- 1 Top Night Vision Scope
- 1.1 Armasight Nemesis 6x-Gen 2 Night Vision Rifle Scope
- 1.2 ATN Smart Night Vision Scope
- 1.3 Yukon Nvrs 2.5X50 Internal Focusing Night Vision Riflescope
- 1.4 Yukon NVRS Titanium 1.5×42 Night Vision Rifle Scope
- 1.5 Firefield NVRS Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope
- 1.6 Sightmark Photon Digital Night Vision Riflescope
- 2 Night Vision Scopes Generations
- 3 Night Vision Rifle Scope Buying Guide
- 4 The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Night Vision Scope
- 5 Best Night Vision Scope Comparison Chart
- 6 Wrap Up
A night vision scope can come in handy if you’re planning on spending your night hunting or practicing your shooting, but the real purpose of a night vision scope is to give you the edge in a tactical situation. This kind of scopes are very efficient and they will increase your accuracy during the night. But did you know that some night vision scopes can record all your shots and distribute them to your friends and family in real time? In the following article we review the top-6 night vision scopes in 2017 and reveal their pros and cons, so you can choose the best night vision scope for yourself. Our unbiased buying guide will show you what to look for in a night vision scope, and propose different kinds of scopes for different scenarios.
Don’t know what your friends at the range or the hunting club are talking about when they say a scope belongs to a certain generation? No problem, we have that covered for you. A section in our article will explain what the differences between night vision scope generation are, what are the characteristics of different generations of scopes, and the main benefits for using one generation or another. Every generation has different capabilities, and we explain all of them so you can make an informed decision when you buy a model.
Never owned a night vision scope before? There’s no problem with that. At the end of our article, we answer 10 of the most frequently asked questions about night vision scopes, so make sure you check out that section if anything seems unclear. Night vision scopes have been around for decades and the technology advancements made them more accessible for shooters all over the country. Are they really that good, or is the hype around them overrated? Find out the answer to that question and more in the article below.
Top Night Vision Scope
Armasight Nemesis 6x-Gen 2 Night Vision Rifle ScopeThis generation 2 standard definition night scope offers a powerful magnification of up to 6x with a field of view of 6.5 degrees. The scope’s lenses are shock-proof, and the body is waterproof. All the controls and adjustments are easy to operate. The scope is designed to mount on a standard weaver rail. The reticle’s brightness can be changed depending on your environment and liking. The brightness features an automatic control and the specially coated lenses will protect your eyes when you encounter a bright source. This scope’s thin but well-defined crosshairs will allow you to place your shot with high precision, even when the target is small and situated far away from you.
- Easy To Zero – This scope’s hole in the lens cap will allow you to zero it even in broad daylight without any kind of difficulty. Once zeroed, the scope will be accurate for a very long time.
- 6x Magnification – With this scope, you will be able to shoot very accurately during the night. The scope illuminates your whole field of view without blinding you, and the thin crosshairs allow you to pinpoint your shot
- Relatively Heavy – This is a large scope, and carrying it around can be tiresome.
ATN Smart Night Vision ScopeThis is one of the most technological advanced night vision scopes available on the market. The scope has some unique features which will allow you to record your shots in real time and transfer them to your smartphone, tablet, or computer with the help of a built-in Wi-Fi transmitter. The scope’s camera is able to record at resolutions of 720 p at 60 frames per second, or at 1080 full HD resolution at 30 frames per second. Once you record your shot, you can even place it on a map and tag the location, so you can see the shot on an interactive map with all your shooting locations.
- High-Quality Recording – This scope allows you to record your shot in real-time, and the recording quality is really good. You will be able to show the shot to all your family and friends or even upload it on the internet.
- Electric Zoom – This scope has an electric zoom, and you will be able to reach the optical 20x range flawlessly in a matter of seconds.
- Sensible On/Off Switch – The On/Off button is a push and hold type, but unfortunately, when you want to turn the scope off and you keep the button pushed for a second too long, the scope turns back on. This can drain your battery very quickly.
Yukon Nvrs 2.5X50 Internal Focusing Night Vision RiflescopeThis night vision scope has a high-quality shock-resistant titanium body and provides a clear and thin red reticle on a green background. The scope has a 2.5x zoom and its high resolution will allow you to acquire your target at distances of up to 220 yards. The scope comes with flip-up covers to protect the coated lenses from the elements. The scope has a unique pulsating infrared illuminator which will allow you to view further than other scopes. This pulsating feature will also minimize the battery drainage, but it’s not visible to your eyes. The scope can be connected to a digital camera, and there are many optional accessories available to provide high-quality videos or photos.
- Pulsating Infrared Illuminator – This illuminator will allow you to see farther with this lens than with other models, so you will be able to shoot more accurately.
- Efficient – This scope does exactly what you buy it for. It offers a clear field of view in the dark and a clear and crisp image of your target.
- Designed For Right-handed Shooters – The scope’s eyecup is designed to fit your eye perfectly if you’re right handed, but if you are a lefty, turning the cup won’t make it comfortable to use.
Yukon NVRS Titanium 1.5×42 Night Vision Rifle ScopeThis first generation night vision scope has a tough titanium body and a sleek ergonomic design, providing a comfortable shooting experience. The scope uses a high-quality 42mm lens and a powerfully illuminated reticle to provide a higher resolution than that of other first generation scopes. The scope uses a pulsating infrared illuminator to enhance the image brightness and to allow you to see farther in pitch black darkness. The pulsing of the illuminator is invisible to humans, but it makes the illuminator to penetrate greater distances. This scope comes with a remote on/off switch, a carrying case, and a flip-up lens cover.
- Good Brightness – The scope’s night vision brightness is good, and the crosshair’s adjustable brightness will allow you to aim properly in the night. The brightness controls are large and easy to use in the dark.
- Long Distance Detection – Using this scope, you can easily detect any movement at a range of up to 200 yards, without the help of additional accessories.
- Short Shooting Range – Even though you will be able to detect movement from far out, you won’t be able to make an accurate shot unless the target is within 100 yards from you, maybe even less.
Firefield NVRS Gen 1 Night Vision RiflescopeThis first generation night vision scope has a durable shockproof titanium body and a very powerful infrared illuminator which will enhance your vision and the image details, increasing your viewing range in complete darkness. The scope comes with flip-up covers to protect the lenses from the elements and potential accidental scratches. The scope’s reticle is red and its brightness can be easily adjusted to fit your environment every time you shoot. This scope features a 42mm lens which will collect the light better and offer a clear view on medium and long range targets.
- Clear Image – This scope’s illuminator is powerful and will provide sufficient clarity to your view to make out targets as far as 200 yards in complete darkness. This will allow you to closely group your shots at 100 yards without too much trouble.
- Solid Build – This scope was built to last. Every component seems tough and durable, and even though the scope is not very large, you should be able to use it for a very long time.
- Doesn’t Zoom In Too Much – This scope is advertised as having a 3x magnification, but it might actually be closer to the 2x magnifications of other scopes
Sightmark Photon Digital Night Vision RiflescopeThis night vision scope is one of the best models you can use for medium-range shooting. The scope was specially engineered to provide accurate and precise placement at medium range distances and uses six digital reticle patterns for increased accuracy. The scope provides a 4.6x magnification, and the large 42mm lens will allow you to have a clear and crisp image of your target. The scope has a video output feature you can use to capture high-resolution images or videos if you attach some additional accessories. The scope can be used both in daytime and at night with great results. The LED infrared illuminator can be turned on/off and you can choose one of the three brightness intensities to spot your target.
- Lightweight – This scope is durable but lightweight. The whole scope will be up to 30% lighter than other night vision scopes.
- Long Battery Life – The scope doesn’t drain the batteries fast. In fact, this scope’s battery live is 33% longer than that of other scopes.
- Bad Instructions Manual – This scope’s instructions manual isn’t very clear, so the setup might take longer than it should. Some detailed explanations regarding the reticle styles would have been welcomed.
Night Vision Scopes Generations
Every time you’re looking for a night vision scope, you’ll find terms like “first generation”, “second generation”, both in the product description and in the reviews. But what do they even mean? In the following section we will explain what the differences are between the four generations of night vision scopes, so you will know what to expect every time you read a review.
- First Generation
The first generation night vision scopes developed were part of the first generation. Of course, this category of scopes no longer contains the scopes used 70 years ago. They evolved along with the technological advancements
- Cheap – This is the best trait of first generation night vision scopes. They are cheap and you can use them on any kind of rifle.
- Short Shooting Range – The maximum shooting range of a first generation scope at night is about 70 yards, but this is strictly related to the light conditions.
- Low Resolution – First generation NV scopes provide images with lower resolutions, and more static will be present in the image, which will not be very crisp
- Infrared Illuminator Always On – The illuminators in first generation night vision scopes are always turned on, making you visible to other people using NV scopes or binoculars from afar
- Light Distorts Image – If you have a light source in your image, the image will be distorted.
- Short Battery Life – Because these night vision scopes always keep the illuminator on, the battery will be drained quickly.
In conclusion, this type of night vision scopes is the best choice for anybody who wishes to buy a scope that will stay within a strict budget. Even though they’re not the best models on today’s market, keep in mind that even some night vision is far better than none.
- Second Generation
This generation is better than the previous one. How much better? The short answer is “a lot”. The second generation equipment performs more like the 3rd generation rather than the first.
- Longer Shooting Range – Unlike the 1st generation models which could hit a target at under 70 yards at night, the 2nd generation models will be accurate within 200 yards, depending on the model and light conditions
- Clearer Images – The 2nd generation night vision scopes provide clearer, crisper images, and you’ll be able to focus better on your target. The images are also brighter, even though your target can be located farther from you.
- Infrared Illuminator Can Be Turned Off – The advantage of turning off your illuminator is that once you do it, you won’t be visible from afar to other shooters using night vision scopes or binoculars.
- Less Distortion – Your night vision scope is less affected by light sources that enter your field of view.
- Longer Life Expectancy – 2nd generation models are usually expected to last three times longer than first generation models, and be more reliable.
- Third Generation
Third generation night vision scopes are the best night vision rifle scopes available on the market. These are the models currently used by military personnel and special forces around the world. There are several levels of third generation night vision scopes, but all of them are good.
- Longest Shooting Ranges – If you’re using a third generation night vision scope, you will be able to shoot accurately at targets placed at 300 yards, sometimes even further depending on the model and environmental conditions.
- Best Image Resolution – The third generation night vision scopes will provide the best image resolution, and all the images will be crisp and clear, even if you zoom in at the scope’s maximum capacity
- Best Night Performance – If you’re using a third generation night vision scope, you will be able to spot your target from afar, even in complete darkness.
- Complete Passive Operation – Not only can you turn the infrared illuminator on or off, but you will be able to use the scope when the illuminator is turned off as well.
- Minimum Distortion – Even though distortions can appear if a light is turned on in your field of view, the distortion will be minimal and the image will recover its clarity fast.
- Autogated Tube – Third generation night vision scopes have an autogated tube feature. This feature will allow you to use the scope with great accuracy in urban environments with light sources all around you.
- Fourth Generation
You might encounter the term “fourth generation night vision scope” in your searches. The truth is, there isn’t a fourth generation of scopes and this is just a marketing term. It’s true that there was a time when the US Army considered that modern scopes using the most recent technology might fit into this category, but they dropped the term and all the recent models fit in the third category as well.
Night Vision Rifle Scope Buying Guide
Deciding which is the best night vision rifle scope is very difficult, and even after spending a lifetime in the Army or Special Forces you might not be able to do it. However, you don’t have to find the best scope on the market, you just have to find the right model for your particular needs. In the following section, we will mention all the features you should take into consideration when you decide on buying a night vision scope.
This is probably the most important technical specification you should look for in a night vision scope. The scope’s generation should be an important factor in your decision making, as it dictates the performance of the scope.
- First Generation – The main advantage of a first generation night vision scope is that it’s cheap. You don’t have to break the bank to buy one, and once you have it you will be able to use it reliably. First generation scopes are not the same as those first developed in the 60s, but there are similarities between them. They are accurate and reliable, but you won’t be able to use them for shooting with great accuracy at more than 70 – 80 yards, depending on the light conditions and the scope model. They usually use a red crosshair over a green background, and the infrared illuminator will be turned on at all times, making the first generation scopes a poor choice for shooting in daylight. They can have some magnification, but even though you might be able to detect your target from far out, you won’t be able to shoot it accurately unless it comes closer to you. First generation night vision scopes will drain your batteries rather fast, so it would be better if you always carried extras just to be sure. If a light comes into your field of view, the image will be distorted and your accuracy will suffer. Even though white phosphor technology is available for first generation models, most manufacturers don’t use it.
- Second Generation – Second generation night vision scopes are far better than those in the first generation. They can either provide a red or black over a green image, or a black and white one using white phosphor technology. The black and white images can be clearer and more natural, providing better contrast in some instances. These scopes are usually more expensive than first-generation units, but cheaper than third generation ones. They usually provide both a longer detection and shooting range. Most of them will provide enough light to shoot accurately at targets located in a 200-yard radius, sometimes even farther depending on the light conditions and scope model. The batteries in this type of scope will last longer, and you’ll be able to use additional features, like image capturing or recording.
- Third Generation – These models represent the top of the line when it comes to night vision scopes. They are used by the best military units and special forces around the world. Third generation night vision scopes provide the best quality images and even a light in your field of view won’t distort the image too much. They also provide the longest target detection and shooting range, most of them being able to pinpoint a target in a 300-yard radius. However, this type of technology comes at a price, and you should be willing to part with a large sum of money if your want to buy this kind of scope.
Now that you know the main types of night vision scopes, you have to think about the reason you’re buying the scope in the first place.
- Target Practice/Plinking/Airsoft Competitions – If you decide to buy a night vision scope just for fun, you shouldn’t spend your hard earned money on anything but a first generation scope. This kind of scope will provide clear enough images to be able to shoot accurately from a fair distance, and you don’t necessarily have to turn your illuminator off so that other people won’t see you with their night vision optics, so there will be no problems in that aspect. These scopes are cheap, reliable, and they can be used for this kind of activities with great results.
- Hunting – If you want to buy a night vision scope for hunting, you have to think about on how you’re going to use the scope most often. If you mainly shoot vermin or small game, a first generation scope will suffice. You don’t need to shoot your targets from far out, and the scope’s brightness will allow you to shoot accurately. However, if you’re going to hunt larger game such as boars or stages, the extra distance provided by the second generation scopes will be helpful.
- Tactical Situations – Whenever you’re engaged in a tactical situation, you need the best equipment available. When it comes to night vision rifles, the best equipment by far is represented by the third generation scopes.
The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Night Vision Scope
- How Far Will I Be Able To Shoot?
There is no certain answer to this question because there are a lot of factors at play.
- Scope Generation – Most first generation night vision scopes will shoot accurately within 80 yards, second generation ones within 200 yards, and third generation ones can shoot accurately at targets located over 300 yards away.
- Light Conditions – Every night vision scope uses a lens to gather as much light as it can from the surrounding environment. When there is no light to use, the shooting range will be shorter than in low-light conditions.
- Additional Accessories – Some shooters prefer to use additional accessories with their night vision scopes. These accessories include but are not limited to infrared flashlights, lasers, and more. If you use accessories, the shooting range can increase dramatically.
- Is There a Difference Between Night Vision And Thermal Vision?
There are several differences between night vision and thermal vision scopes, but the most important one is the way they create the image. Night vision scopes will amplify the ambient light. Even if there is no ambient light, an image will be formed because the infrared illuminator will act as a flashlight. Thermal images are created by a body’s heat signature or the amount of heat an object produces. This heat is recorded by the scope and a series of pictures or a video is then formed for the shooter.
- What Is An Autogated Scope?
An autogated scope has a special feature which allows it to automatically adjust the image quality. This feature will turn the scope on and off at a very fast rate, creating an image which is less distorted by the light.
- Is The Black And White Image Better Than The Green One?
The main advantage of black and white images over the classic green ones is that they are less tiring for the eye. The black and white combination is more natural for the human eye, and the shooter will be able to regain his/hers normal sight after a shorter period of time after looking through this type of scope. The green image will tire a shooter’s eyes quicker and the night blindness will be longer.
- What Is The Difference Between a Manual Gain And An Automatic Gain Adjustment?
For most shooters, an automatic gain adjustment will work just fine. However, there are some people who feel that the image brightness overexposes or underexposes their target, so they can control the adjustment manually.
- Should I Take Some Precautions If I Use a Night Vision Scope?
There are several precautions you should take if you want to use the scope for a longer time.
- Try to protect it from drops and bumps
- Keep the scope in a case when you’re not using it
- Don’t aim the scope at bright lights
- Don’t use the scope in broad daylight
- Don’t disassemble the scope if you’re not a professional
- Don’t touch the objective lens
- What Is An Infrared Illuminator?
Night vision scopes are designed to amplify the ambient light. If there is no light available, a scope wouldn’t be able to create an image. An Infrared illuminator produces a beam of infrared light straight in front of the scope, so it will always have a light source. The illuminator acts like a flashlight, and the light beam it produces has a limited length
- Do I Need Some Training To Use a Night Vision Scope?
No, training is not necessary, but practice will help. You might not be the most accurate shot when you use a night vision scope for the first time, but you will improve with time and experience.
- Thermal Vs Night Vision. Which Is Better?
This largely depends on the situation. Thermal vision is better suited for some scenarios and environments, while others need a night vision scope. However, even poor performing thermal scopes will cost more than good night vision ones.
- Is The Performance Difference Between First And Second Generation Scopes Worth The Price Difference?
Yes, the performance differences are worth the price. The performance of a second generation scope is closer to that of a third than to that of a first generation one.
Best Night Vision Scope Comparison Chart
|PRODUCT||PRICE||MAGNIFICATION||FOV||DIMENSIONS||WEIGHT||POWER SUPPLY||BATTERY LIFE|
|Armasight Nemesis 6x-Gen 2 Night Vision Rifle Scope||$$$$$||6x||6.5 degree||15.3 x 4 x 2.8 inches||4.2 pounds||1 x 3 V CR123A type battery||60 hours|
|ATN Smart Night Vision Scope||$$$$||5 - 18 X||5 degree||10.3 x 3.5 x 3.2 inches||2.7 pounds||4 AA (Lithium Recommended)||8 - 12 hours|
|Yukon Nvrs 2.5X50 Internal Focusing Night Vision Riflescope||$$$||2.5X||15 degree||13.8 x 4.7 x 4.6 inches||2.1 pounds||two AA batteries||up to 50 hours|
|Yukon NVRS Titanium 1.5x42 Night Vision Rifle Scope||$$||1.5X||20 degree||3.1 x 3.3 x 8.6 inches||1.9 pounds||two AA batteries||up to 50 hours|
|Firefield NVRS Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope||$||3x||8 degree||9 x 3.2 x 3.4 inches||1.8 pounds||two AA batteries||up to 5 hours|
|Sightmark Photon Digital Night Vision Riflescope||$$||4.6x||4.3 degree||17.6 x 4 x 3.8 inches||23.6 oz||two AA batteries||5 hours|
Night vision scopes are not only for the Military or Special Forces, it has many applications in everyday life as well. You can use a night vision scope with great results for hunting, especially if you’re hunting species which come out mostly at night, such as hogs or raccoons. the night vision scope is different from other scopes in the sense that it will allow you to shoot from afar even without ambient light, increasing your efficiency and accuracy. You don’t have to worry about using a night vision scope if you don’t have any previous experience; they are relatively easy to mount and zero, they are accurate once they’re zeroed, and they’re really fun to use. Most of them come with detailed instructions on how to mount, zero, use, and care for them properly, so make sure you read the instructions manual before you mount one on your rifle.
Keep in mind that you should prevent the scope from bumps and drops, even if you own a shockproof model. This kind of accidents can make the scope lose its zero, or it can even lead to permanent damage. When you’re not using the scope, you should protect it by keeping it in a case. You shouldn’t use a night vision scope in daylight, and you shouldn’t aim one directly at bright artificial lights, either. There are three generations of night vision scopes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you choose the best night vision scope for your purposes. If you’re involved in a tactical situation, having the best gear available can mean the difference between losing and winning, so make sure you check out our other articles about rifle red dot sights, iron sights, slings and bipods. Using a scope with one of these accessories will further increase your accuracy and steady your rifle.