Night scopes are becoming more popular on what seems a daily basis. From technology that was first high-grade military, is now available for any shooter who can afford a conventional shooting scope.
A night vision rifle scope now makes it easier for any hunter to take on prey in their natural habitats and environments.
Where it used to be hunting had to come to an end during early morning hours or late in the evening.
Here are a the top night vision scope reviews to help you choose the very best, and help you enhance your hunting experience.
- What Are Night Vision Scopes?
- Top Night Vision Scope Reviews
- 1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope
- 2. Armasight Nemesis6x-SD Gen 2+ Night Vision Rifle Scope w/6x Magnification
- 3. ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope w/1080p Video, Ballistic Calculator, Rangefinder, WiFi, E-Compass, GPS, Barometer, IOS & Android Apps
- 4. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x 42mm Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope, Black
- 5. Yukon Nvrs Titanium 2.5X50 Varmint Hunter Night Vision Riflescope
- What to Look For When Buying Night Vision Scopes
- Final Verdict
What Are Night Vision Scopes?
Night scopes come in two types. This can have a bearing on what kind of scope is suitable for you depending on the type of hunting area you will be in.
Night vision scopes still require a light source to obtain an image. In a lot of cases, the moon and stars will provide enough light for the illumination of your target. The correct term for night vision is image intensification night vision.
The images obtained of your target appear more natural apart from the color tint you generally see. This technology is quite robust and handles rifle recoil quite well. There is one drawback with this type of scope.
The image intensification tubes that are used for the external light source can become damaged if exposed to bright lights.
Due to their sensitivity, a night vision scope attachment of this type, can’t be used during the day.
The second is a thermal night vision scope. This type of scope detects radiation, so it picks up on the heat. The higher the temperature, the more radiation an object will emit.
These thermal optics don’t require an external light source for illumination, they only need a heat source which is higher than the surroundings. This enables you to see prey through dense fog, or in the undergrowth.
One drawback though is you won’t have a clear, definite image of what you are aiming at. It can take practice, and they are not really suitable for hunting for beginners as a result.
Both types do have their pros and cons, and with reading the following reviews, you can make your decision and not find yourself left in the dark.
Top Night Vision Scope Reviews
1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope
This Sightmark review takes a look at what is without a doubt one of the best night vision scopes you can get for mid-range hunting. Rather than being a scope which is good at this distance, it has been designed specifically for this range.
Details are clear at around 120 yards, and for the highest results possible, the scope includes a built-in infrared illuminator.
- Suitable for day and night use.
- Built-in 810 LED IR (Infrared) Illuminator.
- Shockproof and weatherproof.
- Sightmark Photon is highly versatile – Can be used for crossbows and rifles.
- Digital interface – gives data on wind direction, elevation and adjustments for an accurate shot.
- 33% longer battery life (4 hours) than other average battery scopes.
- Comes with video output feature – allows the capturing bright images in night or day situations.
- 3-year limited Sightmark scopes warranty
- The device has no remote control
- The scope only comes in black
- Some units have been found to be poorly constructed
- Plenty of reticle choices – six digital reticle options for rifle or crossbow shooting. Comes in red, white and green.
- Sightmark magnifier delivers 4.6x magnification
- 42mm lens with high 640 x 480 resolution camera
- Weaver rail mount for a scope and secondary mount for accessories
- Composite glass-nylon construction
- The scope has a quick start-up time
- Detection Range of 120 meters
- Lightweight – 23.60 ounces
- Dimensions – 17.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches
The Sightmark scope comes with all the capability of a Gen 1 night vision scope and plenty more features that are a surprise.
This could make it the best night vision scope under $500. For any hunter who is looking for a scope that will last a full hunting stint, this is more than ideal, and with the high detail offered, it can be all you need in your night scope to make an accurate shot.
This scope might be highly affordable, but it should never be just called a cheap night vision rifle scope.
2. Armasight Nemesis6x-SD Gen 2+ Night Vision Rifle Scope w/6x Magnification
Being a Gen 2 night vision device, the Armasight Nemesis comes from the same family as other high-quality Armasight thermal scope products.
It also offers lots of power for the modern day hunter. It is also used by many sports shooters and law enforcement officers. The scope easily mounts to a weaver rail and comes with illuminate reticles as you would expect.
It has been designed to act like a regular rifle scope for extended distances, but it has the ability to be a night vision scope for rifles to hunt at night or in low light conditions.
- Comes with powerful 6x magnification.
- Engineered with high-quality Generation 2+ night vision technology.
- Anti-shock-protected optics.
- Easy to use.
- Comes with waterproof housing.
- Adequate eye relief.
- Impressive battery life of 60 hours.
- Can be remotely controlled.
- Multicoated lens to reduce reflections.
- Nemesis backed-up with a two-year warranty.
- Day or night use.
- No additional batteries
- No carrying case
- Limited reticle options – only one available
- Only available in Black
- Picatinny/Weaver mount.
- Dimensions – 15.3 x 4 x 2.8 inches
- Eye relief of 46mm
- Aircraft aluminum construction
- Auto brightness control module
- Suited for hunting at extended ranges. Focus range 25mm to infinity
- Illuminated center placed red cross reticle for optimal contrast
- Flip-up back-up iron sights
- Detachable infrared(IR) illuminator
For shooters who are looking for night vision rifle scopes for long-range shooting without opting for an Armasight thermal scope.
This product from their renowned family can be a cheaper alternative. Compared to other night vision scopes, it does pack quite a punch in features, and for a scope that falls in the $1500 plus range, it might be out of the range of many weekend hunters.
At this price, you would be comparing the best thermal scope for the money, to something which doesn’t have this feature.
It is packed with features, but many can be found elsewhere.
3. ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope w/1080p Video, Ballistic Calculator, Rangefinder, WiFi, E-Compass, GPS, Barometer, IOS & Android Apps
The multitude of ATN night vision scope reviews you can find for this scope all sing its praises of the features it offers.
While it might be heralded as the best night vision scope under $1000, we will see if it compares to the best.
With the ability to be a full digital night vision scope it can almost cancel out any human error in your shot, it can take some of the enjoyment away from hunting.
- Highly durable construction
- It is quite easy to use.
- Produces crystal clear images.
- Comes with GPS for elevation and geotagging.
- Records sound with a microphone
- Connects to Android or Apple using ATN Obsidian app via Wi-Fi.
- ATN night vision scope comes with manufacturer 2-year warranty.
- Night and day use
- Records 1080p video, Companion app
- GPS, smart range finder and E-compass
- Auto Zoom
- ATN X Sight consumes too much battery
- Heavy construction
- Night capability not as good as other brands
- Does not come with batteries
- Only weather resistant not weatherproof
- Optics – 85mm lens
- 5x – 20x magnification and 6.5-degree field of view
- Size – 7 x 2.9 x 3.1 inches
- Weight – 2.55 lbs. including batteries
- Patent-pending smart rangefinder
- Picatinny rifle scope mount
While the ATN x-sight ii 5-20x day and night riflescope does come with a lot of features, it is lacking with not being a thermal imaging scope. If it was this type of night scope, then it could pretty much take the number one spot despite its cons.
Unfortunately, bells and whistles of features aren’t all that goes into making the ATN night vision riflescope the best choice. ATN scopes are a highly regarded brand, but this model might not offer the best for beginners or hunters who enjoy the thrill.
4. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x 42mm Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope, Black
The Firefield night vision scope doesn’t offer a vast range of features, but what it does offer is a robust construction while being highly affordable.
It is best used at close to mid-range targets, and much of this is reflected in its mid-$450 price range.
It has been designed specifically for rugged night time shooting, and this it can do in near pitch darkness.
- Illuminated red reticle with adjustable brightness to cope with many conditions.
- Built-in IR illuminator and body made of titanium.
- Quick detach weaver mount system.
- Accurate at medium to long-range shooting.
- Warranty: Customer service or seller.
- Excellent battery life – 50 hours without IR, or 20 hours with IR
- Magnification should be improved
- Users state mount not stable
- Quick release mechanism might not work correctly
- 3X Magnification and multicoated optics
- 42mm lens
- Constructed from titanium.
- 14-degree field of view.
- Built-in infrared illumination.
- Dimensions – 9 x 3.2 x 3.4 inches.
- Powered by 2 Lithium-ion batteries
- Gen 1 Scope technology
This Firefield scope review saw performance is pretty much unmatched for mid-ranged shooting.
Although the magnification is only 3X, you should still be able to hit a 3-inch target at 100 yards. One drawback is that it is specifically for night use, so if you are shooting or hunting you would need to change scopes.
This being said, for a cheap night vision scope of this standard, as with all Firefield scopes, you do get a very rugged unit that can withstand some heavy night-time hog shooting.
5. Yukon Nvrs Titanium 2.5X50 Varmint Hunter Night Vision Riflescope
This Yukon night vision scopes review looks at this affordable riflescope which is durable, rugged and lightweight in construction. It offers a powerful 2.5x magnification which is great for up close varmint shooting.
The light gathering properties are excellent from the f1.4 lens. Because of this and the unit’s lightweight, it can easily be used as just a night vision spotter scope.
Many night scopes are limited to certain types of rifles, but with the titanium rifle action clearance for bolt action rifles, it can bring night time shooting too many more keen hunters.
- Lightweight and durable titanium body
- On/Off and IR On/Off remote control
- Coated lenses
- Adjustable red-on-green reticle
- Water resistant
- Long mountable for bolt action rifles
- Works with both still and video images
- Built-in pulse infrared illuminator
- Yukon scopes Limited Lifetime Warranty.
- Sales restricted to California or outside the USA
- Hard for left-handed shooters to use
- Field of view can make it difficult to aim with one hand
- Magnification 2.5X
- 50mm lens
- Focus range 7 to infinity
- Eye relief 45mm
- Detection distance – up to 230 yards, IR illumination effective 100 yards.
- Dimensions 10×3.1×3.3 inches
- Weight 31 ounces
- Weaver rail mount
- Precision wind and elevation adjustments
With the enhanced optics of the Yukon night vision scope, you get much clearer images which are further enhanced by the inbuilt infrared illumination.
This also goes a long way in stretching the shooting distance in total darkness. With the wind and elevation adjustments, this Yukon night vision scopes review sees qualities that will make any hunting trip, all the more fruitful.
Although it lacks a lot of features as other night scopes, for a guide price of less than $450, it can be one of the most affordable full specification night vision scopes out there.
What to Look For When Buying Night Vision Scopes
When looking for a night vision scope, there are a few things you need to look out for. Here is a brief rundown of what you should look for to get the very best for your money.
Types of Night Vision
All night vision devices will convert any traces of visible light, and that close to near-infrared. Many night vision scopes are classified as passive or active. This is just a way of saying if they add to the available light. This is seen with the use of an infrared beam that will illuminate the target.
The second type of night vision is as we saw earlier thermal imaging. This detects thermal infrared and then builds up an image from the source.
This can change dramatically depending on the night scopes purpose. For closer shooting, the scopes will be of a much smaller design, but ones which are for long range and come with built-in infrared illuminators compared to external tubes, these will become much larger, and with this comes more weight and bulkiness.
When this happens, a night vision scope can easily be banged against a tree, or the back of a vehicle depending on the type of shooting.
Fitment to a weapon is also crucial because not all guns are the same, any scope needs to have a night vision scope adapter which allows it to be interchanged between many different guns or crossbows.
One element of design which is often overlooked is when a night vision scope is used for an alternative purpose. Rather than having night goggles, a good night scope can double up on its function.
Weight can also be an issue if you are aiming free-hand as a heavy scope will affect how you can hold your rifle or crossbow.
When there are more features, the usability of the device can actually reduce. This will be seen if you are stalking. Carrying a heavy night scope on your rifle for a couple of hours can really make a difference in your chance of hitting the target.
Although your target will be illuminated by an infrared beam, the most crucial thing that allows you to see what is in front of you is the lenses. The night vision lenses are almost identical to the one used on high spec cameras. The better the lens and it’s light gathering capabilities, the more of the scene you can see without additional illumination.
The way to understand this is, the lower the “f” number rating, the more light your night scope can gather. A good example being f1.4 is better at receiving light than one which is f2.4.
On top of this is the resolution and the FOV (Field of View). FOV is measured as an angle is basically how much you can see in front of you and what you are aiming at.
A larger FOV means you will be able to see more compared to a smaller number being a narrower field of view where you can see less.
The resolution will give a clearer image depending on if it is a high resolution compared to a low one. This is measured in lines per millimeter (lp/mm). The higher the number, the more clear your image.
More expensive night scopes use thermal optics, and although these can help spot prey in adverse conditions, they don’t give a clear picture of what you are aiming at. This can be an acquired taste to add to your hunter equipment, but for many, it takes away the enjoyment.
In most instances, an infrared scope will have a lower range than a regular rifle scope. Knowing
this, the crucial factor is the recognition range. What this means is the distance you can clearly make out your target.
This is why there are some night scopes which are designed for closer distances. A scope that has a longer recognition distance will need better optics, better magnification, and better illumination. With this is a vast increase in cost.
For the average shooter, there is no need to go to these lengths. This value is also somewhat subjective, and it does depend on the available light where you or the target is. The brighter the surroundings, the further the recognition distance.
Focusing beyond what a lens is capable of can also make what you see deteriorate considerably. It will quickly blur, and any detail will be lost.
On top of any knocks and bangs a night scope might encounter, there is the actual construction to consider.
This can include the materials they are made from, and also if they are waterproof or merely weather resistant.
It should also be taken into consideration how the optics are protected as well as any electrical components.
When you are choosing a night vision scope that you know will be subject to wet weather, you need to select one which is waterproof and is made from corrosion resistant materials.
These can include titanium and aluminum which are both lightweight and corrosion resistant, and also man-made composite materials which can provide a stronger casing for your scope.
After a lot of testing in many conditions and situations, all of the above scopes are evaluated. Each element was rated to see which is the best night vision scope for the money.
It is okay having a scope which has lots of features, but if you are just after a rugged night scope that will enable you to have some fun, then these features add nothing apart from extra cost.
With all this in mind, the ultimate choice out of the above night scopes can produce only one winner.
For this, the Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope was chosen because it filled plenty of needs, and ticked all the right boxes without any added frills.
This scope is durable, weatherproof and can be used for both day and night time use. With the in-built infrared illumination, images are clear, and the range it offers is more than satisfactory.
This night scope is also robust and weatherproof and light enough so it can be the best crossbow night vision scope on the market.
There are hardly any downsides to this scope, but, if anything does go wrong, you have the 3-year manufacturer’s warranty to fall back on.
For the money and the features, it carries more weight than a lot of other scopes which cost double the price.