Coyotes are troublesome predators that can threaten livestock and damage harvests. They tend to be nocturnal, and, unfortunately, hunting and darkness didn’t exactly go hand in hand back in the day.
However, recent technological advancements have made it possible for hunters to pursue their prey even at night. You can now buy sophisticated night vision scopes capable of making precise shots that the naked eye would otherwise be incapable of.
This article will help you find the best night vision scope for coyote hunting and will also explain the key features to help you pick the right one for your needs.
|ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night||5x to 20x||1080p||2.55|
|ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night||5x to 20x||4K||2.2|
|Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S||4.6x||480p||1.48|
|Night Owl Optics NightShot||3x||480p||1.3|
|Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3×42 ||3x||36 lp/mm||2|
- 1 Why You Need to Buy a Night Vision Scope for Coyote Hunting
- 2 The 5 Best Night Vision Scopes for Coyote Hunting in 2021
- 3 What to Look for When Buying a Night Vision Scope
- 4 Are Night Vision Scopes Legal?
- 5 Final Thoughts
Why You Need to Buy a Night Vision Scope for Coyote Hunting
Coyote canines are predators that are becoming a major threat to harvests, deer, and livestock. Today, they’re spreading to areas previously unpopulated by them.
Coyotes usually attack at night, and hunting them down requires a robust scope to function in low light conditions. Unfortunately, standard rifle scopes operate by gathering and transmitting light via the lens to your eyes, which means that they simply won’t cut it at night.
Thankfully, night vision scopes provide a neat solution to this issue. They amplify what little light there is to enable you to see in near-total darkness, even on moonless nights.
Additionally, night vision scopes boast additional capabilities not found in normal ones, such as audio and video recording and high resolution for a clear image. They also illuminate your prey and use image enhancement technology for a seamless and precise shot that would be impossible with a normal scope in such light conditions.
The 5 Best Night Vision Scopes for Coyote Hunting in 2021
Now that you know why you need a night vision scope for hunting coyotes, let’s take a closer look at some of the best ones on the market today.
ATN offers an incredible range of night vision scopes, and the ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night scope is a showcase model of everything that sets this manufacturer apart from its competition, boasting an array of features for a seamless hunting experience.
The scope offers a magnification range between 5x and 20x, enabling it to work really well for both short and long-range shooting. This is pretty remarkable considering that most night scopes tend to underperform in long-range shots due to their lower magnification power.
Additionally, it offers HD quality in just about everything, from the lenses, sensors, and even displays. You can aim and review your shot in 1080p resolution or 160 lp/mm. You can also use it during the day, and it offers a seamless transition between day and night modes.
Moreover, if you need to record your hunt for legal reasons or memory, the scope has got you covered. It can take HD photos, record 1080p HD videos, and stream them via a Wi-Fi connection.
And with its sophisticated Recoil Activated Video feature, it can also detect recoil and start recording automatically, so you don’t need to worry about pressing the record button yourself.
Moreover, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of complicated calculations in the dark. That’s why I was impressed by ATN’s patented range finder, which can accurately calculate the distance between you and your prey. Once the target is ranged, the reticle adjusts quickly and automatically to the point of impact to ensure a precise shot.
As for the tech-savvy users, it’s also possible to manage the scope via the Profile Manager. I was able to save ballistic and zeroing-in data for every single weapon I mounted the X-Sight II to. The scope also comes with other handy features, including a gyroscope for stabilizing your image, as well as an electronic barometer and compass.
Weighing a little bit over 2.5 pounds, this scope is certainly hefty. However, it wasn’t too uncomfortable to mount or use, and with a generous eye relief of 65 mm, you can also rest assured that your eyebrow will be safe.
- Great for both short and long-range hunting
- Recoil activated video recording system
- Can be used in the daytime as well
- Ability to save ballistic data
- Highest quality optics
- Effective range finder
- 2-year warranty
- Sound recording could be better
- Falls on the heavier side
The ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 is a versatile night vision scope that works exceptionally well for hunting coyotes at night and can also double as a daytime scope.
The X-Sight 4K Pro is another excellent night vision scope that offers the level of excellence you’d expect from ATN’s lineup while having a few extra tricks up its sleeve.
When hunting predators like coyotes, speed is always a priority. I found the One-Shot Zero feature to be very efficient at shortening the amount of time required to sight in the scope and get it shooting. All you need to do is take one shot and then align it with the reticle’s crosshairs and push the button.
Additionally, like the X-Sight II, this model also comes with a sophisticated range finder that quickly calculates how far your target is and accurately adjusts the point of impact.
It also includes a ballistic calculator that can be set up with multiple weapon profiles to estimate the best possible shot by factoring in the wind, temperature, ambient humidity, and the angle of your target. You can also access and control all these features using the Obsidian 4 App on iOS or Android.
The scope offers great magnification from 5x to 20x, although I found that the night vision mode works better in shorter ranges. You can also use it for daytime shooting, whether short or long-range, thanks to the high resolution and vivid colors that make your prey stand out.
Like the other model, it can also dual-stream record videos at a resolution of 4k and offers a smooth framerate of 120 fps. Moreover, you can stream the video on your mobile and also save a copy to the SD card to prevent any sort of data loss.
Also, the scope is equipped with a fast and energy-efficient processor. At normal power, the battery lasts approximately 18 hours of continuous use with a single recharge. When it runs low, you can switch to the ultra-low-power mode that still provides you with proper visuals until you can recharge it.
Unfortunately, for a scope of this price, you’d expect slightly better materials. The memory card slot has too wide a gap, and some of the buttons could’ve been made with better materials. While none of this is very serious, it did take away from the premium experience I was expecting at this price point.
- High magnification power
- Can be paired with your phone
- Fantastic resolution and camera
- Recoil activated video recording system
- Power-saving mode
- Easy to mount
- Fast adjustments
- Doubles as a daytime scope
- Premium price
- Memory card slot is too wide
- Occasional software glitches
The X-Sight 4K Pro offers top-of-the-line technology. If you’re looking for the highest resolution and as many additional features as you can find, and the high price isn’t an issue, this is the one for you.
Buying a quality night vision scope for hunting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S is an affordable scope that comes with all the essential features for seamless hunting.
The scope has a fixed magnification power of 4.6x, providing a sharper image that helps you easily pinpoint your target with maximum crisp detailing for as far as 175 yards. Not to mention, it’s sturdier and easier to use than variable scopes.
Furthermore, the Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S is equipped with a built-in IR illuminator to illuminate your target at approximately 200 to 250 yards. You can also pair it with an external illuminator if you want to increase the distance.
I also loved that it comes with a video recording feature, but it must be activated by hand, unlike the ATN models. However, it’s still pretty handy to have a record of your shots. You just need to remember to activate the recorder first.
When it comes to functionality, you can adjust the type and color of the reticle easily. You can choose from 3 different reticle color options (white, red, or green) depending on your needs and preference. You can also choose between a duplex, a mil-dot, and a German-style reticle.
The sensor resolution is 640×480p, which is nowhere near the first 2 scopes on the list but is still pretty decent for hunting. The LCD display is also very crisp and bright, although I noticed that the batteries drained much more quickly when I turned the brightness to the maximum setting.
Generally speaking, though, you get an average of 2 hours of battery life through 4 AA batteries. Thankfully, the scope comes with an additional battery container and a pouch to keep the extra batteries in case you want to swap them quickly. In fact, the scope also comes with a video cable, a lens cloth, and a carrying case.
Lastly, the Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S is incredibly lightweight and won’t get in your way in any position. It weighs less than 1.5 pounds with batteries, which means you can even use it on a crossbow. Moreover, it has an integrated Weaver rail that can come in handy if you want to attach extra accessories.
- Lightweight and durable build
- Limited lifetime warranty
- 250-yard detection range
- Affordable price
- Fixed magnification
- Built-in IR illumination for easy target sighting
- Comes with a carrying case
- No expandable storage
- Average battery life
- Smaller eyepiece
The Sightmark SM18008 Photon XT 4.6x42S would be a good choice for someone shopping for a night vision scope with all the essential features on a budget and doesn’t mind sacrificing some of the more premium features.
The NightShot night vision scope from Night Owl Optics is another excellent scope that offers all the essentials for a successful hunting trip without burning a hole in your pocket.
To begin with, it offers a magnification of 3x, which is sufficient for hunting coyotes in a range between 100 and 200 yards away in typical night conditions. This distance can go up if the amount of ambient light increases.
It also has an objective lens diameter of 40mm. This is by far the smallest on the list, and the quality does suffer a bit as a result of less light being gathered by the lens. However, it won’t matter that much in short-range shots, which is good enough for coyote hunting.
The scope can be complemented with an excellent high-power infrared illuminator to illuminate your target even in pitch-black darkness. However, you’ll have to purchase it separately.
Battery-wise, the NightShot night vision scope is powered with a set of 4 AA or lithium batteries. I found the battery life to fare slightly better than the Sightmark scope. If you set the IR on low, it can work for up to 7 hours, although that goes down by half if with maximum IR power.
You get the choice between 3 different reticle types. You can also choose between a white or black reticle color to suit your current shooting conditions.
The body is made of thermoplastic, a noticeable downgrade from the other scopes’ aircraft-grade aluminum. However, it’s still pretty sturdy overall, and the tube is sealed to keep it dustproof and waterproof. It also has the added benefit of being pretty lightweight and easy to use in any shooting position.
- Lightweight ergonomic design
- Great for short-range shots
- Decent IR illuminator
- Durable build
- High image quality
- Affordable price
- Various reticle modes to pick from
- Good battery life
- Not the best for medium and long-range shots
- Limited field of view
The NightShot offers great functionality and ease-of-use at a great price. It may lack some of the other scopes’ fancier features, but it’s still excellent for someone looking for the essentials without the additional bells and whistles of more expensive scopes.
Gen 1 scopes are becoming a bit rare on the market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some pretty decent ones that get the job done. The Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3×42 is a great example of a budget-friendly Gen 1 night vision scope for hunters.
When it comes to magnification, Gen 1 scopes rarely go over 200 yards, and this one is no exception. But don’t worry, this would be more than enough for coyote hunting. The scope has a fixed 3x magnification range that works best for targets at around 50 to 100 yards, and you may be able to go up to 250 yards if you pair it with a stronger IR illuminator.
Even without an additional illuminator, however, I found the scope to be excellent for short and medium-range shots even on inky-black nights thanks to its built-in IR illuminator as well as the scope’s resolution of 36 lines per mm.
It features a 42mm objective lens capable of gathering light pretty well, especially when there’s a faint source of light. While not as effective as a 50mm lens, it still gets the job done pretty decently at a fraction of the price, so I really can’t complain.
You also get a red duplex reticle with adjustable brightness levels. However, keep in mind that the maximum brightness setting will eat up your batteries much more quickly. Moreover, you don’t need to worry about setting your zero, as it’s already set for you.
The scope is specifically designed to be used with AR-15 platform weapons. It comes with a quick-detach weaver mount, but I noticed that the scope’s base could sometimes get a bit loose from merely moving it around, which might cause the scope to fall if you’re not careful.
- High-quality image
- Quick power-up
- Good built-in IR illuminator
- Comes with a carrying case
- Excellent for short-range shots
- Durable construction
- A bit heavy
- Not suitable for long-range shooting
- Mounting could be sturdier
If you’re searching for an affordable Gen 1 night vision scope, the Firefield FF16001 NVRS 3×42 will make for a great purchase, especially if you’re mostly hunting in short and medium ranges.
What to Look for When Buying a Night Vision Scope
Buying a night vision scope isn’t as straightforward as buying a daytime scope, as there are additional factors to consider. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at some of the key features you need to consider when you’re shopping for your next hunting night vision scope.
Night vision devices were first used by the military, and they date as far back as the Second World War. But technology has come a long way since then. Generally speaking, night vision scopes are divided into 4 categories:
Gen 1 night vision scopes were the first scopes to rely on passive infrared illumination. These scopes don’t work very well in pitch-black darkness and require some moonlight or starlight to function properly. They are efficient for varmint and predator hunting but fall short in more serious tactical use.
With Gen 2 scopes, there’s a noticeable increase in clarity and performance. They’re also less bulky and more portable and lightweight than Gen 1 ones. Mostly, they’re excellent for hunting and may be used for some low-risk tactical operations.
Gen 3 scopes are what’s currently being issued and used by most combat troops. That said, they’re still a wonderful choice for non-tactical applications such as varmint hunting if you don’t mind the increased price.
These feature a significant increase in resolution and image clarity from the previous generations, which allows you to precisely shoot your prey even at longer distances or less-than-perfect light conditions.
Gen 4 scopes are pretty rare and almost impossible to find on the civilian market. They don’t utilize new night vision technology, but the clarity and performance are improved by around 20% by removing the protective coating on the lens.
However, keep in mind that there isn’t a true Gen 4 classification by the US army as it doesn’t meet their reliability standards due to having shorter life spans. Some manufacturers use “Gen 4” in their marketing, but that’ll usually be a marketing ploy.
High resolution is essential in a night vision scope for clear image quality. If it’s too low, you may have difficulty identifying and shooting your target. Resolution is expressed either in pixels or lines per millimeter (lp/mm). The higher the value, the clearer your image will be.
Nowadays, you can buy night vision scopes that record crisp video footage at 1080p or even 4k, but those tend to be more expensive. Just try not to go lower than 480p, as this might affect your ability and accuracy to identify your prey.
Night vision scopes usually allow you to capture photos and/or videos of your shot. Some higher-end models will be able to detect recoil automatically to ensure that your shot will be recorded every single time. This is preferable because you won’t need to take your hands off the trigger to start recording.
Others, usually less expensive ones, may still come with a video recording feature, but you’ll have to activate the recorder manually.
Magnification is the zooming power of your scope. It determines how close your target will appear than it would to the naked eye. With night vision optics, long-range shooting is still slightly more challenging than with daytime scopes, but the scopes can go up to 10x.
This will give you a shooting range of around 100-200 yards, which is less than daytime scopes but will hopefully be enough for varmint hunting.
In both daytime and night vision scopes, glass serves the purpose of capturing any available light in your environment to ensure a higher clarity level. Therefore, it follows that the higher the glass quality, the clearer, and brighter your image will be thanks to the scope collecting more light.
This is especially crucial in hunting at night when light is already pretty scarce and can be the difference between spotting your target and letting it escape. Moreover, make sure that your glass has some coating to protect it from scratches.
Some night vision scopes have built-in infrared illuminators that emit infrared light to make spotting the target easier. This is incredibly handy on near pitch-black nights. They tend to have limited ranges, but generally, the larger they are, the more powerful they’ll be. Some scopes can also have an external infrared illuminator attached to them.
Are Night Vision Scopes Legal?
You’d be excused to think that such devices are illegal to own or at least require a special permit to operate. However, night vision optics are actually perfectly legal to own and use in the United States without a permit.
California is the only exception, as it currently has laws regarding illegal night vision devices. Moreover, it’s considered a federal crime to transport and ship night vision equipment outside of the US without an export license.
That said, hunting with night vision optics is where it gets a little trickier because each state has its own laws regarding animal hunting. To avoid any legal trouble, your best bet would be to contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources first to make sure you’re in the clear.
Investing in a night vision scope would be a sound idea if you’ll frequently be hunting at night or in the darker hours of the day. Choosing the best night vision scopes for coyote hunting requires first deciding on a budget and considering the most important features.
If you have the bucks to buy it, ATN’s X-Sight 4K Pro is as good as night vision scopes can get. If you can’t quite afford that, the X-Sight II HD 5-20 is another excellent scope with most of the former’s features at a fraction of its price. For an even more budget-friendly choice, I suggest checking out the NightShot scope from Night Owl Optics.