Lately, there has been an increased demand for the best night vision technology due to its many improvements over the last decade. This kind of tech is cheaper than ever before and accessible to hunters and others who use rifles regularly. It’s also why we want to share your options for the best night vision scope for the AR-15.
Even those who aren’t interested in hunting on the range will find that night vision has several excellent functions. It can be used for property protection on large areas of land or used as a means of personal security. The best night vision scopes can also be a lot of fun for target practice after the sun goes down.
However, it can be challenging to determine what the best products on the market are, so we wanted to offer up our thoughts on which are at the top of the list. We’ll share some of the best night vision scopes and talk about what you need to know if you plan to purchase one.
The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope is an excellent accessory for your rifle when used on the range or in the field. It features an Ultra HD sensor to ensure your best sight offers bright and sharp images from a distance. The inclusion of an Obsidian 4 dual-core processor means the scope runs fast and keeps images from blurring.
It also offers a Ballistic calculator that provides the best data and statistics in real time between your target and yourself. This night rifle scope has 4K video recording straight to your SD card and offers 18 hours of battery life when recently charged. Anyone looking for a scope that works in all sorts of conditions will find it in this model.
Anyone who is looking for a reasonably priced night vision scope should consider the Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope. This one is priced right and offers the best night vision technology inside a titanium body that is durable and lightweight. It even includes a quick-detach Weaver mount so you can remove or remount the scope in seconds when needed.
This night vision scope does well to around 100 yards with its activated IR illuminator in open areas, but the range will begin to fall in areas with bushes, trees, and other objects. It’s best known for its well-built construction and ability to take abuse, but some find that adding a better IR helps the detection range. Sighting in can be more challenging than it is with some other rifle scopes.
This BestSight DIY Digital Night Vision Scope with Camera has a bit more complicated setup than most night scopes, but there are detailed instructions included. The camera can take three-megapixel images that offer bright colors and solid details and can be used during the day or night in the field or on the range. The high-power illuminator that comes with the night vision scope allows you to see your target even in the dead of night easily.
This one features a five-inch clear display screen that shows what the camera is capturing and lets you watch it as it happens. You also have options to adjust the night vision screen using crosshair and zoom functions or switching between daytime and nighttime use. The main disadvantage is that you will need three batteries to operate the monitor and flashlight and these do not come with the scope.
The NightShot by Night Owl Optics comes with 3x magnification and a built-in IR illuminator so you can get the best picture when in the dark at up to 75 yards or more. It has many options for night vision adjustments, including elevation, focus, and windage, so you can set it up to work right for you and the environment you are in. This scope includes six reticle choices and many brightness and IR settings, as well.
This is one of the most inexpensive night vision scopes and is very lightweight due to its construction from thermoplastic. It’s also capable of handling any dust, rain, or debris that comes near it. Considering the price and features, this is one scope that you will likely want to take a look at when considering your options.
The Barska 1-4×28 IR Hunting Scope offers a high level of adjustability and features a high-quality night vision optics system. The scope is very lightweight and compact, so traveling with it won’t be an issue. It also comes with a wide range of special features like a cantilever mount, external turrets, and a Mil-Dot radiated reticle.
Through the use of an angled sunshade, flash is reduced on your objective lens so you can get the best view in any weather conditions. It also offers scope caps that can be used as covers but flip up when you need to use the night vision scope. This is a reasonably priced model that comes with a limited lifetime warranty for your peace of mind.
The MidTen 4-12×50 Dual Illuminated Scope with Dot & Laser Sight is an inexpensive night vision choice that has a lot of great features. It has excellent optics and includes both green and red illumination so you can easily get a clear view of your target. It is designed for accuracy and top optics with a red laser light to help with your accuracy in the field.
One Picatinny rail is built into this model, which offers additional accuracy and improves your grip. It also offers a laser wavelength of 650nm for the best possible performance. You can operate night vision with or without the red laser by flipping a switch depending on the environment you are in.
Buyer’s Guide for Night Vision Scopes for the AR-15
A night vision rifle scope is made like a traditional scope in that it offers a means of aiming but is unique in that they work once the sun goes down. There are magnified and unmagnified night vision scopes, both of which are a bit more complicated than day scopes. The things below are the most important to consider when purchasing a night vision scope.
Magnification with a digital night vision scope can range from 1x up to 10x with a higher number signifying a better magnification level. Having a high magnification level can be useful in some cases, but it can make the night vision rifle scope more expensive and heavier. Some scopes do not have magnification and are similar to traditional shooting.
Field of View
The field of view is how wide of a field or range you can see from a specific distance, usually 100 yards. If your field of view is 25 feet, that means when you look through the rifle scope, you will be 25 feet wide at 100 years. When you increase the magnification of your view, the field of view will decrease. A wide view is best at night to see intruders and targets from far away. A night vision scope is often going to have a smaller field of view than other scopes.
Size and Weight
Most night vision scopes are heavier and larger than day scopes, and this increases as magnification does. Someone using one of these scopes for a longer period on a range may want a lighter and smaller product that doesn’t have a high magnification level. As far as size goes, you want to be sure the rail is large enough for your AR-15 or it is unlikely to work the way one wishes.
The amount and type of batteries your night vision scope uses are going to be something to consider. You likely want the best battery life possible, but if those batteries are very heavy, you have to ask yourself if the battery life is more important than the weight. If you’re on a range close to home, it may not matter that battery life is a little less. You also want to see the price of the batteries since you’ll likely need to buy replacements down the line.
Generations of Night Vision Scopes
You’ll find that scopes come in Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, and Gen 4 types of units. Knowing what each is capable of will help you choose the right one for your needs.
- Gen 1 – The first generation is the most popular and the oldest available and amplifies light at a low cost. However, images may be blurry, a whine may occur when the unit is running, and it can glow green after being turned off.
- Gen 2 – These are used for professional and law enforcement applications and can be more expensive. They include a micro-channel plate that is made up of glass tubes, so more electrons are released. This amplifies light much better and creates a sharper image.
- Gen 3 – Generation three models are characterized by adding a chemical to the photocathode for better picture quality than Gen 2. There was also a film added to make tubes last longer so you can expect great performance in low light.
- Gen 4 – The newest models are even better than Gen 3 with the removal of the film and a gated system that creates better target resolution and range even in the lowest levels of light.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best night vision scope for the money?
Going off of price alone, the best night vision scope is the MidTen 4-12×50 Dual Illuminated Scope. However, there are other options in a lower price bracket that one can choose from. The Barska 1-4×28 IR Hunting Scope is another great night vision rifle scope, while the BestSight DIY Digital Night Vision scope works well if you don’t mind assembling it on your own.
2. What is the best night vision scope for hog hunting?
The Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope is a great choice for hunting hogs. It’s durable, lightweight, and offers a built-in IR illuminator to making hunting a breeze. Another great night vision scope for hog hunting is the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope, which includes all sorts of extras like a range finder, plenty of battery life, a compass, and even mobile apps for your smartphone.
3. Is Thermal better than night vision?
It depends on your needs. Night vision scopes amplify light, whereas thermal scopes detect heat and radiation to show differences in temperature. Those who are hunting only in no light may want to choose a thermal option, but those who want the crispest images are likely going to prefer a night vision rifle scope instead.
4. Can I use a night vision scope during the day?
In most cases, these night vision sights are best used only at night. However, some versions are designed for both daytime and nighttime use. For models that don’t have this functionality, shadows in the daytime can make them stop working properly. Also, built-in infrared light illuminators cannot function the way they should in the sunshine.
As night vision scopes become more and more commonplace, searching through the many options can take time and effort. Any of the night vision rifle scopes above should suit the needs of many hunters and people who wish to protect their property. There are options in a range of prices with all sorts of features to make hunting or shooting at a range exciting and fun.
Even if you aren’t currently in the market for a new digital night vision scope, you have the information you need to choose one when the time comes. It’s a great way to extend the capabilities of your AR-15 and ensure it offers what you need, no matter what time of day it is.