The Best Night Vision Monoculars for Scouting After Dark

best night vision monocular

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Not sure what Night Vision Monocular you want? Confused by all the different options out there?

Picking the right Night Vision Monocular doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of options on the market and we’ve sorted out the best of the best for you. 




Night Owl iGEN Monocular


Night Owl iGEN Monocular

  • Magnification: 2.6x
  • Weight: 19.1 oz
  • Dimensions:9 x 3.5 x 2.5

Bushnell Night Vision_Equinox Z Monocular


Bushnell Night Vision_Equinox Z Monocular

  • Magnification:4.5 x
  • Weight:22 oz
  • Dimensions: 6.5x3.2 x 2.1

Firefield Nightfall Monocular


Firefield Nightfall Monocular

  • Magnification: 5 x
  • Weight:15.2 oz
  • Dimensions:205x95x60

ATN PVS14-3 Night Vision Monocular


ATN PVS14-3 Night Vision Monocular

  • Magnification:1 x
  • Weight:316 g
  • Dimensions:4.5x2.2x2 

Sightmark Ghost Monocular


Sightmark Ghost Monocular

  • Magnification: 2 x
  • Weight:8.8 oz
  • Width:57 mm

So here’s everything you need to know about choosing the night vision monocular for your kit. 

What Exactly is a Night Vision Monocular?

A night vision monocular is a one-eyed magnification tool for seeing in the dark. They are the perfect tool for anyone who enjoys the outdoors but doesn't want to shine a light everywhere they go.

Whether you're a hunter trying to lay low while finding your prey, or someone who likes wildlife observation and is trying to look at some owls or bats, this is a great tool to have on you. 

These devices take a few forms, referred to as generations. Each generation is based on improvements made by the US military during the development of night vision devices (NVDs). For the night vision monoculars on this list, the generation refers to the technology inside of the NVD, not when it was manufactured.

 If you want some old night-vision goggles go to your nearest army surplus store.  

night vision on helmet

Gen 1: These are the oldest designs on the market. They were invented in the 60s for Vietnam and rely on amplifying ambient light to create an image. They won’t work in pure pitch black but tend to be cheaper. These NVDs have a light magnification of 1,000X.

Gen 2: In the 70s a micro-channel plate was added to the gen 1 infrastructure. This functioned as a light amplifier which increased clarity and visibility on moonless nights. These are night ideal for near-total darkness environments. Gen 2 NVDs have a light magnification of around 20,000X.

Gen 3: In the 90s they swapped out the photocathode to increase the light amplification. This makes Gen 3 have a clearer picture than its older brothers with light amplification in the 30,000X to 50,000X range. The trade-off is that Gen 3 NVDs do not like looking at light sources or bright objects. This effect is known as light “halos” and will turn the NVD image all white. 

night vision monocular

Gen 4: This is the latest and greatest form of night vision. It ditches the older image intensifier tube design and performs much better in extremely low-light conditions, and it doesn’t blind you if say, someone shines a light at you. This is mostly a military tech at the moment, but if you have the extra money you can find a few monoculars out there that use this technology.

Frequently these monoculars are combined with IR Illuminators. These emit infrared light to bounce off of things to increase the visibility of the night vision device. Think of it like a flashlight that only your monocular can see (or your iPhone if you point the camera at the illuminator).

night vision IT 204c

Now all of the NVDs on this list are digital, meaning they aren’t running off of photocathodes, however their power level is still measured against traditional means. They’re all great for hunters, law enforcement professionals, and just your average person who wants to be able to scan their backyard in low light conditions without turning on the flood lights.

How Do You Choose the Best Night Vision Monocular?

Now there are a lot of little things that differ between all of the NVDs on this list, but don’t let them intimidate you. There are three key features that really matter.

Image Quality

Are you trying to see 30 miles away on a pitch-black night, or are you trying to have a little fun at the campsite? Are you content with shapes and outlines or are you trying to read signage on a foggy night? Is this a toy or a tool, and are you okay with the price tags that go with each? 

It all comes down to the image quality you want. These monoculars are cheaper than night vision binoculars or thermal imaging devices, but they can still get expensive in a hurry, especially if you’re after the best night vision monoculars around.


How far do you think you need to see? Is this for light scouting in dense woods or do you plan on looking across the desert at night? Do you plan on using this for long-range reconnaissance or do you want to spy on the possums in your backyard? Do you prefer a super tight zoom or is a wider FOV better for what you need?  

Versatility and Extra Features

night vision

Some of these monoculars are also usable in daylight conditions, but most of them don’t have any kind of optical function. They’re basically digital cameras really. Some do have a limited daytime function with like a 3x magnification based on digital zoom, but not much more than that.

Since they are cameras at the end of the day, many of them also have a micro sd card that you can record your scouting trips with, which I love. This is a great feature if you’re scouting night hunting spots (where legal).

Many of them also have automatic shut-off features as well as rechargeable batteries, which are great for both saving money and staying out in the field longer. 

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some specific monoculars that we have found to be very effective for hunting, scouting, and even just checking out the backyard after dark when something goes bumpity bump.

Best Night Vision Monoculars: Reviewed

1. Night Owl iGEN 20/20 Day/Night Vision Monocular (3X)

This Night Owl iGEN is a great starting point for this list. Intended more for campers, this digital night vision monocular functions as a Gen 1 NVD. With a magnification of 2.6X, it’s not meant for long-range reconnaissance, but it is perfect for scouting a field or spying on some nightlife. This is also made obvious by its 70-foot field of view at 330 yards.  

night owl igen

Since this is a digital magnifier it has some extra features. It can auto-balance the  IR levels to prevent overexposure, similar to the way a normal camera balances its image. The viewer inside the NVD is a screen, which has 4 different levels of night vision. 

But you’re not limited to that screen, as there is a composite cable output built into this night vision monocular. This allows you to plug this into a screen into your Night Owl Optics device, or even tie it into a home security system. 

This device weighs 19.1 ounces without batteries, and it needs 4 AA batteries to run. This device is a great choice if you’re looking for a flexible backpacking night vision monocular that has a few tech upgrades. It’s also a pretty cool choice if you plan on using it with an external monitor as a cool night time camping activity. 

There’s also this version that has a built-in video recorder, though it is a little more pricey. 


Night Owl iGEN Monocular

The price of the Night Owl iGEN Monocular varies, so check the latest price at

2. Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular

Bushnell ends up on every one of our optics lists, it only makes sense that it would make an appearance on our night vision list as well. This Bushnell Equinox Z Digital NVD with a 4.5X magnification scope and a 40mm objective lens is good for both daytime and nighttime use. 

bushnell equinox

The glass is multi-coated as you would expect from Bushnell and the monocular has a Picatinny rail on top, so you can mount anything from a coffee cup to an ACOG on it. It's meant for an additional IR illuminator, but I will not be the person to limit your creativity. 

Since this is a digital night vision optic, it has a few party tricks. It has a 1X to 2X digital zoom built-in that allows up to 750 feet of viewing during the day and 100 feet of viewing at night. 

The biggest perk of this scope is that it has a built-in video recording function that can write to an SD card. This means you can film all of your nighttime outings, as long as you remember to put in the 4 AA’s needed to power the device. 

This device is also shockproof, so it can handle a little more abuse than your standard NVD. The device has clearly embossed water-resistant buttons so finding the button you need isn’t a hassle, and you can rest easy knowing it’s fairly weather-resistant.

This is one of the absolute best night vision monoculars on this list. It is absolutely feature-packed at a very affordable price. 


Bushnell Night Vision_Equinox Z Monocular

The price of the Bushnell Night Vision Equinox Z Monocular varies, so check the latest price at

3. Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular

Do you need a night vision monocular that can hold up to some abuse? Then check out the Firefield Nightfall. This NVD with 5X magnification and a 50mm lens is built rock-solid, it’s even waterproof! 

firefield nightfall

This device is a “passive starlight system” meaning that it can work off of low light environments. That being said there is a built-in infrared illuminator to increase your range on really dark evenings and mornings. 

This monocular also has a surprisingly fast startup speed, letting you activate it only when needed. By leaving it off until it is absolutely needed you can maximize the battery life of the monocular. Considering that this device only runs off of 2 AAA batteries you have to think about conservation, or carry spares.

This is a great rugged budget option for throwing in a bag and letting your children or irresponsible adult friends play with. Definitely worth throwing in your backpack for your next outing.


Firefield Nightfall Monocular

The price of the Firefield Nightfall Monocular varies, so check the latest price at

4. ATN PVS14-3 Generation 3 Night Vision Monocular

So you want high-end gear? Do you want the best of the best? Then check out the PVS14-3 from ATN. This NVD is high quality but at a price. Costing almost $3000, this military-grade monocular is a genuine Grade 3 night vision optic. 

night vision monoculars reviews

Intended to be mounted to a headband or helmet, this NVD weighs 316 grams (11.14 ounces) and comes with mounting hardware and an eyepiece. Its 4.5 inches long and has a tight FOV at 40 degrees. You can control the gain to dial it in for your lighting (or lack thereof) situation. 

You’re paying for quality here, as the monocular is waterproof and comes with a two-year warranty just in case you’re the kind of person who puts their gear through Hell, decide that isn’t enough, and then put your gear through Tartarus, Purgatory, and other general torment too. 

This NVD also has some flexibility. While it is intended to be head-mounted, it can also be handheld or mounted to a camera. With an adapter, it can even go behind any compatible night vision scope on your most special rifle. It is also day/night functional, so by adding a pinhole cover you can use it for scouting during full sun. There is a built-in cut-off for the NVD if it is an extremely bright light condition, protecting your monocular and your wallet.  


ATN PVS14-3 Night Vision Monocular

The price of the ATN PVS14-3 Night Vision Monocular varies, so check the latest price at

5. Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision Monocular 

The Sightmark Ghost Hunter is a digital handheld with a built-in tripod mount that you can easily remove if you want to mount it on a bump helmet or something.

sightmark ghost hunter

This is also intended to be hand-carried but makes the point that its tripod mount could be connected to anything that has ¼” threaded post. Using this handheld isn’t the worst though, it has a fairly ergonomic design and a nice rubberized finish that won’t slip out of your hand easily. 

This digital NVD is listed as Gen 1, making it fine for general outdoor use. There is a built-in IR illuminator if it's a low moonlight night, or if you’re indoors and need to make the light yourself. 

Since it is digital, it is also capable of running during the day if needed.  One important thing to note is that this monocular has a super-wide field of view, some people say it reminds them of a fisheye lens. It is only a 2X magnification though, so don’t plan on using this as a replacement for your favorite pair of binoculars. 

This NVD is great for the person who wants a durable night vision monocular to leave in the car or use on the semi-rare occasion. If you want a convenient, rugged, and grippy monocular to take on the trail, then this is your guy.


Sightmark Ghost Monocular

The price of the Sightmark Ghost Monocular varies, so check the latest price at

Parting Shots

There’s a lot of night vision gear available, and that’s a good thing. No matter where you feel like buying in there’s something for you. Whether that is a little handheld for camping or pro-level NVD to go behind your riflescope, there’s something here that will get you out and about when the sun goes down. 

Our top picks for this list have to be the Bushnell Equinox Z  and the ATN PVS14-3 Generation 3. These two are both excellent but at dramatically different price points.

Did you find what you were looking for?  Which do you think is the best monocular? Do you disagree with anything on the list? Do you think that night vision is just flexing for no reason when flashlights are readily available? Let us know below! And be sure to check out our list of best night vision scopes under $1000 for more info like this.

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