7 Best Night Vision Scopes of 2020

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.

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 make things easier with a comprehensive buying guide and reviews of 7 top rated night vision scopes for recommendations.

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

7 Best Night Vision Scopes – Reviews

IMAGE

​PRODUCT

​FEATURES

Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT Night Vision Scope

1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT (Best Overall Night Vision Scope)

  • Great for both day and night use
  • Versatile digital reticle
  • Video output feature
  • Longer 60mm eye relief
Firefield FF16001 NVRS Night Vision Scope

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

  • More budget friendly night vision scope
  • Powerful infrared illuminator
  • Quick detach mount
  • Weatherproof housing
  • Flip-up lens covered included
Armasight Nemesis6x-SD

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

  • Accurate and reliable long-range use
  • Detachable infrared illuminator
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum housing
  • Straightforward to use controls
ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Scope

4. ATN X-Sight II HD (Best Variable Magnification Night Vision Scope)

  • Variable magnification for increased versatility
  • Clear and high-resolution images
  • Built-in rangefinder
  • Also takes photos and records HD videos
Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Night Vision Scope

5. Sightmark SM18016 (Smart and Efficient Night Vision Scope)

  • Smarter and more feature-rich design
  • Built-in infrared illuminator
  • 6 reticle options with different colors
  • Water-resistant and shockproof
ushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Scope

6. Bushnell Equinox Z (Reliable and Feature-Rich Hunting Scope)

  • Efficient and reliable scope for nighttime hunting
  • More affordable scope
  • Outstanding optical clarity
  • Wider field of view
  • Relatively longer battery life
Yukon YK26013WL

7. Yukon YK26013WL (Durable Scope with a Nice Illuminator)

  • Sturdy titanium body
  • Pulse infrared illuminator
  • High-quality multicoated optics
  • Highly precise and simple adjustments

PRODUCT

1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT

(Best Overall Night Vision Scope)

Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT Night Vision Scope
  • Great for both day and night use
  • Versatile digital reticle
  • Video output feature
  • Longer 60mm eye relief

2. Firefield FF16001 NVRS

(Best Night Vision Scope Under $400)

Firefield FF16001 NVRS Night Vision Scope
  • More budget friendly night vision scope
  • Powerful infrared illuminator
  • Quick detach mount
  • Weatherproof housing
  • Flip-up lens covered included

3. Armasight Nemesis6x-SD

(Best Long Range Night Vision Scope)

Armasight Nemesis6x-SD
  • Accurate and reliable long-range use
  • Detachable infrared illuminator
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum housing
  • Straightforward to use controls

4. ATN X-Sight II HD

(Best Variable Magnification Night Vision Scope)

ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Scope
  • Variable magnification for increased versatility
  • Clear and high-resolution images
  • Built-in rangefinder
  • Also takes photos and records HD videos

5. Sightmark SM18016

(Smart and Efficient Night Vision Scope)

Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Night Vision Scope
  • Smarter and more feature-rich design
  • Built-in infrared illuminator
  • 6 reticle options with different colors
  • Water-resistant and shockproof

6. Bushnell Equinox Z

(Reliable and Feature-Rich Hunting Scope)

ushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Scope
  • Efficient and reliable scope for nighttime hunting
  • More affordable scope
  • Outstanding optical clarity
  • Wider field of view
  • Relatively longer battery life

7. Yukon YK26013WL

(Durable Scope with a Nice Illuminator)

Yukon YK26013WL
  • Sturdy titanium body
  • Pulse infrared illuminator
  • High-quality multicoated optics
  • Highly precise and simple adjustments

1. Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT – Best Overall Night Vision Scope 

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

Sightmark Photon XT is our best overall model as it 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.

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.

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

You also get a longer eye relief (60 mm) with this scope when compared to others on 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:

  • Works well both at night and day
  • 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

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

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

This Firefield scope is our best night vision scope for the money given that despite being our most affordable model it still comes in a solid but lightweight titanium body and will deliver high image quality and resolution.

Also, it 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.

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:

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

Cons:

  • Mounting hardware is not the best 

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

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.

With a range of focus of 25 meters to infinity, this scope will make long range shot more effortless, and you should not have any difficulties making shots from up to 170 yards away.

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 the extra weight is also due to the sturdier build quality.

Pros:

  • Great for long range shooting
  • Completely waterproof housing
  • Simple and easy to operate controls
  • Well-defined crosshairs
  • Durable aircraft aluminum construction

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • A bit on the heavier side

4. ATN X-Sight II HD – Best Variable Magnification Night Vision Scope

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

Given its variable 5-20x magnification, the ATN X-Sight II HD is a great buy for anyone looking for a versatile scope that can be easily adjusted to work for different situations.

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:

  • Variable magnification for increased versatility
  • High resolution and blurry-free images
  • Built-in rangefinder
  • Quick and accurate ballistic calculator
  • Also ideal for video/photo taking

Cons:

  • Uses up battery quite fast

5. Sightmark SM18016 – Smart and Efficient Night Vision Scope

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

With Sightmark’s smart 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. And the higher price tag is a reflection of the feature-rich design and high performance.

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 – Reliable and Feature-Rich Hunting Scope

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 will love Bushnell's Equinox Z as it is a very reliable hunting scope.

The scope is one of the cheapest on our list, but besides its smaller 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. Even with the super bright LCD screen you should still be able to see the target clearly.

Pros:

  • Very ideal for hunting
  • Wide field of view
  • Outstanding optical clarity
  • More affordable
  • Long battery life

Cons:

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

7. Yukon YK26013WL – Durable Scope with a Nice Illuminator 

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

One of its most impressive features of Yukon's NVRS Varmint hunter 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

To make sure that you get a good night vision scope that will work well 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 such as the 3x Firefield FF16001 NVRS and 4.5x Sightmark SM18016 seem to work for most shooters and hunters.

Models with variable magnification like the 5-20x you get with the ATN X-Sight II HD are also fantastic as they can be adjusted to suit different situations which makes them more versatile.

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 like Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 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 budget night visions scopes like Firefield FF16001 NVRS will retail for a little over $300, 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. And with our reviews and guide above finding the best night vision scope should be easy.

While each model on our list is top notch quality, the more affordable Firefield FF16001 NVRS is perfect for the budget shoppers and it still has a lot to offer such as a powerful infrared illuminator and quick detach mount.

But, with a superior day and night performance, versatile digital reticle, video output feature and much more to offer, the Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT is our top recommendation.


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