Find The Best Cheap Night Vision Scope in 2021 – Explore The Best Info Now

Nowadays, it’s so easy to find a cheap night vision scope for the situations when the sun goes down.

If you do night hunting, then you can attest to how important a night vision scope is. These gadgets not only make engaging our targets at night easy, but they also make it much more enjoyable.

cheap night vision scope for rifle

Let’s get started with top 7 cheap scopes below.

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Top 3 Recommendations

Best Cheap Night Vision Scope - Our Reviews

Best Feature

Product Name

Price

Great Overall, if You Don’t Mind a Couple of Quirks

SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope

Best of the Bunch, but With a Noticeable Flaw

ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope

Few Steps from Stardom

ATN OPMOD X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14x Hunting Rifle Scope

Premium Choice for Hunters with Enough Money to Spare

Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Great Value Model, With Minor Flaws

Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Good Pick for Streamers

SightMark Photon RT 6-12x50 Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Only for the People with Enough Patience

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Edition 3-14x Smart HD Day/Night Riflescope

SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope - Great Overall, If You Don’t Mind a Couple of Quirks

Being the best sometimes doesn't require that you excel in any particular field. You just need to check all the essential boxes and make as few mistakes as possible along the way.

SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope is definitely one of those units.

For a start, the unit is put together quite nicely and features that recognizable durable, hard SightMark design. I tested the unit in all sorts of different weather conditions, and it remained fully intact.

Also, the overall weight is just above two pounds, which means the scope can be used even by novice hunters. Convenient (and removable) eye-cup coupled with easy menu manipulation make this story even more appealing.

But, the main star of the show here are the thoroughly solid features.

The unit features 8x digital zoom, 2x optical zoom (combined for up to 16x magnification), three different viewing modes (black, white, green), as much as ten different reticle options, a built-in IR flashlight, and one excellent 1080p HD sensor.

All these things work like a charm when put to use. I had no problem taking out fast prey on a short distance, which is more than enough for this price segment.

Of course, there are some flaws, but they are more annoying than deal-breaking.

For instance, when you turn the unit back on after a short break, it will automatically switch back to the default "day" mode, so you will need to waste a couple of seconds to switch it back to "night."

Also, on higher zoom levels (everything above 3x zoom), the unit needs to refocus, which takes another bite out of your precious time. Last but not least, the battery life of 4 hours is far from stellar.

But, as I already mentioned, these things can be better categorized as small quirks rather than real problems.

In spite of them, I had a real blast with this product.

Pros
  • Great price-value ratio
  • Excellent features for a price
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Good build quality and ergonomics
Cons
  • A couple of small, annoying quirks

ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope - Best of the Bunch, but With a Noticeable Flaw

After the discontinuation of the X-Sight 5-18 Riflescope, hunters have yet another reason to celebrate thanks to American Technologies Network X-Sight II.

This unit is a step up from the X-Sight. It comes loaded with numerous features that aim at making the hunter’s life easier than ever before.

To begin with, this scope is so easy to switch between any rifle that have a Picatinny rail.

This is impressive if you don’t want to spend a few hundred bucks on a scope for each of your hunting rifles. On this note, the X-Sight II features a profile manager. This feature allows you to save each rifle’s ballistic and zeroing-in data.

But what makes it a really good deal is its super powerful Obsidian II Core processing chip.

Simply put, this is a cutting-edge processing architecture that includes top performance cores and image sensors.

The Obsidian II technology powers a Smart rangefinder that handles most of the vital calculations for you. For instance, it estimates the distance from you and the target in 2 simple steps.

After ranging, the scope automatically adjusts its point of impact to allow you clean shots each time.

Importantly, it allows you to use the scope for hunting coyotes and hogs at night and white deer during the day. This eliminates the need for hauling several scopes for different light conditions.

Among its great operation features include 3-14x magnification power, 160lp/mm, and a good night vision range of around 300 meters

Importantly, ATN X-Sight II has E-Zoom technology that allows you to zoom your target without losing it in your FOV.

It also has a gyroscope to keep the images steady and blur-free and records images and videos for playback later.

It’s not all sunshine & rainbows, though. This scope is one of the biggest battery drainers of the reviewed four. If you plan on bringing it to the woods for an extended hunting season, make sure you’re covered with a plethora of spare batteries, or external power source which won’t let you down.

Make sure to consider this while deciding on what to purchase.

Pros
  • Great range & zoom
  • Very practical – profiles, mounting
  • Packed with features
Cons
  • Drains battery quickly

ATN OPMOD X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14x Hunting Rifle Scope – Few Steps from Stardom

Coming at spot number three is a night scope coming from ATN – the manufacturer we are used to seeing in some higher price segments. This product proves the ATN engineers have something to offer even to customers with a bit more shallow pockets.

Why did the scope end up on the third spot?

Well, the picture quality (we are talking about the actual scope view, not the output quality) is pretty sloppy. It’s not unbearable or something like that, but I’ve seen better.

Second, there is the much-marketed recoil activated shooting feature that works for the most part, but I had encountered more than one instance when the unit completely ignored what I was doing.

From this point on, however, things are looking better.

Let me start by saying that this bad boy packs some remarkably competent specs, especially for the product with a reasonably affordable price tag.

So you have your 3 – 14x magnification, the display resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (don’t put too much trust in them to deliver great quality, though), great 3864 x 2218 pixels of output resolution, and monstrous battery life that keeps the unit alive for whole 18 hours.

It should also be mentioned that the night scope is made from pretty solid aluminum that looks able to withstand a lot of abuse without adding too much weight to your rifle. As it is, the unit weighs only 2.1 lbs, which is great.

As for the available features, ATN OPMOD X-Sight 4K Pro gives you more than enough goodies to play with – ballistic calculator, 3D accelerometer, built-in microphone, and recoil activated video (supposedly) are only some of the most important mentions.

In the end, I have to mention that I got a lot of value out of this neat scope, although I would like to see the price a bit lower and some of the features better polished. Still, I got more than enough for third place.

Pros
  • Great battery life
  • Solid build quality
  • Bunch of useful features
  • 4K output resolution
Cons
  • Some features need to be more polished
  • Above the average price

Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope – Premium Choice for Hunters with Enough Money to Spare

Pulsar Digex N455 is an excellent night scope – no arguing about that. However, with such a hefty price tag, this package barely qualified as a "cheap" product.

However, all similar lists have their own premium pick, so why would this roundup be any different. Ultimately, the value of Pulsar’s entry in this contest will be determined by how much it offers for the price you are asked to pay.

I would say more than enough. But not enough for the number one spot.

Let me start with the build quality – it's simply excellent. With the body made from the high-quality matte aluminum body and IPX7 certification (fully waterproof), you don't need to worry about anything you can face out there.

The core specs of this beauty are also rock-solid. Even though it doesn’t flaunt big numbers, the HD sensor that packs 1280 x 720 pixels produces excellent image quality. This crisp image doesn’t degrade no matter where you are at the 4-16x magnification scale.

So, the basics essential for smooth night hunting at a short distance are there.

And then, there are the usual features you are expecting from the product in this range. You have the option to choose between 10 different reticle options, individual shooting profiles (up to 50 zeroing distances), and various color options.

What I’m most pleased with, however, are the "picture in picture" mode and high-quality detachable IR illuminator that gives you a clear glance at the prey without giving up your position.

Now, there are some problems as well. When fully equipped, the unit feels quite heavy. Also, the selection buttons are not that responsive. Finally, stream vision sometimes shows a black stream.

These things haven't spoiled the fun I had with the scope, but they did bring into question the value proposition of the package.

This product sits firmly above big grand – for a price that high, you want to get something more polished. Still, when it's good, the scope works like a charm.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Crips image
  • Good magnification quality
  • Capable IR illuminator
  • Rock-solid specs
Cons
  • Not quite the best value proposition
  • Heavy for its range

Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital Night Vision Riflescope - Great Value Model, With Minor Flaws

If the previous night scope was considered the premium pick of this roundup, Night Owl Optics NightShot could be best described as its budget pick.

This description usually comes with the asterisk, but rest assured – this model offers a lot of value for the inexperienced hunters that are still stretching their muscles.

So, what’s wrong with this unit?

Well, the specs could be best described as entry-level. For instance, the resolution is below every modern HD standard and barely climbs up to 640 x 480 pixels. As you can guess, the image quality is not that great, especially at higher zoom levels.

Fortunately enough, you will be able to zoom only 3 x, so you won't be able to notice the quality dropping that much. Still, even this modest magnification will allow you to take out slower prey at a short distance.

The choice of three reticles falls in the same basket – way below the number 10 we got used to by now but still better than only one.

As for the design, the scope looks way bulkier than it actually is – firmly sitting at only 1.3 lbs, you will barely notice any difference when you mount it on the rifle. And I really dig the retro 80s look. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, I have no problems with it.

Another great thing about the design is that the manufacturer decided to go full weatherproof. I tried using the scope during heavy rainfalls, and the unit came intact.

So, in the end, you don't have to be a hunting expert to see this product packs more than a couple of flaws. In the end, the whole package is dirty cheap, and you do get a reasonable level of shooting assistance.

Experienced hunters will easily pass this one out. If you are still brushing your skills, though, you will find enough good things here.

Pros
  • Extremely affordable
  • Solidly built
  • Enough options for beginners
  • Pleasant black matte surface
  • Weatherproof
Cons
  • Entry-level specs
  • Poor battery life

SightMark Photon RT 6-12x50 Digital Night Vision Riflescope – Good Pick for Streamers

This reticle makes SightMark’s second entry on this list. Unfortunately, this package is nowhere near as good as the previous which took first place in the roundup.

On the other hand, the night scope did manage to find its way into my top 7, so there is definitely something to talk about here.

In terms of specs, Photon RT 6-12x50 checks the basic marks but doesn't truly excel in any regard. For example, you get 6 different reticle options with four colors, which is pretty nice. On the other hand, the 2x digital zoom is above average and serves only the basic purpose.

These two examples describe this product pretty accurately – the specs are all over the place.

The built-in LED IR illuminator does its job great, and I had no problem spotlighting the prey (well, as much as poor zoom levels allowed me) even at a distance. The 768 x 576 CMOS is also pretty decent, and the image quality I got was pretty satisfying. The sound is good enough, so there's that.

This makes a solid foundation for seamless video streaming, and rest assured – the built-in Wi-Fi module keeps the connection stable. So, if you are into Twitch and other streaming platforms, you might take this scope into consideration.

Moving on to design and build quality. I have to admit I am pretty pleased with both of them. The unit features a very low profile that, in spite of the slim build, packs a great level of durability. The aluminum the whole thing is made from is very light, and you will barely notice when the unit is mounted.

Finally, I have to mention the battery life, which is probably the biggest Achilles heel of this slim scope. The manufacturer claims you will be able to squeeze out 3.5 hours. Try streaming video, and you won't be able to get even these small numbers.

Overall, there are a couple of hits and a couple of misses. But, in the end, you do get enough value for the price.

Pros
  • Slim and durable design
  • Solid video quality
  • IR illuminator works quite nice
  • Seamless streaming capabilities
Cons
  • Poor battery life
  • The specs are all over the place

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Edition 3-14x Smart HD Day/Night Riflescope – Only for the People with Enough Patience

Last but not least, we have ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Edition – another entry from the famous manufacturer that surprisingly falls flat in comparison to its cousin I have covered above.

The fact this one is called "Pro" only makes things worse.

The main problem with this product is that it makes a lot of promises and, at first glance, looks like it's going to fulfill them. But, as soon as you spend some time with the scope, you will see that things aren't as pretty in real life.

Let me start with the basic specs – the cope uses a 4K resolution of 3864 x 2218 pixels, promises 18+ hours of uninterrupted use, packs support for Android and iOS, and offers a bunch of features that promise one stellar shooting experience.

Getting to these options is where the troubles start. For example, the night vision is set as your default mode. Switching to some other option will require a sequence of 3-4 buttons, which take ages in the situations when you spot some fast prey.

The second flaw I found very troubling is the (in)ability of the scope to hold zero. When you reset the unit, the point of impact will change for at least six inches. Finally, I had experienced more than a couple of instances when the image completely froze.

This is very unfortunate since the scope does pack some specs and features that are way above its price range. If you spend enough time with the unit, you will, eventually, learn to plow through these quirks and become good with it.

Then, you will be able to fully enjoy everything the package has to offer.

But, for a price you are asked to pay, you really don’t have to deal with all these troubles. Only for the most patient ones out there.

Pros
  • Some solid specs
  • Excellent build quality
  • Extraordinary battery life
  • 4K resolution
Cons
  • Numerous performance issues
  • Complicated navigation

Things to Consider - The Buying Guide

1. Durability

Needless to mention, you don’t want to blow off your money on something that won’t pay for itself, right?

On this note, check out your ideal scope’s construction design. Consider whether it’s waterproof or dust-proof depending on your intended location of use.
The materials it’s made of should also be of concern to you, especially if you’re looking to buy a cheap scope. Also, check the country it’s made in – Chinese scopes are usually of poorer construction than US or European scopes.

It also pays to go for a unit with a good deal on the warranty. Again, read what other verified purchasers have to say about the scope.

2. Clarity

This refers to the resolution of the scope. It’s measured in LP/MM (lines per millimeter). Usually, the higher it is, the greater the clarity. Cheap scopes might boast of their high range, but without good resolution, everything will be blurry and no matter how much range it has it won’t be useful if everything you can see are enlarged blobs of color. Make sure to pay attention to both when purchasing.

3. Range

You have no business with a scope that won’t let you see beyond 10 feet in darkness. However what matters most isn’t how far you can see but how easily you can recognize your target. A higher recognition range means that your scope can absorb more light during the night and allow you to see better and clearer at longer ranges.

So, remember to consider the model’s recognition range depending on different light conditions; starlight only, quarter moon, half moon, and full moon.

how to choose Cheap Night Vision Scope

4. Ergonomics

Obviously, you don’t want a scope as heavy as a brick nor do you want a unit that beats your rifle in size. As you’ll find out, these units get bigger with an increase in magnification.

As you can easily guess, heavy scopes are hard to use. They may also affect the ease of manipulating the rifle.

If you’re mainly a stationary hunter, you might be able to get away with a larger and heavier scope. If you’re someone who’s on the move all the time, a lighter and smaller scope will be better suited for you, even if you have to sacrifice some range.

Best Feature

Product Name

Price

Great Overall, if You Don’t Mind a Couple of Quirks

SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope

Best of the Bunch, but With a Noticeable Flaw

ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope

Few Steps from Stardom

ATN OPMOD X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14x Hunting Rifle Scope

Premium Choice for Hunters with Enough Money to Spare

Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Great Value Model, With Minor Flaws

Night Owl Optics NightShot Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Good Pick for Streamers

SightMark Photon RT 6-12x50 Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Only for the People with Enough Patience

ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Edition 3-14x Smart HD Day/Night Riflescope

FAQs

What is the best cheap night vision scope?

In my opinion, that would be SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope.

Although there is no such thing as perfect night scope, especially in the lower price segments, this one comes awfully close.

The unit offers some very good specs, sells at an affordable price, and, most importantly, makes very few mistakes along the way.

Rock-solid pick for beginners and experienced hunters as well.


How long does a night vision scope last?

Usually, they feature a solid life span that stretched 5 to 10 years. But, these numbers vary from unit to unit.

In most cases, you will be able to stretch this limit out by taking proper care of the scope, avoiding the harsh weather conditions, and regular maintenance.

Picking the product that features IPX7 certification will make this job considerably easier.


Why is night vision so expensive?

To put it simply, as time goes by, the night scopes become more and more complicated, pack more and more useful features, and simply work better. These features, however, come at a certain price.

So, if you want to get all the perks of video streaming, aim assistance, different view mode, various reticles, digital zooming, and other goodies, you will need to open up the wallet.


What is the best rifle scope under $500?

Once again, I have to go with SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope even though it barely flies under the $500 mark.

If you want to go a bit lower, you can also consider buying Night Owl Optics NightShot, which creates one very lucrative value proposition and features a pretty cool retro design. What's most important, the unit offers solid image clarity and enough assistance for hunting newcomers to stretch their muscles.


What is the best night vision scope for coyote hunting?

This is a hard one since coyotes are notoriously hard prey to catch. They are fast, smart, agile, and know how to use surroundings to their advantage. With that in mind, I would suggest that you get the unit that offers the most assistance.

So, the spotlight goes to Pulsar Digex N455 Digital Night Vision Riflescope – my premium pick of the roundup. This bad boy offers more than enough goodies to deal even with the most stubborn catches out there.

The Differences Between Scope Generations

You might have heard people mention different generations when talking about night vision scopes. If you never knew what that meant, I’m going to tell you all about it and why it’s important.

Night vision scopes have evolved over time and each huge leap in their efficiency or a large paradigm change in the way they work has been called a new generation.

Of course, older generations don’t completely fall out of use when new ones come around, so generation 1 scopes are still product and sit on shelves right beside generation 4 scopes.

Technically speaking, newer generations of night vision scopes aren’t always better than older ones – some older generations have certain advantages due to the way they’re made.

Here’s a bit of info about each generation and what separates them from one another. 

Generation 1 Scopes

These scopes utilize a passive infrared system to provide you with proper night vision. They gather the ambient light and increase the amount of infrared light that’s reflected from the surroundings. 

Needless to say, they work a bit better in conditions where some ambient light is already present. Their average sight range tends to be around 75 yards, though it varies based on the amount of ambient lighting.

You can expect that a scope like this will work for at least 1500 hours and they are among the cheapest NV scopes available.

Generation 2 Scopes

Scopes like these ones are more reliable and not so dependent on ambient lighting as generation 1 scopes are. They work well in extremely low-light conditions and have a less distorted image, due to their advanced micro-electronics. 

Their life expectancy is usually between 4000 and 5000 hours, while the average sight range is 200 yards and varies less than in gen 1 scopes.

Generation 3 Scopes

What these scopes boast is an increased amount of sensitivity compared to their gen 2 counterparts. 

The unique mechanism they use is based on gallium arsenide placed on their photo cathode which allows them to convert any photons they capture to electrons and produce a digital image of your surroundings.

They can last for up to 10000 hours of continuous operation and have an average sight range of 300 yards. They are currently used by the US army.

Generation 4 Scopes

Strictly speaking, these scopes are still considered to be generation 3 scopes, but with a key improvement that allows them to function better in low-light environments.

This is achieved with an automated gated power supply which allows the scope to instantly react to any light changes, which also stops sudden bursts of light like lightning from blinding you. They are sometimes called 'filmless' or 'unfilmed gen 3' scopes.

The higher the generation ,the higher the cost of the scopes in question. You can still find cheap gen 2 and even gen 3 scopes, but they are more likely to be of less quality compared to cheap gen 1 scopes.

The Best Night Vision Scope Brands

If you’re a bit confused by all the different night scope brands out there and don’t know how to pick the best one for you, here’s a quick summary of the best ones and what they can offer to you.

  • ATN
  • Armasight
  • Sightmark
  • Yukon
  • Firefield

The American Technologies Network specializes in night vision technology as well as thermal imaging. They operate out of San Francisco and have existed for more than two decades.

All of their products are made in the US, ensuring quality. You can find both cheap and expensive scopes among their offerings and their products are used by military and law enforcement alike.

They’re also a favorite among hunters as a company that provides reliable and durable scopes.

Conclusion

cheap night vision scope for ar15

We are finally at the end, which means it's time for me to sum up my thoughts and offer recommendations.

As you can see, I have listed SightMark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope as my number one pick. It works well, has a reasonable price, and a very short list of drawbacks.

Places two and three go to ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope and ATN OPMOD X-Sight 4K Pro 3-14x Hunting Rifle Scope, respectively.

However, I would suggest that you go through the entire list and check all other mentions. What works for me may not necessarily work for you, so it's better to be sure.

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