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Month: December 2020

Choosing Night Vision or Thermal Scopes for Hunting?

Choosing Night Vision or Thermal Scopes for Hunting?

When hunting at night, humans are disadvantaged because they lack night vision. Most animals like cats have tapetum in the eyes that cause light reflection. They can see 10 times better in the dark than humans. Luckily, for humans, we have the technology to help us hunt in the night. This is where night vision and thermal imaging devices come into play.

When the sun goes down and you want to hunt, the ideal choice comes down to night vision or thermal scopes. You simply want to scout your target better at night and get an enhanced vision. Night vision and thermal scopes help hunters scout, detect, recognize, and identify their targets. You cannot hunt if you can’t see and identify your target. This is why you need to choose the best night vision scopes or thermal scopes.

However, there is always a big challenge of deciding between the two. What works best for hunting? There are several reasons why night is the best time to hunt. It is a perfect time for feral hogs to search for hunt and predators. Before we decide between the two, let’s first see what each does.

Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scope work by amplifying visible light and near infrared red light. Even on the darkest nights, there is some light in the atmosphere. It is these lights plus near infrared red light that is amplified allowing you to see in the dark. Infrared illuminators generate light but the light is not visible to the naked eye.

These devices have been in use since WW2 with various modifications in technology.  We’ve had four generations of night vision devices from Generation 1 to Generation 4.

Thermal Scopes 

Thermal scopes, on the other hand, detect temperature changes that radiate off objects. They then show the difference in temperature in different colors. Any object or animal in the wild that emits heat can be detected by the thermal scopes. These temperature variations are then displayed as images that appear on the thermal scope.

Since wild animals emit heat, you can identify them from the heat they emit.

Choosing Between Night Vision and Thermal Scope for Hunting

When looking to choose the best device for hunting at night, you want to consider various scenarios. Let’s discuss the two under various categories:

Detecting and Identifying Game

When looking to detect game, according to the guys from OpticsAddict, the type of environment you hunt will determine the best choice. If you’re hunting in thick bushes with little or no light, then consider using thermal scopes. Thermal scopes can detect game in total darkness where NV scopes will not work. However, you need very high-resolution thermal scopes to get sharp images.

Night vision scopes are ideal when hunting in some light situations. This can be late evening or at night when there is little light. However, bright light can easily damage night vision scopes.

It is important to note game hunting is all about detecting and identifying the game. After all, you’re not going to shoot what you cannot see. When hunting nuisance game like feral hogs, you want more than just detecting them. In such situations, you need advanced night vision scopes from Gen2+. While thermal imaging scopes can detect game, they might not identify the exact game. You don’t want to shoot game that you’re not sure. Some animals like deer have strict rules when it comes to hunting them.

Hunting Environment

Your hunting environment can also affect your choice between a thermal scope and night vision scope. Extremely cold or rainy environments work best with a night vision scope. A thermal image scope will not function properly in rainy or extremely cold temperatures. Moreover, thermal scopes will not work through the glass when sheltering.

You need night vision scopes when hunting in rainy and extremely cold temperatures.


Pricing is another important consideration for every hunter. You want to use something you can afford. Thermal detectors tend to be pricier of the two devices. Thermal imaging technology is new hence relatively expensive. Night vision scopes have been around for years now thus more affordable.

Scope Durability

Which of the two scopes is more durable to withstand night hunting? You need a scope that can withstand a .30 caliber recoil. Night vision scopes are sturdy and durable hence more reliable. However, there is little difference when it comes to durability. Nowadays, thermal scopes have become sturdy and durable just as night vision devices. These means both devices can withstand heavy caliber ammunition without any issues.

Final Verdict

As you can see, night scopes tend to have an edge over thermal scopes when it comes to night hunting. However, there are a few instances where thermal scopes standout. You just need to understand the hunting environment and choose the right optical device possible.