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?

  • It comes in handy for soldiers during wars. The goggles help them to see, maneuver, and shoot during periods of low visibility or at night. They are able to fight well at night as they would during the day.
  • Night vision scope is useful when camping, fishing and hunting. These activities usually take place at night, and the darkness can make it fairly difficult to enjoy them. Night vision goggles display a more natural image during low visibility periods. It also offers a broader field of view, helping you keep better track of movements of the game or fish.
  • A night observation device enables you to stay more balanced and confident while moving around at night. This is because you are able to see everything around you more clearly than you would without them.

Top 10 Products Listed

The Top 10 Night Vision Scope Table

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IMAGE

MODEL

PRICE

RATING

5/5

5/5
  • High-resolution sensor
  • A billion cycles per second

4.9/5

4.7/5
  • Easy to use
  • Produces high-quality images

4.7/5

4.5/5
  • Displays digital images
  • Accommodates various lighting conditions

4.5/5

4.1/5
  • Can be used at night or during the day
  • High-resolution display

4.3/5

4/5
  • Variable reticle brightness
  • Auto bright control

4.1/5

4/5
  • Built-in IR illuminator
  • High-quality images

4/5

4/5
  • Captures both still images and videos
  • Integrated high definition video recorder

4/5

4/5
  • High performance
  • FLIR thermal imaging camera

3.9/5

3.9/5
  • Automatic brightness control
  • Water and fog resistant

3.8/5

3.8/5
  • Durable titanium body
  • High-quality image and resolution

The Best Night Vision Scope: Review

Our Rating

Top Rated Night Vision Scope
5/5

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:

Ballistic Calculator

This feature makes other tools like calculators, a complex reticle, and charts unnecessary. Once you enter the environmental data, this gen 2 digital night scope automatically calculates all the critical factors that you should consider. It enables you to change your incline angle and adjust the distance. The goggles provide you with an opportunity to take the perfect shot every single time.

Recoil Activated Video

The feature enables you to record experiences in 1080p HD. You do not even need to press the record button. Once you set the video record to recoil activated video, the system buffers everything within your view. You can later watch the recorded moments as you take note of what you might have missed.

Day or Night Mode

This rifle scope comes with two modes. Depending on the time you are using it, you can set the mode to match your light conditions. Doing so provides you with the best quality image.

Range Finder

The built-in feature calculates the distance between you and the target. It ensures you have a perfect shot.

PROS

  • High-resolution sensor
  • A billion cycles per second
  • Can be customized to suit your need
  • Great range finder
  • Powerful magnification

CONS

  • Low battery life
  • Expensive

Our Rating

4.9/5
This is a low cost, yet a high-quality digital night vision rifle scope. It has multiple uses. You can play paintball and the pellet gun with it. In addition to this, the device comes with numerous features that make it one of the best night vision rifle scopes such as:

Recticle Selection

There are three different types, and each can be configured in either black or white. It allows you to adjust the reticle type to one that suits your current shooting environment.

Objective Lens

The feature provides a magnification that is three times stronger for better vision optics. Its focal length is 2.105 inches, and the aperture has a measure of 1.57 inches. These features assist in making the target object clearer. The focusing distance is from ten feet to infinity, making it ideal for long-distance shooting

Battery Power

The device uses 4 x AA batteries or lithium ones. When the IR is low, the cells can last you five hours. However, when the IR is on a high, the battery life will last for about two hours.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Produces high-quality images
  • Simple reticle selection

CONS

  • Cannot be used on a shotgun
  • Short battery life

Our Rating

4.7/5
This gen 1 vision rifle scope uses a CMOS sensor that is infrared sensitive. Instead of using a conventional optics intensifier tube, it uses a micro LCD screen to enhance night vision. Its features include:

Day and Night Vision

This vision scope supports both day and night time vision and this makes it ideal to use at any time you want to. During the day, it displays colored images to enable you to identify the target. At night, this device displays black and white photos. The night vision offers excellent optics clarity and contrast.

Weight

It weighs about 2.2 pounds by itself. When packed for shipping, however, the total weight is 2.55 pounds. Its light nature makes it easy for you to handle it. You can move quickly with it and even change angles without straining. Your arms will also not go numb when out in the field for lengthy periods.

LCD Screen

This feature enables you to look at your field of view. It provides clear images of everything within your sight, allowing you to identify your target. You can also see icons on this screen. These icons show you the zoom factor, brightness settings and also indicate whether the memory card is present or not. To get an obstructed view, you can disable these icons.

Battery Power

The device uses 4 AA batteries. How long these batteries will last you is dependent on how often or how long you use it. Battery power will not run out without your knowledge. On the LCD screen, there is an icon that shows how much power you have left.

PROS

  • Displays digital images
  • Accommodates various lighting conditions
  • Takes and saves photos and videos

CONS

  • Cannot be mounted in front of a scope
  • Batteries do not last long

Our Rating

4.5/5

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

Compared to other night vision goggles, its battery lasts 33% longer. It means you can use it for an extended period without worrying it will go out of power. It also implies that you do not have to carry an extra power pack when going hunting or for any activity that requires the use of this device.

Multiple Digital Reticle Options

It has red, white and green options for a vast range of applications. The scope is inclusive of two crossbow reticles, two duplex reticles for varmint and hog hunting, and a mil-dot reticle for holdovers and range finding.

Strong Magnification and Resolution

Its 42mm objective lens has a magnification power of 4.6x and a 640×480 resolution. This enables you to capture clear images up to a distance of 120 yards.

Video Output Feature

The night vision scope records all images whenever it is used. You are able to enjoy looking at clips of activities, such as hunting, as they unfolded.

PROS

  • Can be used at night or during the day
  • High-resolution display
  • Accessories can be added
  • Enables video recording
  • Multiple reticle options
  • Sufficient magnification

CONS

  • Field of view is slightly narrow
  • The menu has few options

Our Rating

4.3/5
This gen 3 night vision device is best for you if you prefer to keep a long-distance between you and your target. Pulling the trigger on this Gen 3 rifle scope is also worth it if you are looking to upgrade from Gen 2. Its features include:

Powerful Magnification

Since it is best suited for long-distance shooting, this Gen 3 night vision scope add on has a 6x magnification. It makes distant objects crisp clear, making them appear as though they were nearby.

Brightness Control and Protection

In case you are using it in an area with too much light, the scope immediately regulates it; thus protecting your eyes. You can also control the brightness yourself. It also has an illuminated center red cross reticle that facilitates optimal contrast with variable reticle brightness.

Waterproof Body

What makes this gen 3 night vision scope unique is the fact it is waterproof. You can, therefore, use it even when it is raining without worrying about some parts breaking down or rusting. It makes hunting fun especially in areas that receive constant rainfall.

Adjustable

Apart from being easy to operate, some features of this gen 3 digital night vision scope can also be adjusted to suit your current environment. This helps you to aim and hit the target.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Variable reticle brightness
  • Auto bright control
  • Extremely thin crosshairs
  • Sufficient magnification

CONS

  • Heavy

Our Rating

4.1/5
This gen 1 night vision rifle scope is engineered to be operated in the darkest of nights. It has a high-power IR illuminator that is built. It, therefore, enhances image details and also increases the range of view in total darkness. Its features include:

Weaver Mounting System

You can detach this system efficiently and very fast. The feature also makes it easy to change vision optics or even switch to iron sights while maintaining return-to-zero reliability.

Lens

This gen 1 vision rifle scope has a multi-coated vision optics. In addition to that, it has an illuminated red duplex reticle. This enables you to adjust brightness and thus adapt quickly to your surrounding environment. The lens has a flip-up cover, which protects it from climate factors such as rain.

Magnification

The lens of this gen 1 best night vision scope has a thickness of 42mm that enables it to gather as much light as possible. The lens’ magnification is 3x powerful. It, therefore, offers clear images from medium to long-range targets.

Weight

This gen 1 night vision rifle scope is considered to be a lightweight. You can carry it for an extended period without your arms going numb. You can also change angles easily while hunting. Its lightweight nature makes it fun to use, enabling you to enjoy hunting.

Durable

You can use this gen 1 device for a significant period. Its body is made of a long-lasting material – titanium body. The material is resistant to most climatic factors, and it is also strong hence not easily broken.

PROS

  • Built-in IR illuminator
  • High-quality images
  • Ergonomic design
  • Long lasting batteries

CONS

  • You cannot plug in a volt power source
  • Limited magnification

Our Rating

4/5
It was designed for hunting and sporting purposes. It offers technologically advanced features, representing a breakthrough in devices used for thermal aiming. The pulsar trail XQ thermal scope can detect heat signatures that are 1970 yards away. Some of the features that make it stand out are:

High Resolution

It boasts of an uncooled micro-bolometric optics matrix that provides highly detailed images. This is also made possible by the availability of digital zoom-in icon. It can zoom in in both fixed steps and in a smooth continuous mode. You can zoom in up to 4x magnification, getting an optimum and customized view.

Rechargeable Battery Pack

The battery is the source of power for this night vision scope. You do not need to install a new battery when it runs out. All you need to do is recharge it. If need be, you can replace an old battery with a new one. It is completely sealed and secured once it is mounted. The material used to cover it is water-resistant hence there is no chance of the battery getting ruined when the device is rained on.

PROS

  • Fully waterproof
  • Captures both still images and videos
  • Lasting battery power
  • Integrated high definition video recorder
  • 4x magnification

CONS

  • Not ideal for long range shooting

Our Rating

4/5
It is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced scopes in the family of Zeus thermal imaging weapon sights. This gadget is known for its groundbreaking thermal technology as well as cutting-edge technology. It is ideally made for law enforcement and sporting. Its features are:

Display and Construction

It has an 800 by 600 SVGA optics display with 336 by 256-pixel array. It is a 60Hz model hence ensures smooth target tracking even when moving. This night vision scope has high-resolution thermal light imaging, which is made possible by its analog input and output format.

Digital Video Recorder

The feature enables you to record your shooting events as they unfold. You can, therefore, watch the clips later on as they are stored in an SD card which also comes with the device. There is also an onboard replay feature.

Water Resistant

In case you hunt in places where it rains often, then this night vision scope will work well for you. It is made of water-resistant materials. You can enjoy a sport or even hunt without worrying it will get damaged.

Remote Control

If you prefer to set up your device then operate it remotely, then this night vision scope is a good fit for you. It comes with remote control, enabling you to use it from a safe distance. This feature makes it ideal for tactical operations.

PROS

  • Top quality performance
  • FLIR thermal imaging camera
  • Comes with additional external power supply
  • Easy to use
  • Great range
  • Powerful magnification

CONS

  • Its shipping weight is high
  • No inbuilt rangefinder

Our Rating

3.9/5
This night vision scope is suited for a varmint hunter or a demanding sports shooter. It provides excellent observation, aiming and acquisition capabilities. Its features include:

Integrated Laser Rangefinder

The feature makes the device ideal for precise shooting. It has a range of up to 500m, allowing you to measure the distance in one measuring mode. The integrated laser rangefinder also has a scanning mode with a one-meter precision.

Selectable Reticle Options

It has 4 inbuilt electronic reticles that are digitally introduced to the field of view. Each reticle is designed to suit different configurations and purposes. You can also adjust the brightness to a level that you find suitable. The reticle selection ability provides you with more options that cater to specific vision optics needs.

Built-In Infrared Illuminator

It has a laser infrared illuminator that is removable. It also complies with 1st class laser safety regulations. The IR illuminator also features a three-step power adjustment.

Battery Power

It runs on one AA battery and has a battery life of 30 hours. You do not have to worry about the battery running out unexpectedly. There is an indicator that will alert as soon as the battery starts running out. It is, however, advisable to carry extra batteries with you if your activities run for several days.

Waterproof

The external materials used to make the device are water-resistant. This night vision scope is, therefore, ideal for rainy seasons or in regions that receive rainfall regularly. You can enjoy using it without fearing some parts will rust or even break down.

PROS

  • Automatic brightness control
  • Water and fog resistant
  • External surface has a non-reflective matte finish
  • Top-notch performance
  • Easy to customize
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • Heavy
  • Batteries do not last long

Our Rating

3.8/5
It is designed for nighttime observation and hunting. The device is a passive starlight device, meaning it does not require an artificial IR light source. It is designed for both short and medium range shooting. Its features are:

Weight

This scope is light. This is because the outside body is made of titanium. Other parts, like the battery cover, are made of plastic to ensure it is not heavy. This makes it easy to carry around and operate when hunting or playing a sport. Also, there is no chance of your arms going numb when using it.

In-Built IR Illuminator

Although it does not need it, this inbuilt feature helps to enhance viewing capabilities. It comes in handy, especially when maneuvering in extremely dark places. The IR illuminator also assists in ensuring the images produced are of high quality and resolution.

Stable Power Supply

The night raider has a stabilized power supply. It provides uninterrupted operation during shooting as it resists heavy recoil. The power is enough to last you hours out in the fields. You also do not have to worry about it running out to fast.

Objective Lens Cover

The objective lens is protected from harsh environmental and climatic factors. The cover is a flip-flop hence easy to open when need be, and close. This cover, also, has a pinhole that allows you to test the scope. It is secured in place with a rubber fastener.

Adjustable Controls

Although all controls are stable, you can adjust them to suit your needs or environment. One of the features you can easily control with this device is the brightness level.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Durable titanium body
  • High-quality image and resolution
  • Powerful magnification
  • Stable battery life
  • High quality infrared illuminator

CONS

  • Can be tricky for beginners

Types of Night Vision Scopes

The development of rifle scopes has progressed through different stages. Night vision rifle scopes are thus grouped into phases known as generations. The best night vision scopes that you can get are thus first-generation scopes (gen 1), second-generation scopes (gen 2), third-generation scopes (gen 3), or fourth-generation scopes (gen 4). All these generations of scopes are available but the technology used to develop them progressed from gen 1 to gen 4. Generations of night vision riflescopes are differentiated by the intensifier technology which determines the quality of the images.

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)

Fourth-generation scopes are classified as the best night vision scopes. With such a scope, one is able to see images with greater detail. These scopes are also able to pick changes in the environment when they occur. Gen 4 scopes are not readily available and they are used in highly tactical situations like raids by the military. They are not available to civilians as one does not need such image clarity for recreation and professional activities.

Choosing the best Night Vision Scope

Choosing the best night vision scope is not easy especially if you are doing it for the first time. There are few things that you need to consider when making a purchase and when you fail to do that, you will end up with a unit that does not meet your nighttime hobby or professional requirements. To help you in this regard, we highlight some of the important considerations that you have to make when buying the best night vision scopes so as to make it easy for you to navigate the dark.

Quality glass

The quality of the glass used to make the night vision scope matters a lot. It helps determine how brightly the image will be enhanced through light transmission and this is why you need to ensure that you get a night vision scope made of great quality glass if you want to experience clear images when hunting at night.

Budget

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.

Clarity

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.

Range Capacity

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.

Durability

Durability is another factor you need to consider when buying the best night vision scope as you will be using it in a difficult environment with lots of twigs and rocks. The best night vision scope you buy should have a sturdy build that will allow it to withstand the tough conditions outside. You may also find yourself hunting in the rain and as such, the night vision scope you get should be weatherproof to ensure that the delicate internal components don’t get damaged by the outdoor weather elements.

Reticle

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.

Battery Type

Night vision scopes run on battery power. The type and size of the night vision scope battery are very important as they determine how you will be able to use the scope. The battery life determines how long you will be able to use the scope before you have to recharge the battery. The battery type determines how easy it will be for you to find a replacement in case it gets damaged. If you think you will need extra batteries soon, then you should get batteries that are readily available.

Day and Night use

Some night vision scopes can be used at night and during the day as well. Most of these scopes that have a dual operation, however, require a manual change of operation modes so bear this in mind should you get one of these day or night scopes. It is also important to note that these dual-mode day or night scopes are bulky and it could be a challenge to aim them properly.

Magnification

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.

FAQs

Any scope with a range of about 500 yards is ideal for coyote hunting. Such a scope will provide you with sufficient clarity and you will be able to identify the target clearly and make a clean shot from a distance.
Night vision scopes have been designed to be used at night and as such, they are not suitable for daytime use. The night vision scopes that can be used during the day are those with dual functionality. Such scopes allow users to switch between day and night modes manually or automatically.
Yes, it is. Night vision scopes do not emit harmful radiation and as such, they will not harm you in any way.
Night scopes amplify light and as such, they cannot be used in pitch black conditions. The best device to use in such conditions is an illuminator.
If the night vision scope doesn’t have dual-dual mode operation, then it will be damaged by the excessive exposure to light.
If you have a question or comment on this topic, leave your name, email, and personal website and we will get back to you. Happy Shopping!