We designed a compact middle-wave infrared (MWIR) lens with a large focal length ratio (about 1.5:1), used in the 3.7 to 4.8 μm range. The lens is consisted of a compact front group and a re-imaging group. Thanks to the compact front group configuration, it is possible to install a filter wheel mechanism in such a tight space. The total track length of the lens is about 50mm, which includes a 2mm thick protective window and a cold shield of 12mm. The full field of view of the lens is about 3.6°, and F number is less than 1.6, the image circle is about 4.6mm in diameter. The design performance of the lens reaches diffraction limitation, and doesn’t change a lot during a temperature range of -40°C~+60°C. This essay proposed a stepwise design method of infrared optical system guided by the qualitative approach. The method fully utilize the powerful global optimization ability, with a little effort to write code snippet in optical design software, frees optical engineer from tedious calculation of the original structure.