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

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Night Vision Scopes for AR-15How 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!

 

QUICK LIST: 6 Best Night Vision Scopes for AR-15

  1. Sightmark Photon RT 4.5×42
  2. Burris AR-332
  3. ATN X-Sight II 5-20
  4. Firefield NVRS 3×42
  5. Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455
  6. Armasight Predator 336

 

Our 6 Top Night Vision Scopes for AR 15

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
tt-table__imageSightmark Photon RT 4.5x42
  • Magnification: 4.5X
  • Technology: Digital
  • Price Range: Under $600
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageBurris AR-332
  • Magnification: 3X
  • Reticle: Illuminated AR (3X)
  • Price Range: Under $500
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageATN X-Sight II 5-20
  • Magnification: 5-20X
  • Technology: Digital
  • Price Range: Under $600
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageFirefield NVRS 3x42
  • Magnification: 3X
  • Technology: Gen 1
  • Price Range: Under $400
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imagePulsar Digisight Ultra N455
  • Magnification: 4X
  • Technology: Digital
  • Price Range: Under $1500
VIEW ON AMAZON
tt-table__imageArmasight Predator 336
  • Magnification: 2-8X
  • Technology: Thermal
  • Price Range: Under $2000
VIEW ON AMAZON

 

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 NV 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.  NV 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 NV 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.

 

AR-15 Night Vision Scope Reviews

1

Sightmark Photon RT 4.5X42

Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope, 4.5x42, Black
7 Reviews
Sightmark SM18016 Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope, 4.5x42, Black
  • Wifi remote view via pulsar stream vision
  • Built-in video/sound recording
  • Built-in invisible 940Nm led ir illuminator

Need a couple hundred yards of visibility for your nighttime hunt?  The Photon RT scope is your digital and affordable night vision scope to take down hogs, coyotes, and anything else that legally presents itself.  With the right kind of specs, quality, and price tag, this scope made our lineup as an outstanding option that you won’t regret buying.

PROS:
  • Price
  • Digital tech
  • Day/night use
  • Easy interface
  • Multiple accessories included

CONS:
  • Heavy
  • Short battery life

The good: The Photon RT scope is as simple as it gets for a digital scope and that’s a great thing.  It might not have all these fancy digital features that other comparable scopes brag about, but all the quality is where you need it most – clarity at dark, effective distance range out to 150-200 yards, and an easy to use interface that won’t interfere with your hunt.

Because it’s a digital scope, you can use it during the day and at night.  Sight it in at the range in the light of day and head out to your blind come night.  To help you get zeroed in without wasting ammo, the Photon RT scope has a One Shot Zero feature.  Add to that 6 reticles in 4 different illumination colors, a Weaver rail on the side to mount additional accessories, and the ability to connect your smartphone to the display and you have a scope rearing to go.

The ugly: it’s heavy and a juice sucker.  The 30 mm tube scope weighs a pounding 30.7 ounces.  Add 4 AA batteries on top of that and you only get about 3.5 hours of juice with use of the 940nm IR that you’ll need to get maximum effective range and visibility.

But, if you’re sitting patiently versus tracking and stalking and you’re loaded with an extra juice supply for the hunt, the Sightmark scope may be for you.  Hey, it even comes with an extra battery container just for you!  Too convenient, right?  For more on this scope, check out our full review here.

 

2

Burris AR-332 (300217)

Sale
Burris 300217 Armalite Rifle Tactical Sight, Armalite Rifle 332, 3x32mm, Prism...
3 Reviews
Burris 300217 Armalite Rifle Tactical Sight, Armalite Rifle 332, 3x32mm, Prism...
  • Red-green Ballistic Armalite Rifle reticle
  • 10 LED Illumination settings
  • Parallax free at 100 yds

Burris nails it with their dedicated AR series of prism sights for closer-quarter engagement.  Competitive shooters, law enforcement, and military servicemen will benefit best from the AR-332.  Those looking to complete their MSR with a home, personal, and self-defense optic should seriously consider this sight as well.

PROS:
  • Price
  • Compact
  • Fast-acquisition optic
  • Ballistic AR (3X) reticle
  • Illuminated reticle

CONS:
  • Apparent canted reticle

The downside isn’t what it seems.  Yes, the reticle may look canted before correctly mounted to your AR – it’s designed to be that way.  However, when mounting bolts have been torqued down with 65″ pounds, you will see it will align and you’ll know your sight has been properly bolted down.

With that out of the way, this AR-332 prism sight 300217 model now has the new Ballistic AR (3X) reticle that is a proven balance between ultra-fast engagement and making long-range shots.  It can be center illuminated in red or green and is daylight bright, but it’s also highly visible in non-illuminated black.  It has a simple hash-marked BDC 6’oclock crosshair with a center dot and center horseshoe to draw the eye to the center for rapid target acquisition in close quarters.  The 9 and 3’oclock crosshairs have windage hashmarks.

With 3x magnification and a 32 mm objective lens, you have a 32 ft field of view at 100 yards.  With Index-Matched, Hi-Lume glass and coatings, you have the added benefit of low-light advantage without the glare.

It comes with a 3 Picatinny rail mounting points to load up on additional accessories, but the bottom rail can be removed and mounted to an AR carry handle with the extra screw that’s included with the scope.  You can remove the extra rails and it won’t void the warranty.  By the way, the warranty is Burris’ excellent Forever Warranty that promises to make things easy for you if you ever have a problem.

We’re a fan of Burris and with this sight we’re sure you will be too!

 

3

ATN X-Sight II 5-20X

Sale
ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope w/1080p Video, Ballistic...
731 Reviews
ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope w/1080p Video, Ballistic...
  • Use Day & Night in HD resolution - our HD technology gives you crystal clear vision whenever required
  • Zero range: 100 yard. Day & Night Vision in Millions of Colors - best hunting optic that fits the situation at hand.Field of View at 1000 yards- 240 feet
  • Ballistic Calculator - shifts Point of Impact on the fly letting you quickly calculate ballistics for any shooter's needs. Easily determine exact ballistics for expert...

Mighty popular, mighty at night – at least that’s what the masses say.  Anywhere you go, you’ll see the ATN X-Sight II night vision scope is a raved about optic, and it’s been tried and tested more than most other digital scopes can ever hope to be.  We’ve done a full review on this NV digital scope, but here’s the gist of it to wet your appetite.

PROS:
  • Price
  • Digital tech
  • Day/night use
  • Multiple features
  • HD optics

CONS:
  • Quality control issues
  • Heavy

It’s true – digital technology isn’t without its flaws.  They’re battery hogs, can be too complicated to use, and all the electronic features are prone to fail at some point.  ATN is not immune to failing components, but there’s also a lot of room for user error to occur.  Fortunately, there’s an abundance of trouble shooting information, videos, and tips to work out any apparent flaws or user mistakes that you can take advantage of if you happen to run into problems.

However, the majority of buyers seem to get on just fine once they figure out how to work the scope.  There’s a lot going on between having night vision capability, custom ballistic data saved in a profile, and a built-in laser rangefinder that illuminates your point of aim.  You’ll need to get familiar with button and menu functions if you want to take max advantage of your digital scope.

You also have other features that can help with your nighttime stalk – erm, we mean “observation.”  You can connect your smartphone via Bluetooth or WiFi, video record in 1080p at 30 fps resolution, and stream everything you saw online.

Because this is a digital scope, it uses ATN’s Obsidian Core technology to allow use night or day – it doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to detach your X-Sight II for a daytime scope if you want to do some range work.  Come night, you have multiple reticle colors and patterns to choose from to suit your close-range or long-range needs.

But, keep in mind, this is a digital scope and it’s heavy.  Hopefully your MSR setup isn’t too bad on poundage otherwise you might want to start working out – or pull out the bipod.

 

4

Firefield NVRS 3X42 FF16001

Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x42 Night Vision Riflescope
227 Reviews
Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x42 Night Vision Riflescope
  • High 3x magnification Lens focus(mm):70, Field of view(º): 14, Eye relief(mm): 45, Diopter adjustment(dptr): ±4
  • Ergonomic design Diameter, exit pupil - 6mm
  • Built-in IR
  • Titanium body
  • Battery Life:(with IR),20 hours,Battery Life:(w/out IR), 50 hours

A cheap and unassuming night vision scope is highly ranked and respected across the board as a quality optic that’s durable and easy to use.  Is it accurate?  Out to 100 yards it is.  That’s enough to take down nighttime predators and have some fun howling under the moonlight.

PROS:
  • Price
  • Clarity
  • Quick detach mount
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Night vision tech

CONS:
  • Heavy

If you’ve done any amount of research on NV gear, you’ll know it gets extremely expensive very quickly.  Fortunately, Gen 1 tech is becoming more affordable and it’s reflected in this Firefield NVRS scope.  This is the FF16001 model that has proven itself as a reliable and nifty, little scope for hunters and prowlers out for a night of fun.

With its green display, you have a simple red duplex reticle with incremental brightness adjustment settings.  The scope has 30 lp/mm resolution, a built-in IR, and an advertised detection range of 165 yards/150 meters, but most users say it’s realistically around 100 yards.

Battery power is only 2 AA batteries that can last up to 50 hours without IR use and 20 hours with IR use.  With Weaver mounting rails, you can attach additional accessories like a more powerful IR if your eyes are getting old and tired.

The quick detach weaver mount makes it easy to attach and detach the scope.  Replace it with a daytime scope during the day or quickly unmount the NVRS when the weather turns on you.  Being only IPX4 rated without any nitrogen purged tube protection, your scope may be prone to fritzing out.  Plus, the scope has heft to it, 30.7 ounces of heft.  It might help to unmount and stow away when you’re calling it a night and have a ways to go before reaching your vehicle or base camp.

All in all, the Firefield isn’t a $1000 scope that can be bragged about to that degree, but it’s a heck of a buy for dependable quality at a low price.

 

5

Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455

It’s going to take a while before you see this scope being run around the rumor mill.  It’s new and expensive for a digital scope.  What does it have that other digital scopes don’t?  Let’s get you clued in to why we’re giving the Digisight Ultra a run for its money and two thumbs up.

PROS:
  • Digital tech
  • 500 yard range
  • High magnification
  • High-caliber recoil resistance
  • HD 1280×720 sensor

CONS:
  • Price

The price is on the more expensive end of the scale, but when you consider its overall quality, it’s earned its higher price tag.  Unlike digital scopes half the price, it has a few more perks that may catch your eye.

It has an HD sensor 1280×720 for high clarity and HD quality imaging.  SumLight software enhances the sensor’s ability to be more sensitive to low light conditions when the IR is not in use.  What you get is extra clarity without compromising image quality.  When you do need extra illumination, the N455 comes with a detachable 940 nm (invisible) IR illuminator that has built-in power levels.

The scope is completely waterproof with its IPX7 rating, has a detection range of 500 meters, and has high 4x magnification of 4.5-18x.  It’s recoil rated up to 12 gauge, .375H&H, 9.3×64, and .300+ caliber cartridges.  Digital features include a stadiametric rangefinder, built-in accelerometer, and accurate zoom zeroing.  10 reticles with 6 different colors can be scaled to size regardless of magnification – we recognize this as a FFP (first focal plane) reticle feature that you’d see in high-end traditional scopes.

Don’t forget that you also have WiFi connectivity and video recording capabilities because the scope is… digital!  This optic may be more scope than you need for your AR 15, but it’s a bad boy that you need to mount if you want the best on the best AR.

 

6

Armasight Predator 336 2-8X25 (30Hz)

Armasight by FLIR Predator 336 2-8x25mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope with Tau 2...
15 Reviews
Armasight by FLIR Predator 336 2-8x25mm Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope with Tau 2...
  • FLIR Thermal Imaging Camera
  • 3-year warranty and 10-year warranty on FLIR detector
  • The latest Tau 2 17-micron uncooled FLIR core technology
  • 6 onboard digitally controlled reticle patterns available: "Dot 4 MOA", "Line Dot", "Cross-Center Dot", "Cross","Crosshair", and "No Reticle"
  • High-end OLED display and Video output

A thermal scope finally enters the picture as a credible buy to get nighttime hunting and observation done.  It’s pricey, but realistically, its pretty cheap for thermal technology.  As a first-time thermal buy, the Predator 336 will introduce you to the world of night hunting in a way you’ve never seen it before.

PROS:
  • Price
  • Thermal tech
  • Wireless remote control
  • Day/night use
  • Compact/lightweight

CONS:
  • Short battery life

Thermal tech is very different to NV.  Even though this scope comes with a quick detach mount, you can leave this scope on during the day and use it all you want while the sun is out.  Come night time, the hunt doesn’t have to end.  Predators can now be the hunted with the ability to detect and identify them regardless of ambient light.

This model has the 30Hz refresh rate, so unless you’re on a fast, moving platform, you don’t have to pay extra for the 60Hz model.  There are 6 on-board reticle patterns with 4 color options to choose from.  You can also change the display mode from the iconic, colorful thermal screen that we all identify as thermal imaging to just as effective White-Hot, Black-Hot, and more.

If you’re using this scope for tactical operations, you’ll appreciate the wireless remote control that allows fast and easy access to features.  You can video record with the Armasight scope and increase digital magnification of 1, 2, and 4x.  For a thermal, it’s incredibly compact and lightweight.  It only weighs 1.4 lbs and is 10.8 x 2.9 x 3.3 inches in size.

It’s powered by 2 CR123A 3V Lithium batteries or you can use rechargeable counterparts that will last about 4 hours.  You can also get the extended battery pack that will tack on another (approximate) 8 hours, but you can save battery life by turning it off and on as needed, even while in the hunt especially if you can make use of other NV or IR gear to use in between needing your scope.  As is smart to do, remove batteries completely when storing your scope.

If you wanted a night vision scope alternative, the Predator 336 that’s made in America may win you over to the thermal side of things.

 

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 NV 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 NV 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 kept in the budget range of $200-2000.

 

Size/Weight:

NV 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.

 

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.

 

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.  NV 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.

 

Distance Ranges:

The best NV 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 NV 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.

 

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 NV, 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.

 

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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