Choosing a rifle scope with night vision on a budget
By Lance D Johanson // Jan 17, 2018

A rifle scope with night vision expands your hunting and self defense capabilities. Before making a purchase, however, you must consider your primary objectives for utilizing night vision and whether the extra range of sight is worth the added cost. If you’re looking to take out pesky coyotes, wild hogs or other nuisances at 100 yards, look no further than the Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope. Priced at $499.97 MSRP, the Photon XT is more affordable than other digital long range night vision scopes. With great 4.6x magnification, it’s also 30 percent lighter in weight and provides 33 percent longer battery life.


Its digital elevation adjustment system helps you compensate for both elevation and wind, providing greater precision and accuracy in inclement conditions and unsteady terrain. The Photon XT is designed with magnificent 640x480 resolution on a large 42mm objective lens. Being digital, it also has the option for video capture, allowing the owner to record everything they see, day and night. The scope is equipped with various reticles rated at various feet-per-second, so it can be used for various rifles and crossbows.

The quality of the Photon XT is perfect for range shooting up to 120 yards. While the quality doesn’t compare to traditional third generational night vision, the price is much more budget-friendly. Third generation night vision scopes can cost in the thousands of dollars, and give you more than you need for practical purposes. The Photon XT comes closer in quality to first and second generation night vision, the latter of which is still more costly than the Photon XT. The Photon XT is rated as waterproof, an added bonus.

Science behind traditional night vision and digital night vision

The inner working of traditional night vision differs from digital night vision. Traditional night vision uses an image intensification tube, consisting of three parts: a photocathode, a microchannel plate, and a phosphor screen. When light passes through the front lens and hits the photocathode, photons are converted into electrons and are quickly released into a vacuum. The vacuum accelerates the particles and releases them into millions of tiny holes in the micro channel plate, generating secondary electrons. These secondary electrons cross the phosphor screen, where they are converted back to photons.

With digital night vision, an artificial light source is needed. This light enters a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor and is converted into an electrical signal. This electrical signal is converted back so an image can be displayed on the micro display. The image can then be recorded. Digital scopes can also be operated during the day.

Two other options for night vision on a budget

If you’re looking to have night vision for in-home personal defense, look into Bushnell’s AR Optics Digital Sentry Night Vision 2x monocular. At $352.95 MSRP, this setup includes a 330x224 pixel full color LED Display and an 850 nM LED IR Illuminator. The scope can be mounted on a helmet, a weapon, or be used hand-held.

An even more cost-effective close range night vision solution includes Sightmark’s Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec Night Vision QD Reflex Sight. At around $150 USD, this scope gives the shooter two options. First, it could be used for  engaging targets up to 50 yards, from the hip. The side-mounted red laser helps engage targets quickly, efficiently, without having to sight them in. The second option is to use the 33mm x 24mm dual-pane glass and sight in targets using the night vision feature for accuracy up to 100 yards.

Depending on your objective, these three night vision scopes are all great options for rifle enthusiasts on a budget. The Photon XT 4.6x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope is a great choice for engaging targets at 100 yards in the field, in the bush. (For more on hunting, marksmanship and personal defense, visit Guns.News.)

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