Night Vision vs. Thermal Scopes

Night Vision vs. Thermal Scopes

Meta: Getting the right equipment for sighting and hunting at night can make all the difference in your experience. Learn more about which tools are right for you. 

Nature doesn’t sleep. Several people who enjoy hunting, spotting, birding, and nature watching will find themselves going out during the unusually dim dawn and dusk hours, or even during the pitch black of night. Choosing the right equipment to cut through the darkness will make a difference in how much you enjoy the outing. 

Night vision and thermal imaging devices are designed to assist hunters and others with detecting, identifying, and targeting game and other creatures in the night. Each device has its method of operation, with night vision using infrared light reflections to illuminate the night and thermal imaging using the radiation of body heat to identify animals amongst nature.  

Night vision works a lot like a flashlight, except that the IR light is invisible to the naked eye. This technology is preferred by those who want to illuminate darker settings, with different devices offering different levels of clarity and illumination. Some night vision will work best in dusk or dawn light, while others will perform exceptionally even in the blackest nights.  

Thermal imaging devices simply seek out heat signatures of nearby objects, making it easy for you to identify prey or creatures at night in a variety of settings. The scopes offer a variety of other sighting perks and features, but that’s how their basic function works. Choosing between them and night vision devices starts by understanding exactly what your options are. 

Keep reading to learn about two popular night vision options, as well as a couple of the best thermal scopes for those just starting with nighttime sighting and spotting. You’ll get the scoop on what each device offers, and then we’ll help you understand more about thermal scopes and how to choose your best option.  

DOTXX 2X28 Monocular Night Vision Goggle 

The DOTXX 2×28 Monocular Night Vision Goggle offers a high-powered helmet-style design for hands-free use in all kinds of nighttime situations. The 28mm lens light offers expansive illumination and the 2x digital zoom enhances your images even further. The wide field of view and ability to use these goggles during the day or night are also popular features.  

The integrated IR can provide up to 200 meters of vision in low light and the entire unit is waterproof and capable of withstanding any weather or extreme conditions that you encounter. This kit includes a complete set of accessories to get you started right off the bat: a Picatinny rail bracket, helmet bracket, and a carrying case to keep everything contained.  

This monocular goggle works on AA batteries, which are not included. With an exit pupil diameter of 14mm and a 6.4-degree field of view, you’ll get plenty of imaging in your view when you choose this night vision device. It’s not the most high-tech on the market, but it offers a great starting point for those who are new to nighttime devices.  

The monocular is used on the left eye with this device, but it can also be removed from the helmet and used with your smartphone for viewing from a distance. Plus, it all comes with a lifetime warranty and 100% customer satisfaction from the manufacturer.  

Digital Night Vision Binoculars with 2.31″ TFT LCD 

If you’re looking for something that offers a little more quality and performance, the Digital Night Vision Binoculars with 2.31” TFT LCD have what you need. In addition to providing premium night vision clarity and a 25mm objective lens to let in plenty of light, these binoculars also record. 

That’s right. You can take HD photos and record videos up to 960p with these binoculars, which also include a 32GB memory card that you can use to store all of your footage. There is also an impressively-sized 2.31” LCD screen built into the binoculars so that you can see everything clearly and a convex lens allows you to convert it to a full 3-inch screen for even more clarity and detail. 

With 3x magnification and 4x digital zoom, this device offers the chance to get the perfect shot every single time and the 10-degree angled field of view ensures that you get the fullest FOV possible with nighttime hunting and sighting. There are seven levels of IR adjustment to get the perfect light, and the fully multi-coated lenses ensure premium image quality and clarity.  

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope 

Those who are in the market for a multifunctional device that will enhance their hunt will appreciate the features of the ATN X-Sight 4K PRO Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope. From ATN, a leader in sporting and hunting equipment, this rifle scope includes a host of abilities and an impressive 18+ hours of battery life. It also offers iOS and Android apps for easy access to data and on-screen viewing in the field.  

This scope includes Ultra HD 4K Sensor technology and an Obsidian 4 Dual-Core Processor to provide premium resolution, faster optics, and millions upon millions of vivid, crisp colors. Every hunt will be more humane, thanks to the built-in Ballistics Calculator that will almost guarantee that you hit your target every single time. Plus, the ultra-low profile of the scope keeps your equipment light and easy to use.  

In Night Vision Mode, the X-Sight 4K PRO delivers enhanced HD imaging and the weather-resistant finish ensures safe, consistent use in any conditions. Plus, you can use dual-stream video recording for mobile device streaming and SD card recording. There is even a Recoil-Activated Video (RAV) feature that activates video and recording features to save you the trouble.  

This device can calculate wind, range, angle-to-target, humidity, and a host of other factors to ensure accuracy and give you the tools you need to improve your night hunting skills. Plus, it includes a remote control, a 2000mAh battery pack, and a quick-detach mount so that you’re ready to hit the hunt as soon as it arrives.  

Pulsar Core RXQ30V 1.6-6.4×22 Thermal Riflescope 

The Pulsar Core RXQ30V 1.6-6.4×22 Thermal Riflescope is one of the best products on the market today, From Pulsar, a leader in optical technology, this scope features top-of-the-line iris technology with a high-resolution core at 384×288. It also comes in a lightweight, compact design that is waterproof.  

The increased detection and recognition software improve every hunt and there is a convenient external power option through USB and DS. With a 50Hz refresh rate and a 640×480 AMOLED display, this scope ensures accurate spotting in all kinds of nighttime conditions with defective pixel repair technology to ensure that you don’t lose any detail.  

This riflescope also comes with plenty of accessories to get you started. You’ll enjoy a custom carrying case, a torque screwdriver, hand strap, cleaning cloth, and wireless remote control. There’s also a user manual and the 2xCR123A battery pack is included, as well.  

The green sapphire display reduces eye fatigue and white and black-hot viewing modes ensure that you can see your targets and line up practice shots without losing your field of view. The variable magnification and wide FOV give you plenty of sighting range to improve your aiming and give you more enjoyable night hunting excursions.  

Commonly Asked Questions about Thermal Scopes 

Q: What are the Benefits of Thermal Scopes? 

A: Thermal scopes have several benefits, the first of which is the fact that these scopes make night hunting easier, more accurate, and more enjoyable overall. These scopes can help anyone become a better shooter, even in the dark of night, and increase the chances of landing that elusive prey that doesn’t show itself during the day. Many hunters recommend thermal optics to night vision because of its advanced features, but it may not suit every hunting need.  

Thermal optics offer better scouting and have become much more affordable for the average hunter in recent years. They also help you conserve wildlife and eliminate predators when you’re out in nature because you’ll have a real eye on everything, no matter how dark it may be. Thermal optics are even just great to have on hand for general use and protection, and the fact that you can use them during the day gives you a dual-function device that will allow you to carry less on the hunt.  

Q: Is Night Vision or a Thermal Scope Better for Detecting Game? 

A: Night vision works by reflecting off of surfaces. Since animals aren’t reflective, it can take some time to learn how to spot game using night vision. You have to use the IR light to reflect off of nearby surfaces and illuminate your field of view so that you can see your targets with ease. Therefore, these devices are typically best for more advanced hunters or those who have more experience with optics.  

Thermal scopes are great for hunters at all skill levels because they detect heat. Therefore, when you look into the scope’s field of view, you’ll easily see your target because their body heat is illuminated against the cool night air. These scopes can’t penetrate surfaces, but they can easily spot targets behind brush or light cover and can help you see how close you are based both on the distance and the heat signature.  

The simple answer is that thermal scopes are typically easier to use to detect game during dark hours. However, there are benefits to be had from using night vision goggles or binoculars, if you’re looking for a different way to hunt or even just explore at night. Ultimately, you’ll have to test them out for yourself and see what works best for you.  

Q: Can Thermal Scopes See Through Objects? 

A: Thermal imaging does not penetrate objects. Thermal imaging technology is designed to identify the heat of everything, including glass, which has a thermal profile all its own. While this technology can provide plenty of heat-seeking abilities from a distance or partially-blocked areas like those found in nature, such as trees, it cannot be used to penetrate surfaces, buildings, or other obstructions.  

Thermal scopes will provide you with an accurate reading of the nearest object’s thermal profile. This helps you hunt in open environments. You can even use it in the woods or a more covered area, although you’ll have to move around the obstructions to check for heat signatures. Being able to see heat, rather than having to find the reflective view that shows you the game in the field, is going to be easier overall so it might be worth the extra maneuvering.  

Q: Do All Night Vision Devices Record? 

A: No, not all night vision devices will offer image capture or recording capabilities. There is an increasing number of devices that are starting to include the ability to take pictures and videos, but the majority of these will still be on the higher end of the price range. There are several basic scopes, binoculars, goggles, and other night vision and thermal devices that simply offer sighting capabilities and won’t record anything.  

Whether you want the recording feature or not is a personal preference. However, it can help allow you to study your hunts and shots and to show off your great adventures to your friends and family. It isn’t an essential feature to have, but it can add to your experience in a variety of ways.  

Choose Your Night Vision Solution  

Night vision, whether through IR or thermal imaging, is changing the way that people enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re on the hunt or just spotting the nocturnal creatures, having the right tools will make all the difference. Now that you know more about your options, it should be easier to get the gear that you need and get out on the hunt. If it’s one of the night vision or thermal scopes here, you’ll trust that you are getting a reliable piece of equipment that will deliver the performance that you need. If not, you’ll have the information you need to find your best choice.