Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has star read more
Last updated: December 30, 2022
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Thanks to advancement in technology, we can see in pitch black conditions nowadays. A night vision scope is one of the best things that has ever happened to night-time hunters. There are multiple brands and models out there and you might be fooled to think they are all similar and good. They have varying features that differentiate their capabilities. So, which is the best night vision scope for hunting?
We have created a list of the highest-rated night vision scopes on the market in terms of functionality and value for money to help you make the best choice without much hassle. Some of the features we considered in our review include: size and weight, detection range, resolution, reticle options, durability, magnification and objective lens diameter and add-ons like Wi-Fi connectivity and video recording. They determine the efficiency, effectiveness and convenience of the scope. Like, you need a lightweight and compact scope so you can be able to carry other equipment easily.
Reticle: 6 reticle options with 4 different colors
Resolution: 768×576 CMOS
Detection range: 220 yds
Length: 16.57 in
Weight: 3 lbs.
Other features: LED illumination, glass lens, built-in video/sound recording
This scope tops our list for all the right reasons. First off, it comes second to none when it comes to versatility. It provides a superb vision at 4.5 to 9x magnification and offers other exceptional features that set it apart.
The scope boasts of a tough weatherproof (IP55 water-resistant) build that can withstand all the harsh outdoor conditions. It has a sleek design and is incredibly compact and lightweight. It won’t get in your way or weigh you down with your other hunting equipment.
Essentially, you can use this scope both at night and during the day. It features 6 different types of reticles that you can easily choose with a simple press of a button. The digital reticle color options it offers are red, green and white and you can go with any depending on your preference at any time.
Moreover, these reticle options are complemented by 640×480 resolution which allows you to see your targets up to 220 yards away. What you will love the most is the one-shot zero function which makes zeroing the scope a breeze.
Another plus for this scope is that it offers an additional weaver rail on which you can attach your accessories. Also, unlike many scopes, it has a digital windage and adjustment system that saves you from fiddling with big knobs every other time.
As if that’s enough, the scope has a video recording function so you can record the highlights of your hunting expeditions for later fun. It also sets itself apart with a decent battery life which is 33% longer than that of many standard scopes.
You will get the best value for your money with this scope because of all the multiple accessories it comes with including; a carrying case, lens cloth, and video cable. The only downside to this scope is that it has a short eyepiece otherwise, it is one gem of a product worth considering.
Other features: onboard Wi-Fi, one-shot zeroing with freeze function
Any professional hunter knows that a thermal riflescope is the real deal for fun hunting adventures. This one from Pulsar offers excellent performance and accurate results with its advanced features and thermal technologies. It is built to be used on rifles both at night and during the day.
The scope is solidly built for long-lasting performance. You can take it to any of your wild hunting escapades without worrying about it getting damaged by dust or light showers. With 640-480 pixels of resolution, you can clearly view your targets in total darkness without any external source of light. It even enhances the quality of the image so you can get it quickly before it moves.
Furthermore, the high-resolution is combined with a variable magnification of 2.1-8.4x to provide you with the best contrasted and wide field of view. It also helps you detect targets faster so you can place shots accurately. Most importantly, it allows you to scan your environment so you can be aware of any danger.
What sets the scope apart from most of its peers is its integrated laser rangefinder that provides you with the accurate distance between you and your target. This allows you to get a better shot.
Another ideal feature worth mentioning is the picture-in-picture mode which allows you to have an extra image on the screen so you can get more details about the surrounding of your targets when planning a shot.
Other praiseworthy features include a built-in video and sound recording, and mobile-friendly internet streaming. You can connect to Wi-Fi on your phone to upload all of your recorded moments on social media.
Overall, this is one of the best night vision scopes for predator hunting.
Other features: Gen 4, weather resistant, 18 hours battery life, ballistic calculator, RAV, smart range finder
ATN is a leading brand in the production of night vision optics and thermal scopes and this gem is one of their technologically advanced thermal scopes. It is a feature-rich option with a lot of power trapped in a small body at an affordable price.
This scope has an okay build in terms of durability. It is not exactly rock-solid, and neither is it weak in its construction, though it is weatherproof with IP65 so you can use it in the harshest outdoor conditions.
You can ignore the fact that this scope is a night vision and it will stand out as one of the best scopes out there. It works just as good during the day.
With the 4-18x magnification, this scope is meant for shots at more than 100 yards. The magnification is optimally and digitally combines so you can view your target up to 1900 yards away.
Furthermore, you can work in any type of weather and level of brightness thanks to the 384 x 288 pixels which detect heat signatures instead of light.
The scope’s objective lens is 100mm which is pretty large. It allows sufficient light in during the day making the images appear bright and crystal clear.
What’s more, you can record videos and download them on your SD card or USB. Alternatively, you can stream them via HDMI, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
This scope is highly preferred by most professional hunters mainly because of its long battery life of 8 hours and multiple accessories and extra features.
In sum, this is one of the best feature-packed night vision scopes out there. It is a bit pricier than others but worth every coin.
Other features: aluminum housing, ultra-low power consumption, Wifi / Bluetooth
This scope has been every hunter’s and shooting enthusiast’s dream for the longest time because of its impressive specs. It is also a bit on the pricey end but worth the penny. One good thing about it is that as much as it is a high-performance unit, it is one of the easiest scopes to use, thus an ideal choice for beginners.
The riflescope is remarkably lightweight. Transporting and using it on your hunting adventures would never be much of a hassle. It also boasts of decent battery life. It can run up to 18 hours after a full charge.
This riflescope gains an edge over its competition with its image quality. It offers the clearest and most vibrant images of your target even after zooming thanks to the ultra-sensor that integrates a 600lp/mm system resolution.
Also featured, is a smart range finder which allows you to take 2 readings of your target before it accurately focuses on it to ensure you don’t miss the shot. There’s even a ballistic calculator that increases your chances of hitting your prey regardless of the weather conditions or distance.
You will also love that you can record videos directly onto the SD card the scope comes with and you can stream them on your phone thanks to the dual streaming function.
With a 2-year warranty, this is one of the best night vision scopes for coyote or hog hunting out there. Plus since it is from ATN, its quality is unquestionable.
Reticle: 10 in various color options, scalable ballistic
Resolution: 1280×720 HD Sensor
Detection range: 1970 yds
Length: 3.1 in
Weight: 33.5 oz
Other features: fully waterproof, remote operation, 5 individual shooting profiles, Live YouTube Streaming
Yet another premium quality night vision riflescope from Pulsar. Like all the other riflescopes from Pulsar, the N455 combines the best night time sensitivity, high magnification, an HD resolution display and a wide selection of brightness and contrast settings to help you detect and shoot your prey easily.
The riflescope has a rugged build with an all-metal housing. It is also pretty lightweight thus easier to manoeuvre or handle when you go hunting. It also features an anti-wear coating that will maintain its shiny pretty outlook for a while.
What’s more, the riflescope is designed to be mounted easily on different hunting weapons, unlike many other standard ones.
One thing you are guaranteed of with this riflescope is a High-Definition image with precise detail rendering thanks to the highly sensitive HD 1280 x 720 sensor. Additionally, it utilizes cutting-edge electronic components and signal processing algorithms to offer the best nighttime sensitivity.
With a variable 4-16x magnification and scalable ballistic reticles, it is hard to miss a shot with this riflescope. The ballistic reticles calculate the distance between you and the target to help you adjust the shot accordingly.
As if that’s enough, you get high precision zeroing with the picture-in-picture mode. It also gives you visual control of the whole field of view. You can also record videos and sounds then transfer them with a USB or via Wi-Fi.
As for the battery life, you needn’t worry about it dying on you when in action. It comes with 2 batteries, a built-in one and a replaceable one. It automatically switches to the built-in battery whenever the replaceable one discharges.
Other features: digital, fixed magnification, 3-hour battery life, plastic lens
Who says you have to break an arm plus a leg to enjoy night hunting? We present to you Night Owl riflescope, one hell of a gem in the dark with a lot more to offer than just great optics at a very convenient price.
The riflescope is fairly durable and breathtakingly lightweight. It weighs a mere 1.3 pounds and this makes it suitable for other nocturnal activities crossbow archery, airsoft battles and paintball among others.
With a 3x magnification, a 40mm objective lens and a 640 x 480 you can fire and hit a target up to 150 yards away. The resolution is quite impressive for such a small display and so many riflescopes triple the price of this one have the same resolution.
However, do note that you can only use this scope efficiently on rifles up to 30caliber. Anything more wouldn’t be very effective.
The scope offers 3 types of reticles with 6 individual modes for each reticle. The options work perfectly for hunting coyotes and many other animals at night.
Unlike most scopes, this one comes with an IR illuminator that gives perfect illumination for it to be able to pick up a good image of a target as far as 100yards away in pitch-black conditions. On a night with a full moon, you can get a clear image from 150 yards away.
As for the battery life, you can get up to 12 hours with the IR off and about 4 to 6 hours with low IR settings.
When it comes to extra features, the scope falls a little behind its competition. It only comes with an instructional guide and a piece of cloth to clean the lenses.
Other features: digital, glass lens, IP55 weather-resistant, shockproof, 3.5 – 4.5 hours of battery life, variable magnification
Here is another class-leading scope from the renowned night vision scope brand Sightmark. It is simple to operate thanks to its well-thought-out ergonomic design. Just like all the riflescopes from Sigthmark, it has a plethora of features that any hunter whether experienced or not will fall in love with.
The Wraith has a solid build that will undoubtedly last you a while. Its build is water and dust resistant so bad weather can never faze you when you are up for a good hunt. Plus it has a cohesive design that easily mounts on different types of hunting weapons
The scope has 3 modes; full-colour HD daytime, Black White night vision and Green Black night vision which you can switch to with a simple press of a button. All the 3 modes provide a sharp and crisp image.
The combination of IR and thermal also contribute to the impeccable image quality of the scope, especially at night. The IR allows you to acquire targets as far as 200 yards in pitch darkness. This is why it is one of the best scopes for hunting nocturnal beasts like hogs and coyotes.
Moreover, the scope has a full video and image capture feature and you can directly record onto a 64GB SD card.
Another plus for this digital riflescope is its multiple reticle options. Owning it is like having a full closet of reticles. It features 10 reticles with 9 color options so you can choose any that suits your needs or task at hand.
When it comes to battery life, this scope is a bit lacking compared to others within its range. It can only last you 4.5 hours. If you are lucky it can run up to 6 hours. On the flip side, it features a micro USB power input that you can use to charge using a power bank in case your hunting spree goes on for too long.
All in all, this is one of the best riflescopes for long-range shooting that money can buy. Its premium build and top-notch features are to die for.
Other features: powered by ATN Obsidian LT Core, removable micro-SD card, low power consumption
When looking for a rifle scope to be used at night, you want to make sure you are getting enough bang for your buck. That is precisely why we like this scope from ATN. Even though this model is lightweight and easy to use, it is quite powerful. It offers a standard 3 – 9x of magnification while also offering a resolution of 160 Ip/mm. The view through this scope is exceptionally clear, no matter how much magnification you choose to use.
Another high point for this scope is the fact that it can be used as a video camera as well. It utilizes a removable micro-SD card to record all of the excitement from your hunts so that you can relive it over and over again. This function is easy to turn on and off as well, which means you don’t need to worry about missing your once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Obviously, another great feature of this scope is that it can be used at night. Even when this is turned on, the scope uses a small amount of power so that you can be sure that it will work when you need it to. It is also very easy to charge with a USB cable. We also really liked the one-shot sight-in process that this scope offers since it will save you from needing to waste a ton of ammo to get the scope ready for the hunt.
Other features: Titanium alloy, 20-hour battery life, IPX weather-resistant,red LED illuminator
First Generation night vision scopes are rare gems these days and this is one of the well-priced options out there. It offers quite a decent image quality despite its mid-range price. It brings the best value for money on the table. You wouldn’t hurt your pocket trying to enjoy a night hunt.
This scope’s build is a huge plus for its price. Its body, knobs and buttons all have a nice touch and they are all easy to use. It is splashproof, rated IPX4 but not dustproof so you have to cautious in super dusty environments. It also happens to be one of the best lightweight scopes out there.
When it comes to magnification, there are no bells and whistles for this scope. It has a fixed 3x zoom which works okay for targets between 50 and 100. Its 42mm objective lens also gathers light quite well, especially in well-lit environments.
The scope is also a bit limited in its range capabilities. You can only be able to detect targets up to 200 yards away, only if the conditions are perfect. In fact, in pitch black conditions, the furthest you can go is 165 yards.
On the bright side, the resolution is impeccable and you can get the perfect view at about 30 to 50 yards. Thanks to its illuminator you can see clearer and vivid images.
As for battery life, this scope really shines. With high-quality 2xAAA batteries, you can get up to 50 hours with the IR off and about 15-20 hours with it off.
There isn’t much for accessory lovers. All you get is a cleaning cloth, a user manual and a semi-hard carrying case which a pretty great try compared to other brands with a similar price tag.
Overall, this is one of the best values for your money out there if you are particular about using Gen-1 night vision scopes. Don’t expect any miracles from it, but it works just right for short to medium-range shooting at night.
There’s more to buying the best night vision scope than just going with the most popular brand or walking into a store and picking the first you set your eyes on. This section has all the essential information you need to make the best-informed choice from all the options available. You will get to know how a night vision scope works, what to go for between a night vision scope and a thermal scope and the features that you must consider before purchasing one.
What is a night vision scope and how does it work?
Human beings cannot see in the dark naturally and it’s quite clear that daytime is a little too short for us, hence the invention on night vision scopes. There are different types of night vision scopes: thermal imaging scopes, image intensification scopes and scopes that use active IR illumination.
Depending on the generation used in them, night vision scopes gather ambient light in the surrounding, whether it is from the moon, stars or InfraRed light through their front lens. The light gathered is made of photons which are changed into electrons when the light goes into a photocathode tube.
Through an electrical and chemical process, these electrons are amplified to a much greater number then cast on a phosphorus screen which changes them into visible light that you can see through the eyepiece of the scope. The visible light is a clear image of the scene you are observing.
Night vision IR scopes vs. thermal scopes
Are you trying to figure out whether you need night vision or thermal scopes? Here are some of the differences and similarities that compare the two high tech optics.
Thermal scopes have thermal image cameras which are nothing like the conventional cameras. They are sensors that detect thermal energy or heat. A thermal imager can see the tiniest differences in heat and represent it as an image on your eyepiece or screen. This makes them the best to use in all kinds of weather.
Night vision IR scopes, on the other hand, require visible light in the surrounding of your target object to produce an image.
With thermal scopes, it is hard to identify the animal or man in the case of military use as much as they are the best in detecting targets. With night vision scopes, identification is not much of a challenge.
Both night vision scopes and thermal scopes work well during the day and night.
Features to consider when choosing the best night vision scope for hunting
Here are some of the features that you must be keen on when buying the best night vision scope for hunting:
Night vision generations refer to the Image Intensifier Tube (IIT) used in the device. It is the IIT that amplifies ambient lighting conditions in the surrounding by speeding up its electrons as it comes in.
Night vision devices are classified in generations which connote quality. There are Gen 1 scopes which are best for short-range observations on moonlit nights, Gen 2 which are way better in terms of image quality and lifespan and Gen 3 which are the crème de la crème in terms of image quality and life expectancy.
Magnification and objective lens diameter
This is the ability of the scope to zoom in on whatever you are looking at. Most brands clearly indicate all the details and specs of the device’s magnification. Go for a variable magnification for flexibility. However, keep in mind that magnification affects resolution. The higher it is, the more the resolution of the image you can see through the scope is affected.
The objective lens diameter determines the amount of light that enters the lenses so the larger the diameter the better for you to get crisp clear and bright images. Also the larger the diameter, the larger the field of view.
This is one of the most crucial aspects. The resolution of the scope is different from the resolution of a thermal sensor. Ensure the resolution of the scope is higher than that of the sensor for you to get precise images that are useful for hunting. The Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope above has an exceptional resolution of 1280×720 HD Sensor that would produce perfect images.
This is the distance between your eyes and the last surface of the scope’s eyepiece within which you can obtain a full viewing angle. A typical rifle scope has an eye relief of about 4 inches which is perfect. It is adequate room for the gun to recoil without hitting your face. 3 and a half or 3 inches isn’t bad either.
The number of reticle options and reticle patterns plays a huge role. There are the four-line crosshair pattern and the single dot reticle pattern. Crosshair patterns are more useful for night hunting while the single dot patterns are more useful for precision. As for the number, the more options you have the better. The Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope above has 10 reticle options which would perfectly suit you at different times and conditions.
Detection range and field of view
This is the distance to which you can get a clear image. The high-quality scopes that fetch a bigger price tag can provide you with crisp clear images up to 4000 yards. These are mostly preferred by professional hunters. If you are a beginner or an intermediate hunter, you can make the most of the scopes with a shorter detection range like the AT ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope above which has a 2000 yard range.
Field of view is the width of the image you see through your scope. The wider the field of view the easier it is to detect and hit your target.
Housing and glass materials
Go for a scope with an eyepiece and output window made with optical quality glass. It is high-quality and it preserves its characteristics whenever it is heated or drawn. As for the housing, metal or ceramic are the best materials in terms of sturdiness and durability. The most commonly used metal is aluminum.
This is another critical factor. The amount of time you will spend hunting at night is highly dependent on your scope’s battery life unless you have back up. After a full charge, batteries should last you a good 8 hours. Anything less wouldn’t be ideal at all.
These allow you to record videos of the highlights of your hunting escapades which you can store to watch later or stream to your phone and share directly on YouTube and social media via Wi-Fi if your scope is digital. Some scopes even come with an SD card and are also Bluetooth enabled.
The more the accessories the better. High-end brands tend to offer more accessories compared to models and brands that fetch a lower price tag. Accessories include; a carrying case, a cleaning cloth, a USB cable, and extra batteries among others.
Thermal scopes can work in pitch-black conditions as they don’t rely on light to produce images. Night vision scopes amplify the littlest amount of light in the surrounding like from the moon, stars or infrared to produce images, thus cannot work in total darkness.
There’s a lot to consider when buying a night vision scope for you to enjoy your nocturnal hunting and even take some meat home. With all the tips we have provided in this guide, choosing the best night vision scope for hunting should be a breeze. Better yet, you can choose to go with any of the products we have reviewed and it might be the best decision you have made in a while.
Third, in our ranking was the AT ThOR HD 384 Smart Thermal Riflescope. If you are looking for a feature-packed rifle scope with a beastly functionality, this should be your go-to device. Its lightweight yet tough build and multiple superior features set it apart the most. It is one of the best night vision scopes preferred by the military for its precision and high-quality images.
How Night Vision Works | HowStuffWorks
Most of us instinctively think of darkness as a way to hide. Night vision has changed all that. So, how can you see someone standing over 200 yards away on a pitch-black night? Find out.
Hunting with night vision can be a new challenge for hunters
Hunting at night is a prime time to track down predators, such as foxes. It is the most common time to find them out and about looking for their dinner. By using night vision goggles, hunters can see the heat signature of the animal they targeting, thus giving them an advantage.