HUNTING

Best Night Vision Crossbow Scope: Claim the Night

choose-crossbow-for-you
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

There are two reasons you’d be looking for the best night vision crossbow scope – either you’re making the transition from daytime crossbow hunting to nighttime, or you’re making the transition from nighttime rifle hunting to crossbow. How far off are we here?

On a more serious note, the hunt for the perfect night vision scope for your scope (if you’ll pardon the pathetic attempt at a pun) is a thankless task, especially for the uninitiated. There are so many specs and features to weigh out that you lose the will to do it just thinking about it.

Luckily, there’s always someone else to do the legwork for you – in this case, we decided to save you some trouble and spent a decent amount of time gathering and crunching the data. We’ve shortlisted the top 6 night vision crossbow scopes you can buy at the moment.

Product NameMagnification/LensIR IlluminatorNight VisionPrice
Sightmark Photon XT4.6 x 42 mmBuilt-in, 810nm LEDDigitalCheck price on Amazon
Yukon NVRS Tactical2.5 x 50 mmBuilt-in, PulseGen 1Check price on Amazon
Armasight ORION4 x 90 mmDetachable, 810nmGen 1+Check price on Amazon
Yukon NVRS Titanium2.5 x 50 mmBuilt-in, PulseGen 1Check price on Amazon
ATN X-Sight Smart5 – 18xYesDigitalCheck price on Amazon
ATN X-Sight II Smart3 – 14xYesDigitalCheck price on Amazon

Things To Consider Before Buying

For those of you just getting interested in nighttime hunting and night vision devices, we prepared a short guide to help you choose your first night vision scope.

However, if you want to cut to the chase, feel free to skip this section and head straight for the best night vision crossbow scope reviews down below. Enjoy the read!

Generational Gap

The first thing you’ll want to decide on is whether to get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or something completely different (i. e. digital scope). This, more than any other feature, will dictate the budget.

hunting-crossbow

The distinction between the three generations of “traditional” night vision devices is pretty much intuitive – the bigger the number, the newer the tech, and the more you pay for it. On the flipside, the quality is better, so you know you’re not wasting the money.

In a nutshell, Gen 1 (and Gen 1+) is over half a century old (yup, it’s been that long), and you need a fairly ample ambient lighting to use them without an IR light. Still, they’re the cheapest option, and should suit most civilian applications.

The next one is Gen 2, about a decade younger than its predecessor, but you wouldn’t know by looking through it. The image is much less grainy with even less ambient lighting, but you do need to shell out more money than for Gen 1.

As you’d imagine, Gen 3 comes with the newest tech (trickled down from the army in the 1990s). It’s the most expensive, but also most reliable, and with much better image quality either of its predecessors has to offer.

Best rifle scope review

Finally, you can go for digital scopes – it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Without getting into the chemistry and physics behind it, we’ll just mention that the price range is close to Gen 1, though the image is somewhat better. The trade-off here is comparatively shorter battery life, which gets even shorter with an IR light attached.

Optics Quality

The second thing that’ll affect the budget and performance the most is the quality of the optics (this is particularly important for the traditional night vision). If you’re ever choosing between multi-coated lenses and something else, go for the former.

On a similar note, you’ll probably need some magnification – the benefits are clear even to laymen. Basically, the lowest magnification that enables you to see your target clearly is the best magnification.

magnification power with a 40mm objective lens

The thing is, you’ll have to make a trade-off for the field of view – the more magnification you have, the narrower field of view you get. There’s really no magical number here, but think in the 4x–10x for magnification.

One final note regarding the optics – you should definitely go for nitrogen-filled scopes, since this will prevent the lenses from fogging up. Luckily, most of the scopes on the market are fogproof.

Crunch the Numbers

The numbers here refer to the scope’s dimensions and weight – here, less truly is more. The less weight, the more you can carry it around, and the lesser size, the easier you can pack it for storage. On the flipside, your grandpa was right – if it’s light, it’s cheap, and of lesser quality.

Infrared

While what you might call traditional night vision devices are able to use the ambient light, enhancing it to allow you a better sight, their digital counterparts can’t functional without an additional light source, which is more often than not an LED infrared illuminator (IR).

infrared iluminators gun scope

In most cases, the IR will come already built into the scope, but some will have it as a detachable accessory, or won’t have it at all.

On average, the usable range for these throw-in IR lights is about 100–150 yards on paper, meaning an effective range of 50–75 yards in the field (depending on the light). However, given that the effective hunting distance for crossbows is 50 yards, that’s more than enough.

Mounting and Sighting

If your crossbow scope is compatible with the standard Weaver rail system, it’ll also be compatible with a Picattiny rail, though the opposite is not necessarily true. Always check with the manufacturer for this spec.

horton-legend-xl

As for sighting, you’ll definitely want something that allows you to adjust your windage and elevation without the use of tools. Digital scopes will invariably have digital adjustments, while the traditional ones often come with knobs and dials.

Best Products on Today’s Market

In case you don’t have the time to do the research yourself (or just don’t feel like it), we made a list of what we think are the best night vision scopes for crossbows at this moment.

Sightmark Photon XT

Sightmark Photon XT

Price: Approximately $500

Weight: 2.3 pounds

Dimensions: 18 x 4 x 4 inches

Specific features: 4.6x magnification, 42m lens, 6 reticle types, enhanced battery life, day and night use, 6 reticle options, built-in IR illuminator, shockproof, waterproof, resistant to bright light, integrated weaver mount, video output

Best use: Coyote hunting, hog hunting

We’re kicking off this list with the Sightmark Photon XT , a night vision scope with a well-known name brand behind it. The full deal includes not only the scope itself, but also a carrying case, user manual, video cable and lens cloth.

You’ll also be getting a couple of AA batteries needed to get you up and running, though keep in mind that keeping the IR illuminator on will shorten their life at least an hour. Without the light, you can expect about 2–3 hours with alkaline and up to 5 hours with lithium ones.

The Photon XT comes with a 4.6x magnification, which is nice for making out the details on your target, and there’s another variant with even more magnification (6.5). Speaking of making out details, the resolution has been significantly improved upon compared to older Photon models.

In addition to the two crossbow reticles (designed with 320, 350, 370 and 400 fps crossbows in mind), there are four other styles – a couple of Duplex ones for hunting hogs and varmint, a German-style one, as well as Mill-dot to help with holdovers and range finding.

PROS:

  • Great value package
  • Comes with an integrated Weaver rail for accessories
  • Long battery life
  • Reasonably priced

CONS:

  • The IR is not really up to game
  • Some users say it won’t hold zero

Related: The throw-in batteries are decent enough, but if you’d rather upgrade your power supply, you might want to try the Powerex PRO High Capacity Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries. As for the IR, you might want to check out the Evolva Future Technology T20 IR Flashlight if you’d like to have more range in pitch black conditions.

Check the price on Amazon

Yukon NVRS Tactical

Yukon Nvrs Tactical

Price: Approximately $600

Weight: 2.1 pounds

Dimensions: 13.8 x 4.7 x 4.6 inches

Specific features: 2.5x magnification, 50mm lens, uses AA batteries, Gen1 intensifier tubes, built-in IR Pulse illuminator, multi-coated optics, 15-degree field of view, ½-degree MOA windage and elevation adjustment, waterproof, shockproof

Best use: Big game hunting

If you’re content with having a Gen 1 night vision scope, with all that entails, then the Yukon NVRS Tactical  might just be the right thing for you.

In addition to the scope itself, you’ll also be getting a fairly soft carrying case, as well as a remote switch, flip-up lens covers – in a word, you’re getting a decent bang for the buck (no pun intended).

The flip-up covers are particularly handy for daytime use, though you should keep in mind that this isn’t meant to be used in bright conditions, or you run a very real risk of burning out the intensifier tubes. Dawn and dusk are OK, however.

Now, on paper, the range on the built-in IR illuminator is 100 yards, but it’s more like 75, which is quite enough given it’s a Gen 1 device. Supposing you’ll be mounting it on a crossbow, it’s more than enough to be effective.

Speaking of which, the illuminator features a pulsing diode, which allows it to minimize power consumption, so the batteries should last a bit longer than they would with a regular IR light.

PROS:

  • Good value for money
  • Easily adjustable windage and elevation
  • Flip-up lens covers come in handy during the day
  • Surprisingly clear image for a Gen 1 scope
  • Easy on the budget
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

CONS:

  • Not ideal for left-handed shooters
  • Could do well with a bit more magnification

Related: Seeing as the NVRS doesn’t come with a cleaning kit, you might want to invest into the Leupold Lens Pen; alternatively, if you’re thinking into upgrading your power supply, the Streamlight 85177 CR123A Lithium Batteries might be just the thing.

Check the price on Amazon

Armasight ORION

Armasight ORION 5X

Price: N/A

Weight: 3.2 pounds

Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 1.5 inches

Specific features: 4x magnification, 90mm lens, compact, water-resistant, detachable IR illuminator, low-battery indicator, up to 50 hours of battery life (CR123A Lithium 3V), Gen 1+ intensifier tubes, 2-year warranty (limited), ¾-degree MOA windage and elevation adjustment

Best use: Nighttime hunting

The Armasight ORION  is a great choice for all you butterfingered shooters out there. The optics come protected in a shock-proof body, which is also rubberized to allow secure grip in all conditions.

While we’re on the topic, it bears mentioning the Orion is water-resistant, so you should get away with some light rain, though submerging the scope is an entirely different matter. Bottom line – avoid any rivers with this on.

Of course, the scope will mount on a crossbow, as long as you’ve got the standard Weaver or Picattiny rail on it. On the flipside, it is a bit hefty, though (over 3 pounds), which can be somewhat tiring on longer expeditions, not to mention the trouble it can cause to your aim.

Speaking of which, the adjustable reticle brightness is certainly a major selling point for the Orion, as it’s easy to pick up even on the lowest setting. And coupled with the 4x magnification, it makes aiming a whole lot easier.

The IR illuminator is completely detachable, so you can choose to upgrade it at any time, though the range is adequate (up to 50 yards of effective range, around 100 yards of visibility).

PROS:

  • No-slip rubberized casing
  • Can withstand falling
  • Clear reticle with variable brightness
  • Up to 40 hours of battery life (scope only)
  • A detachable IR light included
  • Will mount to anything with a Weaver rail
  • Comes with a soft carry case that doubles as a scope cover
  • 2-year limited warranty

CONS:

  • A bit on the heavy side

Related: If you need some extra juice, check out the Streamlight 85177 CR123A Lithium Batteries; alternatively, if you’d like to get a better IR flashlight right out of the gates, you might want to pick up the Evolva Future Technology T20 IR Flashlight.

Check the price on Amazon

Yukon NVRS Titanium

Yukon NVRS Titanium

Price: Approximately $300

Weight: 1.9 pounds

Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 3.3 inches

Specific features: 2.5x magnification, 50mm lens, illuminated reticle, Gen 1 intensifier tubes, up to 50 hours of battery life (AA), 15-degree field of view, ½-degree MOA windage and elevation adjustment, lifetime warranty (limited), lightweight

Best use: Nighttime pest control

Out of all the night vision scopes on our list, the Yukon NVRS Titanium is the lightest. Granted, it’s not by a considerable margin, but every ounce missing helps when it comes to crossbow optics.

The Varmint Hunter pretty much delivers on the name – the 50mm lens and built-in Pulse IR light combine to give you up to 150 yards of range. It would be nice to have a better magnification to go along with it, but nothing’s perfect.

You could conceivably use it during daytime, provided you keep the lens covers down, but you’d be running a very real risk of damaging the intensifier tubes. So, think of this as a strictly nighttime scope.

Another great thing about the Varmint Hunter is that it comes with a remote on/off switch for both the scope and the IR light, as well as a flip-up cover for the objective lens.

PROS:

  • Fairly lightweight
  • Surprisingly crisp image
  • The titanium body can survive quite some beating
  • The eye cup detaches or spins 180 to accommodate left-handed shooters
  • Pulse IR illuminator helps save the battery
  • Up to 50 hours of battery life (without the IR)
  • Quite easy on the pocket book
  • Lifetime limited warranty

CONS:

  • The IR light is faintly visible

Related: If you need help sighting your crossbow in, the Solomone Cavalli 223 Bore Sight Laser Red Dot could be an interesting and useful item to pick up; on the other hand, you’ll need a couple of AA batteries, and the Powerex PRO High Capacity Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries are a nice choice.

Check the price on Amazon

ATN X-Sight Smart Riflescope

ATN X-Sight 5-18

Price: Approximately $600

Weight: 2.7 pounds

Dimensions: 10.3 x 3.5 x 3.2 inches

Specific features: Digital night vision optics, day and night use, video output, built-in WiFi, GPS, Geotag, E-Compass, water resistant, requires AA batteries, built-in IR illuminator, iOS and Android compatible

Best use: Hog hunting, coyote hunting

The ATN X-Sight Smart Riflescope is a great choice for anyone looking for a night vision scope that can function in daylight, as well. Seeing it’s a digital scope, there are no intensifier tubes to burn out in the sunlight.

In addition to being a smidgen more versatile than your usual Gen 1 night vision scopes, the X-Sight 5-18 has a host of what might’ve been considered bells and whistles some decades back, but today are pretty much the staple.

The scope allows you to connect to a computer or smartphone via WiFi and use various apps such as Geotag or E-Compass. The whole thing is run by their Obsidian Core CPU, and runs off AA batteries (2 for the scope and as many for the IR light, all four included with the purchase).

You can also use the scope to take surprisingly crispy images and videos (1080p at 30fps, 720p on 60fps) and save them for posterity.

The IR this puppy comes with is decent, albeit somewhat underpowered when you go past the 100-yard mark. Though, if you’re getting this one for your crossbow, this should be more than enough.

PROS:

  • Can do HD video
  • Impressive digital zoom
  • Can be used in daylight
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
  • Geotagging is a fun feature

CONS:

  • A bit heavy
  • Could have a wider field of view

Related: Keeping your gear clean and in good order is always important, and the Nikon Cleaning Combo Kit helps you do just that. On the other hand, if you’d rather upgrade your power supply, the Powerex PRO High Capacity Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries are a nice choice that comes in either a 4-pack or an 8-pack.

Check the price on Amazon

ATN X-Sight II Smart Riflescope

ATN X-Sight II 5-20 Smart Riflescope

Price: Approximately $600

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 6 inches

Specific features: Digital optics, 3–14x magnification, day and night use, HD video output, built-in rangefinder, RAV tech (Recoil Activated Video), built-in IR illuminator, requires AA batteries, iOS and Android compatible,

Best use: Nighttime hunting, pest control

The ATN X-Sight II  Smart Riflescope is a somewhat younger cousin to the ATN X-Sight 5-18, with pretty much the same price tag, less in the way of magnification (as indicated by the 3-14 in its name) and a whole lot more in the way of firmware.

The X-Sight II 3-14 can connect to computers and smartphones using WiFi, allowing you to update firmware, use GPS for finding elevation, geotagging, or even using your smartphone as a viewfinder.

On that note, the scope features ATN’s RAV tech (Recoil Activated Video), which pretty much allows you to forget about pressing record whenever you’re about to take a shot. It’s designed with rifles in mind, but should work on crossbows as well.

Another great thing about the ATN X-Sight II 3-14 is its IR light, which performs surprisingly admirably for what is basically a throw-in item – you can get up to 100–150 of usable range, depending on the ambient light.

PROS:

  • Excellent image quality
  • The 3–14x zoom comes in handy
  • HD photography and video recording
  • Connects to computers and smartphones via WiFi
  • iOS and Android compatible
  • Comes with

CONS:

  • Sucks up juice in an hour
  • Memory card not included
  • Somewhat hefty

Related: Seeing how power hungry the X-Sight II 3-14 is, you’ll probably do well to get an external power pack, such as the 16750 RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack. Or, alternatively, you could go for a pack of rechargeable batteries – the Powerex PRO High Capacity Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries could be a nice choice.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

So, to sum up, if you’re looking for the best night vision scope for your crossbow, you’ll notice that most of them are designed with rifles in mind, and crossbows come as almost an afterthought.

On the flipside, this will also mean that any of the items on our list will handle the recoil from your crossbow, no questions asked. As for mounting, all you need for any of the items on the list is Weaver or Picattiny rail system, and you’re good to go.

Crossbow hunting in the wild

Now, one final point – we discussed the traditional Gen 1 scopes and as many digital types, so the uninitiated among you may have questions. Mostly Which one to go for? Well, if the choice was between Gen 1 and Gen 2, or digital and Gen 2, the answer would unequivocally be the latter, even considering the price.

As is, the choice pretty much boils down to your personal preferences, and whether you want something that eats through batteries, but has crispier image (digital), or something more reliable, i. e. less prone to breaking, but with lots of grain (Gen 1). Dealer’s choice!

Did you like the article? Do you think we missed something? If so, feel free to leave a comment down below, and we’ll be happy to discuss it. Happy hunting!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Harrison
Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.

0
0
Total
0
Shares