When I think of night vision devices (NVDs), I think of high paced military operations where soldiers look through grainy, green viewfinders in order to carry out missions. It has always seemed high-tech and unnecessary for civilian use. This is not the case however, and these NVDs are not only becoming necessary, but they are also becoming more available for the general population.
For pesky critters such as hogs and raccoons, night-time hunting is often necessary, and therefore so is the need for a night vision scope to aid visuals.
I will be looking for a few things when choosing my scope. The main factors I will look at will be:
- Recognition range (the ability to see details on what I’m shooting)
- Level of magnification
- Image resolution
- Infrared (IR) illumination capability
- Overall practicality
There is a bit to consider, so I’ve chosen 3 mid-range scopes on amazon to help find the best night vision scope for air rifle that I would recommend.
Best Night Vision Scope for Air Rifle Comparison
Before looking at each of the scopes individually, let’s look at the different technical specifications in one table for easier comparison.
|Scope||Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope||Armasight Vampire 3x CORE IIT Night Vision Rifle Scope||ATN X-Sight II 5-20 Smart Rifle Scope|
|Dimensions (in)||17.6 x 4 x 3.8||10.8 x 3.4 x 3.7||11.4 x 3.5 x 3.5|
|Eye Relief||2.4 in||-||2.6 in|
|IR||Built-in LED||Detachable long-range||Built-in LED|
|Battery||4 hrs||40 hrs||8-12 hrs|
|Field of View||4.3 degrees||10.5 degrees||5 degrees|
|Resolution||38 lines/mm||60-70 lines/mm||160 lines/mm|
|Price (USD$)||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Important Key Features
This depends on what kind of shooting I am doing. Some features apply to whatever kind of shooting I am doing, and others are not so important. For example, if I am only shooting at close-range, magnification and recognition range do not have to be extraordinary.
For overall comfort and ease of use, weight, eye relief and battery life are important to look at. If the scope is too heavy, it could upset my shooting style and balance. I would also prefer to not have to worry about my batteries running out while lining up a shot, so long battery life is a plus.
Also a plus, is having a decent amount of distance for eye relief. If the distance is too short, the recoil could cause unnecessary pain.
If I want a scope for close, quick target acquisition, a wide field of view (FOV) is important but not so much if I am shooting over long distances where decent magnification is a must. For night shooting, I want accuracy and knowledge of what I’m shooting, so resolution and recognition range are factors to take into account.
Now I have an understanding of what to look for, I’ll go into detail about each of the scopes.
Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope
The Sightmark Photon XT 4.6 x 42 delivers bang for buck in this compact package. Its 4.6x magnification allows for longer-range shooting whether I decide to shoot during the day or night. It is not too heavy, so it doesn’t impact my aiming as much as some heavier scopes might.
One feature that really stands out for the Sightmark Photon XT is its reticle system. It comes with 6 reticle options including 2 crossbow reticles, two duplex reticles, a Mil-Dot reticle and a German-style reticle. They also come in 3 different colors, red, white and green, making my shooting experience quite a lot more personalised and applicable to different situations.
The IR illuminator is highly regarded by users of the Photon XT, as quite often an extra illuminator is needed when shooting at night. This built-in LED is definitely up to the task however, with no extra costs going into extra purchases.
There are a couple of drawbacks to be found. The first one is that compared to many new scopes, the Photon XT has a very low battery life (4 hours). This can be offset by taking extra batteries, but I would worry about it cutting off mid-aim.
Another draw-back is that the adjustments are different from other scopes, and are also quite stiff. With a bit of reading and practice this will all but disappear as a problem.
Overall it is great value for money, simple to use and a good competitor!
Click here for the manufactures’ video.
Verdict: (4 / 5)
Click here for reviews of Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope on Amazon
Armasight Vampire 3x CORE IIT Night Vision Rifle Scope
As a dedicated night vision scope, the Armasight Vampire 3x definitely provides a high standard with which to compare other night vision scopes.
Its high resolution (provided by its Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine, or CORE) is almost double that of the Photon XT. This gives it an advantage in recognition, working even in challenging light conditions. Its FOV is just over double that of the Photon XT, adding increased ability for quick target acquisition.
The Vampire not only has great IR technology and FOV, but it is also hard-wearing and has a very long battery life of 40 hours. Durability is an absolute must for those of us who seem to drop everything we touch!
Once again, we come to the cons of this scope. First and foremost, if I am looking for a day/night scope, this is not a scope I want to buy. It is very easily damaged by daylight, or any bright light if exposed for long enough.
Secondly, it is very heavy compared to many other scopes. I would have to be willing to practice a fair amount to become used to the extra weight.
All that considered, we have another contender for best night vision scope!
Verdict: (4 / 5)
Click here for reviews of Armasight Vampire 3x CORE IIT Night Vision Rifle Scope on Amazon
ATN X-Sight II 5-20 Smart Rifle Scope
Last, but not least, we have the ATN X-Sight II 5-20x. This high-tech, highly functional scope is run by an Obsidian Core II. Having grown up with technology, a night scope with the ability to connect to my device is a plus point.
Features included that most other scopes lack are Wifi, GPS, an E-compass, Micro USB, Micro SD card and Micro HDMI. Magnification is comparable to the Photon XT up to 5x, however it is capable of up to 20x with digital zoom even if it becomes grainy.
Its resolution is superior by far to the aforementioned scopes at a high 160 lines/mm. This is evident in its 1080p recording. I can choose either black and white or green for night vision.
One feature that requires special mention is the one-shot zero. Often it takes a lot of effort to zero a scope, however the X-sight II incorporates technology that allows it to be done in one shot. Fantastic!
While all this technology can be great, it is also a drawback. Set-up will take a lot longer, as will getting used to the system. The scope is also heavier due to all the inclusions, therefore needing aim adjustment.
Time consuming with firmware updates, which have the potential to introduce bugs if phone updates are anything to go by. However this does not seem to be an issue with most users so I’m not too worried.
In summary, the X-Sight II successfully incorporates new technology without sacrificing traditional features.
Click here for the manufacturer’s video.
Verdict: (4.5 / 5)
Click here for reviews of ATN X-Sight II 5-20 Smart Rifle Scope on Amazon
There are some high quality night vision scopes, and deciding which one is a winner for you depends on your intended use. If you are on a tight budget, check out our reviews on cheap night vision scopes for air rifles.
For an easy to use, light and somewhat cheaper scope, the Sightmark Photon XT is a great buy.
I’m wanting a bit more resolution however. It’s a big toss-up between the Vampire and the X-Sight II as both have the resolution I need.
Given that I don’t need much FOV and I love technology, the winner is… The X-Sight II!
Happy night vision scope hunting!
**Hunting in the day? Then check out our review on the best long range rifle scope here.