Best Night Vision AR-15 Scopes - Digital, Thermal & Gen 1 Options (All Budgets)

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Best Night Vision Scope for AR-15

How much scope do you need to hunt at night?

How much should you spend on a night vision scope?

Are you a police officer, in the army, or hunting hogs?

There's a lot to think about when the sun goes down and you're one of the few people out and about stalking the predatory shadows of the night.  And, predator hunting is something an AR can do really well from realistic distances you can achieve after dark.

But, what do you top your AR with?  Night vision, thermal, sights, or scopes?  The options are many.  We've made it easy for you by compiling a few of the best scopes that you should consider buying. 

If you want to keep a tight grip on your budget before it gets away from you, which can be easily done with night vision demands, take it from us, we have the lineup just for you.

Here's to spending your money the well-informed way!

Our 7 Top Picks for AR-15 Night Vision Scopes

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
tt-table__imageATN X Sight 4K Pro 5-20X
  • Magnification: 5-20x
  • Technology: Digital
  • Price Range: Under $800
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageAtn X-Sight LTV 3-9x
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Technology: Obsidian LT Core
  • Price Range: Under $600
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageArmasight Co-Mini
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5000
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageArmasight Vulcan 4.5x
  • Magnification: 4.5X
  • Technology: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5500
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageATN Thor 4 Smart HD
  • Magnification: 1.5-15X
  • Technology: Thermal
  • Price Range: Under $4000
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageAGM Wolverine 4 NL2
  • Magnification: 4X
  • Technology: Gen 2
  • Price Range: Under $2500
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageNightStar Gen 1 Tactical
  • Magnification: 2X
  • Technology: Gen 1
  • Price Range: Under $500
CHECK PRICE

From shooting hogs, hunting coyotes, and varmints to home/personal defense, security, and duty use, there's a whole lotta reasons why you'd want a night vision (NV) scope on your AR 15 (ArmaLite 15).  Because shooting applications and needs will differ from one MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) owner to the next, the type of scope you'll need will also look different to another person's buy.

First evaluate what it is you need out of your night vision scope.  Do you need to identify targets and take long shots at several hundred yard distances?  Is close to mid-range distances for predator hunting the likely sport of the night?  Are you using it mostly for close-range property surveillance?

The type of quality you'll need from your nighttime scope will also determine your budget.  Night vision devices, thermal equipment, and even high-end, lowlight scopes can be very pricey.  We've picked our lineup to cater to real life budgets starting on the low end of around $200 where it peaks at $2000.

Obviously, you're going to want to make the most of your buy, especially if it's the first time you're investing in a night vision scope of some sort.  Most people don't have the luxury of burning through cash and scopes before they find the perfect one. 

To avoid burning a hole in your pocket and ending up with a dud that ends your hunt before you even start, take a cue from our lineup and see what scope can mount your AR-15 setup for a moonlit stalk tonight.

7 Best Night Vision Scopes for AR-15

1. ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x - Best Overall

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro riflescope
Image Credit: ATN Corp

The X-Sight 4k Pro is ATN’s flagship line of digital night vision scopes. It has works from dual streaming to ballistic calculations and even an adjustable, smart MIL dot reticle. You won’t be left wanting if you’re after maximum performance from a day/night system.

Pros:

  • Digital
  • Smart features
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Recoil-proof

Cons:

  • Tech issues

When you have a technologically advanced optic, you will likely run into tech issues. Fortunately, ATN provides firmware updates. So, if you’re willing to master the learning curve and update your scope as necessary, you’ll be pleased to have the extra bells and whistles.

One of the awesome features about the X-Sight 4K Pro is the smart MIL dot reticle. It’s a dynamic reticle that allows the user to adjust the mil space between the hashmarks to calibrate it to your load and preferences. You also have a smart stadiametric rangefinder, dual stream video, on-board ballistic calculator, and Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. Yes – it can also sync to your other smart ATN devices. Think ATN Radar… now that’s access to live information alright!

The X-Sight is still a rifle scope at the end of the day and not a camera or calculator. You have One Shot Zero to get zeroed in, it holds zero, tracks accurately, and can be mounted to heavy caliber rifles.

It’s decently lightweight at 2.2 lbs, has a long-lasting battery life of 18+ hours, and it comes with the rings and mount to get shooting immediately. For a scope that is ready for anything and everything out of box, it’s an intriguing scope that may have you ready for any and every type of hunt.

2. ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9x - Best Budget Option

ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9X Day & Night Rifle Scope
Image Credit: ATN Corp

The X-Sight LTV scopes may be our favorite versions of the X-Sight models to date. They’re ultra-lightweight, high-functioning, and best of all, so easy to use in the field.

Pros:

  • Simple system
  • New body style
  • HD display
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Recoil-proof

Cons:

  • Simple system

The best thing about the LTV scope may also be its downfall. It’s a scaled-down version of the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro which means it doesn’t have all the smart features that its upgraded sibling has. While the extras are considered non-essential, there are still those who believe if you’re going to buy digital, you may as well have it all. To them we say, this is not the right X-Sight for you.

Although it lacks the extra fixin’s, it still has excellent performance in what it does provide. It has the new Obsidian LT core and color CMOS sensor that provides the HD resolution you’ll be seeing through the scope day or night.

It’s incredibly lightweight at 1.6 lbs – so it’s excellent for lightweight setups like your AR-15 or to top an already heavy bad boy that loads 375 H&H. The body also has a very tube-like aesthetic that takes standard 30mm rings and looks more like a real rifle scope than a bulky contraption on your upper receiver.

With 3-9x magnification, a wide field of view, and day/night modes, you have great performance out to 300 yards (approx.) – perfect for taking those night prowlers out. For even more power and to stretch the distance, consider the lightweight X-Sight LTV 5-15x model.

3. Armasight Co-Mini – Best Clip-on

Armasight Co-Mini
Image Credit - Armasight

Armasight is back and so is the favorite Co-Mini clip-on night vision sight. With a Gen 3 tube and manual gain, it’s ever expensive as expected. Considering its high price, register it with Armasight to acquire the 3-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Gen 3
  • Manual gain
  • Clip-on
  • Wireless remote
  • Dual power option

Cons:

  • Price

The clip-on design lets you keep your favorite day scope on your rifle as it converts your setup for night vision. Seeing as it’s used in front of the rifle scope, it doesn’t affect eye relief, it lacks a reticle of its own, and it’s set for an approximate 1.5” height setup.

For mounting and pairing with the day scope, it comes with a light suppressor and Weaver mount for fast attachment to the rail. Given that no rezeroing is required, it can be assumed that the Co-Mini is factory-collimated to be within 2 MOA or better and works best with the 1-6x powers of a day scope.

It has a Gen 3 IIT with manual gain, 64-72 lp/mm resolution, and Bright Light Cut-Off. You can power the clip-on with either a CR123A battery for 45 hours of runtime or a AA battery for 24 hours. To conserve battery life and reduce the need for unnecessary movement, the included wireless remote will wake the Co-Mini from standby mode for instant activation

It’s best suited for close to mid-range work normally up to 350 yards. The included, detachable IR850-XLR Long Range IR Illuminator enhances range and visibility to an approximate 546 yards. With the integrated rail on top the 1.06 lb, 4.9 x 2.7 x 2.2” clip-on, you can mount an accessory such as a laser or red dot.

Though clip-ons can be just as expensive and even more so than dedicated riflescopes, it does give you the option of incorporating your favorite day scope into the nighttime hunt – perp or hog.

4. Armasight Vulcan 4.5x – Best GEN 3

Armasight Vulcan 4.5x
Image Credit - Armasight

The Vulcan 4.5x is a standalone night vision weapon sight recently brought back with Armasight’s return. With 4.5x magnification, Gen 3 IIT, manual gain, and having been designed to purposely fit the AR-15, the Vulcan is a high-end option for the semi-auto shooter who demands the best.

Pros:

  • Gen 3 IIT
  • Manual gain
  • 4.5x magnification
  • Wireless remote
  • Dual power option

Cons:

  • Price
  • Size

As a high-end NV scope, the Vulcan has a Gen 3 tube, 64-72 lp/mm resolution, manual gain, and automatic brightness. It has a huge 108mm lens with multi-coated optics that allows for a lot of potential for bright, clear, and sharp seeing. Consequently, it also tacks on weight for a total of 2.4 lbs. As expected, it’s not exactly a compact scope considering it’s 11.7 x 3.8 x 2.8” in size.

Turrets have adjustments in ½ MOA with a total of 45 MOA in E/W travel. It has very short eye relief of 1.77” and seems better suited to the AR-15 in .223. It has a red, illuminated crosshair reticle as the only option in both green and white phosphor tubes.

The scope can handle the conditions of the hunt given that it’s shockproof, waterproof, and nitrogen-purged. It also offers the dual power option via a CR123A battery for 40 hours or AA battery for 20 hours of runtime.

If for some reason it’s exposed to excessive lighting conditions, the Bright Light Cut-Off will instantly shut it off for tube protection. Making things convenient in the field and to conserve battery life, it comes with a wireless remote for activation while in standby mode.

Considering that the Vulcan 4.5x is extremely expensive, it’s a purchase that requires some serious thought and coin. In the grand scheme of things, it’s worth the time to register it with Armasight within 60 days to qualify for the Extended 3-year Warranty.

5. ATN Thor 4 Smart HD Review – Best Thermal

ATN Thor 4 640 1.5-15x
Image Credit: Optics Planet

Heading out the door to hunt down coyotes tonight?  I hope you’re prepared with the right gear to catch those elusive and sprightly creatures.  One sure-fire way to get it done – thermal imaging.  The Thor 4 Smart HD 640 is thermal scope designed to provide maximum sight, convenience, and accuracy.

Pros:

  • 4th Gen - New Version
  • Long detection ranges
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
  • HD Display
  • Smart digital features

Cons:

  • Price

This is the newest version of the Thor thermal riflescopes, and this model has 640x480 resolution and a 60 Hz refresh rate – top of the class.  It offers 1.5-15x magnification, 90 mm of eye relief, and a 1280x720 HD display.  It has multiple thermal palettes, reticle patterns and colors, and of course, it records video and audio.  Its detection range is over 1000 yards, recognition range over 500 yards, and identification range is over 300 yards – impressive!

This is one very smart device with its Bluetooth/Wi-Fi compatible feature that can connect to iOS and Android systems.  It has ATN’s One Shot Zero, Ballistic Calculator program, Smart Rangefinder, Smart Mil Dot Reticle, and so much more.

But, what are the specific upgrades?  It has the Gen 4 Next Gen sensor core, upgraded tactile controls, and it’s supposed to be easier to mount than ever with its standard 30 mm rings.

The Thor 4 is weather-resistant, can operate 16+ hours, weighs 2 lbs, is 13.5 x 3 x 3” in size, and it comes with a 3-year warranty.  It’s a very impressive thermal unit that may be too fancy for your AR-15, but it might be everything your AR needs, plus some!

6. AGM Wolverine 4 NL2 Review – Best GEN 2

AGM Wolverine 4 NL2
Image Credit: AGM Global

AGM is a very new optics manufacturer compared to the night vision brand staples, ATN and Armasight, we’ve become familiar with over the decades.  Earning a spot in this lineup for quality without compromise is the Wolverine 4 night vision weapons sight.

Pros:

  • Gen 2 “Level 2”
  • Double-level quick-release mount
  • 4x magnification
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Price

All Generation 2 optics and higher will always cost an arm and a leg, and this scope is right within budget.  The Wolverine 4 has 4x magnification, a huge 108 mm aperture, a very nice 9-degree field of view, and excellent 51-64 lp/mm resolution.

The scope itself is 2.6 lbs and is 12.1 x 3.7 x 3.8” in size – so, it’s has some decent heft and length to it which is right around the standard for scopes of this nature.  To boot, it has an adjustable, illuminated, mil-dot center-cross encompassed by a non-illuminated duplex style reticle.

The Wolverine also has an integrated rail to allow attachment of the included AGM Sioux 850 Long Range IR illuminator.  One CR123A battery will power you up for up to 50 hours at standard temperature (20°C/68°F).  It has 45 mm of eye relief, ¼ MOA adjustments, and a diopter adjustment.

This is about as good as Gen 2 gets without seeing a significant price jump.  It’s extremely clean and sharp to look through, and it detect targets at long range distances.  Hunters and law enforcement will appreciate the expert and quality materials available at a reasonable price.  With a 3-year warranty, this brand is worth a chance.

7. NightStar Gen 1 2x50 Tactical – Best GEN 1

NightStar Gen 1 2x50 Tactical
Image Credit: NightStar

Overall, as Gen 1 technology seems to be phasing out, NightStar is one manufacturer that is still assembling the affordable tubes. For the cost-conscious buyer wanting to mount night vision to an AR for recreational or small game use, the 2x50 Gen 1 tactical scope may fit the budget.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Gen 1
  • 2x fixed magnification
  • 150-yard range
  • 35 lp/mm resolution

Cons:

  • Gen 1

This NightStar NVD is a fixed 2x power rifle scope that comes with a Weaver rail mounting system. It’s not a monocular rigged with a mount, and it does not have digital technology. Completely analog, this NVD is a budget Gen 1 rifle scope with 35 lp/mm resolution and a green phosphor display.

The problem with it is that’s it’s Gen 1 and build quality can be suspicious given its lack of spec transparency. It has inherited the fish-eye lens effect and you will need to use the IR illuminator to achieve any clarity and range. Even so, the NightStar scope can detect out to 100-200 yards and recognition out to 80 yards. Inside 100 yards is where the NightStar will show its best performance.

To be clear, this budget night vision rifle scope is not intended for professional and stealth applications regardless of its ‘Tactical’ marketing in the model name. The IR light is said to emit a visible, red light. Its best use is for recreational target shooting or for pest/small game control. It could possibly be used for some predator hunting if it’s working sufficiently for 100-yard distances.

It has the necessities such as elevation and windage adjustments, focus, illuminated and adjustable brightness red reticle, 4-button interface, and it takes a CR123A battery.

The NightStar 2x50 tactical scope isn’t fixed with all the bells and whistles, and its overall performance is not suited to professional tasks. However, for starter night vision on your AR, it fits the budget more so than high-quality digital alternatives and certainly Gen 2.

What to Look for in an AR-15 Night Vision Scope

There are the obvious features you'll need to consider such as glass and coating quality, objective lens size, and overall durability.  These features are especially important on night vision and traditional rifle scopes.  But, thermal and digital scopes have other features you'll need to consider before you buy.

Let's skip over the obvious traits of what to look for in a scope and go straight to the less obvious but very important aspects that can affect your experience.  If someone is going to return their scope or doesn't like it for whatever reason, it's likely related to one of the factors listed below.  Know what you want and what's important to you before you buy!

Budget:

The price range for a night vision scope to mount to your MSR is as variable as uppers, lowers, barrels, and stocks.  You can land a medicore sight for a few, measly bucks or you can spend close to $10,000 on the latest night vision tech - probably more scope than you'd need for your AR. 

Because we're trying to keep realistic budgets in mind with realistic shooting applications done by the majority of shooters, we've got some scopes in the budget range of $600-2000. But also some high-end options for all you high-rollers.

ScopePrice RangeTechnology
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20xUnder $800Digital
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9xUnder $600Obsidian LT Core Digital
Armasight CO-MiniUnder $5000Gen 3
Armasight Vulcan 4.5xUnder $5500Gen 3
ATN Thor 4 Smart HDUnder $4000Thermal
AGM Wolverine 4 NL2Under $2500Gen 2
NightStar Gen 1 TacticalUnder $500Gen 1
Price & Technology Comparisons

Size/Weight:

Night vision and thermal scopes are heavy compared to their daytime counterparts.  Make sure you take overall size and weight into consideration with your type of night time hunting and shooting. 

Weight won't matter so much if you're sitting prone and set up with sticks or a bipod patiently waiting to take your shot.  However, if you're going to spend a good amount of time tracking and stalking, a lightweight option will best suit your needs.

ScopeDimensionsWeight
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20x14.9 x 3 x 3 inches2.2 lb
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9x12.2 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches1.6 lb
Armasight CO-Mini4.9 x 2.7 x 2.2 inches1.06 lb
Armasight Vulcan 4.5x11.7 x 3.8 x 2.8 inches2.4 lb
ATN Thor 4 Smart HD13.5 x 3 x 3 inches2.03 lb
AGM Wolverine 4 NL212.7 x 3.7 x 3.8 inches2.6 lb
NightStar Gen 1 TacticalUndisclosedUndisclosed
Size & Weight Comparisons

User Interface:

Digital scopes are all the rage these days thanks to the lower prices and digital features.  If you're willing to spend the time to get to know the interface beforehand, you'll be set up for a productive shoot and hunt. 

If you're forced to click through multiple menus, screens, and functions in the split seconds you need to aim and shoot, you could lose your shot.  Make sure you know the interface or it's easy to use in the dark.  Don't fiddle fart your way through the night without even getting to take a shot.

ScopeInterface Features
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20xAdvanced smart features such as video recording, live streaming, remote control, rangefinding, ballistic calculations. Requires regular firmware updates.
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9xFewer smart features and therefore easier to use than the X-Sight 4K Pro.
Armasight CO-MiniGen 3 technology. Clip-on design to day rifle scopes.
Armasight Vulcan 4.5xGen 3 technology
ATN Thor 4 Smart HDUltra-smart features such as Bluetooth/Wi-Fi compatibility, One Shot Zero, Ballistic Calculator, Smart Rangefinder, Smart Mil Dot Reticle.
AGM Wolverine 4 NL2Gen 2 technology
NightStar Gen 1 TacticalGen 1 technology
Interface Feature Comparisons
ScopeScreen ResolutionColor Modes
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20x1280x720Day & Night
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9x1280x720 HDDay & Night
Armasight CO-Mini64-72 lp/mmGreen or White Phosphor
Armasight Vulcan 4.5x64-72 lp/mmGreen or White Phosphor
ATN Thor 4 Smart HD1280x720 HDBlack Hot, Color & White Hot
AGM Wolverine 4 NL245-57 lp/mmGreen Phosphor
NightStar Gen 1 Tactical35 lp/mmGreen Phosphor
Screen Resolution & Color Mode Comparisons

Battery Life:

Digital scopes will eat battery life at the speed of a Popsicle melting on hot concrete - fast.  The extra features are nice, but they can be draining.  If you're planning on only being out for a few hours, you're set.  Night vision scopes are expensive but the battery life lasts a lot longer than digital, often lasting over 20 hours. 

Traditional scopes will be the best conservers of battery life as they only power the illuminated reticle, and that's if your scope has an illuminated reticle.  If you're out at low light and after, it really should have this feature.

ScopeBattery TypeBattery Life
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20xInternal Rechargeable Li-ion18+ Hours
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9xInternal Rechargeable Li-ion10+ Hours
Armasight CO-Mini1 x CR123A, 1 x AA45 hours, 24 hours
Armasight Vulcan 4.5x1 x CR123A, 1 x AA40 hours, 20 hours
ATN Thor 4 Smart HDInternal Rechargeable Li-ion16+ Hours
AGM Wolverine 4 NL21 x CR123A 3V LithiumUp to 50 hours at 20°C
NightStar Gen 1 Tactical1 x CR123AUndisclosed
Battery Type & Battery Life Comparisons

Distance Ranges:

The best night vision and thermal tech is going to cost a fortune - thousands of dollars, and that's the kind of money it will take to get usable data for several hundred yards in the dark.  Realistically, very few people have the budget to spend in those price ranges and that inherently affects how effective you can see and shoot in the dark.

You might be able to see 800 yards out, but being able to recognize and identify the target, what it is, what gender, and what it's doing is a different story. 

Most night vision scopes will allow you to see between 50-250 yards.  Beyond that, be prepared to spend more, invest in a quality IR illuminator, or learn tricks of the trade in how to flash blind predators and make for a successful nighttime hunt.

ScopeDetection RangeRecognition Range
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20xApprox. 500 ydsApprox. 75-100 yds
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9xApprox. 500 ydsApprox. 75-100 yds
Armasight CO-MiniApprox. 500 yds with IRApprox. 100-350 yds
Armasight Vulcan 4.5xApprox. 500+ ydsUnspecified
ATN Thor 4 Smart HDHuman Detection: 1050 ydHuman Recognition: 530 yd Human Identification: 330 yd
AGM Wolverine 4 NL2Up to 1000 m with Sioux 850 IRUnspecified
NightStar Gen 1 TacticalApprox. 100-250 ydsApprox. 80-100 yds
Detection Range & Recognition Range Comparisons

Warranty:

It's irrelevant if you're spending a couple hundred bucks or a fortune, everyone deserves a quality warranty to protect their product.  Warranty coverage on electronic parts may not be covered under certain warranties, and yet that's often the type of coverage you need on a night vision, digital, or thermal scope. 

Be sure to look over what's covered and what you'll end up having to fork out for.  A customer service track record given by the masses may be important to consider.  Stay brand-specific or stick with manufacturers you've had positive experiences with even if it might cost you a little more.

ScopeWarrantyWarranty Details
ATN-X Sight 4K Pro 5-20x2 Years2-year warranty on the scope, 6 years on the battery.
ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9x2 Years2-year warranty on the scope, 6 years on the battery.
Armasight CO-MiniExtended & Standard Limited Warranty3-year warranty with registration within 60 days from date of purchase for Extended Warranty. No registration defaults to 1-year Standard Warranty.
Armasight Vulcan 4.5xExtended & Standard Limited Warranty3-year warranty with registration within 60 days from date of purchase for Extended Warranty. No registration defaults to 1-year Standard Warranty.
ATN Thor 4 Smart HD3 Years3-year warranty on the scope, 6 years on the battery.
AGM Wolverine 4 NL2Limited 3-Year WarrantyCovers design flaws, materials failure, and workmanship issues.
NightStar Gen 1 TacticalLimited Lifetime WarrantyUnconfirmed. No warranty details provided by manufacturer.
Warranty Comparisons

Be the Hunter Not the Hunted!

You'd think nighttime hunting and stalking would be easy since you have the cover of darkness to aid in being stealthy.  However, predators have heightened senses when the moon comes out and taking on the role of being the hunter means having the right gear and being able to see your target.

If you don't have the right scope on your rig, you can be sure you'll soon be the hunted.  If you can't see, what's the point of being out after dark?

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