The Best Night Vision Scope in 2023

If you want to experience the thrill of hunting at night, then the following reviews will help you choose the right night vision scope. After all, matching a night vision scope to meet your budget and the hunting you do is why you’re here.

I have guided hog hunts at night for years in Texas, I have a lot of experience with the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to night vision scopes. Night vision has come a long way in a short time, and I want to help you choose the right scope for the hunting you do.

This review is shaded towards the different night-hunting types most hunters find themselves in. The review also considers budget, so if you are shopping for the no-limits night vision or the best night vision scope for your budget, we have you covered.

The 5 Best Night Vision Scope

1. The Pulsar Digex C50: Best Night Vision Scope for the Money

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There is a reason why the Pulsar brand is so well known. With Pulsar, you get more than you expected for the money you invested. That has never been truer than with the Pulsar Digex C50 with X940S Illuminator.

What I Like

  • I can use this scope day or night.
  • The picture quality is awesome.
  • The picture-in-picture feature is great for hunting.
  • I can stream video to my phone.
  • The buttons, controls, and batteries are easy to get to.
  • The Pulsar Digex C50 is a good choice for high-caliber rifles

What I Don’t Like

  • The Pulsar IR is good, but aftermarkets are better.
  • I needed a clear shooting lane when shooting at night. Limbs and brush are brightly illuminated, making it hard to see your target. It’s more annoying than anything.

Best Uses

  • Predator and hog hunting at night.
  • Deer and hog hunting during the day (where legal).
  • Recording your hunt.
  • Parents assisting young hunters.

Quick Reference

  • FOV: 351 ft @1000
  • Eye Relief: 50 mm
  • Resolution: CMOS sensor = 1928 x 1088 pixels
  • Magnification: 3.5x-14x (x4 Zoom)
  • Color Modes: Night and Day
  • Battery: APS2 Rechargeable
  • Battery Life: 10 Hours
  • Dimensions: 16.06×3.07×3.26 Inches
  • Weight: 4 Pounds
  • Detection Range: 500 Meters (With IR Illuminator on)
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Video/Photo Format: .mp4/.jpg
  • Stream to Phone: Yes
  • Built-in Memory: 16GB
  • Warranty: 3-year limited

The Pulsar Digex C50 is Hard to Beat for the Money

You can use this scope for hunting at night and during the day. By rolling the selector on the scope from the moonlight icon to the sunlight icon, you can move from a night vision scope to a scope you can use during the day.

The Pulsar Digex C50 can handle the recoil of high-caliber rifles. There are many night vision scopes that can’t handle even a .308. The Pulsar Digex C50 is a great night vision scope for a .308.

You can Record with the C50 as you Would with a Thermal Scope

You can record video and audio with the Digex C50, much like thermal scopes. The picture and picture view is my favorite feature. You can keep the main picture at 3.5x while a zooming the small picture with your red dot zooms in at 14.0x. You won’t miss a second trophy walking into range while you are zoomed in on the first target.

Stream Vision 2 Mobile App

If you’re hunting with youngsters, you can stream video to either an Android or iPhone using the Stream Vision 2 mobile application. You can see what the hunter sees in the scope on your phone in real time.

In addition to streaming, the WiFi module lets you make software updates. You can also use your phone as a remote control. Registered users are given cloud storage for photos and videos they make with the Digex C50.

Buttons and Controls Right Where You Want Them

You will notice that Pulsar puts all the buttons and batteries in easy-to-use and easy to get to locations. No more fumbling in the dark to make adjustments. The battery indicator you see in the scope is for both internal and external batteries. You can expect 8 to 10 hours of battery life in the field.

There are several ways to mount the Pulsar Digex C50, but unlike other night vision scopes, you can use 30mm rings. This gives the scope a more traditional appearance that many hunters prefer.

Hunt Night or Day

This scope is great to hunt for day or night. Remember, night vision is illegal to use on deer in many states, even during the day. Check your regulations before you take it deer hunting.

The Pulsar Digex C50 claims to eliminate annoying flood exposure, but I still noticed brush and limbs close to me lit up. Flood exposure is a problem for the ATN night vision scopes too.

Also, I noticed that when any smoke kicks up, it will be picked up by the scope. You have a sense of panic that occurs right after you shoot. You can’t see anything, but the smoke just takes a second to clear. It’s more annoying than anything.

Unbelievable Night Sensitivity

When it comes to night sensitivity, the Pulsar Digex C50 is among the best. Its best-in-class infrared spectrum includes a wavelength range of 900-950 nm. When you pair that with a good IR illuminator, you detect a target out to 500 meters.

The Digex C50 gives you five shooting profiles to store zeroing results. Each profile records up to 10 zeroing distances. You also have a choice of 10 different reticles with different colors and configurations.

Hunt Anytime and Anywhere

The Pulsar Digex C50 has a waterproof rating of IPX7, so it works well in rain and high humidity. It can withstand 30 minutes of submersion in 39 inches of water. You don’t have to worry about your scope if you get caught in the rain.

What’s in the Box

  • Pulsar Digex C50 Night Vision Scope
  • Carrying Case
  • Quick Start User Guide
  • Warranty Registration Card
  • Extended Eye Cup
  • Dual Bay Battery Charger
  • 2 – IPS 2 Batteries
  • 2 – Extended Battery Caps for IPS 3 Compatibility
  • 2 – USB-C Cables
  • Lens Cloth


The Pulsar Digex has a three-year limited warranty. This covers defects in workmanship and materials except for:

  • Disposable batteries
  • Rechargeable batteries cover for one year

This warranty is transferable, but to use this warranty, you need a proof of purchase that is less than three years old, and the serial number should reflect the scope is less than three years old.


Everyone knows that Pulsar puts out a great product. The Digex C50 proves that and then some. With the C50, you get features and options previously not possible with night vision scopes. The scope itself, the software, and the controls are all solid. You won’t find a better night vision scope for the money than the Pulsar Digex C50.

2. The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20X: The Best Night Vision Scope for Hog Hunting

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ATN has been making night vision scopes for a long time. Just when you think there is not another feature they can pack into a scope, they find one. The X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20X is no exception. From a laser range finder to ballistics calculator and even their Ultra HD Day/Night Sensor, ATN has thought of it all.

What I Like

  • I can use this scope day or night.                                                                           
  • The laser range finder is a must for hunting at night. It can be difficult to know your range at night. Targets seem farther away than they are. This LRF solves that.
  • I found that the one-shot zero works well.
  • I can stream video to my phone via WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • ATN has produced many good how-to videos on the X-Sight 4K Pro.

What I Don’t Like

  • The ATN IR illuminator is good, but aftermarkets are better
  • The rings that come with the X-Sight 4K Pro are not good. Spend the money and get a good set of rings.
  • The video recordings are not as clear as what I actually saw through the scope.

Best Uses

  • Predator and hog hunting at night
  • Deer and hog hunting during the day (where legal)
  • Recording your hunt
  • Parents assisting young hunters
  • A good option for a crossbow

Quick Reference

  • FOV: 16.38 x 6.34 x 4.09 inches                                                                                                 
  • Eye Relief: 90 mm
  • Resolution: 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Magnification: 5 x 20x
  • Color Modes: Night and Day
  • Battery: Internal Lithium Ion Battery
  • Battery Life: 18 Hours
  • Dimensions: 14.9 x 3 x 3 Inches
  • Weight: 2.2 Pounds
  • Detection Range: 10 Meter Minimum, Maximum not listed
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Video/Photo Format: .mp4/.jpeg
  • Stream to Phone: Yes
  • Memory: Micro-SD 4-64 GB
  • Warranty: 2 Years

The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro is Loaded with Features

Anyone who has hunted hogs knows what fun it is. Whether you hunt during the day or at night, you want to record your hog-hunting adventures to watch with friends later. The X-Sight lets you easily record your hunts. Even if you forgot to start the video, the Recoil Activated Video starts as soon as you shoot.

The Obsidian 4 mobile application will also let you stream video to your mobile device and record to your SD card simultaneously. You’re streaming at 720p and recording at 1080 full HD simultaneously. The ATN X-Sight is great for mentors who want to see what their young hunter is watching in the scope.

One Shot Zero

I love the one-shot zero capabilities of the ATN scopes. I prefer to lock my AR10 in a vice, then shoot at the target. Keeping the reticle on the target and without moving the rifle, I simply move the reticle digitally to the hole my first round left in the target. After saving that change, I have zeroed my rifle.


You have multiple choices regarding the color and style of reticles with the ATN X-Sight. One of the most popular features is the Smart Programmable Mil-Dot reticle. Depending on your ammo, you can program the distance between hash marks in Mils. 1 mil = 10 cm@100 meters.

A cool feature that gives you an option other than Mil-Dot reticles with predefined magnifications. An especially cool feature for those who reload their own ammo.

Ballistic Calculator

You can have multiple profiles stored in the ATN X-Sight. Each profile will let you configure the ballistics for that profile. The scope will adjust the reticle depending on ballistic settings like Rifle Type, Drag Function, Ballistic Coefficient, Bullet Weight, Initial Velocity, Zero Range, Sight Height, and Shoot Angle.

In addition to ballistics, you can configure the environment. Configurable items are Relative Humidity, Wind Speed, Wind Direction, Temperature, Barometric Pressure, and Altitude. By far, the most important of these is wind speed and wind direction. You should at least configure these two.

The ballistic calculator is cool, but it’s not something I use hog hunting. Most of my shots are under 200 yards, and after the first shot, the hogs go crazy. With hogs running wild, you are making shots at various distances as fast as you can. You don’t have time to configure ballistics or the environment.

ABL 1500 Laser Range Finder

The Auxiliary Ballistic Laser range finder is optional but comes in handy, especially when hunting hogs at night. Everything looks different at night, even when you are hunting a field you have hunted your whole life.

I can’t tell you how easy it is to misjudge the distance on hogs at night. This is especially frustrating when shooting a caliber prone to bullet drop like a .300 Blackout. The ABL range finder is a definite option to have when hunting hogs.

You have your choice of ten reticles. You have your choice of function, configuration, and color – direct shot and ballistic, scalable, and non-scalable. There are five shooting profiles that can have up to zeroing distances. The reticle can be found in the reticle guide and are as follows:

  • D50i
  • C50i
  • X50i
  • H50i
  • T54i
  • M58i
  • X51Fi – 300
  • M56Fi (Mil-Dot)
  • M57Fi (Mil-Dot)

Too Many Features to Mention

There are a lot of features on the X-Sight that are self-explanatory but not something you find in other night vision scopes. You may use cool features like an E-Barometer and electronic compass occasionally.

When you combine these cutting-edge features with a bleeding-edge crossbow, you have a quiet and deadly combination. Especially for a young hunter’s first archery hunt, it is all caught on film. The ATN X-Sight is the best-rated night vision scope for a crossbow.

What’s in the Box

This can vary from store to store, but in general, the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x will come with the following:

  • ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x Night Vision Scope
  • Scope Cover
  • IR850 Infra-Red Illuminator
  • USB-C Cable
  • Ring with Picatinny Rail
  • L-Shape Ring
  • 2 Standard Rings
  • Sun Shade
  • Eye Cup
  • Lens Cloth


The ATN warranty is a limited 2-year warranty of the product being free of defects in materials and workmanship. The same is true for the ATN IIT. Of course, you will want to keep your proof of purchase and read the fine print. ATN does not cover misuse, alterations, or modifications.


This is a solid night vision scope, but you should beware of the mounts and rings that come stock with the scope. They are not good, and many complain of a floating zero when using them. When you get past that, ATN has a solid night vision scope with the X-Sight 4K Pro. It’s fun and easy to use, and there is a video to walk you through any setting you want to make. You can make and record your hog hunts for years to come.

3. The Armasight CO-Mini Gen-3 Bravo Clip-On: Best Night Vision Scope for Coyote Hunting

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When you put an Armasight on your coyote rifle, you’re getting serious about killing coyotes. The CO-Mini Gen-3 Bravo Night Vision Clip-on from Armasight will convert the AR you have been using for hunting coyotes during the day to a nighttime killing machine.

What I Like

  • The clarity through this scope is unequaled
  • I can use my daytime optics, clip on the Armasight, and I am ready to hunt.
  • Lightweight, and it easily mounts on any of my AR’s. The most compact clip-on on the market.
  • I don’t have to change the zero of my day scope, the CO-Mini clips on, and I am ready to hunt.

What I Don’t Like

  • This is really a night vision scope designed to be light and for targets less than 300 yards.
  • There are not a lot of adjustments for the price.

Best Uses

  • Predator and hog hunting at night
  • Deer and hog hunting during the day (where legal)
  • For hunters who don’t want to leave a night vision scope on their rifle all the time

Quick Reference

  • FOV: 20 degrees
  • Eye Relief: 20 mm
  • Resolution: 64 – 72 LP/MM
  • Magnification: 1x (recommended for 1x-6x daytime optics) 
  • Color Modes: Night only
  • Battery: 1x CR123A (3V) or 1 AA (1.5V)
  • Battery Life: 45 hours (3V) or 24 hours (1.5V)
  • Dimensions: 4.9 x 2.7 x 2.2 Inches
  • Weight: 1.06 Pounds
  • Detection Range: Not available
  • Video Recording: No
  • Video/Photo Format: NA
  • Stream to Phone: No
  • Built-in Memory: None
  • Warranty 3 Years with registration

An Unlikely Selection

Armasight is a top-of-the-line night vision and thermal optics manufacturer. Armasight certainly makes better night vision scopes than their CO-Mini Gen 3 Bravo Clip-On. With that said, they don’t produce junk. Even their less expensive models outperform the best from other manufacturers.

Back to the point, why do I like this Armasight Clip-On? Simply put, I love to night hunt coyotes with it. I like to get tucked under a mesquite tree, my electronic caller is squealing a soft jackrabbit distress, and I am scanning with my big light. When I see the eyes, I pick up my AR and follow him in for a shot. Works great, my rifle/scope is light and easy to carry, and I have a dead coyote.

Simple to Use

You don’t have to be a computer programmer to use the CO-Mini. There are no endless menus to scan through. I just mount the CO-Mini on the Picatinny rail of my AR, just in front of my Leupold VXR, turn it on, and hunt. No special tools are needed, just clip it on and go.

I don’t have to worry about my zero changing, my eye relief changing, or adding an additional five pounds to my rifle. I like the fact that I am not changing my hold or the mechanics of my shot when I add night vision capabilities to my AR.

CO-Mini Focus and Magnification

One of the reasons Armasight can make the CO-Mini so small is that it has no external focus adjustment. It is set from the factory to be completely in focus at 100 yards at low magnification.

The Armasight CO-Mini magnification sweet spot is 4x. It is crystal clear at 100-150 yards with the 4x, but you can use 6x. At 6x, you do lose some clarity, but it is not bad. You can still shoot coyotes at 300 yards, but you will need to do it with four to six magnifications.

The Trade-Offs with the Bravo IIT

If you are new to the world of night vision, you may not be aware of the difference between Image Intensifier Tubes (IIT). They are what make a night vision product work by converting low levels of light from different wavelengths to visible light of a single wavelength.

We will get into this more later, but the IIT’s have categories for clarity and quality. As night vision technology improves, so does the quality of the IIT. Buyers should know that a Gen 1+ intensifier tube is not as good as a Gen 3.

Armasight has two types of Gen 3 intensifier tubes. The Bravo and the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle intensifier tube is as good as it gets. The improvement from Bravo to Pinnacle comes with a price. Considering the CO-Mini is designed for ranges less than 300 yards, I don’t think I need to spend the extra money for the Pinnacle IIT to shoot coyotes.

The IR850 Illuminator

The Armasight CO-Mini comes with the IR850-XLR Illuminator. It is more than enough for the CO-Mini. Don’t spend the extra money on the optional Afocal Doubler. The Afocal Doubler increases the range of the illuminator.

The IR850-XLR Illuminator is good to 1,000 yards, which is more than enough for a clip-on designed for 300 yards or less. It’s also a high-quality illuminator and more than most of us will ever need. It also comes with a two-year limited warranty.

The Armasight CO-Mini has a battery life of 45 hours with a three-volt battery. That is great, but keep in mind the IR850 has a battery life of ten hours at one-quarter power, eight hours at half power, and two and half hours at full power. You may need an extra battery to hunt all night.

What’s in the Box

This can vary from store to store, but in general, the Armasight CO-Mini Gen 3 Bravo Clip-On will come with the following:

  • CO-Mini Night Vision Clip-On System
  • Lens Cap
  • Light Suppressors
  • Special Wrench
  • IR850-XLR Long Range IR Illuminator
  • Wireless Remote Control
  • Quick Detach Weaver Mount
  • Battery Key
  • Product Manual
  • Lens Cloth
  • Soft Carrying Case
  • CR123A Battery
  • 1-year Limited Warranty, 3 years with registration


Armasight has a 1-year non-transferable warranty. The warranty protects you against defects in materials and workmanship free of charge. You can get an extended 3-year warranty if you prefer. If registered within 60 days of purchase, you can get a free 3-year warranty. As always, keep your proof of purchase.


The Armasight CO-Mini is the most compact clip-on night vision device on the market. It is great for hunters who want to keep their day scopes on but need night vision capabilities. I also like that it is light and easy to use. It is also bore-sighted from the factory to better than a 1MOA accuracy, so I am not comprising my day scope by clipping on a CO-Mini. With that said, I think the CO-Mini’s sweet spot is for hunters shooting out to 150 yards and prefer the field of vision over high magnification.

4. Sightmark Wraith 4K Max 3-24×50 Digital Night Vision Scope: The Best Digital Night Vision Scope

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The Sightmark Wraith 4K Max digital night vision scope is a combination of technology, precision, and power. To get so many features at this price point is rare, but this night vision scope is more than features. The Sightmark Wraith 4K also delivers in the field, regardless of the time of day.

What I Like

  • I like the magnification dial; you can be very precise.
  • Works extremely well during the day and takes great daytime pictures.
  • I like that it records both video and audio.
  • The best entry-level night vision scope for under $1000

What I Don’t Like

  • The menus are very tedious and confusing. 
  • Although there are five rifle profiles, there is no quick disconnect mount. You can purchase them for the Sightmark HD, but they will work on the 4K Max.
  • The location of the Picatinny rail to mount your IR Illuminator is back too far and mounts on the left side. Very cumbersome.

Best Uses 

  • Predator and hog hunting at night
  • Deer and hog hunting during the day (where legal)
  • For hunters who want quality recordings of their hunt

Quick Reference

  • FOV: 31.5 feet at 100 yards
  • Eye Relief: 2.7 inches
  • Resolution: 4000 x 3000 pixels
  • Magnification: 3-24x
  • Color Modes: Color during the day and black/white at night
  • Battery: Internal and rechargeable 
  • Battery Life: 5 hours
  • Dimensions: 12 x 1.875 x 3 Inches
  • Weight: 34.6 ounces
  • Detection Range: CMOS Sensor out to 300 yards
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Video/Photo Format: MP4/JPEG
  • Stream to Phone: No
  • Built-in Memory: None
  • Warranty Limited lifetime

Surprising Daytime Performance

The most surprising thing to me about the Sightmark Wraith 4K Max is its daytime performance. It truly is a scope you can use day or night, but the full 4K HD color picture during the day is awesome. The digital magnification is smooth and easy to use.

The quality of the pictures is excellent. The digital magnification is smooth and easy to use. You will find yourself using zooming in to look at everything that catches your eye. Don’t be surprised at the number of pictures you take.

The Sightmark processor is fast, and there is no lag time when moving from object to object. Your sight picture remains clear in both day and night mode, even when using 4K resolution. To get the picture you do for this price, the Sightmark Wraith is a very good option for under $1000.

For those wanting to dip their toes into night vision hunting, a scope for under $1000 seems like a steal. The features, quality, and price make the Sightmark Wraith the best entry-level night vision scope for rookie night vision hunters.

Awesome Video Capabilities

Unlike the Armasight HD, the 4K Max records video and Audio. The audio recording comes through clear, and of course, the MP4 video is full 4K color HD during the day and, like other night vision scopes, is black and white at night. This is a great feature if you like to post hunting videos on social media.

There is a trade-off to the great resolutions, and that is file size. For crystal clear video, you will want to configure your scope for 4K and 30 frames per second. That also means two minutes of video is will use a gig on your SD card.

If you film an entire hunt at 4K and 30 FPS, the file size can be so large that you can’t open it with your cell phone. Older PC’s will struggle with the video as well. You may want to use a 1080 or 720 resolution setting.

The buttons to toggle video on and off are easy to find and easy to use. There is a playback feature on the 4K Max, so you can look at the video in the field or back at camp. The menu to configure video recording is cumbersome and confusing. You will want to watch how-to videos; the user guide doesn’t help much.

IR Illuminator and Rangefinder

The stock Sightmark 850nm IR Illuminator requires 2 CR123A batteries, and you can expect 90 minutes of operation on a set of batteries. It is an adequate illuminator, but I prefer the 66LRX Sniper Hog Lights Flashlight/IR Illuminator. You simply extend your range and brightness.

The stock mount for an IR Illuminator is on the left rear side of the scope. It’s cumbersome and not a great place for an illuminator. Save yourself the headache and mount a Sniper 66LRX under the barrel and as close to the muzzle as possible. Mounting it there will stop smoke from momentarily filling your sight picture.

The rangefinder is not a typical laser rangefinder. It is a digital stadiametric rangefinder. It takes a little practice to get used to it, but it is nice to have a rangefinder. Hunting at night can make estimating distance difficult.

Night Mode

The 4K quality CMOS sensor provides 4000×3000 pixel resolution. This makes for a great sight picture at night with great detail. The 3 x 24x magnification provides clarity up close and out to 800 meters.

This scope easily detects targets out to 300 yards. If you’re hunting on a bright night, you can see out to 200 yards without the IR illuminator. Even then, there is little image degradation. Even at full magnification, the clarity of the Wraith 4K is unbelievable.

What’s in the Box

  • Sightmark 4K Max Digital Night Scope
  • 850 IR Flashlight
  • Objective Lens Cover
  • Fixed Picatinny Mount
  • USB-C Cable
  • User Manual


The Sightmark night vision products are covered for three years against defects in materials and workmanship with proof of original purchase. The warranty is not transferable. IIT’s are also warranted for three years.

Rechargeable batteries are covered for one year, and non-rechargeable batteries are not covered. Of course, misused, altered, or otherwise mistreated returns will not be warranted.  


The Sightmark 4K Max is on the heavy side, but the 50mm lens and 4K resolution make it worth its weight. It’s competitive with the ATN X-Sight LTV in price and features, but you get the 4K resolution with the Sightmark 4K Max. This scope is great for hunters who want to record high-resolution video and Audio. If recording video/audio and the complicated menus that come along with that are not for you. Then you should consider the Armasight Clip-On. If you need to record in high resolution, then the Sightmark 4K Max is your best choice.

5. The Armasight Gen 3 Pinnacle 4.5x Vulcan: Best Night Vision Scope for an AR15

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If you are looking for a dedicated lightweight night vision scope with a great field of view and is simple to use, then the Armasight Vulcan Gen 3 Pinnacle 4.5x is as good as it gets. It meets all the MIL-STD-810G standards for durability but weighs just over two pounds. From its common sense quick-disconnect mount to its ability to handle AA or CR123A batteries, it is built for demanding hunters.

What I Like

  • The quick disconnect mount is easy to use and needs no tools.
  • It is waterproof and shockproof, and it can take the demands of extreme hunting.
  • It works with both AA and CR123A batteries.
  • Tremendous clarity and detailed sight picture at any distance.
  • Simple and easy to use.

What I Don’t Like

  • This is a military-grade night vision scope, so there are few features.
  • The Vulcan-D has more reticle options, but it is hard to find and more expensive.

Best Uses

  • Predator and hog hunting at night
  • Deer and hog hunting during the day (where legal)
  • For hunters who want tremendous quality and don’t mind paying for it

Quick Reference

  • FOV: 9 degrees
  • Eye Relief: 45 mm
  • Resolution: 64 lp
  • Magnification: 4.5x
  • Color Modes: White Phosphorus 
  • Battery: 1-AA or 1-CR123A 
  • Battery Life: 24 hours with AA or 40 hours with CR123A
  • Dimensions: 11.7 x 3.8 x 2.8 Inches
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Detection Range: Video Recording: No
  • Video/Photo Format: N/A
  • Stream to Phone: No
  • Built-in Memory: None
  • Warranty: 1-year limited non-transferable warranty, Free limited three-year warranty with registration

Multiple IIT Options are Available

When it comes to clarity, it comes at a price. If quality is the only question and price is not an issue, then you have several Image Intensifier Tube (IIT) options available. The Pinnacle IIT is what you see most law enforcement and hunters use. For the hunting I do, this is my choice for a stand-alone night vision scope.

The Pinnacle 2376 IIT is what the military calls the perfect IIT for their night vision goggles and scopes. There is just not anything clearer. It is the choice of the military and elite hunters who only want the very best. Both the Gen 3 Pinnacle IIT and Gen 3 Pinnacle 2376 IIT’s are available if you so choose.

If you like taking long-range shots, the Armasight Vulcan is the best long-range night vision scope on this list. The sight picture is clear and you will see further than you care to shoot on most nights.

Mounting Mechanism

The Armasight Vulcan comes with a rock-solid dual lever locking mount. It locks solid and as advertised, really is finger adjustable. Armasight uses this same mount on many of its night vision and thermal scopes.

If you zero your AR15 and decide to remove the Vulcan, you do not have to zero your AR again when you put the Vulcan back on. Its locking mechanism is tight enough that if you put it back on the same cross-slot as it was on when you zeroed, you don’t need to re-zero.

IR Illuminator

The Armasight Vulcan comes with the IR850-XLR Illuminator. It is more than enough for the Vulcan 4x. The range is such on the Vulcan that some use an Afocal Doubler. The Afocal Doubler increases the range of the illuminator. For most of us mortals, it is not needed for the hunting we do.

The IR850-XLR Illuminator is good to 1,000 yards and is one of the best in the industry. There is no need for an aftermarket IR illuminator like with the ATN and Sightmark. It also comes with a two-year limited warranty.

The IR850 has a battery life of ten hours at one-quarter power, eight hours at half power, and two and half hours at full power. You may need an extra battery to hunt all night. It uses either 2-18650 or 2-CR123A batteries.


Unlike the ATN, Sightmark, and Pulsar the Armasight Vulcan does not have endless reticle choices. The Vulcan has an illuminated red reticle that does allow you to adjust its brightness. If simple is what you are after, the Vulcan is it. 

Note: The Vulcan-D does have more digital-like features, including five digital reticles to choose from. The Vulcan-D is more expensive, though, and is often not available. If you want more reticle choices and the quality of an Armasight night vision scope, try the Vulcan-D.

Remote Control

All of the Armasight Vulcan night vision scopes come with a weapon-mounted remote control. It is a single-button remote that will toggle the Vulcan to standby mode. It is easy to mount and easy to get to.

Armasight uses this easy-to-use remote to save battery life. Simply push the button for stand-by and push it again to wake the Vulcan from stand-by. After that, you are ready to acquire your target.

The Armasight Vulcan also has an automatic shut-down feature. If the unit is left on for 60 minutes with no activity, it will shut down to preserve battery life. A great feature in case you left it on when you packed up for the night.

It’s not for Day and Night Use

The Armasight Vulcan is a stand-alone, night vision only scope. It is strictly for hunting at night. The above Pulsar, ATN, or Sightmark night vision scopes can all be used day or night. Not so with the Armasight Vulcan.

It does have an automatic shut-off that activates when too much ambient light is detected. This saves the Image Intensifier Tubes that can be damaged if exposed to light. It will turn back on when the light source is removed.

What’s in the Box

  • Vulcan 4.5x Night Vision Scope
  • Lens Cap
  • Eyecup
  • IR850-XLR Long-Range Illuminator
  • Wireless Remote Control
  • Quick Detach Weaver Mount
  • Battery Key
  • Product Manual
  • Lens Cloth
  • Soft Carrying Case
  • CR123A Battery
  • 1-year limited non-transferable warranty, 3-year limited warranty with registration


Armasight has a 1-year non-transferable warranty. The warranty protects you against defects in materials and workmanship free of charge. You can get an extended 3-year warranty if you prefer. If registered within 60 days of purchase, you can get a free 3-year warranty. As always, keep your proof of purchase.


The Armasight Vulcan Gen 3 Pinnacle 4.5x is all about clarity. From close range to full magnification, the clarity of your field of view is unmatched. It is built to be used and can handle extreme conditions. If you are looking for all the bells and whistles, then this is not the night vision scope for you. If you have to count on your night vision scope to perform no matter what the conditions are, then the Armasight Vulcan is for you.

Know Before You Go: Night Vision Buying Guide

Now that you have seen some of the best night vision scopes and the hunting applications they work best in, it is time to pull the trigger and buy one. If you are like me, you want to understand the features and technology behind them before you buy. It’s the only way to ensure you get all you can for the hard-earned money you spend.

Not All Image Intensifier Tubes are the Same

When it comes to Image Intensifier Tubes (IIT), are you sure you know what an IIT is and does? Also, you will see a lot of Gen 2 and Gen 3 ratings for IIT’s. What does that mean? On top of that, Armasight has a Bravo, Pinnacle, and even Pinnacle Elite rating on their IIT’s. What does all that mean? Let’s break that down.

What is an Image Intensifier Tube? An IIT is an optoelectronic device or vacuum tube device that increases the intensity of available light in an optical device. In essence, it is taking the light that can not be detected by the naked eye and amplifying it so that you can see in the dark.

If it is really dark outside, that is no moon, stars, or other light around; it is difficult for the IIT of a night vision scope to gather enough unseen light to give you a picture. In this case, you need an alternate source of light.

That’s where the Infra-red Illuminator comes in. You can’t see its beam like you can a flashlight, but the IIT. As the beam of the IR illuminator shines down range, the IIT picks up the light and gives you a sight picture. The better the IR illuminator, the farther you can see and the brighter the image.

IIT Ratings

Over the years, the technology behind the IIT’s has improved. When significant improvements are made, they give it a new generation number. That’s why a Gen 2 is better than a Gen 1, and so on.

You should be aware that some manufacturers have their own terminology and grading standards for their tubes, but I will do my best to explain. Remember, like precious gems, no two IIT’s are the same. The quality of an IIT can vary as based on availability. 

A manufacturer’s main goal is to get you the clearest sight picture possible. Even with today’s technology, there are minor blemishes in every IIT. A blemish is a microscopic spec that can affect clarity.

Companies like Armasight will have Gen 3 Image Intensifier tubes, but they grade the Gen 3 IIT by the number of blemishes it has. Their lowest Gen 3 IIT is the Bravo IIT, which has up to eleven specs. Above the Bravo is the Pinnacle IIT which has 50% fewer blemishes than the Bravo, and the Pinnacle Elite has 90% less than the Bravo.

When it comes to price, a Gen 2 IIT is cheaper than a Gen 3 IIT, but the quality improves with the Gen 3. Likewise, an Armasight Gen 3 night vision scope with Bravo IIT is cheaper than a Gen 3 with a Pinnacle IIT. You get what you pay for.

Gen 1+:

There is not a lot of difference between Gen 1 tubes. The difference here is in design and lenses.

Standard Gen 2, Gen 2+, and Gen 2ST:

A big step up from Gen 1, but better-rated Gen 2 tubes have fewer blemishes and better performance.

Gen 2CGT and Gen2MS:

Gen 2 Custom Grade Tubes and Gen 2 mil-spec grade tubes are comparable to other Gen 2 tubes in price but much higher quality.

Gen 2HPT and Gen 2HP:

This is where the technology started meeting the demands of hunters. The Gen 2 High-Performance Tube or Gen 2 High Performance are comparable to Gen 3 IIT’s, but the Gen 3 tubes tend to last longer. Since the Gen 2 HPT and Gen HP are similar in price to lower-level Gen 3 IIT’s, the smart choice is the Gen 3.

Gen 3:

With the Gen 3 IIT, you get great performance and can expect them to last you a lifetime. Higher-level Gen 3 tubes will give you better clarity, but the Gen 3 is a solid choice.

Gen 3ST:

The Gen 3ST is a solid choice, especially if paired with a low to medium-level night vision scope. Autogated or pinnacle tubes have fewer blemishes, but many hunters cannot tell the difference between 3 standard (ST) and 3A/3P/3AG.

Gen 3A:

An upgrade from the 3ST, because there are fewer blemishes. The Gen 3A usually has a better warranty than previous Gen 3 IIT’s.

Gen 3P, Gen 3PE, and Gen 3AG

The Gen 3 Pinnacle, Gen 3 Pinnacle Elite, or Gen 3 Autogated IIT’s are about as good as it gets. There is a Gen 3 Hand Selected available by some manufacturers that are a step above, but for mortal hunters, this is the best there is.

These Gen 3 IIT’s have an autogated power supply. This keeps a metered amount of light in the tube and prevents blooming. Blooming is when a sudden light source is captured and the picture is suddenly blinding. The autogated power supply prevents that from happening.

The Gen 3P and Gen 3 AG are great in any light condition, which is why it is the choice of the military and special forces. The Gen 3PE will have even fewer blemishes than the Gen 3P or Gen 3AP. Other than a hand-selected Gen 3 IIT, this is as good as it gets.

Smart Scopes

Many hunters are looking for a night vision scope with all the latest bells and whistles. Others want something simple and easy to use. There are trade-offs to both, so you should know the difference before you decide on a scope.

Feature-rich night vision, “smart scopes” like the Pulsar, ATN, and Sightmark can do almost anything. They can record and stream video, have built-in range finders, can be used day or night, and have settings to customize the scope to your needs. They also have multiple reticle colors and styles.

The downside to all these features is that they can be complicated to set up. The terminology changes from scope to scope, so I find myself on YouTube trying to navigate my way through them. It seems that these “smart scopes” need me to configure them through an endless maze of menus.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are night vision scopes that focus on performance and not so much on features. These optics tend to be very clear, easy to use, and bulletproof. There are few if any, menus, and most of the settings are done with external controls.

Todd checking zero
Todd checking zero

You’re not going to video your hunt, take pictures, or use these night vision scopes during the day. You do have a rock-solid night vision scope that you can depend on and will last much longer on a set of batteries. Each hunter has to decide, do you want all the features or mil-spec quality?


You will want to match your rifle and the type of hunting you plan to do to the magnification of your night vision scope. When it comes to magnification, not all night vision scopes are the same.

Night vision scopes like the Sightmark let you zoom via a magnification wheel. As you spin the wheel/dial, the scope zooms out granularly. There are night vision scopes that have a fixed zoom, for instance, 2x, 4x, 8x and etc. Hunters should be aware of this. For some hunters, it’s not a big deal, and for others, it is.

All hunters expect a clear picture at full magnification. If you are going to make longer shots with your night vision scope, you will want to make sure you have a scope designed for that. Cheaper night vision scopes struggle with full magnification and clarity.

A note on magnification: Even if you have great clarity at full magnification but are using an inferior IR Illumination, you’re not going to see very far. Make sure you have a quality IR illuminator for long-range shooting.

Weight and Size

Weight and size will often vary from scope to scope. Generally speaking, the more features you pack into a scope, the bigger and heavier it is. As a rule, the more magnification a night vision scope has, the heavier it is as well.

If you hunt both hogs and coyotes, you are better off choosing a lighter night vision scope. If your coyote hunting is off a tripod, then weight and size may not be an issue. If you are stalking a group of hogs across a wheat field, the weight probably is an issue.


With all the advancements in night vision scopes, I am surprised at how little thought many manufacturers put into mounts. Some are fixed and need a screwdriver to install and remove. Others are Quick Disconnect (QD) and are easily moved from gun to gun.

There are night vision scopes that can be removed from the gun and used as a handheld night vision devices. Even if you don’t hunt with it, night vision scopes can help you find your game after you have made the shot.

Batteries and Battery Life

Batteries vary from scope to scope. The more features a night vision scope has, the shorter run time the batteries have. Recording video and streaming video especially shorten the run time. You can often find batteries cheaper online.

Keep in mind that the IR illuminator needs batteries too. It is nice when the scope and illuminator use the same battery. Don’t forget that most IR illuminators batteries will run down long before the scope does.

If you have an internal rechargeable battery, this can be an issue. You can’t stop the hunt just to charge batteries. Most night vision scopes with an internal fixed battery, also have an external battery option. I prefer that on a long hunt, you can’t stop what you’re doing to charge a battery.

Coming Soon

I hope this helps you on your quest for the perfect night vision scope. Of course, no list is complete without discussing thermal hunting scopes. We will be covering thermal scopes in our next review.

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