9 Best Night Vision Scopes of 2023 [Digital, Gen 2+ & 3]

Night vision scope attached to a rifle and lying on a surface at dark
Our Top Night Vision Scopes of 2023 from AGM, SightMark, Pulsar & More

The best night vision rifle scopes for 2023 guarantee you’ll see coyotes, hogs, raccoons, and varmints well before they damage your property.

These critters think they own the night, but with a trusty digital or traditional night vision scope on your AR-15 or .308, you can turn the tables and show them who’s boss.

Read on, and we’ll review CMOS-based digital scopes and Gen 2+ and 3 traditional night vision units that will fit your needs and budget. We’re here to help you make the most informed buying decision possible.

Some scopes work as standalone options, while others clip on your existing daytime scope to reach out into the gloom.

We’ll focus solely on devices that use ambient light and have kept thermal imagers off this list. But be sure to check out our “Making Sense of Technical Terms” section and our article on how night vision works for an in-depth dive into the technology behind the product.

Let’s cut to the chase and explore the best night vision scopes from brands like Pulsar, ATN, Armasight, AGM, and SightMark.

Table of Contents

Best Night Vision Rifle Scopes

Digital Scopes That Illuminate the Night

Before we get into the traditional ghostly green displays of night vision scopes (the ones you’ll see in spy movies), let’s check out their digital counterparts because those offer a lot of cool technology at lower prices than their green alternatives.

Unlike traditional night vision devices (NVDs), digital scopes use CMOS sensors, like digital cameras, to capture light and brighten dark scenes. Plus, they have exciting features that analog night vision devices lack, such as recording video or syncing to mobile phones.

While these features don’t make them better than Gen 2+ or 3 for seeing at night, they represent tech-packed options that can benefit hunters day or night.

Give Me All the Digital Bells & Whistles
Pulsar Digex C50

Pulsar Digex C50 digital nv rifle sight

Sensor Resolution: 1928×1088
Lens Diameter: 50mm
Magnification: 3x up to 14x magnification
Battery Type: Lithium-ion
Waterproof: Yes, submersible to a meter for up to 30 minutes

Regarding the best digital night vision scope for the money, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more compelling option than Pulsar’s Digex C50.

Pulsar’s C50 produces excellent nighttime visuals that make spotting coyotes a breeze when used at night with the included IR illuminator. And unlike traditional analog night vision, the C50 comes with the following:

  • A full-color screen for daytime usage
  • Wi-fi integration with Android and iOS devices
  • Picture-in-Picture capabilities
  • Photo and video recording
  • Ten reticle choices

I’m not saying digital scopes provide better images in very dark situations than traditional night vision — that’s not true.

Compared to a scope like the Armasight Vulcan 4.5x, the C50 itself doesn’t produce super-crisp images under starlight or moonlight — you’ll need to use the included IR illuminator. So, if stealth is essential to your night vision research, a pure NV scope is the way to go.

That’s because IR light is visible to others with night vision. But, if that isn’t a concern, you can’t go wrong with Pulsar’s C50 digital scope. It offers a lot of bang for not many bucks.

On the other hand, if you desire the old-school green display, depth, and resolution of traditional night vision, check out our Gen 2+ and 3 sections.

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The Dare-We-Say “Cheap” Choice?
SightMark Wraith HD 4-32×50

SightMark Wraith HD 4-32x50

Sensor Resolution: 1920×1080 with 4K options
Lens Diameter: 50mm
Magnification: 4x up to 32x magnification
Battery Type: CR123A
Waterproof: No, water resistant

Hunters can scoop up the SightMark Wraith for even fewer greenbacks than the Pulsar C50, proving that quality digital optics are available at less-than-bank-busting prices.

With an HD sensor resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, the Wraith HD produces decent low-light images when used with an IR illuminator. Its performance is typical for this price point, but the SightMark scope also lets you:

  • Record video
  • View full-color images in daytime
  • Choose from 10 different reticles
  • Magnify visuals up to 32x
  • Display nine other color choices

While this scope includes many features at a “low” price, coyote and hog hunters complain about a few of the Wraith’s shortcomings. For one, it’s heavy. At over 3 pounds, your once lightweight AR-15 could have some maneuverability concerns.

Second, it burns through batteries quickly. With only 4-5 hours of runtime from 4 AA batteries, you’ll want to invest in some rechargeable options.

Finally, it does display somewhat scrambled imagery on-screen during recoil. However, if you want to get started in the world of night vision, SightMark’s Wraight HD scope is an excellent place to start.

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Gen 2+ Night Vision Rifle Scopes

Now that we’ve looked at what the digital world offers, let’s examine the realm of traditional NVDs, starting with Gen 2+ scopes. These scopes are designed to do only one thing — see in the dark — and they do it without any digital processing.

While that may sound like a disadvantage, hunters may view it as a positive. That’s because looking through a traditional night vision scope is more comparable to looking at the world via your own eyes.

In short, night vision offers better resolution and depth perception than you’ll find on either digital or thermal scopes. You get higher resolutions because the device isn’t limited to the number of pixels used in the display. And because NVDs amplify ambient light reflected off surfaces in the environment, you’ll experience more depth.

Let’s take a look.

Best Bang for the Buck
AGM Global Vision Wolverine-4 4×108

AGM Global Vision Wolverine-4 4x108

Lp/mm: 45-57
Lens Diameter: 108mm
Magnification: 4x
Screen Color: Green
Battery Type: CR123A
Waterproof: No; water-resistant

AGM’s Wolverine-4 is one of the best entry-level, close-to-mid-range night vision scopes you can attach to your rifle, AR-15 or otherwise.

Constructed with a Gen 2+ tube, this lightweight water- and fog-resistant scope will help you mow down just about any varmint that dares wander where they don’t belong. And with an included AGM Sioux long-range infrared illuminator, darkness no longer hides the hog.

But that’s not all. Additional features include:

  • A rechargeable battery and charger
  • Adjustable illuminated reticle
  • Internal windage and elevation adjustments
  • Quick-release mounting system
  • Manual top-wheel focus

As for downsides, you’ll want to pair it with a dedicated rifle, like all other standalone scopes. That, or you’ll have to remove it every time you switch to a daytime scope.

It doesn’t have such fancy Gen 3-like features as auto-gating, but that also means you won’t have to pay higher Gen 3 prices.

Ultimately, this rifle scope scores serious points for those who want basic night vision at a bargain price.

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Clip-On Solution for Versatility
AGM Global Vision Comanche-22

AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 night vision rifle scope

Lp/mm: 45-57
Lens Diameter: 108mm
Magnification: 1x but works with up to 8x day scopes
Screen Color: Green or White
Battery Type: CR123A or AA
Waterproof: Yes

Hunters who want to avoid swapping out their scopes every day and night love clip-ons. Lucky for them, AGM makes an affordable night vision attachment that conveniently clips on the front of their day scope to make for a practical day/night system. It’s called the Comanche-22.

Because it’s a clip-on, hunters won’t have to worry about re-zeroing their AR-15s. But one of the best features of this particular Gen 2+ rifle scope is its manual gain function. This enables hunters to manually adjust their scope’s brightness, a feature typically found only on scopes that cost much more.

That’s not the only significant feature, though. You’ll also get the following:

  • A wireless remote control
  • A bright-light shutoff system
  • A quick-release system
  • The Sioux850 long-range illuminator
  • A choice of green or white phosphor screens

This unit doesn’t have much to criticize, save for its low recoil tolerance. But, with a bright-light shutoff and the ability to work with scopes up to 7x magnification, you get great features at an affordable price.

For mid-to-long-range shooting with calibers less powerful than a .308 Winchester, the Comanche-22 is a tempting option.

Upgraded Durability & Glimpse Ahead
AGM Global Vision Wolverine Pro-4

AGM Global Vision Wolverine Pro-4

Lp/mm: Up to 64 – 72
Lens Diameter: 70mm
Magnification: 4x
Screen Color: Green or White
Battery Type: AA
Waterproof: Yes

If you’ve found yourself eyeing the Wolverine-4 night vision scope mentioned above but have reservations about its resolution or lack of waterproofing, look at the Wolverine Pro-4.

With its higher resolution, waterproofing, and the ability to upgrade to a Gen 3 tube, the Wolverine Pro-4 proves you can have it all.

In addition to the upgrades listed above, you’ll also get:

  • A Sioux 850 long-range illuminator
  • A long 40-hour runtime
  • Standard white-phosphor screens across Gens
  • A limited three-year warranty
  • An adjustable projected reticle

Note: you won’t get the quick-swap capabilities of the Comanche-22 — this isn’t night vision that attaches to an existing scope to make a day/night system.

That said, it’s an excellent option if you have an AR-15 or other rifle you’d like the Wolverine Pro-4 to live on.

And if you’re looking for an NV scope with a bit more magnification, check out the Wolverine Pro-6, which has all these goodies plus twice the magnification. Just be aware that the Pro-6 weighs over 3 pounds, making it one of the bulkiest NV scopes on this list.

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Scopes Built with Gen 3 Tech

Unlike the scopes above, every product in this section comes with a Gen 3 tube. That means better image quality, high-end features like auto-gating, and thin- to non-filmed multi-channel plates (MCPs).

While you’ll spend more coin on a Gen 3 tube, these scopes provide the best optics in the traditional night vision world. So, if you’ve been battling coyotes and raccoons, but they’ve got the nighttime edge, turn the tables on them with a Gen 3 device.

High-Quality Dedicated Gen 3 Choice
Armasight Vulcan 4.5x

Armasight Vulcan 4.5x nv scope

Lp/mm: 64-72
Lens Diameter: 108mm
Magnification: 4.5x
Screen Color: White
Battery Type: CR123A or AA
Waterproof: Yes

Armasight’s Vulcan 4.5x might be my favorite dedicated night vision rifle scope; for me, the Armasight marries class-leading features with a compact and lightweight design.

Tipping the scales at a scant 2.4 pounds, the Vulcan 4.5x won’t weigh you down like some day/night scope combinations. However, a dedicated scope like the Vulcan makes a lot of sense for hunters on the go who want to eliminate the strain of undue pounds.

Plus, the Vulcan also comes with:

  • High FOM (Field of Merit) tube options
  • A wireless remote control
  • Manual gain adjustments
  • Auto-gating and bright-light shutoff
  • Shockproof components

Armasight only offers Vulcan devices with white phosphor screens. These high-end features don’t come cheap, which leads me to the Vulcan’s biggest drawback: price. This scope will set you back a pretty penny, but for some, the cost is worth it when considering property threats.

You should consider the Vulcan if you’ve got the dough to spend and want one of the best mid-distance night vision scopes available. It’s a great addition to your arsenal and will help protect your property from coyotes, hogs, and other varmints.

On the other hand, check out the Wolverine-4 non-Pro scope reviewed in the Gen 2 section if you want to save money.

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Day/Night System for Mid-to-Long-Range Shooting
ATN PS28-3WHPT

ATN PS28-3WHPT

Lp/mm: 64-72
Lens Diameter: 68mm
Magnification: 1x, but able to work with up to 7x magnification
Screen Color: White
Battery Type: CR123A
Waterproof: No; water resistant

ATN has a long history of success with their PS28 series of rifle scopes, and their third iteration with a white phosphor tube (WPT) delivers the goods in both ease of use and technical features.

With ATN’s quick-release system, hunters can activate night vision on their existing scope in less than 30 seconds — without breaking out a single tool. So, hunters can go from night blind to seeing varmints in record time.

Plus, like other attachment devices, the PS28-3 WPT delivers versatility. For example, hunters can use this device as a handheld to scan the area around their homes for security purposes or quietly look for coyotes without cradling their rifles to look through the scope.

Along with its versatility, also consider the following features of the ATN’s PS28-3 WPT:

  • A white phosphor screen is standard (hence WPT in the product name)
  • Multi-coated, all-glass optics
  • A quick-release mount
  • Auto-gated and thin-filmed components
  • A long 50-hour runtime

While all these features scream high-end, it isn’t all gravy with the PS28-3 WPT. One nit we must pick is that at 1.85 pounds; it runs a bit heavy for a clip-on. So, pairing it with another heavy scope is not the best plan.

If you’re looking to shoot while prone or from a shooting stick, or your existing day scope doesn’t give you any weight concerns, we think you’ll love this ATN night vision scope — not that any hogs or coyotes would agree.

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Lightweight & Compact Long-Range Clip-On
Armasight CO-LR MINI

Armasight CO-LR MINI

Lp/mm: 64-72
Lens Diameter: 38mm
Magnification: 1x, for use with day scopes up to 10x
Screen Color: Green or White
Battery Type: CR123A or AA
Waterproof: Yes

The CO-Mini from Armasight might be perfect if you want an NV scope lighter than the ATN PS28-3 WPT and works better as a handheld scanner.

At just 1.06 pounds, the Armasight CO-LR Mini is the lightest option on our list. Plus, with a broader field of view (20 degrees) than any other scope listed here, it’s the most functional night vision scope we could find that isn’t a monocle in the PVS-14 mold.

But for this kind of cash, you’ll want all the popular Gen 3 features and then some. Thankfully, the CO-LR Mini also offers:

  • The option of a very high FOM tube
  • A choice of green or white screens
  • Quick-release system functionality
  • A bright light cut-off system
  • Military-standard compliance

The CO-MINI is an excellent choice if you’re after the smallest and lightest scope. But, it isn’t perfect — images can be grainy if used with magnifications above 4x, so Armasight has you covered with their excellent CO-LR if you need a longer-range option.

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Top-of-the-Line Long-Range Option
Knight’s Armament AN/PVS-30

Knight’s Armament AN/PVS-30 high-end low-light rifle mounted glass

Lp/mm: Not listed
Lens Diameter: 120mm
Magnification: 1x, made to work with 12x to 15x day scopes
Screen Color: White
Battery Type: DL123 or AA
Waterproof: Submersible in 3 feet for 4 hours

What’s the price of peace of mind? If you ask Knight’s Armament, you’ll get a price tag that might make you lose sleep. But, if you’ve got the wallet and the need, using the same scope to track intruders and pick off hogs could prove invaluable.

As the longest-range NVD on this list, you’ll be able to see larger targets up to 1000 yards away with starlight alone — no IR illuminator required. So if stealth is your main objective, we think Knight’s Armament AN/PVS-30 delivers the goods and then some.

Other goodies include:

  • Recoil-proof components
  • Military-spec components
  • Auto-gating
  • A white phosphor screen
  • A large refractive objective lens

Add up all these things, and you have the most complete night vision scope on the market. But it’s heavy, so you’re best off using it from a prone position or with a shooting stick.

In short, this is the best night vision scope money can buy — if you’ve got the money.

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Making Sense of Technical Terms

NV digital glass atop a rifle mount
These are complicated little gadgets; let’s dive into the technical jargon

When you start your research, you’ll run into technical terms for the quality of one device over another. That’s essential information for decision-making, so let’s be sure we understand the implications.

Grading Intensifier Tube Grades

Different companies categorize tubes differently because there is no industry standard to guide them.

It may seem easy to make a buying decision based on the device’s generation, but there’s much more to it. When choosing a night vision scope, look at FOM values, lp/mm, and the other technical factors discussed below.

Green Phosphor vs. White Phosphor

Green phosphor screens come to mind when most people think of night vision — and there’s a reason those screens are green. It’s because humans see shades of green better than any other color.

However, many hunters, shooters, and law enforcement personnel prefer white phosphor screens because they produce less eye strain while delivering more contrast.

So, if you want the latest and greatest, white phosphor screens are all the rage in the night vision community.

Lp/mm

Short for line pairs per millimeter, a measurement of image resolution.

The higher the number, the better the image quality. For example, Gen 2+ scopes are around 45 – 51 lp/mmm, meaning a hunter will see up to 102 lines per millimeter.

Gen 3 devices, on the other hand, might feature an lp/mm measurement of 64 – 72, which comes out to a max of 144 lines per millimeter. With more lines, hunters can see greater detail, which, in turn, leads to fewer varmints.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

Breaking down the individual terms is the best way to grasp the signal-to-noise ratio for NVDs.

‘Signal’ represents the light you can see, while ‘noise’ is the distracting stuff — undesirable flashes or sparkling randomly generated by the microchannel plate. A higher SNR ratio means you’re getting more visible light than light flashes, which equates to better low-light performance and image quality.

FOM

FOM (Figure of Merit) is one of the most valuable ways to gauge the quality of an image intensifier tube. FOM is the US government’s rating when determining whether a product can be exported.

You can calculate FOM by multiplying a device’s lp/mm by its SNR. The higher the number, the higher quality of the tube. For example, the Armasight Vulcan 4.5x with Pinnacle tube offers a high 2000 FOM rating.

Auto-Gating

Too much light can damage an NVD, so researchers and developers had to devise a way to limit the amount of light reaching the photocathode. The result: An ON/OFF switch at the photocathode level that limits the amount of light that can enter a device.

The key benefits of auto-gating are that it 1) extends the device’s lifespan and 2) it delivers a cleaner image, even if light levels change abruptly. This is crucial to consistent image quality in varied-light environments.

For a product with excellent auto-gating, look at the ATN PS28-3WHPT.

Auto Gain & Manual Gain

Auto gain is the ability of a tube to dim itself in high-light situations, say under a full moon.

Manual gain allows hunters to manually change the brightness of a tube to compensate for low-light or high-light scenarios. The Armasight CO-LR is an example of manual gain.

Night Vision Zones

Diagram showing the three NV zones and intensifier tube
Diagram of NV zones

The image above shows the different zones within an image intensifier tube.

Tubes vary in quality, with defects manifesting as visible spots or flashes in the display.

Depending on the specification — commercial, military, or aviation — there are different tolerances for the number and location of spots. For example, commercial spec products will have more spots than those rated as military spec.

Naturally, you’ll pay more for fewer spots. That’s just the way of the road.

Objective Lens

The first thing I notice on a rifle scope is the front glass. That’s the objective lens. The larger the lens, the more light it can gather.

Range

Magnification is the primary indicator of how far away you can shoot. This applies to all scopes, standalone, clip-on, or digital.

Standalone scopes like AGM’s Wolverine Pro-4 or Wolverine Pro-6 offer fixed magnifications. The higher the magnification, the farther you’ll see. Just know those higher magnifications result in heavier scopes, making your AR-15 or .308 harder to tote.

Clip-on scopes like the AGM Comanche-22 generally come in 1x magnification models because they work in tandem with day scopes using 1x – 7x magnifications.

Field of View (FOV)

Think of FOV in terms of the horizontal area you can see. Typically measured in degrees, this number gives you an idea of how wide a scene you can see through a scope.

Generally, more magnification means less FOV.

Focus Range

The most critical number to look at here is the first one, as most non-digital scopes claim to focus out to infinity.

If you plan to shoot varmints at relatively close ranges, you’ll want a scope that can focus up close.

Eye Relief

Have you ever smacked your head into a scope? If so, you know how vital eye relief can be. With high-caliber rifles, you’ll want longer eye relief values to protect your noggin from the effects of hard recoil.

Consider eye relief when mounting your NV scope to a high-caliber rifle. You may want to add a clip-on to the front of your scope to protect yourself from the dreaded scope eye.

Exit Pupil

If you’ve ever shined a light through the objective lens of a scope or a pair of binoculars and seen its light coming out the other side, that’s the exit pupil. This number is the width of that light beam, and it’s calculated by dividing the size of the objective lens by the magnification power.

Learn More About NV Tech

Want to nerd out deeper into night vision technology and its history over the last century? Read our in-depth article answering the question, “How does night vision work?”

Wrapping Up 2023’s Best Night Vision Scopes

Low-light optics mounted on an assault rifle
Arm yourself with one of 2023’s best night vision scopes

Thanks for stopping by our list of the 9 Best Night Vision Rifle Scopes of 2023, where we shared our favorite NV rifle scopes for AR-15s, long-range rifles, and more.

We covered standalone night vision scopes and day/night system attachments to prepare you for squashing any coyote, hog, raccoon, or varmint insurrection on your property.

And through our analysis of digital to Gen 2+ and Gen 3 scopes, we hope you’ve now spotted the best night vision device for your needs and budget. There weren’t any thermal recommendations here, but we explained how that technology works in case there’s a thermal in your future.

Now you can stop looking at reviews, grab the best Pulsar, ATN, AGM, Armasight, or SightMark options, and get busy protecting your homefront. Varmints, your time has come!

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Last Updated on January 18, 2024

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