Are you looking for the best night vision scopes to take your shooting to the next level?
Here's a secret:
Being able to see in the dark gives you an insane advantage over your environment. So you want the best way to get this capability.
It turns out that there are many scope options available with different technologies. You want to make sure that you are well informed on the topic so that you can make the right decision on which scope to get.
In this article, we are going to go over the basics for night vision, discuss the criteria that you need to be aware of, and then look at the best options right now.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
It is important to understand the different competing technologies available right now for night vision scopes.
One type is the same sort of technology that most video cameras have used in the past where you use a light source that creates light in the near infrared spectrum and have a camera that can see that wavelength of light.
This infrared light source is not creating the kind of light that your human eye can see, so it almost seems like it's all invisible.
If you could see near infrared light, then it would look like a simple camera with a big flashlight seeing in the dark.
This type of technology is great for hunting at night, but if someone else has a near infrared camera, they can easily see you.
Another more expensive type of technology is thermal imaging. Everything around you is constantly giving off heat, and some of that heat is radiating off into the surrounding area.
To get a feel for this phenomena, remember back to when you were last around an open fire.
If you were standing several feet away from the fire, but could still feel the heat on your face and hands, then you are experiencing radiated heat.
Thermal sensors work by having detectors that can translate this heat into something that a user can see on a display.
Because the technology is reading what is going on around you, you do not need any sort of light source to illuminate your environment, so it is completely passive.
Using this type of technology is much more stealthy, and others typically won't be able to see you in the environment as easy, unless they also have a thermal imager and can see your body heat.
A third type of technology is the classic night vision goggles. This technology simply amplifies whatever light comes into the device high enough so that the user can see what is going on.
A drawback is that this technology does not work well in normal daylight and can often be damaged by too bright of light.
As with all scopes, magnification always plays a role. It is related to how far away you want to be able to see and shoot accurately.
For example, a popular hunting scope is the 3-9x40, where the 3-9x is the magnification range. This type of scope can zoom from a 3x minimum to a 9x maximum.
This is called variable zoom. There are also fixed zoom scopes, like a 3x32, where the 3x is the fixed magnification.
Typically, a 3-9x range is very useful in 300 yards or less. A lot of magnification comes down to preference.
Consider how far you want to be shooting, as well as your own personal preferences, and that will help determine what magnification is right for you.
Price always plays a big role. The near infrared technology options are much more cheaper than the thermal imaging options.
This is because the thermal technology is much more expensive to produce at this point in time.
Best Night Vision Scope
The Sightmark Photon XT is the best option with near infrared technology. It is a 4.6x42 scope which means it has a fixed zoom of 4.6x.
The scope has a video resolution of 640x480, and lets you select from many different style and color reticles, depending on what you are using the scope for.
The integrated IR illuminator light source helps you see out to 120 yards.
Reviewers have stated that you can also enhance the performance of the scope by using your own near infrared light source that is brighter with a more focused beam to illuminate longer distances.
This is a great night hog hunting scope, and of course hogs cannot see near infrared. Check out the video below to see it in action.
Best Thermal Scope
The best value for the money in thermal scopes is the Armasight Zeus 336. This scope is a 3-12x42, which means it has a variable zoom range from 3x to 12x.
The thermal detector is a 336x256 pixel sensor, which gives you overall good visuals in complete darkness. The display is 800x600 pixels.
You can set the heat map to black hot, white hot, rainbow, or other color options.
There are several reticle styles and colors to choose from, including dot 4 MOA, line dot, crosshair, and many more.
There are also many image algorithms to choose from which will help make what you see really pop out for you.
Not convinced on how powerful this scope is? Check out the video below and become a believer. Notice how the shooter goes from white hot to black hot mode at 510 yards.
In summary, we looked at the key factors that you should consider when getting your night vision scope.
We talked about the main technologies out there right now, where the near infrared illuminator and camera, as well as the thermal imager are the two main competing technologies.
The near infrared option is going to be a lot cheaper right now. The thermal imagers are complex technology that is hard to make, so it is expensive.
We then looked at the most popular near infrared option out there, the Sightmark Photon XT. It is a nice fixed 4.6x zoom scope with many great features.
We also looked at the best value for the money thermal scope, the Armasight Zeus 336. It is a variable zoom 3-12x scope. This thermal scope will revolutionize your ability to hunt at night.
Don't forget that there are other tactical scope options out there to consider as well.
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