Best Night Vision Scope - PointOptics

The 10 Best Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scopes or devices have been around for ages. They’re used in military scenarios primarily, but you will also find them being used in hunting situations. They’re much more widespread than you’d expect, and if you’re getting into hunting, you’ll need a night vision scope at one point or another. What are some good options when you want to buy one? We’ll give you an extensive answer on that, but let’s take a look at what they are and how they work in more detail.

Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3 x 42 Night Vision Scope

With it’s high-powered IR illuminator you’ll never miss your target – no matter how dark. It’s rock-solid and lightweight, and the best night vision scope available.

What is a Night Vision Scope?

As BrainStuff explains in their video, a night vision scope will basically let you see in the dark, and human sight is severely intensified when light conditions are very low. There are several kinds of night vision devices. You will find active night vision devices, such as thermal imaging systems and infrared imaging systems, as well as passive night vision systems. The active ones use either infrared light, or heat patterns that objects, animals or people emit, and convert that into a visible image. Passive night vision systems simply amplify images that are picked up in minimal light conditions and make them into a visible image. What you see through a passive system is often 20 to 50 thousand times brighter than what you could see with the naked, unaided eye. There are a couple of generations and they all have different specifications.

This was primarily done for military uses. During combat, soldiers found it very difficult to identify enemies and objects in the dark. Using a night vision scope, this was much easier, and they had an advantage when they needed to enter combat in subpar light conditions. However, a bit later, the technology started to appear in things such as a night vision rifle scope that’s available commercially. The tech wasn’t limited to military use anymore, as hunters began using it more and more for finding animals in the dark.

What Are the Types of Night Vision Equipment?

Let’s get one thing out of the way. As far as hardware types go, night vision devices are not limited to scopes. Yes, the options for hunting night vision devices below are all scopes, but there are other types as well. There are three main types of night vision equipment.


The first type of night vision equipment available is scopes. Scopes are either handheld, or mounted on a weapon. Just like magnification scopes on weapons, they’re monocular. Due to the fact that there are not worn like goggles, they’re much more practical when you need to look at something specific shortly and get back to normal viewing conditions. This is exactly why they’re the preferred option for hunters, and why all of the suggestions below are night vision scope devices.


The second option is goggles. This is the most popular military option, because they can be worn on the head, and do not require a free hand for usage. Goggles, unlike scopes, are binocular, and depending on the specific model, can either have a single lens, or stereo lens. They’re the preferred option when you need to constantly view in the dark, such as when you’re moving in a dark building.


Last but not least, we have cameras. Cameras that have night vision technology can either display the image on a monitor or send it to a VCR for recording. They’re fairly common in locations such as buildings, or as a part of a helicopter’s equipment. These are all permanent locations, and that’s why a camera is the most convenient option. You will also find that many newer camcorders come with a built-in night vision.

The night vision scope is the most popular option for hunters. They can mount it on their rifle, or carry it in their hand, and they don’t have to use it when they don’t want to. They’re also the best commercially available options. Therefore, below you will find 10 of the best night vision scope options you can buy today, as well as a short description and why they’re so good. Read on!

1. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3 x 42 Night Vision Scope

1. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3 x 42 Night Vision Scope



IP Rating


Pulsar is a renowned company that has taken night vision to the next level. They are now the global leaders in night vision equipment for outdoors and security purposes.  The Pulsar Edge GS Super 1+ 1×20 is a Gen 1+ Night vision goggle set prove this time and time again. They’re the best night vision goggles if you don’t need Gen 2.

The Pulsar GS Super 1+ is a  Gen 1 device that focuses on image clarity. Gen 2 and Gen 3 devices do offer better night performance, but that’s not for everyone. Unlike a budget Gen 1 device, you’re getting much-improved clarity, which is always welcome when you’re using night vision goggles. You also get the advantage of getting to enjoy that clarity over an extra-wide field of view and a viewing range of 100 meters. This is a tad more than what regular Gen 1 devices could provide.

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Integrated Illuminator

Now, it’s not just clarity that you’d expect when you’re paying a bit of a premium. The Edge Super 1+ has an integrated Illuminator that has an adjustable brightness setting. It has a surprisingly great battery life and only requires 2 x AAA batteries. You can expect 50 hours worth of viewing when you are not using the IR. The Illuminator is what ultimately lets you see in complete darkness. 


The Edge GS Super 1+ Is sold with an ergonomic headpiece which allows you to use the goggles hand free. Having night vision goggles that are strapped to your head and offer magnification isn’t ideal. You may think something is closed due to the magnification factor, and you can get confused. Therefore, the Edge GS has a 1x magnification that lets you accurately determine the distance between you, and an object you’re looking at. It is also worth mentioning that the Pulsar GS Super 1+ is equipped with CF- Super Technology which offers increased clarity. Weighing in at just 0.99lb they are also on the lighter side.

Automatic Bright Light Exposure

A major source of damage to night vision devices is light. Having too much light enter the tubes when night vision is on can easily damage the tubes. The Edge GS has an automatic bright light exposure, which prevents tube burnouts. It will reduce, or stop, any extreme light from coming inside the tubes, and therefore keep them running longer.

Rain and Dust Protected

Considering night vision goggles are used outdoors and are exposed to the elements, it is great to know what these particular goggles are protected against both rain and dust. At this point, you’d be more than inclined to think that these are just a pair of over-hyped Gen 1 night vision goggles. However, they’re far from that. With all the night vision goggles on sale these days, it’s easy to find a cheaper pair which claims to work just as well. The truth is, these do work as advertised, unlike many of the budget offerings. When purchasing the Pulsar Edge GS you will receive a carrying case, head mount, user manual, cleaning cloth, warranty card as well as a neck strap. 

The Pulsar Edge GS comes from a reputable brand which doesn’t work like this. We tried and tested the goggles, and they actually work incredibly well. Everything is as advertised, and better, and you won’t regret buying them, not for a minute! Read our in-depth review here.

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  • 50 Hour Battery Life
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • Multi-Coated Lenses.
  • Water & Dust Resistant
  • Hands-Free

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The 10 Best Night Vision Scope of 2020

1. Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3 x 42 Night Vision Scope

Firefield FF16001

The Firefield FF16001 is one of the best night vision scopes on the market today. It’s made with amazing sharpness and clarity, and this is why it is absolutely perfect for hog hunting. The 3x magnification will bring any target closer to you. You also get controls that are very user friendly when you have a distant target you want to see clearly.

This night vision rifle scope has a rugged titanium body, and it is made to protect the scope from any mechanical shocks or impacts. This is crucial, because hunting at night often requires intense movements that a regular scope might not be able to handle. Because it’s so durable, it’s also great for usage in terrains which are unfamiliar, as you don’t have to worry about it too much. Ruggedness isn’t the only thing the manufacturers paid attention to, the small size and unique shape make it very ergonomic and easy to mount, or hold. We thought it important to also mention the fact that it is super light . Titanium as a material is stiff and light, but the Firefield is incredibly light for a night vision scope that offers this much.

The 3x magnification the Firefield comes with is considered ideal. If you need something that lets you hit a 3” bull’s eye at a distance of 100 yards, you’re at the right place. The magnification lets you see, and hit your target without much issues. When you combine the magnification with the clarity of the scope, you get unmatched performance for night hunting. The illumination is another key quality, as there’s a built-in IR illuminator that helps a lot during extremely dark conditions. If you’re after precision, you don’t need to look much further, the FF16001 has you covered.

Overall, it’s a great scope, one you really can’t go wrong with. The magnification is just about perfect for night hunting, you can easily see smaller targets over a larger distance, and its clarity and sharpness are impeccable.

Available at :

2. ATN X-Sight 4K Pro (5-20x or 3-14x)

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro

The next option on our list is a product by ATN. Their X-Sight 4K Pro comes in two magnification configurations, either 5-20x, or 3-14x, and they’re both great. Besides the magnification factor and lens size, all other specifications are the same, so whatever we write below, absolutely applies to both of them. It’s often said when you discuss features of your hunting gear, that you need “one thing that has everything”. That’s what the X-Sight aims to do – bring every desirable hi-tech feature in a single night vision rifle scope.

It’s a smart rifle scope, and when we say smart, we mean really smart. It’s one of the most capable and intuitive night vision scope options on the market today. With that said the price isn’t as high as you’d expect it to be. First of all, the eye relief is amazing. You get a clear view, a picture that isn’t distorted at all, and your eye is as far from the sight as it should be. Another benefit is that when you’re zooming, you won’t be seeing pixelations. This is a common problem with many scopes, but not with the X-Sight 4K Pro. The image quality is amazing. The resolution is high, the optics are incredibly fast, and the colors are vivid, so you can see everything clearly.

While we’re discussing smart tech, it’s worth mentioning that you can be recording what you’re seeing AND stream it in HD at the same time. There’s an SD slot inside, and it lets you review your activities afterwards, as well as share them if you want to. The HD’s transition to a night vision scope happens seamlessly, and all it takes is the push of a button, which is really easy to find.

There are two hunting features that you won’t find on many other night vision rifle scope options, and they’ll come in handy more often than you might think. The first one is the advanced ballistics calculator. Any good scope should be primed on paper targets, and the X-Sight does that in a very high tech way. The ballistics calculator takes into account the range, wind, angle, as well as thing such as temperature and humidity, and lets you set them up for different firearms in profiles. The other one is the smart range finder. All you need to do is take just two readings of your target. The scope doesn’t just range in. It also adjusts the reticle’s point of impact.

When you consider everything the X-Sight has to offer, it’s hard to beat the feature set. If you’re thinking that all those features are taxing on the battery life – don’t worry. It gets around 18 hours of uninterrupted power with a single charge. If you’re after a high-tech night vision scope, then this is it. This is our top pick.

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3. Sightmark Photon XT 6.5x50L

Sightmark Photon 6.5x50L

Sightmark’s Photon series were created to bridge the gap between cheap, barely usable night vision scopes and high-end, extremely expensive options. They do so very well, by providing a mid-range night vision rifle scope in terms of pricing, without cutting corners when discussing quality and optics. The Photon XT 6.5×50 comes in two configurations, the L (reviewed here) and the S. The only difference is the infrared illuminator, where the L comes with a laser IR illuminator, a touch better than the LED one in the S model. The price difference isn’t too big, and the laser illuminator is absolutely worth paying the extra for. Even though it’s a tad grainier, it throws much farther than the LED one, and uses much less battery. While discussing battery, the Photon XT makes use of two AA batteries. They should last around 5 hours if you aren’t using the IR illuminator, or around 4 hours if you are using it.

If you’re in need of a versatile scope, one that offers a range of long distance applications, you’re at the right place, There are plenty of reticles, such as ones for crossbows, Duplex reticles for varmint and hog hunting, as well as a Mil-Dot one for holdovers and rangefinding and a German-style reticle. With the 6.5x magnification and 50mm lens, you get optimal brightness at distances of up to 200 yards. The 640×480 resolution will give you plenty of detail. You also get a video output feature, which lets you capture everything you see, regardless of whether it’s day or night. There is also an integrated weaver rail, just in case you want to attach any additional accessories. For guaranteed precision, you’ll find a digital elevation and wind adjustment system. And, since we’re discussing versatility here, it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a small peep hole in the cover which lets light in if you keep the lens cover closed. This is a digital night vision system, and there isn’t a risk of damaging the unit like with other night vision scope alternatives.

Overall, the Photon XT improves on some of the minor shortcomings of the original Photon. You get a fairly wide range of applications with it, and you can use it both in daylight, and at night, which is great for anyone looking for a single scope for their rifle. The night vision functionality is more than great, and you’ll be able to hunt in darkness with ease!

Available at :

4. Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S

Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S

If you think that the Photon XT just won’t cut it for you, and want something that’s a bit better, this is what you should be looking for. Just like Sightmark themselves say, it’s an improvement over the Photon XT in a few important things. The first big improvement is the sensor. You now get a 768×576 CMOS sensor, one that has a 40% higher resolution than what you’d find in the XT. You also now have a variable digital magnification, which is 4.5x and 9x, and there’s stepped zoom for a customized field of view. The 640×480 LCD display is still here, and you have a built-in recording for both video and sound. There is 8GB of built-in memory, so you don’t have to spend extra money on an SD card. You also get integrated Wi-Fi with the Stream Vision App, which is always welcome, and lets you download your videos to a smart device.

The S in the name lets you know that you’re dealing with an LED IR illuminator, more specifically an 850nm one. This lets you hone in on a target that’s up to 220 yards away in pitch black situations. The six reticle options will give you four different color options. You also have a one-shot zero function, so you can zero the Photon RT without messing with it too much.

In terms of construction and durability, you have a metal body which is IPS5 water resistant and shockproof. When you’re hunting in night conditions, you often need to resort to sudden movements and actions, and this can easily damage the optics in your scope if it isn’t well built. Fortunately, this won’t be the case with the Photon RT. If you want to add additional accessories, you can do that via the additional weaver rail. It works with most 30mm rings you can find, and you get a carrying case with it, as well as a spare battery container, pouch, and a lens cloth.

As far as batteries go, it requires four AA batteries. That’s twice as much as the Photon XT, but the better specs require a bit more power. You have a quick change cartridge which lets you change them out quickly, and there is a power bank compatible micro USB port as well. This lets you extend the battery life if it’s really necessary.

When you consider everything, it is indeed an improvement over the Photon XT. You get a better sensor, more smart features, and a variable magnification, which often comes in handy. It’s one of the best night vision scope options you can get today, and the price is lower than high-end models that don’t offer much more.

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5. Bushnell Equinox Z 4.5×40

Bushnell Bushnell 4.5X40

Bushnell are a household name in the optics game. They have quite a few products, from binoculars and rangefinders to rifle scopes and night vision scopes. Even though their products range from budget options to high-end models, the brand in general is one known for its exceptional quality. This is exactly why we weren’t surprised with the quality and performance we got from their Equinox Z 4.5×40. This is an amazing monocular, which makes use of an IR-sensitive CMOS sensor, as well as a micro LCD screen instead of an intensifier tube. Even though it doesn’t seem like everything else on the market, it does perform admirably. You can use the screen to view color images if you use the Equinox Z during daylight. At night, it switches to a black and white image which offers much more contrast and better clarity. That display will also let you see icons that tell you things about the monocular’s status, such as battery level, IR, zoom factor, as well as information on the recording (more on that below).

As the name suggests, you have a 4.5x magnification. We mentioned earlier that oftentimes 3x is enough, but for some people, the more the better. That’s why the Equinox Z also comes with a digital zoom that lets you get up to 13.5x total magnification. You have the ability to capture both video and stills in a resolution of 640×480, and you can save them on a micro SD card. Or, if you’d rather send the live video feed to a monitor or recording device, there’s an RCA video-out port. If you do choose to save the files, though, you can transfer them via the USB port, without needing to remove the card. Those icons we mentioned earlier show elapsed and remaining recording time, as well as how many images you can take based on the memory you have available.

We shouldn’t neglect the build quality, as you get a contoured shape with knurling, completely sufficient for a comfortable, no-worries grip. It’s also IPX4 rated for water resistance, and the menu buttons are rubberized and located at the top, for easy reach. Accessories are easily attached to the side rail, and there’s also a ¼”-20 socket if you want to mount it on a tripod.

Even though we did concentrate on the specs a bit more, they must be mentioned purely due to the fact that you get so much in a Bushnell monocular at this price point. Everything that Bushnell included in this night vision rifle scope works stunningly, from the display and night vision itself, to the recording features. The clarity is amazing, regardless of whether you’re looking through it during the day, or at night. You’ll get a sharp, vivid image with more details than you’d need. And, behind all of that is Bushnell’s name, which does bring a certain amount of quality and reassurance by itself. A great option for just about anyone!

Available at :

6. Armasight Nemesis 6x-SD


When you’re looking for a night vision rifle scope, the magnification factor is actually a very important part. It greatly depends on your specific needs and requirements, but the most common night vision scope magnification factor is 3x. This is often not enough for long distance viewing, and that’s where the Armasight Nemesis 6x comes in. It has a 6x magnification factor, which is more than plenty for long distances, and lets you see your targets closer, and keep them in focus.

The issue with larger magnification factors with a Gen 1 night vision scope was that there was a narrow field of view, relatively short range, and image quality degradation. However, the Armasight Nemesis is actually a Gen 2+ night vision, which improves on a lot of those shortcomings. The range is much longer, hence the justification for 6x magnification. There’s also a better resolution, as well as images that are brighter and clearer. The field of view is much better, and you can expect it to last longer than Gen 1. All of this combined makes a Gen 2 scope much more versatile than anything with Gen 1.

The Nemesis 6x has an internal elevation and windage adjustment, which lets you adjust your scope at the desired angle without any difficulty. If you’re an expert already, this might not mean much, but for people that aren’t that well versed, you get the accuracy that you may not be able to achieve manually yet. The crosshair reticle is thin, yet well defined and you can aim at targets that are small and far away without any issues. At night, it’s illuminated in red for better visibility.

When you factor in everything you get with it, the only potential downside to it is the price. However, the price is just high when you compare it to other offerings on this list. When you compare it to other alternatives in its price range, it’s actually very good. The Gen 2 night vision scope technology improves a lot over scopes that still use Gen 1, and that alone makes the Nemesis very worth it. Add to that the magnification factor, and you get the best night vision scope for long distance hunting in this price range.

Available at :

7. ATN X-Sight II

ANT X-Sight II

We have already spoken about their X-Sight 4K Pro, and there’s another item by ATN on our list: their X-Sight II 3-14x. This is actually the result of thousands of hours of research, where ATN wanted to make something that’s absolutely feature packed, and bring it to the market at a reasonable price. And they did succeed, because the X-Sight II gives you a lot, and the price is lower than competitive products that don’t really offer that much over it. You can see how some of the features work here as well, and you have our full review below.

The first thing you’ll notice is the fact that it actually isn’t that heavy. It does feel hefty and quality made, but it won’t weigh you down. It runs on four AA batteries, and their housing has a beefy cap you screw on. You will get a few hours of battery life with it, but as with any other battery powered outdoor device, it’s recommended that you carry replacements. Or, even better, you can make use of the USB port and connect a power bank to it. That should give you a bit more juice. ATN offer a kit themselves, and it also has a pouch for carrying and plenty of power. Since it can record photos and videos, it also has an SD card slot which accepts cards up to 64GB.

As far as features go, there are plenty. The night vision functionality, our main concern, works wonderfully. Devices that are comparable in quality can easily cost four times as much, and yet the X-Sight II doesn’t cut any corners in terms of sharpness and contrast. You have a choice between green and black & white, and you can adjust the light sensitivity. Unlike other optics, even if you do trigger the night vision mode accidentally, that won’t cause any damage to the device. Another nifty feature is the ballistic calculator. With a traditional rifle scope, you need to range your target, and calculate the drop. Then, you need to accommodate for the slope you’re shooting from – and all this before the wind changes even a bit, or the target moves. Here, you have a two-step system that does this for you and gives you a shot correction.

Last but not least, there’s the host of media options. You can take photos and record video, and there’s a recoil activated video (RAV) system, which captures about 10 seconds before recoil is detected. You don’t really need to worry about not capturing that really nice shot!

All things considered, ATN did again what they did with the X-Sight 4K Pro, albeit in a bit of a different package. They managed to cram an immense amount of features in a package that only costs a fraction of what competitors are selling theirs for. Is it worth it? If the feature set is what you need, yes, yes it is.

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8. Night Owl NightShot

Just like Night Owl themselves say, the NightShot is here to satisfy the needs for people who wanted a low budget, yet high quality night vision scope. If you have a .30 or lower caliber rifle, non-magnum, and don’t want to invest too much, read on. The NightShot actually offers quite a bit in terms of performance and features, and cuts less corners than you’d expect.

First of all, you have the 3x magnification. As discussed a bit earlier, it’s actually the ideal magnification for hunting at night, unless what you need is extremely long distance hunting. But, if you’re into that, you’re most likely looking at scopes that are a bit more expensive. The focusing distance begins at 10 feet, and goes on to infinity. In typical nighttime environments, you can usually see up to 200 yards, and get a clear, sharp image on the 640×480 display. The reticle options are limited to three different ones, each in black and white. There’s a built-in IR illuminator, as well as elevation and windage adjustment, which are things you may not be expecting at this price range.

There are no corners cut on build quality either, as it’s a light, yet stiff night vision rifle scope. It won’t weigh you down, and it’s even weatherproof, so you don’t have to worry about any water or dust ruining your day (or night, for that matter). The one potential downside, though, is battery life. The 4 AA batteries will last for approximately three hours before you need to change them. This might be a dealbreaker for people who want to use their scope for longer periods of time. This is something to be aware of. If budget is your primary concern and you don’t mind changing out the batteries a bit more often, by all means, go for it, it’s a decision you won’t regret.

Available at :

9. NiteSite Wolf

Night vision rifle scope prices are dropping nowadays, which makes it tempting for people that don’t use them, to start. However, many users are hesitant to just throw away their scopes, the ones they are already using, and switch to new technology they don’t know that well. NiteSite saw an opening here, and they now offer kits that can convert any existing rifle scope into a night vision scope in a matter of minutes.

They have a range of options, from the Viper, to the Wolf and Wolf Plus, and the Eagle. The one we’ll be talking about here is the mid-range Wolf option. All of the systems require no change to your scope, and they don’t need any ambient light because they have an 850nm IR beam and onboard LED illumination. They also have audio and video output, and use a lithium battery pack for power.

The system works in a simple way. You have the IR sender and viewing screen which you clamp on top of the scope, facing forwards. You then connect a camera module to the scope which picks up the image. Basically, you’re looking at the screen, while seeing what the camera is seeing through your scope. This is a great way if you don’t want to change the scope completely, but still want a night vision scope. You get the best of both worlds, and the NiteSite system works great.

As mentioned, the Wolf is at the middle of the range. It’s usable at distances of up to 330 yards, thanks to the three LED IR beams in the projector unit. The 1500mAh battery should be sufficient for a few hours, and you are not likely to need the 5500mAh of the Wolf Power Plus. The NiteSite Wolf night vision scope is also waterproof making it ideal for damp conditions.

When you take everything into consideration, if you already have a scope, but want to try night vision, the NiteSite systems are a great way to do so. The Wolf is the midway option, with plenty of range, yet within the budget price range, and is the best buy if you want to try things out.

Available at :

10. Armasight Vampire 3X

(Currently unavailable on amazon)

Armasight Vampire 3X

Even though the Nemesis is a Gen 2 night vision scope with a lot of features and improvements over Gen 1 devices, its price puts it out of reach for many casual users. Therefore, Armasight saw a need for a Gen 1 device that’s going to be a bit cheaper, yet offer performance that’s similar to a Gen 2. This is when they introduced their CORE image tubes. CORE stands for Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine, and the end product was the Armasight Vampire 3x. It’s much better than a Gen 1, and gets dangerously close to Gen 2, especially when you factor in the price. Let’s take a better look.

The first major thing is the resolution. Photocathode sensitivity levels are very high, and the lenses are all glass and multi-coated. This makes it a great scope for ambient light conditions that are somewhat challenging, and you can use it as a standalone optic. All Gen 1 scopes need IR for any acceptable performance, but you may not need one with the Vampire. Sure, there’s an XLR-IR850 long range illuminator, but you’ll find you won’t be using it as often as you’d think. The night vision scope actually works amazingly well without it. You get a red, illuminated reticle with variable brightness, which works great.

All things considered, the Vampire 3x is an interesting option if you’re looking for the best night vision scope that doesn’t break the bank. It’s built well, and the optics are stunning. It hands down beats most of the Gen 1 devices that it competes with, and as mentioned above, gets close to Gen 2 performance. You can actually see some of that performance here. However, the price is kept as low as possible, making it a great option. The only potential downside might be its weight, so if you think that might be a problem, do give it some thought before you pull the trigger.

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Buyers’ Guide

If you read this far, you know what some of the best night vision scope options today are. But, what if you can’t make up your mind? What if you don’t really know what features you really should look for, and what are some you could do without? We did discuss what types there are, so let’s take a look at the two generations mentioned here (Gen 1 and Gen 2), as well as what you should keep an eye out for when buying. You’re here to make an informed buying decision, so let’s help you do that.

The night vision scope generations

Currently, there are four generations of night vision technology. However, only Gen 1 and Gen 2 are being used for budget rifle scopes.

Gen 1 is the early technology, where the huge scopes used back in Vietnam were shrunken down and made to rely on passive infrared. The devices still need some kind of light to work, and aren’t really meant for serious applications, or high risk situations. This makes them great for hunting, and that’s why the vast majority of the devices on this list are Gen 1 devices. You don’t really need more than that, and if you want it, it’s going to cost a pretty penny.

However, with Gen 2 devices such as the Armasight Nemesis above, there’s a pretty large jump in terms of size, clarity and overall performance. This is where the really lightweight, small and portable devices began appearing, and people who can afford that do appreciate it. These devices are often used by noncombat troops, as well as by reservists.

You won’t find many Gen 3 or Gen 4 devices on the market, but they do exist in military applications. The Gen 3 tech is what most combat arms troops have, and it further improves Gen 2 scopes. There’s better clarity and resolution, and you also get increased sensitivity and less necessary light. With Gen 4, the protective coating on the microchannel plate was removed, and there’s a further 20% improvement in performance in clarity. However, this significantly decreases the tube’s life, and they aren’t used in many situations nowadays.

What should you pay attention to when buying?

If you were only looking for a monocular or binocular, you could just get a better generation and be done with it. However, you’re looking for a night vision rifle scope, which has a different goal. It’s made to hit a target, and the quality within the generation is affected by plenty of different factors. Generational advantages do exist, but one Gen 2 scope can perform much better, or worse, than another one.

The first important aspect is clarity. An optic’s resolution is actually critical for both hunting, and tactical operations. It’s simple – if you can’t positively identify what you’re aiming at, you shouldn’t be pulling the trigger. The resolution with a night vision scope is measured in lines per millimeter, and the higher this number is, the more clarity you get.

Next, we have range. When you have a night vision scope, it’s essential that you know it’s recognition range. Night vision is far from the point where rifle scopes are, and it can’t see over thousands of yards. When you’re talking about night vision scopes, you’re looking for recognition range, and not total range. A longer optic will often be better at producing more light, and that range is measured by the amount of ambient natural light. Many manufacturers choose to release a recognition range for an overcast range, only starlight, quarter moon and full moon. Night vision does require some light, and you’ll notice that as you go up the scale, the range will increase. If a scope’s full moon recognition range is, let’s say 800 yards, you may not get more than 150 if there’s an overcast sky.

Magnification and field of view are also important. Generally, you can get up to 10x with a night vision scope, even though some offer higher magnification levels. These higher magnification levels come with two caveats – they’re large, and they’re expensive. For the optimal experience, especially if you’re after a more affordable option, you should be looking at the 3 to 5x range. There are also scopes without any magnification, and they’re very affordable, but they won’t do you much good unless you use them for close range shooting. The field of view is how much you can see at a set distance. When discussing optics, this distance is usually 100 yards. For example, a 30 feet field of view means that you can see 30 feet wide at 100 yards. The field of view decreases as you increase the magnification, though. This is an important consideration, both for hunters and sportsman, if you want easy observation.

Ergonomics are another key factor. There are a few ways in which regular scopes are very similar to night vision ones. For example, a heavy night vision scope is still heavy. A larger magnification factor usually warrants higher weight, which isn’t an advantage. You often have sudden movements, need to aim easily, and hold your rifle comfortably, and heavy optics won’t help you with any of that.

Durability is always important, especially when you factor in the amount of money you’ll be investing. Hundreds, or thousands of dollars, is a pretty major investment for many. When you’re adding this much electronics, as well as tubes and other specialized devices for night vision, you’re only increasing the number of things that can fail during usage. You do need to know the limitations of the gear you’re using. Is it waterproof? Electronics play a major role with these optics, and if they aren’t waterproof, water can easily destroy them. What kind of recoil can the night vision scope handle? Electronics, especially small and sensitive ones, are actually damaged pretty easily. Do you have a 300 Win Mag? Not all scopes can handle that.

Last but not least, there are the Infrared illuminators. Your night vision scope should either have one, or have the ability to attach one. When you have some kind of natural light while hunting, you may not think you need one. However, having it lets you shine an infrared light, which will undoubtedly make what you see a bit brighter. The illuminators often have a limited range, and if you want a more powerful one, it will usually be larger as well.


Even though night vision optics originally appeared, and were used, for military applications, you can’t deny the advantages they give the everyday user. The ability to be able to see objects clearly even when it’s pitch black, at distances that are greater than a stone’s throw, is something that can be used in many scenarios.

It’s no secret that the latest generation tech is still used by the military only, and it’s very hard to find it in commercial products, but there’s Gen 1 and Gen 2 scopes that are amazing and give you more than you would ever need if you want to hunt in darkness.

In the list above you have options that range from ones for people who are very budget conscious, to ones for people that would gladly spend a bit more if that means they can get a lot of tech and the best night vision scope for their money. Regardless of which category you belong to, you’ll undoubtedly find one of the products suitable for your specific requirements. What you should know is that regardless of which of the options you go for, you won’t regret them as long as you’ve set your expectations and requirements realistically.

Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3 x 42 Night Vision Scope

With it’s high-powered IR illuminator you’ll never miss your target – no matter how dark. It’s rock-solid and lightweight, and the best night vision scope available.

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