What Is The Best Infrared Optic For Close Quarters Combat

Best Thermal Optics and Scopes For Close Quarters Combat (CQC)

Why Are Thermal Optics Used In Close Quarters Combat?

Some really respectable military officers who helped develop a variety of Close Quarters Combat systems (martial arts, weapons, and other defenses) agreed on the consensus definition of Close Quarters Combat (CQC) to be any type of combat that takes place within 15 to 18 meters.1While this leaves the door pretty wide open for combat types, obviously firearms still can play a significant, controlling role in CQC. Certain firearms will provide better advantages than others, and thermal optics are going to make a huge difference in nighttime CQC. When a target is on the move in a place with a ton of barriers, such as a home defense situation, having a 1x or 2x thermal scope can be life-saving. Thermal scopes highlight targets using heat detection technology, making it easier to see a threat at night. Some thermal optics exist for pistols, but most high-tech thermal sights are made for rifles only.

How Easy Are Infrared Optics To Use?

Thermal optics typically attach to a gun the same way as any other scope or optic. Some scopes (such as the X27 Clip On Thermal FLIR Rifle Scope) are made to be mounted in front of daytime scopes. This technique effectively converts a normal scope into a thermal scope. Other sights are meant to be used in a standalone fashion. When considering using a thermal scope (or any optic) in close quarters, it is better to stick to a 1x or 2x magnification so that the sight does not narrow the vision in too limited a fashion. It is worth mentioning that most of the thermal sights that are able to be used with a normal scope, can also be used in a ‘standalone’ mode, effectively serving as a thermal scope by itself.2

The AR-15 pistol and the SBR (Short-Barreled Rifle) are great CQC weapons. The shorter the barrel the better. In fact, SBRs typically sport barrels 16” or less.

Best Thermal Optic Scopes and Sights [2019]

These are some of the best infrared optics to use in Close Quarters Combat (CQC). These are listed in alphabetical order. 

  • Armasight by FLIR Apollo 336 50mm Thermal Imaging Clip-On System – This is a super expensive option, but is one of the higher performing thermal imaging cameras. It mounts in front of any day scope (no re-zeroing required).
  • ATN Thor HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope – This is a bit of a bigger scope for CQC, but because it allows for 2x magnification, it is still an acceptable choice for many rifles. It is super high tech and even comes with a corresponding app and ballistics calculator!
  • PRG Defense 3093456006AM51 Model Anaconda TC50-Micro Compact Medium Range Thermal Imaging Clip-On System – This optic provides 1x thermal optical magnification, but also allows for 2x and 4x digital zoom, the prior being preferred for CQC. It is easy to operate, waterproof, and has built-in wifi.
  • Pulsar Core RXQ30V Thermal Riflescope – This rifle optic is waterproof, has an external power supply, a high resolution core, and shows heat signatures in a green-sapphire tint.
  • Sig Sauer Echo1 1-2×30 Graphite Multiple Reticle Thermal Reflex Sight – This scope provides an electronic zoom of 1x or 2x, is waterproof, and has a color matrix LCD display that allows for daytime or nighttime direct view targeting.
  • X-27 Thermal Rifle Scope – This is a clip on, thermal spotting scope. It is waterproof, shock resistant, and strongly durable.

There are many other optics available as well, however, these optics have been widely preferred when looking for an infrared that works well in CQC.

Final Notes On Thermal Optics and CQC

Thermal optics are a critical part of remaining on top of home defense, indoor-combat, and any other Close Quarters Combat situation. They provide the user an incredible advantage. Modern optics, like the ones mentioned above, are incredibly accurate and reliable. Some of the thermal optics obviously fit better in certain scenarios and on specific guns. Selecting the right thermal scope for any particular situation means taking all variables into account: where the scope/weapon are to be used, what type of target is being considered, the amount of barriers present, among many other factors. While thermal optics may not be cheap, they are most certainly valuable in a CQC skirmish!


1Combatives. H2H/CQC/CQB Connection. Retrieved from: www.combatives.info/cqc-cqb.php

2Federal Sensors. X-27 Thermal Rifle Scope. Retrieved from: www.federalsensors.com/x27-p/x-27.htm

About the Author:

Mark Doberman, The Proprietary Gun Smith

The Proprietary Gun Smith is a marksman, expert gun handler, ammunition specialist, survival guru, and lifetime gun enthusiast. He owns (or has owned) nearly every legal firearm and ballistic available, has fired nearly every gun, and regularly consults professionally in the firearm world. He has studied firearms and similar tactical lifestyle for more than 40 years. In addition to writing for ArmoryBay.com, TheProprietaryGunSmith has guest written for more than a dozen other sites and/or magazines in the industry.

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