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Buying a Night Vision Scope: 5 Performance Factors to Consider

Night vision scopes are a bit trickier to determine which scope is best to buy compared to searching for the right night vision binocular, or monocular. Rifle scopes aren’t designed to simply observe, they are designed to hit a target. Therefore there are a variety of different factors to consider when determining a night vision scope’s quality within its specific generation.

night vision scope is a wonderful device, and it can work wonders in tactical situations. The Night Vision market continues to make great strides in improvement in performance. Slowly we are seeing prices lower and more night vision scopes available on the civilian market. Because there is such a wide variety of choices when purchasing a night vision scope, it is in your best interest to know what these NVD’s can do. This will help you determine the best night vision scope for you to invest in.

Here are 5 performance factors to consider when choosing the best night vision scope for your needs:

The resolution, contrast and distortion of your night vision scope will be some of the most critical factors for hunting and tactical operations. When in hunting or tactical situations, you will need to be able to positively identify your target. High resolution, high contrast along with lack of distortion and noise will contribute to the quality of a night vision image.

Resolution: The resolution of the night vision image is measured by lines per millimeter (LP/MM) in most night vision scopes on the market. The higher the LP/MM equals greater clarity. When hunting or in tactical situations you would rather be able to recognize someone at 60m versus recognizing that there is a figure 60m away. 

Distortion: The lower the distortion the flatter and less rounded image. Crisper details are important in tactical and hunting situations. It is best to choose a night vision rifle scope that offers glass optics. Glass optics will give the clearest and sharpest quality. Plastic optics offer a lower optical quality and a higher distortion.

What is your necessary recognition range? It is important to know your necessary recognition range with night vision scopes. Night Vision technology has not quite progressed to the point where it functions like a standard rifle scope. When looking at a night vision scope the total range isn’t as important as the recognition range of a night vision scope. Before buying your night vision scope, it is best to look for the recognition range over the total range.

When it comes to to night vision scopes they are no different than regular scopes in a few ways. Weight is weight, so a heavy night vision scope is still heavy. The higher the magnification usually means the optic is going to be bigger and heavier. If you are doing a lot of brush hunting, or off hand shooting, you may prefer a lighter optic. A heavy optic will be more difficult to aim, and more uncomfortable. It will also likely slow the speed of moving the weapon around. Size, weight and ease of use are important considerations. 

Durability & Reliability 
A night vision scope is a major investment. When you are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on a rifle scope you want to make sure it is quality and that it will last you for a long time. With proper care, typically night vision devices are relatively trouble-free. However, when you start adding electronics, tubes, and specialized devices, to your scope you will have a higher potential for failure. It is important to recognize your scope’s limitations and respect them. Is it waterproof? What amount of recoil is it rated for? Think about how you will be using your optic and make a decision on how rough you think you will be with it.

More gain doesn’t always mean a clearer or better picture. It might only been a brighter picture. The most important gain measurement you need to know is the system gain. If the night vision scope’s system does not possess a good photosensitivity and SNR, a very high gain value simply means that you won’t be making the image better, you will only be making it brighter.

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