i agree about atn customer service is trash. it took almost two months to get my lt thermal repaired. no updates provided at all. because of that reason i won't take a chance on their high end models. if you can afford it go with pulsar.
I have owned a Pulsar Trail and currently run a Pulsar Thermion XP 38. I also run a Pulsar Axion monocular for scanning. Hands down there is nothing that comes close in quality and customer service for the price. They are spendy, but have been flawless for me with clear, crisp image, reliability, and great customer service.
I ran the XP38 on a deer control permit this summer and saw deer that buddies with NV simply could not see, even after I pointed to their location. I can tell a deer from a pig at around 450 yards by body shape and about 700 by behavior (mostly how they move/walk/interact). That said, I won't take a 'thermal' shot over 250 yds though I'm willing to take a daytime shot to 450 under the right conditions. sub 10k thermal simply is not as accurate as optical scopes...around 2 MOA or so.
Hogs and deer can spot the IR light on NV scopes and will spook whereas I've had them walk within 20 yards of me with the thermal since it's passive and does not emit any wavelength of light.
I've said to other prospective buyers that going from quality daytime glass (Leupold and Meopta for me) to NV is like going from irons to a scope. Going from NV to thermal is even more of a game changer. One warning, it's less hunting and more shooting. If you play the wind and are relatively quiet, the pigs/deer never have a chance.
We hog hunt ALLOT. Several people have been with us with night vision and the I/R stuff and they can't see near what we do. Also when shooting in fields and dry dirt conditions there is no visibility lost with the thermal due to dust from when they start running. I can't say that for the nv and i/r cause I've had folks with me that couldn't see once the hogs started to run
If your destined to end up in the Thermal don't be afraid to spend some decent money on a scope. The Pulsar is as cheap as I would go. I hunt a lot at night and am very fortunate to have places to hunt yotes and hogs. I also have 2 guys that I hunt with who are able to hunt a lot and have thermal as well. I shoot the IR Hunter Mk II Trijacon bought this company and has different thermal scopes and optics. The IR Hunter has served me well in all weather conditions and several years of regular and hard use in the field. ATN did not stand up to hard use, and multiple rounds being fired and image quality was fair with room for improvement. The pulsar was a much better scope and it had the image in image to aid in shooting, not a real big fan of it but my buddie was deadly with that scope.
All that said the issue is what you really want to buy, you get what you pay for. The biggest challenge in Thermal Hunting is depth perception in the dark and learning to shoot in it. A steady rest is key. I have a bipod on my rifle and usually carry a tripod with me to shoot off of, it makes a tremendous difference. Don't get in a hurry it will take awhile to recognize the image each animal makes but it will come to you. Practice shooting with it some its different