Best Tactical Night Vision Riflescope

Whether running drills or hunting javelinas, you’ll feel like the most tactical shooter with this high-powered night vision riflescope. Check out this review for the coolest spy gear.

If you’re a gun owner, you know that buying an accessory feels like being a kid with a brand new toy. There’s a thrill in researching, swapping stories, selecting the best one, and finally trying out your brand new purchase on the range or the next hunt. Pairing your high-powered rifle with the best gadgets makes you feel like a true tactician, always improving accuracy and thoroughly preparing for whatever the world throws your way.

Nothing gives me this feeling more than new night vision gear. There is something so James Bond about this technology that fascinates me. When I came across the Sightmark Photon RT night vision riflescope, I couldn’t help but geek out over its high-tech, digital features. Check out this review on the coolest features of the Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9×42. This purchase will have you excited about your next nighttime hunt with this scope by your side.

How Digital Night Vision Works

If you’ve been shopping for a night vision scope, you’ve noticed there are several different types of night vision technology on the market. At the end of this article, I’ll explain the difference, but I’ll advocate that unless you have money to spend or are in law enforcement, digital night vision is the best way to go. Here’s a brief overview of how digital technology works and why it works just fine for hunters and civilian tacticians.

A relatively modern innovation, digital night vision uses a process similar to what happens in a digital camera. Digital night vision starts with an infrared illuminator (IR) that’s typically built into your riflescope. The IR illuminator emits nearly invisible and safe beams. These beams refract off of objects and back into the night vision device, which comes with either a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensor. The sensor absorbs the IR beams and sends the data to a computer chip to process. The visual data then unscrambles and arranges itself into a color image that appears on a screen.

Why Go Digital?

Why Go Digital?

Since its inception, this technology has disseminated rapidly throughout the riflescope market. There are several key benefits of going digital. For instance, it’s cheaper to manufacture digital products, and these savings are passed down to the consumer with less expensive digital night vision scopes. Typically, a high-end digital night vision riflescope will cost about $500, whereas a traditional night vision rifle scope might start at that price point.

Digital night vision in a riflescope is also a total game-changer for magnification. With this tech, you can achieve even higher levels of magnification without distorting the image. We’ll look at this feature on the Sightmark Photon RT a bit later in this article. In short, you can take your scope to its highest level of magnification and then digitally magnify the image even further. This capability is great for shooting at long distances and when you need great detail.

Another advantage is that most digital night vision tools are highly versatile. Since they operate by sensing IR beams, they can perform during the brightest day or in the dead of night. This versatility is attractive because you do not need to change scopes on your rifle, and you’re always prepared to land an accurate shot no matter the time of day. Digital night vision scopes also typically come with built-in infrared illuminators, so you never have to depend on a starry sky or full moon to, finally, catch that coyote. The IR illuminators on most rifle scopes come with either 850 nm or 940 nm. Both of these work well to spot your target, but you’ll only be completely invisible with a 940 nm IR illuminator. Being able to shoot in pitch-black darkness with minimal detection is a huge plus so that you never scare away prey or give away your defensive position.

There are a few valid reasons why some hunters stay away from the digital trend. For example, digital scopes tend to be less durable than traditional night vision tech, are constricted by short battery life, and they can lag in the few seconds it takes for an image to refresh on the screen. I highly recommend digital night vision for just about anyone outside of law enforcement who might have special requirements.

Get Tactical With The Sightmark Photon RT

If you’re ready to go digital or upgrade your current riflescope, consider the Sightmark Photon RT. This riflescope is one of the hottest gadgets in night vision optics, and it’s not just hype, but the real deal. The Sightmark Photon RT is jam-packed with high-tech features that will significantly improve your nighttime hunting and tactical preparedness.

Let’s Talk Tech

Let’s Talk Tech

The best part of switching to digital is that it opens a window into new possibilities. The Sightmark Photon RT comes with a built-in 8 GB memory so that you can take and store pictures and record audio and video files. This feature is great for capturing wildlife patterns on your property or filming a fantastic shot you want to relive. You’ll love the color clarity and pixelation on these images, and can modify the resolution of your pictures and videos so that you’re always getting a sharp, high-contrast image. The LCD screen comes in the golden standard of ratios, with a 640×480 resolution.

The Sightmark Photon RT also comes with a WiFi set-up to pair your riflescope with your phone and the Pulsar Stream Vision App. With this feature, you can control aspects of your riflescope from your smartphone or live-stream your video recordings to a YouTube channel or another device. Hunters can now share in real-time tips and tricks and easily start blogs to communicate with other hunters around the country.

That’s not the only way the Sightmark Photon RT makes life easy. This riflescope was also designed for one-shot zeroing, which is deadly accurate. After firing your first shot at 100 yards out, you can use the controller on your LCD screen to move the windage and elevation precisely where it needs to be for target acquisition. This riflescope is so smart that it then saves this setting to the reticle so that you’re ready to go.

Speaking of reticles, this riflescope comes with a variety of reticle patterns from which to choose to suit your preference and hunting conditions. You can count on six distinct designs, several of which include hash marks for windage and elevation adjustments. Each reticle is available in four color options: black, white, red, or green. With so many options, there’s always a perfect solution for any scenario.

The Specs

The Specs

Aside from having the best tech features of any night vision riflescope, the Sightmark Photon RT is also a high-quality digital scope. Here’s a closer look at the specs to help you compare to other potential buys.

Sightmark Photon RT 4.5x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope
Magnification 4.5 – 9x (optical) 2x (digital)
Objective Lens 42 mm
Field of View @ 100 yds 22.5’
Eye Relief 2.76 mm
Reticles 6 patterns; 4 color options
Screen LCD w/ 640×480 color resolution
Memory 8 GB
Battery AA batteries; 3-5 hours (w/ IR illuminator in use)
IR Illuminator 850 nm
Durability Water-resistant & shockproof
Weight 30.7 oz

The magnification on the Sightmark Photon RT provides incredible images, even of distant and fast-moving objects. This riflescope can get you from 2x to 9x magnification with just its optics, and then you can zoom another 2x digitally. As a note, the reticle size won’t change with your digital zoom, but it’s still great to get up close and personal before aiming at your prey. You’re also guaranteed vivid images due to the large, 42 mm objective lens. This means your scope can take in ample amounts of infra-red light waves, whether during the day or at night.

Another stat to check out is how many yards your riflescope can range using day and nighttime settings. You’ll, of course, get a better sighting of a target during the day and on clear nights, and any fog or inclement weather conditions can decrease the distance of your view. The Sightmark Photon RT can range up to 220 yards.

Whichever digital riflescope you end purchasing, be sure to double-check its battery type and its life span. Some hunters prefer lithium batteries because they tend to be lighter and are sometimes rechargeable. The Sightmark Photon RT takes four AA batteries, which means you will need to change them out once you drain them. The benefits of an alkaline battery are that they’re easy to find at stores or to keep around a bulk package. This scope also has a decent life span of three to five hours, even with the IR illuminator in use.

Built To Last

One of the issues some hunters have with digital night vision is its durability. Given the high-tech features on a digital night vision scope, it is a major challenge for companies to overcome. Just like you wouldn’t throw your smartphone into a lake, you probably don’t want to do the same with your digital riflescope. Of course, dropping your riflescope into a large body of water isn’t the real concern, but rather, what to do about rain?

The Sightmark Photon RT comes in as one of the more durable rifle scopes in the digital night vision arena. It is tested and rated as IP55 water-resistant. According to the International Protection Rating, an IP55 product is safe to withstand low-pressure water jets from any direction. In other words, light rain will not affect the functionality of your scope, but given how much this riflescope costs, I might call it a day if the skies open and rain starts to pour.

This product is also not nitrogen sealed, which is a feature you’ll see on most riflescopes. Many optical tools are nitrogen sealed to prevent moisture from collecting inside of the ocular tube, which can cause fogging. Given the Sightmark Photon RT doesn’t have this added layer of protection, it would be advised to avoid using it in high humidity. Sightmark also recommends carrying your rifle scope in its case if you’re moving it from a cold environment to warmer conditions. All in all, these precautions are still worth it for such a smart shooting partner.

These Sightmark Photon RT can also stand up to a few bumps and dings. The body of the scope is made of a highly durable glass-nylon composite and metal. This sturdy design ensures that your riflescope is shockproof, so you can relax if it takes a little fall while you’re mounting. All of the features and durability in this riflescope does impact its weight. The Sightmark Photon is pretty hefty and weighs about 30 ounces. That might not seem like much, but if you move around a lot while hunting, the extra ounces can take its toll on your body.

What About Other Night Vision Options?

Night vision optics break down into three categories: traditional, thermal, and digital. You can find riflescopes with any of these types of night vision technology, and it’s crucial you know which you’re adding into your Amazon cart. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but here’s a quick overview to get the gist.

Thermal night vision will give you the most precise locations of your target. It doesn’t matter if that feral hog is in some brush or you’re identifying threats in a smoke-filled room. These tools sense the thermal infrared energy that all objects emit, rather than just picking up ambient light or your infrared illuminator. The downside is, real thermal night vision will cost you big bucks. I recommend this only for folks working in smoke-filled conditions or needing absolute, undetectable precision in the dead of night.

Traditional night vision will give you the classic green and black screen. You’ll find these products are typically labeled by their “generation,” which will provide you with an idea of their quality, how far you can sight, and how much light you’ll need to operate. Traditional models work just like the scope of the human eye so that you receive instantaneous visuals on a moving target. The only downside is the advent of digital night vision puts traditional night vision scopes in the pricier range. I recommend these for hunters and tacticians that like instant visual feedback and those wanting to lessen their risk of detection.

Geek Out With Digital Night Vision

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think what I enjoy most about a new accessory is geeking out over the latest addition to my arsenal. There are so many aspects to analyze, all in favor of getting the perfect shot, having the best story to tell, and now, capturing it all on video. I appreciate that high-tech rifle scope like the Sightmark Photon RT elevates hunting to a 21st-century sport.

While you can find cheaper digital night vision scopes on the market, nothing will give you this same feeling of walking into a spy movie. Save up your money for a rifle scope that’s versatile, wicked smart, and dead-on accurate with just one shot. With the Sightmark Photon RT, you’ll hit your target day or night and have the proof recorded for all your friends.

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