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There are several animals like coyotes and jackrabbits that you can hunt at night, and to do that, you will need a night vision scope. However, several models are available, and it can be difficult to know which one will work best for you. We’ve chosen ten different models to review for you so you can see the difference between brands. We’ll tell you about our experience using them and fill you in on all of the pros and cons. We’ve also included a short buyer’s guide where we take a closer look at how these devices work so you can know what to look for while you shop.
Join us while look at magnification, weight, range, ease of use, and more to help you make an educated decision.
|Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope
|Firefield NVRS Night Vision Riflescope
|ATN Thermal Rifle Scope
|Night Owl Optics Night Vision Riflescope
|Sightmark Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope is our pick as the best overall night vision scope, and for good reason. It has full-color viewing during the day using the day mode, and as it begins to get dark, you can switch over to the night mode. Night mode makes excellent use of the wide 50 millimeters (mm) objective lens to gather as much light as possible, but it also turns on the Infrared (IR) flashlight that floods the area with invisible light. You can choose to see the night image in black and white or the more traditional green and black.
The IR flashlight allows you to see out to 200 yards, and you can purchase more powerful lamps if you need them to see even further. The scope provides you with magnification capabilities between 4 and 32, and you choose between 10 reticle styles and 9 colors for the most comfortable targeting. It’s easy to zero in, and it also includes a built-in high-definition sensor for recording films. If the batteries run dry near your car or home, you can plug your scope into the USB for additional power.
We really enjoyed reviewing the Sightmark Wraith scope and thought it worked perfectly and enjoyed filming movies. The only thing we didn’t like is that the scope is quite bulky and is also heavy at nearly 3.5 pounds. With all that said, we think this is the best night vision scope this year.
The Firefield NVRS Night Vision Riflescope is our pick as the best night vision scope for the money. It provides you with a 3 x 42 magnification and brightness adjustments that help you brighten the image and change the brightness of the reticle. It has a quick-release mount so you can attach and remove it faster than most other scopes on this list, and it has a high-definition sensor, which will record movies or take pictures of your activity. A built-in IR flashlight helps illuminate the area with invisible light so you can see in the dark, and its ergonomic design is sleek and stays out of the way when you are carrying the rifle.
The downside to the Firefield NVRS is that it’s weighty at about two pounds. We also saw several small black dots on the screen, and while they didn’t prevent us from seeing what we were looking at, they were distracting and were more visible in brighter environments. The infrared flashlight is not very bright and only works to about 50 yards out. However, for the money, this is the best night vision scope we have reviewed.
The ATN Thermal Rifle Scope is our premium choice night vision scope. It’s extremely lightweight, and at only 1.4 pounds, it’s the lightest scope on our list so far. Unlike the previous models that use an infrared flashlight to illuminate the area for night vision, this model uses a heat detection sensor. A heat sensor’s advantage is that it will allow you to see at night and in fog, rain, and other low visibility environments. It can also pick up the heat signature from further away than an IR flashlight, and this model will allow you to see in the dark between 100 and 200 yards away. It’s easy to zero in and has built-in technology to calibrate the scope after a single shot. It also includes a charger, and each charge will last more than ten hours.
While we were extremely impressed with the ATN Thermals’ ability to pick up far away objects at distances that exceeded 100 yards, we were disappointed by its low magnification that often made those objects difficult to see. Our screen also froze up frequently, sometimes requiring that we reset the unit to fix it. These problems aren’t normally a big deal, but we didn’t expect to be dealing with freeze-ups with expensive scopes like this.
The Night Owl Optics Night Vision Riflescope is extremely easy to use and is quick to find the target. It has a long-range of 100 to 200 yards and a built-in IR flashlight. You can also add more powerful IR flashlights to extend the range if you need one. The scope provides you with a high-resolution 640×480 display. It’s extremely lightweight at only 1.3 pounds and is completely waterproof.
We enjoyed the high-quality image that the Night Owl provides and were impressed by how quickly we could find and focus on our target. However, the 3x magnification leaves many objects too far away to get a good look. The batteries also lose their charge quickly, and you need to remove the scope from your rifle to change them. Each time you change the batteries, you will need to er-zero the scope, which can get tedious and frustrating.
The Sightmark Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope features several unique features not seen on many other models. It has a wi-fi remote view, which allows you to send the image in your scope to your cell phone. It also has a built-in high-resolution sensor that lets the scope record a 768 x 576 video. It has a one-shot zero-mode that helps you zero the scope without effort. It includes two magnification settings: a 4.5x zoom and a 9x zoom. It also has a quick-change battery pack that makes it easy to replace dead batteries.
The downside we experienced while reviewing the Sightmark Photon was that the viewscreen icons are small and hard to read, making it difficult to use the various functions, especially the one-shot zero. When using the scop in the daytime, the viewscreen is in black and white, which is also difficult to see. We were unable to get the wi-fi function to work.
The Sniper Digital Night Vision Scope is a compact scope with both a day and a night mode. When in day mode, you can use the scope to see a full-color image. It turns on the IR flashlight in night mode and floods the area with invisible light that allows you to see out to about 1000 feet. It has multicoated objective lenses that make it easier to see through and reduces glare. It has a built-in mechanism for recording high-quality 1080p video and pictures. It comes with an IR flashlight, power adapter, USB cable, and other accessories so that you can get started immediately.
The downside we experienced while using the Sniper Digital is that it only has a 3x zoom, so many of the objects we were looking at still seemed far away. We felt that the color display was dull compared to other models and it’s extremely heavy at nearly three pounds.
The Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope has an extremely sensitive night vision sensor that will provide you with the ability to take 1280 x 720 video or pictures. You can also use this scope to create live streams to play over social media, and you can control it remotely using your smartphone. You can choose between ten reticles, and each is available in a wide range of colors. It’s waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about rain, and its all-metal housing is extremely durable. It also has a long-range and allows you to see to a distance of more than 300 years.
We didn’t like that the Pulsar Digex N455 weighs more than four pounds and is quite heavy, especially when it’s attached to a rifle. The buttons on the scope are flimsy, and it’s easy to shoot past the option you want. The day mode only has a black and white image, and it gets blurry at the maximum range. We also had a hard time getting the live stream to work.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a night vision scope.
There are two ways that your scope will allow you to see in the dark, infrared and thermal.
The most popular method that night vision scopes use to see in the dark is infrared. A scope that uses this system needs an infrared flashlight to emit invisible infrared light the same way a regular flashlight works. The scope will have a built-in sensor that will detect the light and show you an image. This light is not only invisible to you; it’s also invisible to animals, so your scope will not give away your location.
Another interesting fact about the infrared style scopes is that they will pick up the light from other scopes as well, so if you are hunting with a friend, you can spread out to create a larger visible area for everyone in the party. The downside to this system is that environmental conditions like fog, snow, and rain can block the light like regular light, so these scopes will not have much range in these conditions. Many scopes will allow you to change the IR flashlight so you can buy a more powerful style if you need it. You can also set up satellite flashlights on your property to see a huge area.
Thermal scopes use a sensor to detect the heat coming off an object and use that information to create an image. There is no flashlight needed with this system, and the sensitivity of the heat sensor determines the range. These scopes usually allow you to see a lot further than infrared scopes, and they are not affected by weather conditions like fog or snow. The downside to these scopes is that they are much more expensive than infrared scopes, so only the most serious hunters use them.
Magnification is often the first thing shoppers look for when choosing a scope; it’s not always the most important. You will only need to see clearly for as far as the infrared light reaches. You will usually see the magnification listed as 4.5-9 x 42. When you see it written this way, it means the scope can be 4.6 and 9X magnification. The second number means that the objective lens is 42 millimeters wide. Many of the models on our list are 3x magnification, which might be enough for many purposes, but we found 4.5 x to be much more effective and scopes with variable magnification to be the best type.
The objective lens is the furthest from the eye and is responsible for gathering the light your scope uses to create the image that you see. Larger objective lenses create a clearer picture, but since night vision scopes add infrared light to the environment, they can have smaller lenses. The upside is that smaller lenses bring down the scope’s cost and reduces its weight. The downside to the smaller lens is that the scope relies more on the flashlight and produces a smaller image.
The HD sensor is a built-in device that allows you to film and snap pictures through your scope. You can also send a live stream to your favorite social media platform with some of these models. This feature can be helpful for training and to help keep a record of the animals you see and the ones that got away.
The reticle is the dot or crosshair in your display center that tells you where the bullet will hit. Though the dot and crosshair are the most common reticles, there is a wide range of styles to choose from, and many people prefer one over another. Some of the models on our list allow you to select between several reticules and also allow you to change the color. We found red to make the target stand out at night, and this might be a feature you decide to look for when choosing your next night vision scope.
When choosing a night vision scope, the most important thing to look for is a powerful flashlight and a clear image. The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope is our pick as the best overall, and it provides you with both. It also features a day mode that allows you to see in full color when using the scope in a well-lit area. You can also choose between black and white or black and green screen at night depending on which is easier to see. It provides plenty of magnification and several reticules. If you are looking for something extreme, we’d like to recommend you consider our premium choice. The ATN Thermal Rifle Scope uses a thermal sensor to give you the ultimate night vision experience. It eliminates the need for an IR flashlight, so the scope is lightweight while the range is much longer than you will find on most other scopes on our list, and you can use it in any weather, including heavy fog.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over these reviews and learned some new facts about these modern scopes. If you have found the right one for your gun, please share these ten best night vision scopes on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels
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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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