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Whether it’s coons or hogs you’re after, the hunt doesn’t start until after dark.
Unless you have superhuman powers to see through the black of night, you’re going to need a night vision (NV) rifle scope.
Night vision devices have forever changed the way hunters approach low light hours and after.
It might not be for a legal deer tag, but varmints, pests, and hogs call for a different approach – night vision.
If you want to know all your night-vision scope options from high-end to bottom dollar, from well-proven tech to the latest advances in night vision, you’re on the greener side of the grass.
We’ve got the lineup that will light up your path and can illuminate your next buy!
The 14 Best Night Vision Scopes of 2020
- Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 Night Vision Scope – Best Under $2000
- ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20X Night Vision Rifle Scope – Best Under $1000
- Bering Optics Trifecta Night Vision Rifle Scope – Best for Varmint Hunting
- Bering Optics Avenger Gen 1 Night Vision Rifle Scope
- Sightmark Photon RT 4.5×45 Night Vision Scope – Best Under $600
- Armasight Orion 5X Night Vision Riflescope – Best Under $500
- Night Owl Nightshot 3X Night Vision Scope
- Firefield 3×42 NVRS (Night Vision Rifle Scope) – Best Budget
- Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32×50 Night Vision Scope – Best Digital
- Pulsar Challenger GS 1X20 Gen 1 Scope – Best GEN 1
- FLIR CO-X Gen 2 HD MG Night Vision Scope – Best GEN 2
- Armasight Vulcan 4.5x Gen 3A MG Night Vision Rifle Scope – Best GEN 3
- FLIR PVS-14 3F MG Gen 4 Scope – Best GEN 4 (Filmless)
- FLIR CO-LR-LRF 3F MG Night Vision Scope
Night Vision Scope Reviews
Night vision scopes can be a completely new and different world to not only hunters, but to novices getting into personal security and tactical/law enforcement scenario practice outside of agency training. To help keep our lineup relevant, we’ll focus on scopes relative to varmint, wild hog, and pest hunting to ensure those critters don’t get the best of your crop or your wits.
Additionally, this lineup is going to be sequenced in categories according to Generation technology and price range. You can search any night-vision list online and find a completely new lineup on a variety of scopes. To help you make the most informed decision, we’ve hand-picked the best of the best while also including the most popular and oft-mentioned night vision rifle scopes in the market.
While we do offer some budget and affordable night vision scopes, you will see that we have also provided a few very expensive options. We 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.
Best Night Vision Rifle Scope By Budget:
|Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455||
|ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20X||
|Bering Optics Trifecta||
|Bering Optics Avenger Gen 1||
|Sightmark Photon RT 4.5x45||
|Armasight Orion 5X||
|Night Owl Optics NightShot||
|Firefield 3x42 NVRS||
Best Night Vision Scope Under $2000
Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 Night Vision Rifle Scope
It’s night vision digi-tech, but why is it double the price of other digital scopes? It’s simple – it has more to give. Extra bucks for the scope can get you extra bucks in the field.
- 500m+ detection range
- 1280×720 sensor
- Picture-in-Picture mode
- 16 GB internal memory
- Instant startup
- Too feature-packed
Is there such a thing as having too much going on in a rifle scope? Well, you know we’re being extra picky when we say it can be a disadvantage. The more you have going on, the more you have to learn. It can take extra time in the field to execute some features you don’t necessarily need to make a well-placed shot. But, all the extra perks certainly justify the extra bucks it’ll cost you.
A 1280×720 HD sensor provides HD image quality to relive the glorious moment you take down your prey. Take videos and keep ’em on the 16 GB internal memory and then upload via Bluetooth or WiFi to share with the folks at home.
When you’ve got eyes on varmint at a long detection range of 500 meters, you can use the Picture-in-Picture mode to magnify your target without taking sights off your field of view. If you’re waiting and looming in the bushes conserving battery life, you won’t lose any time with the instant startup time of 3 seconds so you can get on target before you’ve been detected.
Digital features include 10 reticle styles in 6 color options with FFP ballistic reticles, a stadiametric rangefinder, and a built-in accelerometer/gyroscope. You’ll also get an included B-pack power system to deliver 5+ hours of use at maximum power.
The Digisight Ultra is fully waterproof and is lightweight at 1.8 lbs. Don’t expect the traditional green of night vision – you have black and white night vision with the Digisight.
Even after this rundown of its many features there’s still more to explore on the Pulsar scope. If you want it all and are willing to learn the ropes to what makes the Digisight tick and tock, the high price is worth it.
Best Night Vision Scopes Under $1000
ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20X Digital Night Vision Scope
If you want to combine HD optics, video recording, rangefinding, ballistic calculations, and image stabilization all in one, this is the scope that can do it all plus some! That’s right, we’re not done explaining all the features it has – the cat’s still in the bag. This is definitely one of our all-time favorites and we think it is a great night vision scope for an AR-15 setup, and it’s obvious with its high ratings that the masses love it too.
Bering Optics Trifecta Night Vision Riflescope – Best for Varmint Hunting
The Trifecta 3.0×50 CORE+ Technology night vision sight is a scope for a varmint hunter on a budget. A cost-conscious scope from a high-end brand is exactly the kind of deal everyone is looking for.
- CORE tech
- Ballistic reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- Long range
Most night vision scopes have some bulk and there’s just no avoiding it, but the Trifecta was promised to be different – it’s said to be compact, but is it really? With a 42.3 oz weight and a 9.4 x 3.3 x 3.9 in build, it’s not your lightweight champ but it’s not the largest scope out there either.
Every manufacturer has their own methods and processes to creating proprietary products, but generally, CORE tech involves ceramic replacing glass in Gen 1 tubes. With CORE, you can get better quality night vision without the fishbowl or fish lens effect while staying within your budget.
The Trifecta has 3x magnification, a 50 mm objective lens size, and a close focus range of 2.2 yards – not bad at all. It claims to have a detection range of up to 300 yards which is impressive for night vision in this price range.
The Trifecta has oversized elevation and windage knobs to achieve precise adjustments while in the field. A ballistic reticle illuminates red against the green sight picture of night vision that you can adjust with the reticle illumination dial.
It’s recoil-proof up to 375 H&H and 20-gauge weapons. It takes a single 3V CR123 battery, but it will only last up to 10 hours. The Bering scope comes with a boat load of gear that includes the mount, “On-Rifle” carry bag, front lens cap, and rubber eye guard. To stay under $1000, this Bering scope is a must-have.
Bering Optics Avenger Gen 1 Night Vision Scope
The Avenger is one of the most affordable and compact night vision scopes from this brand. For true night vision under 1000, the Bering Avenger can be yours.
- Mil-dot reticle
- Built-in IR illuminator
- Gen 1
Yes, it’s Gen 1 tech, but it’s the only way you’re going to land night vision gear for under a grand. Still, Gen 1 is better than no night vision at all. The Avenger covers its bases well. It has 3x magnification, a large 50 mm aperture, and a built-in IR illuminator to turn you into a night stalker once the sun goes down.
True to manufacturer claims, it’s lightweight at just over 35 oz and is compact in size at 8.6 x 4.2 x 3.1 inches. It has a detection range of 220 yards with a quarter moon and 165 yards with cloud coverage. If conditions are better, your detection range will be too.
The Avenger can last up to 100 hours of use on a single 3V CR123 battery (w/out the IR), and it has an IPX4 rating for water-resistance protection. The body also sports an integrated Weaver rail for attaching accessories like a laser or IR flashlight.
You can also zero and make precise adjustments with the 1/2 MOA elevation and windage dials. Get on point with the illuminated, mil-dot, red-on-green reticle. Adjust the reticle brightness to comfort and you’re set to shoot in the dark.
It comes with a rubber eye cap, lens cap, and protective carry case. The Avenger scope may be simple, but it gets the job done without breaking the bank. Ha, who would’ve thought affording night vision without breaking the bank was possible?
Best Night Vision Scope Under $600
Sightmark Photon RT 4.5X42 Night Vision Rifle Scope
Unfortunately, the once-loved Photon XT 4.6x42S night vision rifle scope has recently been discontinued. It was a very popular scope, but it’s now been replaced with the new to 2018 Photon RT 4.5X42 Rifle Scope. Since it’s a digital scope, you can use this Photon day or night. Expect to have built-in sound and video recording available, One-Shot Zero function, a 940 nm LED IR illuminator, and six reticles with four color options. This night vision device has a lot to offer, and for the price, it just might be worth it!
Best Night Vision Scopes Under $500
Armasight Orion 5X Night Vision Rifle Scope
In this price range, you’re dealing with Gen 1 scopes. This isn’t a bad thing since it’s about the affordability factor. You’re just lucky enough that an Armasight scope lands in this price range. The Orion just might be the best scope for your AR-15. With an illuminated red-cross reticle with a variable brightness control, 5x magnification, and shock-proof optics, you’ll be free to hit those mid-range targets come sun down!
Night Owl Optics NightShot
Another digital night vision scope, this one is compatible with rifles up to .30 calibers (non-magnum). It can even be used on air and pellet guns too. It has a built-in IR illuminator, high-resolution with 640X480 display, and of course, is compatible for both day and night use. With 3x magnification, it does a decent job of getting you out to 100 yards after sunset. It’s a lightweight scope to shed some light on the darkest of nights!
Best Budget Night Vision Scope
Firefield NVRS 3X42 (FF16001)
In this price range, you’re dealing with Gen 1 scopes. This isn’t a bad thing since it’s about the affordability factor, but not all Gen 1 scopes are built equally. You’ll really have to go over the nitty-gritty to find out if it’s even worth a dime of your time – and cash! However, you’re lucky enough that a Firefield NVRS scope lands in this price range with a durable titanium housing, IPX4 weatherproof rating, and a quick detach mount.
The NVRS 3×42 just might be your .308 or AR15’s best mounting buddy. With an illuminated duplex reticle with a variable brightness control, 3x magnification, and a built-in 805 nm IR illuminator, you’ll be free to hit those close-range targets come sun down!
Best NV Scopes by Generation System/Tech:
Since we’ve already filtered out the best NV scopes in the market, we might as well organize a few of them by the generational classification in which they belong. If you’re shopping for a rifle scope via class, here’s your quick-link to the best of what night vision has to offer!
|Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32x50||
|Pulsar Challenger GS 1X20||
|FLIR CO-X Gen 2 HD MG||
|Armasight Vulcan 4.5x Gen 3A MG||
|FLIR PVS-14 3F MG||
|FLIR CO-LR-LRF 3F MG||
Best Digital Night Vision Scope – Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32X50
Sightmark ups the ante in the digital night vision industry with the new Wraith HD scope. With 8x digital zoom, an HD sensor, and multiple reticles to choose from, you can hunt, snipe, and spy with one scope – day or night.
- HD sensor
- Day/night use
- Built-in camera
- Multiple reticle options
- Poor battery life
It’s the trade-off for digital tech – battery life sucks. With 4 x AA batteries, you’ll get about 4-4.5 hours of use. Powering down the Wraith to conserve battery during the nighttime hunt will be key to having enough juice when your coyote shows itself.
Why not record your shot while you’re at it? With a built-in camera and 1080p HD resolution, you can snap and record photos and videos of your nighttime success. Relive your hunt over and over again in either the traditional emerald green or black and white night vision.
An 850 IR flashlight is included in the buy and is powered separately from the Wraith with 2x CR123A batteries. You might need it if you plan on scoping out further than the 200-yard detection range of the Wraith.
Unfortunately, the digital scope isn’t completely waterproof of fogproof – it’s only water resistant with an IP55 rating. But, it’s shockproof up to 3ft and can handle recoil up to a .308. At only 36.3 ounces, it’s no heavier than some large, high-end day scopes and comparable night vision scopes.
Even though it’s an ideal hunting digital scope, it can still be used for tactical purposes. There are 10 reticle styles in multiple color options that cater to both hunters and tactical agents. The Wraith also has 1/4 MOA adjustments to dial in for precision shots.
The Sightmark Wraith isn’t the most feature-packed digital scope available, but we think that’s a selling point. Its quality isn’t spread thin on useless features a hunter wouldn’t use. What the Wraith does, it does well.
Best Gen 1 Night Vision Rifle Scope – Pulsar Challenger GS 1X20
The Challenger GS is one of the few, underestimated scopes that deserves a lot of attention. But, what can it do, and can it be mounted to a rifle?
- 1x magnification
- Use with day scope
- Must buy adapter
What exactly is the Challenger GS? It’s a monocular that’s designed to be as versatile as you want it to be. If it’s mounted, it’s typically to a head mount for hands-free use with either the left or right eye. It can also be mounted to a tripod, and more importantly, it can be mounted to your weapon with the DOS adapter made specifically for the Challenger.
When mounted to your rifle, it attaches to the eyepiece of your day scope for nighttime shooting. The Weaver rail on the scope also allows for attaching extra accessories – like an IR flashlight to increase your 90 m detection range. Use your day scope’s reticle and magnification to hunt, and let the Challenger provide your nighttime sight. The night vision sight is recoil-proof up to cal .223 Rem and similar.
As a Gen 1+ scope, it’s been made for the cost-conscious market. Pulsar gets creative with a CF-Super-1+ IIT and a 5-lens eyepiece that supposedly provides up to 20% higher resolution than other Gen 1 units.
Even though the Challenger doesn’t even weigh a full pound, it’s still sporting a quality build. It’s made with a metal body and carbon-filled plastic to help keep out moisture and dust and stay strong against impacts.
It might cost you a bit more to get the necessary components to get night vision on your AR-15, but it’s still an affordable option for those hunting a bargain deal.
Best Gen 2 Night Vision Rifle Scope – FLIR CO-X GEN 2 HD MG
Turning your rifle into a nighttime gunning machine is made easier with a clip-on night vision scope and that’s exactly what the CO-X is. Don’t unmount your day scope and there’s no need to re-zero. Get the CO-X and you have a nighttime-ready rifle and scope system without the fuss.
- Manual gain
- 1x magnification
- HD optics
- Accessories included
As a clip-on scope, it’s easy to attach and detach come sun-up and sun-down without the need to re-zero. With 1x magnification, you can expect your sight image to work seamlessly with your day scope’s power settings.
Even though it is small at 5.9 x 3.9 x 3.2 inches and weighs just 1.7 lbs, it still has the full-size features of a full-size Gen 2 scope. It has the high-end feature of manual gain to adjust brightness levels to ambient light conditions. If you’re in the military or law enforcement, this feature will make all the difference.
Other expected features include Auto Shut-Off, Bright Light Cut-Off, 55-72 lp/mm resolution, and HD (High Definition) optics. The CO-X has a dual battery power option. Use a CR123 battery for up to 60 hours of use or an AA battery will provide up to 30 hours.
To enhance usability and performance, the compact scope comes with a wireless remote control, Picatinny adapter for the remote, and the battery adapter. Expect a detachable X-Long Range IR850 infrared illuminator, a light suppressor for the day scope, soft carrying case, and more.
Keep your day scope setup and just add night vision. It’s not only easy to be said, it’s easy to be done, too. That’s what a clip-on scope is for!
Best Gen 3 Night Vision Rifle Scope – Armasight Vulcan 4.5X GEN 3A MG
The Vulcan 4.5x scope is for the hunter that needs flawless night vision in the toughest conditions for the longest distances. Whether you’re a predator hunter or a tactical sniper, the Vulcan has the kind of technology to get you dead-on results in the dead of night.
- Manual gain
- Illuminated reticle
- Battery options
- Quick release mount
The Gen 3 Alpha MG Vulcan scope may be overpriced, but it’s a Gen 3 night vision scope developed to be the professional option for many types of shooters including hunters and tactical snipers. For impeccable vision, it’ll cost you.
As a high-ticket item, it has a Gen 3 IIT, 64-72 lp/mm resolution, and multi-coated optics. The scope features an illuminated mil-dot reticle with an automatic brightness setting and a manual brightness dial. Multiple features can be manipulated by the user for ultimate precision including manual gain, focus, reticle, and 1/2 MOA elevation and windage adjustments.
As a practical option for professional shooters, it comes in a compact size and weight of 8.6 x 3.9 x 3.2 inches and 2.1 lbs. The Vulcan also has a dual battery option – power it for up to 60 hours with a CR 123 or up to 30 hours with an AA battery, your choice.
The Vulcan has various protective features about it: an aluminum alloy rubberized body, shockproof optics, waterproof design, and a bright light cut-off feature. It also comes with multiple accessories adding to its usability out in the field: quick-release mount, detachable IR illuminator, wireless remote, Picatinny adapter for the remote, and a soft carry case.
The Vulcan 4.5x scope has it all – the bells and whistles that make it a professional-grade scope for the field.
Best Gen 4 “Filmless/Unfilmed” Night Vision Rifle Scopes
These are the scopes that are often marketed as ‘Gen 4’ despite not yet receiving that official classification. More correctly they would be classed as high end Gen 3 with the removal of the ion barrier film making them ‘filmless’ as the requirement for this classification.
FLIR PVS-14 3F MG
It’s upper Gen 3 tech which is technically Generation 4 technology since this PVS-14 has a filmless IIT. Even though it’s a monocular at its core, it’s more than that if you want it to be. It’s a weapon-mounted and ready optic for professional use in the most demanding challenges.
- Gen 4
- Battery life
- Manual gain
- 1x magnification
Professionals that require the quality of a night vision scope unit built on the design of the U.S. Military-commissioned AN/PVS-14 will find the FLIR alternative a worthwhile investment – even with the hefty price tag.
It’s a close quarter night vision unit that’s designed as a free-hand monocular with 1x magnification. However, it’s a versatile optic that can be mounted to head and helmet gear, and of course, to weapons as well. By purchasing optional accessories like an extended rail adapter for your AR-15 or a range finding stadia afocal lens, you can truly customize the PVS-14 to cater to your night vision needs.
This FLIR scope has the works: filmless tech, autogating, and manual gain – three main features to look for in high ticket night vision gear. With autogating, you’ll have the best sight picture you can get with rapidly changing light conditions that includes artificial light sources such as coming out of a dark building to a brightly lit parking lot or when vehicle headlights come into your FOV.
With manual gain, you can control brightness with minute adjustments to adjust for over or under exposure in any environment. With 50 hours of use in a single AA battery, you’ll be set to wait out and raid on your next sting.
Everything sounds legit, right? It must be if you’re an officer of the law or in the military where you demand the absolute best for the most challenging conditions.
FLIR CO-LR LRF 3F MG
This clip-on, long-range, laser rangefinder night vision scope is one expensive gadget that would be a luxury to own regardless of your shooting skill level, profession, or your vast night vision optics collection. This FLIR scope has every potential to be your last night vision scope purchase.
- Gen 4
- Manual gain
- Clip on
- 108 mm aperture
- Quick-release mount
- Doesn’t have laser rangefinder
We all knew this scope is going to be unaffordable – it’s expected. But, with LRF (Laser Range Finder) in its name, you’d expect that it has this feature built into the scope – it doesn’t. Instead, it will be compatible with a laser range finder module/attachment that FLIR may or may not release at a future date. Vague? We know, but the AMRF2200 (Advanced Module Range Finder 2200) is no longer in production, and we’re hoping this means that FLIR is onto something better!
This scope has FLIR’s clip-on design that allows for instant mounting and detaching at your pleasure. It mounts to your rail to be attached to the front of your day scope. The beauty of a clip-on is you don’t have to re-zero, unmount your day scope, or change a thing.
With true 1x magnification, it’s compatible with day scopes up to 12x magnification and you can retain use of the reticle you’re so familiar with using during the day.
With a huge 108 mm objective lens size, a highly sensitive Gen 3 filmless autogated IIT, and 64-72 lp/mm resolution, the CO-LR-LRF has state-of-the-art night vision quality superior to its competitors. Constantly changing and artificial light conditions, poor moon and star light, and even blacked-out buildings are the kinds of conditions this clip-on was made for.
The Gen 4 classification is appropriate for this piece of tech since it has a filmless tube to improve sensitivity and resolution while remaining robust for use. The manual gain feature will allow fine brightness adjustments to see with enhanced contrast and clarity.
Combining first-class rangefinding and night vision tech into the same device is a feat that FLIR can achieve. Affordable? Not even close. Awesome to own? Hell yeah.
What to Look For in a Night Vision Rifle Scope
As you can tell, night vision devices entail a whole world of specs of their own. You have new terms, technologies, and a completely different tube with internal components unlike a non-night vision rifle scope. To get you up to speed, we’ll pump out a few tips to help you navigate your way through the dark!
- Quality Glass: Optical quality still matters in a night vision scope. It can help to determine how bright images are enhanced by maximum light transmission.
- Coatings: Coating quality is still important aiding in the ability to transmit max. light transmission and help filter much-needed lightwaves through the scope.
- Detection distances: This will vary between quality and manufacturers. However, the generation class the scope is made with will typically determine the effective detection range.
- Generation Class: Each generation offers a variation of benefits and drawbacks. Be sure to decide on how much quality you want by knowing about the differences between the generation systems.
- Price: As you increase in quality, you increase in generation class. The higher the generation of technology the scope has, the higher the cost. Expect about a $1000 jump in price each time you upgrade a generation.
- IR Illuminators: Gen 1 scopes have built-in IR illuminators. Some scopes may offer a detachable option. IR illuminators greatly improve NV and detection range.
- Traditional VS Digital: Traditional night vision scopes can only be used at night. Digital scopes can be used despite light conditions, and they usually offer more digital features.
- Thin vs Unfilmed: Unfilmed is going to be an upper Gen 3 technology. It will be more expensive, but they’ve been perfected to be as robust as thin film night vision devices.
- Manual Gain: This is seen on upper Gen 3 night vision scopes. It allows the ability to control brightness and clarity in varying light conditions.
- Auto-gating: High-end night vision devices have auto-gating features to automatically adjust to dynamic lighting conditions to maintain intensifier tube integrity and eliminate temporary blindness from the scene through the scope. It also helps to reduce the blooming effect. This also adds to overall cost of scope.
- Quality warranties: Have the assurance that your premium night vision device is fully covered for any unforeseen damage – they’re expensive!
Detecting the Right Night Vision Scope For You!
There are several considerations that weigh in what will be the right night vision scope for you. It doesn’t have to be a scope that will have you going broke. Even Gen 1 scopes are 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. Change the way you hunt and the way you see with a night vision scope tonight!