Today I’m going to show you the best night vision scope for ar-15.
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!
|Best Night Vision Scope For AR-15||Best for||Price|
|ATN ThOR HD 384||Overall||$2,699.00|
|Sightmark Wraith||Night Vision Scope Under $500||$423.04|
|Firefield NVRS 3×42||Coyote Hunting||$244.99|
|ATN X-Sight 4K Pro||Hog Hunting||not available|
|Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S||Budget||$677.35|
A night vision scope is a special optic that helps you to see and acquire your target in near total darkness.
If you’re looking to purchase a night vision scope for your AR-15, there are a few things you should know first.
This guide will walk you through how a night vision scope works, the different generations of night vision, and how to mount your night vision scope.
Interested? Let’s get started!
Night vision is any kind of enhanced optical device that amplifies all available light, such as the moon and stars, so that you can see in the dark.
All night vision scopes use an intensifier to convert weak light from the near infrared spectrum to light that is visible to the human eye. But the type of intensifier varies based on the generation.
So let’s talk about the different night vision grades, from the simple Gen 1 to the more advanced Gen 4.
The first generation of night vision collects and amplifies light through an objective lens. That is then focused on the image intensifier. The intensifier tube accelerates electrons and makes them strike a phosphor surface, just like a TV, which then amplifies the light.
Gen 1 also uses an IR illuminator that acts as a night vision flashlight. This gives the user extra visibility, but also makes the user visible to prey.
This generation is by far the cheapest and is very affordable. It also provides enough light for most recreational uses, so it’s a great option for hobbyists.
However, there are a lot of downsides to Gen 1 that make it not suitable for hunting or tactical purposes. As I said before, the IR illuminator will give away your position. Also, you’ll only get 100 yards maximum range.
Plus, they’re not very clear and you get both a ‘fisheye’ lens effect and a ‘halo effect’ around lights. On top of that, they only last about 1500 hours.
The next generation of night vision uses the same intensifier process, but it adds a micro-channel plate that multiplies the number of electrons that are being intensified before they strike the phosphor surface.
Essentially, this means you’ll get an improved image quality and increase your range to about 200 yards. The Gen 2 also increases to 2500-5000 hours depending on the scope.
This is a great scope for night hunting because it gives you pretty much everything you need. It even has an IR illuminator, but the beauty is that it doesn’t need it to work. So you can use it when you want to and turn it off when you’re trying to hide your position.
The clarity on the Gen 2 isn’t perfect though and they can sometimes cost almost the same as the Gen 3.
With the third generation you’ll get high quality low-light performance that can be used both day or night.
The Gen 3 basically further adds a Gallium Arsenide photocathode (an upgraded intensifier tube) that creates a lot more photoelectrons than the Gen 2.
This one doesn’t need an IR illuminator at all and lets you see out to 300 yards and beyond. It also lasts about 10,000 hours.
With optimum clarity, life span, and range, this generation is great for serious long range or tactical uses.
The only downside is that it is expensive, starting at $1000 and can go upwards of $3000.
The Gen 4 night vision is still pretty new and is the most advanced overall.
It has the best visibility and target acquisition and gets you close to 500 yards in range.
This one is mostly used by the military.
Another option has recently come onto the market, which is digital night vision.
Digital night vision uses the same photocathode tube system used by the regular night vision scopes and then improves it by using modern silicone chips to display the image. This is really similar to how a digital camera works.
This is a great option for hunters that need a scope they can use day or night and can’t afford Gen 3 night vision because it is cheaper and can be used day or night without breaking it.
It’s also more reliable because there’s less chance of it burning out. Plus, you can usually record video, which is nice if you want to show off your hunting prowess.
However, the quality of visibility is somewhere between Gen 1 and Gen 2, it gives you a max range of 200 yards, and it’s not combat tested yet.
Thermal scopes are another night vision option, but they are a little different.
While night vision optics need some sort of ambient light to work, thermal scopes perform in complete darkness. They can also be used both day or night, while most night vision (Gen 1&2) will be damaged by daylight.
Thermal imaging can detect minute differences in heat, which means you’ll get a longer maximum effective range. You’ll also be able to still acquire your target through fog and dense foliage that would block normal night vision.
However, they’re typically a lot more expensive than night vision scopes.
When picking the right night vision scope for your setup, there are a few other factors besides the generation that you’ll want to consider.
Night vision scopes are usually not magnified, or at least not very much. They mostly come in 1x, but you can get them from 2x to 4x.
Keep in mind, these scopes aren’t necessarily made for long distances. Even when using the best generation, you’ll only be getting out to 300-400 yards max. There are some great long range scopes out there, but not for near total darkness.
You’ll also get to choose from green or white phosphor. There’s no scientific evidence that one is better than the other. It really is all up to personal preference.
I’ve talked about the different uses for each generation in the above sections and that should be the most important factor in your decision, not the color of the phosphor.
Now that you know a little more about night vision and how to choose the best night vision scope for your setup, you’ll need to know how to mount it to your rifle.
First, you can take a look at this video for some different NV setup options.
Mounting a NV optic to your AR-15 is actually a lot easier than you’d expect. It will depend on the scope, of course, but most of them mount to your rifle like any other scope.
Generally, they use a picatinny rail to mount to your AR-15. If you’re brand new to mounting a scope to your rifle, I’d recommend reading through this article that walks you through the process.
Night vision scopes are a great addition for nature enthusiasts, hunters, and tactical forces. I hope that this guide has provided you with the knowledge you need to choose the night vision scope that’s right for your setup.
If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best night vision scope for ar-15:
- ATN ThOR HD 384: Best Overall
- Sightmark Wraith: Best Night Vision Scope Under $500
- Firefield NVRS 3×42: Best for Coyote Hunting
- ATN X-Sight 4K Pro: Best For Hog Hunting
- Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S: Best For The Budget
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Lock and Seal Fasteners: Prevents loosening of metal fasteners caused by vibration on small motors, mowers, and power equipment
- Prevents Rust and Corrosion: Protects from leaks, rusting, and corrosion and eliminates need to stock up on expensive lock nuts and washers
- Removable: Can be removed with hand tools
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.
- Excellent Image Performance with 384x288 Sensor - it is the ideal night vision scope because it detects heat energy, instead of light. The technology allows you to see clearly in complete darkness
- Ballistic Calculator - the system allows you to calculate the trajectory of your bullet, helping you to hit the target. It helps to improve your shot placement by adjusting your Point of Impact
- Build-in Smart Rangefinder - will make your life easier than ever. Discover how using a rangefinder can help you improve your target shooting skills and become an expert at the range
Because this optic is based on thermal imaging, I will get a clear picture both in the darkest nights or the brightest days.
- RAV recording
- A one-shot zero
- Thermal imaging
- Ballistics calculator
- Laser Range Finder
This optic is packed with features that simplified my hunting experience.
The Sightmark Wraith is the best night vision scope you can find on the market that runs under $500.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- sport type: Hunting Tactical & Military Airsoft Climbing
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.
- Day/Night Mode – Full Color Viewing For Day Use; Black And White Or Classic Green For Night Vision Mode
- High-Definition Sensor – High Resolution Imaging With Video Recording In 1080P Hd
- 8X Digital Zoom – A 2X Optical System For Up To 16X Magnification
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
If you’ve ever lived on a ranch in the middle of the countryside, then you know what a huge pain wild hogs can be.
They tear up crops, trash equipment, and are just plain nasty.
At one point, they were basically my arch-enemies.
The worst part about hogs is that they always want to come around at dawn or dusk when the light is bad and they’re hard to see.
If you don’t have a great illuminated scope then you’re going to have a bad time trying to get these varmints.
That’s where the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro comes in.
It comes equipped with a RAV system, BDC reticle, and smart rangefinder to make your hunting job a heck of a lot easier.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you why this optic is about to make your life so much better.
Since it’s a digital scope, you’re going to notice the difference in clarity to a traditional glass scope.
That said, the view is crystal clear and the night vision mode is one of the best that I’ve shot with.
I was able to easily make out and distinguish my targets at 800 yards clearly even after I had lost all the natural light.
The MIL-DOT reticle, which is fairly standard and easy to use with the ballistics calculator and range finder.
This scope makes targeting and landing your shot a breeze and makes hunting at night easy.
It’s got a generous 3.5” eye relief.
I’ve never felt cramped while using it and the eye box provided plenty of space.
Add to that the auxiliary ballistics laser and you’ve got yourself a comfortable optic that will help you get the perfect shot every time.
This optic is an absolute beast.
It’s ridiculously heavy at 2.2 pounds, so that’s definitely something to consider.
If you’re looking for a more lightweight scope, then check out these M4 scopes.
The plus side to its weight though is that it’s ultra-durable.
The ATN X-SIght is made of a hardened aluminum alloy which makes it recoil resistant even with high caliber weapons.
In addition, it’s weather and water-resistant so it can withstand even the harshest hunting conditions.
Its long-lasting battery is one of the best I’ve seen on this kind of optic, and it’ll last you a solid 18 hours per charge.
All-in-all, it’s a super durable scope that won’t leave you fumbling, but I’m not sure if that’s worth the hefty weight.
The knobs on this scope are so crisp and easy to maneuver it’s crazy.
The tactile buttons allow you to feel every click of the knobs for incredibly precise shooting.
Combined with the built-in smart rangefinder and ballistic calculator, this optic really takes the guesswork out of hunting hogs at night.
One of my favorite features of this scope is the one-shot zeroing system.
Make your shot, then move the zeroing reticle to the point of impact and it automatically adjusts for you.
I haven’t missed a single shot after I let it zero for me.
This scope has a magnification range of 3-14x with a 40mm objective lens.
The huge range is fantastic, and the optic stays crystal clear even at 14x power.
The zoom is ultra-smooth from one end to the other and the spin to zoom wheel makes changing your magnification on the fly a breeze.
I haven’t experienced any issues with parallax, but it would be easy to correct with the knobs.
On top of that, it’s got a built-in RAV system to capture all of your best hunts on film at 1080p.
The video starts recording as soon as you squeeze the trigger and it’ll stream it to your smartphone at the same time.
Is it necessary? No.
Is it incredibly cool? Absolutely!
If you’re only looking for an optic for hunting hogs though, this can be a bit of an overkill.
In that case, I recommend these 1-4x scopes to do the job.
But if you’re in the market for a great multi-purpose optic, then this is the scope for you.
It comes with 2 ring mounts included, and an adapter for a Picatinny rail mount.
It’s not bad for the stock mount, but I decided to pick up the ATN Quick Detach mount instead.
- Made of Hardened Aluminum Alloy, increased durability with minimum impact on weight
- Perfectly compatible with all existing 30mm diameter tube scopes
- Must-have accessory for ATN scopes X-Sight 4K Series or ThOR 4 Series
The ATN QD mount is a lot more solid and reliable than the basic mount it comes with.
While you’re there, you should also pick up a 64GB Memory Card if you’re planning on using the RAV system, which you absolutely should.
- Fast for better pictures and Full HD video(2) | (2)Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon host device, file attributes, and other factors
- Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras
- From 32GB to 256GB(1) to store tons of pictures and even more Full HD video(2) | (1)1GB=1,000,000,000 bytes Actual user storage less
This scope has some incredible features that you’re just not going to find on other scopes without paying twice the price. It’s got:
- RAV system
- Ballistics laser
- Recoil resistant
- Long Battery life
- 2 Year Warranty
- 3-14x mag range
- Night vision mode
- Durable construction
- Built-in ballistic calculator
- Weather and water-resistant
Not everyone is going to be comfortable with all the extras that come with this scope though, and the constant firmware updates can be annoying.
If you’re in the market for a great scope without all the frills, check out these rifle scopes
But if you’re a fan of high-tech, powerful scopes with tons of exciting features then you should check out the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro for yourself.
- ultra hd sensor - ultra hd 4k sensor with our obsidian 4 dual core processor brings you cutting edge technology with higher resolution, faster optics, and millions of vivid colors
- ballistic calculator - hunt responsibly by making sure your shot hits the target each and every time. range, wind, angle to target, temperature, humidity, plus more. helps you determine exact...
- dual stream video recording - you asked and we listened x-sight 4k pro not only streams video to your mobile device at hd resolution and can simultaneously record to the sd card inside
Interested? Keep on rThe Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S is the best night vision scope for your money.
I’ve used this scope both in daytime and nighttime for hunting hogs, coyotes, and many other varmints, and I absolutely loved it.
By the end of this review, you’ll know if the Sightmark Photon RT is for you.
The image quality is crisp and clear, thanks to Photon RT’s improved 768×576 CMOS sensor.
Digital NV requires artificial light at night to produce bright images, compared to traditional night vision.
Hence why the Sightmark Photon RT comes with a built-in infrared illuminator. The letter “S” on the scope name means it comes with an 850 nm illuminator. Conversely, the standard versions have a 940 nm illuminator.
What’s the difference?
The 850 nm illuminator can extend your detection range at night up to 200 yards, even in pitch-black conditions. The 940 nm illuminator can only go up to about 100 yards.
Some shooters have complained that the 850 nm illuminator’s red glow can be seen by hogs and coyotes. Take note that this has been the case for decades, even with high-end illuminators.
On the other hand, the 940 nm illuminator is advertised as an “invisible infrared light model.” I don’t find that 100% true because I could still see a faint red glow. I will say, though, I had to look closely to detect it.
All in all, you can’t remove the illuminator, but the Photon RT comes with adjustable brightness settings and an on/off feature to suit each shooter’s individual needs.
The Photon RT can be used in both daytime and night time. It comes pre-loaded with six reticles, including two crossbows designed for hunters. You can choose between red, white, green, and black reticle colors.
The Sightmark Photon RT comes with High-Resolution 8 GB Internal Video Recording, allowing you to take quality footage and photos without the need for memory cards.
You simply plug a MicroUSB cable into the side of the scope and connect it directly to your computer.
On that note, you can also download or stream all the videos and photos of your hunt in real-time.
The eye relief ranges from 2.5-3 inches.
The Photon RT’s 4.5-9x model gives you a wide field of view on 100-yard shots at night.
The Sightmark Photon RT is incredibly durable, and the buttons are solid and tactile.
This scope only weighs 30 ounces, and you can barely feel it on your rifle build.
The Photon RT features a quick-change battery pack, which comes with four AAs, making it convenient to swap batteries on the field.
On that note: a significant downside of this night vision scope is its battery life.
With the scope on maximum brightness and the illuminator on high, I could only work the Photon RT for 2 hours before it ran out of juice.
An external power input allows you to plug in an external battery pack via a MicroUSB cable. I’ve purchased the Pulsar DNV battery pack, and it has definitely been a game-changer on long hunting trips.
- Rechargeable battery pack
- Designed to power Pulsar Forward Front Attachmeents and Quantum thermal monoculars
- Increases operational time of external equipment
Zeroing was incredibly easy thanks to the One Shot Zero Function.
You simply match the “x” on the display screen with the point of impact of your first shot, and the adjustments are automatically saved.
I’ve put the scope through 100 rounds, and it never had issues holding a zero.
The Photon RT comes with a 4.5-9x variable magnification range.
This works perfectly if you shoot targets up to 100 yards.
For hunters that need to shoot beyond that, the Sightmark Photon RT 6.5-12x50S would be a better option.
- WiFi remote view via Pulsar stream vision
- Built-in video/sound recording
- One-shot zero function
The Photon RT 4.5-9x42S is constructed with a 42mm objective lens, with diopter and adjustment rings on both sides of the scope.
The Sightmark Photon RT comes with a carrying case, user manual, Micro USB cable, spare battery container, battery container pouch, and lens cloth.
Despite its great accessories, the scope doesn’t include a mounting system.
So, I mounted the Photon RT on my Ruger AR-556 using Sightmark Tactical Mounting Rings – High Height Picatinny Rings (Fits 30mm & 1Inch tubes).
- Made from durable 6061-t6 aluminum
- Matte black non-reflective finish
- Fits both Weaver and Picatinny rails
If you prefer Quick Detach Rings, the Sightmark 30mm/1 inch QD Mount Medium Height is another excellent choice. Just remember to buy two as they only come in one piece per pack.
The Sightmark Photon RT is constructed with a 30mm tube, slightly shorter than its predecessor, the Photon XT.
This isn’t really an issue for AR-15 style rifles, but for bolt guns, you’ll need a Picatinny rail on top so you can get that proper eye relief distance.
Lastly, there is a rubber eyecup at the back of your scope. This is completely removable if you wear glasses and you find it a hassle.
For under $700, the Sightmark Photon RT is an eye-catching, high-quality scope.
Why? It’s got:
- Built-in IR Illuminator
- One-shot zero function
- Six illuminated reticles
- 40% improved resolution
- HD Video Recording & Photos
- Easy recording without the need for an SD card
- Shockproof, dustproof, and water-resistant construction
The Sightmark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S offers more electronic features than any traditional NV scope and is comparable in quality to a Gen 2 device.
- WiFi remote view via Pulsar stream vision
- Built-in video/sound recording
- One-shot zero function
To top it all off, Sightmark provides a 3-year warranty on the image sensor and a lifetime warranty on the hardware and workmanship. Sightmark’s customer service always offers quick and excellent repairs or returns.
In short: this scope is a complete package that’s definitely worth its price.
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.