Night hunting is a dangerous mission, so we’re thankful that modern technology gave us night vision scopes while we run about under the cover of darkness. Trust me, these babies don’t come cheap, but don’t burn a hole in your pocket just yet. If you’re as picky as we are when it comes to quality and affordability, then this review of the best cheap night vision scopes is for you.
Top 10 Affordable Night Vision Scopes
1. Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope
Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope is a new revolutionary and versatile digital night vision riflescope, ideal for day and night time use. It features ten reticle options and nine color choices for easier aiming accuracy. It also uses four AA batteries that can last up to 4.5-hours of battery life and an external Micro USB port that expands options for power.
This digital rifle scope also includes black, white, and a classic green night vision mode for daytime shooting. It comes with a removable IR Illuminator with a detection range of 200 yards. It also features high-resolution imaging with video recording with a 4x optical system for up to 32x magnification.
2. Night Owl Optics Digital Night Vision Riflescope
Night Owl Optics Digital Night Vision Riflescope is a cheap night vision riflescope that features a 3x magnification with a focal length of 52mm and an aperture of 40mm. It has a focusing distance of 3m to infinity and a mounting system of Weaver or Picatinny rail compatible.
This day night rifle scope has a detection range of 100-200 yds in a typical nighttime environment. It lets shooters choose between its three different reticle types, each of which configures in white or black to best suit the current shooting environment.
3. ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Scope
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Rifle Optic is also a cheap night vision optic that can magnify an image between 5-20x. With this scope, you can shoot the target at a longer range. It comes with an ultra HD sensor for more accurate target locking.
This smart day night rifle scope features the ability to record a video using a smart device while streaming simultaneously. It also comes with a ballistic calculator, which helps determine factors such as windage and elevation. Its battery can run for more than 18 hours. It also has a high-quality lens and a night vision mode that offers good illumination and a full field of view.
4. BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope
BESTSIGHT Night Vision Scope is a night vision scope that captures the high-quality visual experience, even in almost complete darkness. It is ideal for surveillance, night outdoor, night for hunting, night vision scopes for rifles, and shooting.
It is also easy to use, clean, and assemble. It features 5.0 inches of clear display screen captures and a 360-degree adjustable camera with a 5W extended sliding infrared flashlight.
5. Sightmark Photon 6-12x50 Digital Night Vision Riflescope
Sightmark Photon RT 6-12×50 Waterproof Digital Night Vision Riflescope is a night vision scope that delivers unmatched performance day or night, similar to the Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec. It features an upgraded 768×576 CMOS sensor with a 40% higher resolution over the Photon XT series.
It also comes with a crisp 640×480 LCD, a built-in video and sound recording, and integrated wifi via the Pulsar Stream Vision App. It has 2x digital zooms, and a built-in 850nm LED IR illuminator that locks targets up to 280 yards away.
This scope has six reticle options with four different colors. This scope is waterproof, has a one-shot zero function, and offers additional weaver rails and a power input that works via micro USB.
6. NightShot Night Vision Rifle Scope with Illuminator
NightShot Night Vision Rifle Scope with Illuminator is an inexpensive, lightweight, and easy-to-operate night scope. It is made of polymer construction, securing its durability. It has a flat spot on one of its cross-bolts that can be reversed to work in different mounts, particularly the “weaver mounts.”
It also features a Rifle Shotgun Crossbow reticles and Paintball Airsoft Pellet gun and a side-mounted IR Light. It detects a range of 200 yards and above as long as no vegetation gets a white light back-flash.
7. Day/Night Colorful Viewing Digital Night Vision Scope
Day/Night Colorful Viewing Digital Night Vision Scope is a rifle scope that allows full-color viewing mode for day use and black, white, or classic green for night vision mode. It features a 300m night vision range. It has multi-coated glass objectives and an infrared LED illuminator for a clearer image, even up to 980 ft / 300 m away.
It also comes with a 3x digital zoom with a 4.5x optical system magnification and a 1080p HD video and photo recording.
8. KOLINLOV Night Vision Scope
KOLINLOV Night Vision Scope is a rifle scope that comes with a 4.3-inch screen. It features a unique night-capture system for the best clarity at long-range shooting even in the dark.
This scope also comes along with an adjustable camera and is relatively easy to install. It guarantees visibility of over 200 yards of range on its night vision mode. This scope provides a colorful view during the day and ultra-clear vision at night.
9. Armasight Nemesis SD Gen 2+ Night Vision Rifle Scope
The Armasight Nemesis SD Gen 2+ Night Vision Rifle Scope is an affordable night vision scope that features an adjustable brightness illuminated reticle and thin crosshairs for a more precise shot placement during day and night time.
It also has a high-quality image intensifier tube, an easy to use internal windage and elevation adjustments, and simple push-button controls. This optic fits a Picatinny/ Weaver mount rail for more accurate rail positioning and ensures user comfort.
This scope also has a long-range built-in IR illuminator. Moreover, this scope is water-resistant, robust but lightweight, and engineered from aircraft aluminum.
10. BESTSIGHT Pard Night Vision
BESTSIGHT Pard Night Vision is a lightweight rear mounted night vision scope that easily converts a day scope into a night vision rifle scope for close and long-range hunting. This scope comes with a 1080P HD color daytime and nighttime video recording direct to the internal micro SD card.
It features a standard configuration of a 45mm lens. It also has a wifi function that turns electronic devices into a viewfinder if connected to the scope. It provides a 1080p HD resolution providing high-quality images day or night. It has an SD where recorded images and videos are stored. Lastly, it comes with an IR positioning function that lets shooters find the target in the darkness within 200m distance.
To be regarded as the best cheap night vision scope, affordability should, of course, be on top of the list. Since digital vision scopes require superior optical construction and optics, which is quite expensive, it’s no wonder that it is more costly than conventional optics. If you are a hunter that is tight on budget, you can try to research scopes that aren’t priced as high as the other high-end optics. Just make sure that although you are looking for a cheap scope, its quality isn’t compromised. There are several quality NV scopes that are below $500.
For other quality yet affordable scopes, check out this review of Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 here.
Digital night vision rifle scopes are typically delicate since manufacturers had incorporated sensitive optics, electronics, and chemical elements into it. Considering these facts, you need to find the best night vision scope to withstand shocks and mishandling. Look for scopes that are made of aluminum alloy and other sturdy materials. Make sure this scope can combat rough conditions and adverse weather. We suggest that you pick a waterproof and more rugged model.
A true-blooded hunter needs to consider clarity before buying the best digital night vision scope. You need to find a scope that can give you high-quality image and video recording amidst the dark environment you are situated in.
Finding a scope with crappy resolution will only make your scope useless when hunting in the dark. You need to ensure that the scope has a distance detection of up to 500 yards.
Most digital night vision scopes identify targets in a shorter viewing range than an optical scope. It should be around 100 and 200 yards. You must consider the magnification and range detection of the scope you plan on buying.
Recognition and detection ranges depend on the scope’s generation, magnification, and objective lens size. All of these things must be on your top priorities in looking for a scope to invest in.
You also need to determine the range that you plan to hunt with. You need to choose the best night vision scope that allows you to see and shoot at the range you’ll be using it at.
For other optics designed for long-distance shooting, here’s our review of Millett scopes.
Night vision scopes need to have long battery life. Imagine hunting in the dark, and you suddenly run out of battery. Some scopes last 5,000 up to 7,000 hours, so make sure to get information about the required battery of the scope and its expected life. Also, take into consideration that since night vision goggles are mainly military-grade optics, they may require more expensive batteries that aren’t even rechargeable.
It would be best to choose night vision goggles with a standard battery intended for civilian use, like AA. You can also buy high-grade rechargeable batteries like a proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
As mentioned above, night vision scopes require special glass optics. While it’s great that you are looking for a cheap NVG, you need to consider the origin of the lens used. Most high-end glass lenses are likely to present the least distortion amount, so you have to be careful in choosing your scope.
Glasses made in Vietnam and Japan are genuinely made in high quality. With a low-quality cheap scope, the glass will most likely cause more distortion on plastic or polymer lenses of any type.
Night vision goggles don’t come with a BDC reticle or even dot optics. Most often, they come with a very simple duplex reticle. Anyway, there are several magnifiers and NVD that are compatible with red dot optics. It is an ideal solution for modern sporting rifles like AR 15s and AK-47s and lightweight carbines.
Some newer scopes use computers in conjunction with laser range finders in automatically adjusting the scope’s reticle to account for bullet drop at the range.
Looking for spotting scopes? Check out this Barska spotting scopes review here.
Night vision goggles add weight to a rifle, resulting in fatigue to the hunter for long periods. So, it is suggested to look for a lighter scope, smaller optic, and more compact. Making standing shots and observing for an extended period or off-hand shots may be difficult while carrying a heavy optic.
Also, consider how important it is to ensure that the scope rail is long enough to accommodate the optic. Or it will likely be a poor fit for a large optic. Remember, AR-15 rifles run monolithic rails, which are often excellent choices for large optics.
Also, consider the performance of the scope during daytime or night time. As most modern scopes now have dual usages, you must ensure that the scope can place a shot at any time of the day.
he downside is, although they are more cost-efficient and more convenient, these types are generally bulkier and heavier.
All night vision devices require at least a small amount of ambient or infrared light to work. Many Gen 2 and Gen 3 devices can make use of very faint moonlight or starlight. Still, even the most advanced night vision requires an IR illuminator to function in situations with absolutely no visible light. 
Luminance gain is another crucial factor to consider in choosing an NVD. Look for scopes that offer IR Illumination features because it would make your night vision image brighter. Since these IR illuminators are detachable, it may add another extra weight to your rifle.
Look for night vision goggles that offer an integrated mounting system or other NV attachments. It would make the scope easier to adjust and to attach to your rifle. It would also be best if the night vision scope can be mounted to practically almost all firearms that you wish to use it with. The most common rails used for night vision goggles are the Weaver or Picatinny mounting rail.
For entry-level and adjustable sights, check out this review of Truglo red dots here.
Who Is It Best Suited For?
According to most night vision scope reviews, cheap night vision scopes are best suited for hunters that enjoy hunting in low light conditions. These scopes give the advantage of seeing your prey while remaining hidden.
Whether you are hunting for a deer or a coyote or intend to use the best night vision scope for tactical use, it is wise to look for something that will give you the most value for your money. They generally make hunting in the dark easier and more efficient. Although these scopes are initially made for the military, civilians now love using these scopes for hunting.
Night Vision Scope Generations
Four night vision scope generations bring advancements in clarity, performance, light amplification, and reduce older models’ price.
The first generation night scopes were used in Vietnam and used only passive infrared. The second generation became smaller, more compact, and more portable, increasing performance and clarity. It became Gen2+ when it was further developed.
The third generation has been popular with most combat troops. And these Gen3 NVGs are legal to own and use within the US. The fourth-generation was experimental, for these scopes do not have a protective coating on its microchannel plate. Civilians hardly use these.
Night Vision vs Thermals
Night vision works by allowing shooters to see in low light conditions, enhancing light through its night vision technology. In comparison, thermal imaging uses heat, as it shows hot or warm areas as red or orange light in your sight. Its color intensity signifies hotter areas, helping you in spotting targets by enabling you to see your prey’s body heat.
Night vision optics has more range than thermal devices. Also, thermal optics has a lower resolution, resulting in heat blobs rather than identifiable targets. Night vision provides a better zoom range, making it a better choice in identifying a target and shot placement.
The best night vision scopes are generally more expensive than traditional scopes because they use a costly special glass. Hence their manufacturing cost becomes high. They need a powerful lens, expensive tubes, and sophisticated materials, so the manufacturing cost increases compared to other viewing devices.
They also use higher night vision technology development that costs extra. So, when companies upgrade their scope’s features to compete with other scopes, the cost spikes higher, too.
It depends. Hunting is considered illegal in some regions. So, illegal hunters opt to hunt in the dark to avoid authorities. But hunting at night requires night vision scopes. Significantly, there may also be illegal spies or shooters that may harm a sovereign country. Hence, the government issued a restriction in manufacturing NVD and mandated a higher price for these scopes. The government thinks that spiking up their prices may control the illegal use of NVGs at a mass level.
The best night vision scopes are durable as they are typically made with premium quality materials. And with proper care, these scopes can last a lifetime. In some generations, like the I² night vision system, they have a limited lifespan because of the coatings on the tubes.
If you want to extend the battery life of I2 equipment, shut it off when not in use. In contrast, a good Gen 2+ system scope should give you as much as 5,000 hours of use. A Gen 3 system can give you as much as 12 000 up to 15 000 hours of operation.
No, the best night vision unit will not work in total darkness because digital and night vision devices are passive devices. They only use natural ambient infrared light from the natural environment to create an image that cannot be seen with a naked eye.
Hence, these NVGs will not work effectively on cloudy nights or in pitch black of a basement or blacked-out building. The best night vision systems require some form of light to operate. Although some NVDs use the green light system to enhance its light to improve a low light image.
And the #1 Budget Night Vision Scope is...
After rigorous testing, we found Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope as the best budget night vision scope for both day and night-time use. Its ten reticle options and nine color choices greatly help in aiming accuracy. It also has a long battery life as it uses four double-A batteries that can last up to 4.5-hours even without using an external Micro USB port.
We like the removable IR illuminator with a 200-yard detection range and a wide field of view. Its high-resolution imaging and video recording also impressed us. It also features a 4x optical system for up to 32x magnification range.
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