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The Night Owl Optics NightShot is an inexpensive night vision scope that primarily targets the demographic of hunters on a budget, who are looking for a night vision scope that will be reliable without breaking the bank in the process. When it comes to night vision scopes the generation of night vision used is one of the first things to look at, for more in-depth information on this topic check out our article on night vision generation differences. The short of it, however, is that most of the consumer night vision scopes available through your typical retailers are gen1, or in more high-end scopes gen2 may be found.
The Night Owl Optics NightShot night vision scope stands out on paper as a budget device that is still capable of performing in the field. The design of this night vision rifle scope definitely has its own unique flair to it, without being too over the top. The black color scheme design is accented with red buttons on the upperparts and a distinct eagle embossed on the side.
Let’s talk specs
With any night vision scope, you have a few crucial aspects to look at. The magnification and the optic quality/clarity are both at the top of the list. Secondary, we have range and illumination. The range should suit your requirements, if you’re typically hunting targets at the range you’ll naturally want a better-ranged scope, there are of course drawbacks in versatility when it comes to magnification levels so you should research what best works for your environment.
The Night Owl Optics NightShot comes in with a 3x magnification, making it easy to use in terms of versatility, but may lack the magnification required for more distant targets. If you’re hunting animals at closer distances this shouldn’t be a problem for you. The display has a resolution of 640×480. This is more or less the standard with today’s budget night vision scopes, so while it doesn’t particularly impress, you will be hard-pressed to find a night vision scope that ticks all the boxes at this price point. The displayed image is sharp for its resolution and colors are vivid, so you can easily distinguish details.
The range is 100 yards in a typical nighttime environment, which is again, the standard for these scopes. The built-in infrared illuminator isn’t the best or the worst we’ve seen and fits in line with what we’d expect from this product range. Should you be unhappy with the IR illuminator, you can always add a higher quality one separately.
Build and performance
Also of importance, is the build quality of the night vision scope. When you’re out in the field, it’s easy to accidentally drop your gear or knock it against a tree trunk or rock – ensuring that your night vision scope is rugged enough to handle your use is essential.
Since the specs are pretty much on par with its competition, yet the price is low, we couldn’t blame you for thinking that Night Owl Optics may have been cutting corners with the build quality. However, you would be wrong. It impressed us with its weatherproof build and solid construction. You won’t have to worry about hitting it against something, or the weather damaging it in any way. You have compatibility with both Weaver and Picatinny rails.
As far as performance goes, it is a surprisingly high-quality product. The 100 yards range is true to what you’ll experience, and if you have more ambient light available, you may use it up to 200 yards. The 5.6-degree field of view may be limiting for some, so this is something to consider. However, it does the job fairly well. The focusing distance is from 10 feet to infinity, which is great.
You also get a nice little bonus in the adjustable elevation and windage, something that not many manufacturers include. There are also three different reticle types, and all are available in black and white. You can customize them according to your taste, or according to the situation at hand. The effective spectral range is 400nm to 900nm, and the IR illuminator has a strength of 850nm and 1W. The display’s frame rate is 30 fps, which is sufficient.
Are there any downsides to it?
The short answer is yes. It’s worth mentioning that the drawbacks are primarily related to your intent with the product, not everyone’s needs are as high as others. First of all, we have the recommended usage. The night vision riflescope is meant to be used with non-magnums, up to 30 caliber. If you’re using a larger rifle for hunting, the Night Owl Optics NightShot may be worth giving a skip and rather investing in a more expensive scope.
The other issue is the power/battery life. The scope requires four AA batteries for operation, and even though you can recharge them, you can’t plug in a power bank, a feature that proves useful in many situations. You’ll need to carry a spare set or two, which is certainly a drawback. The battery life is around 5 hours if you keep the IR illuminator on low. If you do crank it up to high, though, you’ll get around 2 hours, which is limiting by anyone’s book. It’s not that much of a problem to put a set or two in your backpack, but it would be much better if the battery life was upwards of 5 hours, even with the IR on high.
Wrapping things up
The Night Owl Optics NightShot is a budget night vision scope, so one should take this into account when looking at how it performs and what it delivers in terms of features and functionality. However, you may already know how difficult it can be to find a high-quality night vision scope in general, never mind with a budget in mind. This scope definitely impresses us overall with what it’s able to deliver a consumer-friendly budget scope.
|Dimensions: 14.75 x 5.25 x 3 inches||Magnification: 3x|
|Mounting Type: Weaver & Picatinny||Range: 100-200 yds|
|Resolution: 640×480||Caliber Support: Up to 30|
|Focal Length: 52 mm (2.05 in)||Field of View: 5.6 Deg|
|Reticle: 3 Options||Batteries: 4 x AA or lithium|
|Battery Life: 4 to 7 Hours||Waterproof: Yes|
|Aperture: 40mm (1.57 in) F: 1.3||Focus Distance: 3M to infinity|