The night vision scope is no doubt one of the most revolutionary gears that have found its way into the hunting world. It has managed to replace those old-fashioned night vision goggles that weren’t really practical for hunting.
Due to their popularity, however, the market is now filled with various night vision scopes of varying sizes, shapes, and quality. Aside from that, most of the high-end night vision scopes you can find normally come with a very high price tag.
To help you with that, we have created this ultimate buying guide to help you pick the best night vision scope for your needs. We’ve also reviewed 10 of the best products on the market nowadays.
Comparison: Top Rated Best Night Vision Scope
Top 10 Best Night Vision Scope Product Review
First on the list is the Photon XT from Sightmark. It’s a budget-friendly option for a night vision scope which is designed to be really lightweight – around 30% lighter than the usual digital night vision scope.
It comes with 4.6x magnification that allows you to see a far enough distance, though you’ll have to deal with a narrower field of now. Fortunately, the presence of other features is able to balance that out. One good example is the two Duplex reticles, a German-style reticle, and two reticles made for crossbow use.
- 33% longer battery life
- Very lightweight build
- 25 degrees FOV
Next on the list is the X-Sight II from ATNH. As far as the features go, it comes with a GPS, ballistic calculator, a 1080p video recorder, Wi-Fi, image stabilization, and more. It’s basically an impressive example of digital technology integrated into a night vision scope.
Despite being a night vision scope, you can actually use it even in the day. Of course, it really shines when used as a night vision scope, thanks to its excellent night vision technology. It has a 3-14x magnification which should help you see things at a far distance. That is further reinforced by its 240-ft FOV at 1,000 yards.
- HD resolution in both day and night
- Impressive 3-14x magnification
- 1080 HP recording
ATN is clearly an outstanding company when it comes to producing high-quality optics, and the X-Sight 4K Pro a high-end night vision scope that’s filled with amazing features than most optics from other brands out there.
Compared to the X-Sight II HD, the X-Sight 4K Pro comes with a variable 5-20x magnification as well as a powerful video recorder capable of recording 4K videos. Compared to most digital scopes, it’s capable of fitting standard rings, making it ideal for small calibers.
Apart from those, it comes with a ballistic calculator, Wi-Fi streaming, and dual-stream recording. It also comes with the remote that makes things a whole lot easier.
- HD night vision mode
- Laser range finder
- Ultra-low-power profile
- Ultra HD 4K sensor
The Nemesis6x-SD from Armasight can be considered a generation 2+ night vision scope. This means that it uses a technology that’s almost military-grade. With 6x magnification, the Nemesis is ideal for long-distance shots as it helps you accurately hit your target at long distances, despite the lighting.
Apart from that, it also comes with windage adjustment and internal elevation, thereby allowing you to adjust your scope to your desired angle. Despite its thin crosshair reticle, it’s actually well-defined so you can aim at small targets even though you’re far away. It’s also properly illuminated in red during the night for much better visibility.
- Auto brightness control
- Waterproof body
- 6.5-degree FOV
05- ATN ThOR HD 384
The ThOR HD 384 is yet another quality optic from ATN. It comes with a thermal sensor that detects heat energy instead of light, thus allowing you to see your target regardless of how dark it is. It also comes with a ballistic calculator for more accurate targeting.
Meanwhile, there are several extra features fitted into the scope. There’s the integrated barometer that gives you accurate data for your settings, and there’s also a gyroscope that helps make spotting a lot smoother due to image stabilization.
- Built-in smart rangefinder
- High-resolution HD recording
- Ballistic calculator
- Wi-Fi streaming
If you’re looking for a popular yet budget-friendly night vision scope, then the Firefield NVRS is the right one for you. It comes with a 3x magnification which isn’t really that impressive but can be considered enough for almost everyday use.
Apart from that, it has a titanium body for superior durability and even comes with a built-in infrared. Despite being a mid-price product, it’s more than capable of providing good quality images and video resolution.
- Ergonomic design
- HD image and resolution
- Durable and water-resistant titanium body
Yet another mid-range night vision scope, the NightShot from Night Owl has an impressive range of up to 200 yards. Apart from that, it also provides you with a clear view, thanks to its high resolution. Like most mid-range scopes on the market, this one comes with a 3x magnification.
It can also be used during the daytime without any issues at all, making it quite useful, durable, and versatile. The only problem is that it has a short battery life, lasting for only up to three hours on a single charge. However, as far as budget goes, it’s definitely one of the best choices out there.
- Built-in infrared illuminator
- Weatherproof design
- Engineered thermoplastic body
Bushnell is another well-known brand in the optics industry. The Equinox Z features a 4.5x magnification which is just the right range for regular hunting. It’s also fairly convenient to use as it only uses AA batteries and comes with a tripod capability.
Budget-wise, the Equinox Z is also fairly affordable but still capable of providing enough magnification for most hunters. It has adjustable infrared brightness levels as well as a long battery life which makes it perfect for those who prefer hunting for long periods of time. Lastly, it has digital features such as video recording, image capturing, and daytime color.
- 4.5x magnification
- Adjustable IR brightness
- Image capturing and video recording
The Trail XQ50 from Pulsar comes with a thermal imaging feature that allows you to pick up the heat signature of your target at night. It’s actually pretty accurate and can detect heat signatures up to 2,000 yards away.
That aside, it has a long battery life that allows it to last for up to 8 hours. Therefore, if you prefer hunting for long periods of time, this could be a really good option. It also features a built-in recording capability that can record high definition video. There’s also an internal 8 GB memory so you can store your captures with ease.
In terms of design, the Trail XQ50 is waterproof and dustproof. It also works really well in temperatures ranging from -13 to 122 Fahrenheit. There’s also a very easy-to-use interface to make quite easy, even for beginners, to use.
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- Built-in HD video recording
- 8.4x magnification
10- Primary Arms SLX
The last one we have on the list is the SLX scope from Primary Arms. With a 6x magnification, it can provide you with accurate targeting on a distance of around 300-800 yards. It also features an Advanced Combined Sighting System reticle. Due to how well it performs and how easy it is to use, it’s been well-trusted among its users.
- Improved ACSS reticle
- Variable 1-6x magnification
- Red reticle illumination
What to Look for When Buying Night Vision Scopes?
Now that we’ve had a roundup of some of the best night vision scopes on the market, it’s time we talk about how you can choose the right scope for your hunting needs. Basically, you need to consider these factors:
Before anything else, you need to know that scopes are categorized into various generations which are based on their intensifier technology. The intensifier technology used will influence how clear or sharp the images will be.
To help you decide on a night vision scope, here are the various scope generations you should keep in mind:
First-generation scopes can be considered the most common scopes on the market. Moreover, they’re the most affordable options out there. That said, if you’re trying to save money while still enjoying decent night vision, then gen 1 scopes are the way to go.
Gen 1 scopes generally produce images that might be blurry at times. They also tend to produce a sound once activated. Most of the time, individuals who go for gen 1 scopes tend to use them for hobby activities.
Gen 2 scopes are considered a higher tier of scopes than first gens. They have improved image quality that a lot of professionals prefer them over gen 1 scopes despite the higher price tag. That said, if you can afford to spend more money on a night vision scope, then a second generation scope is worth it.
A second generation scope uses an intensifier that comes with a microplate which is responsible for its better image quality. Most users tend to go for gen 2 scopes apart from the gen 1 variety.
Featuring a considerable improvement, gen 3 scopes have way better image quality than their gen 2 counterparts. This is thanks to the application of special technologies as well as chemicals. Their intensifier comes with a gallium arsenide photocathode for increasing electrons to the phosphor surface. Due to their very expensive price tag, gen 3 scopes are commonly used in professional settings.
The most advanced generation, gen 4 scopes can be considered the top of the line among night vision scopes. They’re capable of producing very sharp images that come with lots of details. Moreover, they’re capable of tracking any changes in the environment and are fitted with tons of advanced features.
With all those features, it’s expected that gen 4 scopes are quite expensive. Due to that, they’re often used in tactical applications and are normally made for the military.
If you want to have a higher quality image from your scope, then you need to go for scopes that come with high-resolution clarity. It’s because clarity will be the factor to help you determine how crisp or sharp the image you’ll see will be. Even though night vision scopes don’t have as much clarity as conventional optics, they should still provide you with a decent amount of clarity regardless if you choose them during the day or at night.
There are lots of night vision scopes on the market that allow you to clearly see your target at 200 yards away. However, you might have trouble identifying that same target when you’re positioned at 500 yards away unless you’re willing to spend more for a more advanced scope.
Next comes range. While deciding on which night scope vision to purchase, you should consider how much range it has. Compared to conventional scopes, night vision scopes have a shorter and limited range due to the absence of lighting. Therefore, the range of your scope plays a key role in determining whether you can accurately hit your target or not.
Moreover, night vision scopes rely on detecting and recognizing objects. Therefore, if a scope has a short detection and recognition rates, you might have trouble hitting it. That said, you want to go for a night vision scope with a considerable range.
A minimum of 100 yards can be a good starting point for that.
Compared to optical scopes, night vision scopes have limited magnification. This is simply due to the fact that they work at shorter distances for capturing sharp images.
On average, you can find night vision scopes that have a magnification of around 3 to 5 times. These are fairly decent choices as far as casual hunting goes. However, if you can afford to spend more, you can also find scopes that have up to 20x magnification or even more.
For most users, particularly beginners, the average 3-5x magnification is more than enough.
Weight and Size
Lastly, you want to consider your preferred scope’s weight and size. Generally, night vision scopes weigh more, thus making it a bit of a problem if you’re used to using lightweight scopes. A heavy scope can also affect your aim. In order to prevent that from happening, we recommend going for a scope that’s fairly lightweight so your rifle won’t be too bulky and troublesome to use.
In this article, we talked about Night vision scopes, but if you are looking for red dot scopes our friends at Shrewd Hunter.com have written an excellent piece on that topic click here to check that out.
Frequently Asked Question
Q: Are there any safety issues with night vision scopes?
A: There’s really nothing you need to worry about when it comes to safety while using night vision scopes. They don’t emit any hint of harmful radiation, and they don’t pose any safety issues when used as well.
The only dangers you’ll have to face would be related to environmental factors. Therefore, we advise using your night vision scope only on familiar hunting grounds.
Q: Can I use my night vision scope during the daytime?
A: Generally, it’s advised not to use your night vision scope during daylight as doing so can damage its sensors due to too much light entering it. However, there are several night vision scopes that can be fully used during the daytime without any issue.
One good example would be the NightShot from Night Owl. If you’re planning to use your night vision scope during daylight, make sure you check its specifications first.
Q: How do night vision scopes work?
A: Night vision scopes work by gathering light from tiny sources such as the stars or moon at night. Once ambient light passes through a scope’s objective lens, it then goes through a photocathode tube where photons get converted to electrons.
Since phosphors are green in color, a typical night vision scope provides you with that green image during use. An intensifier then amplifies electrons via a chemical and electrical process. This leads to more photons produced.
Once they pass through a phosphor screen, they then get converted to visible light which you can see as images via the ocular lens.
Q: Is it okay to use a night vision scope in pitch-black darkness?
A: Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use your night vision scope when it’s extremely dark without any light sources. As mentioned earlier, a night scope gathers light from tiny light sources then amplifies it. Without any source of light available, it won’t be able to produce effects at all.
If you want to use your night vision scope in total darkness, we recommend getting an illuminator.
Q: What type of light does it use?
A: Apart from ambient light, night vision scopes also use IR light sources. These two light sources work in tandem to provide you with vision during the night.
Night vision goggles are a really amazing piece of technology. Due to the vision they provide during night time, you will be able to go hunting even if you can’t really see the target using the naked eye. Moreover, some of them – like the Pulsar Trail XQ50 and the ATN ThOR HD 364 – are fitted with thermal sensors to make it possible to detect your target using only heat signatures. They do, however, come with a slightly higher price tag, but as long as you are willing to spend more, then they’re definitely excellent choices.
If you want to get yourself a night vision scope for your hunting rifle, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the factors first. After that, you can then proceed to compare the products we’ve mentioned above so you can decide on which one you should go for.
For now, these products are among the best night vision scopes you can find on the market. Hopefully, you’ve been able to obtain some useful information about night vision scopes before you make a purchase. Read about best tactical night vision here.