5 Best Gen 3 Night Vision Scopes In 2021 (Filmed & Unfilmed)

Best Gen 3 Night Vision Scopes

Why buy the best Gen 3 night vision scopes?

Why not?

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?

Everyone.

Best Gen 3 Night Vision Scopes

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
tt-table__imageBering Optics D-740 Gen 3+ Unfilmed
  • Technology: Gen 3+
  • Magnification: 4x
  • Color Modes: Green Phosphor
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tt-table__imageATN PS28-3P Gen 3 Clip-On NV
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Color Modes: Green Phosphor
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tt-table__imageAGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AL1 Gen 3 NV
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Color Modes: Green Phosphor
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tt-table__imageATN PS28-3 Gen 3 Clip-On Night Vision
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Color Modes: Green Phosphor
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tt-table__imageATN PVS14-3 Gen 3 Monocular
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Color Modes: Green Phosphor
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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. Bering Optics D-740 Gen 3+ Unfilmed

Bering Optics D740 Gen 3 Night Vision Scope Review
Image Credit - Bering

The Bering Optics D-740 is filmless night vision and yet it does not have the most expensive price point in this lineup. Since value is a priority when you’re buying top shelf product, the D-740 Gen 3+ Unfilmed scope must be considered.

Pros:

  • Standalone scope
  • Filmless
  • Manual gain
  • Recoil-proof
  • Long-range detection

Cons:

  • Price

Because the D-740 is tough to criticize, we’ll go after the price tag. In all reality, it’s listed at an exceptional price point below $5000. However, it’s still really expensive for most civilians who are either prepping for SHTF days ahead or hog hunting for fun. Honestly though, NV has always been pricey, so recognize this type of steal when it’s worthy of it.

The D-740 is a standalone scope – not a clip-on or a monocular alternative. It lacks an ion barrier film on the MCP allowing for more electrons to be converted into an electronic signal. With autogating too, all that activity means you have a scope that is almost impervious to bright light sources and less stress on the tube which means a longer-lasting operating life.

Blooming, halo, washout – all those annoying effects of lower quality NV, gone. Being unable to control brightness for dynamic and sudden changes in lighting conditions or the environment – gone. You have manual gain to thank for that.

Want to mount to a hog rifle and not worry about it dying on your after a couple nights of hunting? Done. The D-740 has excellent recoil resistance and an incredible battery life of up to 100 hours.

It should be clear to you by now why the Bering Optics scope is a fantastic buy and why it’s a favorite. More people should know about it.

2. ATN PS28-3P Gen 3 Clip-On NV

ATN PS28-3P Clip On Night Vision Scope Review
Image Credit - ATN Corp

The PS28-3P has a thin film on the MCP with autogating and a Pinnacle tube. When it comes to durability, performance, and imaging, this type of night vision is tough to beat.

Pros:

  • Clip-on
  • Thin film
  • Pinnacle
  • Autogating
  • Excellent tube performance

Cons:

  • Upgrade mount

The PS28-3P is top-notch Gen 3 night vision. However, just saying that an NVD is Gen 3 is not enough these days. Instead, let’s give you some specs. Figure of merit – 1800, SNR – 24, resolution – 64-72 lp/mm. Putting this together with a Pinnacle tube that features a thin ion barrier film on the microchannel plate and autogating tells us that this is one high-functioning NVD.

Even if there is some electron loss due to the thin film, the 2000-2800 µA/lm photocathode sensitivity is still very high and will function at double the sensitivity of some of the latest Pinnacle tubes. Paired with the right daytime scope, you can acquire excellent long-range distances with clarity and sharpness across the entire field of view.

The PS28-3P is one tough cookie with a workhorse mentality that can take more and give more in any given night than many other scopes and clip-ons in the market. If you have the budget for it, it’s one of our best recommendations.

Note – you may want to invest in a better quick detach mount if your don’t like the potential slop in the included QRM.

3. AGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AL1 Gen 3 NV

AGM PRO-6 3AL1 Night Vision Rifle Scope Review
Image Credit - AGM Global Vision

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.

Pros:

  • Standalone scope
  • Autogating
  • Excellent imaging
  • Projected chevron reticle
  • Long-range detection

Cons:

  • Heavy

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.

4. ATN PS28-3 Gen 3 Clip-On Night Vision

ATN PS28-3 Night Vision Clip On Scope Review
Image Credit - ATN Corp

The PS28-3 clip-on is the standard Gen 3 version of the PS28-3P. It’s significantly cheaper than the latter and has the same tube as the PVS14-3 monocular but is more expensive. Why choose the PS28?

Pros:

  • Clip-on
  • Excellent imaging
  • Auto brightness
  • Quick release mount
  • Close to mid-range

Cons:

  • Mounting adapters not included

As a clip-on, it’s designed to be weapon-mounted. While the PVS14 can be, it’s not designed to be a weapon sight. Recoil resistance is better with the clip-on, but it’s worth mentioning that they do sport the same GaAs tube with 1600 FOM and 22 SNR. So, as far as tube performance and imaging quality, they’re the same.

While you can get head/helmet and hands-free mounting use from the monocular, you’ll need to the buy the weapon mount separately. The PS28 comes with a quick release mount for a Picatinny rail. Not only that, but it sits forward and can be used with any type of day optic such as a traditional daytime scope or red dot like an ACOG. If you want to mount directly to the scope, adapters are not included and must be purchased separately.

While we will recommend the PS28-3P every day, it does cost more but the upgraded features and tube quality is more than worth it. It could be overkill for your applications, and if this is true, the PS28-3 fits the bill.

With a clip-on, you can expect the same accuracy from your daytime scope as you would without it. Just add night vision – it’s why the clip-on is an effective tool.

5. ATN PVS14-3 Gen 3 Monocular

ATN PVS14-3 Night Vision Monocular Review
Image Credit - ATN Corp

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.

Pros:

  • Monocular
  • Mil-spec
  • Weapon-mounted
  • Head/helmet-mounted
  • Close-range detection

Cons:

  • 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.

What to Look for in a Gen 3 Night Vision Scope

YouTube video

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
  • Autogated
  • Thin filmed
  • *Unfilmed/filmless

*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

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.

Resolution

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.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

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?

Never.

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:

  • Hunting
  • Security & surveillance
  • SHTF prepping/survivalists
  • Observation
  • 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.

FAQs

What is the Highest Generation Night Vision?

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.

What Generation Night Vision does the Military Use?

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.

Are Gen 2 Scopes Worth Buying?

evices 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.

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