The bevy of outdoor geeks got their passion redefined the day when night vision optical devices entered the civilian world. No longer are these optical aids as well as more versatile devices kept in the confidentiality of military ops. The first one I got was excellent but that didn’t work well for me. Finally, it found a way into my elder’s safety pouch. Since then, I’ve switched several models and brands. They were all good, but not for everyone. So, when you want one, favor yourself by learning what makes the best night vision monocular, and obviously the list of tested and recommended models. Okay, here it goes.
In this article, I’ll let you know what matters most in choosing monocular optics, especially the night vision models, and then, a critical analysis of all the models that I and my buddies tried and reviewed. Here, you’ll see the truth as we observed. By the end of this article, you’ll be proud of yourself being able to pick the right unit among the thousands, my promise on that!
Top-rated Affordable Night Vision Monoculars: Comparison Chart
|Pick Name||Thumbnail||Product Name||Price|
|Top of the List||Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|Also Great||Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|Budget Buy||Solomark Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|4th||Firefield FF24066 Night Vision Monocular Nightfall 2 5×50||Check Price|
|5th||Night Owl iGEN 20/20 Day/Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|6th||Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2×24 Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|7th||Barska NVX100 3x Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|8th||Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|9th||Carson MiniAura NV-200 Digital Night Vision Monocular||Check Price|
|9th||OPTISCOPE Premium Night Vision Monocular 884585||Check Price|
Why You Should Trust Us
We are a team of nature lovers that love to do all kinds of recreational activities outdoors whenever we get the opportunity. We developed this platform to share our knowledge with the whole world through how-to blogs containing tips and tricks and product reviews so other outdoor enthusiasts like us can make good use of them.
Our expertise lies in our extensive experience with different types of gear that we use. Our passion for archery, different outdoor sports, and hunting adventures allowed us to be exposed to a variety of optics and their performances under different conditions. This site is for sharing the knowledge that we gathered over the decades out in the wild. We want our readers to be fortified with the right knowledge to choose the right gear for themselves.
Nevertheless, we are not affiliated with any manufacturers and we don’t go after monetary gains. It should be clear that you are here to absorb the maximum amount of information regarding night vision monoculars so you don’t get manipulated by other online marketing agents.
You will get unbiased night vision monocular reviews on this platform that we believe would work as a buying guide for you to enjoy the outdoors the most.
How Did We Pick These Products?
In the initial phase, The Ranger Expert team conducted a 25-hour long online research to hunt down the most popular night vision monoculars at the time of our research. Our primary list contained 28 of such optical devices.
Next our team members along with a group of volunteers started field-testing of these models spending at least three weeks on each item to know everything about them. We considered all the essential features of a top-notch monocular (e.g. weight, size, FOV, magnification, focus, power source, photos, videos, and transmittance) while testing to figure out what model performed better than their competitors.
We collected all data from the field-tests for final analysis. We also consulted the top professionals and optics experts for their opinions on our list. The listing you are seeing here was based on that research process.
As we had expected, other experts also gave us positive feedback. After such an extensive research and testing process, the Ranger Expert team is confident that this is the most in-depth review you will find online and hopefully answer to your common question: What is the best night vision monocular?
10 Best Night Vision Monocular Reviews
1 Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital Night Vision Monocular (Top of The List)
Why Is It Our First Choice?
- Of the 24 night vision monoculars we tested, this one had a fine combination of the most important features that make a top-class monocular. You will understand better what we’re talking about if you take a good look at our research report shown above.
- This model had the highest magnification power and one of the highest objective lens power of all its competitors, making it a powerful choice for hunting even in a totally dark environment
- In terms of price, though this was on the higher side, we found it reasonable when we had considered all of its features and overall performance.
- This was also the highest rated product of all and did well in the rating frequency criterion. We check the rating frequency of a product to see how frequently real users are reviewing the said product. This gives us an idea of its popularity.
We picked this model due to its superb optical clarity. This is its strongest asset. In addition, this model has a 6x magnification and a 50-mm objective aperture. These guarantee high-quality imaging.
Furthermore, you can record videos with sound. This model has a built-in IR illuminator (850 nm). Viewing distance is 1150 ft. In addition, it is very versatile, as you can use it both at night and during the day.
Moreover, both videos and images offer the option of stamping date and time. Most importantly, you can use this versatile device as a surveillance camera (infrared) and you can even power it with a power bank.
In addition, it has a water-resistant housing and it is tripod-mountable. It comes with 2 tripod jacks. We liked the touch and feel of this device. It is easy to hold and operate.
This model boasts the ‘RoHS’, ‘CE’, and ‘FCC’ certifications. You will get the device itself, a USB cable and a TV cable, a portable strab and a cleaning cloth, as well as the user’s manual and a pouch in the package. Now, let’s check the full specifications, pros, and cons list of this product.
- 6x magnification
- 50-mm objective aperture
- 5x digital zoom
- 5ft/6.8m FOV at 100 yds
- 2 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches
- 1,54 pounds
- 1,5-inch screen
- 1150ft /350M dark environment observing distance
- This model is good for observing, photo taking, video recording, and live camera surveillance applications
- It has a 6x magnification and a 5x digital zoom
- It comes with lots of quality accessories
- Great in terms of optical clarity
- The product is manufactured in China, which is a disadvantage according to some users
If you are looking for extraordinary optical clarity, very good magnification (6x) and a 5x digital zoom, with a water-resistant housing and lots of quality certificates, Bestguarder has the right model for you.
1150 ft. viewing distance, 20.5 ft at FOV 100 yds, as well as video recording option with sound are the key features of this advanced model. Moreover, it is logically priced well under $300, so if you have the budget you’ll get a good value from this one.
2 Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular (Also Great)
Why Is This Another Great Product?
This Bushnell monocular actually came with the highest number of positive features and it also deserved to be on top of the list. But it had lesser magnification, zoom, and objective lens powers. This is the reason we could not make it our top pick. Aside from that factor, this worked great for open field viewing at any pitch-dark night and you can definitely try it out if you are in need of a feature-rich night vision monocular from a reputable brand like Bushnell.
This is a device with CCD chip, peculiar for its high-quality, multi-coated lens. 3x zoom and 30-mm objective diameter provide a very good image quality. Great optical clarity is among its advantages. Amazing illumination is appreciated by the users.
30/9 field of view and 656 feet viewing range launched this model to the very top of our list. It is often chosen for surveillance, but also hunting, due to its amazing performance.
In addition, we liked the fact that this model has a water-resistant housing. This model is made from high-quality materials. It is suitable for different weather conditions.
Moreover, this is a highly adjustable model compatible with various accessories. For example, you can easily mount it on a tripod thanks to its ‘Picatinny’ rail system.
This model is operated by four pieces of standard AA batteries, which are not included in the package. We also want to point out that this model is lightweight and can fit into your pocket! Compactness and convenient dimensions are some of the reasons why this model is very popular among hunters. Furthermore, it is suitable for surveillance, caving, camping, and wildlife observation.
- 30/9 FOV
- 15 oz weight
- 656 ft viewing range
- 3x zoom
- 30-mm objective diameter
- This model is lightweight and compact
- It provides excellent optical clarity
- It is versatile and convenient
- Water-resistant housing makes it suitable for different environments and conditions
- Item is shipped only within the USA
- The batteries are not included in the package
If you are looking for excellent optical clarity, very good field of view and viewing range, as well as multi-coated lenses, this model by Bushnell, a reputable and trustworthy brand, is exactly what you need.
It is a lightweight and compact device with 3x zoom and 30-mm objective diameter. It is a versatile device good for hunting, wildlife observation, camping, as well as security applications. This is definitely one of the best digital versions in today’s market.
3 Solomark Night Vision Monocular (Budget Buy)
Why Is This Our Budget Choice?
Well, this was the lowest priced night vision monocular model on our list but that does not mean it lacked any essential features. It had a great performance and we could also make it our compact choice because of its small size and weight. For its price, we got satisfactory low light and IR (infrared radiation) viewing capabilities. So, this became our best value product considering its price and performance.
This model by Solomark is perfect if you need a device for total darkness. It is very good for hunting, surveillance, wildlife observation, etc. You can also use this mono on your camping trips and cave exploration adventures. Therefore, this is one of the most versatile models in the market.
Moreover, we liked the fact that this model has multi-coated lenses. It also has a high sensitivity sensor and 3rd level IR light.
Visibility in total darkness is 328ft/100m. Also, you can mount this model on a tripod. Therefore, most wildlife observers go for this model. It also offers video recording and lots of connectivity options.
In the package, you get a 4Gb micro SD card, a neck strap, an AV cable, a USB cable, and a carrying case. This device requires 4 AA batteries.
- 8V /Lux sec sensor sensitivity
- 640×480 image and video resolution
- 320×240 screen resolution
- 14-degree angular FOV
- 300m vehicle and 100 m man detection distance
- 6 x 5 x 5 inches
- 12 ounces
- You can display the image and video recordings on a TV, monitor, or laptop
- This is a versatile device that can be used for surveillance, hunting, wildlife observation, and more
- This model has a rubber cover and a safe grip
- It is a compact and ergonomically-shaped model
- Batteries are required, but not included with the product.
For those who are looking for the best budget night vision monocular that would still perform well in low light and dim conditions, this is the option you go for. In addition, it also offers impressive video and image features along with decent connectivity options.
During our test we accidentally dropped the glasses a couple of times, to our surprise, it didn’t have any use other than the dropping mark on the corner. We checked the water resistance and it stood well even after a couple of splashes.
In terms of illumination flexibility, zoom controls, and comfortable touch and feel, this model by Solomark goes on par with the premium models. So, if you plan to cut on your budget and still get the premium feel, here you go.
4 Firefield FF24066 Night Vision Monocular Nightfall 2 5×50
Firefield Nightfall FF24066 is one of the best monoculars night vision. After trying it out in different lighting conditions, we noticed how ergonomic it was with an easy-grip design.
In addition, we liked the fact that this model has a power-saving Pulse IR illuminator. Moreover, you will like the large objective lenses and very good image resolution.
This generation 1 model is suitable for different applications, from wildlife observation, hunting, to surveillance. Its versatility and quality design are among its strongest assets.
Most importantly, this model has a close focus range and quick power-up. You will not miss anything with the quick start and easy grip.
In addition, it is a very durable model. It is weather-resistant and therefore suitable for different conditions and environments. Similarly, its rubber housing protects the device, even if you drop it.
Users like the fact that this is a lightweight and compact model.
- 5x magnification
- 50-mm objective diameter
- 36 lp/mm resolution
- 8-inch length
- 2 oz weight
- 2 AA batteries-operated model
- Weather-resistant model, which is good for different environments
- Sturdy, durable, rubber housing is shock-absorbent
- 5x magnification and 50-mm objective diameter provide quality image
- Lightweight and compact model is suitable for many hours of use without user fatigue
- Ergonomic design and easy grip are especially convenient for the user
- Batteries are required, but not included in the package
This extraordinary model by Firefield is chosen by thousands of users around the world due to its amazing performance when it comes to image quality, ergonomic design, and durability.
This model offers everything a good monocular should provide. It is suitable for surveillance, security, hunting, and wildlife observation.
5 Night Owl iGEN 20/20 Day/Night Vision Monocular
You can use this device both for day and night. It has 18-1,345x light amplification. Variable frame rate and 3 modes of IR lights will enable you lots of adjustments and flexibility.
In addition, this peculiar model has super-sensitive IR and double intensifier tube sensitivity. It is good for hunting, camping, hiking, security, surveillance, day and night wildlife observation, as well as cave and structural explorations. You will be able to make the best out of these devices if you know how a monocular works.
Edge-to-edge display resolution is appreciated by the users. There is no image distortion. Also, while we were testing this device, we noticed that there is no halo effect nor bright spots.
In addition, this device is highly connectable to different devices. You can connect it to your PC, laptop, or monitors. It has an adjustable 300 – 10,000 light amplification.
- 6x magnification
- 12-degree angle of view
- 30 lp-mm resolution
- 4 AA batteries are required
- 16-infinity range of view
- 300 – 10,000x light amplification
- Tripod-mountable model
- Good image resolution
- Good clarity and magnification
- Several color output options
- Programmable timeout
- Suitable both for day and night conditions
- This model does not come with the hands-free head harness
This is one of the most impressive models for hunting under $500. You can easily mount it to a tripod if you are using it for wildlife observation. In addition, this compact monocle has a good magnification and FOV.
You also have several colour output options and you will get the batteries in the package. Programmable time-out features are especially appreciated by the users.
6 Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2×24 Night Vision Monocular
In general, we can say that this model provides very good image quality and resolution. It has a built-in IR illuminator and a 2x magnification. The objective diameter measures 24 mm.
The ergonomic design and quick start up are appreciated by the users. This is a durable and lightweight model. It has a plastic construction and a safe grip texture.
We tested it and the results showed bright, crisp, and clear images like we were using a high-quality hunting headlamp or a flashlight. The environment darkness did not affect the results negatively. You will be satisfied with the automatic shut-off feature and warranty. You will get a 3-year warranty for the tube and a limited lifetime warranty for the device housing.
You will get a lens cloth and a carrying case with this device. However, I advise proper cautions and adherence to the manual to get the most of this versatile unit.
- 2x magnification
- 24-mm objective aperture
- 3-year warranty
- 1st generation device
- 1-m min focusing distance
- 44m FOV at 100 m
- 3V power supply.
- Good image quality
- Crips and bright image are guaranteed
- Darkness does not negatively affect the output
- Ergonomic design provides comfortable use
- 3-year warranty and lifetime limited warranty for the housing are offered by the manufacturer
- This item is sold only within the USA (with exception of California)
If you are looking for a decent 1st generation model, Solomark has the right thing for you. This affordable model provides good image quality, even in total darkness. It has a 2x magnification and a 24-mm aperture.
You will enjoy its ergonomic design and texture. This model will not cause user fatigue and logically priced under $200.
7 Barska NVX100 3x Night Vision Monocular
If you are looking for an affordable choice, Barska NVX100 3x with Built-in Camera is exactly what you need.
It belongs to the cheaper price range, but its performance and technical specifications will certainly surprise you. First of all, this device has a 20-mm exit pupil, 0.3 ft. focus range, 3x magnification, and 328ft/100m viewing in the dark.
In addition, it has a 4GB micro SD card and a mini USB cable. You will also get the AV cable, a comfortable neck-strap, and a carrying case. We can say that this is one of the best equipped packages of today. You get lots of useful accessories at affordable price!
Moreover, this model has the built-in IR illumination system. It also supports video recording function. You can also take photos. This is why this model is perfect for both surveillance, wildlife observation in real time, and nature exploration.
When it comes to ease of use, we can say that this model is user-friendly and simple. There are large buttons which enable easy navigation in the dark. Finger memory after only 2 or 3 uses will be enough for an effortless user experience.
This model is also compact and lightweight. It will not make you tired, even after hours of use. It fits a regular-size pocket. It is also quick to start and use.
This 14.5-mm objective diameter model is equipped with the CMOS sensor and 850nm IR wavelength illuminator. Resolution equals 640×480. Video recording format is H 264.
This NV100 model is operated with four pieces of standard AA batteries. The batteries are not included in the product package. The product comes with a 1-year limited warranty by the manufacturer.
- 2 x 3.6 x 1.8 inches
- 1-pound weight
- 3x magnification
- 2x digital zoom
- 5-mm objective diameter
- 14-degree angle of view
- 20-mm exit pupil
- 328ft/100m viewing distance
- 640×480 imaging resolution
- This model supports imaging and video mode
- It has the IR illuminator
- Image quality is high
- It is a compact and lightweight model
- It has the CMOS sensor
- Item is shipped only within the USA
- The batteries are required, but they’re not included
If you are looking for a model with image capturing and video recording option, at affordable price, Barska has the answer. NVX100 3x Night Vision Monocular has a built-in camera, CMOS sensor, IR illuminator, and many other features that make this extraordinary, affordable model, deserve the third place on our list.
8 Night Owl Optics 5-Power NOXM50 Night Vision Monocular
This model is characterized by one focusing ring which makes the operation very easy. In addition, all optical pieces are high-quality. This provides quality imaging.
This generation 1 model has a 50-mm lens aperture and a 5x magnification. Angular FOV measures 12.5 degrees, while the field of view at 200 ft equals 39 ft. This model is operated by one 3-Volt Li battery, which is not included. It weighs 16 oz without the battery.
While testing this model, we liked the touch and feel, as well as its quality design. It is suitable for one-handed operation. It is a lightweight and compact model. It has an elongated body and a good texture that guarantees a firm and secure grip. It also has a rubber finish and shock-absorbent lens housing.
In addition, we liked the 500x light amplification feature. It has a high-quality intensifier tube. Moreover, this model has a built-in IR illuminator which makes it suitable for use in total darkness.
- 50-mm objective aperture
- 5x magnification
- 5-degree angular FOV
- 35 lp/mm resolution
- 500x light amplification
- 39 ft. FOV at 200 ft.
- This model has excellent light amplification
- The IT illuminator is high-quality
- FOV and magnification are very good
- Simple operation and ergonomic design are user-friendly
- It requires batteries which are not included
If you are looking for a model that is easy to use and designed to satisfy your needs when it comes to ergonomics and comfort, this is the right model for you. Soft grip, rubber finish, secure lens housing, as well as very good image quality are the key peculiarities of this model by Night Owl.
You will benefit from the 5x magnification, 12.5-degree angular FOV, as well as 500x light amplification. This is also a lightweight model with compact dimensions and a convenient shape. Above all this model is a good value for money and an amazing design for sale.
9 Carson MiniAura NV-200 Digital Night Vision Monocular
The other day when packing your stuff for weekend’s night out you were thinking about a night vision glass that could be squeezed inside your medium size travel bag. You were thinking about one that would be lightweight and compact. Well, we’ve got the MiniAura NV-200 device for you manufactured by Carson, a name you can trust.
This digital night vision device weighs only 1.9 ounces with a dimension of no more than 2.5 X 2.2” making it super portable. It produces black and white image, so if you have other expectations, you can skip on it.
The top selling point of this tiny yet powerful device is that it is 100% digital unlike regular devices that use image intensifiers and consequently burnout after a certain period of time. But that is not the case here. The Mini Aura fits your pocket like no other, so it will accompany you in your hunting and sports trips.
This is one of those devices that you can use in total darkness. What’s more, we were able to adjust the infrared intensity and could see as far as 82 feet.
You’ll get a wristband and a carry pouch that come real handy at times. Carson provides 1 year warranty for this device.
- Model Number: NV-200
- Weight: 1.9 ounces
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.2 x 1.0 inches
- Magnification: 1x
- Accessories : Wristband and carry pouch
- Batteries: 3 AAA
- Fully digital
- Accurate image
- Lightweight and compact
- Batteries not included
One key feature that places this mini monocular is its fully digital functionality. Although the view it creates is black and white, it is accurate and useful. We were able to use it in pitch dark atmospheres and spotted critters without having any issue. It is essentially a reliable device that you can pocket and run anytime you want.
10 OPTISCOPE Premium Night Vision Monocular 884585
If you are looking for a premium quality monocular for nocturnal observation, we have an amazing solution for you. Optiscope’s Premium 884585 model hits the right spot keeping the right balance between reasonable price and quality.
This dark skinned night vision glass adopts multi-coated lens parts through which runs an infrared Light Emitting Diode (LED) illuminator. This allows a viewer to see in pitch dark atmosphere. The viewing range is 100 meters.
What’s more, we found the device housed a 3X zoom capacity with fast magnification ability.
You can also capture images and record videos with this device. Just press a button to take a snap or start recording. Later you can easily transfer the files to your PC or smart TV. A micro SD card with 4GB capacity is pre-installed in the device. We found these features to be game changers.
Buying a monocular is a serious business as you tend to make such purchase once or twice in a lifetime and expect them to last a lifetime. This model from Optiscope ensures all that. The company maintains an intensive quality control guideline.
- Type: Night Vision
- Lens type: Monocular
- Weight (shipping): 14.4 OZ
- Lens: Multi-coated
- Multimedia options: Image and video capturing
- Distance coverage: 100 m
- High quality build materials
- Multimedia options with memory card
- Effective night vision
- Ergonomic design
- Does not support daytime viewing
This particular device surprised us not only with its excellent build quality, but also with the capacity for video and image capturing. We could see through pitch darkness and spotted critters accurately. If you have the budget, we think it’s totally worth to invest in this super.
Best Night Vision Monocular for Hunting – Buying Guide
When looking for the best night vision monocular, you should inspect every detail. Literally everything can affect your satisfaction with this device. However, there are some features that are more important than others. These criteria and specifications heavily affect the device performance. Those include magnification, field of view, size, weight, transmittance, lens type, lens coatings, photo/video mode and quality, power source and accessories. Also, let’s not forget about the warranty. Let’s learn more about these features.
1. Magnification & FOV
You will usually encounter 3x or 6x magnification models. Don’t go for better magnification before rethinking this decision, as it can compromise the image quality.
Also, FOV and magnification are interconnected. Simply put, higher magnification will result in a narrower FOV. Vice versa, lower magnification implies a wider FOV.
2. Size & Weight
Depending on your area of application, the size and weight of the device can be either very important or totally unimportant.
Transmittance is a technical term that describes the amount of light transmitted through the device. It is expressed in percentages. Type of lens, coatings and the construction of the device affects the light transmittance. Better light transmittance implies better image clarity. You should go for at least 90% transmittance.
4. Size of the Primary Lens & Lens Coating
Primary lens size is always denoted by the second number on your lens mark. For example, if your lens says 6x50mm, the size of the primary lens, i.e. the lens diameter is 50 mm.
It affects the width of the field of view. Also, it directly affects the image clarity and brightness.
Lens coatings should provide the anti-glare protection. You should go to multi coated or fully coated monoculars.
Focus is one of the most important features of a good monocular. Go for high close focus because this will work best with high-quality magnification and quality lenses.
6. Compatibility With IR Illuminator
If your night vision mono is compatible with an external IR illuminator, you’ll have better clarity and range. This will particularly be helpful if you possess a low-quality device.
7. Extra Features
In terms of versatility, these devices can offer tons of features. Engineers and developers devoted years to bring them to today’s precision. If your sole purpose is to watch objects and things in low light conditions, you might just do fine without them. But again, who doesn’t like more when it comes to technology? The most common advanced features are the ability to record video, photo, and audio in realtime.
Apart from them, some models will offer a higher resolution of photo and video. You might find AV out, LCD screen, and slots for Micro SD memory sticks. These will help you remain synced with your smartphones and desktops. Mounting options can help you enjoy views hands-free. When you mount your device, the view is much stable and the image video record in it should be less noisy and clearer.
8. Photos & Videos
Depending on your need, you might prefer the monocular which enables you to take photos and record videos, even those with sound. If you opt for such devices, you should go for HD quality. Also, analyze the connectivity and memory features of such devices.
9. Power source (Battery Life)
Battery life is an important factor to consider. You will definitely want a very good battery life, as these devices are used outdoors. Most of the devices use standard AA batteries. Some of them use rechargeable batteries, which is also very convenient. Advanced models can be charged with portable power banks.
As these devices are not cheap at all, especially if we are talking about gen 2, 3 (and, obviously, the rare models we mark as gen 4), you should definitely not buy a monocular that comes without a warranty. Serious manufacturers will provide you at least 2 years of warranty.
Accessories are not the decision-making feature, but they sure are useful. If you get a hand and neck-strap, a carrying case, batteries, and a lens cloth, you will be more than satisfied with your package. In addition, if you get some USB and TV cables, that’s great!
Why Use a Night Vision Monocular
A night vision monocular (also known as NV or NVG monocular) is a single eye-piece device used to detect the target/object at night. It shows its clear image and position through a mono glass setting unlike the binoculars where they use dual-glass structure. Therefore, its area of application is very wide.
You should definitely get one if you are a hobby or a professional wildlife observer, if you go camping, hunting, playing sports at night, such as golf or shooting, or if you need any kind of safety observation at night. In addition, police officers and different military operation participants benefit from using night vision monoculars.
How can you choose the best nightvision monocular? This depends on your needs and area of application. This is why it is very important to learn more about the principle of work behind a monocular.
How Does a Night Vision Monocular Work?
The basic principle behind monocular devices is collecting light particles and magnifying them in the optical parts, mainly prisms, of the device. This process may sound simple, but it is actually very complex and light passes through different parts of the monocular in order to produce a magnified image, intensified and high-quality image visible to the human eye.
In other words, night vision devices like monoculars transform electrical particles that we cannot detect with the naked eyes into images that we can see.
Two key processes behind the monocular work principle are thermal imaging and light amplification. These are actually two different ways that produce different results.
First, thermal imaging is based on measuring the amount of heat. Heat can come from animals, people, or objects. Some monoculars are based on thermal imaging, not on optical imaging. These devices have a built-in microbolometer sensor. It serves to read the heat difference between an object and its surroundings.
Secondly, light amplification-based devices amplify the light. This is how a clear image is produced. This is why these devices need an intensifier tube.
Of course, Monoculars, which exist for already more than 50 years, differs in sophistication. There are still older models as well as the new ones based on state-of-the-art solutions. Let’s learn more about the generations of monocular devices.
Generations of Night Vision Monocular
Devices that belong to the Generation 1 Monoculars are usually less effective than gen 2,3, and 4 devices. This especially refers to image clarity. As a result, they are very affordable.
When it comes to technical features, you can expect light amplification up to 900x, a rather short battery life, range up to 75 yards, and you will need the IR.
You should get this kind of device if you want to use it for casual environment observation or Airsoft.
Price range varies from 100 to 250 dollars.
Generation 2 devices are much better than gen 1 when it comes to object detection, recognition, and image clarity. The good thing is: they are still rather affordable. These devices are often used by law enforcement. At the same time, lots of them are used for hunting and hobby purposes.
Their key peculiarity is durability and good housing. They are also usually weather resistant. Light amplification is up to 30,000x. Battery lifetime is also increased when compared to gen 1 devices.
When it comes to prices, you will have to pay at least $1,000 dollars for a decent gen 2 device. This is a good price if you take into account the level of detail provided by these devices.
Generation 3 devices have an even better image clarity than gen 1 and gen 2. In addition, recognition, level of detail and range are significantly improved.
Gen 3 is the minimum you should buy if you need a monocular for security reasons, such as surveillance and special operations.
However, these improvements come with a significant price increase as well. You will have to pay at least $2,500 dollars for a nice Gen 3 model. However, these are some of the top rated nightvision monocular models.
Generation 4 optics are not easily found. These are the most upgraded versions that exist today. They are rather rare and among the users. These devices usually have gated image intensifiers and are very expensive.
In return, you will get very clear images, excellent magnification-quality balance and state-of-the-art features, making it possible to get detailed images of objects even under cloudy skies or a new moon.
Prices start from $4,000 dollars.
Considerations Based on Your Intended Use
When choosing night vision devices, your key consideration should be based on your intended use. We cannot say that one type is better than the other if we don’t know the area of application. Some models are great for hunting while others are perfect for surveillance. There are those specifically designed for nature and wildlife observation, while others provide excellent results in dynamic environments while the user is running or moving.
This is why you should focus your purchase on the intended use. Let’s learn more about different areas of applications of these devices.
1. Tactical & Hunting
If you are looking for a monocular for hunting, you should look for a model that provides good target detection and detail level. You definitely don’t want to confuse types of animals or hurt them.
2. Observation & Surveillance
Models for observation and surveillance should have the video-recording feature with very good image clarity and quality. In addition, don’t expect to find such a model in gen 1. This also means you will have to spend at least 1,000 USD for a decent surveillance device like this one and even more for a night vision binocular. You should also go for a model that can be mounted on a tripod and has good connectivity options. There are also models that allow being mounted on your head or on a helmet.
3. Auto-Gating Unit
Auto-gating implies that reduced power usage at bright light conditions. This means that the tubes will have a longer lifetime. The damage is much less. Therefore, you should opt for these devices if you will be using your monocular in conditions with occasional bright lights.
Magnifiers provide extra power which is good if you need your monocular for special observation purposes.
5. Video Feed
Video feed option is excellent if you want to use the device as surveillance and observation device. You can connect the device to a screen or multiple screens and observe the situation comfortably.
6. IR Illuminator
IR Illuminator is a very important part of your monocular functionality. Some models have a built-in IR illuminator, while others don’t. You will have to buy it separately if your device doesn’t have one and you want to use it in total darkness. Most models are compatible with standard IR illuminators.
Budget is another consideration that will heavily affect the type and quality of the device you will get. Usually, the more money you invest in, the better the quality you get. However, there are some exceptions to this rule and you can find some excellent choices at affordable prices. You should always pick these devices based on your own preferences and needs. By the way, the prices of our top 10 list are under 1000 bucks.
Monoculars are not the only type of night vision devices used for different applications. There are several useful, common types. Each one of them has their benefits. Let’s take a quick look at the peculiarities of five different types of NVDs.
Monoculars are compact, lightweight night vision devices mostly used for inspecting and security reasons. They have a single objective and single eye-piece.
Binoculars are great because they combine magnification and night vision. This is why they are mostly chosen for precision operations, including military purposes, land and sea navigation, as well as shooting and hunting at night. They are also very good for military grade surveillance purposes.
Goggles are NVDs you need for a hands-free night vision experience. Although you might have questions as to their giving green vision, you may love them when effortless hunting is all you want. Also, many people playing paintball at night opt for goggles.
Cameras for night vision are needed for taking videos and photos. That’s why they’re mostly used for security reasons and making videos of nature at night.
Night vision eyeglasses are great for driving at night or in foggy conditions. They significantly increase the safety of all traffic participants.
A Word from RangerExpert
Since we don’t want our readers to miss out on some of other renowned and reliable brands along with their popular models, here are a few brands and models we think worth checking out: Famous Trails, Stealth Cam, FLIR (popular model-Scout TK Handheld, MNVD), L3 Technologies, TASCO (popular model-NV360), OPMOD, Newcon Optik, Vortex, Rongland, MoonLight (popular model-Zenit NV100), Eotech (popular model-M914), Pulsar (popular model- Recon 750, Digiforce 860RT, Recon 550R), ATN (popular model- NVM-14, PVS 14 Gen 3), Yukon (popular model-NVMT Spartan), and Coleman.
Finally, the goal of our night vision monocular reviews and buying guide was to provide in-depth info on different monocular types, areas of application, and essential factors you must know before making your purchase. If you are still sitting on the fence, just order the Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital online since it has everything that a good night vision device should have. In fact, our list contains some of the best night vision monoculars till date, you can choose any one of them matching your needs and style.
You can also share your experience with us using the comments section you will find below.
1. Can I use a night vision monocular during the daytime?
Ans. The name says it all – night vision. There are some digital models that you can use during the day but this could result in severe damage to the optics.
2. What’s better – night vision or thermal?
Ans. Of course thermal imaging is way better in terms of detecting and recognizing game. But they are relatively new in the industry while night vision has been available since WW2.
3. How far can I see with a night vision mono?
Ans. This will depend on many variables, such as the size of the object you’re aiming at, the amount of light present in the environment, the Gen that your mono belongs to, and so on. You can easily detect a person 300 yds away.
4: Does night vision work in pitch black?
Ans: The absence of light particles is almost impossible on earth. This is why night vision monoculars work even in apparent pitch black situations. On the surface of the earth, during the nights, you receive lots of visible light particles that can be used by these devices. On top of that, invisible light frequencies are also made viewable by advanced NVGs.
5: Does night vision work underwater?
Ans: Theoretically, an NVD should work underwater. But first, you’ve got to make sure that the device is waterproof. Not every NVD has waterproofing features and that’s why not all of them will work underwater.