Pulsar Trail XQ50 Riflescope: Full Review & Comparison 2020


Thermal riflescopes have become a new fad among the night shooters, who used lamps (and not even artificial light) for hunting in the night 20-years back. The hunting and shooting landscape has changed drastically over these years, especially in the last 10-years. The thermal scopes have brought a paradigm shift in the hunting/shooting community

For efficient shooting in the dark, the first game-changer was the tubed night vision. With the arrival of the thermal scopes, night shooting has reached a new level. As thermals pick up heat signatures produced by the body, viewing the quarry clearly through the initial thermal scopes was a problem. 

Especially beyond 100 yards, the image of the target animal becomes blurry, making it difficult to comprehend whether it is a game or something else. Until and unless you’re absolutely certain about what you are seeing, it’s not a good idea to squeeze the trigger.

As the thermal industry was going through this problem of clear-viewing of the game, Pulsar Trail XQ50 entered the market. By this time, Pulsar had already made a name for itself through its handheld thermal devices. One such thermal monocular that became popular at that time was Pulsar XD38S (now discontinued). Pulsar made a lot of improvements in its Pulsar Trail series so that the hunters and shooters can get better image-quality no matter whether it is day or night. Trail XQ50 produced a sharper and better quality image than XD38S.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 Riflescope comes with a 384×288 pixel thermal imaging sensor, 17 µm pixel pitch, and 50 Hz frame rate. A hunter can detect a game (bear, deer, wild boar, moose, and others) at a range of 1,000 meters (around 1094 yards) with this new thermal riflescope. The 384×288 pixel thermal imaging sensor ensures that the hunter is able to view even small objects in a crisp and clear manner. Pulsar comes with a high shock resistance feature, which ensures that you can use it with rifled hunting weapons (having cartridges such as 9.3х64, .30-06, .300, .375., and others)

Best for Use

Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Scopes are best for hunting during day and night in inclement weather conditions (including rain, fog, and smog) for viewing through obstacles that come in the way and hinders detection of targets (including thick bushes, tall grass, and branches).

You can use Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Riflescopes in a wide range of applications including:

  • Night hunting
  • Observation & terrain orientation
  • Search & rescue operations


Long Viewing Range

You can detect game (bear, deer, wild boar, moose, etc.) at a distance of 1,000 meters (around 1,094 yards).

High-Resolution Thermal Imaging Sensor

High-Resolution 320×240 pixel Thermal Imaging Sensor ensures that you are able to detect all objects within the field-of-view with considerable detail.

IPX7 Fully Waterproof Protection

The Trail thermal sights are incorporated with the IPX7 degree of protection. This ensures that the Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Scope can be operated in all kinds of precipitation (heavy rainfall to snowfall) of any intensity.

High Shock Resistance

You can use this thermal scope with any rifled hunting weapon for a wide range of cartridges including 9.3х64, .30-06, .300, .375., and many more. Hunters and shooters can also use this thermal scope with smooth-bore as well as airsoft weapons.

Picture-In-Picture Function

Pulsar Optics has incorporated the useful picture-in-picture function, which provides the shooter with the option of displaying additional image regions on the screen that show magnified target and reticle image. The precise aiming frame, which is the additional region in the aiming area (taking just 1/10th of the total screen), is located in the top central part of the screen above the reticle. It enables the shooter to get a detailed image of the target in the aiming area. This “Picture-In-Picture” function helps a hunter/shooter to carry out observation in the entire field-of-view as well as take aim at the game.

Other Features

The other important features of Pulsar Trail XQ50 Riflescope are:

  • Mobile-friendly (either Android or iOS-based mobile units) remote control
  • Live Internet Streaming facility
  • Integrated Video Recorder
  • Selectable Reticle (on the basis of reticle patterns, colors, and brightness settings)
  • Three kinds of Zeroing Parameters Memorization
  • Effective Temperature Stabilization of the Sensor
  • Dynamic thermal camera usage (thanks to the 50 Hz high image frequency) Stadiametric Rangefinder
  • Power Supply System B-Pack
  • Built-In Accelerometer
  • External Power Supply
  • Display Off function
  • Ease-of-operation and user-friendly interface
  • Effective for use in a wide range of temperatures (right from -25 °C to high temperature)
  • Ergonomic, Wireless Remote Control
  • Updatable Software

A First-Hand Experience with Pulsar Trail XQ50 Scope

For reviewing the thermal riflescope, Pulsar Trail XQ50 was mounted on Sauer .243. It was easy to fix the system. To lock the sight to a Picatinny rail or Weaver was easy and secure. Even with the battery inside, Trail XQ50 weighed just above 2lb, making it a preferred thermal riflescope for every hunter who wants to hunt during the day as well as night.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 was tested on a dull evening so that the thermal zeroing can be done ideally. The rifle is zeroed at 100 yards. You can zero this thermal scope in two ways. While one method is the one-shot method, the other is the freeze method.

The freeze method of zeroing involves setting up the target followed by taking the first shot. If the shot doesn’t hit the target, it means that the point of aim and point of impact didn’t converge. To make it converge, you have to move the auxiliary cross to the impact point and save the setting. Three rifle/ammunition profiles can be saved for every 5 distances.

These thermal riflescopes come with a wide array of reticle designs/colors/brightness. The Picture-in-Picture function in Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Riflescopes enables users to get a magnified view of the reticle as well as the target area’s unobstructed view.

Now, the Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Scope is ready for the test and evaluation.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 Review


Pulsar Trail has been rigorously tested on the field for two days. The manufacturer claims that this thermal scope is capable of ranging targets up to 1,800 meters (1,969 yards). It is true but for the large animals such as deers, bears, or others, provided the weather conditions are ideal.

During cold, dark nights, Pulsar Trail XQ50 Riflescopes are capable of detecting fox-sized animals up to 800 yards. In fact, you can spot small animals such as rabbits at a range of 600 yards.

Variable Magnification & Clarity as Per Magnification

The variable magnification is easy to use and helpful for ranging throughout the magnification range. The Trail thermal riflescope worked best at the lowest magnification (at 2.7x setting).

Pulsar Trail XQ50 at Lowest (2.7x) Magnification

In fact, you can identify animals cleanly at mid-magnification (at 5.4x). At the maximum magnification (10.8x), the image was a little blurry but discernible. You can always take a clean shot and bring a coyote down at long ranges at maximum magnification.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 at Highest (10.8x) Magnification

While keeping an eye on a fox for culling during a hunt, the game was picked up at 300 yards and tracked it all along as it kept moving. A clean shot was eventually taken at 75 yards.

White Hot & Black Hot Modes

In certain circumstances, the facilities of white-hot and black-hot are very useful. You can use these modes as per your convenience and then take a precise shot.

Pros & Cons


  • The user interface (UI), as well as design, are clean and intuitive.
  • The image is amazingly bright and clear. You can tweak both brightness and contrast of the device (even when operating Pulsar Trail) as per the prevailing environment (an absolute must in a thermal device). It provides you the best overall quality image.
  • While scanning, you’ll not experience any lag. This is wonderful especially when you are hunting sounders. The picture-in-picture (PiP) feature helps track and hunt a hog in a better and easier way. Hunting a hog, which is running at full speed, is not an easy task.
  • Most devices fail to track the quick movements (especially jumping and sway movements) of the hogs or other smaller animals. However, Pulsar Trail XQ50 scopes make it look easy to track and hunt hogs and other fast-moving game in all kinds of light conditions (day or night) and weather conditions (rain, fog, snow, sleet, and many others).
  • Pulsar Trail thermal riflescopes are excellent for ranch checking during day/night without disturbing them. It works especially well in open pastures, both in the close-range and long-range.
  • The controls are easy to use and tweak.
  • Pulsar has incorporated top-notch batteries that work for almost the entire day with every charging. As the battery life is great, you don’t have to carry an additional battery with you during a hunting expedition.
  • Live streaming on the phone is excellent.
  • It is an excellent value thermal scope with good overall performance both in the close-range and long-range.
  • Pulsar Trail XQ50 riflescope not only helps you view the target clearly but also finds the target in bushes, caves, and pitch dark places where other devices (whether it is night vision or other thermals) usually fail.


  • The mount is a bit too long and the quality is average. However, you can mount this thermal scope on any hunting rifle (having any cartridge: 9.3х64, .30-06, .300, .375., etc.).
  • The range of the Wi-Fi for live internet streaming and Integrated Video Recorder could have been better.


Pulsar Trail XQ50 riflescope is an excellent value product, characterized by a high-quality view, smoothness in the image (thanks to the 50 Hz refresh rate), and amazing image resolution (not as high as Trail LRF XP50 thermal scopes but still it is commendable). The quality of the image is better than expected. The refresh rate is smooth. The image refreshing takes place every minute and the image freezes every minute. However, it is not a problem during hunting or even checking the ranch or pasture.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 2.7-10.8×42 Thermal Riflescope comes with a 42 mm objective lens along with 4x digital zoom. These features provide you a crystal clear image for viewing close-to-distance game. The wider field of view helps in locating, watching, and animal identification. The larger lens benefits the hunter in the long-distance shooting. The best part is that you can shoot smaller mammals such as mice, squirrels, and other varmints at close quarters, say 100 meters, in warm conditions.

Starting the scope is almost instantaneous. It doesn’t even take 2-seconds to turn on. The hunters will find it especially helpful when they have to spring into action after hearing the rustle in the bushes.

The last but not the least is the four AA batteries that the Pulsar Trail XQ50 Riflescope uses. The rechargeable battery pack runs for 7-hours or so ((the manufacturer claims 8 hours) with each charge, giving you respite from carrying a spare battery with you all the time during a hunt. The Wi-Fi system is good for live-streaming as well as video recording. However, some may feel that it could have been better.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 2.7-10.8×42 Thermal Riflescope PL76503Q provides shooters with fluid imaging, customized thermal mapping, and a richly contrasted field-of-view. These facilities help shooters bring down the game both at day, night, or pitch dark places (especially where night visions don’t work properly).

Pulsar Trail Thermal Scopes (XQ38 and XQ50) are available within the price range of $3,299.97-$3,799.97.


Can Pulsar Trail XQ50 2.7-10.8×42 handle Magnum Recoil?

Yes, Pulsar Trail XQ50 2.7-10.8×42 Thermal Riflescope can handle magnum recoil because of its high shock resistance feature. It is rated up to .375. The other cartridges that it can handle are 9.3х64, .30-06, .300, and many more with weapons such as airsoft and smooth-bore weapons. Hunters can hunt large dangerous game with these thermal scopes.

Pulsar Trail XQ50 vs XP50; What are the Similarities and Differences?

Trail LRF XP50 and Trail XQ50, both belonging to the Pulsar Trail series, have numerous similarities and some differences. The similarities between these two models are identical appearance, on-board recording, picture-in-picture (PiP) feature, Live Streaming, and fully-waterproof IPX7 protection. However, there are some major differences such as resolution, magnification, and field-of-view.

XP50 comes with 640×480 pixels resolution in contrast to 384×288 pixels resolution in XQ50 scopes. Both have the same (17 µm) pixel pitch. Therefore, the sensor size is larger at XP50 than that of XQ50. While Trail LRF XP50 comes with a magnification of 1.6-12.8x magnification range (8x zoom factor) and 12.4×9.3 degrees field of view, Trail XQ50 comes with 2.7-10.8x magnification range (4x zoom factor) and 7.5×5.6 degrees field of view. That’s why XP50 provides a more smooth and in-depth picture.

In fact, the depth of the image at XP50 is more impressive. The native magnification at XQ50 is higher (2.7x) than that of XP50 (1.6x). That’s why when you are shooting at 100 yards, you don’t have to crank up the magnification at XQ50. This is beneficial because every time you zoom in, the resolution is cut into half and the field-of-view is narrowed.

Is it possible to save zeros for different rifles?

Yes, you can save zeroing profiles of up to 3 individual firearm/ammunition.

What is the Refresh Rate of Pulsar Trail XQ50?

The refresh rate is 50 Hz, providing you with a smoother image. That’s why you can track moving targets better with Pulsar Trail XQ50 Thermal Riflescope.

How good is Pulsar Trail XQ50’s waterproofing capability?

It has IPX7-rated fully-waterproofing capability, which keeps your XP50 waterproof up to 1 meter underwater for minutes.

What are the differences between Pulsar Trail XQ50 and XP38?

XQ50 comes with a larger germanium-coated objective lens (F50/1.2) than that of Pulsar Trail LRF XP38 (F38/1.2). That’s why the users of Pulsar XQ50 will be able to detect longer ranges (1800 meters) than XP38. In fact, the clarity of image is better and the standard magnification (2.7x vs 1.2x) is more at XQ50. However, the users of XP38 will get a crisper and cleaner image, thanks to the presence of a better microbolometer resolution.

Pulsar Thermal XQ38 vs XQ50: What are the differences and similarities?

The major similarities between Pulsar Trail XQ38 and XQ50 Thermal Scopes are 384×288 pixel resolution (@ 17 µm pixel pitch) sensor, 50 Frame Rate, 50mm eye relief, 640×480 pixels AMOLED display, 640×480 pixels video/photo resolution, IPХ7 fully waterproof facility, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, and 5,000 mAh IPS5 Li-Ion Battery Pack.

The major differences between these two models in the Trail series are:

  1. Though both XQ50 and XQ38 have 4x zoom, they have varying magnification ranges.
  2. While XQ50 has a 2.7-10.8x magnification range, XQ38 has a 2.1-8.4x magnification range.
  3. XQ50 has a larger detection range (1,800 meters) than XQ38 (1,350 meters).
  4. While Pulsar Trail XQ50 comes with 7.5×5.6 degrees field of view, Trail XQ38 comes with 9.8×7.4 degrees field-of-view.
  5. The click value and click range at Trail XQ50 are 20mm and 4,000mm at 100 m respectively. However, at Trail XQ38, the click value and click range are 27mm and 5,400mm at 100 m respectively.

These are the major similarities and differences between Pulsar Trail XQ50 and XQ38 Thermal scopes.

Pulsar XQ vs XP: What are the Key Differences?

There are three main differences between Trail XQ and XP models: sensor size, native magnification, and zoom factor.

  1. Pulsar Trail XP has a larger sensor than XQ because the former comes with 640×480 pixels resolution vis-a-vis 384×288 pixels resolution of the latter (both having the same 17 µm pixel pitch).
  2. The native magnifications in Pulsar Trail LRF XP models are 1.2x (for 38mm objective lens) and 1.6x (for 50mm objective lens). However, in case of Trail XQ models, the native magnifications are 2.1x (for 38mm objective lens) and 2.7x (for 50mm objective lens).
  3. While XP comes with an 8x zoom factor, XQ comes with a 4x zoom factor.

These are the key differences between Pulsar Trail XQ and Trail LRF XP scopes.

by Scopelist

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