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Why buy the best Gen 3 night vision scopes?
It’s professional-grade quality promised to provide professional-grade results.
With high-quality Gen 3 I2 tubes, you can have an extremely sensitive photocathode, 10,000+ hour tube life, the highest SNR and resolution performance, and more.
This amounts to having unparalleled night vision on your weapon system.
Military-grade, law enforcement approved, and hunter appropriate.
Who is Gen 3 for?
Best Gen 3 Night Vision Scopes
|AGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AL1 Gen 3 NV||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN PVS14-3 Gen 3 Monocular||CHECK PRICE|
|Armasight CO-Mini||CHECK PRICE|
|Armasight PVS-14||CHECK PRICE|
|TRYBE PVS-14||CHECK PRICE|
When people talk about how expensive night vision is, they’re usually referring to high-end technology which is an indication of Gen 3.
How much does Generation 3 night vision cost?
You’re looking at a significant price range that may start at $3000 on the very low end, if you’re lucky to find it, and can quickly climb up from there.
It’s best to budget for $4000 at the lowest for a Gen 3 night vision scope. Sometimes, a scope alternative may be the better option for you – it depends on your needs and preferences.
There are Gen 3 clip-ons, and in some cases, a Gen 3 monocular may prove to be a versatile tool that could very well be appropriate to mount to your light recoil weapon.
This lineup explores these options with some standard Gen 3 devices and a of couple high-end, top-shelf models.
Best Gen 3 Night Vision Scope Reviews
1. AGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AL1 Gen 3 NV - Best Overall
The Wolverine Pro-6 3AL1 is one of the best scopes AGM offers. While they’re still a new brand yet to be widely recognized, their inventory shows experience and expertise. The Wolverine Pro is evidence of this.
- Standalone scope
- Excellent imaging
- Projected chevron reticle
- Long-range detection
To get it out of the way first, the standalone scope is massive at 3 lbs (approx.) and it’s largely due to the enormous 100 mm objective lens. A larger aperture means more ambient light can be transmitted through the scope. What the system does with that is of equal importance which is why this scope has autogating.
In short, the system is consistently refreshing imaging quality, so there are essentially no negative effects when observing and shooting around dynamic light. The tidbits that AGM provides regarding quality imply that the scope has a high SNR value of at least 24-25 with tube performance not unlike pinnacle and filmless tubes. However, AGM fails to provide tube specs as general information, but imaging quality speaks for itself.
With an adjustable, projected reticle, fast target acquisition and accuracy is guaranteed. The chevron reticle has bullet drop and a windage crosshair, and ½ MOA adjustments.
As an NVD, the Wolverine Pro-6 scores. As a rifle scope, the Wolverine Pro-6 scores again. If you can wield the weight, this scope will serve.
2. ATN PVS14-3 Gen 3 Monocular - Best Value
Got a red dot on your rifle and you want night vision too? While it’s always best to opt for a clip-on, there may be some sideways benefits to going the monocular route. The PVS14 shows you how.
- Close-range detection
- Low recoil resistance
If you’re happy with a monocular that is not designed as a weapon sight but can serve as your weapon sight, you must have the PVS14. You will need the right mount, but there are plenty in the market as the PVS14 is often used for stealth operations and civilian use for hog and coyote hunting.
It does have low recoil resistance for 5.56 NATO, so shooters and hunters sporting the popular AR-15 in .223 Rem will find this to be a perfect Gen 3 alternative for multiple applications.
The PVS14-3 is built to mil-spec with military-grade materials. While it’s the autogated version that sees military action, this is the standard Gen 3 unit. So, if you want mil-spec night vision but don’t need the finesse that Special Operations require, this is a worthy alternative.
When all is said and done, if you ever upgrade to a standalone scope or a thermal scope, the monocular will always have a place in your tool kit. Try mounting it to a helmet next time and discover the world of handsfree night vision.
3. Armasight CO-Mini – Best Clip-On
Overall, the CO-Mini sight is a high-quality Gen 3 night vision device in a compact, clip-on form factor. Armasight has returned as strong as ever and now only offers Gen 3 products. There is no better option in their small selection for converting your daytime setup into a nighttime one.
- Gen 3 IIT
- Manual gain
- Battery life
- Green or white phosphor
- Low magnification performance
The Co-Mini is a 1x clip-on and works best with low power ranges of 1-6x on day scopes. Though it won’t be a high-powered champ for your high-powered scope, it would be great for duty, patrol, and hunting with an LPVO.
It comes ready to be mounted with the quick release mount. It sits at a height of 1.5” and can be used with night vision compatible red dot sights. To make the process smooth for attaching to day scopes, it comes with light suppressor sleeve.
Specs include a 38mm lens, 20° FOV, and focus range from 20m to infinity. It doesn’t affect eye relief and with inside of 2 MOA or better performance, Armasight says there’s no need to rezero your day scope.
The Co-Mini has excellent clarity and detection with its Gen 3 tube and manual gain. You can get it in either green or white phosphor. It’s short-range, so it’s best for use inside 300 yards (approx.).
The Co-Mini is compatible to be used with a wireless remote and long-range IR illuminator both of which are included in the box. It’ll add minimal weight to your entire setup as it’s 1.06 lbs and 4.9” in length. Though it takes a AA battery, it only provides 24 hours of runtime. With a CR123A battery, you can stretch it out to 45 hours.
With Armasight’s return, they’re offering a very clear-cut warranty – 3 years to the original owner with proof of purchase and registration. It’s worth it considering that the extended warranty defaults to 1-year coverage if you don’t.
4. Armasight PVS-14 – Best PVS14
Overall, PVS-14 NVDs make for excellent hands-free goggle use. However, there will always be those that will use a weapon mount to pair with a red dot sight or magnified scope. To cater to that crowd, it’s worth knowing that Armasight proudly offers a Gen 3 IIT in green or white phosphor PVS-14.
- Manual gain
- Mounting options
- Low recoil resistance
The number one concern of weapon mounting monoculars is the recoil resistance. Gen 3 IITs tend to be recoil resistant to no larger than 5.56 calibers. Even so, it’s at your own risk to mount it. Due to its 1x magnification, it will work best with 1x power settings on magnified scopes or night vision compatible red dot sights.
The PVS-14 has a Gen 3 autogated IIT with 64-72 lp/mm resolution available with green or white phosphor. Both tubes have manual gain and Bright Light Cut-Off. Like others of its ilk, it has a 27mm lens, 40° FOV, focus range from 0.25m to infinity, and a diopter adjustment.
It’s very compact for both head/helmet and weapon mounting as it’s 4.5 x 2 x 2.25” in size and weighs only 12.4 oz. When it comes to detection ranges, it has an integrated IR illuminator to bring clarity and resolving detail to clearly pick out hogs, coyotes, and intruders on your property up to 350 m. Recognition ranges are typically around 250-300 m and identifying the target will be inside 200 yards.
Mounting a PVS-14 isn’t for everyone, and any tube damage due to recoil will automatically void the warranty. However, the PVS-14 is a versatile monocular that can be used in multiple applications. If you ever get a dedicated NV rifle scope, the Armasight NVD will be of use head mounted or as a handheld optic.
It’s covered by a 3-year Limited Extended Warranty if you register it within 60 days of purchase. It’s valid only to the original owner and requires proof of purchase. If you forget, it’s still warrantied but is limited to Standard 1-year coverage. For an optic under $4000, it’s highly recommended not to forget.
5. TRYBE PVS-14 – Best Pinnacle
The Trybe PVS-14 is a Gen 3 Pinnacle IIT night vision monocular. The PVS-14 is often weapon-mounted to add to its versatility having a 5.56 recoil-rated tube. However, it’s always at a risk to weapon mount a PVS-14, but if you’re going to do it anyway, the Trybe can do it minimal cost.
- Pinnacle tube
- Green or white phosphor
- Mounting options
- Low recoil resistance
As is true of all PVS-14s, they have low recoil resistance and Gen 3 pinnacle tubes can only handle recoil up to 5.56 calibers. Though not advised for weapon-mounting, the PVS-14 is compatible with weapon mounts to sit behind a night vison compatible red dot sight.
Trybe has multiple price points that are more attractive than like competition with their Gen 3P typically starting at $2500. There are both green and white phosphor tubes with white starting at $3000. Price variances will be due to tube quality between regular or hand-selected (Elbit or L3).
All Trybe’s PVS-14 monoculars have standard specs in line with a mil-spec AN/PVS-14 but for civilian use. It has 1x magnification, 27mm lens, 40° FOV, and 64-82 lp/mm resolution. With a AA battery, you can power it for 50+ hours. It’s 4.5 x 2.5 x 2.75” in size and weighs 10.8oz.
It’s a performer as a hands-free goggle when mounted to head gear or helmets. Since it’s excellent for navigational use, it’s focusable from 0.25m to infinity. Its detection range is standard for a PVS-14 having been rated for 350 m use and with excellent identification inside of 200 yards. TRYBE’s warranty policies were updated in 2020, and it has a 2-year limited warranty and is limited to the original owner.
What sets this PVS14 apart from alternatives are the price points and its pinnacle tube. Though likely short serving as a night vision scope, it will serve until you can pull the trigger on a dedicated clip-on sight. The Trybe can always be your permanent goggles for patrol, civilian, and hunting applications.
What to Look for in a Gen 3 Night Vision Scope
When you’re considering Gen 3 night vision, understanding specifications is essential. Not only is it a way to determine if a scope will fit your needs, but it will also tell you what kind of performance you can expect. Not all Gen 3 is the same, and this is how you can tell the difference between the varying levels.
Generation 3 Tubes
In Gen 3 scopes, you’ll see some differences from tube and photocathode type between models and manufacturers. Depending on various components implemented or intentionally omitted will determine overall tube performance and photocathode sensitivity.
What you will typically see in Gen 3 night vision:
- GaAs (Gallium Arsenide) tube
- Pinnacle tube
- Thin filmed
*Unfilmed/filmless is usually marketed as a Gen 4 classification. But since there is no official Gen 4, it is also marketed as an upper end Gen 3 or Gen 3+ classification. It depends on the manufacturer’s way of classifying their NVDs to showcase features and separate night vision series based on tube/photocathode performance and capabilities.
Autogating is seen in only Gen 3 and higher night vision although not all Gen 3 NVDs feature autogating.
It’s technology that allows the system to automatically turn itself on and off rapidly. There are benefits provided by autogating that includes protection against bright light, impulsive noise reduction, photocathode voltage duty cycle regulation, and overall improvement of IIT performance.
Figure of Merit
It used to be that judging an NVD solely on generation classification was good enough – not these days. Now, many specs come in to play to judge NV performance including the Figure of Merit (FOM) value.
The FOM is calculated by multiplying resolution (lp/mm) by SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). Governments use this value to determine if it’s an exportable product, and it also provides some insight into tube performance quality.
Anything over 1400 is non-exportable. Because photocathode sensitivity has come a long way in improving SNR, a high FOM can be an indication of high-performing night vision across the board.
If a manufacturer provides these tube specifications, you can gain greater understanding of IIT performance and value.
Plain answer: This is the lp/mm (line pair) measurement of horizonal and vertical lines to distinguish any sort of clarity and imaging quality through an NVD. While many factors are in play to provide ultimate resolution, you can figure up a crude picture of what imaging quality will be like based on the resolution specs.
Gen 3 night typically indicates resolution of 64-72 lp/mm. However, resolution is not a generation-specific spec. You can have WPT, Gen 2, and Gen 2+ with resolution that performs like what you would expect of Gen 3.
While resolution is a good measuring unit, you must also account for tube type, FOM, photocathode sensitivity, and any additional features such as thin-filmed or unfilmed, manual gain or automatic brightness, etc.
SNR is a value that is inherently connected to FOM, photocathode sensitivity, MCP operating voltage, and more. It’s why thin-filmed and filmless tubes, autogating, and sensitive photocathode scopes have a higher SNR value than lower generation night vision.
SNR is an excellent indication of low-light performance with contrast and resolution taken into account. The higher the value, the better the imaging quality under extremely difficult observation conditions. Anything over 21 is considered worth buying.
Gen 3 Night Vision Applications
What can you use Gen 3 night vision for? While we know U.S. military use Gen 3, you may be a civilian or LEO looking to equip your weapon with night vision. Is Gen 3 overkill for your needs?
Gen 3 is not only top-shelf, but it’s also mandatory quality if you demand better-than-average night vision, especially if your life depends on it. As a night vision scope, you can use Gen 3 for:
- Security & surveillance
- SHTF prepping/survivalists
- Patrol & stakeouts
- Law enforcement
You will also need to consider what type of Gen 3 night vision scope is appropriate for your applications. Do you need a clip-on if you’re leaving your day scope on? Do you need one device to move between different rifles? Do you need other applications from the one device?
- Standalone Scope – Dedicated weapon sight that is recoil-proof and designed to work without any other optic. Has reticle, adjustments, and must be zeroed.
- Clip-On – Must be used with either a collimated red dot or daytime rifle scope as it does not have a reticle or adjustments. Sits forward on the rail or can be attached to objective bell of daytime scope. No need to rezero scope but must confirm no shift in POI. Usually more expensive than standalone scopes.
- Monocular – Must be used with a collimated red dot or laser sight. Low recoil resistance since it’s not designed as a weapon-sight although some can be used as such. Must be compatible with mounting to a weapon and sits behind the red dot. Mount must be purchased separately. Must be able to acquire sufficient eye relief.
Generation 3 night vision is the highest official classification. Unfilmed and filmless night vision is often marketed as Generation 4 although this is not an official classification.
This type of night vision is exceptionally expensive but provides high IIT performance and imaging quality appropriate for professional, military, and law enforcement applications.
Generation 3 is what the U.S. military use. Since night vision materials, designs, and technology is improving, the demand to outfit the military with higher performing night vision is greater. 3A or 3AG is quickly becoming the standard for military needs.
While there are some Gen 2+ devices that can outperform some standard Gen 3 ones, Gen 3+ will always be highly recommended if you can afford it because it is the gold standard and provides the best type of night vision quality most NVD users require.
However, while Gen 2 lacks the advantages of high-end Gen 3, they are exceptional for hunters, LEOs, security, and preppers and are a significant improvement from Gen 1.
Night Vision at its Best
Gen 3 is the gold standard for night vision. While there are various levels of Gen 3 quality, expected performance from standard Gen 3 is still worthy of its classification.
This means that whether you want all the works from autogating to filmless or if you simply need the better resolution provided by standard Gen 3, it’s a win-win type of buy.
If you want the best night vision available, look to night vision at its best – Generation 3.