A Guide to Selecting the Best Night Vision Scope
Do you like camping outdoors, or perhaps hunting at night? If so, a night vision scope should be part of your list of must-haves. Night vision scopes make hunting at night as easy as hunting during the day. The basic necessity of a night vision scope is to be able to differentiate between what is permissible to shoot and what is not. Also, you may want to get rid of feral hogs, moles, coyotes, or other unwanted animal pests that visit your premises at night. Today, night vision scopes aren’t used only by the police and military, but by the general public as well.
We’ll see that there are two main categories of night vision scopes: those that can provide a clear and focused picture in conditions where there is very little ambient light, and those that can create a thermal image of the surroundings, even if the area is completely dark. After going through thousands of night vision scope reviews, we have put together a few pointers to make it easier for you to choose the perfect one for your needs.
How should you choose a night vision scope?
The most important factor to consider when choosing a night vision scope is the level of magnification that you need. Night vision scopes are available in a variety of magnification levels, so it is important to choose one that will be powerful enough to meet your needs. Other factors to consider include the size and weight of the scope, as well as the type of battery it uses.
Types of Night Vision Scopes
There are three main types of night vision scopes:
Light amplifying night vision scope: This type of scope requires some ambient light in the area. The scope amplifies the light in the field of view until it can convert it to a green-tinted image. An example is the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Hunting Scope.
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Hunting Scope
Thermal night vision scope: This type of scope detects heat energy, and yields an image that is in hues of yellow, orange, and red, depending on the amount of heat that an object emits. These are used together with an infrared illuminator, which is essentially an infrared flashlight that sends IR radiation to a distance of as much as 350 yards. Infrared light is not in the visible area of the spectrum, so it’s invisible to you and to the animal you’re hunting. Since the scope detects infrared radiation, it can detect an image in absolute darkness. An example is the ATN ThOR-HD 384 Thermal Rifle Scope.
ATN ThOR-HD 384 Thermal Rifle Scope
Hybrid night vision scopes: These use light-amplifying night vision, and allow you to switch on an infrared illuminator for infrared thermal night vision as well. An example of this is the Night Owl Optics NightShot Rifle Scope.
Night Owl Optics NightShot Rifle Scope
What reviewers say
We went over some customers’ impressions of the night vision scope that they bought:
Change the profile of the scope: There are scopes, such as the ATN X-Sight-4K Day/Night Hunting Scope, which can be adjusted according to the type of firearm you are using, whether it be a rifle or even an airgun.
Infrared illuminator uses up the battery: Customers notice that if they use night vision with the infrared illuminator as well, the battery life is very short. In such a situation, you’re advised to use a separate infrared illuminator, such as the Vastfire Infrared Flashlight, or to turn on your night vision scope’s illuminator only when necessary.
The Vastfire Zoomable Infrared Flashlight Illuminator
Here are some tips and features of night vision scopes, which may help you make a decision when shopping:
Check its weight and size: Most night vision scopes are larger than an average rifle scope. As a general rule of thumb, the wider the lens, the better the image produced. Also, the weight of a night vision scope depends on the material from which it is made. Some of the lightest scopes are made using titanium. A light scope makes it easier to balance the rifle.
Check the battery life: The battery life of a night vision scope determines the length of time it can be used. Some scopes are available with rechargeable batteries that make them more economical. Night vision scope batteries can be lithium-ion or alkaline.
Check the magnification: At night, you not only need your target to be lit, but you also need the image magnified. The magnification capability of your lens indicates how much the object will be magnified by your night vision scope.
Rail mount: There are two main types of rail mounts: the Picatinny rail, and the Weaver rail. The best night vision scopes, such as the Night Owl Optics NightShot Riflescope, will be able to attach to both types of rails.
Reticles: The reticle on a scope is the crosshairs that allow you to narrow in on your target. Some night vision scopes allow you to switch between different styles of reticles, according to what is best for your environmental conditions. Hunters usually prefer reticles with pronounced, thick cross-hairs, so that it’s clear where the center of the scope is.
Video-recording: There are scopes that are capable of recording your hunting session onto an internal SD memory card. The scope features recoil-activated video, to start recording when you fire! The ATN ThOR-HD Thermal Rifle Scope allows you to stream what your sight sees onto a tablet or cellphone. You can also use your phone as a viewfinder. And the Bestsight DIY Digital Night Vision Scope even allows you to view what your scope sees on a 5” display!
Bestsight DIY Digital Night Vision Scope
Range-finder included: Some night-vision scopes include a rangefinder so that you don’t need a separate rangefinder device. The rangefinder shoots a laser beam at your target and then measures the distance based on the reflection of the beam of light. You can then decide if the target is within range of your firearm.
Zoom: Some scopes have a “smooth zoom”, where you hold down a button on the scope and it zooms in on your target. That’s better than a “step zoom”, where each press of the button increases the magnification in increments. A smooth zoom is better because you can focus on your target while keeping it centered.
We went through some of the features of the best night vision scopes. Many have interesting zoom capabilities, as well as WiFi connectivity to a cellphone or tablet. There are also special functions like adjusting for wind and other weather conditions. Whether you hunt for sport, or to rid yourself of destructive pests, there is certainly a suitable night vision scope for your needs!