12 Best Night Vision Scopes In 2022 (Includes Digital, Clip On & More)

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Night Vision Rifle Scopes

Whether it’s coons or hogs you’re after, the hunt doesn’t start ‘til after dusk.

And since it's fair to assume you don't have superhuman powers to see in the dark, you’ll need a high-quality night vision scope.

The best night vision scope is currently the Pulsar Digisight Ultra N450 LRF. What sets it apart is the built-in laser rangefinder. With ranging, digital day/night use, and a high-res sensor all in one package, it is a worthy title holder.

To explore all grande alternatives, I lay out the top models from high-end to bottom dollar that will light up the path and illuminate the night.

I also tell you how to identify the best from the posers in our buyer's guide.

Know all your options and make your first buy the right buy.

Best Night Vision Scopes

tt-table__imagePulsar Digisight Ultra N450 LRF
  • Magnification: 4.5-18x (4x zoom)
  • Gen/Tech: Digital
  • Price Range: Under $2000
tt-table__imageNightStar 2x50
  • Magnification: 2x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 1
  • Price Range: Under $500
tt-table__imageArmasight CO-LR
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5000
tt-table__imageAGM Wolverine 4 NL3
  • Magnification: 4x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 2+
  • Price Range: Under $2000
tt-table__imageMeopta MeoNight 1.1
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 2+
  • Price Range: Under $5000
tt-table__imageArmasight PVS14
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $3500
tt-table__imageArmasight Co-Mini Clip-On
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5000
tt-table__imageAGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AW1
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5000
tt-table__imageSteele Industries PVS-14 L3 18UM
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $4500
tt-table__imageBering Optics Night Probe Mini
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 2+
  • Price Range: Under $2500
tt-table__imageTRYBE PVS14 Gen 3 WPT
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $5000
tt-table__imageAGM Comanche-22 3NW1
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Gen/Tech: Gen 3
  • Price Range: Under $10,000

Night vision scopes can be a new and different world to many: beginner shooters have a lot to catch up on; night hunters have their own hunting styles that demand various features of an NVD, and law enforcement/military personnel who are buying a personal device outside of issued gear find value in knowing what the best available civilian scopes are.

Since there is no one scope that does it all for every application you might have in mind, I must disclose how I chose these options.

All scopes listed would be excellent for wild hog and pest hunting to ensure those critters don't get the best of your crops or your wits. A handful of these options are well-suited for tactical applications such as law enforcement, duty work, security, etc. 

To help you make the most informed decision, we've hand-picked the best of the best scopes currently available.

While I do list some budget and affordable night vision scopes, you will see that I also provide very expensive options. I can't deny the good stuff to those who have a taste for it - and who can afford it.  

Without further ado, let's shine the light on the right night vision scope for you.

Night Vision Scope Reviews

1. Pulsar Digisight Ultra N450 LRF – Best Digital Night Vision Scope

Pulsar Digisight Ultra N450 LRF Digital Night Vision Scope Review
Image Credit - Pulsar NV

What do you get when you marry a laser rangefinder with a night vision rifle scope? The Digisight Ultra N450 LRF.


  • Standalone scope
  • LRF feature
  • Digital features
  • WiFi
  • Recoil-proof


  • Battery life

The Digisight Ultra LRF is standalone, digital night vision scope with the works. It has everything you could expect from a digital device from video recording and app control to live streaming. If you want the works from a digital scope, you have it with a Pulsar product – just be ready for the learning curve.

However, its digi tech is not why the Digisight LRF is priced so high for a digital scope, it’s the laser rangefinder technology. While some scopes offer a sort of stadiametric version, this model has a fully functioning laser unit complete with scan and angle compensation.

Even though it’s teched out to the max, it’s no small and fragile scope. This beast is 14.6” long and weighs 2.4 lbs (approx.). You won’t mind the heft when you hear that it’s made to take repeated recoil. While many NV scopes find it difficult to handle hard kicks, the Digisight Ultra LRF doesn’t mind sitting on a 12-gauge shot gun, 308 Win, or 9.3x64.

What’s the catch? Just be quick about what you’re setting out to do. If you’re messing around with streaming and digital features too much, you’ll be through the 4-8 battery life before you can take down any hogs.

2. NightStar 2x50 – Best Gen 1 Night Vision Scope

NightStar 2x50 NS43250 Night Vision Riflescope

Gen 2 technology is becoming more affordable which in turn is driving Gen 1 tubes to become obsolete. However, for those on a budget and looking for an introductory scope to night vision, NightStar has the 2x50 Gen 1 rifle scope that fits the bill.


  • Gen 1
  • Weapon mountable
  • 15-degree FOV
  • 45mm eye relief
  • 35 lp/mm resolution


  • No battery information

As a gen 1 optic usually rated for 1000 hours of battery life, it’s unlikely the NightStar Tactical scope can provide that. Battery life will be in the 50-hour range if it can provide that at all. It will help to know that it takes a CR123 battery.

While Gen 1 IITs are generally considered low performing ‘toys’ compared to Gen 2 IITs, it’s a fact that Gen 1 is more affordable, and it works. Realistically, its capacity for effective use is short range, inside 100 yards even with an illuminator.

There are inherent downsides to Gen 1, but you can’t have it all for real night vision under $500. With only 35 lp/mm resolution, it’s in the upper end of Gen 1 performance and works best with moonlight.

It comes with a Weaver rail mounting system, so it’s ready for weapon-mounting right away. It has a red, illuminated reticle with duplex style crosshairs that can be adjusted for brightness with the 4-button interface.

Despite its ‘tactical’ appearance and description as a tactical scope, it’s not suited to tactical applications. It’s recreational specific for rimfire and AR-15 rifles for critter hunting, target shooting, and plinking.

Overall, the NightStar Tactical night vision scope is not the best NV scope in the market but given its low price point due to its Gen 1 tube, it’s certainly one of the top Gen 1 scopes still available.

3. Armasight CO-LR – Best Long-Range Clip-On Scope

Armasight CO-LR
Image Credit: Optics Planet

In general, the CO-LR is different to the Co-Mini in size and therefore potential performance. While competitive in cost, the CO-LR with its 108mm objective lens, 11.7” length, and effective use with 3.5-12x power day scopes, the bigger night vision clip-on is made for long-range performance.


  • Gen 3 tube
  • Auto & manual gain
  • Green or white phosphor
  • Battery options
  • Wireless remote


  • Heavy

As a dedicated clip-on weapon sight, the CO-LR is just as big and heavy as a full-size day scope. You’ll need to have enough room on your rail to mount it and consider its 2.4lb weight. But the long-range performance and included detachable IR illuminator out to 1000 yards might just make it worth it.

It has a Gen 3 tube available in either Green or Ghost White Phosphor. As expected, the white phosphor will cost more. Both models have automatic and manual gain so that you have total control of brightness. To power the night vision, you can use either a CR123A or AA battery. The coin-battery will provide 24 hours of runtime while the alkaline battery while power it for 40 hours.

A wireless remote is included for one-touch operation. When it shuts down while you’re waiting in stealth mode behind brush for coyotes that come in under cover, use the remote for fast activation without movement that could risk giving your position away. Having been factory bore-sighted, it’s supposed to be accurate to within 1 MOA. Mount it, focus your day scope, and get shooting.

Since Armasight was acquired by Ecentria, the manufacturer is back and offering their best-selling night vision scopes to the civilian market. Under new ownership, the CO-LR is covered under the Extended Limited Warranty. With registration, it’s covered for three years from date of purchase. Without registration that warranty automatically defaults to the Standard warranty which is one year.

So why choose the CO-LR over the CO-Mini? Long-range performance is why.

4. AGM Wolverine 4 NL3 – Best Night Vision Scope Under $2000

AGM Wolverine-4 NL3 night vision rifle scope review
Image Credit - Optics Planet

If you doubt that you can ever afford night vision, get out from under your rock. AGM brings affordable night vision to tight budgets.


  • Price
  • Gen 2+
  • Standalone scope
  • Auto Brightness
  • Dual-lever QRM



The Wovlerine-4 NL3 is an upper-end Gen 2 scope with awesome performance for the money. Gen 2+ just doesn’t get as affordable as this, and yet, here the Wolverine stands – at Gen 1 price points.

It has fixed 4x magnification, 45-51 lp/mm resolution, green phosphor, and approximately 50 hours of battery runtime. This is the type of night vision that varmint hunters with low caliber rifles should quickly buy up. I say low caliber because eye relief is pretty unforgiving at only 45 mm. No one likes scope bite, right?

The Wolverine scope is perfectly suited to hunting, nighttime steel plinking, and various close-range shooting needs. Turrets are in MOA adjustments and you have an illuminated center cross mil-dot reticle. Some may not like the MOA/MIL combo, but it’s not like you’ll need to be holding over or messing with adjustments at these distances in the dark, right? If so, this isn’t the scope for you. 

But to have Gen 2+ at this price point, it’s a deal worthy of recognition and you can get over your MOA/MIL fears. AGM manufactures some of the best night vision devices to date. If you want value, get on board.

5. Meopta MeoNight 1.1 – Best Gen 2 Night Vision Scope

Meopta MeoNight 1point1
Image Credit - Meopta

Meopta has a reputation for high-quality day scopes, so it goes without saying that the MeoNight 1.1 has a lot to live up to. Its price point is indicative of its upper Gen 2 tube and green phosphor display. But the real ticker is the warranty. In the NV world, 10 years can’t be beat.


  • Gen 2+ Photonis XX1441 tube
  • 1x50mm configuration
  • Clip-on scope
  • Auto shut-off
  • Manual gain


  • Cabled remote

The MeoNight is powered by a user supplied CR123A battery which lasts for approximately 50 hours. It has a very nice Gen 2+ Photonis green phosphor IIT with manual gain. It works with day scopes up to around 15x magnification before you will start seeing image degradation.

Its best performance at 1x will allow for seeing out to 600-800 yards. With magnification, fox and critter shots can be taken out to 250 yards, but with experimentation, you’ll come to see what the MeoNight is capable of and where its limitations are.

As a clip-on, it can be quick mounted to a Picatinny rail for independent mounting or fixed to the objective bell of a day scope via the included mounting bell adapters of various sizes. The MeoNight 1.1 is 8.2 x 3.3 x 2.5” in size and weighs 25 oz. We’d go so far as to say that it’s compact for a clip-on given its long-range performance.

It offers 55-67 lp/mm resolution, a SNR of >18, 12-degree FOV (minimum), low battery indicator, and auto shut-off after an hour. The included cabled remote activates the MeoNight for instantly ready use but it’s a shame that it’s not wireless. Meopta didn’t neglect glass or build quality as it features MeoBright, MeoDrop, it’s shock/recoil-rated for 3500 joules, and is both fogproof and water-resistant.

The MeoNight 1.1 is covered for 10 years under Meopta’s Extended warranty if you register it within 30 days. No registration and it defaults to a 2-year warranty. The electronic components are only covered for two years. You must have proof of purchase or else the warranty does not apply. With 10 years of protected coverage, we dare other manufacturers to compete with this. Meopta certainly has an edge here.

6. Armasight PVS-14 – Best PVS-14

Armasight PVS-14
Image Credit: Armasight

With Ecentria powering Armasight, the all-time popular brand is back in business and offering up the favorite PVS-14. The helmet and weapon-mounted monocular is available in either Ghost White Phosphor or Green Phosphor. The pick is yours, but if budget is the deciding factor, Green Phosphor it is!


  • Gen 3 tube
  • Manual gain
  • Built-in adjustable IR
  • 1x27 configuration
  • 50-hour battery runtime


  • Not a dedicated weapon scope

The nature of the PVS-14 is versatile, but it’s still a monocular/goggle optic that’s usually head mounted and basic head mounting accessories are included in the box. However, for those who go the extra effort of buying the right mounts and understanding how much recoil the tube can handle, the Armasight PVS-14 can be weapon mounted.

Stick with a .22 or .223 caliber rifle since the housing takes a direct hit from recoil. Since it lacks a reticle, the best pairing is with a red dot sight with night vision compatible illumination.

With 1x magnification, 64-72 lp/mm resolution, and manual gain to adjust brightness to user preferences, the night is yours and is optimal for seamless navigation when you’re on the move. It has a diopter adjustment of -6 to +2 (helpful for those with vision problems), 40-degree FOV, and a focusing range of .25m to infinity.

It comes with a built-in IR illuminator and the illuminator indicator will be displayed in the FOV. Even with the illuminator, the effective range for shooting will be within 100 yards. It takes a AA battery that has a runtime of 50 hours.

The PVS-14 is backed by Armasight’s Extended Limited Warranty which entails three years coverage with registration. If you fail to register it within 60 days, it’s an automatic default of the Standard Limited Warranty which is one year. It’s nice to see Armasight back in business and providing manufacturer competition, but ultimately, options for us consumers.

7. Armasight Co-Mini Clip-On – Best Clip-on Scope

Armasight Co-Mini
Image Credit - Armasight

The Armasight Co-Mini is a clip-on night vision sight dedicated to turning ordinary rifle scopes into nighttime setups for taking out critters, coyotes, and intruders. Its small size is what calls out to buyers, so if you’re big on weight savings, the Co-Mini is an expensive but worthwhile buy.


  • Gen 3 tube
  • Green or white phosphor
  • Manual gain
  • Battery options
  • Wireless remote


  • Low magnification performance

Like every NV clip-on, the Co-Mini has a pet magnification it likes to work with. Its recommended use is within 1-6x magnification. The consequence of going too high in power is a grainy image. What comes to mind is that it would be a perfect pairing for a LPVO for hunting or law enforcement use.

The Co-Mini can be mounted directly to the rail on a flat-top AR and the quick release mounting system is set at a height of approximately 1.5”. It can also be mounted directly to the objective bell of a rifle scope with the help of special adapter rings.

With 1x magnification, manual gain for manual control of the brightness, a detachable IR illuminator, and 22 degrees of FOV, you have a lot to work with for shooting inside 150 yards and identifying within 250 yards.

With wireless battery control, you reduce unnecessary movement when you want to activate the Co-Mini. Anything that prevents you from giving your position away is a valuable feature, plus it also helps to conserve battery life. With a CR123A battery, you have 24 hours of operation or you can use a standard AA battery that extends runtime to 45 hours.

Its most attractive feature as a clip-on is that it’s small and unobtrusive. It’s 4.9 x 2.7 x 2.2” in size and weighs 1.06 lbs. Its low profile is ideal for sitting behind a NV compatible red dot sight or in front of a day scope. Backed by Aramsight’s Extended Limited Warranty if you register it, the Co-Mini is protected for three years.

If you want to marry your favorite day scope with a night vision optic for nighttime shooting, the Co-Mini has a long reputation of doing it right.

8. AGM Wolverine Pro-6 3AW1 - Best for 308

AGM Wolverine PRO-6 3AW1 Night Vision Scope Review
Image Credit - AGM Global Vision

Is bigger always better? In this case, it is. The Wolverine Pro-6 3AW1 is just as high-performing as it is big, and the Pro-6 is big.


  • Gen 3
  • Standalone scope
  • WPT
  • Long-range
  • Projected reticle


  • Heavy

The Wolverine Pro-6 is a long-ranging workhorse, and it should be. It has a huge objective lens, 6x magnification, and excellent tube quality that makes it one of the best scopes on AGM’s shelves regardless of the fact that it weighs over 3 lbs.

This model has a white phosphor screen that provides the black/white imagery that many have come to prefer over the time-honored green glow. If you prefer green night vision, the Pro-6 3AL1 model is identical to this 3AW1 save for the phosphor screen.

The Pro-6 has a Gen 3 gated IIT and is guaranteed to be free of blemishes in zone 1. While AGM doesn’t provide tube specs, it’s reasonable to suspect that SNR and FOM specs are up there with the best.

The scope has MOA adjustments and an adjustable brightness, projected chevron reticle. While there is only one chevron, it does feature windage and elevation crosshairs with hashmarks.

If you’re a fixed position calling-in type of hunter or long-ranging, prone-shooting, steel-hitting sniper, then this could be the scope you need. There won’t be much mobility with stock to shoulder with the Wolverine Pro-6. Guess it’s time to invest in quality sticks, right?

9. Steele Industries PVS-14 L3 18UM – Best Military Grade PVS-14

Steele Industries PVS-14 L3 18UM
Image Credit: Steele Industries

The PVS-14 from Steele Industries has been standard issue for the military and the new production series have tubes from Elbit, L3Harris, and Photonis. This model has an L3Harris 18UM White Phosphor Gen 3 tube and is available to the civilian.


  • Gen 3 L3 Harris Unfilmed
  • Autogated
  • Model code 18UM
  • Made to order
  • 10-year warranty


  • Mounts purchased separately

There’s a lot of information to be interpreted by the specs, so it’s important to know that it’s an L3 Harris Unfilmed Autogated IIT with a minimum spec order to a 18UM model code tube. In the real night vision world with industry-best performance, you’ll find that specs provided are based on minimums.

With this knowledge, the Steele Industries PVS-14 with this specific IIT allows for unlimited FOM, and SNR of 24.1, resolution of 64 lp/mm, and photocathode sensitivity of 1800 ua/lm. These specs are part of the 1800 series of L3 tubes and offer excellent, military-grade night vision performance.

The Steele PVS-14 can be weapon-mounted, and the L3 tube is capable of taking recoil that can handle 300 Blackout and 7.62x39 rounds – the AK-47. That’s quite a bit more than the .223 round, so for ultimate performance from a PVS-14, this is the model you want.

Powered by a AA battery, you’ll have a runtime of 50 hours. It’s compact in size at 4.5 x 2.0 x 2.25” and weighs 12.4 oz. It’s beyond waterproof at being submersible to 60’ for two hours. It has adjustable gain, 40-degree FOV, 26mm aperture, adjustable diopter, and 10” to infinity close focus.

Backed by a 10-year warranty, the cost becomes less of an issue as many PVS-14 alternatives come with a warranty that is a fraction of this one. If there’s a professional, tactical, weapon-mountable PVS-14 you’re after, look no further than Steele Industries.

10. Bering Optics Night Probe Mini – Best Cheap Clip-On

Bering Optics Night Probe Mini
Image Credit: Bering Optics

The Bering Optics Night Probe Mini is advertised for its small and compact size but the one highlight that should be heavily promoted is its cheap price point for a clip-on scope. Helping to keep costs down is its Gen 2+ IIT.


  • Gen 2+ tube
  • 1x30mm configuration
  • 50-72 lp/mm resolution
  • 250-275 yards detection
  • 60-hour battery runtime


  • 2-year warranty

The Night Probe Mini is available with Gen 2+ and Unfilmed Gen 3+ IITs in either green or white phosphor. The cheaper model is the Gen 2+ with green phosphor. It offers excellent resolution of 50-72 lp/mm and is effective for 250-275 yards of range detection depending on ambient light conditions.

Touted to be compact and lightweight at 5.2 x 2.44 x 3.1” and 15.5 oz, it’s slightly larger but remains lighter than the Armasight Co-Mini. The Co-Mini also sports a Gen 3 IIT, so it’s much more expensive. The Bering Optics clip-on has an advantage in price but a few compromises exist.

What’s impressive is that it has up to a 60-hour battery runtime with a CR123 battery. That’s approximately 10 hours more than the norm. It’s IPX4 rated and operates in -22 to 122-degrees F.

The Night Probe Mini works best with day scopes in the magnification range of 2-5x. This could be a fantastic pairing with a LPVO scope for hunting or tactical operations. When the budget sets a limit on how much you can spend on a dedicated clip-on, Bering Optics has a reasonable price point in mind compared to alternatives.

11. TRYBE PVS14 Gen 3 WPT - Best Value PVS-14

TRYBE PVS-14 Gen 3 WPT Night Vision Monocular Review
Image Credit - Optics Planet

Ah, the PVS-14 that is best used as goggles but often sees action atop a barrel. I couldn’t pass up on highlighting the TRYBE PVS14 due to its high-quality specs. Since it can be weapon-mounted, you can bet that it will be by many. Here’s how it holds up.


  • Gen 3
  • WPT
  • Weapon-mountable
  • Wide FOV
  • Lightweight/compact


  • Low recoil-resistance

It’s no secret that a PVS-14 is not a weapon sight and is not rated to handle recoil. Yet, we marry them to rifles all the time. If this sounds like you, we’ll tell you now that it’s not to be put on anything larger than a 5.56x45mm. Light to zero recoil calibers are acceptable as this would be an expensive paperweight once destroyed by repeated .308 Win recoil.

This isn’t an issue for many who are looking to plink steel with a .22LR at 300 yards or taking down rodents and coyotes with a .223 Rem. The feather-weight and compact body is well-suited to these platforms and pair well with night vision compatible red dot sights.

But as a hand/held or goggle optic by design, you can appreciate its huge 40-degree field of view. Obviously, this will be a close-range unit best suited to sub-200 yard shooting even with a magnified optic like an ACOG.

Now about the tube. This TRYBE Defense model is a hand-selected PVS-14 with a thin-filmed Pinnacle/Autogated Gen 3 tube. It also has the white phosphor screen that many have come to love. Detail, contrast, sharpness, and clarity – WPT is all the rage.

If you’re looking for your first NVD for mainly helmet-mounted use and would like the versatility of having a backup rifle sight on a light caliber rifle if the need arises, the PVS-14 will do the job.  

12.  AGM Comanche-22 3NW1 - Best High-End

AGM Comanche-22 3NW1 Clip On Night Vision Scope Review
Image Credit - AGM Global Vision

Now here’s clip-on with the works that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, well, maybe just one leg. The Comanche-22 3NW1 is compact, lightweight, and is suitable for all types of night vision applications.


  • Gen 3
  • Clip-on
  • WPT
  • Manual gain
  • Compact/lightweight


  • No tube specs

AGM doesn’t provide any tube specs for their products. It’s a shame since many buyer’s depend on having this information to make an informed purchase.

But, getting over that fact, the Comanche-22 still looks really good on paper. The 3NW1 model indicates that the clip-on has a Gen 3 tube with a white phosphor screen and AGM’s “Level 1” IIT designation. In short, it’s a filmed GaAs autogated tube with black/white imaging and practically no blemishes in zone 1 – top NV quality.

Like the best scopes, it has manual gain and is effective for long-range distances and paired with 7x magnified optics. I consider long-range as beyond 400-500 yards. With quality and specs that the Comanche has, of course it’s a long-range performer.

It’s also worth mentioning that the AGM clip-on scope comes with a decent warranty not commonly seen in the night vision industry; it’s covered for 3 years that is a lot longer than most.

The Comanche will power you through the night over distance and long hours without tiring you out. It brings mobility to a setup where scouting, hiking, and shooting while standing or moving is essential. Practically every coyote hunter, right?

What to Look for in a Night Vision Scope

As you can tell, NV scopes have a world of specs of their own. You have new terms, technologies, and internal components much different to a daytime scope.

To get you up to speed, we'll pump out a few tips to help you navigate your way through the dark!


Price is now less of an identifying factor of scope type and generation as NV technology improves and new brands bring competition to the market.

Therefore, prices are really only a budgeting factor in helping you to narrow down the available options. You can spend as little as $500 on night vision and land a digital scope, and then you could spend upwards of $10,000 and land a high-end, mil-spec, Gen 3+ scope.

Set a budget and don’t stray because you’ll always be tempted into spending a little bit more and then a little bit more for the next best thing. Your budget, even if small, will still get you something that’s better than no night vision at all.

Night Vision Type

YouTube video

There are multiple types of “scopes” that you’ll come across in the NV field. Generally, digital scopes are more affordable than night vision scopes with an image intensifier tube. Standalone scopes tend to be lower priced than clip-ons. Weapon-mounted monoculars are not the most practical way to get shooting in the dark, but they do have a place. Here is a rundown.

  • Digital Scope – A digital standalone scope that incorporates a light-sensitive sensor, electronic image processing circuitry, and a display. Can be used both day and night.
  • Clip-On Scope – Shorter and compact night vision device that must be used with a red dot sight, laser, or daytime scope as it has no internal adjustments or reticle. Mounts to rail in front of aiming device or can be mounted to the objective bell of a daytime scope that does not have an adjustable objective (AO).
  • Standalone Scope – A dedicated scope that does not need to be used with any other aiming device as it has a reticle, adjustments, and can be zeroed. Can be a digital or IIT version.
  • Monocular – Weapon mountable monoculars, like that of the PVS-14, are especially efficient for goggle/head-mounted use. They can be weapon-mounted to light caliber small arm rifles behind a red dot sight or daytime optic with limitations.

Night Vision Generation

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See Clarity of Gen 1 to Gen 3 Night Vision Devices

For most buyers, just saying that a scope is Gen 1, Gen 2, or Gen 3 used to be enough to help predict tube performance and price. It’s not quite that way anymore as specs are changing significantly between generations as technology improves.

We’re also seeing a lot more improvement in unfilmed/filmless tubes commonly known as Gen 4 that provides .50BMG recoil resistance in Gen 3 models. Not so fragile as once was thought, right?

Check out our rundown on generation explanations for more information. You might also like to check out our best Gen 3 night vision scope round-up.

Tube Specs

Becoming far more important to the potential buyer these days are the tube specs or the image tube data sheet. This is the information that provides a general idea of expected tube performance from any given IIT. Many manufacturers don’t provide this information, so it may require a phone call prior to purchasing if you want more details.

The most asked-about tube specs are:

  • Resolution: IIT resolution measurement expressed in line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm). The higher the number, the better the resolution. It’s important to note that resolution does not determine the generation of an IIT, but it can be an indicator.
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): An excellent indicator of tube lowlight resolution performance. The higher the SNR, the better the tube performance in lowlight conditions to resolve targets with good contrast, detail, and clarity.
  • Figure of Merit (FOM): Another indicator of tube performance. It’s calculated by multiplying lp/mm (resolution) by SNR. NVDs with FOM of 1400 and above are non-exportable.
  • Photocathode (PC) Type: As the input surface of an IIT, it’s responsible for absorbing photons (light) and releasing electrons to form an image for the user. The material the photocathode is made from is a good indicator of night vision generation.
  • Photocathode Sensitivity: This is a measurement of how well the photocathode does its job. Measured in microamperes per lumen (µA/lm), this figure is another indicator of tube performance. However, with filmed and thin-filmed tubes, electron loss occurs in the ion barrier tube. Raw PC sensitivity data typically does not reflect the electron loss rates. So, tubes with 1600 µA/lm may very well perform at half that rate.

Mounting Options

Night vision mounting options will vary between the various types of night vision scopes.

  • Clip-on scopes generally work best on extended rails and will likely come with a quick release mount. Adapters to mount to the objective bell of a daytime optic is usually only available as an optional and separate purchase.
  • You must also consider the fact that clip-on scopes must be mounted so that the optical axes of the clip-on and aiming device are within 3mm of each other to ensure no shift in POI.
  • Standalone scopes may come with either a standard mil-std-1913 Picatinny mount or a quick release mount. They will vary between manufacturers. One thing to look out for before you buy are available replacement or upgradeable mounts in case the one included in the box does not fit your needs or is too flimsy.
  • Not all monoculars are weapon-mountable. If it is, they likely don’t come with the weapon mount included in the buy. Must be purchased separately.

The point of all this? Be sure that you have access to mounting options if the included mount is inadequate in quality, it doesn’t fit your setup, or if it doesn’t come with one.


What Night Vision Scope does the Military Use?

As a whole, the military uses Gen 3-Gen 4 night vision scopes with lifetime reliability of 10,000+ hours. Issued contracts entail tube specs that must pass military standard requirements and are rarely available to civilians. Knight’s Armament AN/PVS-30 is an example of mil-spec night vision.

How Far can you see with Night Vision Scope?

As a general rule, quality, tube, optics, and ambient light conditions determine how far you can see with a night vision scope. Expected identification of a 6’ target is 100 yards with detection at 300 yards. This is without use of an IR illuminator, although many can offer better performance.

What's Better Thermal or Night Vision?

There are benefits to using both for hunting and work applications. Thermal is day and night compatible, does not need light to work, and has long detection ranges. Night vision is less costly and provides identification details better than thermal. See our comparison guide on both technologies.

Are Night Vision Scopes Illegal?

Night vision scopes are legal to buy, own, and hunt non-game animals for citizens in the U.S. Each state has laws regarding illegal use of night vision and thermal devices. The onus is on you to learn the legalities before buying, shooting, and hunting with night vision.

What is the Best Affordable Night Vision Scope?

Bering Optics Trifecta Core+
Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455
Sightmark Wraith 4K Max 3-24x50
Yukon Sightline N470S
ATN X-Sight LTV 5-15x
Luna Optics 6-36x50 G3 RS50
Pard NV008 Plus 6.5-13x
SiOnyx Aurora Black Monocular w/Mount
Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32x50

See our Best Night Vision Scopes Under $1000 for more information.

Detecting the Right Night Vision Scope for You!

There are several factors to consider that will help determine what scope is right for you. You don’t need to go broke over buying night vision. Even Gen 1 is far better than no night vision at all.

Between all the improvements, brand competition, and newly-released technologies, affordable night vision scopes are now a reality. Keep your eyes peeled and your IR on.

Change the way you hunt and the way you see with a night vision scope tonight!

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