Last update on 2021-04-22 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
It’s no secret when we say this one thing: hunting at night without the best night vision rifle scopes is like trying to hit a ball – without seeing where the ball is coming from.
Humans can’t really see at night, at least not like feline predators do.
However, you can give those predators a run for their money by purchasing the best night vision rifle scope on the market.
Considering today’s technology breakthroughs, it’s not that difficult to find something appropriate.
In this guide, we will show you exactly what to look for in a night vision rifle scope – as well as direct you towards a few good models.
All of them are very popular; now it all depends on your preferences.
If you want a more in-depth review of these scopes, just scroll down below and view our recommendations.
Our Reviews Of The Best Night Vision Riflescope
#1 Pulsar Phantom 4×60 MD WPT Night Vision Riflescope
If you want to get a rifle scope that offers great value for your money, then the Pulsar Phantom 4×60 MD WPT Night Vision Riflescope is something you might want to consider buying.
Its ultra-durable housing consists of a white phosphorus tube and a 60mm wide nitrogen-filled objective lens, so a weatherproof performance is guaranteed.
It may not be the cheapest one on the market, but it’s not the most expensive one either. It is actually considered “affordable” by many enthusiasts.
Still, it is the one that makes you think “this was worth the purchase.”
Most of the time, you get what you pay for…
…and this one has a lot to offer.
This rifle scope can be used both during the day and during the night. Featuring a modular infrared illuminator, you will get a clear image no matter if it’s clear or cloudy outside.
Some people were not as impressed by the infrared illuminator and suggested that you buy another one if the area is pitch dark.
However, in most hunting circumstances, you will be able to get a pretty decent image.
You also have multiple sight options to choose from, allowing you to adjust for better clarity. Plus, this scope also allows you to record your target.
This way, if you are going hunting at night, you’ll be able to record every step of you inching into your game.
Featuring a 4x magnification and its focusing knob for easy operation, this rifle scope can see pretty far ahead.
The light levels are adjusted manually, so you can get your preferred image depending on the weather or sky conditions.
This works on AA-sized batteries, so it’s highly portable. It also comes with a cleaning cloth, a remote control, a user manual, a modular infrared illuminator, and a weaver rail for your digital camera adapter.
#2 Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope
Pulsar took its digital night vision technology to the next level with the Digisight Ultra Digital Night Vision Riflescope.
It’s the perfect scope to catch predators, hogs, and varmints any time of day or night.
The Digisight guarantees a nighttime detection range of up to 600 yards. Thanks to its 1280×720 CMOS sensor and 1024×768 AMOLED display.
This incredible scope allows you to choose from 10 reticle types. It has a magnification range of 4.5-18x and is equipped with a modular infrared illuminator.
The high power illuminator has 3 adjustable infrared power levels to help you choose your preferred effective range and brightness level.
It also has a picture-in-picture 2x/4x digital zoom with continuous and stepped options that let you magnify without losing the FOV.
The Digisight also allows you to record your adventure through its built-in recorder that can store up to 16GB of data. You can also stream it through the Stream Vision App. You may also stream your video through YouTube.
This way, you can record and watch the video directly on your smartphone or tablet.
Plus, considering you have a 6.2m at 4.5x field of view, the range at which you can see is pretty good.
Weighing 3.5 pounds, this device is not the most lightweight one that you can find. It is, however, shockproof – which speaks for its durability.
If you can stay in the same place while hunting for your target – or even better, place it on a mount – then the Pulsar Digisight riflescope is a good choice for you.
#3 Sightmark Photon 6.5x50S Digital Night Vision Riflescope
If you are looking for a combination of a daylight sight and a digital riflescope, then the Sightmark Photon Riflescope is a perfect choice.
It’s specially-designed for hunting, sports shooting, security, and general observation
This rifle scope is shockproof – all thanks to the multiple coats that its optics has received. This way, its durability is also enhanced, allowing you to use it for a fairly long time.
The Photon allows you to choose from 6 digital reticle patterns – X-bow 1, Duplex, X-bow 2, Dot Duplex, MilDot, and German#4. Talk about versatility, right?
It also features a built-in infrared illuminator with 11 illumination levels that allows you to see even in complete darkness.
Furthermore, its reticle has an adjustable ring so you can set the sharpness of your image.
You can also expect an extended operating time of up to 5 hours.
The Photon comes with an additional weaver rail for mountable accessories, along with a video cable, user manual, carrying case, cleaning cloth, and warranty card.
#4 ATN X-Sight LTV Day/Night Hunting Rifle Scope
If you are looking for a good rifle scope on a budget, then the ATN X-Sight LTV Day/Night Hunting Rifle Scope is definitely a sound choice.
It is a great option if you plan on going for lengthy expeditions.
This highly versatile scope offers a high magnification that allows you to see at a fairly great distance.
The ATN X-Sight riflescope can survive the recoils of the highest caliber weapons. That’s because it’s constructed from hardened aluminum alloy and impact-resistant electronics.
Considering its compact form, this scope is quite lightweight. Placed on a rifle, it will barely weigh you down, even if you are continuously moving around. It’s a fairly good option if you are hunting through the bushes.
This scope is also easy to adjust to get the perfect image. If you are a complete beginner when it comes to rifle scopes, the user manual explains everything very clearly.
The ATN X-Sight is powered by the revolutionary ATN Obsidian LT Core, so low power consumption is guaranteed.
This versatile scope also allows you to record your hunting adventures so you can share them on your social media or store them on your phone.
#5 ATN Thermal Rifle Scope
If you think buying an affordable high-quality night vision riflescope doesn’t exist, you can’t be more wrong.
Presenting, the ATN Thermal Riflescope.
This amazing scope is equipped with advanced heat detection sensors, making your targets visible in total darkness, through dense fog, smoke and heavy vegetation.
This 30mm tube scope guarantees superior performance with low power consumption.
Its lightweight aluminum alloy construction also enables you to move around smoothly.
What we love most about the ATN Thermal Riflescope is its One Shot Zero function. This feature saves you time and ammo because all you need to do is adjust the reticle to your first point of impact and you’re good to go.
#6 ATN Night Spirit-2 Gen 2+ Night Vision
This rifle scope can be used in plenty of situations: from hunting to troop missions.
Providing a 3x magnification, you can get a fairly clear image in the dark of whatever your target is.
The field of view is 18 degrees, which means that you will get a fairly wide view. The range of focus also goes from 3 meters to infinity, offering you a clear view of what’s in the dark.
Featuring Proshield lens coating, this scope will resist through all kinds of abuse – therefore featuring outstanding durability.
Furthermore, this coating helps gather the light particles so that you can get a fairly decent image.
The battery life is 30 hours if you use it without the illuminator and 15 hours if you activate the IR illuminator.
It’s also resistant to weather, which means there will not be any problems if you suddenly get caught in the rain.
The brightness control of this rifle scope is also automatic, which means that it is a good choice for a beginner.
Furthermore, you can enter the settings yourself if you have a particular setting that you are more comfortable with.
Last but not least, this scope is compact:
You may use it as a scope attached to your rifle, or you can use it as a monocular you carry in your pocket.
Many people that left night vision scope reviews claim they bought it as a monocular, but that it can also be easily mounted on a shotgun.
#7 Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith Digital Riflescope can be used in plenty of situations: from hunting deers and hogs to troop missions.
Providing a 4-32x magnification, you can get a fairly clear image in the dark of whatever your target is.
Hunt at night smoothly with its high-definition 1920×1080 sensor.
The Sightmark Wraith Digital Riflescope is also equipped with a detachable eyecup for a decreased light dispersion at night. It can be removed during the day for easier viewing.
The Wraith HD also allows you to choose from 10 reticle patterns depending on your skills and needs.
This reliable riflescope also comes with a high-power removable infrared flashlight, giving you extra 200 yards of detection at night.
Other features that we find useful are its outboard additional power supply as well as its micro USB and memory card slots.
Why Do You Need Night Vision?
When you are browsing for rifle scopes, you may be asking yourself this question:
Why on earth should you get something with night vision?
The answer to that is fairly obvious: you want to see in the dark.
It’s not that obvious why you would want to go out with a rifle scope in the dark.
Maybe you want to see some daytime animals at a time when they think they are safe or maybe your favourite animal is only active at night.
Or perhaps your last game session took you longer than you expected, so now you’re lost in the woods, without the possibility to see anything.
In such circumstances, night vision can literally be a lifesaver.
If you spend all of your time hunting during the day, then you might not have such a desperate need for night vision rifle scopes.
However, if there’s a chance that you’ll be going off at night, then it won’t hurt to actually be prepared.
How Does Night Vision Actually Work?
Explained as simply as possible, night vision takes the existing light in an environment, amplifies it, and then shows a clear picture when normally you would have seen nothing.
Basically, the objective lens would take light coming from the environment (moonlight, starlight, light coming from the city), take it through something called an “intensifier tube,” and then convert the protons (light) into electrons.
The process continues on a microchannel level, being processed over and over until thousands of new electrons are created.
These electrons will further be directed to a phosphor-coated screen – creating photons.
These photons are exactly what you need to get an image through a scope – only instead of getting a coloured, day-time image, you get a green image – thanks to the phosphor coating.
In other words, if the room is completely dark, with no light source, then night vision would not be as useful.
If you take it in the woods, however, when you have light from the moon and stars, the story would change greatly.
Night Vision Scope Weaknesses
One of the most significant weaknesses of night vision rifle scopes is their actual ability to reflect light.
Furthermore, this light reflection will make it more difficult for you to see at a longer range.
In other words, you would not get such a clear sight with a night vision rifle scope as you would with a day-time rifle scope.
Other conditions such as rain, for example, will affect the light reflection. The same thing applies to fog and the way it reflects the light.
Overall, here’s what might hinder you:
- Depth Perception: Your night vision device greatly affects your depth perception. If you are planning to watch a still creature, you’re in luck. However, walking around with night vision may lead to a fuzzy image.
- Dew: Dew or any other humid environment will reflect light, which can send your night vision into something of an “overdrive.” Because of this, it might be difficult for you to distinguish the shapes around you.
Night vision is, therefore, a good option if you are planning to view a still target at a closer distance.
However, if you want to move around in areas with a lot of reflected light, then this might become rather troublesome for you.
The Generations Of Night Vision
In order to get the best night vision scope for a shotgun, you need to understand some technical aspects.
For instance, no night vision scope is the same. As technology progressed, they also went through certain changes. See more options on our Best Rifle Scopes – Buying Guide
Currently, there are four generations of night vision binoculars – although people are still getting the courage to jump into the 4th generation ones.
The first generation night vision rifle scopes first appeared in Vietnam, in the late 70s.
In the beginning, the size of these rifle scopes was massive – but they shrunk down as the generation progressed.
These scopes were the first ones to ever use passive infrared. They also needed moonlight to function – and without it, they were practically useless.
A first generation rifle scope is a good option for predator and vermin hunting.
However, when going to a high-risk tactical application, these types of optics may not be the best choice for you.
Second generation scopes are, obviously, an improvement of the first generation pieces.
While the first generation scopes were generally very bulky and difficult to carry, the second generation focused mostly on them being portable.
A good second generation scope would be lightweight as to not cause any difficulties – but would also be compact enough to fit into a bag.
Some second-generation rifle scopes are basically first-generation units that have received an update. Their sizes have, therefore, been changed to improve portability.
Generation 2 riflescopes are also placed into two categories:
Gen2 and Gen2+ (also referred to as Gen 2.5).
The latter is known to provide a better performance, mostly because it uses new technologies on fresh models.
Second generation scopes are a good option when it comes to serious tactical operations and high-risk missions.
Even today, they are still used by reservists and noncombat troops simply because they are both effective and highly affordable.
Generation 3 night vision scopes are what you see in most army troops nowadays since they offer more vision than second-generation scopes.
These night vision scopes are basically just 2nd generation rifle scopes that have been refined to catch more light and offer more clarity.
They also have a better sensitivity compared to second generation rifle scopes, which is why the image gets stabilized much quicker.
Some of these rifle scopes even allow movement while also providing a clear, stable image.
Generation 4 rifle scopes are newer on the market, and they are very difficult to find – especially if you are looking on the civilian market.
Basically, gen 4 rifle scopes have their microchannel plate deprived of their protective coating.
They did this because they discovered it would improve the clarity of the picture by at least 20 percent.
However, considering that there was no longer something to protect those plates, their lifespan is significantly decreased.
The Department of Defense requires that a rifle scope lasts at least ten thousand hours – and the chances are that a 4thgeneration tube will not last that long.
For that reason, 4th generation rifle scopes have been deemed almost unusable.
On the other hand, if you have the money to spare on a scope that you know you’ll have to replace soon, a 4th generation rifle scope will offer you a very good image.
Performance Factors For Night Vision Scopes
Some people may think that buying a night vision binocular and a night vision scope is virtually the same thing; however, this is not exactly true.
A binocular is made for observing a target. A scope, on the other hand, is meant to hit that particular target.
There are several factors that you might want to consider when it comes to looking for a rifle scope.
These factors may vary depending on the generation, so make sure that you assess all of their qualities.
Infrared Illuminators (IR)
One of the first things you may want to check out when buying a rifle scope is whether it has an infrared illuminator or not.
If it doesn’t have a built-in one, check if you can attach one to the rifle.
A scope’s infrared illuminator will basically allow you to shine an infrared light in the dark. The scope can collect it – and therefore offer you a better, brighter image.
This feature is very useful in nights with nearly no lights.
If the moon is hidden behind clouds or if you need the scope in indoor pitch dark areas, an IR would be something you really need to consider.
Range (Field Of View)
When it comes to night vision scopes, the recognition range is very important.
You need to know how far it will be able to see in the night: how many yards it can go.
There are two ranges that you can find when purchasing a rifle scope: the total range and the recognition range.
The total range is less important than the recognition range. The recognition range is the actual distance that will give you a clear image.
The range is also decided based on what you want to observe or where you want to do it.
Some manufacturers make scopes that are intended for watching the moon while others design them, especially for combat.
The recognition range is also dependent on how much light you get.
For instance, a scope that has a 600-yard recognition range when there’s a full moon may have less than 100 when the moon is hidden.
The clarity of a rifle scope is very important – particularly if you are going for a tactical operation.
If you don’t know what your target is exactly, you can’t be pulling that trigger. The best night vision scope for shotgun will offer you a clear resolution with high lines per millimetre.
The higher the resolution, the clearer your picture will be. A high-resolution scope is particularly useful if you want to get a clear image of something placed at a great distance.
Weight And Size
If you are buying a night vision rifle scope, the chances are that you’ll be carrying it around a lot and pointing continuously.
In these situations, you will not want a rifle that will weigh you down and compromise your aim.
Keep in mind that the lower the weight, the more the quality of the scope may be compromised.
In order to make scopes lighter, they may use lightweight materials that are not as durable.
Choose something of a medium weight – or something that you can handle carrying for long distances.
This will also depend on how you plan on using the rifle scope. If you’ll be aiming while moving, you’ll need something lightweight.
However, if you have the option of aiming just from one spot, you may go for a heavier – but more durable one.
Let’s face it:
If you’re going to pay a small fortune for a rifle scope, you may want to know that it will not break the moment your warranty goes off.
Is the material from which it was made any good?
Is it waterproof?
What is the recoil rate?
Some rifle scopes are more sensitive to shock than others and may only accept a certain type of rifles.