Shooting at nighttime with your favorite AR-15 weapon can be a real treat! For many shooters, this is a very different and unique experience from the norm. However, it is one we feel should be fully embraced.
To help you get the most from such experiences, a quality optic is required. Not just any old optic, but the best night vision scope for AR-15 use. You can rest assured that the choice of such scopes is wide and varied. The problem is sorting the wheat from the chaff. This is in terms of quality, reliability, and a feature-set that suits your personal needs.
Below, we have put together ten reviews that will reveal to you the best night vision scope for your AR-15. We will then finish off with a buying guide. This will give tips on how to find the most suitable night vision optic for your needs and available budget.
There’s a fair bit of detail to get through, so let’s get started…
Top 10 Best Night Vision Scopes For AR-15 in 2021 Reviews
1 ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Rifle Scope – Best Night Vision Scope with Ballistic Calculator For AR-15
This ATN X-Sight 4K Pro scope offers a host of features. ATN is well-known in the optics world, and this rifle scope is up there with their top models. It offers dual-core processing power for speed and an Ultra HD 4K low light sensor.
During use, you can be assured of very clear, high-resolution images that come in a myriad of vivid colors.
Ballistic benefits and additional features not to be dismissed…
This best night vision scope for AR-15 weapons includes a ballistic calculator. This ensures consistent and accurate homing in on the chosen target(s). When night hunting, you need all the advantage you can get. The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro has easy to use features that are worthy of attention.
This includes Range, Wind, Elevation, Multi-weapon profiles, and angle to target adjustments. There are also temperature and humidity readings. The effective use of such features gives shooters a better chance of making those longer-range kill shots.
Enhanced HD night vision mode…
Successful night hunting requires a scope that offers good night vision clarity. It should also provide a power source that will last throughout your hunting session.
This model offers:
- 18+ hours of continuous operation that will last as long in the field as you do.
- The Enhanced HD Night Vision Mode assists with prey-spotting no matter what environment they are in.
It should be said here that shooters looking for even better night vision should consider an IR Illuminator upgrade.
Choice of recording the action…
It is quite understandable that you will want to record your night hunting action for posterity. The ATN 4K PRO allows you to do this in two ways:
- Stream HD 1080p resolution recording/720p streaming video to your mobile device.
- Simultaneously record the action to the 64GB SD card, which comes with the scope.
An additional recording feature that will surely be appreciated is RAV (Recoil Activated Video). This enables the scope to automatically record before AND after your shot is taken. So, in the heat of the excitement, you do not have to worry about forgetting to activate recording.
- Lots of ‘Smart’ functions to aid sighting.
- Satisfactory eye relief (3.5 inches).
- When zooming in, there is no pixelation.
- Dual Stream Video recording + SD card saving.
- The battery offers long continuous operation.
- Longer distance sighting features could be better.
- Heavier than other similar models.
- Further IR Illuminator investment is required to improve night vision.
- Some complaints about unstable app software.
- Comments that customer service could be far better.
2 Night Owl Optics NightShot Riflescope – Best Affordable Night Vision Scope For AR-15
This Night Owl Optics offering comes in at a very attractive price. It is a worthy consideration for those on a budget or for occasional night hunters.
An acceptable nighttime range, for most…
When hunting in nighttime environments, most hunters will find ranges up to 200 yards more than acceptable. In this respect, the NightShot scope offers accuracy between 100-200 yards. And it should be noted that the ability to spot targets at longer distances is relative to the amount of ambient light available.
In terms of specifications, it is constructed using engineered thermoplastic and is weatherproof. Resolution through the 640 x 480mm display is good, and it works with rifles up to .30 caliber. You get 3x magnification, a focal length of 2.05-inches (52mm), and your field of view is 5.6 degrees.
Those shooters looking for a higher power illuminator can purchase the optional IR850-NS illuminator separately.
Choose your reticle. There are three different reticle types to choose from. Each can be configured in a choice of black or white. This gives you the flexibility and ability to pick the reticle type and color that best relates to your current shooting environment.
Flexible mounting options…
This scope is compatible with Weaver or Picatinny rails and fits snugly to both. For those shooters who have dovetail mounts, there is a solution. Most dovetail mounts come in at 11mm, although they can range from 9.5 – 19mm. However, regardless of the size of your dovetail mount, this scope can be attached by using a dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter rail.
The NightShot is powered using either four AA or lithium batteries. The use of good quality alkaline batteries will give an expected operating time of four hours with IR on the high setting and seven hours with IR on the low setting.
The final point to mention here is the excellent customer service offered. If you need assistance with mounting this scope or have any issues whatsoever with the delivered product, the Night Owl team is on hand to assist.
- Excellent price for what is offered.
- Very much a ‘point and shoot’ design.
- Excellent customer service.
- Battery life.
3 PRG Defense 15WOL422103031 Rifle Scope – Best Value for the Money Night Vision Scope For AR-15
This quality night vision rifle scope comes from PRG Defense. While it may not be as popular as other names out there, do not dismiss the quality. This is an optic that will meet the needs of avid night hunters whose major needs relate to the accurate range and picture quality as opposed to digital features.
It will withstand the rigors of heavy hunting…
The optic is of full metal construction and has been built using a tough-wearing, specially-coated aircraft alloy. You can be assured that this best tactical night vision scope for AR-15 will withstand whatever conditions it is put through.
It is robust yet comes in at an acceptable weight of 2.6 lbs. Dimensions-wise, it is 12.1 inches x 3.7 inches x 3.8 inches. However, be aware of the limited eye relief. This comes in at only 1.77-inches (45mm) so take care when firing.
It attaches to all standard Weaver rails and is also equipped with a double-lever quick-release mount. This gives you an all-important comfort factor through the ability of high-accuracy rail positioning.
Extended use is yours…
Environmental conditions should not be a concern. This scope is water, as well as fog resistant. It has also been tested to operate between -40 deg F to +122 deg F (-40 deg C to +50 deg C).
Long usage is guaranteed thanks to the single CR123A 3V lithium battery. When in operation mode, this gives up to 50 hours of use (based on using in 68 deg. F (20 deg C) conditions).
True Gen 2+ image delivery…
Key factors of this PRG Defense optic are its reasonable price point over features and functionality.
It offers a true Gen 2+ image intensifier tube along with 4x magnification. The field of view is 9 degrees, and the all-glass IR transmission multi-coated optics are shock protected. You can then add to this the illuminated mil-dot reticle, which comes with an easy brightness adjustment feature.
Further ease of use is seen in the internal windage and elevation adjustments. All controls are intuitive and easy to use. An example is the manually operated precision top wheel focus. This is highly effective in terms of increased accuracy and ergonomics.
- Built to last a very long time.
- Will operate in any condition.
- Intuitive and easy to use.
- Long battery operation life.
- No nonsense scope for serious shooters.
- Gen 2+ image delivery.
- Very competitively priced for what is on offer.
- Eye relief needs handling.
4 ATN X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope – Most Versatile Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Next, in our reviews of the Best Night Vision Scope For AR-15, we now head back over to ATN for this X-Sight II HD 3-14 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope.
This best versatile night vision scope for AR-15 use can be used any time, day or night. The ATN HD technology sees to that. It offers crystal clear vision no matter what your preferred shooting times are. The day/night vision offers images in a range of colors and has been built to fit the environment you are hunting in.
The field of view is 1000 yards, which equates to 240 feet magnified, and adjustment comes in 1/8-inch per pixel.
With a 3-14x magnification option, you will find the smooth zoom functionality offers a ‘fine-tune’ adjustment to suit your needs.
The quality ballistic calculator makes life easy. There is no need for chart referencing or figuring out complex reticles. Simply enter data relating to the environment you are in, and calculations are performed automatically.
Plus a Ballistic Calculator…
Such functionality means you do not need to shift the point of impact when you are on the move. This effective feature rapidly calculates ballistics and allows accurate long-range and angled shots to be made time and again.
As for the Smart Range Finder feature, this helps you discover your target range in just two clicks. Once you have determined this distance, the ‘point of impact’ function automatically adjusts. No more having to carry handheld rangefinders. This is a huge plus!
Share your experience…
Recording your hunting experiences is something that can be viewed at your leisure and shared with friends and family. The ATN X-Sight II achieves this thanks to the 1080p HD Video Recording function. You also can take still photos.
Wi-Fi streaming is possible through the use of your phone or tablet, and the RAV (Recoil Activated Video) feature means you will not miss a moment of the action.
- Use during the day or at night.
- Image clarity is very good.
- Still photo and video recording feature.
- Good battery life.
- Choice of fully compatible, separately purchased accessories.
- Some shooters have cited visibility issues.
- Battery drains rapidly.
- Micro USB port could be far sturdier.
5 Burris 300217 Armalite Rifle Tactical Sight – Best Close to Mid Range Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Burris is another well-respected optics manufacturer, and this tactical night sight comes in at a very attractive price.
Durability, as well as flexibility…
This quality optic is built using an aluminum housing that affords water and fog-proofing. It also gives an impact-resistant performance. Use this scope in harsh environments or adverse weather conditions, and it will come back for more.
It comes with a QD (Quick Detach) mount to fit Picatinny rails, and there are also three short Picatinny rails placed on both the sides and the top. This allows additional accessories such as flashlights, a laser, or cameras to be attached.
Day and night use…
The use of this well-priced optic is yours, 24/7. During the daytime, the reticle illumination can be turned off to save on battery life. When it comes to night time use, simply switch to the effective black non-illuminated reticle.
It comes with 3x zoom and fully multi-coated optics that ensure bright and clear imaging. The 3x ballistic reticle has been optimized to ensure laser-sharp shot placements through clarity of view. It features a round target horseshoe design, an illuminated target dot, and a T-shaped MOA Crosshair. These features work to enhance precision shots at distance.
A sound choice for 5.56 or 7.62 ammo…
This scope has been designed for those shooters using 5.56 or 7.62 ammunition. It is parallax-free at 100 yards, and the mentioned ballistic CQ (Close Quarter) reticle gives holdover dots that are good to 600 yards out.
Crosswind and ballistic adjustments are taken care of through the windage and elevation adjustments. These come with 80 MOA ranges and 1/2 MOA per click value.
Controls are easily accessible thanks to the slip-free knurled windage/elevation knobs, as well as the oversized reticle rheostat knob. Being located on the top of the scope means ambidextrous use is yours.
As for the LED illumination, you have a choice of green or red. Both colors come with five brightness settings each.
- Robust, durable, and flexible.
- Excellent price for what is offered.
- Best for close to mid-distance shooting.
- Picatinny rails allow piggybacking of accessories.
- Comes with the Burris ‘Forever’ warranty.
- Iron sight co-witnessing issues mentioned.
- 2.5-inch eye relief may be an issue for some.
6 Sightmark Photon RT Riflescope – Best Beginners Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Our next review is the Photon RT Digital Night Vision Riflescope from Sightmark.
This riflescope is a step-up from the company’s Photon XT series. It comes with a CMOS sensor that has been upgraded to 768 x 576 and offers a 40% higher resolution. The LCD is 640 x 480, and built-in video/sound recording is achieved via the Stream Vision App and your WiFi connection.
A wide choice of reticles, and superb ease of use…
Coming with a choice of six reticle options, you have four different colors to choose from. The Photon RT also offers a one-shot zero function. This makes daytime or nighttime use extremely easy.
Another convenient and easy to use feature is the Quick Change Battery Pack. While in the field, hunters can rapidly swap out batteries to ensure no time or opportunity is wasted.
A bright IR Illuminator…
You have a 2x digital zoom along with the built-in 850nm LED IR illuminator. This feature works effectively during lowlight conditions or in complete darkness. It allows for precise homing in of targets up to 220 yards distance.
Brightness control is carried out using the easy to access controller knob. The illuminator also comes with a focus beam adjustment. One other illuminator feature worthy of mention relates to alignment. You can align the illuminator in a way that allows you to center your beam focus in conjunction with the scope’s field of view.
Good selection of included accessories…
This night vision scope comes with an additional Weaver rail for any accessories you wish to attach. There is also a power input that charges power banks and can be used via the micro USB port.
It is also compatible with the majority of 30mm aftermarket rings.
Your purchase includes:
- Carrying case.
- USB cable.
- Battery container pouch.
- Spare battery container.
- Lens cloth.
- User manual.
Stream vision compatible…
Hunters who want to relive the action-day or night are covered with the Photon RT. Thanks to the innovative Stream Vision App, it offers the ability to wirelessly stream footage in real-time.
The app is available on any IOS or Android compatible device and gives the ability to transfer those prized photos and videos wirelessly.
- Good choice entry-level night vision scope.
- Built-in IR Illuminator is bright.
- Good reticle choice.
- One-shot zero feature.
- Effective stream vision feature.
- Fast battery change feature.
- Included accessories.
- Always have spare batteries on hand.
7 Firefield NVRS 3×42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope – Best Budget Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Firefield’s NVRS Gen 1 night vision riflescope is another that shooters on a tight budget should very much appreciate.
Solid build, with flip-up lens covers…
Made with a titanium body, this scope weighs in at 1.88 pounds. It also comes with flip-up lens covers that protect the scope from impact. Being IPX4 rated means it is water-resistant and will function during inclement weather conditions.
Once the flip-up lens covers are opened, you will find multi-coated optics along with the illuminated red duplex reticle. The latter feature offers incremental brightness adjustment, which allows fast adaptation to your surrounding environment.
Quick as a flash…
There is also a quick detach Weaver mounting system. This allows for rapid change of optics or in the event you want to use your iron sights. When reattached, this scope will still maintain its return-to-zero.
This GEN 1 night vision riflescope offers a 42mm lens that allows for improved light gathering and powerful 3x magnification. Designed with a high-power and built-in IR illuminator, the image of your chosen target is enhanced. Shooters can expect a detection range up to 100-yards and an IR illuminator range of around 80-yards.
Plenty of power…
The battery back-up feature is more than sufficient. This gives 50 hours of back-up without IR and 20 hours with IR.
For occasional night time hunters or those wishing to ‘test the water’ with a night vision scope, this Firefield Gen 1 model should be seen as a very acceptable option.
- Low-cost night vision option.
- Flip-up lens covers offer protection.
- QD Weaver mount.
- Maintains zero when optics are changed.
- Not the easiest scope to mount.
- Slight image blurring around the edges.
8 ATN ThOR 4, 384×288, Thermal Rifle Scope – Best Thermal Night Vision Scope For AR-15
We move much closer to the top of the night vision scope tree with this ATN Next Gen Sensor Thermal riflescope.
Prepare for a substantial investment…
This night vision scope is only for those with serious hunting ambitions. A significant investment is required, but quality, style, and functionality will all be yours. This ATN ThOR 4 384X288 model offers advantages galore.
You have a choice of four model magnification styles: 1.25-5x, 2-8x, 4.5-18x, and 7-28x. The one we are concentrating on here is the 4.5-18x model.
A next-generation of Thermal Sensor scopes…
The ATN engineers have merged design and technological advances into a scope that feels like a traditional optic but one that offers much more.
Powered by the company’s Obsidian IV Dual Core, this is a thermal sensor optic to be reckoned with. You will benefit from high thermal sensitivity when it comes to finding your prey. There is quality imaging with enhanced contrast and excellent resolution, and we should not forget the almost silent shutter feature.
Detects heat, not light…
It is important to understand why such an investment in this type of next-generation scope is required. A major reason comes by the fact that this optic is designed to use its thermal sensor and thermal energy for night vision.
Thermal sensors differ from the more traditional light sensors due to the fact they give vision in complete darkness. They convert heat (thermal energy) from your prey into distinguishable images.
Here are just four features that tell how effective this quality thermal imaging night vision scope is:
- Gen 4 Sensor – Ultra Sensitive: Guaranteed capture of crisp, clear images with quality resolution and smooth gradations at extended ranges – no matter how dark it is.
- Ballistic Calculator: Nighttime hunting has many challenges. One is clearly identifying and ranging your chosen prey. The ATN ThOR 384X288 night vision scope aids responsible hunting through the use of its quality ballistic calculator.
You will also benefit from range, wind, multi-weapon profiles, angle to target, temperature, and humidity features. In short, the exact ballistic determination for long-range shots is yours.
- Dual-stream plus video recording: With this ThOR 4 optic, you can easily stream video of your hunt to your mobile device. This will be achieved in high-quality resolution with the option to simultaneously record it to the included SD card.
- A power profile to be reckoned with: Get out into the field for extended hunting sessions without any concern of power issues. The included batteries offer more than 18 hours of continuous operation. The ThOR 4 will be with you all the way (and back!)
- Top of the range next-generation night scope.
- A solid choice for really serious night hunters.
- Excellent thermal imaging capability.
- Crisp, clear sight at extended distances.
- Dual stream and video recording.
- Long-lasting battery power.
- A very substantial investment.
- The design may be too bulky for some.
9 Bushnell 4.5×40 Equinox Z Monocular 260140 – Best Compact Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Our penultimate night vision scope review is from the highly respected Bushnell brand, namely, the Equinox Z.
Quality company, quality night vision optic…
Bushnell is renowned for good quality optics at pleasing prices.
This night vision device comes in the form of a monocular. It offers 4.5x magnification with a 40mm objective lens. With this quality build, you will receive excellent optical clarity along with a wide field of view. This is regardless of whether it is used during the day or at night.
A compact unit with lots of power…
Coming with high-performance glass objectives, you have an effective zoom capability of between 1x – 3x. It gives powerful, adjustable, infrared illumination brightness at all times and with up to 750 feet of viewing. The Linear field of view is 28-feet at 1000 yards.
Other features include:
- Image capture.
- Video recording.
- Daytime color.
- Tripod mounting compatibility.
- Carrying case.
The unit measures 6.45-inches (164mm) in length and weighs an acceptable 22 ounces (1.375 pounds). It should be noted that the AA battery life will depend upon a whole variety of factors. To maximize battery life, invest in quality Ion batteries.
- Solid build from a reputable manufacturer.
- Very well priced for what is offered.
- Long-distance target sighting.
- Can be tripod mounted.
- Battery life.
- Regular night-time hunters will need more.
- Stills and video quality is not the best.
- Cannot change settings while video recording.
10 Pulsar Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 Riflescope – Best Waterproof Night Vision Scope For AR-15
Our final best night vision scope for AR-15 use is from the quality Pulsar range. This is their N455 Digital Night Vision model.
Quality day and night visuals and recording…
The N455 has been designed with a 1280 x 720 CMOS sensor, which is connected to a 1024 x 768 AMOLED display. Not only does this combination offer quality daytime visuals, nighttime spotting and viewing is excellent. It offers a clear viewing distance of 550 yards in the dark.
To add to your viewing experience, Pulsar has added a picture-in-picture feature with a 2x/4x digital zoom. This affords continuous and stepped functionality to meet your preference, depending upon the hunting situation.
There will be no issue in terms of creating video content during your hunting action. This scope comes with an internal 16GB memory. To take things a stage further, you can also use the Stream Vision app for phone or tablet remote viewing.
Wide choice of reticles…
With 4.5-18x magnification, the reticle sits in the second focal plane and offers 10+ reticle choices. This means you choose the reticle that fits your current shooting conditions. You will also find a removable infrared illuminator feature.
The field of view: Linear = 32.7-feet at 100 yards; Angle: 6.2 degrees. Such a wide field of view will enhance your shooting capabilities. Another neat feature of this quality optic is that it offers five individual shooting profiles, which can hold up to ten zeroing distances.
The quality build means this scope will take the rough and tumble associated with night hunting. It is also spec’d to IPX7, so full waterproofing is yours. While this rating will withstand any rainfall, it will also function after being submersed (dropped!) into one meter (3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes.
Recoil protection up to .375 H&H is yours, and battery life will be sufficient for most. You will get between 6-8 hours of continuous battery power from the supplied B-Pack. There is also an additional charging kit for those who need to go longer.
Your purchase also includes….
This scope comes with a Weaver/Picatinny rail installed, and the mentioned IR illuminator. You also get a USB cable, battery pack and battery pack charging kit, cleaning cloth, hex wrench, wireless remote control, and carrying case.
- Quality viewing.
- 2x/4x zoom (digital).
- 10+ reticle choices.
- Waterproof to IPX7 spec.
- Good selection of accessories included.
- Noticeable investment.
- Patience is needed during setup.
Buying Guide to Best Night Vision Scope For AR-15
There is lots to consider…
When trying to figure out which is the best AR-15 night vision scope, there are a few considerations to take into account.
A night vision optic can range from a few hundred bucks to $5,000 and more. This fact alone makes it plain to see that getting your choice right is a very important decision. So here are some major pointers for you to tick off that will help whittle down that all-important choice.
A sensible, affordable outlay…
What you can afford to spend or what you are comfortably prepared to pay for a night vision optic should be your first consideration. We say this due to the vast difference in night vision optics available. Once you have a figure in mind, you can concentrate on researching night vision scopes within that price bracket.
We can all dream of being the proud owner of a Gen 3 or Gen 4 night vision scope. However, there are not too many who can justify such a significant outlay! In reality, the majority of civilian shooters don’t need such a high spec’d, top of the range, night vision scope.
What generation of scope should you look at?
Your choice comes in Gen 1, 2, 3, and, more recently, Gen 4. We will not go into the intricacies of each generation. But suffice to say that Gen 1 is the cheapest, with Gen 3 being military standard. Gen 4 is an industry introduced, top of the range, standard.
In the vast majority of cases, a good quality Gen 1 night vision optic will meet your nighttime hunting and/or home defense needs. This is reflected in the fact that it is the most popular type of night vision optic currently available.
Serious and regular hunters will appreciate Gen 2 models. However, if you consistently hunt during darkness and twilight hours, the heavy investment a Gen 3 or Gen 4 night vision scope involves is justified.
You need to be realistic in what you will mostly use your night vision scope for and how often it will be used. Target practice or plinking in dark conditions does not demand a higher-priced outlay. However, hunting on a reasonably regular basis does.
In the latter case, you should look for a durable optic that will withstand the rigors that your chosen environment demands. It should also offer good magnification. And this should be based on the expected distances you are capable of shooting accurately.
Most hunters will find 6x magnification meets their needs, sometimes even less. However, unless exceptional demands are a must, there is no need to go way over the top with nighttime magnification.
However, in the majority of cases, the larger the magnification, the heavier the scope (and the more expensive). Weight and size play a big part in extended night hunting sessions. Therefore, go for magnification that fits with your typical shot range.
Reticle and IR illuminator choice…
A digital reticle or an optic with multiple reticles is the way to go. This will give flexibility in meeting the differing conditions you will find yourself in. For regular hunting, you also need an IR illuminator. This is necessary for situations where trees and foliage are blocking out moonlight or in more open spaces when there is little to no moonlight.
Nighttime clarity is essential for ethical shooting. You need to choose a night vision device that correctly identifies your targets.
Do you REALLY intend on recording your night time action?
Night vision scopes with the ability to record your hunting action are becoming more popular. However, these features add to the overall cost!
Think hard as to whether you want to (or will bother) to record and replay your shooting activity. If so, there are plenty of good quality options available. If not, there is an excellent selection of cheaper options without such functionality.
A final thought…
Take your time to consider personal needs, type of use, and a sensible outlay. By doing so, you will certainly find a suitable night vision scope for your AR-15 weapon.
What is the Best Night Vision Scope for AR-15?
Using the best AR-15 night vision scope will add another dimension to your enjoyment. As can be seen from our reviews, the choice varies quite dramatically when it comes to features, functionality, and cost.
Considering cost over functionality, we would recommend the…
This is a very solid entry-level and beyond scope. Precise targeting out to 220 yards in complete darkness is yours. Plus, you get a good reticle choice, one-shot zero feature, and a bright 850nm built-in IR Illuminator.
There is a fast battery change feature, and the use of good quality batteries with fully charged spares are recommended. Therefore, for average-length night hunting missions, this combination should ensure the scope lasts as long as you do.
To finish things off, you can also wirelessly stream your hunting action in real-time using the innovative Stream Vision app.
So there ya have it, our comprehensive review of the best night vision scopes for AR-15. We hope it helped you decide which is best for your needs.
Have an illuminating nighttime hunting experience.