Everyone who is shopping for night vision has been told to save their pennies and buy Gen 3.
There are different levels of night vision and saying that an NVD is “Gen 3” is not enough these days. It’s why there’s a huge price variation between Gen 3 scopes.
If you want a top of the line night vision scope with high-performance, military-grade tubes and features, you must be able to first, tell the difference between them, and second, have the cash to afford one.
If you set the budget high, you may even save enough to afford true mil-spec gear from Knight’s Armament Co.
What We Like: L3Harris tube
What We Don’t Like: Price
Best Uses: Night Shooting, Tactical Use, Hunting, Scouting, Varmint Control, Professional Use, Law Enforcement, Military, Close to Long-Range Detection
- IIT: Gen 3+ (L3Harris)
- Magnification: 1x
- FOV: 9-degrees
- Resolution: Unknown
- Eye Relief: N/A
- Color Modes: White Phosphor
- Battery: 24+ hours
- Dimensions: 7.4 x 3.4”/1.5 lbs
Our Verdict: The UNS-A3 is the ultimate clip-on scope for professional, hunting, and recreational use. It’s expensive, but the best things always are. Equipped with the best night vision technology of the most recent years, the KAC clip-on can easily be said to be the best lightweight version of the PVS-22. Now, that’s high praise.
Who is the Knight’s Armament UNS-A3 Best Suited to?
The UNS-A3 is a mil-spec clip-on. It’s obviously made for and well-suited to tactical, military, and law enforcement operations. Since it has high tube specs that allows maximum lowlight performance without an illuminator, it’s appropriate for stealth missions and stakeouts when incognito status is imperative.
But, what about the hunter or survivalist? If your life depends on the quality of your NV gear, this is the clip-on you want to have for the same reason the military uses it. It won’t let you down if you’re prepping for a SHTF future.
For hunters, its price point may be more than one is willing to spend. But hunters also value long-range performance, almost indestructible quality, and high-accuracy precision. When the first shot counts on hogs, coyotes, and other legal game that can be killed using night vision, you must have a scope that can perform for any hunting situation you’re in.
Since it’s made to move between rifles and with your current day scope, it’s extremely versatile. It’s recoilproof, so if you’re a hog hunter using something bigger than a 308 Winchester (which many are), there’s a clip-on scope that can handle it.
How Does the Knight’s Armament UNS-A3 Perform?
The UNS-A3 is one of the toughest night vision clip-on scopes you could ever buy. It’s lightweight, incredibly accurate, and has the best night vision technology currently available.
While KAC does not release specific tube specs about their products, they are mil-spec and every way live up to the standards that the military demands. The unfilmed, autogated, L3 tube is high-end, durable, and has lifetime reliability.
It is collimated following an alignment technology that is U.S. patented and has been used in thousands of mil-spec and SOCOM-issued sniper sights. It’s extremely accurate and boresighted to provide accuracy to within 0.5 MOA.
The UNS-A3 exceeds 24 hours of operation from a single battery, and although it has a variable gain control, it’s likely you won’t need to mess with it much. Its performance alone without an IR illuminator is astounding. It’s easy to use, long-range, and imaging is unmatched. For the price, this is an NVD that stands above the rest. Heck, for the price, it better, right?
Features & Benefits
L3 tubes have set the standard for high-performance Gen 3 image intensifier tubes. This specific model from KAC has an unfilmed L3Harris tube with a white phosphorous screen. It has autogating and manual gain, so imaging and visibility will be superb through this clip-on.
To help you tell the difference between models, this is the 28525LW model that has a high FOM, L3 tube, and WPT. You may see the 28525LW1 priced a couple of thousand dollars cheaper, but it is the standard FOM, L3 tube, and WPT model. You decide if the difference in cost is worth the higher FOM.
Even though unfilmed tubes have come a long way from the early 2000s, skepticism about its durability still exists. That was old technology, and this is new technology. If the military is spending millions of dollars on contracts for unfilmed, high-FOM tubes that last over 10,000 hours in their lifetime - that says something. Lifetime reliability and gain are significantly improved but there may be slight loss of SNR less than 1.2% from the best tubes. Fortunately, these tube specs are speculated to be around 28 SNR with resolution of 64-72 lp/mm and FOM around 1800 and 2200+.
To put it simply, an unfilmed L3Harris high-FOM tube is something to be coveted and especially so if you’re a civilian that wants mil-spec gear.
The KAC clip-on attaches to a Picatinny rail via a KAC locking throw lever quick detach mount. It’s designed to be mounted in front of a daytime scope so that you can retain your consistent and familiar cheek weld, eye relief, adjustments, and reticle.
Knight’s Armament’s clip-on scopes are said to be exceptionally forgiving when it comes to alignment. This speaks to the quality of the collimation process that allows it to be used with a day scope. There should be no change in your zero with the with clip-on scope attached as it’s accurate to within 0.5 MOA. Most, if not all, find that their UNS-A3 produces no shift at all – it’s dead-on.
KAC markets the UNS-A3 as a mid-range clip-on, but to the rest of us who are using it for hog hunting, casual applications, and who are prepping for a rainy day, this is one long-range device.
The clip-on provides excellent detection ranges. Under starlight conditions, you can see a man-size target at 500+ m and a vehicle-size target at 850+ m. Under quarter-moon conditions, you can see a man-size target at 700+ m and a vehicle-size target at 1000+ m.
The A3 clip-on is ideally suited to short-range day scopes with magnification of 6-8x, however, it functions exceptionally well with 2.5-10x magnification too. While perfectly suited to close-range hunters and for close-range engagements, its mid-range performance works well with hunting and DMR rifles out to 700 yards.
Knight’s Armament clip-on scopes are the toughest night vision clip-ons in the market. Well, they must be considering that they are mil-spec optics. The UNS-A3 fits right in with the military-grade standard that KAC delivers.
The L3 tube and clip-on design has allowed the scope to be recoil-proof to calibers up to .50 BMG. Most clip-ons are only rated to .308 WIN at max, but then again, most clip-ons don’t cost this much either.
It’s also completely waterproof to 3 feet for 4 hours. It’s built like a bulletproof tank but doesn’t weigh like one. The UNS-A3 is 7.4” long and weighs only 1.5 lbs, and this is pretty lightweight for having a large 62 mm refractive telephoto objective lens.
Long story short – the KAC clip-on is one tough cookie.
Knight’s Armament clip-on scopes are not the cheapest night vision scopes in the barrel. These scopes are top-shelf product and are priced like one too.
While standard FOM UNS-A3 clip-ons start at $9000 (approx.), this model costs over $12000. Why the high price jump? It has a high FOM with an unfilmed L3Harris IIT and a white phosphorous screen. Cheaper models have standard FOM and filmed tubes.
To have the works from a lightweight, recoilproof, WPT clip-on with long-range detection for civilian use is a privilege. Consequently, that privilege costs a lot of money.
The UNS-A3 has a dual battery system that allows for 24+ hours with a AA battery and 36+ hours with a CR123 battery.
The tethered battery cap and rubber cap allows for the interchangeable battery system. Flip the battery cap to accommodate the battery type being used.
The UNS-A3 is a clip-on scope that does not have a reticle. It must be used with another aiming device. The reticle is provided by the aiming device such as a red dot or conventional daytime scope.
The Knight’s Armament UNS-A3 does not come with an IR illuminator. One reason is for stealth. IR users can be seen by other NVD users which will compromise the user’s position. The other reason is that the L3 tube is an excellent lowlight performer and does not require IR illumination to operate. Even under starlight and cloud coverage, the UNS-A3 continues to impress.
The UNS-A2 is much like the UNS-A3 as it is available in various tube specs and features. It has a different body style to the UNS-A3 in that the A3 version has more knurling around major components. The newer UNS-A2 models are shorter at 6.25” long and lighter at 1.44 lbs. They sport a 50 mm objective lens, and they’re suitable for long-range engagements as they provide ¼ moon detection ranges on man-size targets beyond 1000 meters.
The UNS-3A clip-on is covered under a 1-year, non-transferable manufacturer warranty.
Most people will never buy an NVD that costs this much. The high price acts as a sort of filter that separates the elite buyers from the crowd.
If you must have the best, you must be willing to pay for it. There isn’t going back once you’ve had a taste of the really good stuff.
If this kind of buy is only happening once in your lifetime, buy right the first time and it will be the last time you buy. That is until you want to sell and upgrade again. NV technology is continuously getting better and scopes this good will always be in style.
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast who is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on hunting, optics, and the outdoors.