, and it sells brand-new thermal scopes from all the major brands. But Feral Texas Outdoors also offers thermal rentals for residents. 

They’ll ship you a scope and you can use it for three days (starting from when you receive it). Then, you ship it back once you’re finished.

To put it briefly, this option works well if you don’t plan on night hunting very often. Renting a scope is much cheaper, and the company verifies that each used scope it rents out is in pristine condition.

Image of a thor LT 4-8x thermal scope mounted on the rifle from the side

GunBroker.com

Think of GunBroker as eBay for gun enthusiasts. However, unlike Texas Gun Trader, anyone in the US can post and sell on GunBroker.com. So, there’s a much larger selection of merchandise, including products that may still be in their original packaging.

As with any auction site, you can wind up saving a lot of money, but you have to be careful about who you’re buying from. Even if a seller isn’t trying to scam you, their definition of “good” may be much different than yours. (2)

eBay

eBay is the gold standard for auctioning all kinds of items, including thermal scopes. Because eBay is the most well-known, it often has the largest selection. In addition, eBay has been in this business for a long time, so it’s well-versed in verifying sellers so you don’t get scammed.

What’s more, eBay allows sellers to list items for a “buy now” price or let the product go up for auction. Since thermal scopes are not usually in high demand, you can often save a boatload of money and still get high-quality items.

ATN Factory Refurbished Thermal Scopes

As you may know, ATN is one of the top thermal scope brands, and the company specializes in refurbishing these scopes and selling them at a discount. The great thing about these used scopes is that they’re guaranteed to be in “like-new” condition.

Basically, you get all the benefits without paying high prices.

Is It a Good Idea to Buy a Used Thermal Optic?

The answer depends on where you’re buying a used thermal optic. 

If you’re relying on individual sellers, it’s hard to guarantee the quality and condition of the product before receiving it. However, if you’re buying a used thermal scope from a merchant reseller, they can offer protection and guarantees on your purchase.

Overall, buying a used thermal scope is a good idea if you’re trying to save money, but make sure to do your homework before pulling the trigger on any purchase (pun intended).

Factory Refurbished Optics vs. Used

The term “factory refurbished” means that the item was brought back to the manufacturer and repaired. So, some components may be original, while others have been swapped out with new ones.

A used thermal scope just means that someone has previously purchased and used the item at least once. The danger of buying “used” scopes is that it’s hard to verify whether it’s in pristine condition or not. As a rule, the more an item has been used, the worse it is.

Thermal Scope Rental

In addition to buying a used thermal scope, renting thermal imaging optics is also another possibly. If you plan on using the scope for short periods of time, this may be the best option for you. Make sure to take a look at our article on the subject.

Buying New Affordable Thermal Optics

You can of course, simply buy a new thermal scope, though this is of course the most expensive option. Luckily we have an entire article on affordable thermal rifle scope options, so make sure to take a look at that if you’re interested in going this route.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a civilian own a thermal scope?

Yes, civilians can own and equip thermal scopes for hunting and recreational purposes in most states in the U.S.

What magnification is needed for a thermal scope?

The magnification that is needed for a thermal scope depends on the situation. As a rule, 1x magnification is suitable for 100 yards (91.4 meters). So, if you’re hunting from 500 yards (457.2 meters) away, you need at least 5x magnification.

How much does a good thermal scope cost?

Overall, good thermal scopes cost from $800 to $1,500. However, if you’re looking at high-end models with advanced optics, you could wind up spending up to $5,000 or more on a single scope.

References

  1. Texas Gun Trader, retrieved from https://texasguntrader.com/index.php?a=19&c=551&b%5Bsearch_by_field%5D=all_fields&b%5Bsubcategories_also%5D=1&order=2
  2. GunBroker, Guns For Sale, retrieved from https://www.gunbroker.com/#home-footer

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