Thermal optics are expensive, or are they? The ATN ThOR LT 160 says maybe not be as expensive as you think, and today we are reviewing it to see if this budget optic is worth the squeeze. Continue reading our ATN ThOR LT review and you’ll have a solid idea of this budget thermal scope.
The ATN ThOR LT is a thermal scope that is designed for people who not only need a thermal scope but also need to keep the weight down. It is the lightest thermal scope that ATN makes, and it has many of the same features as the other ThOR scopes.
When I saw the low MSRP of $1,199, my curiosity peaked, and so did my caution. I’m a big fan of the buy once, cry once saying when it comes to optics. As such, I wanted to see if the ATN ThOR LT 160 was worth a dang and to see what a budget optic can be.
I went hard with this optic and reviewed it longer than I had planned. I wanted to flush out its strengths and weaknesses in several scenarios and situations. I needed to see how it handled recoil and how precise this optic could be. I’ve shot with it, observed with, and set up controlled tests to fully evaluate this optic’s performance.
What did I find? Well, I found that the price fits well for the value it delivers, which is the under 100-yard range. The 160×120 17 micron sensor is good if you’re shooting under 100 yards, but the sight picture is rough over 100 yards. Additionally, as I used the optic, I found it had a few quirks and issues. Although some of the features are quite well done, it’s not all bad.
As we go through this article, I will talk in-depth about the clarity issues, the quirks, and the strengths of the optics. You’ll see and understand how I tested the optic and how I arrived at my conclusions, as well as a rundown of the optic’s features and what makes it stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
By the end of this article, you’ll know what to expect from the optics and what it ultimately offers you as a hunter. So let’s get started and dive into the ATN ThOR LT 160 4-8X.
Meet the ATN ThOR LT 160
- Sensor – 160×120 px
- Magnification – 4x-8X
- Eye Relief – 3.5 inches
- Length – 11.5 inches
- Weight – 1.4 pounds
Introducing the ATN ThOR LT 160
The ATN ThOR LT 160 is a compact thermal optic designed to be fitted on rifles. The intention of the unit is to provide shooters with an easy-to-use, introductory-priced thermal optic for nighttime hunters. Lots of thermal optics are rather large and rather heavy. The LT does a good job of trimming that weight and reducing bulk while trimming away at a particular price point.
The ATN ThOR LT comes ready to mount to your rifle with a rechargeable battery, a USB-C charging cable, as well as the rings to toss it on your rifle of choice. Like most modern optics, the ThOR LT provides magnification to get you closer to your target without you having to move a single step.
Where to Buy?
Is the ATN ThOR LT 160 Worth it
If you’re on a budget, it’s a great option. Just remember it’s not the best option for over 100 yards. The optic has tons of great features, a great price point, as well as a compact design that’s unusual for thermal optics. The main problem comes from the underpowered sensor. Thermal scopes are more of a camera than a traditional scope. The sensor detects thermal signatures and presents them on a small screen inside the optic. The sensor in the ThOR LT 160 is somewhat weak and small, but that’s how they keep the price range so affordable. ATN Corp designed this scope for the under 100 yard shooters.
The view through the optic is good under 100 yards, but a bit muddy over 100 yards. It can be tough to evaluate what you are looking at if you go over this range. Small animals appeared to be blobs, and at close ranges, you could tell what’s a dog and what’s a hog, but at any range beyond 100 yards, I wouldn’t feel positive in my identification. This isn’t a big deal if you know the range before purchasing, because the optic has some desirable features hunters will appreciate.
Pros and Cons from our ATN ThOR LT Review
- Lightweight and Compact Design
- Ability to Record and Take Pictures
- Long Battery Life
- Easy to Use Controls and UI
- High Refresh Rate
- Muddy Picture over 100 yards
- Odd Magnification Settings
Going Black and White with the ATN ThOR 160
Shooting With the ThOR LT 160×120 sensor is tiny and not very powerful, but still has potential for it’s price range. The clarity through the optic could be better. Obviously, thermal sights won’t provide the same level of clarity as a standard sight, but you should be able to recognize the environment in front of you a bit clearer. With the ThOR LT 160, that’s somewhat difficult. It all looks like a blur until you find a heat signature. With the ThOR 4 384, I could see trees, outlines of objects, etc.
With the ThOR LT 160, I can only see the outline of objects within about 25 yards or so. Beyond that, everything appears somewhat muddy. No amount of contrast, brightness, or focal ring changes would clear it up. The visibility could improve, but that’s part of the reason it’s so affordable. Cold and hot items both glow under the thermal, but they appear to be blobs unless you are quite close.
I used a cold coke bottle and a burning candle. Only within 25 yards could I make out the shape of either. Beyond that, they were orbs that glowed. Larger animals appeared better at longer ranges, but I don’t know how comfortable I’d feel taking a shot beyond 100 yards. At around that range, they become globs.
The ATN ThOR 160 has an odd quirk. Occasionally, and seemingly randomly, the screen will flash to its fullest brightness level. This is a quick flash, and it can be somewhat obnoxious to the eye and whites everything out for a few moments, but this should not be a normal issue.
While the clarity might underperform, the refresh rate is a surprising 60Hz. What this means for you the shooter is no perceptible lag in the image. The animal can be moving, or you can be moving the optic, and you won’t see any lag involved with that movement. It’s smooth and sweet.
The magnification is interesting. Optically it provides a 4X magnification with a digital magnification of 8X. It will be a love it or hate it affair. The listed magnification is 4-8X. That’s true but might be confusing. I know it confused me. I thought like every other optic, 4-8X meant I could magnify the view 5X, 6X, 7X, you know all the numbers between 4 and 8.
That’s not how this magnification works. It’s either four power or eight power, nothing in between. It’s a bit different, but it all comes down to a solid thermal under a budget. I like versatility, and at 8X, you get a little bit of a muddy picture. Something between 4 and 8 could be handy.
Once it came to start shooting, the ATN LT ThOR 160 performed well. A one-shot zeroing system makes it quick and easy to stay on target. The main problem I have is the muddy view makes it tough to zero with precision beyond 25 yards. I zeroed at 25 yards using aluminum foil squares as targets. Then backed away and zeroed once more at 50 yards.
The one-shot zero allows you to fire a group and then observe for adjustments. You make the adjustments with a drag and drop style reticle. You drag a second reticle to your group, save your zero, and you’re good to go. The optic held zero without a problem through a good bit of shooting. I used water bottles with frozen water as targets and admittedly had a good time sending them to their maker.
I zeroed the optic during the day, and yes, you can use your thermal optic during the day. In fact, for safety’s sake, I suggest zeroing during the day. I’ve used the one-shot zero a couple of times previously and trust it, but I did confirm the zero with a few extra rounds to really hone it in.
Checking the Deck
If the ATN ThOR LT 160 isn’t for you, we do have an alternative option that might be a better fit. The clarity is the main issue, and the small size, affordable price point, and compact design are all major advantages.
With that in mind, the ATN ThOR LT 320 keeps the stripped-down, lightweight design of the 160 with a 320×240 sensor. It’s double the sensor for double the clarity. I’d also suggest the 2-4X variant for magnification. This will provide a slightly cheaper option with perfectly useable magnification.
You still get the 60 Hz refresh rate for a lag-free experience, and the price isn’t too much higher. It’s a 1,499 dollar optic. However, you get what’s effectively twice the performance.
The ATN ThOR 160 has a lot of strong features. In fact, it has more good features than bad, but the one bad feature it has makes me want to pay more for a better quality thermal. The clarity is simply not there compared to higher-priced thermals. If you’re on a budget, it’s a solid option!
Clarity ensures you can positively identify your target and what lies beyond it. Without amazing clarity over 100 yards, you have a potential safety issue. Clarity also makes it easier to find game at night, and that’s also critical to a successful hunt. In this regard, my recommendation will be to buy this if you’re on a budget, but if you can, save the money and purchase a slightly higher-end optic. ATN Corp has a lot of incredible thermal scopes to consider.
Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.