Digital Night Vision, Intensifier Tube, and Thermal Scope Comparison

Generally Speaking

We think Digital Crosshairs 1000 night vision clip-on is a great choice but here is some general information to think about when deciding on a night vision product.

Night Vision Clip-on - Digital Crosshairs
Night Vision Clip-on – Digital Crosshairs

It don’t have to cost thousands of dollars to kill a few hogs in the dark!

About Night Hunting-

  • All dedicated night vision and thermal scopes will cause temporary night blindness after looking through them in the dark. Your eye pupils will shrink from the light in the scope and will take a few seconds to re-open and adjust to the darkness. Only exception are Digital Crosshairs and NiteSite products that use LCD displays.
  • It is very hard to judge distance when you are in the dark and your only field of view is through your night vision device.
  • No night vision scope is as clear as a high quality day vision scope.  It is the best of both world using a clip-on.
  • Check with your night vision manufacturer about maximum caliber weapons they support.

Digital Night Vision

Pros Cons
Gen 2 or better equivalent at lower Cost. More natural image, easier to identify target than thermal IR reflects off leave & brush affecting visibility
Use Day or Night Smoke and fog decrease visibility
Tougher, more rugged Requires IR illuminator for optimal use
Cost less than thermal and Intensifier tube technology IR illuminator has faint glow that may give your position away
Clear target identification at 50 to 150+  yards Optics do not compare with high quality day scopes
Many have video output and/or record capabilities Some have programmable features may not be practical in fast pace hunting situation
Fast startup time, sometime instant on Camouflage is often still effective.
Can see through windows
Better visibility in rain than thermal
High contrast black and white night vision image
CMOS night vision sensors do not have limited life span like intensifier tubes and thermal

 

Intensifier Tube (I2) Night Vision

Pros Cons
More natural image, easier to identify target than thermal Fog, smoke and dust obscures the image
Gen 3 on has longer range than most digital night vision Larger/Heavier
Cheaper than thermal optics Worthless during the day or in lighted rooms
Benefits from IR illuminator but Gen 2-4 intensify light without IR Camouflage is often still effective.
Sensitive can be damaged if exposed to bright light
Bright lights and fire stacks will cause them to shut off for protections
Limited lifespan
More expensive than digital night vision
Cannot handle large caliber weapons
 Optics do not compare with high quality day scopes

 

Thermal Night Vision

The major difference with thermal-IR is that thermal-IR is emitted by an object instead of reflected off it. No light source is required with thermal.

Pros Cons
See in any lighting conditions – Day and Night Nearly impossible to positively ID person except with most expensive equipment
See through smoke/fog/dust/sand Image requires some training to interpret
See through leaves, brush and thin materials Hot objects like rocks and hot building in urban areas will wash out human and animal heat signatures
Track residual heat (handprints, footprints) Long startup/warm up time
Works in absolute darkness Thermal optics cannot see through windows
Give off no light, will not give your position away Extreme cold can affect the quality of a thermal image
Long range target acquisition Generally more expensive
Many have video out capabilities Larger and heavier
Fast target acquisition Does not work in rain, misty, very humid conditions
Durable solid state technology Optics do not compare with high quality day scopes

Closing thoughts

To some extent, buying night vision is like buying a car.  There are some really good choices out there and a few lemons.  One thing to remember, you can’t see in the dark so if you plan to move around stalking none of these will help you get around.

Digital Crosshairs night vision clip-on has an LCD display that give off just enough light that you can see where you are stepping, but not so much as to alert the animals you are hunting.

Check out our video at: https://youtu.be/Ayu8AYZApJQ

IR Illuminator Batteries Can End Your Hunt

 

Digital IR night vision scopes are getting very affordable.  With a good IR illuminator, hunters are seeing 100 to over 200+ yards in the dark.  But “Digital”  means electric!  One detail that can ruin your hunting weekend is getting poor quality batteries or heading out with under charged batteries.

Good IR illuminators usually runs on rechargable 18650 lithium-ion batteries.  As your batteries drain in voltage, your illuminator gradually gets dimmer and dimmer.  Remember, the human eye can not see the infra red light from your illuminator so except for the performance of your night vision scope, you have no indication that the brightness of the illuminator is decreasing.  A battery with a low mAh rating when charged will start off bright, but the voltage will drain faster than good batteries.  Get setup and then 20 minutes or less into your hunt you start wondering why your system is not working as well as you expected it to.  Digital IR night vision and I2 (intensifier tube) night vision benefits from the IR illuminator light. When the IR dims, your system dims.  I stress this point.  It would be better if the illuminator just shut off but it doesn’t.  A hunter would know its time for another battery if it just shut off.

The 18650 lithium-ion batteries sold today are labeled from about 2100 mAh (milliamp hours capacity)  all the way up to over 9000 mAh.  So if you order the 9000 mAh batteries from China on Ebay you should be ok, right?  That is what I thought but after doing some research I discovered that 18650 lithium-ion batteries can not physically be made to go that high.   The offshore manufacturers are actually selling a lie.   They just lie about the mAh rating for marketing purposes.  After all, how many people know that much about battery technology except electrical engineers.

XTAR VC2 battery charger

With the average battery charger you don’t know the real mAh rating of your batteries or the charge level.  Don’t risk your hunting trip, get something like the XTAR VC2 USB LCD Screen Battery Charger Capacity Tester.  It has an LCD display that show the batteries voltage and mAh level so you know for sure and don’t have to risk bad batteries messing up a great hunting weekend.

Get good batteries and a good battery charger/tester.  That way, a $2.00 battery won’t mess up a priceless hunting opportunity.

Order the XTAR VC2 Tester/Charger at Digitalcrosshairs.net

Related info:

How to tell a fake 18650 battery:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-know-a-fake-18650-battery/

Review of 18650 Batteries:

https://mycooloutdoorstuff.com/which-18650-battery-is-your-best-choice-the-buying-guide-and-recommends/

 

 

 

Review of Budget Friendly Night Vision Scopes

Night vision view of hog at 150 yards using Digital Crosshairs NV clip-on
Night vision view using Digital Crosshairs night vision clip-on

If you are interested in night vision hunting scopes today is a great time to get one.  The technology is getting better and as you would expect. The really exciting thing is how some low cost digital scopes are just as good as much more expensive, older industry standard Gen 2+ intensifier tube technology.

Picking the right product for your needs and budget can be a challenge. There are enough people “proclaimed experts” out there with opinions on which scopes are the best and what technologies are better than others to keep the average newbie very confused.  If you take anything from this article let it be this, with today’s NV technology you do not have to spend thousands of dollars to enjoy night vision hunting.  Much of the new digital technology is just as good as Gen 2 and a lot more affordable.  Don’t think the more you pay the better quality you will always get, not true in today’s dynamic world of IR illuminators and CMOS chip based night vision technologies. If it is IR night vision, get a good IR illuminator and watch the night light up!

Would you buy a race car to drive to work?  Most hunter are shooting less than 100 yards at night and most of the night vision devices in this article can see farther than that, except maybe the Yukan which is just Gen 1, stay away from anything Gen 1.

What is your typical night hunt going to be like.  Are you shooting 150 yards or less from a stand to a baited feeder?  Are  you shooting 300 yards from the road into a field?  Are you walk and stalk night hunting?  Are  you hunting in rain, snow, or humid conditions?  Are you hunting in wooded conditions or open fields?

As an example of how functional specification don’t alway tell the whole story, if your location has a lot of rain and fog during hunting season,  a $10,000 thermal scope that sees 800 yards is your worst choice. Even if dollars are not an issue, thermal can not see through humid conditions or glass for that matter.  If you are hunting in heavily wooded areas or tall brush, all IR night vision scopes will pickup and be blinded by the reflection off leaves and branches in your field of view.

Night vision devices fall into three technology categories; intensifier tubes, thermal, and digital.   Those technologies are either implemented as a stand-a-lone scope or as what is generally called a clip-on.  Clip-ons enable hunters to attach a device to an existing scope to enhance it with night vision.

The key benefits of a clip-on are:

  • Use multiple guns without re-sighting (hogs with .308, coyote with .223)
  • Day scope is still functional if night vision device fails
  • Use quality day scope in daylight, clip-on night vision in evening
  • Digital Crosshairs clip-on’s ocular mount takes advantage of scope’s quality optics if you have a good scope

 

Affordable Night Vision Scope Clip-on

Digital Crosshairs 1000 http://www.digitalcrosshairs.net

Night Vision Clip-on - Digital Crosshairs
Digital Crosshairs 1000 night vision clip-on mounted on Savage 223

Key Features

Core Technology = Digital Night Vision

  • Silent operation
  • Picatinny Rail attachable digital LCD display system for scope.
  • Auto focus at your scope’s fixed magnification (focus all magnifications of variable magnification scopes with adjustable objective)
  • Mini DVR recorder & Playback on screen (optional)
  • High Definition 1000 TVL CMOS IR board technology
  • Minimum Illumination 0 LUX
  • F1.2 lens for maximum light capture
  • Total darkness IR system activates at 1 LUX
  • High power zoomable long range 850nm IR illumination
  • Color output (not always true colors, Black & White IR night vision output)
  • Powered by 12 volt polymer lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
  • Weight of Digital Crosshairs = 22.5 oz
  • Weight of Illuminator = 7.5 oz

 

Digital Crosshairs 1000 Reviews:  https://goo.gl/qg8RNe

Digital Crosshairs 1000 Night Vision Clip On
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!
5 out of 5 by Joshua C. (1/12/2016 5:49:31 AM)
IP: 71.88.224.196

The DC-1000 is everything it claims to be and more! I can see clearly at 230 plus yards in the dead of night! This will definitely help you get the animal your hunting when there is no sunlight. I would also recommend you to buy the DVR as well, it’s so much fun to re-watch your hunt and a great way to save your memories. The products are A+++++++ but what’s even better is the customer service! Theses guys go above and waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond just answering questions and/or making sure your products get to you quickly. The customer service dept. are super knowledgeable and easy to talk to! I will definitely and have been telling my hunting buddies about this product. I am going email Digital Crosshairs some of my hunting video’s so they can post video’s of my hunt on their website! I love the product and customer service! Thanks again for an affordable night vision product, J.C.

NiteSite Wolf

Key Features

Technology = Digital Night Vision

  • Infrared Night Vision
  • Identification range 330 yards
  • Operational run time up to 7.5 hours
  • Net weight (excluding battery) 16 ounces
  • Water resistant

Reviews

Cost – especially with DIY systems becoming increasingly popular – http://www.airriflereviews.co.uk/accessories/optics/night-vision/nitesite-wolf

 

Affordable Dedicated Night Vision Scopes

If you are looking for a dedicated night vision scope for under $1,000 here are a few to consider.  You will want to read the reviews to see what real users have to say.  No product is perfect so we hope this helps you make the best choice if you don’t choose us.

ATN X-Sight-II 5-20x Smart Day/Night w/HD Video Wi-Fi GPS

Key Features

Core Technology = Digital Night Vision

  • Green night view, black and white night, and color day view
  • Displays in-view menu, functions
  • Obsidian Shooting Solution: wind/ballistic data and calculators
  • Recoil Activated Video (RAV) automatically records your shots
  • Profile Manager saves your personalized ballistic data
  • Smart Rangefinder automatically calculates a point of impact
  • Smart HD Channel allow for easy recording and sharing of videos
  • Smooth Zoom provides contentious zooming
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow sharing and simultaneous viewing on smart devices
  • Compatible with iOS and Android operating systems
  • Green night view, black and white night, and color day view
  • Displays in-view menu, functions
  • Obsidian Shooting Solution: wind/ballistic data and calculators
  • Recoil Activated Video (RAV) automatically records your shots
  • Profile Manager saves your personalized ballistic data
  • Smart Rangefinder automatically calculates a point of impact
  • Smart HD Channel allow for easy recording and sharing of videos
  • Smooth Zoom provides contentious zooming

Reviews

Not great illuminator light – https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx10WW3G6TK3WYU/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B01BYDUZ60

 

Reviews:

Gear Review: ATN X-Sight Digital Day/Night Optic   http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/08/jeremy-s/gear-review-atn-x-sight-digital-daynight-optic/

Videos:

Using T67 IR Illuminator really helps        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEw_gNvShfE

 

 

 

Armasight Vampire 3X Night Vision Rifle Scope

Key Features

Technology =  proprietary Ceramic Optical Ruggedized Engine image intensifier tube

  • CORE technology 60-70 lp/mm
  • Detachable long-range infrared illuminator included
  • Illuminated reticle with brightness adjustment
  • Water and fog resistant design
  • Mounts to standard weaver rail

Reviews

Rated for use on a .308, but makes the lens drop out – https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx3OJFONPSOL4IJ/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B00IBIO9VE

 

 

Yukon Advanced Optics – YK26013WL – Yukon Varmint Hunter 2.5×50 Rifle Scope

Key Features

Technology = Gen 1 Intensifier tube

  • Rugged titanium housing
  • +/- 4 Dioptric correction
  • Powered by 2 “AA” batteries
  • 30 lp/mm resolution specified
  • Comfortable, oblique shaped eye cup
  • Mil-Dot type luminous reticle with on/off switch
  • Precision internal windage and elevation adjustment
  • 50 Hours of battery life from two “AA” batteries

Reviews

 

Small reticle – https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/425544-REG/Yukon_Advanced_Optics_YK26013WL_2_5x50_Titanium_Varmint_Hunter.html

 

 

Sightmark Photon 6.5x50L Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Key Features

Technology = Digital

  • Day and night Use
  • Digital reticle with option of 6 reticle styles
  • High 6.5x magnification for extended viewing range
  • High resolution display
  • Built-in 780nm laser IR illuminator

Reviews

It will “blink” on high recoil rifles (you won’t see your shot) – https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx1Y6OY9EFQOK16/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B00JAE0UCA

Extremely poor range, even with aftermarket IR illuminator. (actual operative range is less than 150 yards) – https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R20S1JHMBJ5I7F/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00JAE0UCA