Okay, so you are a passionate hunter and you love tracking down your game. But, don’t you just hate when you’ve been tracking a deer or maybe a wolf the whole day, and you start losing daylight and have to end the chase? Has, in those moments, the thought “I wish I had the best digital Night Vision Scope right now so that I can keep tracking that wolf!” occurred to you?
Having a night vision scope is a huge advantage for your hunting trips, whether you’re a seasoned user or just getting started in night vision optics. And, you were probably faced with a choice at one time or another – digital or traditional?
Well, if you want versatility, the former is the way to go, as you can use it just as easily during the day, and we are going to help you choose the perfect model for you.
In this article, we made a list of what we believe are the 7 best night vision devices, making sure that there’s enough variety in the way of application, as well as budget. First we will start out with some of the features to consider before you buy, and then get to the reviews of the best digital night vision scopes out there!
|Product Name||Weight||Resolution||Infrared||Power Source||Price|
|ATN X-Sight II||32 oz||1080p||Yes||4 AA||Check price on Amazon|
|Sightmark Photon||25.4 oz||640 x 480p||Built in laser||2 AA||Check price on Amazon|
|Armasight Drone Pro||35.84 oz||752 x 582p||Yes||2 Lithium||Check price on Amazon|
|Xgen Xgenpro Viewer||14.1 oz||640 x 480p||Yes||3 AA||Check price on Amazon|
|Carson MiniAura Monocular||3.4 oz||640 x 480p||Yes||4 AA||Check price on Amazon|
|Astromania Portable Monocular||8 oz||640 x 480p||Yes||4 AA||Check price on Amazon|
|Sightmark Photon XT||36.8 oz||640 x 480p||Yes||2 AA||Check price on Amazon|
Features to Consider Before Buying
Finding the perfect digital night vision optics can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re a novice to the world of hunting and shooting.Even seasoned shooters can have some issues getting into night vision.
That’s why we made a short list of the key things to look out for when buying one of these puppies. Of course, if you feel confident about navigating through the morass of technical jargon and sales-y fluff, feel free to skip to the reviews and see if there’s anything you like.
Seeing we’re discussing digital night vision devices here, we should keep in mind that all the scopes and goggles on our list, much like any other digital device, require some sort of power source. Obviously, since you have to be mobile, we’re talking about batteries and power banks.
More often than not, these devices will use lithium, rather than alkaline batteries, seeing as they last considerably longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often. Granted, they are a bit more expensive, but you can barely feel the difference, especially considering the price of a night vision scope itself.
Speaking of trends, digital night vision devices will more likely than not require AA batteries (two and up, almost never a single battery), though AAA are a close second. The difference is, as you’re probably aware, in size (the latter are smaller), and with it, the capacity – the smaller the battery, the shorter it lasts, obviously.
Now, some higher end scopes and/or goggles will have the option of taking an optional external power supply, such as power banks or portable chargers. Sure enough, it can get a bit unwieldy, especially in the boonies, but it’s a decent trade-off for not having to replace the batteries every couple of hours.
Display Type and Resolution
When discussing night vision, we must make a clear distinction between the “traditional” and digital devices (and thermal cameras, but that’s another topic entirely). Whereas the former, usually have screens (no need to go into details as to why), the latter delivers purely black and white image.
As for the display types, you’ll typically come across LCD in older and lower-end models, LEDs in mid to high-end ones, and OLEDs in the newest and most advanced devices.
The usual resolution is about 640x480p, though some newer device broke through the true HD res with 1080p.Of course, if you really want to spend as little as possible, you’ll have to expect some sacrifices, and this is where the manufacturers start cutting corners.
Infrared (IR) Illumination
As most of you are surely aware, infrared illuminators are indispensable tools when it comes to night vision. Sure enough, most devices are predicated to use ambient light to enhance your vision, but on a pitch black night, IR can mean the difference between life and death.
Luckily, most devices come with a spotlight already built in, and some of them will even have integrated rails to let you mount an external IR light if you decide you need something more powerful than the stock one (and you will, more often than not).
The trouble with IR lights is that lower wavelengths, although technically invisible to the human eye, tend to “bleed” color, making them visible to your targets. Still, as long as you don’t point the light directly at it, you should be safe.
Another trouble with these puppies is deciding between power (milliwatts) and wavelength (nanometers). As a rule of thumb, if you want range (e. g. for hunting), go with a higher mw and lower nm ratings, and if you want more stealth (e. g. for surveillance), you need a lower mw and higher nm ratings.
Field of View and Magnification
These two features tend to walk hand in hand, so we’ll explain them under one heading. As you’re probably aware, the more magnification you have, the smaller field of view you’ll have to work with.
Sure, it’s useful at times to have magnification, as it helps you make out more details on your target, but it also limits your ability to see the larger picture, as it were. It’s a trade-off you’ll have to decide on –if you’ll be doing most of your shooting or observing close to mid-range, forget about magnification.
On the other hand, if you mean to chase down coyotes, you’ll most likely have to take long range shots, so the magnification is crucial if you want to make a clean kill. It’s up to you.
Weight and Dimensions
These two are pretty self-explanatory – assuming you’ll be doing most of your nocturnal observation and/or aiming outdoors, mobility is a key factor. That’s why compact design and lightweight are important.
Still, the old adage of “if it’s heavy, then it’s expensive” does somewhat apply to night vision devices, so you have to make the sacrifice if you want the quality. Then again, you’d be hard pressed to find anything heavier than 3 pounds, with the batteries in.
Best Products on Today’s Market
To make your task easier, we did the majority of the legwork (sometimes quite literally) and did a research on the best digital night vision scopes and goggles. Check out the list down below to see what we came up with.
Price: Approx. $650
Weight: 32 oz
Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 6 in
Specific features: GPS, Wi-Fi streaming, 1080p high-res, zoom, Smartphone control, 5–20x magnification, 2-year warranty, night vision, built-in rangefinder, 7 reticle types, regular firmware updates
Best use: Night hunting
Description: We’re kicking off this list with the ATN X-Sight II Riflescope, which could be a great choice if you’re looking for something to get you into night hunting without breaking the bank.
What you get is a versatile scope that performs equally well during the day and at night. Granted, you’ll have to manually adjust the light levels by screwing a little aluminum adapter (it’s a bit stiff), and completely remove it for night vision, but overall, the mechanism functions smoothly.
However, probably the chief selling point of the X-Sight II is the Obsidian II Core chip, which underlies the built-in rangefinder and pretty much acts as a tiny supercomputer.
On a similar note, the X-Sight features a profile manager, which is a great feature that allows you to use the scope on multiple rifles without having to zero the sight every time you make the switch.
The whole thing is powered by plain ole AA batteries (takes four of them), and there’s even a microUSB port on the side if you prefer using an external battery pack
Another great feature is the ability to shoot (no pun intended) surprisingly crispy pictures and videos. The sight accepts any SD card from 4GB up to 64GB, and we certainly recommend going for broke in this regard.
On that note, if you’d like to record all your perfect shots for posterity, you can do that thanks to the recoil-activated ATN RAV feature, which will automatically start recording right before and after you’ve pulled the trigger.
- Day and night vision
- Excellent image quality
- 7 digital reticles
- Doesn’t come with batteries
- The IR illuminator could be a bit better
Related: If you require more juice for your nighttime escapades, ATN does offer a proprietary Extended Life 16000mAh Battery Pack. It has up to 22 hours of continual use, is water resistant at the seal, and comes with a charging cord.
Price: Approx. $650
Weight: 25.4 oz
Dimensions: 16.9 x 2.9 x 3.1 in
Specific features: Composite build (glass, nylon, metal), Weaver mount, 6 digital reticle types, built-in laser IR illuminator, 6.5x magnification, enhanced battery life, lightweight
Best use: Hog hunting, coyote hunting
Description: The Sightmark Photon Riflescope is one of the two priciest items on our list, but it’s pretty much worth it. The scope has night vision, obviously, but it works just as well during the daytime with the lens cover shut.
The scope is available in two distinct flavors, the 6.5x50L and the 6.5x50S, the difference being in the built-in IR illuminator – the former is laser, while the latter is LED. Both are, however, 810 nm, and both have a decent nighttime range – about 250 and 150 yards, respectively.
Still, if you’d like to enhance it, you could always get an external illuminator and mount it on the sight’s integrated utility rail (Weaver). Watch out for the batteries, though – despite having an “enhanced” life, the IR tends to eat through them.
Another useful feature is the adjustable magnification which goes up to 6.5, which, coupled with the 5mm lens, gives you a nice view up to 200 yards. Moreover, you can shoot whatever you see (pun intended) and save it for posterity using the video output feature.
- Great price-to-quality ratio
- Built-in IR light
- 6 reticle options
- Batteries not included (get rechargeable ones)
- Battery life not as long as advertised
Related: Considering how the sight doesn’t come with mount rings of its own, you might want to check out the UTG 30mm/2PCs Hi Pro LE Grade Picatinny QD Rings. Affordable, you get 22 mm wide rings that are made of aluminum alloy.
Price: Approx. $1,700
Weight: 35.84 oz
Dimensions: 10.2 x 3.4 x 3 in
Specific features: OLED display, CCD camera, 10x magnification, external power supply (optional), video recorder (optional), adjustable objective lens and eyepiece, real-time streaming, remote control
Best use: Hog hunting, varmint hunting
Description: Armasight is pretty much a household name when it comes to night vision, and their Armasight Drone Pro Rifle Scope does a great job of showcasing why. What you get with this puppy is pretty close to TV picture screen quality in black and white, the same picture in the daytime as you do in the nighttime.
With ambient light on shots under a couple of hundred yards, the Drone Pro should zero in on a hog or coyote up to 200 yards, no questions asked.
The scope has eight different brightness levels, as well as seven reticle types (all black or white, so it’s more contrasting). The scope is a 5-power optical device, but a 10-power once you mount the doubler.
The Drone is very much user-friendly despite being quite a high-end piece of gear, and all of the adjustments are simple. Seeing as it’s a digital scope, everything is done with a push of a button.
Another useful feature is the quick-release mount, which is quite robust and secure when locked, complementing the solidly built optical unit.
Everything is powered by a pair of AA batteries, which should last about 3 hours on paper, but the IR illuminator tends to eat through them in short order. On the flip side, with just the IR and no ambient light, you’re good to go up to 100 yards or more.
You’ll also be getting a remote that you can mount to your wrist or wherever you prefer, so you don’t have to keep the sights on all the time.
- Quality piece of gear
- Comes with a detachable IR illuminator
- Can record videos (optional)
- Max 10x zoom
Related: If you want to keep you investment shipshape, you might want to splash out a bit more and get the Leupold Lens Pen with retractable brush (for cleaning). This has a 2 step lens cleaning and has a natural hairbrush that retracts.
Price: Approx. $125
Weight: 14.1 oz
Dimensions: 2.2 x 6 x 3.8 in
Specific features: Lightweight, 3x magnification, dual focus, IR spotlight (3 levels of illumination), manually adjustable lens, frame rate control
Best use: Nocturnal pest control
Description: If you’re looking for a budget night vision device, then the Xgen Xgenpro Viewer might just be the thing for you. The whole thing gets its juice from 3 AA batteries (4 in older models), which are not included.
What is included is the built-in IR illuminator with three levels of illumination (works best at the lowest), as well as the LCD monitor inside the eyepiece. Mind you, it’s quite bright, so it can ruin your night vision.
The 37 mm lens pulls in a decent amount of light, and coupled with the fixed 3x zoom, it gives you a nice view up to a hundred yards or so. Past that mark, you won’t be able to see much of anything.
There are two major gripes most users have with this puppy – narrow field of vision and too bright a screen. The latter is a serious problem, as it ruins your own night vision, similar to what a torch does. A nice solution is removing the rubber eyepiece and inserting a red filter before mounting it back again. Works like a charm.
- Surprisingly good bang for the buck
- Good entry level night vision
- Frame rate control
- The bright screen can ruin your night vision
- The IR illuminator is somewhat visible at night
- Fairly narrow field of view
Related: As for the juice, the Energizer L91BP-8 Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries should do just fine. These are strong, long lasting batteries that won’t fail you when you need them most.
Price: Approx. $100
Weight: 3.4 oz
Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.2 x 2.2 in
Specific features: Compact, black and white images, adjustable IR illumination, 19-degree view angle, 82 feet of range, 1-year warranty,
Best use: Nightlife viewing, hunting at dusk
Description: When it comes to budget-happy choices for night vision, the Carson MiniAura Monocular probably one of the best ways to go. It goes without saying it is not a military grade piece of equipment, but you do get a great entry level night vision monocular.
Its main selling point, besides being completely digital (meaning no burnt out intensifier tubes) is compact and fairly rugged design. Being about as big as a wallet, this is something you won’t want to leave home without.
The optimum performance is at about 50, potentially 75, depending on the light conditions. Speaking of distances, the MiniAura features a built-in IR illuminator (pretty much the standard on the market nowadays) that lights up to 82 feet.
There are 3 illumination levels, 100%, 60% and 30%. The only downside is that the wavelength makes the illuminator visible at night (some red light bleeds out). Other than that, there’s not much to fault here.
- Lightweight and compact, fits snugly in your shirt pocket
- Easy to use
- Batteries not included
- Somewhat narrow field of view
- The IR can be seen at night
Related: You might want to get an external illuminator such as the Evolva Future Technology T20 IR. Affordable, the infrared light is invisible to your eye and has a 38 mm lens.
Price: Approx. $130
Weight: 8 oz
Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.4 x 4.6 in
Specific features: Lightweight, compact, 3x magnification, multi-coated glass objective, color LCD screen, IR illuminator (7 levels), over 300 feet range, high sensitivity sensor, video and image function
Best use: Surveillance, nightlife watching, spelunking
Description: The Astromania Portable Monocular is a good choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly night vision monocular. The full deal includes not only the monocular itself, but also a carrying case, neck harness, 1 GB microSD card (the scope maxes out at 32 GB), as well as mini USB and 3.5 mm AV cables (the output is on the side, next to the mixroSD slot).
Now, keep in mind that this is the same product as the Solomark and the Barska NVX100 night vision monoculars, as well as the UZI, only a smidgen cheaper.
Some might be tricked by its looks into thinking it’s a binocular, but it really is a monocular. Besides that, another defining feature of its casing is the non-slip rubber coating, which goes a long way to giving you a secure grip.
The monocular has a built-in IR illuminator with 7 illumination settings (though the higher levels seem a tad too bright). The light is visible, but barely and only if you look straight at it, so if you’re sneaking up to something, be sure to not point it directly at the target.
- Great value package
- Lightweight and compact, with non-slip rubber coating
- Decent magnification (3x)
- The viewfinder could be a bit bigger
- Video feature isn’t the best
- Device can shut down on its own
Related: If you’d like to upgrade your memory right out of the gate, the SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-I Card should do just fine. Affordable, this item has a lot of space so that you can store photos and videos.
Price: Approx. $500
Weight: 36.8 oz
Dimensions: 17.6 x 4 x 3.8 in
Specific features: Enhanced battery life, built-in IR illuminator, 4.6x magnification, integrated Weaver rail, 6 types of reticles,high res display, long eye relief, shockproof, weatherproof, digital windage and elevation adjustment, capable of video output
Best use: Night-time hunting
Description: If you’re at least half-serious about weapons, then you’ve probably used Sightmarkoptics at one point or another – if you haven’t, the Sightmark Photon XT Riflescope is just as good a place to start as any.
The scope isn’t exactly cheap, affordable is more like it, but it does warrant that with the build quality. The casing is fully waterproof and shockproof, so you can walk the woods not worrying about damaging it. Also, the scope handles the recoil from a .308 like it’s nothing.
Seeing it’s a digital night vision device, the Photon XT 4.6x42S can just as easily be used in daylight, just make sure to keep the lens cover down. On that note, the windage and elevation adjustments are also digital, which makes it easy to use even for novices.
The “S” in 4.6x42S tells us that the IR here is LED rather than laser, which does have a somewhat shorter range (about 150 yards, whereas the laser lights up to 250). Speaking of distances, the max usable view is about 120 yards, and you can magnify it up to 4.6x.
- Great quality build
- Can withstand quite some punishment
- High res display
- The IR illuminator is not as powerful as it should be for the price
- Some users say it has trouble holding zer
Related: For enhanced night vision, you can try some glasses. The Bluepond Rally Polarized Sunglasses have a metal frame, are anti-glare and includes 5 accessories in the kit.
We have reached the end of our article. All in all, whether you’re planning on doing some nighttime hunting, surveillance, or just going to the woods to do what bears do (hey, we’re not judging), you can’t go wrong with getting a digital night vision device.
Better yet, digital devices have a clear distinction over their standard counterparts in that you can just as easily use them in daylight without fearing you’ll burn out the intensifier tubes.
As always, we tried to include a little bit of something for everyone and their pocket, so we included several budget choices, as well as a couple of higher-end ones. On top of that, we made sure not to limit the list to just scopes, so you have a couple of monoculars, if all you want to do is observe the night.
We’d like to thank you for taking the time to read through our reviews of finest digital night vision scopes and monoculars. If you think we missed out on something, please, let us know in the comments.