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Can You Use a Night Vision Monocular with a Rifle Scope?

If you are into long-range sports like shooting, golfing, hunting, or bowing, you probably know the benefits of having extended vision. Even military operations depend on devices that can be used to view and track objects or targets that are quite a distance away. 

If you go out hunting or shooting with a rifle, you will need some type of device that can accurately show distant objects and make it easier to aim and shoot with a rifle. A range scope is great for this purpose during the day.

Can You Use a Night Vision Monocular with a Rifle Scope

For nighttime operations, however, you require a slightly different type of scope. A night vision monocular is based on a different, thermal technology that makes scoping possible at night.

Can You Use A Rifle Scope At Night?

For any shooting during the day time, you can use a regular scope that is based on glass lenses to improve your image and add magnification. They basically consist of a single tube that has optics inside to provide the magnification and allow you to acquire targets at longer distances.

Things get trickier if you are planning to shoot or hunt during the night. Most regular range scopes do not work with limited lighting in the dark because they need light to be reflected off of surfaces to reach the scope. This is why you will need to look for a device that works during the night without compromising your aiming. A night vision monocular is an ideal device that makes it easier to keep track of your target with ease.

What is a Night Vision Monocular?

Binoculars are based on two primary lenses, one for each eye. A monocular only has one eyepiece. Think of it as a type of modified refracting telescope that allows you to see objects a very long distance away. A monocular uses different types of prisms that refract light as it passes through the scope, enlarging images.

One of the main benefits of choosing a monocular over binoculars and telescopes is its design. A monocular is usually compact, portable, and lightweight. It can be easily attached to the rifle and does not increase the weight significantly. A monocular can be conveniently carried around and used for an extended period of time without causing the user to become uncomfortable or fatigued.

Night vision monocular scopes were originally used in military and marine operations. Night vision technology is based on two different methods. The first involves the image enhancement process that is similar to a regular scope. The second is based on thermal imaging where heat signals from distant objects are converted to images.

Thermal Imaging

Every object gives off a different wavelength of heating signal that can be picked up by an infrared scanner. Generally, living creatures that are moving at night tend to be hotter than their surroundings. The same is true of moving vehicles, machines in use, and lighting fixtures.

A night vision monocular picks up these heat signals and focuses them through a special lens. A phased array of infrared detectors scans the light to create a thermogram. It is a detailed pattern that forms within one-thirtieth of a second and is converted into electronic impulses. These impulses are transferred to the processing unit that forms the image on the display unit through image enhancement, explained below.

The devices currently available in the market can scan images at an impressive rate – up to 30 times a second. The temperature range that they can sense ranges from -20 degrees to 2000 degrees Celsius.

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Image Enhancement

The image enhancement process for night vision monocular scopes is similar to the one you find on regular scopes. The difference is that the Night Vision Display (NVD) system takes infrared light particles and converts them into electrons through a photo-cathode unit instead of passing the regular light to the lens.

When these electrons pass through the tube, they excite and activate other atoms, causing them to release their electrons in a chain reaction process.

All these electrons hit a screen that is coated with phosphors. The release of phosphors is what forms the green image that is observed through an ocular lens.

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How Do You Attach A Night Vision Monocular to Your Rifle Scope?

You will need to prepare a workspace and have the right tools for attaching the monocular. You will probably need to change your scope base and get one that is longer and offers space for mounting the monocular in front of or behind the scope.

Read the NVD and scope mounting instructions that come with the system carefully before starting. A torque wrench can be used to make the process easier, though it is not required.

Always ensure that your rifle is unloaded when attaching the NVD system or scope to it. Remove the bolt and keep the rifle pointed in a direction that is safe. You should place the rifle in a gun vice to secure it tightly in place. Use a degreaser to remove all traces of grease and oil from the base, screw holes, rings, and screws in the receiver.

Align the scope base to the mounting holes on the receiver and tighten each screw one by one. Make sure you get the right-sized screws for securing the base onto the rifle. Do not leave the screws loose on the attachments but don’t overtighten them either because this can break the screw heads.

After mounting the scope base, attach the rings to the base and tighten their screws according to the instructions (What size scope rings do you need?). Once the rings are secured in place, remove the top half of the rings and lay the scope and NVD monocular in place. Replace the top half of the rings and tighten the screws halfway in.

Take the rifle off the vice and hold the rifle the way you would when aiming. Move the scope forward or back to adjust it correctly. Adjust the NVD so that your vision is clear and comfortable on the eyes. When you are happy with the positioning, put the gun back into the vice and tighten the ring screws.

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Are There Specific Adapters or Converters to Connect a Night Vision Device To Your Daytime Scope?

A variety of connection tube adapters are available in the market that can be used for connecting the NVD monocular to the daytime rifle scope. Some of the advanced connectors also come with a hole at the top that can be used to attach a display screen.

These adapters can be purchased for $20 – $50 at online stores.

Does the Night Vision Optic Go in Front or Behind Your Rifle Scope?

A variety of hand-held night vision scopes are also available in the market that can be used for viewing and tracking distant objects. Another option is to use a monocular that can be mounted on a rifle to allow for more precise shooting at night.

These scopes are preferred by hunters and shooters that have to work at night. The scopes make it possible to view and track distant moving objects even during a dark night.

There are two options you have for attaching the night vision monocular to a rifle. You can attach it just behind the scope or in front of it. A regular monocular works better when placed behind the scope, while clip-on NVDs are more useful when put in front of the scope.

Putting the NVD monocular behind the scope offers greater range. The scope allows focused lighting to pass onto the monocular, and you can view objects at a greater distance even at night. The scope must have an illuminated reticle that is specially designed for a night vision device.

When the NVD monocular is attached in front of the scope, there is no displacement in the position. The same device can be used to transition between day and night shooting by simply clipping the monocular on or off the scope. In order for it to be useful, you do need to have at least 2-times magnification for the scope. Otherwise, the image will be too small to identify the target properly.

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Can You Use a Night Vision Scope During the Day?

The short answer is no. An NVD monocular is designed to capture heat signals and intensify them to create an image. If the infrared capturing system is exposed to the regular sunlight during the day, the image becomes garbled and distorted. Long-term exposure to sunlight can damage the NVD unit permanently.

If you are planning to go shooting for both day and night, you are better off attaching the monocular at the front of the scope with the help of a clip-on. If you have multiple rifles, you can attach the NVD to one of them at the back and use it for night-ops while keeping the other rifle for daytime shooting.

Rifle scope news and information

Tom Devine