Looking for the best night vision scope for a crossbow?
We have you covered!
Nighttime hunting with a crossbow is challenging, exciting, and fun, but it can take a very dangerous turn in minutes if you don’t have the right gear.
One of the essential pieces of gear in such a case is a night vision scope.
A night vision scope not only lets you see in low-light conditions, it will dramatically improve your hunting performance.
You will be able to hit more accurate shots with fewer misses. In turn, this increases the chances of you catching the game you are after.
So, if you’re looking for the best night vision scope for a crossbow, this guide will explain everything you need to know.
What's in This Guide?
In this buying guide we recommend, compare, and review some of the best night vision scopes for crossbow hunting sold today.
After our top picks and reviews we also provide a brief buying guide describing the features to consider when purchasing an NV scope for a crossbow.
TIP: If you find NV goggles more convenient, then check out our best night vision goggles buying guide.
Best Night Vision Scopes for a Crossbow
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
- Best for the money
Sightmark Core SX 3x32
- Best for medium-sized game
UTG 4X32 1"
- Best for illumination
1. Best for the Money: ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
ATN is well-known for its quality of products and this model proves exactly that.
The X-Sight 4K Pro is great for daytime hunting and is good enough for nighttime hunting as well. Plus, you get a bunch of additional accessories at the price point, along with good attention to detail that you won’t find elsewhere.
There are a number of things that make the X-Sight stand out. It is essentially a combination of a traditional scope and the latest technology, providing you with the benefits of both. It is powered by a dual-core processor and has a low light 4k sensor. Both of these segments work together to offer excellent image performance.
The ATN X-Sight looks like a traditional sight with standard mounting rings, fast viewing, 90mm eye-relief, and no pixelation, even when you zoom. However, once you get past the exterior; with you will realize that it's a powerful scope.
The UltraHD sensor and the dual-core processor ensure high resolution, vivid colors, and fast optics. Plus, its ballistic calculator is quite accurate too and ensures you hit the target every time.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature is the dual-stream video recording. Apart from streaming the video to your device, you can also record it to the SD card.
Moreover, the ATN X-Sight 4K comes with enhanced HD night vision mode so that even darkness can’t come in the way of you hitting that perfect shot. Plus, with a battery that can continuously work for over 18 hours, you can spend hours out on the field.
What we love the most is the recoil activated video feature. With this, the scope automatically starts to record the video right before and after you take the shot.
One major limitation of this scope is the software it comes with. Firstly, the connection between your device and the scope is glitchy and poor. The same goes for the Obsidian 4 software. Unlike in older versions, you cannot view the pictures and it doesn’t really show a good picture. The one-shot zero is not really good and when trying to sight in, the digital picture is unclear so you have to do away with some guesswork.
The software also tends to freeze and lock up the scope, and the RAV also fails to record when taking the shot.
Overall, the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is one of the best night scopes to use with your crossbow, and there are many reasons for that. You get to enjoy many additional accessories like a rangefinder and a quick detach mount.
In addition, the image sensor is excellent, and it allows you to stream and record simultaneously. While it is expensive, the quality it promises and its ability to shoot night-time hunting videos make it worth the money.
2. Best for Medium-Sized Game: Sightmark Core SX 3x32
With its variable power magnification and kill zone range finding capabilities, the Sightmark Core SX 3x32 is one of the best for medium-sized game like mule, deer and whitetail deer.
The Sightmark Core SX comes with a bunch of impressive features, such as 11 reticle brightness that allows it to work in different lighting environments. It comes with a red illuminated reticle and is tuned for crossbow speeds up to 450FPS.
There’s a reason why the Sightmark Core SX is the best option for medium-game hunting. It can accomplish arrow drop compensation for precision aiming and great accuracy. Plus, the 1.5-5x magnification is tuned for crossbow speeds ranging from 250 to 450 FPS.
What we love the most is how you can use it in a wide range of environments. This is because of the variable brightness settings and the red VXR-M reticle. Plus, the Sightmark Core comes with fully multi-coated optics and a fully weather-proof body that will continue to work in unfavorable weather as well.
Another noteworthy feature is the low-profile, resettable capped turrets that protect the zero. Apart from the scope, the package includes a scope cover made of neoprene and scope rings which is something you don’t normally get for your money.
The only problem with this night vision scope is the reticle when used in low light. It is so fine that it is invisible. Plus, the illumination is too bright, even at the dimmest step.
With the 11 reticle brightness options, you can use the Sightmark Core SX scope for hunting in a range of environments. Plus, with features like variable power magnification, you can easily use it for hunting mid-sized game, like deer.
3. Best Illumination: UTG 4X32 1"
Crossbow hunters looking to upgrade their optics while staying within a limited budget will find the UTG 4x32 1” to be a great option. Plus, it comes with exceptional illumination to make hunting at night easier.
The model is calibrated for up to 300FPS and allows quick aiming at 10-50-yard distances in 10-yard increments.
One notable benefit of the UTG scope is the excellent illumination.
It features 4x magnification and promises excellent resolution and clarity, despite its reasonable cost! Plus, the green/red dual illumination control side wheel is ideal for hunting in a range of lighting conditions.
You can choose from the five brightness settings for both red and green illumination.
The UTG 4x32 also has premium resettable and zero lockable target turrets. These help to compensate for field conditions like elevation and wind, so you can make the perfect shot each time.
Another thing to note is the exceptional 32mm objective lens. It provides you the light you require to view the targets exactly as they are. Even in low light; the view is good.
In addition to being one of the best night vision scopes, the UTG makes an excellent daytime scope. You just have to adjust the illumination for the black reticle, and you’ll be good to go.
Finally, this scope is nitrogen purged, which makes it rainproof, shockproof and fog proof.
One problem with the UTG scope is with the reticle. All the five lines of the reticle cross the eyepiece diameters. This tends to obstruct the view, and a pyramid style of lines would’ve been better.
All in all, the UTG 4x scope features a 32mm objective lens that promises exceptional resolution and clarity, which makes this unit worth buying. Other benefits include the 3.8-inch eye relief and the nitrogen-purged body that is fog and rainproof.
How Does a Night Vision Scope Work?
Based on the technology employed, night vision scopes can work in two different ways. They rely on some kind of light. If there’s absolutely no light, night vision scopes won’t work.
In this method, tiny amounts of light are collected and amplified such that we can observe the image. This method also involves infrared light from the lower end of the spectrum that may not be available to our naked eyes.
This method makes use of the infrared light that lies in the upper part of the spectrum. Instead of being reflected, the infrared light is given out as heat by objects. Hot objects like warm bodies emit a higher amount of this light as compared to cooler objects like buildings or trees.
Over the years, night vision scopes have evolved, and there are different generations available that differ in coating and lenses. However, the main working principle remains the same. Plus, the end result is the same: A picture of the scene in front of you in green. So, if you’re wondering why night vision is green, you now know it’s because of the way the technology is designed to work.
Features that Matter: What to look for in a Night Vision Scope For a Crossbow
Nighttime hunting demands the use of night vision scopes, and to be able to hit your target accurately, you need to make sure you invest in a high-quality piece that suits the purpose you have in mind.
So, when choosing a night vision scope for a crossbow, make sure you consider the following factors.
Durability is one of the most important things to look for. Nighttime hunting comes with its own set of challenges that are usually not a problem when hunting in daylight. For instance, you are more likely to trip over foliage due to the limited visibility at night. A fragile scope is less likely to bear the brunt and could easily be damaged in such a case.
Similarly, temperatures tend to drop at night, which gives rise to moisture that can interfere with your device’s effectiveness. Plus, if you’re going to be hunting in different weather conditions, such as on foggy or rainy nights, you need to look for weather resistance as well. For instance, a fog-proof scope ensures that the inside of the lens doesn’t fog up to provide an unobstructed view.
So, it’s important to look for a highly durable scope that can withstand different environmental elements.
Crossbow scopes are usually quite easy to mount, particularly if you closely follow all the given instructions. However, the problem is that not all scopes are compatible with most crossbows, so you’ll have to do some research to find one that will work with your crossbow.
In terms of mounting, you want one that’s easy to adjust and calibrate. Ideally, look for a scope that doesn’t need a tool to calibrate the elevation or wind speed. Small dials make it quite easy to calibrate most scopes. You should look for scopes with dials that make a clicking sound so that you can easily track the adjustments without having to look.
You should also look for mounting rings that provide not only added protection but also a good zero. This will help increase the accuracy with which you hit your target.
Hunting Distance & Accuracy
Your hunting distance also matters. To shoot in complete darkness with a shooting distance of 30 to 50 yards is enough. However, this also depends on your crossbow.
Accuracy is also important since that will ensure that you make more shots. Highly accurate scopes can also help you save money in the long run; you won’t have to spend a lot on lost or broken bolts and arrows.
When it comes to hunting, hunters often find themselves going into remote areas where electricity isn’t really available. For this reason, it’s important to invest in a scope that can last throughout the night without needing a recharge. Remember, during hunting, the last thing you would want is a dying battery.
A clear scope for daytime hunting is important. However, one for nighttime hunting is essential. A low-quality scope with poor visibility can make shooting quite unpleasant, and no shooter wants to have limited visibility. For this reason, you must look out for higher resolution imaging.
When looking for night vision scopes, you’ll come across many that mention the generation they are. Generations are basically categories of scopes, and each differs in terms of capabilities. For instance, lower generation scopes are cheaper while higher generation scopes are more expensive.
Generally, Gen 1 scopes use passive infrared light and the ambient light from the surroundings to form a sight picture. Such scopes can see up to 75-100 yards. Some high-quality models can even see beyond that.
Gen 2 scopes come with better resolution than the previous generation and can see targets up to 200 yards away due to the advanced infrared illuminators and electronics.
Gen 3 scopes are the most technologically advanced yet and can convert a greater number of photons to electrons. In turn, they generate a better image. Such scopes usually have the highest resolution.
An IR illuminator comes in quite handy, particularly for nighttime crossbow hunting. It helps emit infrared light, which allows you to see things with much more clarity in the darkness.
Weight and Dimensions
The bulkiness and size of your crossbow scope also affects your performance. Bigger scopes do mean better image resolution, but you need to have something lightweight. This is particularly important for hunting at night where chances of tripping are more, so you need something that easily helps you stay balanced.
Types of Night Vision Scope for Crossbow
Night vision scopes are of two type and each has its set of pros and cons.
Also known as a weapon scope, a rifle scope is quite similar to a typical magnifying scope, with the only difference being the night vision capability. Such scopes are heavier than their regular counterparts because of the added technology.
This second type fits on the end of a regular scope and is removable. Such a scope amplifies light and gives you magnification from a regular scope. Once you put this system on your scope, you will notice that it reduces the amount of light getting in. However, such a scope makes for a good choice if you are hunting in darkness.
Advantages a NV Scope on a Crossbow
Hunting in the dark is, no doubt, quite a daunting task.
Due to the low light conditions, you might not be able to get a clear sight of the animal, or your view might be obstructed because of the silhouettes of different objects such as trees and bushes.
However, with a good-quality night vision scope, you can enjoy a number of benefits, which includes:
Compared to most other night vision equipment, night vision scopes offer a relatively wider field of view which is quite useful for hunting.
With a wider field, you can track the game’s movements as well as the terrain in a better way.
Plus, since you will have a broader view of the area around you you will be able to stay confident and balanced in your movements.
You Get a More Natural Image
As mentioned earlier, night vision scopes take the ambient light from objects like the moon and stars and amplify it to present a clearer scene. In turn, the objects are more viewable.
In other words, the scopes provide you a view that is more real and natural than what you would get with other night vision equipment.
To put it into perspective, hunting with a night vision scope will allow you to view animals and objects and track the terrain at the same time.
Night vision scopes are more affordable.
Plus, you can find a plethora of options on the market, and pick one that perfectly suits your hunting preferences and needs.
Long battery life
Compared to other night vision technologies, these scopes tend to last for a longer time once you fully charge them. This is also one of the biggest benefits of these scopes since you are more likely to spend a considerable amount of time outdoors during nighttime hunting.
From tracking and getting close to the game to shooting it, you will have your scope available for a good amount of time.
Care and Maintenance of Night Vision Scopes
If you don’t care for your night vision tools properly, they could easily break down and not be of any use, thereby becoming a waste of money.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, here are a few tips and tricks.
Don’t touch the objective lens
The objective lens is the furthest from the eye. It is highly sensitive and has a special coating that you can easily damage if you are not careful. Your fingers are covered in oils that cannot only smudge but also harm the lens.
When it comes to cleaning the objective lens, make sure you do so with a soft, non-abrasive, unsoiled cloth. You can even opt for kits that are specially for cleaning night vision devices to take proper care of the scope.
Avoid moisture as much as possible
Moisture can be highly damaging for your scope and you need to make sure you keep it as far away from it as possible, especially if it is not moisture-resistant. Night vision devices have complex and fragile electronics and water can easily damage them.
Take out the batteries when not in use
If you don’t plan on using the scope for a few days, make sure you remove the batteries to prevent damage to the internal systems. Plus, batteries tend to leak, too so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Once you remove the battery, make sure to keep your scope in a cool and dry place.
Regularly cleaning your scope is necessary if you want to enjoy its performance. However, you need to be careful. The tools you use on standard rangefinders, scopes, and binoculars are not suitable for night vision scopes. You can wipe the outside of the scope with a dry and clean cloth, but you need to be more very gentle with the lens and use a soft cloth instead.
Night Vision Scopes: Frequently Asked Questions
How is Crossbow different from Rifles?
The main difference between the two weapons lies in the range. Rifles can engage targets at further distances than crossbows. The former can work for up to 100 yards and even beyond that, while the latter works for shorter distances of 20 to 50 yards.
Does the crossbow support a thermal scope?
Yes, you can definitely put a thermal scope on your crossbow. In fact, you can see clear, defined images with one, and display the perfect contrast even hundreds of yards away. You only need a difference in temperature for a thermal scope to work.
What’s the best way to improve the night vision?
The best way to improve a night vision scope is to make use of an IR illuminator. The naked eye cannot see infrared light, but it is quite visible to night vision scopes. Most night vision scopes come with built-in illuminators; however, they are only effective for short distances. This is where external illuminators can help. Medium and long IR illuminators are powerful and can send light up to 500 yards, increasing the optic’s effectiveness.
Final Verdict: What is the Best NV Scope for a Crossbow?
The best night vision scope for you depends on your use. If your budget allows, buy the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro.
However, if you’re looking for something less expensive, then the UTG 4X32 1" is an excellent choice.
If you want a scope for hunting mid-sized games in a range of environments, the Sightmark Core SX 3x32 will make for the perfect pick.