A good night vision monocular is in invaluable tool for hunting or scouting after dark, but it is easy to overspend on one of these. Ideally, you want something that isn’t going to slow you down or get damaged at night while still being able to deliver the kind of performance you need. The NOXM50 by Night Owl fulfills all these criteria and then some, but the best part is that you don’t have to sell the farm in order to afford it. It is by no means the cheapest night vision monocular on the market, but have a look at what we thought about it to see why we think that it is definitely worth the price.
One look at the design of the NOX50 Night Vision Monocular is all you need to know that Night Owl meant business with this impressive bit of gear. The design is practical, professional and looks like something out of a Tom Clancy spy thriller. According to Night Owl, the NOXM50 is one of the most rugged monocular in their product range and after some hands-on time with it, I tend to agree. They have managed to keep the weight within reason though, which is great, otherwise you might as well have a rifle with a night vision scope.
The NOXM50 uses all-glass optics that offers high-quality and very clear performance compared to the impact resistant lenses that are usually made from plastic. Don’t think that the glass optics reduces the durability either, as long as you use this device with caution, it will last you a long time. Even after extensive tests, I found the NOXM50 to be very comfortable to hold and the weight was never an issue. The soft-touch rubberized finish gives the monocular a professional look and makes it very easy to grip even when wearing thick gloves. The lens housing is made from impact-resistant thermoplastic, which would probably survive a few drops provided the lens is not hit. The buttons are on the side of the device and are large enough to operate comfortable with one hand even in the dark. The hand strap also helps to ensure that you don’t accidently drop the device in the dark.
Design-wise my only gripe is the fact that the monocular uses CR123 lithium batteries. These batteries aren’t used in many devices and are rather expensive, so I would have liked to see Night Owl include a couple in the package just to make it a more lucrative deal. Make sure you buy the batteries with the device, because these are not the type that you will just have lying around at home.
The NOXM50 obviously doesn’t compare to some of the military grade stuff out there, but considering the price tag it is a very impressive piece of equipment. Visibility is great, even in near total darkness and if there are no ambient light available you can use the infrared light to dramatically increase visibility. Bear in mind that the infrared light is visible to the human eye, but for hunting purposes this shouldn’t be an issue. The 5X magnification allows you to get up close and personal with your targets and while the monocular does not feature autofocus, it is not hard to do so manually. I did notice a bit of fisheye distortion, but everything is crystal clear near the center, which is what counts. I found the range of the NOXM50 to be more than adequate and with the infrared light turned on, had no trouble seeing well beyond 100 yards. Even without infrared, you can expect to see in the range of 60 yards depending on the amount of ambient light from the stars or moon.
Pros & Cons
The NOXM50 has a lot to like and not many drawbacks, so it is not a purchase that you are likely to regret. One thing I noticed a few people complain about is that the unit continues to drain battery power for a few minutes, even when switched off. I looked into this and discovered that the charge is stored by internal capacitors, which take a while to drain, so there is no need to remove the battery after use as some people are suggesting. It’s worth noting that the eyepiece is not shielded so some light inevitably escapes, which can give away your position and could have been remedied with a rubber cup.
Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular Pros
- Features 5 X magnification
- 50 mm lens diameter
- 400 nm to 900 nm spectral sensitivity
- 1.7m / 5.7 feet minimum focal distance
- 45 to 100 hour battery life
- Built-in infrared illuminator
- Rubberize finish with soft-touch
- Molded thermoplastic lens housing that is impact resistant
- Compact and lightweight
- Great customer service
- Generation 1 image intensifier tube
- Hand strap and molded plastic focus ring
Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular Cons
- Uses a specialized CR123 battery which is not included in the package
- Does not have auto focus
- Eyepiece is not shielded
Considering the price, you really can’t go wrong with the Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular. A few years back a device like this would have had an astronomical price tag, so you are really getting value for your money. It offers great clarity using only ambient light and full night vision even when it is pitch dark thanks to the infrared light. I have no qualms recommending this monocular to anyone, but I do suggest that you read the manual after making the purchase so that you know exactly how to operate and handle the NOXM50. All in all the NOXM50 is one of my favorite night vision monoculars for hunters with a tight budget that are unwilling to compromise on quality.