AGM Rattler TS19-256 Review: Best Thermal under $1000?

by Dave Chesson

September 20, 2023

0 comments

3.5
(2)

Having recently written an article on the best night vision scopes available, I identified the AGM Rattler TS19-256 as the best premium option in the still affordable range. 

It seems to have struck a chord with many enthusiasts who are on the lookout for a thermal imaging scope that balances price with performance. So, how does it actually fare in practical, real-world conditions? 

Does it beat out the thousands of dollars versions out there? Or is it just a good beginner’s thermal?  

I’ll answer these in my in-depth AGM Rattler TS19-256 review.

A budget thermal sight with 5 reticle types and 3 color modes.

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AGM Rattler TS19-256 Specs

  • Magnification 2.5-20x
  • Digital Zoom 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x
  • Length 7.4 in
  • Width 2.5 in
  • Height 3.1 in
  • Weight 18.4 oz
  • Resolution 256×192
  • Refresh Rate 25 Hz

AGM Rattler Specifications

Before we get into my review, let’s start by discussing what the AGM Rattler comes with, its specifications, and some of its features. 

The AGM Rattler TS19-256 thermal imaging scope has a resolution of 256×256, which allows users to effectively identify and engage targets with an adequate level of clarity. Although not as crisp as some high-end models, this resolution is sufficient for most hunting and surveillance applications up to a range of around 150-200 yards. They also fit the scope with a 19mm lens that contributes to its overall capabilities, making it a solid entry into the thermal scope market.

When it comes to refresh rates, the AGM Rattler TS19-256 operates at 25Hz. While this may be a bit on the slower side for tracking fast-moving targets, it is acceptable for moderate-paced activities, like hunting or scouting. Additionally, the scope provides a variety of reticle options, offering flexibility for users to choose according to their specific needs and preferences. However, the ability to assign particular reticles to different profiles is currently lacking and could be a potential area for improvement.

In terms of power options and battery life, the scope uses two CR123 batteries. It also features a USB-C port, which allows for an external power supply, thereby extending its operational time. While the CR123 batteries do offer limited continuous operation time, the USB-C port offers versatility in terms of extended use, albeit with a slight compromise on portability. The scope can detect heat signatures up to 900 yards away. Although, the effective identification range is considerably shorter—around 150 yards for smaller targets and up to 200 yards for larger game.

AGM Rattler TS19-256 Features

1 19mm Lens

19mm germanium lens along with 256×192 resolution thermal sensor provides a detection range of 1250 yards

2 Buttons

Top mounted buttons allow easy access to controls

3 Scope Mount

ADM quick detach mount allows you to quickly take the scope on and off as needed

4 USB-C Plug

USB plug allows for external power to keep your scope working longer

5 Digital Zoom

8x digital zoom help you identify targets at farther range

Models and Variations

AGM offers a larger version of the Rattler with a 25mm lens.

My Review of the AGM Rattler

Before I even mounted this compact thermal imaging scope onto my rifle, it already impressed me with its specifications. The AGM Rattler TS19 thermal image riflescope offers a resolution of 256 and a 25 Hz refresh rate. These specs, coupled with a 12-micron sensor, immediately caught my attention. The 19mm lens was also a nice touch, striking a good balance between field of view and magnification. When you consider these factors alongside the scope’s pricing, you’re getting a considerable amount of bang for your buck.

First Impressions and Setup

Out of the box, the AGM Rattler night vision scope comes with a lens cloth, making it easy to keep your thermal rifle scope clean. Setting up the scope was straightforward; however, the rifle mount did raise some concerns. Based on reviews and my experience, the mount is perhaps more suited to lighter recoil rifles.

The Feel and Operation

When it comes to operation, I was quite pleased. The scope is relatively lightweight and doesn’t make your rifle feel cumbersome. The turret feel is adequate, but not exceptional. Button functionality could be better, but they do their job. The user interface is straightforward, allowing for relatively easy boresight adjustment.

Features

Where this thermal imaging rifle scope shines is its feature set. I was delighted to discover the scope’s internal recording function. This feature allows me to capture my hunting experiences without any external equipment. This feature significantly increases its value for me. It also has an onboard Wi-Fi module, enabling real-time sharing of your experiences. I found this particularly handy when hunting with friends who also had thermal scopes.

The scope also offers multiple pallet modes, including white-hot, black-hot, fusion, and red-hot. This kind of versatility lets you adapt to different environmental conditions easily, adding more to its appeal.

Power and Continuous Operation Time

Another aspect that I found somewhat mixed was the battery life. The scope runs on CR123 batteries, and in some cases, they can drain quickly. However, I circumvented this issue by using an external power supply capability via its USB connector. Still, this does somewhat dampen its portability. I’d recommend going with a good-quality battery pack for better continuous operation time.

Image Clarity

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: image clarity. While the 25 Hz refresh rate and 256 resolution are certainly respectable, they’re not on par with high-end scopes like the ATN Thor or a $6k Pulsar. When you’re beyond 60 yards, the image does tend to lose its sharpness. However, we expected this considering its price range. For shorter ranges, I found the image to be quite clear, allowing for effective identification and tracking of targets.

Range and Versatility

While the AGM Rattler is not a scope for long-distance shooting—its effective range is around 150 yards—I found it more than sufficient for most of my typical hunting activities, from hogs to coyotes. Night vision was effective, and it particularly impressed me with its performance under harsh environment conditions.

Compliance and Export

It’s essential to note that, like all thermal imaging rifle scopes, the AGM Rattler falls under specific export regulations. Always make sure you’re compliant with the laws if you’re considering taking this scope across borders.

Final Thoughts and Ratings

Summing it all up, the AGM Rattler TS19-256 offers a considerable amount for its price. For those new to thermal scopes, or even for the more experienced user looking for a ‘buddy scope,’ this could be the perfect unit. It’s an excellent product for its cost and functionality. Just remember to have extra batteries or an external power supply on hand for extended use.

If you’re looking for a thermal scope that offers value, convenience, and adaptability, the AGM Rattler is worth considering. I’d say it’s a great stepping stone for anyone looking to delve into the world of thermal imaging scopes without investing several thousand dollars right off the bat.

Report Card

Tracking

The 25 Hz refresh rate is ok for short distance and slower moving targets.

B
Glass

The image is not as crisp on higher end models, but the clarity is adequate.

C+
Reticle

5 types of reticles are offered, allowing you to find the right one for you.

B
Turret Feel

Adequate but not exceptional. Button functionality could be better.

C
Value

The features in the scope make this a high value for your money.

A
AGM Rattler TS19-256 Final Grade

Our Grade

B

Reviewed by Dave Chesson

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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FAQs for the AGM Rattler TS19-256

Is the AGM Rattler TS19-256 suitable for long-range shooting?

No, this scope is designed for shorter ranges, up to about 150 yards.

How does it compare with high-end scopes like ATN Thor?

While it lacks the resolution and some features of more expensive models, it offers solid performance and a range of features for its price.

Can it be powered by an external power supply?

Yes, it can be powered using an external battery pack via a USB cable.

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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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