Night Owl Optics NightShot Review: Budget Night Vision Scope

by Dave Chesson

September 21, 2023



When listing my favorite night vision scopes under $1000, I placed the Night Owl Optics NightShot as the best low budget option.  

As you will see in my Night Owl Optics NightShot review, it’s not perfect.  

It has its limitations and definitely does not beat many of the premium options.  

That being said though, it is still incredible for its extremely low price point and serves as a good starter scope for night vision capability. It even earned the Best Budget spot on our best night vision scopes under $1000. So, if you want to have some capabilities, and not spend loads of money, then this will be a good option.  

A low priced, entry level, night vision scope with limited range and battery life.

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Night Owl Optics NightShot Specs

  • Magnification 3x
  • Length 14.75 in
  • Width 3 in
  • Height 5.25 in
  • Weight 20.8 oz

NightShot Scope Specs

However, before we get into my thoughts on the NightShot, let’s first look at what it is, and what its specifications are. 

The Night Owl Optics NightShot is a digital night vision scope that comes equipped with a built-in IR illuminator. With this feature, you can see better in low light, enhancing your nighttime experience. This scope also boasts a 640×480 display, giving you a clearer image of your target. The optic itself is crafted to be weather-resistant up to IPX4 standards, which is a nice touch.

The scope has a focusing distance that allows for variable viewing lengths. With a range of 75 to 150 yards, some users have even reported visibility up to 250-300 yards. This Night Owl Optics NightShot scope offers three levels of screen brightness and has a magnification factor of three times. On the utility front, it fits both Weaver and Picatinny rail systems. Plus, its windage and elevation adjustments are simple to make.

This night vision scope runs on 4 AA batteries. Battery life tends to be on the shorter side, but using an optional IR illuminator or rechargeable AAs can mitigate this issue. Changing the batteries can be cumbersome as the battery compartment cover is on the side. In some rifle setups, you might need to remove the scope to replace the batteries.

Night Owl Optics NightShot Features

Night Owl Optics NightShot Features
1 IR Illuminator

Built in IR illuminator but there is an option to add an additional high power illuminator.

2 Scope Mount

Scope fits on either picatinny or weaver mount.

3 Turrets

Elevation, windage, and focus turrets are easy to adjust.

4 Push Buttons

Simple push button layout that is easy to access when using scope.

Models and Variations

The only variations of the NightShot is if you want it with or without the IR Illuminator.

Full Review of the Night Owl Optics NightShot

When I first heard about the Night Owl Optics NightShot scope, I was skeptical. Being an avid hunter, I’ve tried various night vision scopes, ranging from budget-friendly to high-end models. My aim was to find something versatile, easy to use, and most importantly, effective in low light conditions for hunting coyotes and hogs. 

Upon using the NightShot scope, its performance and features genuinely surprised me, especially given the sub $300 price tag. But as you’ll see, you are definitely missing certain things based on this lower/cheaper night vision scope.

Tracking and Glass Quality

First things first, let’s talk about its tracking capabilities. I sighted mine at 50 yards, as the manual recommended, and I have to say, it held zero brilliantly throughout my hunting sessions. I have seen people claim that this didn’t work for them, but that they contacted support and got a replacement. So, that is something to be mindful of. 

When it comes to glass quality, it’s more than satisfactory for the price – again, I’m stressing the price on this one. While it doesn’t match up to the crystal-clear visuals of a high-end scope, it does a commendable job. I could identify targets even from a considerable distance without straining my eyes.

User Interface and Reticle Options

You can choose from three reticle options with NightShot, which is rare for a budget night vision scope. Switching between them was a breeze, thanks to its straightforward digital interface. The turret for windage and elevation adjustments is functional, although not as tactile as some premium models I’ve tried. Still, it gets the job done.

Simplicity Over Features

Compared to my neighbor’s more expensive digital night vision monocular, the NightShot seemed less complicated, yet effective enough for my needs. It has a simpler interface, fewer menus, and thus, a shorter learning curve. For a night vision novice like me, that was a key selling point.

Versatility and Additional Features

Now, what really sets this scope apart are its additional features. It has built-in infrared illuminators, three levels of screen brightness, and even fits both Weaver and Picatinny rail systems. 

Now, as for visibility, this is where I differ from others. I’ve seen a couple of crazy claims that they can clearly see up to 250 to 300 yards, despite its advertised range being 75 to 150 yards. Nope – I’ve never seen that. I’d give it 75 yards on a full moon night. Which, again, for that price isn’t bad. For comparison, I say the same range for the ATN X Sight 4k Pro, which is double the price.

Build Quality

Initially, the NightShot felt lightweight and somewhat plasticky. However, that impression quickly changed as I mounted it on my 6.5 Creedmoor Savage Axis. It felt solid—no rattling, no creaking—just a well-built piece of equipment that I could trust in the field.

A Few Caveats

While the scope significantly improved my success rate in low light conditions, the battery life could be better. If you plan to be out for an extended period, you’ll need to carry extra AA batteries. Although the scope accommodates rechargeable AAs, changing them can be a bit of a hassle.

Final Thoughts

If this was priced at $600 or more and was trying to compete with say, the ATN X Sight 4k pro, or the Sightmark Wraith, then it would get a horrible review.  

However, it’s half the cost of those other two. And while it doesn’t perform as well as them, it obliterates other night vision scopes priced in the same range as itself.

So, if you’re looking for an entry night vision scope, and are not very serious about it, then this is a great way to dip your toe in the industry. I don’t use it as my digital night vision riflescope, but that’s more about this not being my first rodeo. I need better range/clarity and some more features for my operations.  

Report Card


The tracking was pretty good for a scope in this price range.


Not crystal clear like a higher end scope, but for the price it is pretty good.


There are 3 reticles to choose from and they are easy to select, but they are somewhat limited.

Turret Feel

Easy to use adjustments, but not as tactile as a higher end scope would have.


for the price, it has an excellent value for someone just looking to get into an entry night vision set up.

Night Owl Optics NightShot Final Grade

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Reviewed by Dave Chesson

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FAQ on the Night Owl Optics NightShot

Can I use this on larger caliber rifles?

While it’s mainly designed for lower calibers, some users have reported success with calibers up to .30.

How does it perform without an IR illuminator?

It’s advisable to use it with an IR illuminator for optimal performance, especially in complete darkness.

Can I use rechargeable batteries?

Yes, the scope works well with rechargeable AA batteries, which can extend its usability.


Overall, the Night Owl Optics NightShot is an excellent entry-level night vision rifle scope for those looking to hunt in low-light or nighttime conditions without breaking the bank. I’d say it’s perfect for beginners and intermediate hunters who need a straightforward, functional scope. If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of night vision optics, this scope provides a solid starting point. Would I purchase it again? Absolutely.


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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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