Once considered state-of-the-art technology only necessary for military operations, today’s night vision optics are cheaper, better, and easier to use than ever before. As a result, the market is saturated with affordable options, making night vision optics accessible for practically any shooter, not just the insanely rich.
A popular option for hunters, a quality night vision scope collects and intensifies ambient light, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for pursuing hogs, raccoons, coyotes, and other nocturnal animals. Night vision has also gained popularity among recreational and tactical shooters.
Night vision optics come in many shapes and run the gamut of cost. The options can be mind-boggling, especially for those new to the technology. Here is a list of what we consider the best night vision scopes on the market today. Mount any of these on your rifle, and you’ll be set for hitting your mark after the sun goes down.
Pulsar Phantom Gen 3 4x60mm Night Vision Riflescope
Gen 3 is the real deal when it comes to night vision technology. It’s what the United States military uses to dominate battlefields around the world. Gen 3 technology provides the brightest images, the longest viewing range, and the best image resolution in night vision. However, you don’t need to enlist to get access to this technology. It’s available in this amazing riflescope from Pulsar.
This scope offers more than just exceptional night vision capabilities. It also offers an excellent field of view, a red-on-green or green-on-green mil-dot reticle, intuitive controls, and durable construction.
The Pulsar Phantom comes with a weaver rail for a digital camera adapter, a nylon protective case for easy transport, a remote control, and a special cleaning cloth. We understand the price tag on this night vision scope will be well beyond many budgets. However, you should expect to pay more for any Gen 3 optics. We consider them well worth every penny.
Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope
If you don’t have a ton of cash to invest in a night vision scope, Gen 1 is the way to go. This Gen 1 scope from Firefield is an affordable and practical option for those getting started with night shooting.
Designed specifically for modern sporting rifles like the AR-15, the NVRS is lightweight, dependable, and is set up for quick detachment. It also features a built-in high-powered infrared illuminator, multi-coated optics, and an illuminated duplex reticle with incremental brightness adjustment.
It has an ergonomic, easy-to-use design and a rugged titanium body. This thing was built to take some abuse without giving up. Its durability alone makes it especially well-suited for night-time hunting, so long as you expect the hogs to come within 75 yards.
Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital Night Vision Riflescope
Designed with hunters in mind, the NightShot Digital Night Vision Scope from Night Owl Optics provides a large clear field of view and 3x magnification, allowing you to identify targets beyond 150 yards. It is lightweight, easy to operate, and mounts on Weaver, Picatinny, and dovetail rail mounts.
You can choose from three different reticle designs. Each design can be configured in white or black, allowing you to choose the most suitable type for any shooting environment.
Made from sturdy thermoplastic, this scope is lightweight, durable, and built to withstand even the worst weather conditions.
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Riflescope
If you need a rifle scope for both daytime and nighttime shooting, the ATN X-Sight is the perfect option. There may be more features packed into this one scope than you’ll find on any other option on our list.
It comes with adjustable magnification (5-20x), a 4K video recorder with built-in HD screen, recoil activated recording, a ballistic calculator, barometer, rangefinder, and Wi-Fi streaming. Plus, it runs on a dual core processor, so this scope is virtually a computer you can mount on your rifle.
Sightmark Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope
A serious scope for serious shooters, the Sightmark Photon RT is another great night vision scope packed with tons of cool features. This scope is compact, lightweight, and easy to mount. It has a built-in LED IR illuminator, impressive digital resolution, six reticle options, and a one-shot zero function.
A great option for high-tech gear junkies, the Photon RT also features built-in video and sound recording. You can even live stream to Youtube or any smart device with the innovative Stream Vision App.
Armasight Vulcan 4.5×3 Alpha MG Gen 3 Night Vision Rifle Scope
Yes, this is a big ticket item. However, if you want the best night vision technology, you’re going to have to pay for it. First, it has Gen 3 vision technology. However, we love this riflescope for many other reasons.
It has an illuminated mil-dot reticle with an automatic brightness setting AND a manual brightness dial. This scope also features a wireless remote control, shockproof optics, a quick release mount, and a detachable IR illuminator. That’s a lot of bells and whistles on one scope. If you’re looking for professional grade, you just found it.
Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision
Few optics companies choose to tackle both traditional scopes and night vision. Because the technologies are so different, it is difficult to master both. Bushnell, a company highly regarded for its high-quality traditional scopes, also does a fine job with night vision.
Don’t expect and fancy bells and whistles from the Bushnell Equinox Z. This thing is purely functional. Designed to attach to your existing scope, the Equinox Z is not a standalone optic. However, it is a practical and affordable option for those who don’t have a ton of cash for a dedicated night vision scope.
Night vision is an important piece of technology for hunters and tactical shooters. With a quality night vision scope, you can see targets in the dark that you could never spot with the naked eye.
As with any piece of shooting equipment, spend some time familiarizing yourself with it before you hit the field. The best way to accomplish this is to spend some time sending lead downrange. This will let you get a feel for how your scope’s night vision technology works, become familiar with its limitations, and see how it works in conjunction with your weapon. Ultimately, proficiency with your rifle and night vision scope will be your most effective weapon. This is true no matter what type of shooting your prefer.