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If you want to own the night, there is one thing we can all agree on, you will need a great pair of night vision goggles.
Overall, the best night vision goggles are the Armasight BNVD. The BNVD has a Gen 3 tube, automatic and manual gain, 1X magnification and a built-in IR illuminator. This advanced binocular offers the very best of night vision for armed professionals, hunters and civilians.
I understand that not everyone has $7000 or more to spend on night vision goggles though, and you may prefer a different technology.
For this reason, I have also reviewed some other great goggles in cheaper price ranges using Gen 1, Gen 2 and digital technology – I have even included something for the kids!
Our 9 Top Night Vision Goggles
|Armasight BNVD||CHECK PRICE|
|SiOnyx Aurora||CHECK PRICE|
|X-Vision Hands Free Night Vision Pro||CHECK PRICE|
|AGM Wolf-14 NL3||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN NVG7-WPT||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN PS15-2||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN PVS7-2||CHECK PRICE|
|NightFox Swift||CHECK PRICE|
|AGM Kids Night Vision Goggles||CHECK PRICE|
What Are Night Vision Goggles (NVG)?
Technically, any NV (Night Vision) optic that can be mounted to head and helmet gear can constitute as a night vision goggle device.
In our lineup, this includes the best:
Often, the included head mount assembly is called a goggle kit, and when a monocular, for example, is mounted to provide hands-free operation, it's now a complete goggle assembly.
So, what features should you look for in the various types of goggles to determine if it is a goggle or just another night vision binocular or monocular?
- 1x magnification
- 20-29 mm apertures
- Hands-free operation
- Included goggle assembly kit
Who needs NVGs?
Many professions and civilian sports and lifestyles incorporate goggles in one way or another.
- Law enforcement
- Home defense/SHTF preparation
- UFO watching
. . . And the list goes on. With so many uses for NVGs, we took the initiative to provide you with the goggles that are ranked and rated to be the best in the commercial market. From under 100 bucks to lip-biting, high-end prices, we have the top-ranking cream of the crop goggles right here.
The 9 Best Night Vision Goggles
1. Armasight BNVD – Most Advanced Night Vision Goggles
With Armasight’s return and separation from FLIR, their product listings are slim, but they have substance. Armasight now only offers high-quality Gen 3 IIT night vision devices. The BNVD are binoculars that are ideally suited to goggle use, but a legitimate drawback is maximal cost.
- Gen 3
- Single barrel flip-up
- 51-degree FOV option
- Dual power source option
The BNVD is a logical option for those who want the most advanced night vision goggles on their helmet. It provides all the benefits of night vision with binocular vision for both eyes. Incredibly convenient is that you can flip one barrel up for unassisted vision in one eye when needed.
As a binocular, it’s surprisingly lightweight at 1.4 lbs and compact at 5.4 x 2.8 x 4.6” in size. To be of further assistance in surveillance, law enforcement operations, and for predator hunting, it’s both water and fog-resistant – this inspires confidence in build integrity and continued performance in less-than-ideal weather.
The Armasight BNVD has an exorbitant price tag for a Gen 3 tube with 64-72 lp/mm resolution, automatic and manual gain, a built-in IR illuminator, 1x magnification, and Bright-Light Cut-Off. There are a few other special features about it that may justify its cost. It can be powered with either an AA or CR123 battery, and you also have a binocular vision with adjustable diopters.
As expensive as it is, the Ghost White Phosphor tube is not much more than the Green Phosphor. Additionally, it doesn’t cost more to opt for the BNVD-51 than it does the standard model. The difference here lies in the 27mm lens, 40-degree FOV, and 25mm eye relief of the standard BNVD versus the 19mm lens, 51-degree FOV, and 17mm eye relief of the BNVD-51.
Though the BNVD-51 has a smaller lens and shorter eye relief, the wider FOV offers maximum situational awareness that those in professional engagements may find invaluable. The BNVD offers the very best of binocular vision for mobile, navigational, professional, and hunting applications.
2. SiOnyx Aurora – Best Under $1000
Overall, Gen 1 night vision is becoming difficult to acquire as it seems to be phasing out of the market. In its place, digital night vision has become the sought-after alternative for function and value. Case in point, the SiOnyx Aurora digital monocular that extends its usefulness to goggle use.
- Video/image recording
- Focus & diopter
- Mounting options
- Battery life
Being digital, the Aurora requires a lot of electronic power for operation from its special camera-type battery. It runs continuously for two hours which is limited and short, however, you can use a USB battery pack to extend battery life.
As a digital CMOS sensor monocular, it has a lot of the techie perks that many like to experiment with such as use in daylight conditions, still image and video recording saved to a micro-SD card, and other electronic setting features such as digital zoom, exposure, focusing, etc.
Though the digital features are great, its foundational specs are what lends to its primary performance for use as NV goggles. It has 1x zoom, diopter adjustment, manual and electronic focusing, and the versatile ¼”-20 tripod threading for mounting.
You can weapon mount it though eye relief is snug, so it’s rated for .223 Rem calibers for optimal and safe use. It’s also compatible for connecting to J-arms to mount to head and helmet gear. Many have done it, and many enjoy the benefits of having hands-free operation from an affordable NVD.
Though under $1000, it’s advantageous that the SiOnyx Aurora is backed with a manufacturer warranty. It consists of 1-year coverage from the date of purchase, proof of purchase is required, and is only valid to the original owner.
3. X-Vision Hands Free - Best Digital Night Vision Goggles
You can't beat this if you're on a tight budget. The X-Vision goggles are one of the cheapest you will find in the market that is not a child's toy. It's digital NV, hands-free, and incredibly affordable.
- Day/night use
- Battery life
- Black/white display
- No photo/video recording
Most digital NV devices provide for photo and video recording features, but this model doesn't. It's not always a bad thing since it keeps the price very low. There's more to like about it than not.
I like the rechargeable battery that will last up to 8 hours in daytime and 5 hours at night. This is a long-lasting feature for digital NV. We like the adjustable aperture that allows for use during the day, and of course, at night in the dark.
The 10 degree visual angle will provide a sight picture in black and white. We also like how compact and lightweight the X-Vision Pro is. It's 5.51 x 6.3 x 2.6" in size and weighs a mere 12 ounces. For hands-free operation, it comes with an adjustable head strap.
The digital goggles are advertised to provide up to 300 yards of detection range at night and up to 440 yards during the day. For an entry-level model, low price, and digital resolution of 320 x 240, I think those estimations may be stretching it, but it's certainly possible with the aid of an IR flashlight.
This may not be your ultimate, covert pair of goggles, or even a set you'll want to use to sprint around with, but it is NV in a hands-free design for search and rescue, close-range hunting, and searching the skies - day or night.
4. AGM Wolf-14 NL3 – Best for the Money
The Wolf-14 NL3 is a multi-purpose monocular that can easily be used as a handheld unit but can also be head, helmet, and weapon mounted. Multiple parts are needed to accommodate all mounting options, but the multi-purpose night vision monocular remains one of the most versatile NVDs available.
- Gen 3
- Extreme climate range
- Multi-purpose monocular
- Dual power source
- No internal video/image recording
The NL3 model has a Gen 2+ tube, what AGM calls a “Level 3” tube with green phosphor. There are additional models in the Wolf-14 line that consists of Gen 2 to Gen 3 tubes with green or white phosphor.
It has 45-51 lp/mm resolution, 1x magnification, 40-degree FOV, 27mm lens, and a close focus distance of 0.1 feet. With these specs, it makes for excellent, hands-free use as goggles. Weapon-mounted, it’s also compatible with most lasers, red dot sights, and scopes.
As a high-quality, multi-purpose tool, it can be the all-in-one night vision device for those in law enforcement, security, or for home defense and is a fitting tool for hog and coyote hunting. When mounted to head/helmet gear, it has the auto-off flip-up function. The NL3 will also automatically shut down when exposed to excessively bright light sources, has an integrated IR illuminator, and it’s adaptable with cameras as it has no internal recording circuitry at all.
The AGM monocular has a manual focus ring on the objective bell, a diopter, and a dual power source battery compartment. You can use either an AA battery or CR123 for 40 hours (approx.) of runtime in up to -40-degree F temperatures.
Weighing in at 1lb and 6.1 x 2.3 x 2.9” in size, it’s a compact and lightweight composite NVD for head mounting and is made in Arizona, USA. For a price point that consistently hovers around $1500, the AGM Wolf-14 NL3 is a bona fide NVMD for goggle use with an unadulterated price point for the civilian and professional.
5. ATN NVG7-WPT - Best White Phosphor Goggles
Looking for law enforcement grade night-vision without the inflated costs of night-vision? The NVG7 series of goggles is intended to provide just that.
- WPT tech
- Adjustable IPD
I think that one of the most attractive features of the NVG7 is the adjustable IPD. Many NVGs don't come with the ability to narrow or widen the eyepieces because of the top mounting design to head and helmet gear. With these, you not only have an adjustable IPD feature, you also have one of the cheapest price tags for NV, and not just any NV, WPT at that.
What is WPT? It's White Phosphor Technology. While it's usually seen in upper Gen 3 tech, it can be used in any Generation class. While this NVG7 has 51-64 lp/mm resolution, a SNR of 16-22, and standard features that includes 1x power, Auto Brightness, and Bright Light Cut-off, it can be comparable to Gen 2 tech.
It takes 1x CR123A battery for up to 60 hours of nighttime exploring and expeditions. It comes with a goggle kit that is necessary for hands-free operation, and its biocular design includes a 26 mm aperture. The multi-purpose NVG7 WPT is one of the lightest goggles we've seen at 1.1 lbs.
Be sure to take care of your water-resistant goggles because the NVG7 is only covered by ATN Corp with a 2-year limited warranty. In my opinion, it's certainly not the best in the industry, and with a possible 15% restocking fee, you'll want to make sure you fully inspect it within 10 days of receiving the NVG.
Designed as a biocular that has been used by law enforcement and the military, the NVG7 are affordable goggles for armed professionals, hunters, and civilians on a budget.
6. ATN PS15-2 - Best Compact Night Vision Goggles
The PS15 series of goggles have dual tubes and dual lenses in a binocular design for the ultimate NVG experience. This series is the premium line of optics that ATN Corp offers in NVGs.
- Gen 2+
- Dual IITs
- Dual lenses
- Greater depth perception
Although this is the cheapest mode of the PS15 series with its Gen 2+ technology, it's significantly more expensive than the biocular PVS7 with similar features. You're the only one that can determine if spending more than grand is worth it for the binocular goggles.
So, what benefits do you get with dual lenses and dual tubes? With two IITs and two objective lenses, you have greater depth perception to see where you're walking or running to avoid stumbling and fumbling around. The increased light amplification also helps with much-needed tasks in the dark like reading maps and text without removal of the goggles.
However, there's a downside you must know. Because of the built-in features and top mounting system, the goggles do not have an adjustable IPD range.
The PS15-2 has 1x magnification, 27 mm apertures, and the optics have ATN's Proshield Lens Coating system. For a binocular, it's right within weight limits of 1.5 lbs (24 oz), but it's relatively lightweight for its full-size build - 4.7 x 4.5 x 2.7".
The PS15 takes 1x CR123A or 1x AA battery for up to 60 hours of use. It's waterproof, has a built-in IR illuminator, Automatic Brightness Control, and a Bright Light Cut-off feature.
Included with the buy is ATN's goggle kit that allows for flip-up, hands-free use, a soft carrying case, 1x CR123A battery, and necessary paperwork.
The PS15 goggles are night-vision binos without the high magnification of binoculars. For increased stealth and depth perception to get closer to the action without being caught, it seems the jump up in price may be worth it.
7. ATN PVS7-2 - Best Military-Grade Goggles
Built as an exact replica to the standard military commissioned AN/PVS7, these goggles have been combat proven to be effective in the field. As the entry-level model to ATN's PVS7 series, it puts affordable, military-issued tech in the hands of civilians.
- Gen 2 tech
- Battery life
- Auto features
With 1x magnification, a 27 mm aperture, and a 40 degree FOV, it has industry-standard specs for NVGs. It's built like a tank, and it should be for all the combat time it may see. With a Gen 2+ IIT, it provides 45-54 lp/mm resolution with a 12-20 SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). Obviously, it's not 64-72 lp/mm resolution in Gen 3 gear, but then it doesn't cost Gen 3 prices now does it?
For thermal biocular goggles, it's compact. It's 6.4 x 3 x 6" and this is smaller than FLIR's PVS7 models. It takes 2x AA batteries or a 3V BA-5567/U type battery to power on for 60 hours of use in -40°F to 122°F temperatures. Built with an integrated IR illuminator, it has momentary and continuous use modes for improved vision.
Auto features are standard on this PSV7: Auto Shut-off System, Bright Light Cut-off, and Automatic Brightness Control.
For the price, you get a lot in this package as it's a complete kit to get you night hunting tonight. A day light filter protects the objective lens and filters out excess light. An included demist shield intended for attachment on the eyepiece protects optics from internal fog and condensation. You'll also get a sacrificial window, eye cups, and lens paper; soft carry case, shoulder strap, and medium and thick brow pads. But, the most important goggle feature is the flip-up head mount assembly that allows hands-free operation. You might want to use the included instructional guide for assembly.
For vets, this ATN PVS7 might remind you of past tours. For hunters, this may be overkill. But, for the price, what the heck - just buy it anyway!
8. NightFox Swift – Best Under $200
In general, night vision goggles under $100 and $200 will be very similar. With digital technology and limited range, the distinctive differences between the two price lines will be its helmet-mounting compatibility. The NightFox Swift includes a head mount and 1x magnification suited to goggle use.
- 1x magnification
- Custom settings
- Head mount included
- Battery life
The NightFox Swift is a 1x zoom digital goggle set. It’s designed with a single display and an eyecup that surrounds both eyes. Included with the Swift model is a simple head mounting strap that allows for hands-free use. For complete hands-free operation for mobility, a more secure and quality head or helmet mounting system would be required.
As an NVD, it can be used safely in color mode during the day and then it switches to black/white mode for night vision. It is a small display with low resolution, but it suffices for recreational CQB use and varmint hunting.
Its detection range is between 10-70 yards. Though the NightFox Swift has adjustable IR illuminator settings, the emitter lights glow red compromising detection and your position. Both the manufacturer and buyers report the best options for improving stealth and increasing range to 100 yards (approx.) is to turn off the IR illuminators on the Swift and use an external IR flashlight. That will be a separate purchase but perhaps fitting for nerf, airsoft, or hunting applications.
The Swift is limited in runtime time and does not accept external batteries. The rechargeable internal battery allows for 3 hours of operation. It’s 12.7 oz and 6.7” in length, so it’s very reasonable in size and weight. For the budget price and 18-month warranty, the NightFox Swift is a preferable alternative to more expensive digital options.
9. AGM Kids Night Vision Goggles - Best for Kids
Going camping and leaving the electronics behind? Keep the kids interested in the woods for less than 20 bucks. With a pair of NVGs, they'll see camping as a new, fun experience.
- LED lights
- 25 ft
- Wide vision
Okay, so these aren't true NVGs as they have LED lights that illuminate the path ahead. Flip-out lights on either side of the ears pop out and stream blue light that provides up to 25 feet of sight in the dark.
It should be noted that these goggles are not suitable for hunting, stealth covert missions, or any activity where an adult may need night-vision. With visible LED emissions of light, you will be seen. This is a child's toy that enhances visibility in the dark for nighttime games of fun.
The glasses have green-tinted, etched graphics that glow in the dark when the lights have been activated. A one-piece lens allows for wide vision, and it also provides durability and eye protection. They're windproof, dustproof, and will hold up to reasonable abuse of mishandling by children.
While they're designed with an ergonomic fit with a nose pad and adjustable elastic band, they can be heavy after installing 4x AAA batteries. With the weight, they're not ideal for long-term use on a child. But, for 20 minutes of fun exploring the dark woods (supervision recommended), the AGM goggles will provide a special kind of camping experience they'll never forget.
These days, it's hard to limit screen time and pull the kids away from electronics. With the AGM goggles, you don't have to leave all the electronics at home.
What to Look for in Night Vision Goggles
The primary features to look for will always be the aspects that makes it a good goggle optic. This not only includes included accessories and body type, but it must also include the features that makes it a good night vision optic. Here's the gist. If you have more questions about night vision in general, see our FAQs on it here.
You'll have to save more than a pretty penny if you want true NVGs for professional use. A budget with a minimum of $3000-$4000 can land you Gen 2 gear. But, if you're on a tight budget, we've got you covered. We have a few Gen 2 NVGs in the $2000 range, and anything below that will be Gen 1.
NV is expensive. You must determine how much you're willing to spend on it and if your needs demand and justify having the tech, otherwise, you might have some explaining to do when it shows up on your credit card statement.
Keeping magnification low and at 1x has its benefits. It provides for more natural vision that allows you move freely in the dark to creep, run, and even fly helicopters. It also allows for reading text and graphics without removal of the device and using artificial light that could give your position away. 1x magnification is the standard for NVGs.
However, the drawback is not being able to see detail at long-range distances. But, with NV gear, long-range is a subjectable term. Other factors like generation technology and resolution play a larger part in detection, identification, and long-range sight.
Night Vision Generations
The military equips their soldiers with Generation 3 and higher-end tubes. The detail, resolution, and quality needed for their operations demand the absolute best when they often face life-or-death encounters. However, Gen 3 tubes and higher easily start at $4000.
Gen 2 tubes start at $3000, and Gen 1 can be found for around $1000. Many NVD users know the difference in quality between Gen 1 and upper level tubes, however, it's not always the practical option for the civilian to buy Gen 3 tech.
At the time of writing, our recommendation is to buy upper level Gen 2 and Gen 3 if you intend to use NVGs for law enforcement and professional use. Gen 1 with its detection range of 50-300 yards is suitable for the hunter, avid outdoorsman, and civilian using NV for recreational use.
If you need more info about NV Generation technology, we have a detailed explanation on all its types.
A must-have when buying NVGs are head mount kits. Without it, you won't have hands-free operation and essentially you've just bought a regular NVD. Most goggles will come with a standard head mount that includes for adjustable straps and a chin rest. It's important to look at the information about the head mount for horizontal and vertical adjustments to achieve the proper fit for your head. The type of mount connection will also tell you if the NVG will be easily attachable and removable or compatible with other gear.
You may want NVGs that allow for extra mounting of accessories for things like an additional IR illuminator or IR flashlight. Some NVGs will have an integrated rail on the body just for this purpose.
Best White Phosphor Goggles: ATN NVG7-WPT
Best Digital: X-Vision Hands Free Night Vision Pro
Best for the Money: AGM Wolf-14 NL3
Best Quality: Armasight BNVD
Best Under $1000: SiOnyx Aurora
Best Compact: ATN PS15-2
Best Military Goggles: ATN PVS7-2
Best Under $200: NightFox Swift
Best for Kids: AGM Kids Night Vision Goggles
There are no legal issues preventing ownership of night vision goggles for citizens in the United States. Without an exclusive license, it is illegal to export and import night vision gear (NVG) and to travel outside the U.S. with them. There are state-specific laws regarding use of NVG for hunting.
Night vision goggles cannot see in pitch black. They amplify ambient light from the moon, stars, streetlights, etc. Although image quality is affected in almost pitch-black conditions, you would need to be in true darkness like a blacked-out building for NVG to be rendered useless.
A good pair of night vision goggles can cost $2000-$4000. The best Gen 1 night vision goggles will start at $1000 and a great mil-spec Gen 2 pair like the ATN PVS7-2 costs approximately $2000. Quality night vision goggles are expensive.
As a general rule, you should look for specific features in night vision goggles before you buy. These include 1x, hands-free operation, and compatible mounting assemblies. You should look for image intensifier specs, goggle design, and price to determine what is best for you.
The term "goggles" in night-vision, is somewhat of a catch-all term that includes bioculars, binoculars, and monoculars. When mounted to head or helmet gear for hands-free use, it's now used as goggles. This is why you'll see binoculars and goggles used interchangeably in the industry. However, bioculars have a single tube design easily distinguished from binoculars with their two eyepieces and single objective lens body.
The AN/PVS-7 is a night vision biocular, and all PVS-7 models from various manufacturers design their NV goggles after this military issued night vision single tube device. It is by far the most popular NV type of goggles available, and consequently, it's one of the cheaper models.
As you know, binoculars, with night-vision or without, often come with much higher magnification. For hands-free operation and moving in the dark, you need 1x power for the utmost stealth and natural vision.
As mentioned earlier, 1x power, smaller apertures, and included head gear are the iconic features of what separates goggles from ordinary monoculars and binoculars.
Night Vision Goggles VS Night Vision Monoculars
The AN/PVS-14 is a night vision monocular, and all PVS-14 models from various manufacturers design their night vision monoculars after this military issued night vision device (MNVD). The PVS-14 is another popular NV device often used as goggles for hands-free operation.
They're obviously more compact and lighter in weight than binoculars and bioculars, and they allow for one eye use of NV and one eye use in natural light without NV.
Again, for monoculars to be effectively used as goggles, it must have goggle features that includes head mount assemblies, small apertures, and low magnification.
Goggle for Great Night Vision Goggles!
To goggle means to stare or to be wide-eyed in amazement, and with these great NVGs, you will be the very definition of it.
Goggles will allow you to goggle at the open skies and spark of heavenly bodies, spot varmints that you'd normally be blind to, and see potential threats before they have the chance to do you harm. All NV, regardless of generation, will help you see better in the dark.
When dark is the cover for illicit behavior, it's also a cover for you to correct it. When the dark means bedtime for everyone else, it means a fun night of UFO watching, the best game of hide 'n seek outdoors, and wildlife observation like never seen before. With NV, it's better in the dark.
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. When not glassing the local wildlife, you can find him in the garden with his German Shepherd.