Night vision image of a wild hog

Thermal Or Night Vision

It’s a safe bet that hunters are familiar with the traditional gun-mounted scope, which uses visible light to display the image. But many of us aren’t as familiar with night vision and thermal imagery scopes; use of either can greatly expand your hunting opportunities, especially for predators.

Here are the basic differences. The Thermal Scopes get images by capturing thermal radiation, which is emitted by all things. Even rocks and buildings can emit thermal radiation in the dark, because they’ve absorbed solar heat during the day. Thermal radiation is strongest when emitted by people and animals.

Night vision scopes do require minimal light. They are designed to capture every tiny bit of available light, amplify it, and use it to project an image onto the lens. Images will show up as gray or green.

Thermal scopes will work in total darkness, and also perform through vision barriers such as fog, snow or smoke. They will also work in daylight.

Here are some pros and cons to consider when you’re thinking of adding gear with either thermal or night vision capabilities:

  1. Versatility – Whichever you choose, it’s going to be more costly than your current “regular” binoculars and scopes. So consider the versatility of the item. For example, can a hand-held monocular be mounted on a firearm?
  2. Resolution – The higher the number, the greater the number of pixels and clarity.
  3. Night vision gear can “see” through windows; thermal imagery gear cannot because it won’t be able to detect thermal radiation.
  4. Do you want binocular, monocular, goggles, or a scope? Think carefully about your application of the gear. For example, if you’re going to be trying some night paintball, goggles may be your best bet so that your hands are free. If you’re going to target predators at night, your scope may be most important, followed closely by binoculars to spot game approaching.
  5. Durability – see number one, above. Yes this gear is more costly but the old adage – You get what you pay for – holds true.
  6. Performance in Poor Weather – If you’re someone who’s so serious about hunting predators at night that you’re ready to up your game with night vision or thermal imagery technology, don’t scrimp here. Make sure the gear you choose is as serious as you are, and will work in rain or snow.

Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of thermal and night vision scopes

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.

3 Responses to “Thermal Or Night Vision”

  1. Robert Reiser

    Very informative. Thanks for the compariison.

  2. Bruce Rogers

    Is the ps22or ps28 clip on style night vision scope in your inventory…if so much $….thanks

    • Matt Dybedahl


      At this time we do not carry the ATN PS22, but we do have the PS28. It looks like the price start at $1,799 and goes up to about $5,999. If you want more information on the models we carry, check out the link below.

      And if you have any more questions, please let us know!