When you’re desperate for night vision but can’t afford it, what are you supposed to do?
You can try out a cheap brand that produces entry-level night vision equipment.
You get what you pay for, and in this case, you’re paying the lowest possible prices for night vision.
Vector Optics is such a brand that caters to low budgets.
It’s why their Gen 1 2.5x50 scope is so cheap.
Is it worth it?
It will depend on what you’re using it for. Check it out.
What We Like: Price
What We Don’t Like: 1-year warranty
Best Uses: Night Shooting, Hunting, Scouting, Varmint Control, Close-Range Detection, Beginners, Intermediates
- IIT: Gen 1
- Magnification: 2.5
- FOV: 17-degrees
- Resolution: 36-40 lp/mm
- Eye Relief: 16.5-13 mm
- Color Modes: Green Phosphor
- Battery: 1x CR123
- Dimensions: 10.6”/2.8 lbs
Our Verdict: There is not a whole lot to the Vector Optics Gen 1 scope, but that may be exactly why you may like it. It’s Gen 1 tech with user simplicity and affordability in mind.
Who is the Vector Optics 2.5X50 Gen 1 Best Suited to?
If you’re looking for night vision for an extremely low cost without the digital tech of digital night vision scopes, Gen 1 is it. The Vector 2.5x50 is one of the only real IIT scopes at these price points in the market with analog technology needed for passive night vision performance.
With the Vector scope, you’ll have all the benefits of Gen 1 night vision but all the drawbacks too. However, the scope does have better resolution than scopes of yesteryear, and it’s still lighter than many of its kind.
For the light-caliber cartridge and pest hunter, Gen 1 fits the bill.
How Does the Vector Optics 2.5X50 Gen 1 Perform?
The Vector Optics 2.5x50 scope is much like many other Gen 1 scopes in the market. It’s cheap, has the typical green phosphor display, and is limited in imaging quality and detection range.
However, to have an IIT for as cheap as it is, is still bewildering if you knew how much they used to cost back in the day. With high resolution for its price point and IIT, the Vector Gen 1 scope is worth checking out.
You will be limited to only using the scope during the night as bright light will ruin it, but this is true of all IIT scopes. So, at this price point, it’s a matter of comparing Gen 1 with digital scopes as the latter can safely be used during the day.
But don’t be so quick to write off Gen 1 as they do have wider field of views and longer battery life over digital. Plus, if you’d rather do without the digi-tech and stay analog all the way with simplicity and ease of use, Gen 1 is the physical embodiment of this.
Features & Benefits
For a Gen 1 night vision scope, it doesn’t get cheaper than this. If you’re convinced that you can get cheaper night vision, you’ll be limited to camera scopes such as the BestSight Camera Scope that is essentially a display screen that comes with a camera and IR flashlight.
At least the Vector 2.5x50 has an IIT and good resolution of 36-40 lp/mm that can acquire good distances up to 100 yards. For the low price, it can’t be beat for generational technology.
Gen 1 Image Quality
On speaking of Gen 1 IITs, it’s worth noting that they’re now more affordable than ever, as is made obvious with this model that comes in under $500. But while Gen 1 is getting cheaper, many more are looking to the better prices much-improved quality of upper end Gen 2 and even Gen 3 night vision scopes.
Still, you’d be looking to spend significantly more than $1000. So, when the budget is restricting, Gen 1 has a place in the market. They used to have really poor imaging quality that resulted in black spots, fish-eye lens effects, white-out, and more issues.
So, how does the Vector Gen 1 night scope really perform? Decently. It has higher resolution of 36-40 lp mm which is fantastic for Gen 1. It’s factory-set for parallax at 100 yards, and it has an illuminated reticle for faster target acquisition and crosshair visibility.
There will still be image degradation at longer distances and some level of edge distortion and fish-eye lens, but it will be markedly better than Gen 1 tubes of yore. Unfortunately, you’ll need to depend heavily on IR use.
Easy to Use
The nice thing about this night vision scope is that it’s simple. Digital is usually the scope of choice for this budget range, but they tend to muddy performance and execution with digital features that many shooters find unnecessary.
The Vector Optics Gen 1 scope is simple and straightforward to use. The only features it offers are the essential features needed for performance. That would be the 9 brightness settings, ¼ MOA adjustments, diopter, and focus ring.
The Gen 1 scope may provide up to 100-yard detection. If you’re taking out pests for the night, this should be reasonable for the type of distances you need. Realistically, you’re looking at about 20-80-yard performance.
To help get more distance is the included 450mW IR illuminator. It’s advertised that you can extend detection out to 150 yards, but this is unlikely with the included IR. If you were to spend another $60 to replace it, it may be a possibility. But that may very well defeat the whole point of spending as little as possible.
With fixed 2.5x magnification and a 50 mm aperture, you have a wide 17-degree field of view. You’ll have fast target acquisition and stable night vision imaging for the distances you need - as long as it’s under 100 yards, right?
This may not be an advantage in and of itself, but it is essential to know this before you buy. Vector does not state its recoil resistance, but its eye relief specs tell us a lot. With its extremely short 16 mm (approx.) eye relief, it essentially has no eye relief at all and is therefore not suitable for high-caliber cartridges with a lot of free recoil energy.
As such, it’s best suited for rimfire or low-caliber cartridges such as 17 HMR, 22LR, 22 Mag on the rimfire side and 223 on the centerfire side. Keeping recoil energy to that of 5 or maybe 8 lb.ft at the max is safest. This should equate to staying under 3000 joules for recoil.
There are many night vision products that are only covered for a one-year period, and unfortunately, the Vector Optics Gen 1 scopes follows the trend. Vector Optics only extends 1-year coverage to the 2.5x50 model and yet gives an extra year to the larger Vector Optics 4x60 Gen 1 model.
A bit unfair wouldn’t you say? But it’s to be expected. The Gen 1 scope is incredibly cheap after all, so an extended warranty is not to be expected.
The Vector Optics 2.5x50 Gen 1 night vision scope comes with a 450mW IR illuminator, rubber cover, lens cap, Hex key, and lens cloth.
It comes with a Picatinny/Weaver mount that mounts to a Picatinny/Weaver rail. It takes up 6” of rail space. There is not a quick detach mount included with the Vector scope.
The Vector Gen 1 scope is completely waterproof. It’s also been nitrogen-purged to provide internal fogging protection. Even so, it’s best to keep it covered in bad weather conditions and practice good acclimation methods to ensure optimal performance.
Vector Optics is a Chinese brand and manufacturer that produces their products in China. There is no USA quality control on their products. The brand specializes in entry-level optics.
Vector Optics is a cheap brand. If you want the lowest prices possible, they’ll have it. But when you get what you pay for, and if what you pay for is cheap, you may end up running into issues you could have prevented if you spent twice as much.
It’s best to buy through a trusted retailer and return if issues arise during the return/refund window. If you know what you’re buying from the get-go, you’ll find the right use for it and won’t be disappointed.
Vector Optics products are not recommended as long-term products. But if you’re strapped, it may be an acceptable alternative as a temporary unit to get you through until you can afford better.
Cheap optics can only last so long, so you must understand that this is not your permanent night vision scope that will see you through a lifetime of use. If you’re willing to upgrade down the road, this may be a good out-of-the-woods product for your needs. For recreational use, the 2.5x50 scope may prove to be fun and productive. Look forward to one day affording the best of the best night vision. It’s worth it.
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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.