Last Updated on June 2, 2021
Night vision monoculars can be an expensive investment. High-end models can cost thousands of dollars, but the good news is that you can get a high-quality monocular for far less than that. Of course, you’re still making a big investment, and you want to make sure that you make a good one.
If you’re shopping online, it’s not always easy to figure out which models work well and are worth the price. We’ve done that hard work for you and assembled a list of reviews where we examine some of the top night vision monoculars under $500.
After reading those, you should have some idea of what you can get for your money. But, if you’ve never shopped for night vision monoculars before, you should check out our buyer’s guide, which is designed to help you learn about these devices and what you should be looking for when you shop for them.
|Night Owl iGEN||
|Best Value||Bestguarder 6x50mm||
|Bushnell Equinox Z||
The Armasight Spark CORE IIT 60-70 lp/mm is our top pick in night-vision monoculars. It comes with headgear, which means you’re saving the money you might have spent on that, and get a convenient, hands-free experience at the same time. The entire kit weighs less than a pound, which means that it’s light enough that you may forget it’s there while you use it. It also includes an infrared illuminator, which lights up the area 20-30 feet in front of you with infrared light seen by the monocular, not visible to the naked eye.
This model is still a Generation I night vision monocular, which means it doesn’t have the advancements in brightness and detail that you see with Generation II models. However, this one ditches the glass intensifier tube common to Gen I models and replaces it with a proprietary ceramic tube that greatly improves quality and reduces edge distortion. While this model is pricey, it delivers a high-quality experience, and the inclusion of headgear makes it good value, as well.
The Night Owl iGEN 20/20 NOIGM 3X-IC work differently than traditional night vision, which means that it falls outside the traditional Gen I, Gen II, Gen III labeling that describes many night vision setups. However, it appears to work even better than the Gen III models, even if it takes a bit more tinkering to use correctly. With this model, you can amplify ambient infrared light up to 650 times. With the included infrared emitter, that number goes up to a whopping 1345 times, which gives a long viewing distance and a high degree of detail.
The IR emitter can automatically adjust to produce the best experience, or you can set it to manual and adjust it yourself if you feel you can do a better job. This model can also take pictures and stores them on an internal SD card, which makes this a great model for home security purposes, but also good for recording any fun encounters with wildlife that you have. This model doesn’t come with a neck strap or a mount for one, which is a bit of a pain, but overall, it’s one of the best-functioning models on our list.
The Bestguarder 6x50mm WG-50 lives up to its name in a lot of ways. It may not be the best for portable applications like hunting, but it’s the best home security infrared monocular on our list. It’s easy to take this model and connect it to an external power source to keep it on indefinitely as a security camera, and it’s also easy to connect it to a computer to record or monitor the view. This model can also store photos or videos taken at night or in the day on an internal drive, which is a nice added feature.
The very best thing about this model is its price, however. You can get this model for far less than the first two models on our list. While it’s not going to be as good for hunting due to its need for manual focusing, you could use it in that application. However, it drains batteries quickly, so you might not get the best value there. Overall, this is a great value night vision monocular, especially if you want one for home security purposes.
The Bushnell 4.5×40 Equinox Z 260140MT is a poor model from an otherwise great brand. There’s no need to sugarcoat this, as Bushnell has made better equipment and will continue to do so, but this model doesn’t live up to that name. It is made from quality materials, as expected, and the image quality is also good. But, there’s more to a night vision monocular than just features.
This model comes with an inefficient built-in IR illuminator, which is both visible to the naked eye when turned out, and not great at illuminating, which are both serious problems. Likewise, the LCD screen is too bright for most circumstances where you don’t want to be spotted. Topping it all off, this model chews through batteries at an alarming rate. Overall, this model does barely enough to get the job done but has several flaws that cost it value and may require you to spend money on additional devices to get good use out of this one.
The Sightmark SM14070 1×24 is a Generation I night vision device that comes with the price tag of a Generation II or III model. Consequently, it has several flaws that you’d expect from a Gen I model, without being cheap. It comes with a feature that automatically shuts the device off in bright light. If it didn’t shut off, the optics would quickly burn out. Compare that to previous models that you can use in the day.
It is weapon-mountable, which is a plus. However, you’re still going to have to deal with distortion around the edges if you use it in that capacity. If you instead choose to use it with the included headgear, that problem consists, but is arguably worse because the headgear doesn’t have lateral adjustment, which means that it’s hard to get it perfectly aligned over either eye. Overall, this model doesn’t provide great value for the price, and you could spend less and get a more satisfying experience.
More popular monocular guides:
-> What’s our favorite night-vision monocular for under $300?
The Armasight Spark CORE IIT 60-70 lp/mm is the best model on our list due to its lightweight, hands-free operation. In second is the Night Owl iGEN 20/20 NOIGM 3X-IC, which works well, but loses first due to a lack of a neck strap or headgear. The Bestguarder 6x50mm WG-50 has the best value, especially if you want a device for home security. The Bushnell 4.5×40 Equinox Z 260140MT doesn’t live up to its brand but does have good clarity and quality materials. The Sightmark SM14070 1×24 is an expensive Gen I model that comes with substandard equipment.
It’s not always easy to shop online, but we hope that our reviews have helped you get a better idea of what you can buy for less than $500. With this knowledge, you should be able to find a model that works great and won’t break the bank.
Our other monocular guides:
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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