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Night Owl Optics "NightShot" Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope (Affordable & Compact)

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Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital NV Rifle Scope
Image Credit - Night Owl Optics

Generation: Digital
Magnification:  3x
Objective Diameter: 40 mm
Resolution: 640x480
Field of View: 5.6 degrees
Eye Relief:  68.5 mm
Water-resistant:  Yes
Length/Weight: 13.2 x 2.7 x 4 in/20.8 oz
Illuminated Reticle:  No
Power Supply:  4x AA
Battery Life:  approx. 3 hours
IR Illuminator:  Yes/Built-in

Best Uses: NV Hunting, Total Darkness Hunting, Day Hunting, Target Shooting, Tactical Use

Night Owl Optics NightShot Night Vision Rifle Scope Review

Are you sick and tired of comparing NV scopes with endless, varying prices, manufacturers, and even technologies?  If you want to keep it simple while on a tight budget, keep it digital or Gen 1.  This is the cheapest you can go, and it's not cheap unless you have around $500 just floating around.

The NightShot is one of Night Owl's pride and joy NV scopes.  It's a digital rifle scope, but it's darn close to being a traditional NV scope without the IIT.  How?  It's been kept simple in design making it a user-friendly optic for the shooter.  These days, digital scopes can get way out of hand with tons of features that can distract from the very short window in which a hunter needs to react, and quickly at that.

NightShot NV Rifle Scope with Illuminator
Image Credit - Night Owl Optics

The NightShot keeps gadget-crazy tech to a minimum providing only quality where it's needed most.  The scope has a 640x480 resolution display with at least 100 yards of detection range and perhaps up to 200 yards on a good night.  The built-in 850nm IR illuminator can't be removed, but the scope sports a mounting rail for the option of adding an additional IR if you wish.

Because it's a digital scope, you can sight this thing in during the day if you wish.  Yes, you read that right!  Digital scopes can be used in any lighting condition.  Just turn the IR off and bring the display brightness down so the image doesn't wash out and then reverse the process come nightfall.

For the price, buyers start off skeptical of the quality.  However, it couldn't keep up its outstanding rating trends if it couldn't deliver on performance.  The best thing about this scope that users report is the stunning clarity.  Combine that with the low price, and buyers are sold for life!

YouTube video


  • Price
  • Weatherproof
  • Digital
  • 850 nm IR
  • Lightweight/compact


  • Short battery life

Night Owl Optics NightShot Q&A:

How Long do the Batteries Last on the Night Vision Rifle Scope?

It requires four AA batteries for operation. Because an activated IR illuminator is always going to be required for use with a digital NV rifle scope, battery life can be eaten rather quickly. With the IR on at high power, battery life is expected to be a short two hours. With the IR on at low power, battery life is expected to last approximately five hours.

Are Batteries Included in the Purchase of the Night Owl Scope?

Unfortunately, four AA batteries are not included with the purchase. You'll have to purchase them separately to get your scope up and running.

What Reticles are Available on the NightShot Rifle Scope?

The scope offers three reticles with both black and white colors available providing a selection of 6 reticle options for convenience. There is a crosshair, dot, and a hash mark reticle counting for both wind drift and bullet drop.

What is a Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope?

A digital scope lacks the image intensifier tube and components that make up a traditional night vision rifle scope.  Instead, a built-in chip converts light detected by the IR into an electronic signal to be displayed on the screen or the eyepiece as you see through the scope.

Typically, this allows for a digital scope to have many features such as rangefinding, sound and video recording, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and so much more.

Can this Digital NightShot Scope Video Record?

From what we can see, the NightShot isn't able to video or sound record.  While this is generally a perk of digital rifle scopes, this one seems to be the exception to the rule.  However, we like the simplicity and bare basics approach as it seems to be more related to a traditional Gen 1 IIT scope and what you can expect out of performance and use versus the conventional, gadget-crazy digital scope.

The way we see it, the more features it has, the more you have to learn.  The more you have to learn and fiddle with, the more likely it is for user error to occur in the exact moment you needed to take down you prey.

Where is the IR Illuminator on the Scope?

If you're accustomed to seeing a separate tube sticking parallel to the side of a rifle scope, you're not going to find that here. The built-in IR sits atop the objective bell at the end of the scope. The lens cap is also attached to the very top of the IR.

What can the NightShot Scope be used for?

The digital NV scope can be used on rifles for night and varmint hunting. It can also be mounted to paintball, pellet, and airsoft guns.

What Rifles can the Night Vision Scope be Mounted to?

If you're concerned about recoil, this scope is rated shockproof for recoil up to .30 and lower (non-magnum) rifles. This also happens to be a very popular scope for mounting to an AR rifle.

Noteworthy Features:

  • Easy to use and intuitive digital night vision rifle scope
  • 100-200 yards of clarity depending on conditions
  • Rail system to mount detachable long-range IR (purchased separately)
  • Lightweight and compact for convenient use on carry-around rifles
  • Versatile optic for many recreational shooting applications

Our Verdict on the Night Owl NightShot Night Vision Rifle Scope

To light your trail through the dark, the Night Owl Optics NightShot rifle scope is "the" budget-friendly NV rifle scope.  Sure, it may not be your genuine Gen 1 scope, but it sports a price tag that you can't argue with.  The quality is embedded into the fundamental functions of this scope - for it to work at night.  Buyers say it's the best they've seen in this quality class for the money!

NightShot NV Rifle Scope Mounted on Gun
Image Credit - Night Owl Optics

While it's true that you can't argue with the low price, you can always see what quality looks like if you're curious about what more money can get you.  The Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42 is another digital scope, but it's a heck of a lot different!  It has more than a few digital upgrades, but it's still a mild version compared to what's available in digital tech these days.

Speaking of tech-crazy and gadget-obsessed digital rifle scopes, we have an approved option for you right here.  The ATN X-Sight II 5-20x will blow your mind.  Going from the humble and trusty NightShot to the X-Sight II might cause a jaw-dropping moment.  Be prepared to be open-minded!

But, in the end, the decision comes down to ease of use and the unbeatable price.   The winner in the corner is the NightShot scope.  If you want clarity, ease of use, and dependability, the buck stops here!

Further Reading

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Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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