November 30, 2022


Self reliance and independence

How Does A Night Vision Scope Work?

5 min read

How Does A Night Vision Scope Work?


There is a lot to be said about the joys of hunting. It is a shame then that one can only hunt during the daylight hours. Unfortunately, you will miss out on a lot of options that go along with hunting at night.


If you have a great gun and know the best places to go, you do have an option to allow you to shoot at night. A night vision scope is an integral instrument for night hunting. Once you understand how a night vision scope works and how to choose the best one for your gaming needs, you will open up a whole new world of hunting.


It is important to note that there are different generations of night scopes. This is because the military, quite obviously, will use more advanced technology. They will use generation 3 and 4 technologies. Here we will focus on what the hunter will need to optimize night hunting, usually generation 1 and 2 technology.


What is a night vision scope?

In its very basic form, night vision is simply light amplification. It is the ability to take any ambient light or IR light and use it to better sight your target. A night vision scope is mounted to your gun. When you are sighting your target, the more reflective it is, the brighter it will show. Check out this comprehensive guide for choosing night vision scope from Bobergarms.


What is the difference between traditional vs modern night vision scope technologies?


A night vision scope using traditional technology uses a light sensor and a phosphor screen. It then takes some light from the visual spectrum and adds it to the mix. Then light in the form of photons enter the scope and hit the detection screen. It is here that they are then converted to electrons. The electrons are then multiplied and injected into the phosphor screen. The screen then glows with the image.


In the case of a more modern night vision scope, infrared light technology is used. When you use a digital night vision scope, it is the IR light that coverts the ambient light to an image.

Digital Night Vision


Let’s take a closer look at how digital night vision scopes work. A digital night vision scope does not use an intensifier to amplify the light. It uses a digital signal. A digital night vision scope will take the image you are sighting and converts it t an electrical signal. The electrical signal is then passed through a coupled device image sensor. Then the image sensor sends the image to a screen.


It is important to remember that when you are sighting with a digital night vision scope, you are seeing the image on the screen, not the actual image. This is the same technology that is used with digital video cameras that have night vision.

Why is night vision green?


Without a doubt, green is the color that is always associated with night vision. Why is this? Clearly, the objects being viewed are not green. What causes this to happen?


The photons that are responsible for carrying the light from objects to your rifle scope do contain colors. When these photons are converted into electrons, they are not able to convert the colors as well. The electrons are only capable of black and white.


The phosphors that are used on the screen turn the light green on purpose. Designers use the color green for two reasons. The first reason for using green is that it is the color that the human eye picks up the fastest. The second reason is that the human eye is sensitive to the color green. It is less harsh and more comfortable to view over extended periods of time.


How does night vision differ from thermal imaging?

Night vision detects images based on light. Thermal imaging relies on heat. The images that are obtained using thermal imaging will usually also be shown in varying colors; night scope vision will only be in green.


Some hunters prefer thermal vision for detecting prey. This is because all living things give off body heat. So, no matter how big or small a creature is or how well camouflaged they may be, you will always be able to spot them using thermal imaging.


On the other hand, night vision scopes will not only show you where the prey is hiding, you will also see other things in the image. This includes being able to see rivers and streams, pathways, etc. If something has light, even the most minuscule amount, it will show up in your night vision scope. Having the ability to see the terrain at night is an invaluable asset for hunting.


What kind of light does a night vision scope require?


Night vision scopes must have some light in order to work. It does not need to be a lot of light either. When you use your scope outdoors at night, you have moonlight, stars and manmade ambient light to help your scope portray images.


What can you do if there is not a lot of light?


If you should find yourself in a situation that does not have light or enough light, you can make use of an infrared illuminator. Basically, an infrared illuminator works like a flashlight for your night vision scope. Just be sure to keep in mind that it does have limited range abilities and it will also pick up dust and smoke, so that will also impact your vision.


Is my Illuminated Scope the same thing as a Night Vision Scope?


While they may seem similar, they are in fact two different tools. An illuminated scope means that the reticle is illuminated. This is helpful in some low light conditions or to help you view your crosshairs better in certain light conditions.


Illuminated scopes use a different optic than a night vision scope. The differences are found in the tube and how it is made. It is possible that you would have both an illuminated scope and a night vision scope in your collection.

How far can my night vision scope see?


This depends on the make and model of the scope you are using. Higher-end models do have the ability to sight objects at greater distances than lower-end models. A scope can generally help you view objects that are fro 150 to 300 yards away. Another factor in sighting distance is the amount of light that is available to be picked up by the scope.




If you hunt for game or for sport, you are seemingly limited by the amount of daylight available. This is not the case if you add a night vision scope to your arsenal.


A good night vision scope will help you see objects at night or in low light conditions. This is a great way to increase your shooting opportunities and expand your hunting options.


Be sure to purchase a night vision scope that will fit your rifle and is made for the type of hunting that you enjoy. Since most people consider their guns and rifles to be a collection, it makes sense to have accessories that will only enhance your shooting experience.


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