Before modern night vision technology has been affordable and common, the best thing you can do for night time hunting was use lamps and make the most out of shootable light with objective lenses on our scopes.
While these methods are useful the affordability of night vision equipment has made it easier for professional pest controllers to shoot vermin and troublesome predators at night. To help, we’re going to give you details on how to find the best night vision scope that you can take on your next hunting adventures.
How Does Nightvision Work?
When using devices that have a night vision scope, it amplifies the existing light which gives the user a full picture in low lighting situations (i.e. walking outside at 2am or later, etc). In a dark room with no lighting sure, night vision can be pretty useless. The light can be as less evident as moonlight or as technologically based such as infrared lamps.
To further explain, night vision works through an objective lens. This objective lens takes in ambient light and sends it through a special tube called an image intensifier tube. When in use, the system gives power to the image lighting and converts that lighting to electrons.
This process is continued through the microchannel within the microchannel plate. Then, the electrons go through the microchannels and are multiplied continuously. This creates new electrons and these electrons are transferred to a screen that’s coated with image phosphors (which as used to create the green image).
The electrons and phosphors work together to make photons, but a thousand times more are originally absorbed. This makes the same picture, but the amplified lights make it easier to see in dark areas, even though it shows a general green image.
Night Vision Scopes History
Historically, many armies were unable to fight at night because of the lack of communication, the confusion. And the lack of real-time intelligence made fighting dangerous and a risky form of proposition.
The first-night vision models were created at the end of WWII. One of the earlier devices was made by the German army in 1939. At the end of WWII, the Germans had introduced the “Vampir” one of the earliest known night vision scopes in history.
Night vision scopes would see a large improvement during the Vietnam war. It relies on act GEN 0 technology and uses ambient lighting instead of infrared light sources. Using S-20 photocathodes, the image intensifiers create a light amplification at 1000x but requires moonlight to work and is bulky in size.
The second generation of NV scopes would use an S-25 photocathode and an improved image intensifier in the micro-channel plate. This leads to more illumination in moonless nights. The light amplification is at 20,000x. Also, it improved in reliability and image resolution.
GEN 3 night vision systems have an improved photocathode made of gallium arsenide, which has a better image resolution. The light amplification started to improve to a 30,000-50,000x rating.
Currently, we are in the GEN 4 era of night vision scopes. Some say that GEN 4 night vision scopes are made without an ion barrier film, which produces a “filmless” tube. This new advancement was used to increase lighting sensitivity, resolution, and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for an improvement of overall performance.
Getting GEN 4 weapons is expensive, and illegal in some areas. However, it’s possible to obtain GEN 1 – GEN 3 devices in gun stores and other markets that sell night vision scopes. So think about the history and the generation of scope before buying it!
What Performance Factors I Should Consider?
While someone can buy night vision binocular through generation, people can get a general idea of what they’re looking for. However, night vision scopes are different. The scopes are used for hitting a target, not just looking at it. There are a variety of factors that will determine the quality of its generation.
Your optic resolution is critical for tactical operations and hunting. If you are unable to identify your target, then you shouldn’t be pulling the trigger. Scope resolution is measured by the lines per millimeter (LP/MM) for night vision scopes. The higher the LP/MM, the more clear the image will be.
You need a reliable night vision scope that can withstand daily uses, which is why you should buy one that’s made from resistant materials. Titanium or aluminum for the body is the best today due to their durability.
A nitrogen scope is great because it stops internal fog, but the entire device should be resistant to fog, dust, and water. It’s better if you purchase a weatherproof device. The best night vision optics are created fully out of glass, with multiple coating layers.
Night vision technology isn’t advanced to where it can perform like a rifle, which uses technology to see beyond thousands of yards. The total range isn’t as important as the recognition range of a night vision scope.
When getting a scope, check for the recognition range by the total range. Usually, longer optics can produce light better. Range is measured by ambient natural light, and how much of it is in the area. Manufacturers will show ranges for quarter moons, full moons, overcast ranges, and starlight only.
Since night vision will require light, you will know that the range will go down once you go down the scale. A scope that has a recognition range at 500 yards during a full moon will have a range of 100 during an overcast sky.
Night vision scopes are no different than regular scopes in multiple ways. For instance, the weight holds the same principals for each device. So, a heavy weight night vision scope is heavy. The larger the magnification means that the optic will be bigger and heavier.
If you’ve don’t a bit of off hand shooting and brush hunting, you’ll want to get a lighter optic. Heavy optics are harder to aim, and will reduce the speed of your weapon, so get a scope that strikes a balance between the two.
The longevity of your night vision scope is another important consideration. Good rifle scopes can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, making it a major investment. Adding tubes, specialized devices, and electronics to an optic and you’ll increase the risk of failure.
Remember, night vision optics work on electronics, so using water will destroy with them if they don’t have water proof protection. Also, do you know the level of water damage the device can withstand? Smaller devices will be easier to damage, while
Can you attach an infrared illuminator to your night vision scope? Infrared illuminators allow for you to create an infrared light, which improves the images of the night vision device. This is a handy feature for dark nights that are slightly pitch black.
However, these illuminations might have a limited range. If you’re going to buy a night vision rifle scope, we suggest that you get a handheld or attachable illuminator. Alternatively, you can purchase a spotlight to make it easier when hunting during the evening.
It’s good to see what other items are included with your night vision scope. For example, a certain scope will have different magnifications if you’re using the right lens converters, but this might not be included.
Or you might have a monocular that’s attached to a helmet or your head, but this can’t happen unless you get the proper amount. So you have to be careful about which scope you’re choosing if you don’t want to pay too much on your side.
Plus, its always good to look for complimentary extras, such as lens caps to minimize dust and a hard case for portability.
Night Vision Scopes
Night vision scopes can be divided into three different categories.
- Goggles: Goggles can be worn handheld or can be attached to your head. Goggles tend to have a stereo lens or single lens, based on the model. Goggles are good for constant viewings, such as moving through a dark building.
- Cameras: Cameras can send images to a VCR for recording footage or To a monitor for display. While the night vision is in a permanent location such as a building, cameras are used. Some of the newer camcorders have a night vision feature built right in.
- Scopes: Usually mounted on weapons or handheld, scopes are one a eye-pieced form of optics. Since scopes are handheld, they are great for when you want to look at a specific object, then turn back to your normal viewing condition.
The most common uses for night vision are:
- Law enforcement
- Wildlife observation
- Hidden-object detection
The first purpose of night vision technology was to find enemy targets in dark areas. It’s still used by the military for that same purpose, as well for surveillance, targeting, and navigation.
Security and police use both image-enhancement and thermal-imaging technology mainly for surveillance. Nature enthusiasts and hunters use NVDs to go through the woods during the night
Private investigators and detectives use night vision when they are watching for criminal activity or people they’re assigned to track. Businesses have mounted cameras have night vision to help monitor your surroundings.
One good ability of thermal light imaging is that it tells the user if an area has been previously used — it can show that the ground has been dug up to bury something, even if it’s not obvious to the naked eye.
Law enforcement uses this to find items that criminals hide, including bodies, drugs, and money. Also, getting recent changes to areas like walls can be viewed using thermal imaging, which provides important clues in multiple cases.
If you’re out hunting or camping a lot, night vision devices will be useful to you – make sure that you get the right scope for your needs.
Common Issues With Night Vision Scopes
One major issue of scopes is light reflection. The light reflection makes it hard to see through longer rangers. Rain reflects the light in night vision optic. And think about driving via the fog, and how fog can reflect light effectively.
Dew – If living in humid environments where dew is common, you’ll find that the dew will reflect light, even during the moonlight. This makes it hard to determine shapes in a brush.
Depth Perception: Depth perception is affected through night vision significantly. With an optic, it’s used to aim at a certain threat, not attempt to navigate or walk around with the scope.
Why Do I Need To Use a Vision Scope?
Hunters have been known to obtain game in times when the sun is about to rise or its settings. When the light levels were enough to prey and see, animals were ready for nighttime forage. The short time of the overlap in the animal/human cycle is hunters.
The night was special for hunters for the most part of human history. In the wild, you will as likely be prey by other animals/ We are outgunned when seeing animals in the dark. We won’t be able to have a chance, and only until the advent of the night vision scopes.
You’re barred for legally hunting most animals after the sundown, but there are some that night is wanted. Also, night vision scopes are preferred for hunting hogs in the south and are good in other locations (i.e., coyote hunting).
Night vision can be used for shooting if it’s your personal interest. They will do well as the targets are then reflective. This is an unexplored niche because hunting is the most common for
Check for Ease
As experienced shooters and hunters will tell you, there are night visions scopes on the market that are hard to use. They can be rather cumbersome and will cost you a ton of errors and headaches when using them.
We can guess that you don’t want a model like that, right?
Get a scope that has a user-friendly, ergonomic design. Make sure that comes in a small profile which makes it easy to make quick adjustments.
Scoping at Night: Tips
You don’t know how to use your night vision scope?
Don’t worry. Here are some tips that will help you “Own The Night” with your newly purchase night version scope.
Know Your Hunting Zone
One of the main tips of utilizing your night scoping involves understanding the hunting locations in advance.
This works by visiting your hunting location during the daytime. While you’re there, look for things like buildings, roads, domestic pets, livestock, etc. If you’re planning to hunt on private land, talk to the farmer to get useful information if they’ve seen a fox or whitetail deer around the area.
You should also look for the signs of the animal you’re planning to hunt. This includes holes in fences, pathways, if you’re looking for fox, make sure to check its feathers, bones, or scat on animals that the fox previously feasted on.
Overall, look for the right position for parking your vehicle at night.
Stay Undetected By the Target Animal
Another important tip is to stay stealthy and careful, so that creature you’re hunting doesn’t spot your location.
These animals have great eyesight and a strong sense of smell. So you’ll have to take the necessary precautions to make sure your target doesn’t spot you first and leave. Maintain a level of silence and wear clothes that don’t cause unnecessary noise.
Stay away from aftershaves, spicy food, and aftershaves before going to the hunting location.
Night vision scopes work by getting the available light then amplifying it so you can see targets clearly. However, if you’re hunting in an area with a moonless night, or it has limited light availability, then use an IR (infrared illuminator) that’s featured with most scopes on the market.
This will act as a flashlight, which gives you an unlimited light source.
Using the Gain Control Option
Most night vision scopes have a manual gain control option that lets you adjust how you want the bright images to appear.
If you are hunting in total darkness, you have to notice that your image formed has small white sparks all over (this can affect image quality). By adjusting the gain slightly, you’ll see a sweet spot with fewer sparks, which gives you a better view of the target.
Long Range Shooting
If you’re planning on shooting 100 yards distances at night, then we’ll recommend that you get a scope with a higher magnification range. Expert shooters recommend things from 3x and higher as it can do well in medium and long-range hunting.
How Are Night Vision Scopes Different?
We’ll show more details on what makes night vision scopes different than other hunting rifle scopes.
It’s important to understand that night vision scopes are designed for the darkest shooting/hunting areas in might (i.e., they’re supposed to be used for night hunting).intensifier
The technologies used by NV scopes include: near-infrared illumination, low light imaging, and thermal imaging. This tube works by intensifying the ambient light to create a better vision of the target object.
As we stated earlier, the objective lens focuses on photons (lights) in the intensifier photo. The light energy then releases the electrons within the cathode.
Once the electrons are released, they move through the openings in the microchannel plate and bounce off walls – which generates more electrons. This results in a cloud of electrons that show the original image with better (green lighting) precision.
Unlike daylight scopes, night vision scopes are categorized into several generations based on their capabilities and features. To simplify, generation 1 models are cheap for first-time shooters and hunters.
If you need something more advanced, with better performance and quality, generation 4 NV scope models are used by the military.
It’s important to know that night vision scopes have a higher price tag than other scopes out the. While this is easy to find a scope that’s under $100, you might not get one that performs well. Create a budget to ensure that you get an NV scope that will help you hunt more effectively.
|Generation 0||This isn’t the original night vision scope that’s created by the U.S. Army and was used during the Korean War and World War II, these NV scopes use an active infrared.|
They have a projection unit called the IR illuminator, attached to the scope. The unit displays a beam that’s near-infrared light, which is similar to a normal flashlight beam.
Since it’s invisible to the naked eye, the beam will reflect off objects and lens of the night vision scope.
These systems use anode and cathodes to accelerate the electrons. The problem with this method is that the electron acceleration will distort the image quality and decreases the tube’s life.
Another problem is that it GEN 0 devices is greatly duplicated by hostile nations, which gave enemy soldiers to use NVDs to see infrared beams projected through the device.
|Generation 1||This generation of NV Scopes used passive infrared instead of active infrared. These scopes use ambient light provided by the stars and the moon to enhance the infrared lighting.|
It won’t work well on moonless or cloudy nights. Generation 1 NV scopes use the same tube technology as Generation 0 (cathode and anode), so you’ll still find issues within the tube’s life span, and distortion is still a problem.
|Generation 2||Generation 2 scopes have a major improvement in image-intensifier tubes. They offer better performance and resolution over generation 1 devices, making them more reliable.|
The best advantage of Generation 2 scopes is their ability to be seen in low light conditions. (i.e., moonless night). The sensitivity increase was due to an addition of its microchannel plate within the image-intensifier tube. Thus, the images are brighter and less distorted than Generation 1devices.
|Generation 3||Gen 3 night vision scopes are used by the military. While there aren’t any substantial changes in the underlying technology from Gen 2, Gen 3 NV scopes have better sensitivity and resolution.|
This is due to the photo cathode being made via gallium arsenide, which converts photons to electrons. The MCP is made through an ion barrier, which increases the lifespan of the tube.
|Generation 4||Generation 4 scopes show significant improvement in low-lighting environments. These scopes remove the ion film that was previously used in generation 3 devices.|
Removing the ion film makes it easier for the electrons to reach their amplification stage, so the images are brighter and less distorted.
Adding an automatic gated power supply system gives a photocathode voltage to turn on/off repeatedly, thereby enabling the NV scope to adjust to changing conditions.
The first generation rifle scope is good for night hunting, but it will need natural light from the environment before it works properly.
Generation 2 rifles perform better than the first generation model. When compared to its older generation, generation 2 rifles are more compact and lighter in weight. Thus, making them more ideal for hunting than the Generation 1.
Generation 3 is best for tactical operations because of its clarity and high resolution. You can adjust it to the lighting conditions, which allows users to use it more effectively.
The first version of rifle scopes (GEN 0), was highly ineffective. It’s flaws provided the idea for modern night vision rifle scopes. While there is a new version of NV scopes, it’s in Gen 4, but it’s not fully available to the public.
When searching for a night vision scope, it’s important that the images are clear during the night and it can adjust to the current lighting conditions. When your optics have more lines per millimeter, the images will be more visible during night.
Since NV scopes are very expensive, you can’t afford anything that’s sub-par. That’s why it’s important to get a scope that’s durable enough to withstand impact and heavy recoil.
Is It Legal to Use a Night Vision Scope?
Night vision devices are legal to have in the U.S. However, California is the only state to have laws banning night vision scopes.
The law states that California bans any device, attachment, or any other contrivance designed to use on a firearm, through the use of a projected infrared electronic telescope and infrared light, enables the operator to visually locate and determine the presence of unseen objections during nighttime.
U.S. law regarding importing and exporting night vision devices are: without having an exclusive license; you can’t import or export night vision attachments. Shipping between the states is good, but it’s unable to land in a foreign country.
Research Your State’s Night Vision Laws
Every state has unique laws when it comes to hunting. Some states have specific times for night hunting, and other states ban hunting altogether. Some ban it for hunting endangered or certain animals.
This is where buying night vision scopes can be tricky because the laws constantly change. This is the case with animal species such as feral hogs that are populating the southeast.
You should understand and search the hunting laws in your state, or the state you’re traveling too.
Federally, there are no rules about night vision use for hunting. However, each state uses different regulation rules for a certain extent. Some don’t have issues with night vision. The state might ban hunting altogether.
When we think of hunting, we are speaking about game animals. Vermin hunting isn’t regulated regarding using night vision equipment or in night hunting.
Here are the most common questions that first time night vision scope shoppers tend to ask. Keep reading this section to get a better view of how NV scopes work.
What is the Signal to Noise Ratio?
The Signal to Noise ratio is important when measuring the performance of a night vision device. SNR indicates how sensitive the photocathode is and how it affects the phosphor screen’s efficiency.
To simplify, the SNR measures how much the device’s noise will interfere with its availability to display night vision in the dark. An NV scope with a high SNR ratio has a higher resolution, clarity, and contrast.
SNR values are standardized, so expect the same level of Signal to Noise based on the manufacturer.
Can Night Vision Be in Black and White?
White Phosphor Technology is uses white phosphor instead of the traditional green. You can place your night vision scope, but there’s more to it than the color of your scene.
Usually, you’ll see white phosphor screens in upper Gen 3 scopes that have better materials and quality. The result is a better image quality with a higher degree of detail, contrast, and resolution than green phosphor images.
While the human eyes are sensitive to greener hues, the quality of WPT makes for better identification, faster target acquisition, and a better night vision experience that others can’t compare to.
How Far Can Night Vision Scopes See?
The generation, quality, and the amount of light exposure in an environment are main factors of its viewing range. A high-quality Gen 3 scope will help you detect a person or animal about 300 yards away, but you wouldn’t be able to identify or recognize it as a species until they’re around 150 yards away.
When it comes to ambient light, certain things can change. If it’s dark, you will have to get closer to obtain better recognition ranges and positive detection. If it’s bright outside, recognition and detection ranges might be further away.
To conclude, a good night vision scope will enhance your hunting efficiency and precision. Because it’s dark outside, they will change the lighting of your area, making it easier to find your target. Thus, you should get a night vision scope that performs well, reliable, and can be easily attached to your rifle. You and your hunting friends will thank you because of this?
Have any questions about using a night vision scope?
Tell us in the comments below.