7 Best Night Vision Scopes – Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Night Vision Scope

A night vision scope is one of the most useful accessories for nighttime hunters and for doing some target practice at night, and it is widely used for hunting wild boar and exterminating pesky varmints.

These scopes have been in use since the late 1930s, and the technology is always changing and improving. Hence, finding the best night vision scope for you will require you to understand what they are all about.

However, you do not have to be a gun expert or understand all the technicalities of a night vision to choose one. All it takes is to understand important things like magnification, generations and focus range.

But, because night vision scopes are a little more complicated than the traditional day rifle scope, you need to take extra precaution when shopping for one.

Here we explain the important things to consider when shopping and review 7 top rated night vision scopes for recommendations.

You can also read other product reviews such as rifle scope, rimfire scope, sniper scope, thermal scope, spotting scope

7 Best Night Vision Scopes – Reviews

Image

Product Name

Magnification

Gen

Rating

Current Price

Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT Night Vision Scope

1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT Night Vision Scope

4.6x

Digital

4.2

Firefield FF16001 NVRS Night Vision Scope

2. Firefield FF16001 NVRS Night Vision Scope

3x

Gen 1

4.0

Armasight Nemesis Night Vision Scope

3. Armasight Nemesis Night Vision Scope

6x

Gen 2+

4.8

ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Scope

4. ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Scope

5-20x

Digital

4.3

Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Night Vision Scope

5. Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Night Vision Scope

4.5x

Digital

4.5

ushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Scope

6. Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Scope

4.5x

Digital

4.1

Yukon NVRS Titanium Night Vision Scope

7. Yukon NVRS Titanium Night Vision Scope

2.5x

Gen 1

4.0

1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT – Best Night Vision Scope for Day and Night Use

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 4.6x
  • Generation: Digital
  • Objective Diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Weight: 23.6 ounces

Sightmark Photon XT has been designed to be a great scope for both day and night time use, and it uses a digital reticle that delivers 6 styles for increased versatility.

The scope offers a high-resolution display to ensure that you always get a clear enough sight picture for easy aiming and accurate shooting.

Also, the scope has a built-in LED IR illuminator that will allow you to use it even in the darkest days and with its handy video output features, you can easily record everything that you see when hunting.

This scope also has a longer eye relief than most others among our night vision scope reviews to ensure more comfortable shooting. And the scope also has a solid and streamlined body that is designed to be shock and weatherproof.

Although the field of view seems to be a little narrower, it should still be wide enough for comfortable shooting in almost any condition.

Pros:

  • Precise digital adjustments
  • Variety of reticle options for increased versatility
  • Handy video output feature
  • Solid and streamlined overall design
  • Long eye relief

Cons:

  • Narrower field of view at close range
  • Front focus dial is a little awkward

2. Firefield FF16001 NVRS – Best Night Vision Scope Under $400

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Firefield FF16001 NVRS Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 3x
  • Generation: Gen 1
  • Objective Diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Weight: 30.7 ounces

This Firefield scope is designed to allow you to hunt comfortably even in the darkest nights. And it achieves this using a built-in high power IR illuminator that enhances the image details while also increasing the view range.

With this scope, you also get a quick detach weaver mount that makes it easy to change the optics or even switch to iron sights while still maintaining the zero reset reliability.

This scope is also our best night vision scope for the money given that it is an under $400 that comes in a solid but lightweight titanium body and will deliver high image quality and resolution.

Other things that ensure you get great value for cash include the weather-resistant housing that makes it usable in any weather, and it also comes with some handy flip-up lens covers.

Although the included mounting hardware might not be the best quality, for an under $400 night vision scope, it should still be good enough and you can still be sure that it works well.

Pros:

  • Durable but lightweight body
  • Built-in and high power illuminator
  • Quick detach mount included
  • Top-notch image quality and resolution
  • Relatively more affordable

Cons:

  • Mounting hardware is not very good
  • A little too reflective for indoor use

3. Armasight Nemesis6x-SD – Best Long Range Night Vision Scope

Editor's Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Armasight Nemesis Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Generation: Gen 2+
  • Objective Diameter: 160 millimeters
  • Weight: 67.2 ounces

For the shooters and hunters that find themselves in situations where they need to have a greater distance between them and the target, the Armasight Nemesis will be a perfect scope

This top-rated night vision scope has a lot to offer besides its long-range capabilities. And this includes a detachable infrared illuminator.

Also, it has a unique adjustable brightness reticle with automatic brightness control and some well-defined but extremely thin crosshairs.

The scope has a solid aircraft aluminum construction that is designed to offer complete water and shock protection. And many shooters will love the simple and easy to operate controls and adjustments.

Being the priciest item on our list, some gun enthusiasts might shy away from buying it, but the price is only a reflection of the quality of the scope and what it has to offer and hence not a deal breaker.

Pros:

  • Simple and easy to operate  controls
  • Completely waterproof housing
  • Automatic brightness control
  • Well-defined crosshairs
  • Durable aircraft aluminum construction

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • A bit on the heavier side

4. ATN X-Sight II HD – Best Under $1,000 Night Visions Scope

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Scope
  • Magnification: 5-20x
  • Generation: Digital
  • Objective Diameter: 50 millimeters
  • Weight: 34.4 ounces

Given its smart and feature-rich design, the ATN X-Sight II HD is our best night vision scope under $1,000 and it even outperforms many over $1,000 models currently on the market.

This scope is designed to be ideal for both day and night use and it uses smart HD optics to deliver high resolution and blurry-free images.

With its built-in rangefinder, this scope will also give you an easier time when hunting as you will not need any additional equipment for ranging. And it also has a quick and accurate ballistic calculator to ensure you hit the target even on your first attempt.

The E-zoom is a great addition to the scope as it makes it possible to magnify the target without affecting your field of view. Many users will also love that the scope is ideal for both HD video recording and photo taking.

Many shooters will find that this night vision scope uses up the battery quite fast, but this should be expected given its many features, and it still lasts for many hours.

Pros:

  • High resolution and blurry-free images
  • Built-in rangefinder
  • Smarter and more efficient zoom system
  • Quick and accurate ballistic calculator
  • Also ideal for video/photo taking

Cons:

  • Uses up battery quite fast
  • Focus knob takes a lot of effort to turn

5. Sightmark SM18016 – Best Smart Night Vision Scope

Editor's Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 4.5x
  • Generation: Digital
  • Objective Diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Weight: 30.7 ounces

With Sightmark’s Photon RT, you can be sure of getting crystal clear images whether you are shooting at night or in the day. And it makes use of an LCD display and CMOS sensor to make sure you get the best sight picture.

The scope is designed for versatility as it includes 6 reticle options with 4 different colors for use in almost any environment.

Zeroing in the scope is also straightforward thanks to the highly useful one-shot zeroing function. Picking far targets is easy with this scope as it has a digital zoom control and with the built-in IR illuminator, shooting at night will be easier and more productive.

The design of this scope is also completely shockproof and water-resistant, and it has a built-in video and sound recording for increased versatility and up to 3 hours of battery life.

Eye relief seems to be a bit restrictive when compared to what others in its class but it will still be enough for safe and comfortable shooting.

Pros:

  • Multiple reticle options
  • Shockproof and water-resistant
  • Invisible built-in illuminator
  • Longer battery life
  • Built-in video and sound recording

Cons:

  • Eye relief is a bit restrictive
  • A bit on the expensive side

6. Bushnell Equinox Z – Best Inexpensive Night Vision Scope

Editor's Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

ushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 4.5x
  • Generation: Digital
  • Objective Diameter: 40 millimeters
  • Weight: 22 ounces

Anyone looking for the best night vision scope for coyote hunting or even one for bigger game like wild hogs but does not want to spend a lot of cash, Bushnell's Equinox Z is the perfect pick.

The scope is the cheapest on our list, but besides its smallest price tag, it still has a lot of features which includes a reliable IR illumination with adjustable brightness.

It uses some high-performing optics that will deliver outstanding optical clarity in low light conditions and is still ideal for use during the day.

With this scope, you also get a wider field of view, and given its more affordable price tag, it will also deliver an extremely long battery life. The scope also has other additional features like video recording and image capturing.

Generally, this scope is a little larger and bulkier, but the good news is that it is still compact enough for mounting on almost any hunting rifle.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Wide field of view
  • Outstanding optical clarity
  • Image capture and video recording capability
  • More affordable

Cons:

  • LCD screen is a little too bright
  • Large and bulkier

7. Yukon YK26013WL – Best Night Vision Scope for Varmint Hunting

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Yukon NVRS Titanium Night Vision Scope
  • Magnification: 2.5x
  • Generation: Gen 1
  • Objective Diameter: 50 millimeters
  • Weight: 31 ounces

Although not the cheapest on our night vision scope reviews, Yukon's NVRS Varmint hunter is still a reasonably priced scope given its overall construction and feature-rich design.

One of its most impressive features is the pulse infrared illuminator that is handy in enhancing image brightness and range even when shooting in total darkness.

This night vision scope also features a durable titanium body that makes it rugged enough to withstand the harsh outdoor environment.

With high-quality and multicoated optics, this scope will always deliver bright and crisp enough images. It also has some easy and precise windage/elevation adjustments and will come with a long mount to accommodate a wide range of rifles including bolt action rifles.

This scope might seem a bit large and top heavy, but 31 ounces is still relatively lightweight and lighter than many similar scopes out there.

Pros:

  • Durable titanium body
  • Accommodate a variety of rifle types
  • High-quality multicoated optics
  • Easy and precise windage/elevation adjustments
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • A bit large and top heavy

Night Vision vs. Thermal Scopes

​Night Vision vs. Thermal Scopes

If you are on the market for optics for use at night when hunting, you will often need to decide whether to go for night vision or thermal scopes. While professional hunters already know what works for them, the same cannot be said for occasional and beginner hunters.

However, before you shell out your hard earned cash to buy either of them, it is important to understand what each has to offer and its pros and cons.

Night Vision Scope

Night vision scopes work by amplifying existing light to give a shooter a clearer sight picture in pitch darkness.

In some instances, light from the moon and stars is enough for a night vision scope to work but modern ones will have an infrared illuminator to ensure you do not have to rely on these natural light sources.

Unlike thermal scopes, night vision scopes will provide a more natural and detailed image, and they are also designed to be more rugged and able to withstand heavy recoil.

Also, with a night vision scope, you get a larger field of view, and it is also way more affordable than a thermal scope. However, the target can easily be obscured when there is dust, shadows or camouflage.

Pros:

  • Relatively more affordable
  • More natural image
  • Tougher and more rugged
  • Larger field of view

Cons:

  • Cannot be used without light source
  • Target is easily obscured by shadows, dust or camouflage

Thermal Scopes

Thermal scopes use a more advanced technology than the night vision scopes, and they work by detecting the heat or radiation generated by the game which is typically higher than its surroundings.

Because these scopes are designed to detect radiation, they will not require visible light to provide an image which makes them ideal for use in pitch darkness.

Also, these scopes can make out small animals hidden in deep brush or even when there is thick fog. But on the flip side, these scopes are generally heavier, more expensive and the thermal image they create is not very detailed.

Pros:

  • Does not require a visible light to work
  • Can make out small animals in thick brush
  • Usable in almost any environment

Cons:

  • Larger and heavier
  • Less clear image
  • Quite pricey

Buying Advice: If you are looking for more affordable nighttime optics that you can use even in extreme cold and is rugged enough to withstand heavy recoil, the night vision scope is a great choice. But, if you mostly hunt deep in the mountains and other conditions where there is no ambient light or where there is heavy fog or deep brush cover, a thermal scope will be more ideal.

How to Buy the Best Night Vision Scopes

How to Buy the Best Night Vision Scopes

A good night vision scope can make a huge difference whether you are hunting or prefer to practice shooting at night. While there are many good ones on the market, to make sure that you get something that will work for you, it is important to consider the following things.

1. Magnification

Some night visions scopes will not have any magnification at all. And this is because their intended purpose is to allow you to see after dark where magnification can result in poor image quality.

But, magnification can still come in handy when shooting from long range but try not to go for something above 10x. A higher magnification power than this might not be very useful, and it will also translate to a heavier and more expensive scope.

Night visions scopes with lower magnification settings like 3x and 5x and those with a variable magnification range are the most common and seem to work for most shooters and hunters.

2. Generations

Night visions scopes are usually categorized in generations based on the technology that they use and they range from generation 1 to 4.

Generation 1 – These are the cheapest night visions scopes and with a range of 75 yards. They have a relatively shorter battery life but there is also an improved version of these scopes which is the Gen 1+. Also, these scopes are heavily reliant of IR illuminators and lower in clarity and resolution.

Generation 2 – With an effective range of up to 200 yards, these scopes are much better than the Gen 1 models, and they also offer better image clarity and resolution. Some can also function without IR illuminators and they are generally more durable than Gen 1 scopes.

Generation 3 – Gen 3 night visions scope are military grade technology, and this explains why they come at a higher price tag. They have a sight range of at least 300 yards, up to 10,000 hours of battery life, excellent performance in low light and high image resolution.

Generation 4 – Technically, the Gen 4 scopes are just filmless or unfilmed Gen 3 night vision scopes. One can also rightfully describe them as an enhanced version of the other generations put together in the Gen 3 scope but with the capability to react automatically to light fluctuations. And this makes it ideal for both low and high light level conditions.

3. Focus Range

A night vision scope will have a lower range than the regular scopes, but what matters is the recognition range which is the range where you can expect to be able to identify the target clearly.

Night vision scope manufacturers will specify the recognition range for certain conditions like starlight, full moon, quarter moon, and overcast sky.

While the longer the recognition range the better, the right scope for you depends on the conditions you intend to use it. For example, a scope might have a 500-yard recognition range for full moon but only 100 yards for an overcast sky.

4. Clarity

A scope’s clarity is vital for both hunting and tactical applications. If the scope is not clear enough, you cannot identify the target and hence shooting will be hard.

For night vision scopes, the image resolution will be measured in LP/MM (lines per millimeter) and the higher the number the greater the image clarity will be. Typically, anything between 60 and 70 should be good enough

Also, the glass types used to make the lens and the type and number of coatings will have an effect on the clarity. The higher the coatings the better as it ensures you get a brighter and clearer sight picture.

5. Day and Night Use

While some night vision scopes are exclusively for use at night, some are more versatile and will also be ideal for use during the day.

A versatile scope that provides a clear sight picture both during the day and night might cost a little more than a night only one, but it still offers a better value than buying separate scopes for day and night use.

Things like the lenses types used, magnification power and IR illuminators are some of the key determinants of when you can use the scope.

But, the good news is that most night vision scopes can still be used during the day with a few adjustments that mostly entail changing the lenses.

6. Price

Like with all other scopes types and gun accessories, night visions scopes will come in different price ranges. The best night vision scope for hunting or shooting practice needs to fit your budget to be ideal for you.

The amount that you invest on your night vision scope should be determined by how often you use your rifle. It does not make sense to buy an expensive scope that you will only use countable times per year.

Some basic night visions scopes can retail for a little over $200, but high-end ones with more advanced features will require you to part with upwards of $1,000.

7. Legality

Some jurisdictions have very strict regulations when it comes to hunting, and besides prohibiting certain rifle types, they will not allow for particular scope types.

Hence, before you buy a night vision scope, you need to make sure that it will be legal to use in your locality or where you intend to hunt.

The same is also the case for competitive shooters as it will be a waste of cash if you end up with something that you cannot use.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that a night vision scope will help improve your nighttime shooting accuracy greatly and even make the experience more fun.

With this piece to help you out, finding the best night vision scope should now be easy as we explain the important things to consider and also review 7 top performing models.

Lastly, also remember that night vision scopes can be hard on your eye, and so as interesting as using one might be, always make sure that you take regular breaks.

Allen Ethan