Night vision scopes used to be only available to select groups of people. Namely the military, law enforcement, and people with money. This has changed drastically in the last fifteen years or so, with companies making cheap night vision scopes for the average person. Many hunters have begun to utilize this technology for hunting in the dark, with little to no light. Hog and raccoon hunting are just two of the animals on the night hunting list, and even a cheap night vision scope will do the job well.
The range of cost and features is extensive, and can be mind boggling. To make this article as accurate as possible, I studied several night vision scope reviews to come up with the four best night vision scopes. Some things you should consider before running out and buying one is what you really need it for. If you are hunting mid-range, which is up to around 100-300 yards, then you want something for that, and not waste money on a long range, 600 yard scope. Another thing to consider is how well you need to see what you are looking at. I am referring to what Generation of devices for your particular situation. These, and other considerations I will provide further detail on below.
- Generations: Generation, or Gen for short, refers to the quality of image. Gen 1 are the budget scopes. If you are looking to get a cheap night vision scope, then this is the best option. Their light gathering ability is based on older technology, so they only work well when there is enough light to gather, like moonlight. In the dark, they will not do much good. Gen 2 devices are quite a step up from Gen 1, using a more advanced image-intensifier with better resolution, and increased brightness. Gen 3 is the best of the best for civilian activities anyway. It is capable of working in complete darkness, and has the highest resolution and image.
- 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, it can help illuminate the target much better, and without the need for other light. It is a life saver if you are hunting in thick woods, or without the moonlight. To make the best night vision scope for hunting varmints, many hunters add a laser sight to their scope. This another option to consider when purchasing your new scope. Some have these capabilities built into them, making it even more convenient.
- Other Considerations: The best night vision for the money is going to ultimately depend on you. If you are thinking the cheaper the better, then a Gen 1 scope might fit you fine. Keep in mind that these tend to be the heaviest of the three, and might lack other things you want. Whether or not you need variable magnification is another thing to consider. Most night vision scopes are fixed, but there are a few variable options which come in handy for long range situations. Another thing to think about durability. If you are outdoors a lot with your scope, finding one that is waterproof, shockproof, and has coated outer lenses is the best idea. 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 AR15.
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The Best Night Vision Scopes
With all the considerations above you can imagine how difficult it was to find four 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. These are the results of that effort.
For a Gen 1 night vision rifle scope, this is a great buy. With powerful 5x magnification and a detachable IR810 infrared illuminator, 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, 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. The exit pupil diameter is a huge 8mm for the best, and clearest image possible. It mounts to standard weaver rails.
The illuminated red cross reticle brightness can be adjusted, which is great for different lighting situations. It is water-resistant, and has the ability to handle extreme temperatures. The best use of this is in mid range situations, but with the 5x magnification, and the IR illuminator, it can reach further. This is possibly the best night vision scope for the money.
- Detachable IR Illuminator
- 5x Magnification
- Illuminated reticle
- Reticle has adjustable brightness
- Rugged rubberized aluminum housing
- Shock proof
- Easy to operate controls
- Quick detach weaver mount
- Mount is sometimes unstable
- Heavier than other comparable scopes
- IR has some dialing in issues
- Not recommended for bolt-action rifles
This baby is a great buy for a Gen 2 scope. It has a built in laser IR illuminator with a three step power adjustment. You can use this in the pitch black of night with the IR. Unlike the previous scope, daylight will not damage the interiors. The housing is made from a composite material that can withstand the daily abuses of hunting, or target practice. It even comes with a wireless remote.
It has internal focusing which makes adjustments quick and easy. The operating design is intuitive and very simple to operate. 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 was not on too many night vision scope reviews, but it is more like a hidden gem. It has the image quality and resolution of scopes 1000 dollars more expensive. It also has a video output to record your hunts, and can be plugged into a DVR on sight so your buddy can watch your hunt. Compared to a Gen 1 that is useful to a maximum 150 yards, this scope can shoot over 300 yards away, and can spot up towards a 1000.
- Gen 2 resolution and image quality
- Durable composite housing
- 6.75 zoom
- Internal focusing unit
- Adjustable IR illuminator
- Can be used in day or night
- Additional weaver rail for accessories
- One-shot zeroing
- Video output for recording
- Size is bigger than others
- Poor battery life
This is a great night vision scope for the AR15. It is designed for precision shooting at medium range. It is a digital night scope that is very light, and very versatile. It has six red, green, and white reticles for a vast array of options. It includes two crossbow reticles, two hog and varmint reticles, a mil-dot reticle for range finding, and a German-style reticle.
With 4.6x magnification and large 42mm objective lens it provides a nice image and clear resolution. The details are spectacular up to 120 yards, and it can be used day or night. It has an extra weaver rail for accessories, and has a video output to record those hunts that you wish your buddy could have seen.
It is 30% lighter, and has a longer battery life than any other digital night scope in its class. It can handle the recoil of a 308, and is simple to zero out. It has a nice cover to protect your optics. For the price this night vision scope cannot really be beat, and it was on nearly every night vision scope review I had read.
- Built in IR
- Six different reticles for a variety of applications
- 4.6 magnification
- 640×480 resolution
- Day/night use
- Long battery life
- Digital windage/elevation adjustments
- Extra weaver rail for accessories
- Lens cover in the way of accessory rail
- FOV smaller than anticipated
- Front focus ring position is awkward
This is the best night vision scope you can get for the money. For anyone on a tight budget, and you don’t want to be left out when your friends are out night hunting, this scope will satisfy. It has a good 3x magnification, ergonomic design, and a rugged titanium body to withstand the bumps and shocks of everyday use.
It has a built in IR, which is amazing for the price. It has a high quality image, and resolution. The reticle brightness can be adjusted as well. The quick-detach weaver mount makes it easy to switch out optics, or go to iron sights without having to zero in again. The 42mm lens is something that usually is only found on higher priced models.
This cheap night vision scope is capable of giving 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. Great for hog hunting, 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 still useable.
- Built in IR
- 3x magnification
- 42 mm lens gathers a lot of light
- Adjustable reticle brightness
- Quick-detach weaver mount
- Titanium body built to last
- High quality resolution and image
- Quick-detach system doesn’t attach very strongly
- Can loosen and fall
- Magnification seems to be less than stated
The Best Night Vision Scope
Well, this another hard decision, especially considering I put a Gen 2 scope in the mix. It is hard to beat a Gen 2 scopes quality and resolution. I am also considering the price, too. These are all great scopes, so I will break it down how I see them. The Firefield is the best night vision scope for the money, simply put, you will not find a better scope with a price tag under 300 dollars. The best scope all around is the Pulsar, being that it is Gen 2 quality. The other two are great Gen 1 scopes that have a lot of extra features that make them stand out against others of the same price. There you have it, four night vision scopes that will fill your need to hunt varmints and hogs. As always, happy hunting.