Last Updated on March 30, 2021
Night vision equipment can be a very expensive purchase. The first way you can save yourself some money is to invest in a monocular, which has much of the upside of other kinds of night vision equipment but comes at a much lower price.
You can also save money by getting well-informed before you buy. We’ve assembled this list of reviews of some of the top budget night vision monoculars under $200 to help you find the model that will work best for you.
You too can participate in hunts and surveillance at night. All you have to do is find the model that fits your budget and has the features that you need.
|Best Overall||Bushnell Equinox Z Night-Vision||
|Solomark Night Vision||
|Best Value||Xgen 2.1x Night Vision||
|Firefield 5×50 Nightfall 2 Night-Vision||
|Sightmark 2×24 Night Vision||
The Bushnell Equinox Z Digital is a great camera for people who want to get great night vision use, but also have a camera that works in the daytime, too. You can also get this model without breaking the bank, which makes it pretty good value right off the bat. The smallest model is available for less than $200, and it comes with 3x magnification, which is useful for making out detail of distant animals or landscapes. Since this model works in the daytime and at night, you don’t have to worry about bright lights burning out the internal optics.
This model also comes with great video recording features, which is great for those chance nighttime encounters that you’ll want to share with family and friends. This model also comes with a super-fast shutter speed, which means that your pictures will be less vulnerable to blur. One failing of this model is that it runs on AA batteries, which makes it more expensive to operate than competing models with an included rechargeable battery.
The Solomark Night Vision Monocular is a great deal for someone who has a tight budget but also wants to invest in a high-quality night vision experience. This model is very compact, which is a plus since so many night vision monoculars end up being bulky, and makes it great for situations where you have weight or size limitations. This model is also easily mounted onto a tripod, which means that it’s easy to set up a stable base for recording stable videos.
This model comes at a great price and works well enough to justify its cost, without having any overwhelming features. It has a range of around 328 feet. That range isn’t horrible, but it’s not great either. Unfortunately, this model relies on AA batteries, which drives up the long-term cost of operation. Overall, this is a good, reliable model, that you get great value out of due to its low price.
The Night Owl Xgen 2.1x is a great deal for someone looking to get a basic night vision monocular for a truly low price. This model is small, which makes it great for adult and kid use. It’s also incredibly easy to use. You won’t have to tinker with most functions unless you choose to do so, and most of what you need to do can you can do with the press of a single button. This model also has a short minimum focus range of just 3.3 feet, which makes this model well-suited to close-up tasks that would overwhelm more expensive models.
The very best thing about this model is its price, and that does come with some downsides. The sensor on this camera detects IR light in a 640 x 480-pixel grid, while the display only has a 320 x 240 grid, which means that your image quality is getting downgraded from senor to screen, which is the opposite of how most IR cameras operate. The difference means that your image quality will be lower than on other models. Overall, this is a great entry-level night vision monocular.
The Firefield 5×50 Nightfall 2 is a model that probably costs too much relative to the value that it provides. It does come with a nice pulse IR emitter, which helps you see better in pitch-black conditions, and the pulse feature does help extend battery life. It also includes manual focus adjustment for its 5x magnification lens, which isn’t super convenient compared to automatic focus adjustment but does give you a high degree of control that you need for the sharpest images.
However, despite its large 50-millimeter lens, this monocular has a very narrow field of view, which makes it hard to scan distant areas, and makes it less useful for surveillance or hunting. Likewise, it also has a relatively-short maximum range of about 150 feet. For a model with 5x magnification, that’s not good at all. It isn’t the best model on the market, and you could more value for less money with other entries on our list.
The Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2×24 is a Generation I night vision device, which means that it has all the features and flaws that come with a model based on those designs. This model does come with 2x magnification, which in theory should be useful without limiting your field of view too much. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with this model. Like many Gen I night vision devices, it has a horrible field of view, which makes it hard to find anything using this monocular.
It also has a short-range, topping out at around 150 feet, which makes it less useful for hunting and other activities. Given all these problems, you might still be able to get some value of out this model if you had very low standards, but it costs too much even to give it credit for that. Furthermore, this model line has quality-control problems that may result in you having to exchange the model for a working one, which a pain no one should have to deal with.
Many people approach buying night vision equipment like they’re shopping for produce at the store. All oranges are basically the same, so you might as well buy the cheapest ones, right? We know you’re on a page dedicated to budget night vision monoculars, but we find that it’s useful to think about value, in addition to price. If you figure out what kinds of features, like battery life, screen resolution, and video-recording options, that you’re going to use on your night vision monoculars, and what magnifications and field of views you’re going to want to use, then you’re on the right track.
You can use that information to find a model that works well for you, and the good news is that it might cost less than the one you thought you needed, but you would never have considered it if you didn’t think about what value you wanted to get, instead of just the price.
The Bushnell Equinox Z Digital moves to the top of our list due to its usefulness in the daytime and at night, and its great picture-taking and video-recording capacities. The Solomark Night Vision Monocular is a compact model great for people on a tight budget, and it comes tripod-ready. The Night Owl Xgen 2.1x provides the best value of all the models on our list, due to its ease of use and low price. The Firefield 5×50 Nightfall 2 has 5x magnification and a pulse IR emitter, but suffers from a poor field of view and falls to fourth on our list. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2×24 has many of the flaws and little of the upsides associated with Gen I night vision devices.
Hopefully, our reviews helped you understand what options you have when you’re trying to shop for night vision monoculars. While it’s not always easy to shop online, you should be able to use this information to find a model that you’ll love using.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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