night vision scope

The 7 Best Night Vision Scopes For The Money

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Night vision scopes used to be only available to select groups of people ― namely military personnel, law enforcement, and people with money. This has changed drastically in the last 15 years or so, with companies making inexpensive night vision scopes for the average person. Many hunters have begun to utilize this technology for hunting in the dark when there is little to no light. Hogs and raccoons are two of the animals on the night hunting list, and even a cheap night vision scope will do the job well.

Best Night Vision Scope Night Vision Scene
A sample of a night vision scene sourced from Rifle Optics World

These are the 7 best night vision scopes for the money:

  • Armasight ORION 5X Gen 1+ Night Vision Rifle Scope: A Gen 1 scope with a detachable IR810 infrared illuminator. Its performance is comparable to a Gen 2 at less than half the price.
  • Pulsar Digisight N750 Digital Night Vision Riflescope: A Gen 2 scope with a built-in IR illuminator with 3 step power adjustment. You can even use this scope in the pitch black of night with the IR.
  • Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope: A great digital scope for the AR-15 that is light and versatile. It comes with an extra weaver rail for accessories, and it can be used day or night.
  • Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope: A bang-for-the-buck night vision scope. For anyone on a tight budget that wants an IR scope that performs great, this is a great buy.
  • Sightmark Wraith 4K Night Vision Rifle Scope 3-24x 50mm: A great upgrade to the Wraith HD with an increased resolution. Additionally, you can record both audio and video.
  • ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Riflescope: A scope on the bleeding edge of tech with seamless transition between day and night use backed by excellent customer care.
  • Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm Night Vision Rifle Scope: One of the best Gen 3 scopes in the market. It offers military-grade performance that does come at a premium price.

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The range of prices and features is extensive and can be mind-boggling. I have studied several night vision scopes to come up with some of the best I would recommend. One thing you should consider before purchasing is to determine what you need it for. So if you are hunting midrange, around 100 to 300 yards, then you want something designed specifically for that. It’s for the purpose of not wasting money on a 600-yard scope range. Another thing to consider is how well you need to see what you are viewing. This refers to what generation of devices you choose for your particular situation. These and other considerations are detailed below.

Things to Consider when a Buying Night Vision Scope

Generation

Generation, or Gen for short, is a good proxy for the quality of an image. Gen 1 includes the budget scopes. So if you are looking to get an inexpensive night vision scope, then this is the best option. Their light-gathering ability is based on older technology. In addition, they only work well when there is enough light to gather, such as moonlight. However, these don’t work well in the dark. Additionally, Gen 2 devices are quite a step up from Gen 1, using a more advanced image-intensifier with better resolution and increased brightness. While Gen 3 night vision scopes are the best of the best for civilian activities. These are capable of working in complete darkness and have the highest resolution and image.

Infrared (IR) Illuminator/Laser

An IR illuminator or laser can be used with your scope to give it added accuracy and reliability. The IR Illuminator is invisible to the naked eye but, when used with night vision, can help illuminate the target much better without the need for other light. It is a lifesaver if you are hunting in thick woods or without moonlight. To make the best night vision scope for hunting varmints, many hunters add a laser sight to their scope. This is another option to consider when purchasing a new scope. Some have these capabilities built into them, making them even more convenient.

Other Considerations

The best night vision scope for the money is ultimately a matter of personal preference. If you think cheap is better, then a Gen 1 scope might be your best choice. Keep in mind that these tend to be the heaviest of the three types and might lack other features that you want. If you need variable magnification is another thing to consider. Most night vision scopes are fixed, but there are a few variable options available, which come in handy for long-range situations. Another thing to think about is durability. Moreover, if you are outdoors with your scope often, finding one that is waterproof, shockproof, and has coated outer lenses is the best choice. Lastly, do you want it with or without a reticle? A red, green, or amber reticle is a great addition, especially for a night vision scope on an AR-15.

Now, let’s look at the seven best choices for a night vision scope.

The Best Night Vision Scopes

With all the considerations above, you can imagine how difficult it was to find several of the best night vision scopes. I scoured the internet for night vision scope reviews and asked around to get other hunter’s perspectives on what they thought was the best.

Armasight ORION 5X Gen 1+ Night Vision Rifle Scope

For a Gen 1 night vision rifle scope, this is a great buy. With powerful 5x magnification and a detachable IR810 infrared illuminator. Additionally, this is comparable to a Gen 2 scope but less than half the price. This is a top night vision scope for the AR-15 in several reviews. It is considered one of the most, if not the most dependable, and highest-performing night vision scope in the Gen 1 category.

The rugged housing is a rubberized aluminum, which will protect your optics from just about any wear and tear. It has simple, easy-to-operate windage and elevation adjustment. also, the exit pupil diameter is a huge 8mm for the best and clearest image possible. It also mounts to standard weaver rails.

The illuminated red cross reticle brightness can be adjusted, which is great for different lighting situations. Furthermore, it is water-resistant and can handle extreme temperatures. The best use of this is in midrange situations. However, with the 5x magnification and IR illuminator, it can reach further.

Pros
  • Detachable IR Illuminator
  • Has 5x magnification
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Reticle has adjustable brightness
  • Rugged rubberized aluminum housing
  • Shockproof and water-resistant
  • Easy-to-operate controls
  • Quick detach weaver mount
Cons
  • Mount is sometimes unstable
  • Heavier than other comparable scopes
  • IR has some dialing in issues
  • Not recommended for bolt-action rifles

Pulsar Digisight N750 Digital Night Vision Riflescope

This next option is a great buy for a Gen 2 scope. It has a built-in laser IR illuminator with a three-step power adjustment. In addition, you can use this in the pitch black of night with the IR. Unlike the previous scope, daylight will not damage the interiors. Moreover, the housing is made from a composite material that can withstand the daily abuses of hunting or target practice. It also comes with a wireless remote.

It has internal focusing, which makes adjustments quick and easy. The operating design is also intuitive and very simple to operate. Additionally, it has an additional weaver rail for accessories and a flip-up lens cover to protect your investment. With one-shot zeroing, you can take it out within a few minutes and be ready to hunt.

This scope wasn’t on too many night vision scope reviewers’ lists. So, it’s more like a hidden gem. It has the image quality and resolution of scopes that are hundreds of dollars more expensive. It also has a video output to record your hunts and can be plugged into a video player on sight so that your buddy can watch your hunt. Compared to a Gen 1 that is useful to a maximum of 150 yards, this scope can shoot more than 300 yards and can spot up to 1,000 yards away.

Pros
  • Durable composite housing
  • Has a 6.75 zoom feature
  • Internal focusing unit
  • Contains an adjustable IR illuminator
  • Can be used at day or night
  • Additional weaver rail for accessories
  • Features one-shot zeroing
  • Has a video output for recording
  • Comes at an affordable price
Cons
  • Heavy weight
  • Size is relatively larger than other scopes
  • Has a poor battery life

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Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope

This is a great night vision scope for the AR-15. It is designed for precision shooting at medium range. In addition, it is a digital night scope that is very light, and versatile. It also has six red, green, and white reticles for a vast array of options. Plus, it includes two crossbow reticles. A two hog and varmint reticles, and a MIL-Dot reticle for range finding, and a German-style reticle.

With 4.6x magnification and a large 42mm objective lens, it provides a nice image and clear resolution. Additionally, the details are spectacular up to 120 yards, and it can be used day or night. It also has an extra weaver rail for accessories and has a video output to record those hunts that you wish to share with other people.

In addition, this scope is 30% lighter and has a longer battery life than any other digital night scope in its class. Moreover, it can handle the recoil of a 308 and is simple to zero out. It has a nice cover to protect your optics. Finally, for the price, this night vision scope is a terrific option. It was also included in nearly every night vision scope review I saw.

Pros
  • Comes with a built-in IR
  • Has six different reticles for a variety of applications
  • Features a 4.6 magnification and 640×480 resolution
  • Excellent for day and night use
  • Light weight and has a long battery life
  • Digital windage/elevation adjustments
  • Extra weaver rail for accessories
Cons
  • Lens cover in the way of accessory rail
  • Field of view (FOV) smaller than anticipated
  • Front focus ring position is awkward

Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope

This is the best night vision scope you can get for the money. For anyone on a tight budget  and to those who don’t want to be left out when your friends are out night hunting, then this scope will satisfy. In addition ,it has an excellent 3x magnification, ergonomic design, and a rugged titanium body to withstand the bumps and shocks of everyday use.

It also has a built-in IR, which is amazing for the price. It delivers high-quality images and resolution. The reticle brightness can be adjusted as well. Additionally, the quick-detach weaver mount makes it easy to switch out optics or go to iron sights without having to zero in again. Furthermore, the 42mm lens is something that usually is only found on higher-priced models.

This cheap night vision scope can give good images at medium to long range, which is remarkable for the price. It is a great deal for any hunter that is on a strict budget and is ideal for hog and varmint hunting. Even when it is pitch black, the built-in IR can go about 75 yards with perfect clarity. After that, it starts to get a bit fuzzy but is still usable.

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Has a built-in IR
  • 3x magnification and 42mm lens gathers a lot of light
  • Adjustable reticle brightness
  • Quick-detach weaver mount
  • Made of Titanium body that’s built to last
  • High-quality resolution and image
Cons
  • Quick-detach system doesn’t attach very strongly
  • Can loosen and fall
  • Magnification seems to be less than stated

Sightmark Wraith 4K Night Vision Rifle Scope 3-24x 50mm

The Wraith line of scopes from Sightmark has always been an excellent scope popular with hunters. The Wraith 4K is a significant upgrade from the Wraith HD, which is an exceptional value for money and a range of features. Additionally, the Wraith 4K offers a resolution of 4000×3000, which is phenomenal, especially when used during the day. The full-color image is crisp and clear and, at night, the typical IR image is incredibly crisp. Unlike the Wraith HD, the Wraith 4K records both video and audio, and the quality is worlds apart.

The focus objective ring and eyepiece dial focus give precise tactile feedback. It also comes with a one-touch record button that you can use on the fly to capture that perfect shot. Moreover, the zoom feature is easy to use with the zoom wheel located on top of the scope with zoom increments of 0.1-1.0 of power. Another awesome feature that makes the Wraith 4K has a built-in battery that you can use for a solid five hours at night and as a bonus.

Is the Wraith 4K worth the $300 premium over the Wraith HD? The answer is yes. Overall, the Wraith 4K is a significant upgrade from the Wraith HD, which levels up your night game hunting.

Pros
  • 4k resolution
  • Multiple color reticle
  • Multiple rifle profile settings
  • One-touch record button
  • Daytime full-color mode
  • Magnification: 4-32×50
  • 200-yard detection range
  • 850nm IR Illuminator
  • Built-in HD video/audio recording
Cons
  • Higher learning curve for additional options
  • Menu system is complicated

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Riflescope

If you want to experience the bleeding edge of tech, then this should be one of your considerations. A scope that performs well not only at night but also during the day is something that everyone can appreciate. Moreover, it takes a special kind of optic to allow a seamless transition between day and night and the ATN X-Sight 4K pro is that special optic. 

This scope also features a combination of magnification of 5-20x and 18 hours of battery life. This could be the scope that covers all of your shooting needs. Additionally, it also comes with a ballistic calculator, barometer, range finder, and Wi-Fi streaming. Another feature to take note of is the Recoil Activated Video. This recognizes the recoil and stores it automatically on the SD card. This makes your epic shots easier to share with your friends. 

Customer service is another strong suit of ATN. Furthermore, glowing reviews from customers with excellent experiences in their interactions with the company makes it a definite recipe for success and popularity.

Pros
  • 4k resolution
  • Day/night seamless transition
  • 5-20x magnification
  • 18-hour battery life
  • Recoil activated recording
  • Excellent customer service
  • Built-in 120 frames per second (fps) video recording
  • Reprogrammable modes
Cons
  • A little expensive for the category
  • Added weight is also something to consider

Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm Night Vision Rifle Scope

If you want the best of the best, then you might want to opt for a Gen 3. It comes with the brightest vision, longest range, and highest image resolution. In addition, most hunters and shooters prefer a Gen 3 due to its high performance and lightweight, making it easier to carry anywhere. 

This is where the Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 comes in since it’s one of the best Gen 3 scopes. Additionally, it features a high-sensitivity sensor, making it an excellent scope for hunting in dark and low-light conditions. 

The scope also comes equipped with a standard green and MIL-Dot reticle. This makes it easier to calculate the distance of a target. Of note, the scope has a green-on-green and red-on-green reticle with brightness controls. Another useful feature is the quick-detach mount that easily returns to zero, which makes disassembling and reassembling the weapon sight faster. 

Aside from the aforementioned features, it also includes water resistance, fog-proof lens, and shock-resistant construction. Overall, these features come with a premium cost and, at $3,199, it’s worth it. 

Pros
  • Military-grade design and construction
  • Superior sensor performance
  • Al-weather use
  • Built-in IR illuminator
  • Red on green and green on green reticle
  • Lightweight construction
  • Quick detach mount
Cons
  • Steep price
ScopeMagnificationMSRP
Armasight ORION 5X Gen 1+ Night Vision Rifle Scope5x$499
Pulsar Digisight N750 Digital Night Vision
Riflescope
6.75x$1599
Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope4.6x$500
Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope3x$400
Sightmark Wraith 4K Night Vision Rifle Scope 3-24x 50mm4x$800
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Riflescope5-20x$756
Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm Night Vision Rifle Scope3x$3199

The Final Word

Well, determining which scope is best is a hard decision, especially considering I put Gen 2 and Gen 3 scopes in the mix. Additionally, it’s hard to beat the quality and resolution of these later-generation scopes. I am also considering the price. Moreover, these are all great scopes, so I will break down how I see them.

The Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope is the best night vision scope for the money. Simply put, you will not find a better scope with a price tag of less than $300. Also, the best all-around scope is the Pulsar Digisight N750 Digital Night Vision Riflescope, being that it is Gen 2 quality. Furthermore, others on this list are great scopes with many extra features that make them stand out against others of the same price. To summarize, these are night vision scopes that assist you when you need to hunt varmints and hogs. As always, happy hunting.

More scopes:

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3 comments
  1. I find the ATN scopes from 3x and the 5x is better than any of the above listed. Just a little harder to use because of all they do for you but no one ever classes the ATN series scopes both under 600.00 and has a gen 3 optics nearly I feel I love mine

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