Who’s Buying

Unlike more cost-efficient night vision optics, thermal optics can be used both during the day and at night. While they can also serve tactical purposes, use in that capacity is mostly limited to military and law enforcement rather than for home defense by the average consumer.

For Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio, most thermal optic sales come from either hunters or farmers and landowners looking for ways to prevent crop destruction. In some cases, particularly during the holiday shopping season, they’re purchased as a gift for a hunter who seemingly already has just about everything else.

When someone mentions hog hunting or predator control, Owner Johnny Dury uses it as a segue to discussing the features and benefits of thermal optics.

“You have to understand: This is a sizeable investment someone is making, and not every customer has the disposable income to afford it,” he said.

To help cast a wider net, Dury focuses on stocking three price points starting with an entry-level option around $1,500, up to more high-end optics sometimes exceeding $4,000.

Although there’s currently only a small market for home-defense use, he anticipates growth and recently started carrying the Leupold Thermal Optic Quest — a powerful handheld thermal device capable of detecting heat signatures out to 300 yards. It gives users an edge on situational awareness at a much more affordable price point of $649.99 MSRP.