Night vision optics are becoming more and more common every day because unlike the human eye, they are able to offer clear and accurate nighttime vision with detail, clarity and brightness.
They used to be exclusive to the military, however, in recent years these devices have become more mainstream and can now be used by just about any shooter looking to hunt after dark.
Night vision scopes use various types of illuminators including infrared in order to powerfully beam light into a low light area in order to help you see. By doing this, night scopes are able to collect light and then project an image back to us that we can clearly view with a green glow or in black and white, depending on the animals you are hunting.
If you’re a little bit stuck on which night vision scope, you’re not alone! With so many options available to you on the market, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best, which is where we come in!In this article, we are going to be going through 10 of our favorites that will ensure excellent night vision without breaking the bank. Let’s begin!
Criteria to Consider Before Purchasing a Night Vision Scope
When comparing and contrasting options, you should keep an eye out for these specifications that we’re going to be explaining below. The very best night vision scopes will offer these features, so keep an eye out for them when you’re trying to decipher the best from rest:
The magnification level that your scope offer’s is really important! Many night vision scopes don’t tend to offer super high magnification levels that you’ll find in optical scopes (some night scopes do, but they are few and far between).
The reason for this is due to the way that night visions work. Shorter ranges provide a much better image quality than a longer range image because the more light a scope can accumulate, the clearer and more precise the image - and it is much easier for a scope to collect more light when up close.
Night vision scopes will generally consist of either a few settings which can be used to change the magnification value or you’ll find that they will be a fixed magnification value. The most common magnification settings usually fall between 3x-5x, with some scopes containing a magnification of 6x. With that being said, some night scopes can offer a magnification level of up to 20x.
Like we mentioned earlier, many night scopes will provide you with a short vision range between 100-200 yards (which is shorter than optical scopes) this is because night vision scopes collect light from the environment or from artificial light taken from a flashlight or emitter. Some night scopes do go further than 100-200 yards, but these are uncommon.
Night vision scopes work quite differently to regular scopes. It’s important that you keep an eye out for a model that is able to offer you a good, reliable resolution level (640x480p or higher is a great starting point). The most premium scopes offer 4k resolution, which will provide the finest quality possible, although you’ll get a decent quality of footage with the resolution we have mentioned above.
When picking your night scope, bare in mind: the higher the resolution, the easier it will be to view your target.
Some night vision scopes refer to resolution as LP/MM (lines per millimeter). If this is the case, the higher the value is, the clearer the target will be.
The term ‘generation’ refers to the category of scope that an individual scope belongs to and is able to provide important information about its individual abilities. Higher generations of scopes are considered the best (and therefore the most expensive) while lower generations of scopes are a lot cheaper. Keep reading to learn more:
Generation 1 Scopes - this level of scopes use a passive infrared light and an ambient light present within your environment in order to provide an image. Gen 1 scopes can usually provide sight up to 75-100 yards, although some of the higher-quality models within this category can reach further than 100 yards.
Generation 2 Scopes - Generation 2 scopes offer a higher resolution than generation 1 scopes. These can see up to 200 yards thanks to them being of a higher quality and featuring infrared illuminators.
Generation 3 Scopes - Generation 3 scopes utilize advanced technology that is able to convert more photons to electrons, which is then able to be used to create a more precise image. Generation 3 scopes tend to have the highest resolution possible.
The Video/Image Recording Quality
Another important specification to consider is whether your night vision scope is able to take video footage or capture images. This is a feature that will come in handy for many reasons. For example, if you ever happened to run into any legal trouble associated with hunting in licensed areas, you’ll find that video footage will be very helpful.
You may also simply want to remember an existing, successful hunt you did a few months ago and want to relive the experience! All of the best night vision scopes will come with video recorders that will automatically turn on as soon as the scope detects a recoil from the mounted weapon. This is beneficial as it means that you don’t have to take your hand off of the trigger in order to switch on the recording feature, allowing you to focus on the shot.
Next up we’re going to cover the glass quality! All of the best night vision scopes will offer a greater glass quality, this is because: the better the quality of the glass, the better the light transmission will be.
A higher level of light transmission will help the scope to pick up more light in the area. The more light that your scope is able to acquire, the more precise, clear and accurate the image presented to you will be.
On night scopes with a higher quality of glass, your scope will be able to offer a much higher resolution, which means that you will be able to view targets with more clarity - even if it’s pitch black!
Another reason it is a good idea to consider a scope with a higher quality glass quality is because it will likely have a coating around it that will protect it from damages including scratches or accidental drops. This is beneficial because the glass is one of the most delicate parts of the scope device, meaning that it needs to be protected! Therefore, choosing a scope that has a coating of protection over its glass will save you more money in the long run.
The Type and Size of the Reticle
Bullet drop compensation (otherwise referred to as BDC) reticles are usually the best option for many rifle scopes, this is because this type of reticle contains a variety of aimining guidelines and points that are positioned vertically underneath the crosshair or central dot.
Going off of your rifle’s zeroed range (100 yards is a great standard), every hash marks at beneath the crosshair will help you gauge where a bullet will land after a predetermined distance.
For example, if a BDC reticle aiming points are spaced at 100 yards apart, then you will be able to set your rifle zeroed for 100 yards and still be able to easily hit a target that is 300 yards away by using the BDC reticle’s second aiming point.
For this reason, BDC reticles are the best for night vision scopes as they help to improve accuracy when shooting at a distance. Though they eliminate you having to adjust your elevation, they can’t completely account for external elements interfering with shooting accuracy such as strong winds.
Additionally, some scopes are able to give you the opportunity to change their color, type and brightness intensity, which is beneficial because it allows you to tailor your scope to suit you.
When planning a hunting trip, you need to make sure that your night vision scope is going to be able to last the entire time.
All of the very best night vision scopes will equip you with an exceptional battery life, allowing you to use them for prolonged periods of time without having to worry about your night vision scope dying out.
It’s worth noting that a higher battery life usually means your night scope will be placed at a higher price point, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry - the last thing you want to happen is to run out of light in the middle of the night!
With that being said, we always recommend taking some extra batteries with you as a precaution.
Though your night vision scope is mainly going to be used at night, some of the best do offer the ability to use them during the day. We think that this is an option worth considering because it offers great value for money because you don’t need to dish out extra dollars on a scope that can be used in the day.
However, before making a purchase, double check that your night vision scope offers the same level of quality that daytime only scopes do (if your nighttime scope offers this feature) to make sure that it’s a worthy purchase. We say this because some manufacturers make this claim and then often fall short performance-wise.
If you purchase a high-quality night vision scope, chances are it will function pretty well as a regular scope during the day - no matter what! Instead of using their infrared illuminator to generate light for collection, they’ll collect ambient light and turn it into an image for your eyes. Clever, right?
Another feature that we think you should consider is the durability of the design. This is because it indicates to you roughly how long you will be able to use it before needing to replace it.
While hunting for a night scope, you may notice that some of the higher quality models are labelled as being “weatherproof”, which is a fancy term that basically means it offers a combination of waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof factors.
In our opinion, we think that scopes that are weatherproof are the best choices in terms of value for money and performance. Even if you find yourself in some pretty strong weather conditions (such as rain and wind) a scope that is weatherproof will be able to stand its own.Alongside being weatherproof, we recommend also trying to find a night vision scope that is made of aircraft-grade aluminum or another kind of strong, durable material. You’ll also notice that some night vision scopes are marketed as containing anodized plating, which just means that the external structure of the night vision scope is rust-resistant and isn’t likely to obtain corrosive damage easily. It will also help to reduce the effects of sun glare and can also offer a level of camouflage.
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Best Night Vision Scope - Comparison Table
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Best Night Vision Scope - Reviews
This scope by ATN is positively full to the brim with useful and innovative features that we’re sure any hunter will appreciate!
For starters, this clever scope is able to deliver both day and nighttime vision in impressive HD 1080p resolution up to several hundred feet (yes, you read that correctly). Not only that,this scope offers a magnification level between 5x and 20x, so it’s great for viewing targets at both short and long ranges.
It doesn’t stop there, either! Alongside images, this high quality night vision scope is also able to record HD 1080p video recordings in order to allow you to have footage of each hunt you embark on. In order to allow you to focus entirely on getting the perfect shot, the video and image feature turns itself on automatically upon detecting recoil from your weapon, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing in order to manually turn it on.
Another feature we love about this scope is that it also includes a ballistic calculator that is able to quickly and efficiently shift the estimated point of impact on the fly. This is really handy for calculating a trajectory or for determining the ballistics needed for successfully implementing all different kinds of shots. This feature is not just for the hunt, either! You’ll find that it’s also a handy aid for improving your shot when you’re at the gun range.
A built-in rangefinder (accurate within +/-1 yard) gives you the option to identify the range between you and your target with two quick clicks of a button in order to allow you to determine the magnification level needed or for deciding which hunting weapon is best.
If all of that wasn’t enough, the ATN X Scope even boasts the added benefits of an E-Compass and GPS to help you get the very best out of your hunt and make sure you never get lost, while its excellent battery life can go for up to 22 hours before it needs to be recharged.
If excellent vision is what you seek, then the Sightmark SM18008 Night Vision Riflescope will not disappoint! This versatile night vision scope provides superb vision at magnification level of 4.6x.
Featuring three different digital reticle color options, you have the option to choose between red, green or white reticles depending on your personal hunting preference. You can even flick between reticle types at the touch of a button if you find your hunting circumstances changing quickly. Plus, thanks to 640×480 resolution, you will be able to see targets clearly even when they are up to 120 yards away.
Our favorite part about this scope is just how easy it is to transport and use. This scope is one of the lightest you’ll find on the market (so it’s not going to slow you down) while its sleek and slim design isn’t going to get in your way or hold you up while switching shooting positions or travelling on foot. Not only that, you even have the added bonus of attaching additional accessories to the integrated Weaver rail this scope comes with, allowing you to in turn make use of the scope’s digital windage.
The high quality features don’t stop there, either! This scope even equips you with a video recording function that provides you with clear video footage of each hunting trip, while its long lasting battery life can go longer than 33% of its peers.
It is also weatherproof which makes it perfect for using in different types of weather conditions! It will be able to withstand different types of adverse weather exposure such as rain or wind without compromising on its performance.
Though this night vision scope comes with a hefty price tag, we definitely think that it’s worthy of your consideration, especially as you’re looking for the very best.
What sets it apart from the rest? Well, for starters, it offers a super smooth zoom feature between 5x and 20x magnification to make sure you can hunt over both short and long distances.
It contains ultra HD sensors as well as an Obsidian 4 Dual Core processor in order to ensure that you are given the clearest images possible even during lower light conditions. Truly high quality, the colors depicted in your eye box are unparalleled and the outlines of the targets are presented with crystal clear detail.
Not just for after dark, this scope is also suitable to be used during the daytime, too. Its resolution is effortlessly able to deliver precise, clear and colorful images that will make spotting all types of targets (including the smaller ones that would normally be hard to spot) a lot more easy to identify and locate.
Its built-in ballistic calculator will be able to help you identify the best possible shot at each critical moment by offering a range estimate to your target. Alongside this, this scope can even calculate the range and external factors that will affect your next shot placement, including your angle and the temperature in order to streamline your hunt and ensure you get consistently successful shots.
As well as images, this night vision scope can also record footage in superb 4K resolution and 120 fps for smooth, non-shaky videos. While recording, this scope can live stream the footage to a mobile device while recording onto the SD card held within the scope, meaning that you will have your footage stored in two places so the chances of losing it are lowered (this will come in handy if you are ever required to use your footage for legal reasons or you simply want to keep your hunting memories safe).
To make your hunting experience even easier, the video recording system is activated by using a recoil detection system that will automatically start recording when you prepare to shoot, so you don’t have to physically turn the camera yourself and lose focus of the target.
Plus, if you find yourself running a little low on battery (it runs for 18 hours on a full battery), you can quickly switch over to an ultra-low power mode in order to save power while you return back to base or your car, all the while still being able to use the scope as normal.
Next up we have the Firefield Night Vision Riflescope. Gaining the seal of approval of hunters worldwide, this impressive night vision scope offers a set magnification setting of 3x, which will provide unparalleled crystal clear vision up to 100-200 yards.
This magnification level, paired with its excellent resolution (thanks to the high-power infrared illuminator),will ensure that you are provided with the very best image clarity in low light conditions, including complete darkness.
Not only that, this scope features a 42 mm lens which ensures that plenty of stray light can be captured for improved night vision resolution and a great field of view. To ensure its efficiency in the long run, this scope also features a flip-up lens cover shield to keep it protected when not in use. All you need to do is snap it into place while you’re moving locations or navigating a new area and want to keep it safe.
When it comes to preparing to shoot, your reticle will be automatically illuminated to aid your shot. However, you have the option to adjust just how bright the light is thanks to a control feature built into the scope. By doing so, you will be able to set the illumination to a brightness that will help you to clearly view the target without hurting your eyes.
We also love how lightweight yet durable this night vision scope is thanks to its titanium body! It’s completely weatherproof (so you can have confidence that this scope will be able to consistently perform at maximum efficacy even when exposed to the weather and other external factors), while the optics are also long lasting and have been multicoated to help prevent any scratches in order to improve light transmission.
Low maintenance and fuss-free, this scope also has a quick detach weaver mounting system that will essentially allow you to snap it onto your rifle quickly if you suddenly spot a target and then collapse just as quickly when you no longer need it.
The Bushnell NightVision Equinox Scope is another excellent model worthy of your consideration. It provides magnification at the level of 4.5x with a 40mm lens. Offering complete versatility, you have the option to either hold it in your hand or easily mount it onto your weapon - it’s entirely up to you.
This night vision monocular has the ability to capture both images and video, with the video recording feature offering a 1-3x magnification level while it’s recording, while its wide field-of-view will let you see up to 250 yards away thanks to its superior infrared illumination feature. Not only that, its illuminator can also be adjusted between two brightness settings depending on your lighting conditions.
Offering complete usability, this monocular is designed to be held which means that you will be able to capture a higher quality of pictures and video footage from different angles, as opposed to a scope that would be attached to your rifle.
Made for the outdoors, it’s worth noting that the exterior of this monocular is water-resistant which means that this monocular can be exposed to rain or accidental drops of water. However, It’s not overly shockproof so be mindful not to drop it or it may result in cracks within the glass.
The Bushnell NightVision Monocular also comes complete with a convenient carrying case, as well as a handy tripod mount if you wanted an alternative place to keep your monocular in order to free up your hands.
Compact and lightweight, the ACPOTEL Night Vision Scope is another excellent device that is sure to make a huge difference to your late night hunting adventures! Keep reading to discover why it’s worth purchasing.
Equipped with a low light HD ⅓ CMOS sensor, an all-optical glass lens and a BAKA 4 FMC coating, this night vision scope is able to take clearer photos and videos in all types of light conditions (including the dark) thanks to the superior light transmission it offers - so you’ll be able to enjoy bright and clear viewing in all types of light conditions!
Ensuring that it is able to withstand an entire hunting trip and then some, this fantastic scope features a power-saving booster tube in order to avoid the risk of a power failure while out in the wilderness at night, while its rechargeable lithium battery can be charged up to 600 times before needing to be replaced and will last for around 5 hours fully charged.
Its smaller size is really compact and lightweight (it weighs just 0.66lb) which makes it ideal for any hunter that is looking to avoid a bulkier scope design. It also makes storage a whole lot easier and, thanks to its included carry bag, you’ll be able to keep it safe when it’s not in use, too!
Portable and light enough to take on even the longest backpack hunt, the LTO-Tracker 2 is able to provide you with thermal footage of detected targets - both day and night.
Where do we begin? This impressive scope truy offers it all. There are six different color palette options (including green, white and black to name a few) to allow you to enjoy a tailored-to-you hunting experience depending on your preference and the type of animal you are trying to detect and track.
It has a rangefinding feature that allows you to achieve a rough estimate of how far your target is from you up to 750 yards away, while its 390x390 display makes viewing a walk in the park.
If that wasn’t enough, its lightweight and aluminum housing ensures that it can take a few falls and tumbles, while its weatherproof promise ensures that this device is 100% waterproof, fogproof and even shockproof!
Planning on hunting at a longer distance? No problem. This compact night vision scope offers a digital zoom magnification of 7x in order to allow you to clearly view your target even when it is at quite a distance from you, meaning that you have a better chance of achieving a successful shot.
If you’re a hunting beginner, the Jstoon Infrared Night Vision is positively guaranteed to become your brand new shooting best friend.
Why? Instead of using a conventional intensifier tube, this night vision device is more simplified and uses an infrared enhanced CMOS sensor and micro LCD screen to provide perfect viewing during the nighttime, while its fully multi-coated optics are able to increase light transmission for additional clear viewing.
Offering excellent long viewing distance, this night vision monocular offers a fixed 3x optical magnification (as well as up to 4x digital magnification to help you get up close viewing of your target) as well as a built-in 850NM infrared illuminator to guarantee clear imagery of your targets even in complete darkness.
Alongside this, fully multi-layer broadband coating technology is used to help improve clarity and color, while a large objective diameter is able to offer higher brightness than other scopes on the market. Plus, this scope features a focusing handwheel design that allows you to manually turn the wheel according to the distance of the target for a clear image every time!
Streamlined and user-friendly, you have the option to easily view all photos and footage taken of each of your hunting sessions on your computer via the use of a USB cable, while its 32gb memory card means that you can take up to 30,000 photos and up to 5 hours of video footage. Impressive, right? We certainly think so!
Another impressive standout feature of this night vision device by JStoon is just how lightweight and portable it is! Weighing in at just 0.63lb, you can be sure that it’s not going to weigh you down or feel bulky to carry, while its mini-design can quite easily fit into your pocket when you’re not using it or want someplace to store it where you can easily reach it.
Lastly, if you don’t feel like holding it, you also have the option of popping it onto a tripod mount. Featuring a threaded tripod mount, the bottom screw holes can be easily and effortlessly placed onto a tripod to free up your hands and add even more convenience.
If you’re looking for a night vision scope with an elegant design and the ability to capture crystal clear images and videos, you’ll love the ESSLNB Digital Infrared Monocular Scope!
This digital monocular offers a 5x optical magnification and 1x-8x digital zoom that will allow you to get closer to your target with ease. It contains a 40mm objective lens and fully-multi coated optic glass, as well as both a CMOS high sensitivity sensor and CCD auxiliary lighting that will help to keep the image clear and bright even in the dark.
In order to optimize your hunting experience, the infrared illuminator will automatically turn itself on when exposed to completely dark conditions. Not only that, thanks to this feature, you’ll be able to enjoy clear and bright images and videos! When using this feature at night, the IR illuminator levels instantly achieve the brightness best suited to the low lighting condition you’re in.
Not only that, its rubber armor provides a good grip when you’re holding it to lower the chances of you dropping it. However, if you do want to go hands-free, its versatile design gives you the option to mount it onto a tripod, while its durable exterior makes it able to withstand any tough weather conditions in order to avoid fog and rain damage, as well as preventing any dust from getting inside the night vision optics.
Some other added benefits that come with this particular night vision scope include an added USB cable, AV cable, rechargeable battery and even a power adapter that come stored within a handy carry pouch - it truly is excellent value for money!
Finishing our review is the super impressive (and super affordable) BESTSIGHT Digital Night Vision Scope!
After extensive research, we have concluded that this particular scope is one of the largest you’ll find on the market, and also one of the most budget-friendly options, too. It utilises a digital viewing screen with a 360 degrees adjustable camera attached to the body of the scope in order to provide you with unparalleled visuals while observing your target.
Don’t be put off by it’s impressive design, it’s super easy to set up and get going. It even comes with a really detailed instruction manual! All you have to do is fix a camera at the end of another night scope, which then captures the image and delivers it to a screen above the scope body. Oh, and don’t worry about the quality of the visuals! This camera is able to provide you with images at a 3 Megapixel quality, which is pretty decent given the asking price.
Once it’s all good to go, you have the option of using this night vision scope during the day or the night, with each option providing you with great visuals rich in detail and color. Plus,. thanks to the high power infrared illuminator attached to the front of the setup, you will be able to locate and view potential targets in complete darkness, while the zoom illuminator provides an exceptional nighttime range to aid you in getting that perfect shot, time and time again.
Offering effortless usability, the 5-inch display screen will make viewing a breeze, while its added features such as zooming in on your target or switching to day or night viewing mode are made easy to achieve at just the click of a button.
You’ll also love the eye relief. This scope’s camera has been cleverly positioned right at the back of the scope itself to allow you to look through the lens without any chances of bruising your eye.
Demonstrating just how high quality this scope is (and just how confident BESTSIGHT are in their product), an 18-month warranty has been included for your peace of mind and to safeguard the money that you spend. AAlongside all of these amazing features, two eyepiece tubes are included to allow you to switch between the types depending on which one fits you the best and feels the most comfortable.
So, now you've reached the end of this article (and become a night vision scope pro thanks to our criteria rundown at the start) we’re hoping that you’ve been given enough information and choices in order to make a purchase of a night vision that is going to really benefit your particular hunting style and help you get the most out of what you love doing most.
Though we’re sure that not every hunter utilizes the help of a night vision scope, they’re a really smart investment because they provide you with clear viewing of your targets during the dark - something our eyes just can’t offer!
Hopefully, you found a scope that’s ideal for your needs no matter what your budget is (or perhaps more than one?) but if you feel like comparing and contrasting options, we recommend referring to our explanations of all the different important specifications at the top of this article in order to let you make the smartest decision for you.