Last Updated on
What has you out at night? Is it hunting, nocturnal wildlife observation, or surveillance and security?
The reasons to be out and equipped with night vision (NV) gear are plentiful and personal. But, do you know where and how to start looking to buy a night vision monocular?
Are cheap monoculars worth it? What’s the difference between a scope and a monocular? Will it matter for your nighttime activity?
We’ll divulge everything right here, from the best night vision monoculars money can get you, to what to look for in your next buy!
QUICK LIST: Best Night Vision Monocular 2020
Bushnell Equinox Z2 – Best Under $500 & DIGITAL
- Night Owl iGen NOIGM3X – Best for Hunting
- Night Owl NOXM50 – Best Under $300
- ESSLNB Night Vision Monocular
- Bestguarder 6×50 HD
- OPTISCOPE Premium NV Monocular – Best Under $200
- Firefield Nightfall 2 5X50
- Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision Monocular
- Landove 5X40
- Solomark Night Vision Monocular
- Barska NVX100
- Carson Mini Aura NV-200 – Best Value for Money
- Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2X24 – Best GEN 1
- PRG Defense MUM-14A NL3 Gen 2+ – Best GEN 2
- ATN NVM14-3 – Best GEN 3
- ATN NVM14-4 – Best GEN 4
- ATN NVM14-WPT – Best WPT
Our 17 Top Night Vision Monoculars
What is the single most important feature of a monocular, performance and quality aside? It’s the size. Monoculars are made to be small, portable, and easy to use. They’re lightweight, compact, and yet, they can still be made with the same dependable ruggedness you would expect from binoculars or a rifle scope.
Why choose a monocular over night vision goggles, binoculars, or a night vision rifle scope? The first reason may have more to do with your finances than what you actually want. They’re often more affordable versus other optics.
Monoculars can often be mounted to other gear. Because of their compact size and light weight, they’re excellent tools for head mounting to a helmet or to a weapon like a hand gun or rifle for law enforcement or hunting purposes.
You can use monoculars as a recreational tool for camping, night hiking, and wildlife observation. You can also purchase professional models that are good enough for search and rescue operations, hunting, law enforcement and tactical needs, and for security and surveillance.
When you’re constantly on the move, are observing time-consuming targets, or you need the versatility of a night vision device that’s just as functional alone or mounted, a monocular is the way to go. Consider it the Swiss Army knife, the Leatherman, the ultimate multi-purpose tool of night vision equipment.
Because of how costly night vision gear can get, we like to scour the market for economical options that will fit within your budget. Our top choices include the most affordable monoculars for only a couple hundred bucks (if that!) with a drool-worthy night vision monocular just to get you started!
|Bushnell Equinox Z2||
|Night Owl iGen NOIGM3X||
|Night Owl NOXM502||
|ESSLNB Night Vision Monocular||
|Bestguarder 6X50 HD||
|OPTISCOPE Premium Night Vision Monocular||
|Firefield Nightfall 2 5X50||
|Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision Monocular||
|Solomark Night Vision Monocular||
|Carson Mini Aura NV-200||
|Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2X24||
|PRG Defense MUM-14A NL3 Gen 2+||
Night Vision Monocular Reviews by Price:
Best Night Vision Monocular Under $500
1. Bushnell Equinox Z2 Review- Best Digital Night Vision Monocular
It’s one the of latest night vision offerings from the well-known optics brand, Bushnell. This Equinox Z2 is the 6×50 model that does everything big and in style – that is, digital style. This monocular is a digital night vision unit that will be your undercover pal day or night.
- Digital technology
- 6x magnification
- 50 mm objective lens
For a digital optic, the Equinox Z might be light on features compared to other digital night vision gear that seem to be equipped with every app and type of meter available. But, this night vision optic still comes in as an affordable product even though it’s in the pricier section for monoculars.
The Bushnell monocular is the largest model in its series. This fact is obvious with its high magnification range of 6x that works directly with the huge 50 mm objective lens size to allow as much ambient light in as possible for nighttime work. But, as a digital monocular, the Equinox Z also doubles as a daytime device for those who want dual purpose benefits from their compact optic.
Speaking of compactness, it’s surprisingly smaller than we anticipated coming in at 7.5″ x 3.9″ x 2.5″ in size. With high power and a big aperture, we’d thought it would be a whopper, but its weight certainly proves this point weighing in at over 1.5 pounds.
Capture all the proof you need with the 1080p quality video day or night for over 300 yards of clarity when your natural vision would normally fail you.
Buy from a brand you trust. Buy from a brand that knows optics. Buy from a brand that stands behind their products with an Ironclad Warranty!
2. Night Owl iGen NOIGM3X – Best Night Vision Monocular for Hunting
- Proprietary iGEN technology is the future of night vision; surpasses Gen 2 and Gen 3
How do you know if a night vision monocular is really any good for hunting? Other than studying the specs and features, you take a look at what the masses say. Luckily for you, the Night Owl iGen NOIGM3X fits the bill and fits your budget. For under $500, you can have a quality set of night vision eyes for your next hunt!
- iGen technology
- Color output choices
- Programmable IR settings
- Multi-purpose monocular
- Not helmet or weapon suitable
What’s iGen tech? To simplify the term, it’s digital technology. This is a day/night monocular with some awesome digital features that will prove to be helpful in the hunt. During the day, you can use it for quick scanning and intelligence gathering, and during the night, you can be the prowler at the top of the food chain.
The Night Owl iGen monocular has 2.6x magnification with 30 lp/mm resolution from edge to edge. Infrared Intelligence has 10 levels to allow adjustments to the wattage to suit your needs and ever-changing darkness levels. You also have the benefits of variable frame rates from 2-30 fps with 4 brightness settings to constantly have the best sight picture when you’re looking to get pests under control.
Since it’s a digital device, you can see your sight picture in black and white, green, amber, and red.
As is standard for digital devices, you can record the moment you take down your heifer hog. Mount your monocular on a tripod if you’re working from a stationary position since the 19 ounces might weigh you down after a while.
But, for handheld and tripod use, the Night Owl monocular is a mighty fine tool to aid your hunt!
Best Night Vision Monoculars Under $300
1. Night Owl NOXM50 Review
- High quality all-glass optics - objective and ocular lenses. One solid focusing ring. Single hand operation. 500x light amplification.
What’s the catch with cheap night vision monoculars? They’re often made with plastic materials, fake optics, and are no better than the dollar store kids toy. If you’re going to spend a couple hundred bucks on a night vision monocular, you better make it a worthy buy. The 5-power NOXM50 by Night Owl Optics is a worthy investment without breaking a sweat over your budget.
- Gen 1 technology
- 5x power
- 50 mm objective lens
- Long-lasting battery life
- Close focus distance
- Focus issues
Real glass optics are inside the NOXM50 monocular and that will go a long way when darkness comes and you head outside. Being able to transmit light through to the Generation 1 image intensifier tube is everything when you need a pair of cat’s eyes at night. That’s why a large 50 mm objective lens, 35 lp/mm resolution, and a built-in IR illuminator are necessary features on this affordable monocular.
Even better, the Night Owl Optics 5-power handheld unit feels like a solid product especially if you’re accustomed to handling other sport optics. It has a rubberized, soft-touch finish and an impact-resistant molded thermoplastic lens housing to protect it.
Kind of a bummer for the price, you don’t get a 3V 123 Lithium battery in the purchase. But, when you buy your own, you’ll get anywhere between 45 to 100 hours depending on how heavy-handed you are with using your IR illuminator.
Focus issues are a typical downside with economical monoculars regardless of brand, and it’s a common drawback here. Be vendor-specific since warranty information on this product is sparse and conditions are extensive. In other words, the NOXM50 is an excellent buy if you get a fully functional one like the majority of buyers. Just be diligent about making sure it’s up to par when you get it.
2. ESSLNB Night Vision Monocular Review
- 5X40 Infrared Hunting Camera:Digital monocular with CMOS sensor achieves clear view up to 5X optical magnification and 8X digital zoom with 40mm objective lens. Built-in...
The ESSLNB monocular is sure a mouthful to say, but it’s quite fitting since it has a bucket load of features to brag about. The first and foremost feature to spout off about is its ridiculous price for the quality it has. If you want to make the most of a budget that isn’t as flexible as you would like, digital is the way to go, and the ESSLNB gives you the green light on hitting “buy!”
- Digital technology
- 4.5x magnification
- 40 mm objective lens
- Daytime color images
- Not suitable for hunting
Everything about the ESSLNB handheld is made for portable monocular benefits on the go. You have 5x optical magnification or you can digitally zoom between 1-8x. During the day, a color image is displayed in 640×480 resolution on an LCD screen which is pretty darn good for a digital monocular with a price tag as low as this.
Come midnight hours, you have a monocular that transmits clear images in black and white which is much easier on the eyes than the typical green of night vision gear. If you’re going to be stationary and observing for a while, the device has a threaded tripod mount to make your nighttime stalk even more convenient.
It’s a very new monocular to hit the market, and it’s already trending an up and rising approval rate by the masses. The tons of included accessories such as the 8gb TF card, pouch, accessory bag, strap, and so much more certainly helps with its customer satisfaction rating. But, in the end, it’s the performance quality for the low price that sells it.
Scouting, observation, surveillance, security, and any other nighttime adventure you wish to brave, the ESSLNB handheld gets it done, and gets it done well.
3. Bestguarder 6X50 HD Review
- 1). outstanding optical clarity: 5Mega CMOS sensor; high performance digital night vision monocular with 6x magnification and a 50mm objective lens; taking HD photos...
Do you want to be the best guard on the property or the ranch? Are you the bottom line when it comes to protecting to your home from varmints or ensuring no one is breaching the perimeter? What you need is a magnified view or a set of eyes equipped with night vision. Be the best guard around with a Bestguarder 6×50 HD monocular to keep a close eye on things even when dusk approaches.
- Digital technology
- 6x optical magnification
- 1-5x digital zoom
- Day/night use
- Not weapon or helmet mountable
Being the best protector of your cattle, family, or property means being on the alert day or night. This calls for a digital monocular that has the ability to provide you with color detail when the sun is out and with detection and recognition capabilities in the dead of night.
The Bestguarder has 6x magnification that’s for use during the day when objects/targets at extended ranges can be seen in daylight. When it’s low light or dark out, you can easily kick into digital zoom between 1-5x power and get the perfect view of your target within detection range.
Your sight picture is displayed with a CMOS sensor that’s super sensitive to IR light, just like the 850 nm one that provides over 350 yards of night vision visibility that this monocular has. Of course, you can capture clear images and video record anything and everything that you see. Mount it to a tripod for even better stability and viewing.
But, with most night vision monoculars in this price range, there’s a risk of inconsistent quality control. However, it seems people are quite impressed with the responsiveness and follow-through with Bestguarder customer service to replace a defective model. Now that’s a company worth putting your money with.
Best Night Vision Monoculars Under $200
- THE PERFECT TOOL FOR NIGHTTIME OBSERVATION: No matter what you need a night vision optical device for, this great monocular will do the trick for you. By striking a...
There’s a significant price drop between our first pick and this OPTISCOPE night vision monocular, and it’s a good thing. Not every person who’s out for a nighttime hike or quick scout needs the quality or performance of a $2000 monocular, so this model is a welcome product to the market. As a choice night vision gadget, it has the right price, features, and quality to satisfy any moon walker on a mission, or just out for a stroll.
- 3x magnification
- Multi-coated optics
- Photo/video capability
- Includes 4gb mini SD card
- 1-year guarantee
- Quality control issues
For a cheap monocular, this unit might surprise you. Consistent reports say it performs as advertised – you can see in the dark up with excellent detection range up to 100 yards. Some even say you can get further than that and with the 2x zoom magnification feature, you can hone in on details to improve your recognition range.
Since optical quality is extremely important with a night vision device, it’s a nice tidbit to know the OPTISCOPE monocular has multi-coated lenses. It also has camera and recording features that may very well be useful to you. Take photos or videos and upload them to your computer or TV to share with everyone with the included 4gb mini SD card.
Although OPTISCOPE clearly states they use the highest quality of materials available with strict quality control procedures, there’s still some monoculars that sport issues out of the box. The good news? You don’t have to purchase a separate insurance or warranty plan since OPTISCOPE offers a 1-year limited guarantee.
For a $100-ish night vision monocular, it’s worth buying it out of curiosity. Just don’t be surprised to find it satisfies your every night stalking need!
2. Firefield Nightfall 2 5X50 Review
If you’re going to be out after dark, you may as well make it worth it to have a big and better night vision monoculars on your person. What’s the point of having a set of night vision eyes if your monocular is the equivalent to a kids toy? This is where the Firefield Nightfall 2 comes in.
- 5x magnification
- 50 mm objective lenses
- 1-yard close focus range
- Gen 1 technology
- Rubber armored/water-resistant
- Quality control issues
Gen 1 technology has come up leaps and bounds over the decades, and what used to be advanced tech is now standard issue for civilian night vision gear. The Nightfall 2 has Gen 1 technology that may be simple in the scope of things, but it’s always going to be better than no night vision at all, even with its bottom-rung 36 lp/mm resolution.
Firefield claims up to 200 yards of detection range with its built-in 805 nm IR illuminator. Why couldn’t you see this far out when you have 5x magnification and a whopping 50 mm objective lens diameter to transmit as much ambient light as possible?
It’s easy to wield and hold steady since it’s a little bigger than most compact monoculars weighing in at 1 pound and being 8″ x 3.7″ x 2.4″ in size. But, when you have a 1/4″ hole for mounting to a tripod, you can easily take the stress off your arms and perch up like a night owl.
Since it’s a night vision monocular on the cheaper end, there are numerous reports about focusing issues. Make sure you examine yours out of the box and take advantage of the 1-year warranty if you must.
For general nighttime observation and close-range hunting, you’ll be golden with the Nightfall 2 in your pack.
3. Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision Monocular Review
- The Astromania Night Vision Monocular is equipped with multi-coated glass objectives and high sensitivity sensors. Its compact size and lightweight is ideal for a wide...
Digital – it’s a whole world of its own in the night vision industry and that’s because it’s suitable for both day and nighttime use. Whether you’re a night vision purist or dedicated night stalker, there’s some benefit to day and night systems that you might want to consider. We’ll start by introducing the Astromania monocular that aims to do it best in both the bright light of day and the darkest of nights.
- Digital technology
- Zoom control
- LCD color screen
- Quality control issues
Digital night vision gear is a viable route to go when you want to stretch the budget because you may not be able to afford dedicated, high-end night vision systems. The Astromania is one such product. It has an LCD screen that displays in color when looking through the monocular in day time mode. Come dusk, your sight picture will be in black and white.
To fix the image brightness to your liking, the 850nm IR illuminator can be controlled with 7 settings. You can also zoom with 1x, 1.3x, 1.6x, and 2x magnification to get a closer view of your target or the surroundings.
Do you need proof of the elusive pest hanging around the property? Capture it by photo or video and upload it via USB or AV cables that are included in the package. What else does it come with? A neck strap and carry case are included to make it even more portable and convenient to have with you no matter the time of day.
Weighing less than a pound and being about the size of an adult hand span, you can have the benefits of night vision with you wherever you are. See upwards of 300 yards to targets the size of vehicles and around 100 yards for adult-sized objects. For a taste of what night vision can do for a cheapo price, feel free to go manic over the Astromania.
4. Landove 5X40 Review
- HIGH QUALITY CONFIGURATION - Digital night vision monocular comprises of high quality electronics and optics with 5x optical zoom, 8x digital zoom and a 40mm objective...
It’s new, low in price, and just what you’re looking for! The Landlove 5×40 monocular is your ticket into entering the world of night vision. It’s far from a high-end night vision optic, but it’s hard to beat when you don’t have more than 200 bucks to spend. Take a looksie at what you can realistically get when your budget is tighter than your belt.
- 8x digital zoom
- 40 mm objective lens
- Digital technology
- Tripod and weapon mountable
- No SD card included
As expected, this isn’t a “true” night vision unit, it’s digital. If you put aside your optics-snob attitude, you’ll realize a digital monocular may just be good enough for you. If we forget about its daytime use, 5x optical magnification, and 40 mm objective lens, we can get right to the stuff that gets you out at night.
One 3.7V Li-ion battery gets you juiced up and ready to go. You can also charge up your unit with the included adapter to get you to full power before your first, after-hours walkabout. But, how far out can you see?
If you need usable detection ranges within 200 yards, you have it. The Landove has a built-in IR illuminator that you can control for variable lamp brightness. Turn it all the way up and you might wash out some of your sight picture, but you can also get usable detail when you’ve left star or moonlight behind, say, in a dark, enclosed building.
Having photo, video, and playback modes makes it a nifty, little camcorder for those moments you plan on sharing with the world. If there’s a monocular that can do a little bit of everything, it’s this one.
5. Solomark Night Vision Monocular Review
- A great gadget which enable you to observe target in complete darkness. Ideal for a wide variety of uses such as surveillance, nighttime hunting wildlife observation and...
You’re not a cop, in the military, or a hunter. But, you are hiker, wildlife observer, and sometimes you’re curious about what’s hootin’ and howlin’ at night. You might be none of those things but you’re planning a scout’s trip out in the woods or you’re just looking to take a up a new nighttime hobby of finding and documenting the North American jackalope. All of the above situations call for night vision monoculars. Have you got one? You better check out Solomark if you’re going to be ready for when the sun goes down.
- Digital technology
- 100 yard detection range
- Minimal zoom
- Short battery life
This cheap monocular is one of the pride and joy products of Solomark. This is the most affordable model with its blue infrared illuminator. The IR illuminator also allows for 7 levels of brightness control so you’re always in control of your sight picture no matter the conditions.
You can control your magnification settings with 1x, 1.3x, 1.6x, and 2x power that just might be the feature you need to identify your jackalope out to 100 yards. Get it on camera either by photo or video recording and prove it to the skeptical folks with the included 1G micro-SD card.
However, the Solomark is a battery hog, so you may want to have spares on you. It takes 4 AA batteries to get operating, but it’s gone within 5 hours. You might want to think about using rechargeable batteries since it sounds like it could get expensive just to own it. But, once you’ve proven the fearsome creature exists, you’ll be ready for an upgrade!
6. Barska NVX-100 Review
- 4 GB micro SD card, mini USB cable, AV cable, neck strap and soft carrying case
Barska is a brand we know well. They’ve been around for a long time and they know optics like the back of their hand. What they’re most known for is their affordable prices. When night vision is too far out of your price range, you can trust that Barska has a product that’s just right for you. The NVX-100 is one such unit that offers up the features you need for the lowest price possible.
- Digital technology
- Day/night use
- 100-yard detection range
- Barska 1-year warranty
- Short battery life
It doesn’t matter if it’s light out or pitch black, having a monocular increases your visibility and your ability to judge a situation and react. Having a set of eyes with some magnification can help you admire the sight of playful dolphins while at the beach and it can help identify the nocturnal culprit responsible for clearing out the chicken coop.
The NVX-100 is made to do just that with its digital system that allows for day and night viewing. Come nighttime, you go into black and white mode and activate the 850 nm IR illuminator to do its thing. With a CMOS image sensor, you have 320 x 240 screen resolution and 2x digital zoom to achieve the best night vision image possible.
Granted, this unit is less than $200, so it’s not going to be the same image quality that you would get from a high-end monocular. On the same note, it won’t last as long when you’re out to get everything done in one night. With 4 batteries in the chamber, you’ll be set for 2-5 hours.
Since this is a Barska, you can bet your monocular is protected with a 1-year limited warranty. Since this is a Barska, you can bet you’ll get a bunch of accessories thrown in. Since this is a Barska, you can bet your money’s good spent here.
7. Carson Mini Aura NV-200 – Best Night Vision Monocular for the Money
- MiniAura is Completely Digital With Images That Will Appear in Black and White
Target Tamer’s has had hands-on experience with this brand, and we can’t say enough good things about their optics. We expect nothing but the best, and they always exceed our expectations when it comes to value. That’s why the Mini Aura NV-200 model is our top best value monocular for the money. Guess what? It’s also the cheapest one in the entire lineup too!
- Low magnification
- Extremely compact
- Extremely lightweight
- Trusted brand/excellent customer service
- Short detection range
The Mini Aura is an astounding, tiny gadget with big personality. For the incredibly low price, you might pass it up as junk, but that would be a terrible mistake. Carson is a brand you can trust and you can count on for superb customer service.
This monocular may not be feature-loaded as other monoculars in this price range, but it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Its strengths lie in its fundamental quality. What do we mean by that?
It’s an entry-level monocular designed for low light and nighttime use that can get you usable detail up to about 60 yards. With the use of the IR in complete darkness, you can see out to 82 feet. That’s more than good enough to scout out a building or thick timber.
The monocular is extremely compact and lightweight. It’s not even the full length of a green dollar bill. It weighs 2 ounces and is only 2.5″ x 2.2″ x 1″ in size. How much more portable does it get than that? For the price, you can have one in every family member’s bug-out bag and camping kit. Keep it in your pocket and whip it out so you don’t fall and twist an ankle while out in the woods looking for the makeshift john.
The Mini Aura might be an entry-level and basic handheld, but the monocular has been made well. There’s no trading or returning this baby in. It’s a keeper!
Night Vision Monocular Reviews by GEN/TECH:
1. Best Gen 1 Night Vision Monocular – Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2X24
- High Quality image and resolution
With a name like Ghost Hunter, how can you deny yourself the privilege of owning one? This Gen 1 monocular is well-known and affordable. Who knew that you could own legit night vision generation technology for under 200 bucks? We did, and now you do too.
- Gen 1 technology
- Automatic excessive brightness shut-off
- Long battery life
- 3-year tube warranty
- Not mountable to headgear or weapons
The Ghost Hunter offers 2x magnification with a 24 mm objective lens diameter. The 2x magnification is fixed, so you can’t zoom or minimize it. You may have to look at other Ghost Hunter models if you want less or more power.
In natural, ambient light conditions, the Ghost Hunter claims it can get you detection ranges to 130 yards. Without IR power, your 2AA batteries will last approximately 72 hours. Whip your artificial light source and you still have long lasting battery life of 20 hours.
Extend your useable night vision range with the 805 nm IR illuminator. When conditions change or you’ve accidently slipped the cap off before dark while it’s on, the Ghost Hunter will automatically shut itself off to protect the tube.
Even though Gen 1 equipment is highly sought after and popular for their low prices, it doesn’t come without some quality control issues. Know what to expect when you buy, have the right expectations for Gen 1 gear, and you’ll be pleased with your monocular.
For under a couple hundred bucks, there’s not much room to complain about for legitimate Generation 1 night vision.
2. Best Gen 2 Night Vision Monocular – PRG Defense MUM-14A NL3 Gen 2+
- Compact and rugged design, Hands-free operation
PRG Defense has a very expansive inventory, and their most affordable night vision monocular is this Gen 2+ Level 3 unit built for professionals.
- Gen 2+
- Head/weapon mountable
- Long battery life
Let’s face it. Two grand is still two grand – a heck of a lot of money but considering its genuine upper Gen 2+ Level 3 quality, it’s a great buy. PRG Defense doesn’t even bother dabbling with Gen 1 monoculars as they put their efforts into the high-tech stuff that makes a huge difference in the field.
The MUM-14A monocular is a 1x unit that makes it suitable for head mounting. It has a wide 40-degree field of view, 27 mm aperture, and a focus range of 0.25 m to infinity. It also has another mini rail so that it can be mounted to weapons for sight use, and of course, it has a high light cut-off for optical protection.
Powering the unit is an included CR123A battery, but you can also opt for AA batteries if you prefer. You’ll get approximately 40 hours out of a single battery when it’s about 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). While it can operate at temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit max, you’ll eat up more juice.
It’s extremely compact and lightweight at 0.6 lbs in weight and 4.5 x 1.9 x 3.1” in size. It comes with a head and weapon mounts, carry case, lens tissue, manual, battery, and 2-year limited warranty. For professionals, this monocular is worth the buy.
3. Best Gen 3 Night Vision Monocular – ATN NVM14-3
Who do you turn to when you want the best from only the best? ATN is your brand when you’re serious about spending serious cash. The NVM14-3 is no mediocre or digital monocular. It’s a legit Generation 3 device that’s probably going to be the best night vision gear you will ever own – unless you have some serious cash to burn for fun.
- Gen 3
- 64 lp/mm resolution
- 40° field of view
- Long lasting battery
- Extremely close focus range
When you’re spending this much, you’re obligated to demand the best. The NVM14-3 has A-class resolution of 64 lp/mm on a Gen 3 IIT. A wide field of view of 40° with 1x magnification is all it will take to spot any critter trying to pull the wool over your eyes with the cover of darkness.
Battery life is ridiculous with only one 3V (CR123A) battery that should stay juiced enough for 60 hours. It’s compact at 4.7″ x 1.9″ x 2.7″ in size, and you know it’s made with quality materials and components when it weighs 1.5 pounds.
Other than its technical specs, it has ATN’s Automatic Protective System and their Automatic Brightness Adjustment System. Sounds fancy? It is. It delivers excessive illumination protection by automatically shutting down when things get to bright for longer than 10 seconds. You can also depend on maintaining a constant brightness level even when conditions unexpectedly and inconsistently change.
Its range of applications are numerous since you can use it as a handheld or mount it to head gear, helmets, or weapons. The choice is yours, and it’s also clear: it’s ATN all the way.
4. Best Gen 4 Night Vision Monocular – ATN NVM14-4
Gen 4 tech. Is it a real thing or a misnomer? It can get confusing trying to work your way around the marketing terms, but we can say Gen 4 is distinctive in its own right, so it’s a real thing. Not sure what we mean by that? Our explanation will get you caught up. As for right now, the NVM14-4 Gen 4 monocular is the crème de la crème of them all.
- Gen 4 technology
- Total Darkness Technology
- Auto Brightness Adjustment System
- Auto Protective System
- Headgear and weapon mountable
So, what exactly makes this monocular a Gen 4 device? The NVM14-4 monocular is an autogated unit with a filmless photocathode. The filmless technology is what makes this a high-end optic. On top of this, it also has a very high 25-30 signal-to-noise ratio that is the best of what you can get.
This model has everything the NVM line of monoculars offer. Total Darkness Technology lets you see when conditions prevent light amplification. Don’t underestimate when you might need this feature. 64-72 lp/mm industry-leading resolution is expected with such a high caliber optic.
When you need to adjust your brightness levels, let the NVM 14 do it for you. With the Automatic Brightness Adjustment System, the monocular will regulate light transmission and at the same time will not let it exceed excessive levels that will damage the system.
It’s a complete mountable monocular that can be used in professional scenarios when you need hands-free operation. Headgear, helmets, and weapons are all options to mount your ATN monocular to. What can’t ATN do? Apparently, they do it all.
This monocular ain’t for amateurs. Hardcore night vision users, law enforcement, and even some hunters will justify putting the cash aside for this optic. What about you?
5. Best White Phosphor Night Vision Monocular – ATN NVM14-WPT
Not a huge fan of the iconic green sight picture that’s typical of night vision? Did you know you can have different? WPT (White Phosphor Technology) is night vision in black and white that’s more natural to the eyes. Expect better detail, contrast, and depth perception with the NVM14-WPT from ATN.
- WPT tech
- Excellent resolution
For a monocular, it’s on the expensive end of the price spectrum, but it’s definitely considered affordable when you’re looking at night vision equipment in general. The NVM14-WPT is mountable to head gear, helmets, and weapons. But, of course you can use it in its natural form as a discreet handheld unit.
Your sight picture will be well above what’s considered standard since it has resolution of 51-64 lp/mm. With 1x magnification, 27 mm objective lens, and a built-in IR illuminator with a flood lens, you’ll be spotting targets and prey that will be unaware of your stealthy observance.
To make sure you always have the brightest sight picture, even with minimal stars and moonlight, the NVM is equipped with ATN’s Automatic Brightness Adjustment System. What is it? It ensures the IIT (image intensifier tube) is constantly stimulated with as much light as possible.
But, don’t worry about going overboard. It’s also been outfitted with an Automatic Protective System that will shut the monocular down if illumination levels are above 100-300 lx for more than 10 seconds. Now that’s a sure-fire way to protect your investment when conditions unexpectedly change or for those accidental fail moments you might incur on your night vision monoculars.
This gadget is a must-have if you want to do any type of serious night work. ATN – it’s not a brand for amateurs!
What to Look for in a Night Vision Monocular
Don’t feel overwhelmed if you feel like the ins and outs of night vision gear is beyond you. We will keep it simple with a list of the most important features to be aware of.
You don’t have to get stuck in the huff and puff of inflamed night vison lingo. Here’s what you need to know and how to go about understanding it!
Set one. The price range for monoculars with night vision couldn’t be more extreme. You can find one for less than $100 and then easily spend $5000 on one. Set a budget, stick with it, and shop your options within it.
Monoculars are still optics whether or not they’re equipped with night vision capability. You still want real glass and lenses with quality coatings to enhance light transmission through the optical system. Always avoid plastic optics – it’s a kid’s toy.
Detection range is always going to be further than identification ranges. 100 yards is easily achievable by higher end optics. Under 100 yards is typical for low-cost monoculars. Consistent ranges will also vary depending on available moonlight, IR use, and technical specs such as magnification, etc.
Adding an artificial light source will significantly improve your detection range. However, there are some downsides that include display effects like washing out the picture and being detected by other night vision monoculars users. Many monoculars will come with built-in IR illuminators while some higher-end ones will allow intensity control and even on/off switches.
Gen 1 is the cheapest type of night vision monoculars available. Generation 3 and 4 are the highest. As you move up in generation class, there will be a significant price jump that also correlates with quality. For a complete explanation on night vision generations, see our guide on it here.
Digital Night Vision:
They’re flooding the night vision market because of their low cost, day and night usage, and digital features. Most monoculars under $500 is more than likely going to be a digital unit. While it’s not an authentic night vision optic, they have their benefits.
As mentioned, 64-72 lp/mm is the best resolution a night vision optic can have. Cheaper monoculars will have 30 lp/mm or around about. This is often an indicator that will determine cost and quality.
Signal to Noise Ratio:
This value is very important since it indicates how sensitive a photocathode is. The best monoculars have a 25-30 SNR value, while any quality night vision optic will have a value of 21 or over.
You’ll want to pay attention to what batteries your monocular will require. Having tob purchase multiple batteries can get expensive, especially if the battery life span is only a few hours. However, the 40+ hours of battery life is usually a quality feature that is seen on higher end monoculars.
Monoculars are meant to be compact and lightweight. When mounted to a helmet or weapon, they should be light enough to comfortably wield and small enough to not inhibit safe and correct use of other gear. Most night vision monoculars are in and around 1 pound in weight, and are an average of 6″ x 3″ x 3″.
Stick with a brand you know and trust. If you’re new to optics, look for a brand that has a proven track record. Great customer service, product warranties, and name recognition among the masses are key features to look for.
Get one. Make sure your night vision monoculars come with a warranty. They’re either too expensive not to have one to protect your investment, or they’re so affordable, you run the risk of unfortunately getting a defective model. Either way, a warranty and return policy guarantee is the way to shop wisely.
The Monocular: King of Versatility
The night vision monocular reigns over all other night vision devices in the market. They are the most versatile optic to get you seeing at night in an endless range of applications.
Camping, hiking, hunting, observation, scouting, search and rescue, security, survival/prepper tool, surveillance – you name it, the monocular will light up your world.
Don’t twist an ankle while leaving your tent to take a break. Nock your bow to eradicate the nocturnal pest problem on the ranch. Up your game for a midnight session of paintball. You get the point.
Do you know what’s happening after lights out? It’s about time you find out!