Shot Show 2022 saw a lot of new product announcements and among them was AGM with their new Adder line of thermal rifle scopes which are now available for purchase. The line includes four models at varying performance levels, ranging from $2600 to $4700. I was loaned the most budget-friendly model, the TS35-384, for my review so all opinions expressed will be based on my experiences with that unit.
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I have had a lot of fun using this scope over the last couple of months. While I frequently use thermal devices to predict and diagnose problems with my equipment at work, I had not spent much time hunting with thermal. Let me tell you now, once you start hunting with thermal you will not want to go back.
The main spec that sets this scope apart from its competitors is its battery life. The Adder has two internal 18650 batteries plus the option to add CR123a which provides a total runtime of 15 hours. A 15-hour runtime is insane. Most scopes in this price range have a run time of under five hours. I hunted two nights in a row (10pm-4am) and (9pm-2am) without recharging and still had ⅓ the battery left.
A drawback to the internal batteries is that they cannot be replaced by the user. It will likely take hundreds of charge cycles but once the internal batteries degrade the scope will have to be sent back to AGM to have them replaced. Most people probably won’t use the scope enough to wear it out or even notice the loss of a couple of hours of runtime, but some may.
One final note on the batteries before I move on; The CR123a is supposed to get you an extra 1-2hrs of runtime but it must be installed in the scope before the internal batteries run out of juice. When the internal battery runs out you will see the horizontal battery icon displayed on the screen show empty then switch to a full vertical battery icon showing the charge in the spare. I guess the CR123a can keep the scope going when it is too low to run otherwise but, it doesn’t have enough power to boot it up once the main batteries are completely dead.
This scope has a base magnification of 3X with a digital zoom of up to 24X. 3X may sound low but it is pretty high for a thermal in this price range and it is plenty when 90% of the time looking through the scope is spent scanning. The 3X base mag also seems to make more of the 384 resolution. Lots of scopes have this same resolution with a base mag of around 1.5X. Those scopes will have half the clarity when zoomed into 3X. By having the higher base magnification, the Adder gives you a better image for taking long shots without having to pay for a 640 detector.
The Adder has a 30mm body and comes with an American Defense Manufacturing quick detach mount. This mount is very high quality and didn’t have any issue retaining zero when I swapped the thermal for a traditional scope and back again.
You can record video with audio when using the scope. The audio is very sensitive. A normal speaking voice sounds like you’re shouting into the microphone, but it has no problem picking up whispers or people talking around you. The video recording does include the reticle and all the other icons that are on the screen when the video is taken. All files are saved with the 64GB of internal storage which can be accessed by connecting the scope to your computer with the provided USB-C charging cable.
This scope also has SAR (shot-activated recording). When SAR is turned on the scope will automatically save video seven seconds before and seven seconds after the scope detects recoil. This feature worked fairly well but I did end up with a lot of extra recordings. A recording would be saved every time I chambered a round, set my rifle down or the truck hit a moderate bump. It may be a little sensitive, but it never missed a recording on any of my shots. Recordings can also be taken manually and that does not affect the SAR. I can take a video of the entire stalk including the shot and the SAR will give me an additional 14-second video of just the shot.
The three buttons on top of the eyepiece control the most used functions like taking pictures and video, changing the color palette, performing a NUC (NonUniformity Correction), and putting the scope in standby mode or shutting it off. These buttons are molded flush into the scope body and are divided by a rubber ridge. I was able to select the correct function without looking at the buttons with a little practice but I think it would be a bit trickier with gloves on.
My biggest issue with this scope is the menu/reticle control. These are accessed by pressing or holding the left turret and then spinning it to make selections. The turret is very easy to spin or depress unintentionally. Just bumping the turret changes my reticle and menu settings could be changed if pressure was applied for over a second. There were multiple times that I pulled up my rifle to find a different reticle and I would have to tap through all five reticle groups to get back to the one I wanted. I compensated for this by putting the scope in standby mode when I was not actively scanning. Standby mode turns off the screen and disables all functions until the power button is tapped again to wake it up. This mode also saves battery so I just made a habit of using it.
Other than the touchy menu button this scope feels fairly robust. The operating temperatures range from -22F to 131F. The charging port is protected by the right turret which screws on and is sealed with an O-ring, the objective lens has a built-in flip-down cover, and the unit has an IP67 rating so it should not have any issues with rain or shallow emersion.
Of the four color palette options (White Hot, Black Hot, Red Hot, and Fusion) I generally preferred White Hot. This selection seemed to give me the best contrast for most situations and the majority of the image was darker which was easier on my eye when scanning off and on for hours.
Overall, I think this is a great optic and AGM did a phenomenal job bringing it to market for under $3000. With the 15-hour battery life and 3X base magnification, it is probably one of the best values in its price range. More details including a full spec sheet can be found on AGM’s Website and if the Adder is still a little pricy for you, check out their Rattler line.
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