Shopping for an Entry-Level Night Vision Scope?
Well, you are at the right place!
Night hunting can be a taxing and dangerous activity. This is why it is vital to have the right equipment. And some form of night vision or thermal scope is normally required to effectively hunt after the sun goes down.
A few years back, night vision was considered cutting-edge technology. Fragile, difficult to use, and expensive, night vision scopes were typically used only by the military and were unavailable to civilian shooters.
However, today things have changed now. Thanks to modern technology, a wide range of entry-level night vision scopes are available that are reliable, easier to use, and suitable for all budgets.
Hunters just getting into night vision technology often find the many generations of technology and jargon overwhelming and confusing.
That's why we put together this buying guide - to help newcomers to NV scopes find the right gear for their needs - without breaking the bank.
What's In This Buying Guide
Choosing a poor sighting model for nighttime use can be quite frustrating.
That is why it is vital to choose a premium-quality scope, even if it is entry-level.
In this buying guide, we recommend, review, and compare some of the best entry-level night vision scopes sold today.
We also provide a concise buyer guide that answers commonly-asked questions and discusses the features to look for - so that you can find the perfect night vision scope for your needs.
Best Entry-Level Night Vision Scopes
- Best Overall
Objective lens diameter
SightMark Wraith HD 4-32x50
- Most Versatile
Objective lens diameter
1280 x 720 pixels
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
- Best Features
Objective lens diameter
3864 x 2218 pixels
Night Owl Digital
- Most Budget-friendly
Objective lens diameter
640 x 480 pixels
1. Best overall: ATN X-Sight-II
Stability is essential in any rifle scope; however, it is quite difficult to match the stability standards of the ATN X-Sight-II scope.
Designed with a 3D Gyroscope, this unit ensures stabilized and blur-free views irrespective of the condition of the terrain or the target’s speed.
Another great feature of this scope is the E-compass that makes it easier to track your path.
This feature is particularly helpful when you are hunting in the wild as there are no particular landmarks to guide the way.
The E-zoom feature enables you to hold your optical sight even when you are moving around. Thus, you can move forward and keep your target in sight at the same time.
HD optical clarity, ergonomic body, and wide field of view are some features that allow you to look at a wide region without sacrificing zoom or zeroing.
Moreover, the video recording feature of this scope can be recoil-activated, which makes sure that not a moment of your exciting hunt goes unrecorded.
The detachable IR illuminator increases the working capacity of this scope. You can rest assured that you will only see clear and crisp images.
With the ATN X-Sight-II, it will be hard to miss your target as the ballistics rangefinder helps to increase your success ratio.
Lastly, the best feature of the scope is the ballistics calculator that automatically calibrates the scope’s elevation and windage, which helps you save time.
You can just concentrate on the target and not worry about the scope’s configuration after every shot, as the scope will automatically do it for you.
Other notable features of the ATN X-Sight-II include:
However, the X-Sight II uses a lot of batteries, so be sure to have a lot of spare batteries or an external power source if you are planning on using it in your next hunting season.
Despite that, this is an excellent entry-level scope. Its easy-to-navigate menu buttons ensure that anybody can use this scope without failing. Its exceptional image quality makes your hunting and surveillance missions hassle-free.
If you are looking for a scope that allows you to make a smooth transition from night today, then the X-SIght II is the perfect choice for you.
2. Most Versatile: SightMark Wraith HD 4-32x50
A revolutionary and versatile entry-level night vision scope, the SightMark Wraith is ideal for both nighttime and daytime use.
Its high resolution makes it one of the best devices for all hunting applications, including deer, hog, and predator.
The SightMark Wraith is designed with a 1920x1080 HD sensor that offers complete color clarity during the day.
You can easily switch to the night mode, which has black and white or green viewing options, with just the flick of a button.
Owning this scope is like having a plethora of optics all packed in an all-encompassing device. You can choose between 9 colors and 10 reticle options to tackle the task at hand to your satisfaction.
Equipped with a removable 850nm IR illuminator, this night vision scope delivers impeccable nighttime image quality. It allows hunters to acquire targets that are almost 200 yards away, making it the ideal device for hunting nocturnal beasts.
The 4 AA batteries provide a battery life of up to 4.5 hours. Meanwhile, its video recording capabilities allow you to record and share your amazing hunting experiences with your family and friends.
This night vision scope also has a Weaver rail which makes it easier to add accessories that may come in handy in the future.
The SightMark Wraith can be operated easily with a simple button mapping. Its easy-to-use interface saves hunters a great deal of inconvenience and frustration.
Other notable features include:
However, on the downside, the battery life of the SightMark Wraith is not so great. Also, its screen becomes grainy if the device is turned on and off multiple times.
By harnessing the outstanding capabilities of the SightMark Wraith, you could become the ultimate apex predator.
With high performance when you need it and quality where it matters, this scope is undoubtedly a winner.
3. Best features: ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Hunting Rifle Scope
Designed with long battery life, high imagery, and 3-inch eye relief, the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is one of the best night vision scopes available.
This smart riflescope is equipped with high-resolution optics and a high-definition M265 sensor.
It has a video recording capability that allows you to record videos in 1080p resolution. You can also stream these recordings via WiFi Stream.
The best feature of the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is its obsidian four dual-core processors that deliver faster optics in a wide range of vivid colors.
In addition, the integrated ballistic calculator provides you with accurate data on wind, humidity, and angle to the target, thus ensuring you never miss a shot.
Another great thing about the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is its operating time of more than 18 hours. Hunters love this feature as it allows them to stay on the hunting field without worrying about their battery running out.
The Recoil-Activated Video ensures that all the best moments of your hunt are captured. Moreover, its dual WiFi streaming allows you to stream and record the videos at the same time.
This scope also features a smart rangefinder that allows you to take two readings of the target. As a result, you can not only target your prey accurately but also adjust the reticle’s point of impact.
Lastly, the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro boasts an auxiliary battery that also works as a power supply that recharges the scope’s lithium-ion battery.
Other notable features of this scope include:
However, some users have complained about the design of the memory card slot.
Overall, the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is packed with some spectacular specs while having a reasonable price tag.
If you are looking for a high-tech, do-it-all scope, the X-Sight 4K Pro is like a virtual computer you can mount on your rifle.
4. Most Budget-Friendly: Night Owl Digital Night Vision Riflescope
The NightShot rifle scope from Night Owl is a low-cost and fantastic unit perfect for all your night vision sighting needs.
With a 3x magnification, this scope is ideal for varmint and hog hunting once the sun goes down. It is capable of picking rabbits, rats, and coyotes at distances beyond 100 yards.
Its large field of vision allows shooters and hunters to see clearly in the dark in order to acquire their target and be completely aware of their surroundings.
This scope can withstand the recoil of .30 rifle calibers and lower. Moreover, the performance of this Night Owl scope is not affected by changing weather conditions.
It is entirely weatherproof and works effectively in even the harshest environmental conditions.
Hunters are also very happy with this scope’s construction. It is made from a polymer which makes it lightweight. They can carry it around without feeling any back or shoulder pain.
This scope easily mounts on either Picatinny or Weaver rails, has a built-in infrared illuminator, and has three reticle options.
Other notable features of the Night Owl Optics NightShot include:
However, the NightShot uses four AA or lithium-ion batteries that work for only four hours when the IR illuminator is on.
All in all, this night vision scope comes with many advanced features that can boost your accuracy where it counts!
If you are looking for an inexpensive unit that can deliver exceptional performance, then this is the scope for you.
Entry Level Night Vision Scope Buying Guide
Why buy an Entry Level Night Vision Scope vs. other kinds?
Buying an entry-level night vision scope has a number of benefits that give them an edge over other night devices. These include:
Although there is a wide range of entry-level night vision scopes available, typically, they are not expensive. You can easily choose a model best suited to your needs and preferences.
The technology used in these devices makes them durable and reliable for hunting and other activities.
Ease of use
These scopes usually have a user-friendly interface which makes them easy to use, thus making them highly suitable for beginners.
Night vision scopes enhance the ambient light from the moon and the stars to deliver a clear and more natural image.
Therefore, it is easier to view animals and objects while keeping track of your surroundings when hunting with these entry-level scopes.
What to look for When Buying an Entry-Level Night Vision Scope
Night vision scopes are available in various models, sizes, and shapes. This wide range can make it difficult to choose one particular model, especially for a beginner.
Many hunters go for an expensive device when they are shopping for a night vision device. However, this may not be the best decision as a high price does not ensure good performance.
To help you find the best entry-level night vision scope according to your requirements, here are some factors you should keep in mind:
One of the most important parts of your riflescope, the rangefinder, helps to measure the distance between you and your target.
Make sure you choose a night vision scope with a rangefinder that can uncover distances of up to 1000 yards. The rangefinder must also be equipped with adjustable magnification and a reticle.
The magnification power of a night vision scope allows you to zoom in on targets. The ideal magnification range for most avid hunters is between 4x and 6x.
However, you will need a magnification of 10x if you will be shooting at targets at a further distance between 1000 and 1500 yards.
But if you are going to be shooting at moving targets or at close range, then a night vision scope with a lower magnification will be enough.
Night vision scopes typically run on batteries. The size and type of your battery significantly affect the performance and lifespan of your scope.
That is why it is best to look for scopes that work with high-grade AA batteries as they are durable as well as rechargeable.
Another good option is lithium-ion batteries.
Moreover, it is good practice to carry a couple of spare batteries when you are hunting because you may not have an external power source to recharge your batteries when you are out in the field.
Make sure you have enough battery power to ensure that your device works for almost 10 hours so that you have an enjoyable night hunting experience.
An integrated IR illuminator also helps to enhance the performance of a night vision scope. The IR illuminator emits an infrared light that makes it possible for hunters to see their target at night or when hunting in low light conditions.
Although the working of the infrared light is similar to that of a flashlight, it is not possible to see the infrared light with the help of the naked eye. However, you will be able to see clearly in the dark if your night vision scope is designed with an IR illuminator.
Mounting your night vision scope onto your rifle should not be a problem. Make sure that the size of the mounting equipment corresponds to the size of your rifle and that it fits securely onto your weapon.
Choose a night vision scope that consists of fewer parts to make it easier and convenient to attach it to your rifle.
Also, consider the material of the mounting equipment and how heavy it is. Choose a scope made from durable materials so that it has a long service life.
Moreover, it should be lightweight so that it does not affect your aim.
Since you will be using a night vision scope outdoors, it is crucial to ensure that it is weather- and water-proof to ensure its long life.
The material used in the construction of your entry-level night vision scope should also be of high quality. Check the country where the scope is manufactured as some countries are renowned for producing durable and reliable units.
Also, look for a unit that comes with a good warranty and great reviews from satisfied customers.
How are Night Vision Scopes Different from Thermal Scopes?
Night vision scopes and thermal scopes are two ways of getting the same result - visibility in darkness.
However, thermal scopes are slightly different from night vision scopes. Although they share the same purpose of producing images in low light, their process is not the same.
Thermal scopes are designed with a thermal detector that helps to detect the heat radiated off surfaces and objects. This information is then processed to create the image visible through the eyepiece of your scope.
On the other hand, night vision scopes use infrared light to see in the dark. Infrared light is undetectable to the naked eye; however, it can help intensify human sight under low light conditions.
Another big difference between night vision scopes and thermal scopes is that the former cannot be used in bright light as it can damage the intensifier tubes inside the scope. As a result, they will no longer work.
However, you can use thermal scopes in bright lights.
With a night vision scope, it can be impossible to see through debris and smoke. However, a thermal scope allows you to see, to an extent, through smoke and debris.
Most hunters agree that thermal scopes are great for detection but are not so effective in recognition.
The opposite is true for night vision scopes.
They allow you to easily recognize the specifications of an animal or a being, but detecting the shot range if the object is not moving, can be tricky.
Thermal scopes are typically heavier, larger, and more expensive than a night vision scope.
Night vision scopes are smaller but durable compared to thermal scopes.
Limitations of Basic Night Vision Scopes
In addition to the various advantages of night vision scopes, it also has some limitations:
Limited field of vision
The view through a night scope is very much like looking through a tunnel. Typically,, the human eye has a field vision of 190 degrees; however, this is cut down to 40 degrees with a night scope.
In order to adjust for this difference, you need to turn your head constantly to both sides to look for the danger that is not visible due to the narrow field of vision of the scope.
Depth and distance
Typically, a person uses both eyes to estimate the depth and distance of an object. However, with night vision devices, you use just one eye, which can create problems.
For example, when you see two objects of different sizes through a night vision scope, the largest object seems closer.
Moreover, when viewed through a night vision scope, some objects may seem further than they really are. This is because we associate distance with loss of sharpness of detail.
Similarly, a light source that is not part of the landscape can seem closer than it is.
The time needed for adjustment
It takes a few minutes for the human eye to adjust from day to night vision. This amount of time depends on how long you have been wearing the night vision device.
It cannot be used during the day
Another major limitation of night vision scopes is that you cannot use them during the day.
Moreover, they do not perform very well against dust and shadow, and it can be quite difficult to identify camouflaged objects with this technology.
Lack of clarity/color
The lack of clarity when looking through a night vision scope can result in losing your game.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average service life of a night vision scope?
This question is one of the most frequently asked ones, as it is commonly said that night vision scopes burn out over time.
A digital night vision scope has a long life compared to traditional scopes. They typically do not burn out and, if properly maintained, can last almost a lifetime or at least decades.
However, this is not the case with traditional night vision scopes. The service life of a Gen 1 scope varies greatly depending on its quality. However, you can easily get almost 1,000 hours of use from these devices.
If you have a budget model, you may get only a few hundred hours. However, technological advancements in the newer Gen 1 models have increased this time.
A good-quality Gen 1 scope can last as long as a Gen 2 scope, giving around 5,000 hours of use. A Gen 3 model can last for double that much.
Do night vision scopes work in daylight?
This depends on the model and the technology present in the scope. You can use digital scopes during the day.
In fact, they work quite well in daylight and offer good resolution and full color.
Traditional night vision scopes cannot be used during the day. Some units can even get damaged by just turning them on during the day.
Therefore, it is vital to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not use them in daylight.
Final Verdict: What is the best Entry Level Night Vision Scope?
After reviewing the above night vision scopes, we find the ATN X-Sight II to be the best entry-level night vision scope. Its high-quality lens, display, and sensors ensure excellent performance.
Having this scope gives you access to a number of advanced features that make this scope the best device for hunting, tactical uses, and target shooting.
Moreover, its reasonable price makes it ideal for people on a budget.