Just as headlights are crucial to driving in the night, night vision scopes are a necessity to air rifles when shooting after sundown. The human eye is an extraordinary tool, but it doesn’t compete well on its own against nocturnal animals in the dark. Own a night vision scope, own the night.
The perfect night vision scope has a few certain qualities that are a must-have. Before you even look through it, the first thing you’ll notice when you mount a scope on your rifle is its weight. As with any addition to your gun, a good scope should be light and should not interfere with the comfort of hunting. It should also be durable, and most obviously, it should provide a clear picture in the dark. On top of that, you’re here because of one specific trait, and that’s affordability.
There’s a very large selection to choose from, but you’re on a tight budget. I’ve narrowed that list down to a few options for under $500. Here’s my top 5 list on cheap night vision scopes for air rifles that’ll surely give you a bang for your buck.
To get a quick taste of what we’re looking at, here are a few basic specs for the scopes I’ll be reviewing in the article.
|Bushnell Night Vision 4.5x40 Equinox Z||Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3x42 Gen 1||Yukon NVRS Titanium 1.5x42||Armasight Orion 5x Gen 1+||Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital|
|Dimensions (in)||10.5 x 5 x 3.2||9 x 3.2 x 3.4||8.6 x 3.1 x 3.3||12.7 x 4.6 x 4.1||17.6 x 4 x 3.8|
|Objective Lens Size (mm)||40||42||42||40||42|
|Price (USD$)||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
The prices are quite varied, $250 being the cheapest and $500 being the most expensive, but these are as low as you’ll get for night vision scopes. I put the main specs for you to take a look at and make a quick comparison, but let’s see what each of these scopes really do.
The Equinox Z is possibly the cheapest effective night vision scope on the market, but before you mindlessly scroll past thinking it’s the cheapest for good reason, you’ll want to give this one a chance. It’s got great magnification strength, it’s as tough as nails, and the strong material lets you know it means business.
Click here for reviews of Bushnell Night Vision 4.5×40 Equinox Z on Amazon
One of the greatest Gen 1 scopes available, the Firefield will turn night to day for you. For its price, it provides one of the clearest views in the dark, and it has a neat adjuster for the illumination of its reticle. The scope comes with a quick-release mount which makes it convenient to snap on and off. The Firefield has quickly become many hunters’ best friend.
Click here for reviews of Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 on Amazon
A lot of the bigger scopes offer more artillery than the smaller ones, but the Yukon Titanium proves bigger doesn’t mean better. While it only provides a 1.5x magnification, that serves well for mobility through the night. At a little under 2 pounds, the durable Titanium holds its own despite its small stature.
Click here for reviews of Yukon NVRS Titanium 1.5×42 on Amazon
The Orion is a bit bigger and heavier than the other scopes listed, but that’s a small price to pay for its capability. The Orion boasts a 5x magnification which is much more than the competitors at its price range have to offer. It easily provides a great visual past 100 yards, and the flexibility of the brightness is great (offering 4 different settings). If you can see past the bulk and weight, the Orion is the way to go.
Click here for reviews of Armasight Orion 5x Gen 1+ on Amazon
If you made it this far, I think it’s safe to assume that you’re willing to spend $500 if it’s worth your money. Well, believe me when I tell you that the Photon is worth your money. If effectiveness and simplicity is your thing, and you don’t need all the snazzy bells and whistles, you may want to look at the Photon. It’s got a tolerable weight, good magnification, and like the Orion, it can give you that crystal clear picture of a target further than 100 yards without too much weight.
Click here for reviews of Sightmark Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital on Amazon
While most shooters may find themselves in similar situations, the shooters themselves are very different.
If you find yourself getting tired easily or struggling to keep your rifle up for long periods of time, I would stay away from the Orion despite its quality. Stick to the lighter scopes that weigh less than 2 pounds.
If you’re a beginner hunter and would rather not have to go through a long-winded process of complicated setups, the Photon will be a better option for you. Very functional without all of the mess. If you like to have your options open with a variety of extras, the Photon might prove unsatisfactory.
If you need to move around and are looking for more of a close-range, mobile-friendly scope, the Yukon would be great for you. But if you need something that can provide you sight from far away, the Yukon would be a poor purchase.
What if you could care less about all of the above, and you just want the overall best night vision scope as long as it’s under $500? My vote goes for the Photon. Personally, I’m a minimalist. If it can be unobstructed while pulling its own, then I’m sold. Aside from its effectiveness in the dark, the Photon is barely over 2 pounds, and it’s the only scope on the list that’s also decent in the daytime.
I’ll also give honorable mention to the Bushnell. Despite its weight, the quality offered for its price is amazing. It also has a very secure and tough feeling, which I love since I can be a bit clumsy at times.
With all that said, only you can make the best decision for yourself. Find the scope that maintains accuracy and can drop four-legged trespassers before they can even smell you. Be a hunter at day, and the Boogeyman at night.
Can’t get enough? Then check out our reviews of cheap night vision scopes for AR15.