Reasons to get a top-quality night vision scope under $1000
When it comes to investing in a night vision scope, your reasons are usually, as a hunter going to involve shooting after dark. That’s a given, right? Well, so it goes that when you’re choosing, apart from the usual concerns you’re going to be applying with regard to your budget, you also need to figure out what sort of shooting you’re going to need it to be able to assist you with. And it’s also very relevant to figure out at what sort of range and in which conditions you’re going to need it to perform.
If you do take the time to figure out all these things before you start looking, then you’re going to avoid paying for features that you don’t need, and you can narrow down your search based on what you want the scope to do for you.
Features to consider when choosing a night vision scope
The following points are designed to help you make decisions on how you intend to use your new scope, based on what strengths you need in it, and which weaknesses may be irrelevant to your particular brand of hunting and prey. If you’re mainly doing closer range hunting, for instance, then why pay more dollars for a scope that’s great at 120 yards? When looking for the best night vision rifle scope under $1000, it’s a fact of life that you should prioritize the stuff you need.
Night vision is generally going to not give you the same benefits in magnification as a day scope. This is basically because there’s a trade-off here going on between gain and making things bigger.
Gain is how well the scope uses ambient light in the dark. And the levels of this you’ll get from a scope are going to be inversely proportional to the amount of magnification that the scope is capable of.
Yes, more magnification is great – but image quality will generally deteriorate too when you magnify more – as will your field of vision at range.
Don’t pay heaps for massive amounts of magnification if the range you’re going to be shooting at is relatively short. One of the biggest needs for magnification with good clarity when hunting at night is obviously going to be safety. So, sure, if you’re going to be shooting at long range, you may need to put a lot of weight on magnification so as to be able to identify a target accurately at that range before you shoot it.
Let’s not forget that if a scope boasts a detection range of 150 yards, that’s just giving you the ability to detect movement at that range. If the optics aren’t up to scratch, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to tell a hog from a human – so safety, range and magnification are all very important factors if you’re not just taking part in organized competitions on a shooting range, where safety procedures will ensure that you’re not going to accidentally shoot something you didn’t want to shoot.
Night & day modes
Again, this is your call. Day scopes aren’t as costly as night vision scopes, so do you really want to be paying a lot more for a NV scope to work in the daytime? On optical scopes, day time performance is extremely limited at best, and many of them just can’t be used during the day without damaging them significantly. Many people would argue that it is best to have a scope for daytime, and one for the night.
An exception to this rule is digital night vision scopes. Digital scopes can generally be used in both conditions. If costs and budgets limit you to one scope for both day and night time shooting, then maybe you could limit your search to digital scopes to solve that problem. This is one of the reasons we included a digital scope in this list – so take note if you’re that hunter.
This is another important factor to be aware of when choosing to part with dollars for a scope, for a few different reasons. Firstly, don’t go buying a scope that gives excellent magnification and clarity at 200 yards if you only ever shoot close range at night. The cost will be a lot higher, but the second factor to consider is that the features needed in a scope for that range will make it inferior at gain than a scope designed for shorter ranges. This either means it won’t perform as well in terms of how it’s using ambient light – or that you’ll need to use any in-built Infra-Red features more often, and that’ll significantly affect how long your batteries last.
You can see where I’m going with this. It’s all a trade-off, and even more with a night vision scope than other things – especially when working to a budget, because that’s what we’re going to have to do when trying to identify the best night vision scope under $1000 – these things aren’t cheap, because they have to be able to do more stuff than a daytime scope. Which affects size, weight, battery life, etc. As I’ve said, you need to know exactly what you need and choose based on that. This will see you weighing up the features you need – against the features that don’t matter to you.
The aperture size helps greatly in determining how well the scope will gather and use ambient light. The size of the lens improves how much light is ‘recycled’ by the scope, and it can be very useful to have a bigger aperture in lower light conditions, especially when hunting prey that’s active at dusk. You’ll need less or no IR. But even in starlight, the aperture size will help – a lot. This is a very relevant factor for battery life.
This is most relevant usually to the type of scope you choose – with regard to magnification and the figures for field of view. You’ll need to consider what position your rifle places your eye at, and make sure that the scope is going to be at the right distance range from your eye so that you don’t end up losing the advantage of a bigger field of view, as can happen if you’re not able to comfortably place your eye within the right range from the end of the scope. This can be hard to work out without physically having a scope and your gun at hand – so I’d advise asking the manufacturer if the specs of the scope suit your rifle.
Wi-Fi connectivity, streaming and recording
This is going to be an important consideration if you like showing off your shooting successes to your friends and family. Just remember that you’ll pay for these features. If just hitting targets more often and in more conditions and terrains is what you want to do, then you’re better off going for quality in the features that will enable you to do that. And I say that mainly because we’re looking for the best night vision scope under $1000 here. Most hunters can manage without Wi-Fi connectivity – but they’ll need the scope to be able to do the job it was designed for in the dark.
Durable construction and build
This is another factor that will matter to varying degrees to different people. Are you going to be largely static when you use the scope, or are you going to be running around the woods a lot? It’s true that durability and a hardy build are great to have but weigh it up as per how you hunt.
An exception on this point is when it comes to rail mounts. If your scope has a built-in rail mount, make sure it’s adjustable and gives the tightest possible fit to your gun. Once you’ve set the scope up, the last thing you want it to do is move, in relation to your weapon. Once again, if you don’t need an indestructible scope, don’t look for one and just concentrate on the rail mount being great when you’re looking on a budget.
Batteries and battery lifespan
This is obviously a big factor and it partly goes back to how much IR you need to use in the conditions and at the range you’re shooting at. The more you use IR and can’t rely on the gain to pick up ambient light, the more quickly you’ll drain power. And in turn the more often you’ll have to pay attention to batteries.
A point to briefly mention here is that if you do opt for a scope that relies on normal batteries, in order to spend bucks on other features – pay really close attention to where the battery compartment is, how easy it is to access and quietly change out batteries when you’re in the thick of the hunt.
And make sure that if you’re likely to have to change batteries every couple of hours, you can do so without having to remove the unit from your rifle. You do not want a situation where you bought a scope that needs frequent battery changes, and you have to re-sight that scope every time it happens. That just cuts down on the fun.
Options wise, you’re looking at a few. First, and probably cheapest is using standard batteries and changing them a bit. This will cost over time but get you a cheaper scope, or a scope with better features. Secondly, you can get the same scope and invest in a couple of packs of rechargeable batteries. That’s a good middle option. Or thirdly, some scopes come with the ability to plug in an external battery pack. Use what you do, your budget and any weight concerns to decide.