10 Best Night Vision Scopes for Totally Dark Shooting
What is a Night Vision Scope?
It goes by multiple names. Some people call it a night observation device (NOD) while others call it night vision goggles (NVG). A night vision scope is an optoelectronic device. It allows the production of images in levels of light approaching total darkness. In other words, they are electronic eyes that boost night time vision that is weak to something more powerful. A night vision riflescope allows you to see more detail even when the color is not available by intensifying the available light.
Night rifle scopes have been designed to make hunting game at night as successful as it is during the day. The night vision scopes can also be used for other activities such as military and civilian applications. The need to make shooting at night successful has led to the development of affordable night rifle scopes that can be accessed online or from physical stores that sell sporting equipment and rifles.
How does a Night Vision Scope work?
Night vision rifle scopes are devices that enhance vision at night. Human eyes are greatly limited when it gets dark and the best night vision scopes make up for this limitation by applying appropriate technology that illuminates dark areas. The electro-optical element within the night vision scope enhances existing light by capturing ambient light, then use intensifiers to amplify it by thousands of times.
The intensifiers are also responsible for improving the clarity and brightness of the image to be created. The ambient light comes from the moon, stars or sky glow. Light enters the goggles through an objective lens and hits a cathode, which is powered by a high power load. The charged energy then passes through a vacuum, at a high speed, and strikes a phosphor screen. This is where the image is focused.
The image one sees is not a “real object” but an enhanced electronic image that forms on the phosphor screen which is a component of the night vision riflescope. This is why the image appear green which is one of the color shades that the human eye perceives better than others. The phosphor screen of the scope has a limited lifespan but it should be able to last thousands of hours.
Other devices that use a similar technology include monoculars and cameras.
What are the benefits of owning Night Vision Scope?
Top 10 Products Listed
The Top 10 Night Vision Scope Table
The Best Night Vision Scope: Review
The ATN X sight 5-20x is one of the best night vision goggles you can get. It not only comes in handy at night but during the day as well. The device focuses on objects, making them sharper and thus more visible. Features that make it the best night vision scope are:
Recoil Activated Video
Day or Night Mode
Day and Night Vision
The device is designed for precision placement, especially at medium range. The features that make it one of the best night vision scopes include:
Longer Battery Life
Multiple Digital Reticle Options
Strong Magnification and Resolution
Video Output Feature
Brightness Control and Protection
Weaver Mounting System
Rechargeable Battery Pack
Display and Construction
Digital Video Recorder
Integrated Laser Rangefinder
Selectable Reticle Options
Built-In Infrared Illuminator
In-Built IR Illuminator
Stable Power Supply
Objective Lens Cover
Types of Night Vision Scopes
Generation 1 (Gen 1)
First-generation scopes are the most common forms of night vision rifle scopes. They are the most affordable and provide decent vision at low lighting conditions. They, however, have some limitations as they may create images that are blurry when not focused properly. Gen 1 riflescopes are preferred for hobby activities like hunting.
They are also commonly used for predator control by professionals. First-generation scopes have basic electronic equipment with their ability to create clear images being moderate at best. Higher version night scopes have better intensifiers that create better images.
Generation 2 (Gen 2)
Next, we have second-generation night vision scopes that produce great quality scopes than gen 1 scopes. Professionals prefer gen 2 scopes to the first generation ones as they make it easy to identify moving creatures in low light conditions. Gen 2 night vision scopes, however, are more expensive and you will have to pay more if you desire clear images when hunting game at night.
The intensifiers in Gen 2 scope have a microplate which is a slight modification that increases the number of electrons that get to the phosphor screen. With this improvement, the best second-generation night vision scopes deliver images with greater clarity.
Hobbyists tend to pick the best gen 1 and gen 2-night vision scopes as they are readily available.
Generation 3 (Gen 3)
Third generation night vision scopes are an improvement on second-generation scopes. They deliver great quality images thanks to the use of special chemicals and intensifier technology.
The intensifier of a Gen 3 night vision scope contains a gallium arsenide photocathode. This extra component increases the number of electrons that reach the phosphor scope screen. Gen 3 scopes are not readily available and they are very expensive as well. The best Gen 3 night vision scopes are designed for use in highly professional assignments.
Generation 4 (Gen 4)
Choosing the best Night Vision Scope
How much you have to spend will also determine the night vision scope that you can get. The cost of the best night vision scope is determined by its features and as such, if your budget is low you may have to forgo some of the impressive features that make a night vision scope great such as a powerful intensifier.
Higher generation technologies scopes are more expensive than their lower generation counterparts and this is something that you need to bear in mind when shopping for the best gun scopes. If a scope is beyond your purchasing power and you don’t want to compromise on the features, you can decide to rent one for the moment as you raise the funds to buy your dream night vision scope.
The clarity of a night vision scope is its resolution in low light conditions which is very important in tactical operations and hunting. If you are not able to identify your target through the scope it means that the clarity of the scope is low and vice versa. The resolution of the best night vision scope is measured in lines per millimeter (LP/MM). A higher LP/MM will result is clear images and this increases the chances of succeeding at whatever you are doing at night.
The best night vision scopes may not be as powerful as regular rifle scopes when it comes to range capacity but they should provide sufficient recognition range capacity based on the available ambient light. The more light your night scope is able to gather at night, the better you will be able to recognize your targets.
It is for this reason why you should check your night vision scope to see if the recognition range is for overcast light, quarter moon, full moon, or starlight range. This means that a scope with a higher recognition range will need more light and it will be able to reach a farther distance with the best clarity.
Weight & Design
Bigger night vision scopes come with better vision optics as the scopes have enough components on the inside. This results in higher magnification which comes in handy when hunting small game in an open range. However, if you are hunting in tight spaces, you will need a lighter and ergonomic night vision scope that will not be difficult to carry around. Bulky scopes are not ideal in this situation as they will be difficult to aim and this greatly reduces your chances of making a successful shot.
The reticles that are found inside the best night vision scope include BDC reticles that are known for their accuracy. BDC reticles are able to estimate the bullet drop when one is shooting and this makes them very efficient. Their application, however, is influenced by the zeroed range of a rifle.
BDC reticles are, however, very rare to find those that are common in most night vision rifle scopes include simple duplex and red dot optics reticles. For enhanced accuracy, magnifiers and other equipment can be attached to a standard scope.
Day and Night use
Night vision scopes differ from optical scopes because of magnification. Normal optical scopes are able to magnify images several times while night vision scopes can only do that a few times. Night vision scopes don’t have significant magnification because they operate at shorter ranges to create sharp images.
Such scopes end up sacrificing magnification for better clarity so as to allow people to use them effectively at night. Most night vision scopes have 3X – 5X magnification abilities. Higher-end models can magnify images more than 20 times.
What is better? Thermal or Night Vision?
Many people are concerned about the difference between thermal optics and night vision technology. While the technology these two operate on is very different, most people assume these two technologies are used in a similar manner in the field. This, however, is not correct with the capabilities and application of these two technologies being miles apart. Night vision scopes use ambient and infrared lighting to create visible images while thermal scopes depend on sensors to probe heat signatures and form visible images on a screen.
With thermal optics, it is possible to spot a heat source located far away in the distance. In some cases, it is possible to identify a heat source that is over a mile away with a high-grade thermal device.
Night vision, however, offers better clarity and definition when looking at targets through the scope. It is, therefore, easy to make an accurate shot when hunting game with a rifle fitted with a night vision scope. This makes night vision scopes better and exactly what you need for your hobbies and professional assignments.
How to zero a Night Gun Scope
Although you will get a scope with everything it needs to function properly, you still have to learn how to use it efficiently. Calibrating a scope is important as it improves the accuracy of the scope when aiming at targets.
You will need specific information to calibrate your scope properly and this information is available on the instruction manual. Read the manual carefully and adjust the scope so as to improve the quality of your shots when you are out in the field. You then need to practice your shots to see if you have zeroed it properly. Set up a target and keep taking shots until you are able to make an accurate shot.
Calibrating your scope at night may be frustrating as you may not be able to tell its accuracy with ease. You may have to get targets that are designed for night time shooting to help you calibrate the scope at night.
How to mount a Scope
Mounting a scope is another thing that you need to learn to do if you want to use your rifle properly. A poorly mounted scope will result in a lot of frustration as you will not be able to aim at targets properly and most of your shots will be unsuccessful. Night vision scopes are mounted differently and with different materials. Some scopes, however, can only be mounted on specific guns and this is another thing you need to be aware of.
Scopes can be mounted using clips or screws. Scopes mounted with clips are easy to remove while those mounted with screws are sometimes difficult to remove. Follow the instructions explained in the manual before you mount the scope. Even if a scope is familiar to use, read the installation instructions carefully so as not to make mistakes that may lead to the scope getting damaged.