Shopping for a Night Vision Monocular Under $1,000?
You've come to the right place.
Night vision devices give you a clearer, illuminated view of objects in the dark and ensure you don’t waste shots.
Night vision monoculars typically cost $100 to $4,000 that mostly depend on the generation of image intensifier tubes.
However, if you’ve capped your budget at $1,000, your best choices will be Gen 2 models.
To help you find a unit that best suits your needs and budget, we’ve reviewed some of the best night vision monoculars under $1,000 in this guide.
What Kind of NV Monocular Can You Get for Under $1,000?
While it’s almost impossible to find a Gen 3 NV monocular for under $1,000, you can get find Gen 2+ and Gen 2 models with high-performance image intensifiers in this price bracket.
All of the units we've selected below are portable, small, and easy to use. They’re also lightweight and built with the ruggedness you’d expect from rifle scopes or binoculars.
You can also mount these optics on your head or helmet or attach them to a weapon.
Almost all monoculars under $1,000 are perfectly suited for night hiking, wildlife observation, spotting short range prey, and camping.
Units under $200 are designed with Gen 1 technology and have a low light resolution, low life expectancy, and a maximum 3x magnification power.
Optics between $200 and $300 boast Gen 2 intensifiers and feature better lens resolution and magnification. They also have a longer service life and are more durable than Gen 1 units. This price range is ideal if you want a monocular that can detect objects within 200 yards.
Monoculars ranging from $300 to $1000 are newer and of higher quality and boast enhanced night vision, high-end lens resolution, and excellent magnification.
What’s In This Buying Guide
In this guide we recommend, compare, and review some of the best night vision monoculars under $1,000.
After our review we offer a comprehensive buying guide to help you know what to look for when you’re buying night vision or thermal vision device.
If your budget exceeds $1,000, then also take a look at our guide to the best NV monoculars (money not a concern).
Best Night Vision Monoculars Under $1000
Night Owl NOXM50 Monocular
- Best Value
Objective Lens Diameter
Bushnell Equinox Z2
- Best Digital NV Monocular
Objective Lens Diameter
Firefield Nightfall 4x50 Monocular
- Most Budget-friendly
Objective Lens Diameter
Carson MiniAura Digital NV Monocular
- Most Portable
Objective Lens Diameter
Solomark Night Vision Monocular
- Best for Wildlife Observation
Objective Lens Diameter
1. Best Value: Night Owl NOXM50 Monocular
The Night Owl NOXM50 comes with extra magnification and a compact and lightweight body with a modern design and advanced optics technology.
One of the best features of this model is that it does not lose light amplification upon greater magnification like Gen 1 models do. Its real glass optics ensure durability and clarity when you head out at night.
The NOXM50's 35 lp/mm resolution, built-in IR illuminator, and large 50mm objective lens further make it one of the best night vision monoculars within this price range.
The Night Owl NOXM50 is a solid handheld product that’s ideal for those accustomed to handling and using other sport optics.
It’s designed with an impact-resistant thermoplastic lens housing and a soft-touch, rubberized finish that further ensures a longer service life.
It also features an elongated body that guarantees a secure and firm grip, making it suitable for single-handed operation.
Moreover, its 500x light amplification and high-quality image intensifier tube offer clear views in almost total darkness.
That said, the NOXM50 does not include batteries, so you’ll have to purchase them separately. Because it uses lithium batteries you’ll get a battery life of 45 to 100 hours, depending on your use of the IR illuminator.
The NOXM50 has some focus issues at range, but this is a common drawback in almost all economic monoculars regardless of the brand.
Other notable features of the NOXM5O include:
If you’re looking for a night vision monocular that’s comfortable to hold and easy to use, the Night Owl NOXM50 is the perfect option.
Its secure lens housing, rubber finish, soft grip, and good image quality certainly earn it a place on our list of top picks.
2. Best Digital NV Monocular: Bushnell Equinox Z2
Bushnell is one of the most popular brands in the sports optics world because of its high-quality products, and the Equinox Z2 monocular is no exception. This 6x50 digital model does everything in style, whether you’re using it during the day or the night.
The Z2 is the largest monocular in its series. Its large 50mm objective lens is ingeniously paired with a high 6x magnification power to allow in as much ambient light as possible for clearer views in the dark. It also functions as a daytime optic, making it ideal for people who want a compact, dual-purpose optic.
The device is also smaller than other night vision monoculars, measuring only 4 x 1 x 2 inches.
Furthermore, with a big aperture and a high magnification power, you’d expect it to be extremely heavy, but it only weighs around 2 pounds.
You can also use the monocular to capture high-quality 1080p videos during the day or night. The device allows you to insert a 32GB micro-SD card as well, so you can save your pictures and videos for future reference.
Boasting a viewing range of 300 yards, it provides you with clear and crisp images in situations where your natural eye vision fails you.
The most significant advantage of the Bushnell Equinox Z2 is its ability to focus on faraway targets and still offer clear and bright images. Its multi-coated glass does not fog easily and works in humid weather, while its water-resistant housing makes the optic suitable for use in harsh weather.
The optic is perfect for both day and night use. However, its power button is situated a bit close to the other buttons, so you might accidentally press it and shut down the monocular before a critical shot.
Here are some of its notable features and specs:
All in all, this Bushnell optic is a robust and cost-efficient unit that will help you to see clearly during day and night.
3. Most Budget-Friendly: Firefield Nightfall 4x50 Monocular
The Firefield Nightfall II is a surprisingly affordable pro-specification night vision optic that provides enhanced viewing in almost all low-light conditions, including complete darkness.
It uses an electro-optical system to amplify existing light and offers brighter views at night.
This model is a passive starlight optic. Although it doesn’t need an artificial light source, an artificial IR light will enhance the monocular’s effectiveness in all aspects of its operation.
It also boasts water-resistant composite housing and a rugged build, making it suitable for use in extreme field conditions.
Furthermore, its built-in IR illuminator offers a detection range of 100 yards, and its impressive image quality ensures you get all the details you need.
The monocular is also easy to wield and hold, as it’s a bit bigger than other compact models. It’s designed with a ¼” hole that further allows you to mount the optic on a tripod and take the weight off your arms.
The Firefield Nightfall II powers up quickly and kick-starts your nighttime viewing. It boasts a long battery life, so you can easily take the monocular on a night camping or hiking trip. Its large objective lens gives you a wider field of view as well.
With this model, you’ll be able to get a clear look at distant objects and identify the hidden details that most Gen 1 monoculars fail to give.
Since the Firefield Nightfall II is a bit on the cheaper end, it has a few focusing issues. It’s also tricky to get magnified or precise images if the nightlight intensity is low.
Also, if you’re going to use this monocular for hunting, keep in mind that some animals can detect infrared light and might stay away.
Some of its other notable features include:
The Firefield Nightfall II boasts an incredibly powerful IR illuminator, making it one of the best and most desirable night vision monoculars under $1000.
Its rubber armor casing and weather-resistant construction ensure durability and longevity without adding to the optic’s overall weight. It is suitable for general observation, surveillance, and hunting during the night.
4. Most Portable: Carson MiniAura Digital NV Monocular
The Carson MiniAura displays black and white images and features three modes: low infrared, high infrared, and digital.
It weighs just 3.4 ounces, measures 2.6 x 2.2 x 2.2 inches, and needs 3 AAA batteries to work.
You can adjust the intensity of the IR illuminator with the press of a single button and use its 82-foot range and 19-degree angle of view to hunt in the dark.
Its compact design further allows you to fit the optic in the pocket of your shirt. This makes traveling easier and more convenient, as you’ll have less equipment to carry.
Furthermore, the frame is water-resistant and can withstand the usual wear and tear, making the device both reliable and durable. It’s also very affordable and boasts numerous features that undoubtedly make it worth the money.
Most users reported that they could clearly see animals and people in good detail with this monocular, even in complete darkness. It’s very user-friendly as well and doesn’t have any complicated modes to choose from.
Overall, the Carson MiniAura feels incredibly solid and offers excellent value for money. It’s also backed by a limited one-year warranty in case of defects.
However, it’s not weather-resistant and can be a bit difficult to use if you have large fingers. There have also been a few complaints about the IR illuminators located on the front being a bit too bright.
Some other features of this monocular include:
The Carson MiniAura is the perfect companion for hunting and camping trips, late-night wildlife viewing, and practically any other outdoor activity.
Ideal for use in total darkness and ambient light, it is the perfect monocular for people who prefer digital images.
5. Best for Wildlife Observation: Solomark Night Vision Monocular
Although the Solomark NV Monocular is one of the cheapest monoculars available in the market, it does not lack any essential features. It’s incredibly compact and boasts excellent performance.
With a futuristic design, the Solomark Monocular has satisfactory IR and low-light viewing capabilities. You can use it as a trail camera as well and capture photos and videos of nocturnal wildlife.
One of the best things about this device is that it comes with an LCD screen and an IR LED indicator. You can even adjust the brightness of the illuminator to get a clearer view.
The monocular has a maximum viewing distance of 328 feet. It’s also powered by 4 AA batteries, eliminating your worries about recharging it or purchasing larger, costlier batteries. Plus, it comes with four different levels of zoom control and 7 IR intensity levels and works with a tripod.
If you’re looking for an optic for complete darkness, then this Solomark model is the perfect choice for you.
It’s excellent for wildlife observation and hunting, and you can take it with you on cave exploration adventures and camping trips as well. This makes it one of the most versatile night vision monoculars under $1000 available today.
It boasts multi-coated lenses and a high-sensitivity sensor. It offers video recording and multiple connectivity options as well. Lastly, it comes with a neck strap, USB cable, carrying case, 4GB micro-SD card, and AV cable.However, some users have complained about a grainy screen. While this isn’t terrible, it’s more dated-looking and older than other premium and higher resolution models. The viewfinder is also a bit small in size.
Here are some notable features of the Solomark Night Vision Monocular:
With impressive image and video features and decent connectivity options, it certainly deserves a place on our list of top picks.
This optic is on par with other premium models in terms of zoom controls, comfortable feel and touch, and illumination flexibility.
So, if you want a night vision monocular that doesn’t break the bank but still performs well in dim and low-light conditions, you should opt for the Solomark Night Vision Monocular.
Night Vision Monocular Under $1000 Buying Guide
What to look for When Buying a Night Vision Monocular Under $1000
Due to the plethora of night vision monoculars and technologies available today, choosing the right unit that fits your budget can be incredibly challenging.
To help you make the right decision, here are some key features you should consider before finalizing your purchase:
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is the generation of the monocular. There are currently 4-night vision generation technologies, and each serves a unique purpose.
Here’s a brief look at all four:
Gen 1 monoculars are the most popular of them all and focus on the basic fundamentals of image processing.
They produce incredibly bright images by amplifying ambient light a few thousand times. This makes them the ideal optic for several different applications, including hunting, boating, close-range surveillance, and general observation.
However, since this is an older generation, the images are a bit blurry and grainy on the edges. Most Gen 1 models also give off a high-pitched whine when you turn them on.
Gen 2 devices are more suitable for long-range hunting, surveillance, and law enforcement.
Along with all the basic Gen 1 features, these monoculars are also designed with a micro-channel plate that functions as an electron amplifier and amplifies light several times more than Gen 1.
As a result, they produce clearer and brighter images compared to the previous generation.
Gen 3 models have a layer of gallium arsenide added to the photocathode. The application of this sensitive chemical results in brighter and sharper images as compared to those produced by Gen 2 optics.
Gen 3 units also feature an ion barrier for longer tube life and better low-light performance. This high-powered night vision generation is ideal for a wide range of both short and long-range applications.
Gen 4 monoculars boast gated or filmless technology for clearer images and better image intensification. Instead of an ion barrier, they’re designed with a gated system that significantly enhances resolution and improves detection range.
Perfect for use in low-light environments, these monoculars are incredibly expensive and better suited for professionals that are part of high-profile covert operations.
Measured in lp/mm (line pairs per millimeter), resolution determines the clarity of an image. It is based on digital and skeletal radiography and calculates how sharp an image a night vision optic can produce in complete darkness.
It’s better to go for a model that creates images with 64 to 72 lp/mm resolution. However, most night vision monoculars under $1000 will have a resolution of around 30 lp/mm.
If you’re planning on using your night vision device for long-range viewing, you should opt for a better detection range. Remember that the detection range is going to be higher than the identification range.
While higher-end optics can quickly achieve 100 yards, most low-cost models offer a viewing range of under 100 yards.
The range will also differ according to IR use, technical specifications like magnification, and available moonlight.
If you’re planning on focusing on long-range targets, it’s better to opt for units with better zooming. However, you’ll have to sacrifice the field of view for higher magnification.
High-end night vision monoculars feature a magnification index ranging from 10x to 12x, while cheaper models have a lower magnification power of around 5x to 8x.
While this is an essential feature for documentation purposes, it is indispensable for surveillance and law enforcement applications.
It’s advisable to go for a monocular that allows you to capture photos and record videos with sound. It’s also better to go for one that offers HD quality, along with numerous other memory and connectivity options.
If you don’t want to carry the monocular in your hands, you should opt for a unit that you can mount on your helmet or head. This feature is especially useful for surveillance projects or search-and-rescue operations where you already have something in your hand.
Mounting the device on a tripod also gives you a stabler view and allows you to record a clearer, brighter, and crisper video.
If you’re using your optic in rainy areas, make sure you go for a model with weatherproof construction or a waterproof casing.
The rubber coating is also a good option, as it ensures durability and reliability in varying conditions and offers a stable and secure grip on the monocular.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which generation night vision monocular should I choose?
Every night vision generation technology gives clear vision in the dark. However, Gen 3 and Gen 4 units are the best, thanks to their high magnification index.
High-end Gen 3 optics offer users an exceptionally crisp, bright, and clear image. They deliver outstanding performance in low-light conditions without the use of IR.
Most monoculars also allow you to choose between a manual gain or an auto-gated tube.
If you have a budget of $1000, then you’ll have to choose between Gen 1, Gen 2, and Gen 2+ devices.
Do I need special batteries for my night vision monoculars?
A different type of battery powers each model.
Most monoculars use standard AA batteries, while some use the more convenient rechargeable ones. You can also use a portable power bank to charge more advanced and higher-end units.
Can I use a night vision monocular with a scope?
Yes, you can use a night vision monocular with a scope, and you can attach the optic in front of or behind the scope.
However, make sure the scope has an illuminated reticle that’s compatible with your night vision monocular.
When you attach the night vision device in front of the scope, there won’t be any displacement in the position.
Final Verdict: What is the best Night Vision Monocular Under $1000?
With each night vision monocular serving a different purpose, choosing the best one is next to impossible.
If you’re only concerned about portability, you should go for the Carson MiniAura Night Vision Monocular.
Lastly, if you’re planning a hiking or nature field trip, then the Solomark Night Vision Monocular will be your best companion.