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.
NV 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 NV scope options from high-end to bottom dollar, from well-proven tech to the latest advances in NV, 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 Top Night Vision Rifle Scopes
NV 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 NV 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 NV rifle scopes in the market.
While we do offer some budget and affordable NV 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 NV scope for you.
|Armasight Nemesis 6x GEN 2+ SD||GEN 2+ SD||Under $2000||View on Amazon|
|Armasight Drone Pro 10X||Digital||Under $2000||View on Amazon|
|ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20X||Digital/CORE||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Sightmark Photon RT 4.5X42||Digital||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Firefield Tactical 2.5X50 FF26014T||GEN 1||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Armasight Orion 5X||GEN 1||Under $500||View on Amazon|
|Night Owl Optics NightShot||Digital||Under $500||View on Amazon|
|NewCon Optik SGT-150P StarGate||Batteryless Monocular||Under $200||View on Amazon|
|Night Optics Gladius 760 6X Gen 3||GEN 3||Under $5000||View on Amazon|
|ATN Ares 6-4||GEN 3+ (Filmless)||Over $5000||View on Amazon|
|Bering Optics D-790 6.0x Gen 3+||GEN 3+ (Filmless)||Over $5000||View on Amazon|
|Bering Optics D-740 4.0x Gen 3+||GEN 3+ (Filmless)||Under $5000||View on Amazon|
Best NV Rifle Scopes Under $2000
Armasight Nemesis 6x GEN 2+ SD
Yes, there’s more expensive Nemesis models than this one, but the SD (Standard Definition) model happens to be the most favored among buyers. Why? The lower price, of course, is the major attraction. However, the Gen 2+ tube, easy to use ballistic turret adjustments, and adjustable brightness illuminated reticle makes it a favorite NV scope in the market. With 60 hours of use in one battery lifespan, you could stay out all night or a few nights to make for a productive hunt!
Armasight Drone Pro 10X
A digital NV scope comes into play to mix it up against “traditional” NV devices. With the ability to be used any time of day, it’s a versatile scope for multiple applications. With 10x magnification, a high-performance CCD camera, automatic display brightness, and seven reticle options within the scope, the Drone just might be your hunting spy day or night!
Best Night Vision Scopes Under $1000
ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20X
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 favorite NV scopes, and it’s obvious with its high ratings that the masses love it too.
Sightmark Photon RT 4.5X42
Unfortunately, the once-loved Photon XT 4.6x42S NV 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 NV device has a lot to offer, and for the price, it just might be worth it!
Firefield Tactical 2.5X50 FF26014T
Wielding a .308 by chance? If that’s your mainstay weapon of choice, the Firefield is your go-to NV rifle scope. For a Gen 1 scope, it’s a very popular device. You have titanium alloy housing, built-in, high-powered IR illuminator, and variable reticle brightness adjustments, and 2.5x magnification. It might not seem like a gadget-crazy scope, but the quality is in its fundamental features. For dependable target detection and clarity within 100 yards, the Firefield scope will blow you away!
Best NV Scopes Under $500
Armasight Orion 5X
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 your AR15’s best mounting buddy. 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 NV 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 NV Rifle Scope Without Batteries
NewCon Optik SGT-150P StarGate
This is more of a monocular than anything, and to be straight-up from the start, it’s a decent optic if you know what to expect which is nothing fancy. It’s not the most highly-rated NV device in the market, but it is one of the only options that comes without a battery source. Instead, it uses a patented lever-activated power supply that generates an image when it’s depressed. Curious enough to learn more?
Best NV Scopes by Generation System
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 NV has to offer!
Best CORE Night Vision Rifle Scope
The ATN X-Sight II 5-20x also takes a spot as our best CORE scope with Obsidian II Core technology.
It’s a multipurpose viewer with versatility for hunters in mind!
Best Gen 1 Night Vision Rifle Scope
The Firefield Tactical 2.5X50 FF26014T maintains traditional night vision capabilities without getting too crazy with digital features and the like.
If you want simplicity and a user-friendly scope for a rifle up to a .308, this is your affordable NV buy!
Best Gen 2 Night Vision Rifle Scope
The long-lasting, high-quality, and high-powered Gen 2 Armasight Nemesis 6x SD scope is nothing short of a fantastic buy. It might just offer standard definition, but if you know anything about Armasight and Gen systems, you’ll know that the Gen 2 tech is far closer to Gen 3 quality than it is to Gen 1. The price jump may be significant, but you’re getting more bang and value for your buck.
Best Gen 3 Night Vision Rifle Scope
Many Gen 3 scopes these days are lacing the ion barrier film within the scope making them “unfilmed” or “filmless” scopes. While they’re within the Gen 3 classification, we’ll follow up with those in a separate category. For the Gen 3 class, we’ll focus on the conventional scopes with a thin ion barrier film.
This allows us to introduce a new scope to the lineup, the Night Optics Gladius 760 6X Gen 3 NV scope. It’s perfect for military/tactical/law enforcement get-ups, but we don’t see why it couldn’t perform as an extreme long ranging NV scope for hunters. You have a mil-dot reticle, 1558 ft detection range, and 420 feet field of view. Sounds right up your alley for those precise, extreme long-range shots!
Best “Filmless/Unfilmed” Night Vision Rifle Scopes
ATN Ares 6-4
This scope comes straight from the flagship line for the brand. There’s no messing around when you’re dealing with ATN. The exactness and preciseness when making adjustments with the one-knob turret operation is a key feature that’s unique to ATN. With automatic brightness control, a high-strength, detached infrared illuminator, and unfilmed technology, the Ares 6x magnification Gen 4 NV rifle scope is a beaut to own one day – in most of our dreams!
Bering Optics D-790 6.0x Gen 3+
If you want the latest developments in unfilmed tech with autogating, High Definition (HD) optics, exceptional long range and detection performance, and a manual gain control, look no further than this D-790 scope. There’s so much more to feature on this very expensive unit, so it better be worth it right? Check out the full review so we can spill the beans!
Bering Optics D-740 4.0x Gen 3+
This filmless Gen 3 scope is an extraordinary machine with an illuminated red-on-green mil-dot reticle, automatic brightness control, and 120 hours of battery life. It has an extravagant price tag, but what do you expect when you have a scope that can out-perform other long range NV scopes? With a manual gain control, recoil-tested with .375H&H and .50 cal. bullets, and a built-in 75mW IR illuminator with adjustable focus, you’re set to prowl all night long!
What to Look For in a Night Vision Rifle Scope
As you can tell, NV 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-NV 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 NV 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 NV 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 NV devices.
- Manual Gain: This is seen on upper Gen 3 NV scopes. It allows the ability to control brightness and clarity in varying light conditions.
- Auto-gating: High-end NV 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 NV 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 NV 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 NV at all.
Between all the improvements, brand competition, and newly-released technologies, affordable NV scopes are now a reality. Change the way you hunt and the way you see with a NV scope tonight!