In the world of target practice and training with your thermal sight, your choice of thermal film target plays a role in quality of training sessions.

At IR.Tools we are often asked, “Which film should I choose, High Contrast or Upright?” Although these films share similarities, there are important differences to consider when making your selection.

This article aims to guide you through the distinctions, similarities, and practical implications of each option. In the end, you can make an informed decision tailored to your specific needs.

Similarities Between High Contrast and Upright Thermal Films

Before delving into the unique features of each type of thermal film, it is important to recognize the similarities that render both options suitable for target practice:

  • Durability: Both high contrast and upright thermal films exhibit a high level of durability. Each withstand the demands of hundreds of hits without easily tearing or degrading.
  • Ease of Installation: Installing either film is a straightforward process. Users can simply use their favorite methods for installing ie staples, tape, adhesive sprays, etc…
  • Available Sizes: Whether you prefer custom-cut thermal film or pre-cut sheets, both options are available in versatile sizes. The standard 24-inch roll provides flexibility for custom sizing, while pre-cut sheets cater to those seeking convenience. Resizing can be effortlessly achieved with a pair of scissors.
  • Cost Efficiency: Both high contrast and upright thermal films are priced similarly. Neither has the advantage here.

Distinguishing Features of High Contrast vs. Upright Thermal Films

Now I will address the differences of these 2 films. Each shine in different categories. Understanding these differences will guide you in selecting the most suitable option for your thermal target practice sessions.

High Contrast Thermal Film

  • Color Variability: There are 3 color options with High Contrast thermal target film; tan, green, and brown. If color is important to you, High Contrast is perfect.
  • Target Positioning: For the best visible contrast the High Contrast target must be positioned to lean back at a 15° angle. This allows the film to reflect the cool air above to create a distinct aim point.
  • Long History: High Contrast is the film the Army has trusted for decades. More than any other thermal film, high contrast has been the choice the US Army uses for optimal training.
High Contrast Printed thermal targets

Upright Thermal Film

  • Color: Upright offers one color. What that color is, is up for debate. Somewhere between silver, gray and light tan! Let me know how you see it!
  • Target Positioning: This is where Upright really separates itself. This film does not require an angle or special positioning to see a visible contrast. The film is built with thousands of micro thermal reflectors to produce a ridiculous contrast for your shooting drills.
  • No Hassle: In a quick minute your target is ready to shoot. Mount on your favorite backer, Aim and Shoot!
Upright Thermal film for target training


If color is a criteria or the fact the Army has trusted and deployed this film for years matters, then High Contrast is your choice.

If the convenience of a rapid set-up and a hassle-free position sounds good, then the Upright is no doubt tailored to your needs.

Regardless, both films come at a similar cost and offer hours of dependable, precision training.

For a wide range of premium thermal film products, visit the IR.Tools website shop and explore all our thermal target options to enhance your training sessions.

If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

online CHAT: bottom right hand corner of the website


The Author: Tom Boyer

Since 2006, Tom has been the driving force behind IR.Tools, dedicated to delivering top-notch infrared solutions to the military, law enforcement, and sportsmen communities.

What began with a single infrared patch has blossomed into a comprehensive store featuring hundreds of IFF patches, vehicle IFF, an extensive suite of thermal training targets, and tools for drone pilots.

Beyond his innovative products, Tom is passionate about educating users on infrared technology and showcasing how advancements in IR can enhance their operations.

Tom holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland and an MBA from Regents University.

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