The Aurora series of NVDs are ground-breaking products for SiOnyx because they’re the first commercially available night vision cameras the brand has released.
But who is SiOnyx?
Once known for their rights to black silicon, they’re also known for manufacturing industry-leading CMOS sensors, and have also been able to secure a $20M contract with the US Department of Defense.
With such a reputation under their belt, you can be sure that their high-performance imaging cameras in rifle scope form will perform.
So, is it a camera or a night vision scope?
Let’s scope out what the Aurora Black really is underneath all the hype.
What We Like: Night vision camera
What We Don’t Like: Bottom-loading battery
Best Uses: Night Shooting, Day Shooting, Hunting, Scouting, Varmint Control, Digital NV, Close to Mid-Range Detection
- Sensor: CMOS
- Magnification: Unknown
- FOV: Unknown
- Display Resolution: 1280x720
- Eye Relief: 20mm max
- Color Modes: Day & Night
- Battery: 2 hours
- Dimensions: Unknown
Our Verdict: Because the Aurora Black can be used in multiple ways, it has long-lasting value to the buyer. Once you’re done with it being on your gun, it won’t see the trash can. This is the type of optic that will see use far beyond the barrel. Affordable, high-functioning, and versatile – gotta love it.
Who is the SIONYX Aurora Black w/Mount Best Suited to?
This is night vision for an AR-15. It’s not rated for anything more only because you’ll be left with a scope kiss, so if you have a low-recoil weapon, you’re good to go shooting and hunting with it.
If you’re looking for cheap night vision right now while you have your sights on an upgrade sometime in the future, the Aurora Black is perfect because you won’t be getting rid of it. Once you do put something better on your rail, you’ll find this unit will be right at home as a night vision monocular or even helmet-mounted.
As an imaging camera that still has use and value when it’s dismounted, it has a leg up over cheap alternatives in the market.
How Does the SIONYX Aurora Black w/Mount Perform?
As a color action camera – it’s great. It’s huge compared to a GoPro, but it can be used in other ways too. Other ways include being used as a night vision clip-on.
It’s not a traditional clip-on perse, but it does mount to either the front or the rear of your current optic on the rail. Yes – the Aurora Black comes with a Picatinny mount.
This little unit can be used during the day, so you won’t need to dismount it to preserve its components. During the night, it actually has excellent performance with what ambient light is available. Its “twilight” mode is rather exceptional, crisp, and clear for a digital device at this price point – must be the high-performance CMOS sensor.
Since it doesn’t have an IR illuminator built-in or included in the package, you’ll be responsible for that buy. May as well buy a good one and mount it above the day scope to acquire better clarity and longer detection ranges in the dark.
Features & Benefits
Night Vision Camera
In all reality, the Aurora Black is actually a camera. As such, it’s a camera first and a weapon-mounted optic second. It can be equipped with a Wilcox bridge assembly for helmet mounting, but Wilcox is not a cheap brand, so that goes out the window if you’re sticking to a budget.
As a weapon-mounted scope, you’ll have the ability to video record at 360p or 720p, use multiple fps rates, shutter speeds, and snap pictures in color or monochrome display modes. That’s the recording side, so for shooting, you’ll need to rely on whatever day scope you have on the your rifle for zeroing, magnification, and using the reticle.
Since this is an imaging camera that doubles as a monocular and can be used as a scope after all of that, it naturally lacks a reticle. Therefore, the Aurora Black must be paired with another device.
SiOnyx recommends that this be used with a red dot. Simple and easy – done. However, there may be issue in trying to minimize the tunnel vision effect if you cannot get the eye box right and align the optical axes of both optics.
The Aurora sits 1.5” above the rail and comes with a Picatinny mount. Some users have mounted the scope to the front end of a day time optic, and others have tried it in the rear. While it can be placed in either position, it will take some experimentation to optimize it for your setup – after all, it’s a camera first and foremost.
So, what is the Aurora Black’s recoil resistance? It’s really only suited for use up to 223 (5.56) caliber – so, this is essentially a night vision scope for AR-15. Light recoil is the name of the game as it is for so many budget, digital scopes. It’s not about build quality so much as it is about its very unforgiving eye relief of 20 mm at its longest.
As previously mentioned, the SiOnyx Aurora is an imaging camera. It takes video, pictures, and can even stream it to a device. It is WiFi enabled to connect to iOS and Android devices through the brand’s streaming app.
You can also use a micro SD card with a max of up to 32GB storage, but this is an additional purchase as it is not included with the night vision camera. You also have image stabilization, so if you’re using it as a handheld, you’ll have the benefit of feeling like you have a steady hand but it’s actually the camera. If you’re concerned about losing battery life to accidentally leaving it on, it features auto shut-off with various times.
Since this is the Black version, it does not feature GPS, compass, or the accelerometer - that would be the Aurora Pro. The Aurora Sport is similar to the Black but lacks weapon-rated recoil resistance.
The Aurora night vision camera is a nifty, little unit. It can see IR light, be used without IR light, and provide both day and night vision modes. Color interpolation occurs to provide a Day mode based on the amount of light the CMOS sensor processes. Still – it’s color all the same to most of us who are shooting and not worried about our photographic skills.
At night, you have a monochrome display – black and white. What’s neat about it is you can actually use it in analog depending wholly on ambient light. It mightn’t get you much distance, but you can always use an IR to really make it shine.
Since this is a camera, it requires a camera-type battery. You will need 1x NP 50 battery for operation. It loads from the bottom of the monocular which is an old design for a battery compartment on new scopes. However, again, this isn’t really a scope to begin with.
The upside is, charging it won’t be as much of a hassle because the port is located on the side of the unit. It takes approximately two hours to come to a full charge. A full charge will last two hours (approx.) with continuous video.
You can also run a battery bank to operate the scope, but you will need to keep the primary, internal battery in the unit. During charging or use of the battery bank, the unit will not retain its weatherproof build due to the flap unbreaking the seal. Return the flap and ensure it’s sealed up, and it’s weatherproof again.
SiOnyx is a USA-based company out of Massachusetts, but they design and engineer and their products in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Michigan. Their products are made in Indonesia by a digital camera company.
Unfortunately, no accessories except the battery are included with the SiOnyx Aurora Black camera.
You will need to purchase your own IR illuminator to extend visibility range in the dark.
The SiOnyx Aurora Black is a digital unit and can safely be used during the day.
You have a diopter to focus the unit for your vision. You can then adjust the focal lens for sharpness and clarity on a target at any distance.
If you’re more familiar with scopes than cameras, think of it as an adjustable objective. This lens must be manually focused for targets at various distance as there is no auto focus.
In the United States, the Aurora Black is covered for a 1-year period under the manufacturer warranty. In the EU, the warranty is for 2 years.
It is non-transferable. If a product is returned after 14 days, a 15% restocking fee applies along with the deduction of shipping costs.
This is definitely an out of the box type of product for acquiring night vision. For its price under $1000, it’s on the more expensive end of the spectrum for what is considered “cheap,” but it has a very versatile design.
Granted, most of us are not looking to video, image, or free-hand the Aurora Black. We want the ability to have night vision and shoot with it in the dark. As such, this is more of a clip-on style scope system that must be paired with a red dot or daytime scope.
Luckily for you, this decked-out digital camera comes with a Picatinny mount. Clip-on it is.