The 3 Best Night Vision Scope For AR-15 [2020 Update]

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Today I’m going to show you the best night vision scope for ar-15.

In fact:

I’ve hand- tested over 10 scopes alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best ar 15 night vision, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

The 3 Best Night Vision Scope For AR-15

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best night vision scope for ar-15:

  1. ATN ThOR HD 384: Best Overall
  2. Sightmark Wraith: Best Night Vision Scope Under $500
  3. Firefield NVRS 3×42: Best for Coyote Hunting

1. ATN ThOR HD 384: Best Overall

Want the best thermal imaging rifle scope that money can buy?

Check out the ATN ThOR HD 384. This is a line of high quality video and thermal imaging scopes that let you record and share your trophy hunts.

Check this out…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The ATN ThOR HD 384 is a thermal scope and fully digital. There isn’t a set of lenses and glass like you would expect to use on a traditional scope.

Being fully digital, I can use it in any lighting situation, even complete darkness–which is perfect for hog or predator hunting. With the ATN ThOR HD, I can hunt in the middle of the night when my quarry is most active.

This scope uses thermal imaging sensors and digital conversion processes to overlay the thermal imaging with a video feed to give me an accurate picture of the prey I’m hunting.

The thermal sensors pick up the heat signatures from animals so I can see their bodies in the dark. Because the imaging is thermal based, not light based, not only can I see my game in the dark, but I can also pick them out from behind thick scrub and brush in daylight that would otherwise block my view on a traditional scope.

I can look through the scope’s eyepiece, or use a phone or tablet to see my sight picture. If I’m coyote hunting at night, the coyote would appear to be white or light gray. The ghost-like outline of the animal stands out on a dark background.

From the scope’s settings, I can select the color and style of reticle I would prefer to shoot with.

I line my reticle up with my target and shoot. The Recoil Activated Video recording will start when I shoot and will save a copy of my hunting exploits on an SD card. I can download my hunts via a WiFi connection and share my shots with family and friends.

The optic is battery powered, I suggest buying rechargeable AAs.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on the ATN ThOR 384 is a very short 2.5 inches.

For heavy calibers, I appreciate that I can sight-in using one of my electronic devices so I can avoid getting a scope bite. I hate being that close behind my scopes on heavy recoil rifles, so I found this feature helpful.


Durability

It has a solid aluminum body with plastic buttons. The battery and cable ports are o-ring sealed. It is sturdy, but by no means is it robust.

The ATN ThOR HD 384 is a very high-tech piece of equipment and isn’t exactly “anything- proof” like a traditional Leupold or Vortex scope.

The factory specs say it is “resistant.” It’s labeled as weather resistant and shock resistant. This optic isn’t submersible. Nor can will it hold up to beatings against rocks and trees as I scramble to a different position for a better shot.

This is a scope that I treat with care. I even go so far as to wrap it in Press’n Seal to keep rain off of it out in the field.

The ATN ThOR 384 series starts at $2,000 dollars and climbs in price as the magnification powers get higher. With only a 3 year limited warranty, I don’t want to beat this up and bust it.

I think the fragility of this scope is its biggest draw back. Considering all the different sensors in this thing and that I’ve literally put a mini computer on my rifle barrel, I think that ATN did a great job making it as robust as they did.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

Being a purely digital scope, there aren’t knobs and turrets. I had to use settings within the scope to zero my rifle. After my rifle is zeroed the scope will use its gyroscope sensors, ballistics calculations, and laser range finder to predict point of impact.

All of the calculations happen in a fraction of a second and scope adjusts automatically to ensure my shot lands where I’ve pointed.

In order to get accurate shot placement, I first needed to use a thermal target that the scope could see. You can buy a special thermal target, or you can be cheap like I was and tape disposable hand-warmers to a target backer. Either option works well.

After following the zeroing instructions, it’s pretty easy to sight this thing in with one shot.

I also added the ballistics info for my favorite round to the profile for my hunting rifle.

I did fine-tune my scope by setting up profiles for the same rifle, but at different distances. I set up close range and longer range distances.


Parallax & Magnification

There is no parallax with this scope because it doesn’t have glass lenses. When using this scope, I see a real-time video feed either through the eyepiece or on my phone.

The ATN ThOR HD 384 is available in several different magnification options. I have the 2-8x version and it works great for hog hunting.

The forward and backward buttons control the zoom. The zoom between magnification is very smooth. There’s no clunking through powers.


Mounting & Rings

The ATN ThOR HD 384 comes with its own quick release mount. It screws right onto my weaver base. It even has a quick release so I can mount it to different rifles without any hassle.

I did find that the screws loosened up on me over time. A little Locktite fixed that.

Loctite Heavy Duty Threadlocker, 0.2 oz, Blue 242, Single
  • Advanced formula prevents loosening of metal fasteners caused by vibrations
  • Protective design protects threads from rusting and corroding
  • Medium-strength allows nuts and bolts to be removed with hand tools

Is the ATN ThOR HD 384 worth it?

With the ATN ThOR HD 384, I can hunt at night without having to rely on costly night vision optics or compromise my position with old-fashioned spotlights.

Because this optic is based on thermal imaging, I will get a clear picture both in the darkest nights or the brightest days.

It has:

  • RAV recording
  • A one-shot zero
  • Thermal imaging
  • Ballistics calculator
  • Laser Range Finder

This optic is packed with features that simplified my hunting experience.


2. Sightmark Wraith: Best Night Vision Scope Under $500

The Sightmark Wraith is the best night vision scope you can find on the market that runs under $500.

In fact:

I bought this scope in a hurry because I needed something cheap and effective for a hog hunt. I haven’t taken it off since.

Want to know why? Keep on reading, starting with…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Day or night, this optic runs with crystal clear clarity with a 1280p display.

The image is clear, crisp, and easy to manually adjust for diopter and objective focus. The full color HD during the day automatically adjusts and is just like looking through a normal scope.

At night, the display can be viewed in either green or black.

Even at the lowest illumination setting, the scope is still very bright and has a tendency to kill any natural light vision you might have. I found that the green mode was a little friendlier to my retinas.

The scope includes a 850 nm IR flashlight which can see up to 200 yards at night with no problem. I was able to ID deer at a much further range.

The flashlight is removable, so you can replace it with a higher powered IR to scope further.

The scope also has a recording feature. The video playback is just as clear as when using the scope since it saves in 1080p onto a micro SD card.

There are a lot of reticle options, 10 to be exact, and I’m still toying with my favorites. There’s everything from a traditional crosshair to a 1 MOA dot and ring.

The reticle also comes in 9 different colors for easier aiming and accuracy depending on the target. I like to use the traditional black on the firing range and the red for night.

As exciting as all of those options are, I was initially concerned that it would be too much. I’m not much of a techie, but this was one of the easiest menus I’ve handled on a NV scope.

I made it about halfway through the setting menu and had the button layout memorized for adjustments. It’s really that simple and well laid out.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Unlike a regular scope, night vision scopes work better when you have your eye right up to the eye piece. The 2.4 in on the Wraith is way more generous than most other scopes I’ve sighted.

The rubber eye cup is soft and helps to absorb any movement from recoil, plus it helps to stop light dispersion at night. It can be removed during the day for easier viewing.

I have this scope mounted on my AR-15 .223 and walked away with both eyes intact.


Durability

The Wraith is shockproof, weatherproof, and mostly waterproof.

With all of the electronic gadgetry, it’s waterproof resistance level of IP55. That basically means that you can still use it in light precipitation but don’t go swimming with it.

It’s powered by 4 AA batteries and the illuminator runs on two CR123 batteries so you can run it independently of the scope without the concern for battery life.

It does live up to the 4.5 hours of battery life that Sightmark advertises, but I found that using Lithium batteries gives an even longer runtime.

This scope is a tank, both in the sense that it’s nearly indestructible and can withstand heavy recoil, as well as the fact that it’s heavy.

With batteries, the scope weighs around 36.3 ounces. But, with all of the features and electronics you’ll be hard pressed to find anything lighter.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The manual adjustment knobs are very sturdy, although initially difficult to turn since they’re so tight. But this is a testament to how well sealed the unit is against moisture or dust.

Zeroing was incredibly easy after reading the manual. After three shots, I was ready to go.

You can also save your settings for each different rifle- I have my five favorites saved which makes it fast and easy to swap the Wraith between them.

Even on high kick rifles, the settings held and zero stayed true.


Parallax & Magnification

The Sightmark Wraith has a magnification range of 4x-32x.

I found that the image could get pixelated when looking at anything closer than 50 yards. However the scope is more than equipped to sight at 50+ yards.

Even at 8x, I could clearly scope hogs at 150 yds in the night.


Mounting & Rings

A fixed picatinny mount comes stock with the scope. The top weaver rail allows for added accessories as well.

While the stock mount works just fine, I do recommend the Sightmark Locking Quick Detach Mount. It’s easy to remove and mount between multiple rifles, and with the saved settings there’s no re-zeroing necessary.


Is the Sightmark Wraith worth it?

I’ve gotten great use out of this scope hunting hogs at night. So I can say that this scope is great for nighttime hunting…if you’re on a budget.

Here’s what makes this scope stand out:

  • Daytime color mode
  • 5 Weapon profile saves
  • Sightmark 3 Year Warranty
  • 10 reticle options & 9 color options
  • Video/photo recording in 1080p HD

In short, this scope is worth way more than what you’ll be paying.

The display quality outperforms anything you’ll find in its price-range, and the ease of use makes it fast and friendly for every user. That’s what makes this my go-to for affordable night vision.

If you’re wondering whether the Sightmark Wraith is right for you, I say, try it and see for yourself.


3. Firefield NVRS 3×42: Best for Coyote Hunting

Coyotes attacking your animals?

You don’t need to spend $3000 to get a night vision scope.

The NVRS 3×42 by Firefield gives you the performance you need at a price you can afford.


Tube Display & Reticle

The tube display is perfectly clean. I couldn’t see any visible pixels.

This is because of the 30lp/mm display to the tube, which is finer than the human eye can detect, and it has a 14 degree field of view.

It’s like looking through a green piece of glass that brightens everything up.

The duplex reticle is a red crosshair with adjustable brightness. I found it simple, fast, and effective, not to mention cool looking.

There aren’t any ticks for bullet drop, but this scope is meant for ranges up to 100m, and placing the blazing target on a coyote at that range is trivial.

Clicks are in quarter-MOA, and basically move the reticle around the display until you find your target point.


Eye Relief & Operation

The eye relief is just shy of 2 inches, enough to do the trick, but nothing amazing.

With my AR, the eye relief is fine, but I wouldn’t want to toss it on a 7mm. This scope does best on lower recoil weapons.

Depending on the rest of the gun, you might use it on a heavier rifle, but you should be familiar with what you can get away with before the scope nips your eyebrow.

One plus for this scope, in my opinion, is the incredible simplicity of the controls.

A simple selector switch allows you to choose between off, night vision on, and night vision with illuminator on. The dials and knobs are easy and intuitive.

Everything just works. None of that fiddling around with menus and complicated computerized nonsense that has infected the world of NVRS.


Durability

The tube is solid titanium.

The whole scope is weatherproof and shockproof, and it comes with caps to protect the lens and display when not in use.

IPX-4 rated waterproofing means that it should hold up in the rain, but this isn’t for scuba missions. Keep it out of puddles.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

These were a pretty standard interface and not too different from what I’m used to.

It was a little weird, as they don’t have as solid a feel as I would like. The clicks are underwhelming and I worry that the point of aim could be knocked off with a few bumps and bangs.

You can fix this with a dab of hot glue after getting the scope sighted in. There shouldn’t be much field adjustment for the short range of the scope, and it’ll sure up the knobs in case you bump them.


Illumination & Magnification

The built-in illuminator is nice to have, but it’s also the reason for the limited range of this scope.

Protecting your chickens from predators? Yes. 300m shooting in the dark? Not so much.

You could add an illuminator to your weapon to brighten things up, especially on dark nights, but you will need to have a rail open for it, as there is no external rail on the Firefield NVRS 3×42.

The magnification is a stock 3x, which I find great for hunting at shallow ranges. It’s perfect for the range of the illuminator, and a good fit for this scope.

During the day, other scopes might be more precise for regular varmints, particularly for your 17HMR or Ruger 10/22, but you can use night vision on those as well, and in this case, the range matches the weapon platform quite nicely.


Mounting & Rings

Mounts included. Not the best, but a solid mount with a short grab.

Just make sure it’s tight. People have reported the picatinny mount hopping off of their AR-10s, and it’s something to keep an eye out for. I didn’t have any problem with it myself, but it’s something to think about.


Is the Firefield NVRS 3×42 worth it?

The Firefield NVRS 3×42 is a solid Gen 1 night vision system that includes a low power illuminator and can be had on a budget. It is limited to around 100 yards, in my opinion, which makes it great for battle rifles, coyotes, and hog hunting where allowed.

The things that make it great:

  • Clean reticle
  • Budget friendly
  • Intuitive controls
  • Solid titanium casing
  • External caps for the screen and lens

It may not be for everyone, but for a great coyote rifle, the Firefield NVRS 3×42 is definitely a contender that will do the job and do it well.

Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Riflescope
  • High quality image and resolution
  • Lightweight and durable titanium body with water resistant IPX4 Rating
  • Quick detach weaver mount

It also comes with a three year warranty.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best night vision scope for ar-15 guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which rifle scope will you pick for your AR-15?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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