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7 Best Night Vision Scopes for AR 15 in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on April 18, 2021

press lab-shutterstock

There are 4 generations of night vision scopes out there right now. Gen 4 is the biggest breakthrough in night vision in the past 10 years. The clarity is something that cannot be beat but now they are flooding the market.

This makes knowing which one to purchase difficult without having the ability to test them all yourself.

Don’t worry though, we have compiled a list of reviews to help you know which night vision scope is the best one for you. This list includes scopes that are part of gen 1 as sometimes, that is really all you need. 

 Dive on in and look at some of the best scopes on the market right now. 

scope crosshairs divider 1

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope
  • 8x digital magnification 
  • 10 reticle options
  • Day and night features
  • Best Value
    Second place
    BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope
  • Attaches to various optics
  • IR flashlight included 
  • 5-inch display 
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    theOpticGuru ATN X-Sight-4k Night Vision Scope theOpticGuru ATN X-Sight-4k Night Vision Scope
  • 18+ hours of active use
  • Wi-Fi streaming and recording
  • Rick display
  • Firefield NVRS 3x42 Night Vision Riflescope Firefield NVRS 3x42 Night Vision Riflescope
  • 3x42 night vision
  • High powered IR illuminator
  • Titanium body
  • Sightmark Photon RT Night Vision Riflescope Sightmark Photon RT Night Vision Riflescope
  • Steaming capabilities
  • Built-in LED IR illuminator
  • 6 Recital options 
  • The 7 Best Night Vision Scopes for AR 15 – Reviews 2021

    1. Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope – Best Overall

    Sightmark Wraith

    Here is our number one product, the Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope. This amazing scope can be used both during the day and at night with the classic green for night vision. If you are looking for a crystal-clear image, then look no further. This scope not only has amazing clarity, but it also records video in 1080p HD. Included is the 8x digital zoom that can go to 32x magnification. For those who are hunting in various seasons, this scope comes with 10 reticle options with 9 different colors. One of the biggest issues with scopes is they lose their zeroes after a few shots, but not this scope. This scope has 5 weapon profiles to save the zeros with different calibers, so you never have to guess if you switch weapons, which is another reason we have it on the top of our list for best night vision scopes for AR 15s.

    Pros
    • Day and night features
    • 8x digital magnification 
    • 10 reticle options
    • 5 weapon profiles
    • Removable eye cap for better vision
    Cons
    • Only 4.5 hours of battery life
    • Does not come with a memory card 

     2. BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope – Best Value

    BESTSIGHT Night Vision

    Coming in at our best night vision scope for AR-15 for the money is the BESTSIGHT. While not an optic itself, and that is why it is out of the top spot, it does offer a great range for night vision. It has a range of 200 feet, making it great for night hunting or even surveillance of the area. This has a 5-inch display for easier viewing, meaning there is no need to look down through the scope itself. The set-up is easy and the directions are easy to follow. The camera has a 360-degree camera that you can rotate easily. This setup has an IR flashlight to help extend the viewing as far as possible. 

    Pros
    • Unobstructed view on the screen
    • 5-inch display 
    • IR flashlight included 
    • Attaches to various optics easily
    Cons
    • Not an actual optic 
    • Batteries are hard to find

     3. theOpticGuru ATN X-Sight-4k Night Vision Scope – Premium Choice

    theOpticGuru

    While at the pricier end of the spectrum, this choice is in our top three. This scope is able to give rich color during the day but has a sharp black-and-white image at night. This means that no matter what time of day you are using this scope, you are going to get an amazing shot. Unlike others on this list, this cope offers a ballistic calculator feature, which makes every shot as perfect as can be. While we suggest this for an AR-15, this scope can be moved from gun to gun with ease and the ballistic calculator will still work. There is also a recoiled activated video feature, which means you can focus on the game in front of you while the scope takes care of recording what is there. This scope can also stream the video recording, making it easy to share your view. 

    Pros
    • 18+ hours of active use
    • Rick display with a Dual Core Processor 
    • Wi-Fi streaming and recording
    Cons
    • Pricier than other models 
    • Updating can be a pain 

     4. Firefield NVRS 3×42 Night Vision Riflescope

    Firefield

    When it comes to the middle ground spot, we have the Firefield NVRS Night Vision Riflescope. This scope is a gen 1 and is made from a lightweight titanium body. It also has a 42mm lens for higher gathering capabilities and a 3x magnification. The clear picture that is given comes from medium to long range images. It can easily and quickly detach, making it easy to switch optics if needed and still maintain the ability to return to zero easily. There is a built-in high-powered IR illuminator that can light up total darkness increasing the range. There is also a lens cover that shields the lens from harsh weather conditions or impact. 

    Pros
    • 3×42 night vision 
    • High powered IR illuminator
    • Quick detach weaver mounting system
    • Titanium body
    Cons
    • Lens cap is flimsy 
    • Heavy 
    • IR only extends range about 50 feet

    5. Sightmark Photon RT Night Vision Riflescope

    sightmark photon

    Back on the list is another Sightmark but what keeps this one from the top is doesn’t have all the features as our number one spot. It also comes in heavier at 2.5 pounds. This scope has a Wi-Fi remote streaming ability which makes it easy to share with others. There are 6 recital options with four different colors for easy targeting day or night. Also offered is the ability to record sound and video with ease. This Sightmark offers a quick-change battery pack that makes it easy for hunters to swap out batters missing nothing. There is also a LED IR illuminator that helps lengthen the night vision capabilities. 

    Pros
    • Steaming capabilities
    • Built-in LED IR illuminator
    • 6 Recital options 
    • Quick change battery pack
    Cons
    • Heavier than others on this list
    • Battery life is only about 4 hours

    6. Sniper Digital Night Vision Scope

    DN colorful

    Bringing up the number six spot is the Sniper Digital Night Vision Scope. It has a full color day mode setting while offering either the classic green or black and white for night vision mode. The range on this optic is up to 980 feet or 300 meters away. The 3x digital zoom offers a 4.5x magnification of the scope itself. With this optic you can also record your photos and videos easily, and it offers a 1080p HD clarity. With the added LED illuminator, it adds to the overall range of the optic without being too pricey. However, it is going to be on the heavier side of the optic family coming it at nearly three pounds. 

    Pros
    • HD photos and videos
    • Full day and night mode available
    • 3x digital zoom
    • Range of 980 feet or 300 meters
    Cons
    • Heavy end of the scope family
    • Battery life is short

     7. Night Owl Night Vision Rifle Scope

    NightShot Night

    The last spot on our list goes to the Night Owl Night Vision Scope. This scope is great for beginners who are just getting into the taste of night vision. At one of the lightest scopes on this list, it misses many features that could make or break your hunting experience. There is no recording on this scope, but it offers a high-resolution display. The range of this optic is 100-200 yards in typical night environments which is perfect for short range hunting. This optic is easy to operate as there is no need to worry about streaming or even Wi-Fi out in the field.  

    Pros
    • 640×480 resolution 
    • Lightweight 
    • Easy to use
    • Inexpensive 
    Cons
    • Cheaply made
    • You get what you pay for

    Buyer’s Guide

    Tips When Buying 

    Weight Matters 

    When it comes to weight, the heavier the optic, the less time you have working with it. You won’t notice the extra three pounds at first, but over a few hours the weight catches up. Moving around with a heavy gun isn’t ideal if you are hunting for long periods of time. For an AR-15 they are meant to be lighter and made to be moved around quickly. Keep that in mind when buying a night vision scope. How much weight are you willing to add to your rifle? 

    Climate Importance 

    Most, if not all, night vision optics are going to have an electronic component. Anyone who has ever worked with batteries knows that if the weather is too hot or too cold, they do not work properly. Not only that, but you can’t get electronics wet for long. If you’re going to be hunting in a climate that is humid, freezing, or very hot, then you may need to consider having backups. 

    You Get What You Pay For 

    No matter what kind of optic you are going for, the reputation of the manufacture is going to save you time and money. Why? They make high-quality products with great reviews for long periods of time. While going to a reputable manufacture comes with a price tag, that price tag means quality ingredients to make your optic the best it can be. 

    The saying “you get what you pay for” holds true with buying a night vision optic. Yes, they are going to be more expensive, but our list includes everything from lower to higher end on the price scale. Determine how much you want to use your optic and go from there. If you are going to use it a handful of times, you don’t need a top of the line scope in most cases. If you are looking for a long lifespan to use for years, then that does add to the price. 

    An Optic or Optic Attachment 

    Not every night vision device is going to be an optic. There are some that you are going to have to attach to your existing optic to get the night vision. For some people, that is all they want, so they can easily switch between day and night without worry. For others, they want an optic that can do both with ease. It truly comes down to what you want out of your device. The optic attachments are going to be on the less expensive end, as you will not have to worry about the optic itself. For an optic that has night vision compatibility you have to add in the extra price which can add up for many people. 

    There is no one is better than the other, though. Each one has its own perks and cons. What it comes down to is what you intend to use your device for. 

    Battery Life 

    Batteries are what keep these types of optics going. There are a few different types out there from your standard alkaline to rechargeable. The battery that shines the brightest is the lithium battery, though. If you want the longest performance out of your optic, this is the route you should go. However, and this is big, they are more expensive than your standard battery. They are built to last longer and keep the performance at its peak till the end of the battery life. 

    There is also the amount of time you have with your optic on one battery life cycle. This can range from a few hours all the way up to 18+. Consider how long you plan on being out with your scope. If you use alkaline batteries, then you’ll find the time cut in half. These batteries drop down to performing at only half of peak performance when the battery life drops below 50%. 

    This is the biggest gripe with most night vision scopes. The battery life is short. If you can work with a scope that isn’t Gen 4 and top of the line, then your battery life goes up. However, if you prefer the best of the best, then the best advice is to carry batteries with you when hunting so you never miss a moment.

    rifle-sniper

    Image credit: Piqsels.com

    Generations 1-4

    For various optics, you find that there is often mention of Gen 1-4 somewhere in the information. Not every optic is going to have this information, but for those that do it can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with what it is. What is that? Well, it is how advanced the optic is in terms of night vision technology. 

    • Gen 1: This is the most common optic on the market right now. These optics use the basic principles of amplifying the existing light several thousand times. They come in at a lower cost, but the issue is the clarity of the image. 
    • Gen 2: The big difference here is the price. The price of the gen 2 comes into play because there is an added micro-channel plate (MCP) that amplifies the existing light more. It works as an electron amplifier and is placed behind the photocathode. This allows for the light to pass through the tube in a brighter and sharper image. 
    • Gen 3: This generation adds a gallium arsenide to the photocathode for a brighter and sharper image over the gen 2 optics. There is also an ion barrier film added to increase the tube life. 
    • Gen 4: This is the latest and the greatest technology available. This added a filmless technology to the optics, meaning the need for the ion film is gone. This helps with range and clarity, making it the best of the best so far. 

    Each gen has its own price tag. The higher up you go, the more expensive the optic will be. However, with gen 4 becoming more popular, there are more options for those who don’t want to spend over $1000 on an optic. 

    Important Questions to Ask 

    Finding the right scope for you can be a difficult task. There are so many on the market that it’s hard to know which one is best. To help you out here is a list of fundamental things to consider when looking for the right night vision optic: 

    • What field of view are you looking for? 
    • How much are you willing to spend on an optic? 
    • What are the weather conditions in your hunting area like? 
    • Is being able to swap colors important to you? 
    • Do you prefer black and white or green for night vision? 
    • Does weight worry you? 
    • Is detachable something you could live without? 
    • Do you want to switch between day and night with the same optic? 
    • How much battery life do you want in a scope? 

    When you answer those questions, it helps narrow down the best scope for you. There are many options that share similar features, but knowing what to narrow it down to will make your life easier. You go from having ten options to two. scope crosshairs divider 2

    Conclusion

    The winner of our tests it is the Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope. This optic is the best for your money and overall has the best reviews possible. The model that is going to be the value is our BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope. Both options are going to provide you with what you need to enjoy the world of night vision with ease. In finding the right scope for you, we hope we have narrowed it down. Combing through the best night vision scopes can be overwhelming, but we did the hard work for you. Finding your perfect match is hopefully easier than ever now. 


    Feature image credit: Presslab, Shutterstock

    About the Author Robert Sparks

    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.