Best AR-15 Night Vision Scopes – 2019 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Up until World War II, hunting was but a daytime activity. As darkness invaded the sky, it became more and more tedious to catch the prey. The 1930s saw the birth of night vision devices; the Germans had developed these for use in their military and infantry during the war. However, today, night vision scopes have come a long way. 

Whether you’re looking to go hunting those pesky skunks that roam around the neighborhoods at night, or you just want to mount one on your AR-15 for defense purposes, we’ve curated the perfect guide for your hassle-free night vision scope selection procedure. 

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-15 Night Vision Scopes

Product

Rating

Price

ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope

Best Overall

Sightmark Photon XT

Runner-up

Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1

Best for the Money

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart

Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Can You Really Find a Quality Night Vision Scope That’s Affordable?

Night vision is a modern technology that allows one to view at night – it certainly requires some investment. However, there is a wide range of many unique models in the market priced at a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. However, do not be mistaken that a cheap scope would fall short on its functions.

As you read ahead, you’ll realize that it all narrows down to your priorities when it comes to different features and how much you’re willing to spend. In short, you can definitely find a good quality night vision scope that does the job even if you’re on a tight budget!

What Should I Look For When Buying a Night Vision Scope?

If you don’t want to be ripped off of your money and want to make a smart purchase, it’s wise to do your due diligence and know what kind of features to keep in mind when procuring your night vision scope.

Durability

Consider how robust your ideal scope would be. Think about whether you want a dust-proof or waterproof one, depending upon where you want to use it. Read up on the material being used, and warranty claims too. 

Maximum Range and Magnification

This depends on your intent of use. For casual hunting use, a 10x scope that lets you view between 50-400 yards is ideal. Anything with greater magnification will not only cost much more but will also be heavier.

ATN X-Sight II HD Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope

Clarity

Regardless of the high range of the scope, you will only be able to see color splotches through the lens if it offers poor clarity. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that your scope offers an image crisp and clear enough for identification. However, the sharper you can view your target, the higher the cost of the scope. 

Budget

We cannot ignore the fact that a night vision scope is a little heavy on the pocket. Therefore, it is important to analyze what your intent of use is for the product and what factors mean more to you, so you’re willing to invest in them. It's wise to do some research on how the technology works and perhaps even get some hands-on experience prior to making your purchase. 

Quick Take | Best AR-15 Night Vision Scopes

Before diving into our review of the best AR-15 night vision scopes, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best AR-15 Night Vision Scopes

Now that you’re familiar with a few features you need to keep in mind, you must be ready to make your purchase. However, the huge variety of scopes manufactured by dozens of different brands can be intimidating. So which is the one product that was designed for your use?

Let’s have a look at some of the best ones

Pros

  • Friendlier price than its competitors
  • Can shoot high definition videos of 1080p
  • Can be used during the day as well as night
  • Offers a versatile range with a maximum of 20x magnification
  • Has an in-built ballistic calculator, which will assist you in hitting your target on the first go

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Battery drains in a short period of time
  • Resolution drops if the footage is played on a 4K television

What Recent Buyers Report

This scope is an all-rounder. Buyers love its crisp image quality and zoom features. The built-in infrared illuminator works just fine; an additional one can be used as per the user’s liking. Overall, most users highly recommend this scope.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We consider the ATN X-Sight II as our best choice as it is the one scope that's packed with all kinds of features. These include Wi-Fi, GPS, ballistic calculator, electronic compass, rangefinder, infrared illuminator, and an app to control changes in the reticle, zoom, etc. In addition, this also offers better resolution than most other units on the market and allows you to view your target in great detail with a maximum of 20x power magnification feature. 

Who Will Use This Most

The ATN X-Sight II mainly targets professional shooters and hunters. Since it is loaded with features, it might not be the best option for beginners who are still trying to get the hang of using a scope. 

Bottom Line

It’s time to bid adieu black and white images! Investing in the ATN X-Sight II will truly be one of your best decisions. You won’t need to worry about complex reticles and heavy charts, nor will you suffer from poor image quality. With all its features, this scope is the best one you can invest your money in. 

Pros

  • Battery lasts for up to 5 hours
  • Low cost yet delivers high quality 
  • Versatile design that can be used both during the day and night
  • Lightweight, making it ideal for carrying around on hunting trips 
  • Infrared illuminator lets you view more than 100 yards in the distance

Cons

  • Outdated user interface
  • May have some obvious defects
  • Not equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

What Recent Buyers Report

The main thing users love about the scope is how light it is. The low weight makes it easier for them to go tracking or hunting without having to mound it up on a bipod. Furthermore, buyers also find it perfect for night-time use, rather than pulling it out during the day.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This scope is probably one of the most lightweight and portable ones in the market. At such a low price, the Sightmark Photon XT is a great purchase. It uses a digital reticle and provides options of six styles. The built-in IR illuminator increases viewing range, especially during the night or low-light conditions. The CMOS array technology makes the scope easy to use during the daytime, as well.

Who Will Use This Most

This scope is popular among hog hunters and coyote hunting and shooting during the night because it allows you to use standard rings to mount to any rail. It can also be an ideal hunting partner since it’s easily portable.

Bottom Line

Although it has its downsides, the Sightmark Photon XT is a great buy for you if you’re on a tight budget and a new user. It has some great features to make your hunting experience a pleasant one, and you won’t regret investing in it.

Best for the Money:
Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1

Pros

  • Made up of titanium
  • Reticle brightness is adjustable
  • Good price for the features it offers
  • High powered infrared illuminator that is in-built
  • Quick detach weaver mount makes it easier to attach and detach the scope from the AR-15

Cons

  • Prone to falling off easily
  • Heavier than most similar units 
  • Has a range of approximately 50-100 yards only

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent users who bought the Firefield NVRS got their money’s worth. In fact, they state that they got more than what they paid for. Buyers admired the effectiveness and clarity of the scope at such a low cost. The standard infrared illuminator it comes with makes it easy to view long ranges without having to attach an external illuminator. Moreover, users advise reading the instruction manual carefully for the best experience. All in all, they’re highly satisfied with this. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This unit is built using titanium and is hence one of the most robust scopes on the market with great ergonomics. It can tolerate high shock levels during shooting and recoils and also offers great battery power. With only 2 AA batteries, this night vision scope can be used for up to 50 hours without IR and almost 20 hours with the illuminator turned on. The detachable weaver mount design makes it easy for the user to replace the scope when needed or attach an additional infrared illuminator. 

Who Will Use This Most

The Firefield NVRS scope is the way to go for those who partake in late-night hog hunting or taking out coyotes in the dark. It is a more useful tool for night-time hunters who wish to shoot in the 50-125 yard range.

Bottom Line

The Firefield NVRS scope is the one you’re looking for if you want something durable and robust. It is the best scope for your money as it gives you high-quality images without having to attach an external infrared source and an easily detachable system. Not to forget, the battery power will leave you stress-free for at least one whole day of shooting.

Pros

  • Great value for its price
  • Increased battery life
  • Improved video quality from previous models i.e., resolution in 4K
  • Comes with a remote and allows footage to be streamed on your phone and other devices easily
  • Can fit standard rings, making it ideal to use with small calibers where you don’t want too much additional weight

Cons

  • Difficulty in maintaining clarity at zero
  • Memory card slot design has some defects
  • Heavy as it has a large objective lens and long scope tube

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers were quite excited about their purchase. Some claimed it improved their accuracy immensely and that it was a joy to shoot with. Users particularly liked the upgrade in the battery life and marveled at the image quality at such an economical price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This version of the ATN scope comes with a greater list of features than ever before. With 4K resolution, this scope offers one of the highest image quality in the market. It also allows magnification of up to 20x and runs everything off a dual-core processor. By far, the biggest improvement in this model would be its increased battery life so that users can go hunting all night without having to switch the scope off when not in use or having to exchange the battery frequently.

Who Will Use This Most

This one is for the true night vision scope geek. If you’re looking for high-quality footage in 4K and wish to shoot hogs, coyotes, or even deer within a 200-300 yards’ distance, you should make this purchase. 

Bottom Line

If you’re willing to trade off the bulkiness of the scope for its excellent range and image resolution, ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart is the way to go. Make this purchase, and it’ll knock your socks off, especially for the price it comes at!

Pros

  • Performs well in low light situations
  • Weatherproof, adding to its portability 
  • Cheap, making it available for a wider audience 
  • Ideal partner for taking on trips since it is portable 
  • Flip-up lens cover for protecting the lens from harsh light

Cons

  • Pixelated images
  • Relatively limited field of view
  • Has to be detached to insert batteries

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are content with the scope’s visibility, price, and weight. One of them even claimed to be able to see in the dark without turning on the infrared light. Overall, they loved its durability and portability and recommended others to buy this too.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This particular scope offers a lot of features at a very low price. It is not only inexpensive and easy to use but also lightweight and ideal for shooting within 200 yards’ distance. What we also love about it is that it can even perform well in dim lighting situations, making it versatile.

Who Will Use This Most

The Night Owl has plenty of applications. From hunting to having the most accurate target practice, this scope can be mounted on the AR-15 for pretty much any purpose! Moreover, it is robust and weather-resistant, making it ideal for use in tough conditions.

Bottom Line

The unbeatable price makes the Night Owl an ideal purchase, particularly if you’re looking into shooting within a 200-yard distance. Its performance even beats scopes that cost double its price! If a lightweight, user-friendly and inexpensive night scope is on your list, look no further than this one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Night Vision Scopes

Night vision devices are commonly used in the present day. While they were restricted to military use in the early 19th century, their wide range of applications has made them more widespread today. Despite that, they do have their advantages and shortcomings.   

Advantages

The greatest advantage of night vision scopes is that they allow us to see in the dark. Other benefits include:

Night Vision Power and Defense

Night vision scopes give you the ability to view objects or creatures in the dark, giving you better vision than the creature being hunted. Most people like to use it for defense from coyotes and wild hogs and for keeping pests like skunks, and other vermin afar as these creatures usually do not surface until night-time.

Great Features

A scope offers a wide range of features ranging from high-quality image and video footage to a magnification of 20x or more. While thermal scopes have better detection, night vision scopes come with a more affordable price tag and entail all the qualities an average hunter would need. 

Precision

Night vision scopes allow you to be able to narrow down your target and shoot with precise aim. This helps improve your accuracy at shooting so that you get it right the first time.

Disadvantages

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to using night vision scopes. Following are a few of them:

Field of View

Use of night vision scopes cuts your field of view short, so even if you use your scope when going hunting, you would not be able to see a creature trying to approach you from sideways or the back.

Strain on the Eyes

When you’re done using the night vision lens, your eyes need time to adjust in the dark.

How to Sight in a Night Vision Scope 

If you haven’t used one of these before, it’s quite likely you’ll face some difficulties in adjusting your scope. Here’s a brief guide on how your experience could be made a little smoother.

In order to adjust your scope, you need to be able to sight it. Sighting is the process where you mount the scope on your AR-15 and then precisely zero the gun to any sighting system in order to ensure that your target is directly aimed at, and the bullet will strike where you aim. 

  1. Position X as 0 and Y as 0 (by increasing or decreasing their values) to ensure reticle is in the center of the field of view. The reticle is adjusted electronically by pushing buttons

  2. You can zero your optics thermal-imaging scope with two shots; aim at the center and shoot your first shot

  3. Observe where the impact is and place a heat marker on it

  4. Aim at the center again

  5. Switch type to external from the settings

  6. While aiming at the center, press the NUC button to activate the shutterless mode and make a negative image on the screen

  7. Move the reticle from the center to the heat patch and shoot again to check if the zeroing is precise

While reading this might sound confusing, you can check out the visual representation of these steps in the video below. 

Conclusion

If you want to sharpen your hunting skills, you better start hunting during the night, and the way to do that is by purchasing a night vision scope so you can spot the predator you wish to shoot. No other technology can do it better. Thorough research and the will to invest, even if on a low budget, will guarantee you a good purchase.

People Also Ask

If you’re new to night vision optics, there might be some questions buzzing in your mind before you decide to make your purchase. Fret not, for we shall not leave you in the dark. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions answered. 

Is Night Vision Better Than Thermal?

Thermal scopes detect radiation and do not rely on any light source. They can also be used during the day without fear of damaging the lens. On the other hand, night scopes are prone to damage in the daylight and require an illuminator to function in complete darkness. However, night vision scopes certainly cost lesser than thermal scopes.

Can I Use a Night Vision Scope During the Day?

There are scopes available in the market which can be used during the daylight. However, this practice is usually discouraged because the light can damage your lens and the sensors. 

Is Night Vision Legal?

It is a wise idea to counter check the legality of night vision devices with the country or state you reside in, particularly if it is of military-grade. In the United States, each state has its own regulations for when and where these devices can be used.    

Does Night Vision Work in Total Darkness?

Night vision scopes work best in conditions where there is some sort of light source. This could even be moonlight or light from the stars. With that said, an illuminator would be a good option to shoot with in pitch darkness.

How Far Can Night Vision See?

This entirely depends on the model you’re investing in. Commonly used scopes allow one to shoot within a 200 yards’ distance. Generally, scopes offering greater magnification cost higher.