Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (2024)

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Written By Joshua Skovlund

Published May 23, 2023 10:35 AM

Images of soldiers sweeping through a compound in the dead of the night have frequented national news for decades. American soldiers dominate the night thanks to night vision goggles—but that technology hasn’t always been available to the average person.

Like many gear items that started in the military, night vision goggles and binoculars made their way into the civilian market over time, and now hunters across the country have taken advantage of their game-changing capabilities. Whether you are hunting pigs or coyotes, nighttime is when these critters are up and moving. The best night vision goggles and binoculars will help even the playing field.

How I Picked the Best Night Vision Goggles and Binoculars

Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (1)

I interviewed three SOF veterans who have deep first-hand experience using a variety of night vision devices and thermals. They’re also hunters and instructors.

  • Jamey Caldwell served in the US Army for 21 years, with the majority of his time spent at a Special Missions Unit. He now uses his extensive tactical experience to teach law enforcement and government agencies through his company, 1 Minute Out. While serving in the military, he worked in his unit’s research and development section of the SMU and helped pioneer advancements in night vision and thermal.
  • Greg co*ker spent 22 years flying for the US Army as a helicopter pilot—with 15 years in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He has 6,200 hours flying under night vision goggles, and he’s trained many of the Army’s best helicopter pilots. He’s more comfortable flying with night vision goggles on than he his flying during the daytime.
  • Jon Dufresne, former US Army Ranger and owner of Kinetic Consulting, teaches various shooting classes for the general public, law enforcement, and federal agencies. He starts his students out with the basics of shooting before moving them to the more advanced levels of training. One of those advanced classes includes the introduction to shooting with night vision.

Night Vision 101

Night vision goggles, binoculars, and scopes all amplify available light. Night vision goggles are regulated by the US Government and each device falls into one of four designated generations: Gen0, Gen1, Gen2, and Gen3.

Caldwell says each generation brought technological advances, but the attempted jump from Gen3 to Gen4 with the introduction of unfilmed night vision tubes met a lot of complications.

Caldwell says after the issue was resolved, the technology was rolled into the Gen3 category. He says that some marketing campaigns will call the Gen3 unfilmed white phosphor intensifier tubes Gen3+ or Gen4.

Figure of Merit Rating (FOM)

An important aspect of night vision goggles that has improved with each subsequent generation is the figure of merit rating, or FOM. The higher the FOM, the better clarity your night vision device has.

“The easiest way to explain FOM is [comparing it to] when you go out and buy a TV. It’s like the difference between a 720, 1080, a 4k TV or now, an 8k TV. The higher that rating, the cleaner and crisper the TV is and the better the image is going to be,” Caldwell says. “FOM is like that with goggles.”

The current best standard is 2,376+ FOM. Manufacturers providing Gen 3 unfilmed technology allow for the best FOM ratings on the market. Anything under a 2,200 FOM will generally result in poor image quality and poor range.

Field of View

Another critical factor is the field of view, or FOV. Both single-tube night vision like the PVS-14 and dual tubes, like the PVS-31, offer about 40 to 50 degrees FOV. Quad night vision tubes, or panoramic night vision, have an approximate 90- to 100-degree field of view.

“The human eye has 200 degrees. So we’re losing a ton of our vision when we throw on night vision, but we’re gaining a superpower,” Caldwell says. “…We can see at night with this technology, it’s amazing.”

Night Vision Limitations

Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (2)
Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (3)

The simple fact is that night vision optics won’t provide the same optical quality as standard optics provide during the daytime. The sight range of night vision optics depends on how much light is present from the stars and moon (called illumination levels). The weather conditions can also adversely impact visuals at night.

Dufresne says that night vision user should also know about Equivalent Background Illumination, or EBI. This reading defines how much light is reflected back at the night vision device. Temperature and humidity can adversely impact your nighttime vision because of the dense water particles in the air that reflect light. In other words, your night vision device will have trouble seeing through the haze of particles.

Because Dufresne lives in humid south Florida, he buys night vision devices with a good EBI rating of approximately 1.7 or lower. He recommends calling the manufacturer before purchasing a night vision device to see if the device will function well in the environment you are planning to hunt in.

Night Vision Binoculars vs Night Vision Goggles

All the experts I interviewed for this story recommend avoiding night vision binoculars. Caldwell recommends thermal optics over night vision because, in his opinion, they perform better and help identify targets farther out than night vision binoculars can.

co*ker prefers night vision, but he hasn’t had much need for night vision binoculars. He uses his PVS-14 for spotting, shooting, and walking. He attaches his PVS-14 to a spotting scope, making binoculars irrelevant. He also suggested attaching magnifier lenses to your night vision goggles, essentially turning them into binoculars.

Dufresne argues that night vision binoculars are a “one trick pony,” whereas a pair of dual tube night vision goggles has multiple uses.

“If you had a set of duals and you add magnifiers to the front ends of those, you have an actual binocular set,” Dufresne says. “You could also do the same thing with a night vision device attached to the front of a spotting scope. So you can do the same overall observational stuff.”

Best Night Vision Binoculars and Goggles: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Night Vision Binoculars: ATN BinoX 4K 4-16x40mm Smart Day/Night Binoculars



Key Features

  • Price: $899
  • 4k digital display, no FOM rating
  • Linear FOV, 220 feet at 1,000 yards
  • Digital (does not fall under conventional Gen classification)
  • Diopter adjustment of -5 to 5
  • Ballistic Information Exchange (BIX) technology enables smart device connection
  • Rechargeable internal battery
  • Built-in IR illuminator
  • Internal range finder


  • Day and night modes
  • Can record 1080p videos
  • 1.75 pounds
  • Detection range up to 1,000 yards


  • Limited stock
  • The power switch sticks out and is easily activated in case
  • Prone to software and firmware glitches

ATN has been making night vision devices since 1995. This set of budget-friendly binoculars runs $899 and can help you get started in nighttime hunting and scouting. The binoculars feature an internal laser range finder and an IR illuminator.

These binoculars allow symbiotic function with ATN’s smart scopes, helping you dial in the best aim point on that feral pig or coyote. Its diopter dial allows for adjustments from -5 to 5, and a manual focus dial allows for a focus range of 15 meters to infinity.

Though this device has documented software and firmware issues, this is one of the best available night vision binoculars on the market. If you have any issues with the IR illuminator, laser range finder, or the unit errors out and doesn’t function, you will need to send it back to ATN for servicing. Reviews on these binoculars are split 50/50 between people who are new to night vision and love them, and people that have used other non-digital night vision and hate them.

Best Monocular: Licentia Arms Co. L3 Harris PVS-14: Aviation Spot Spec

Licentia Arms


Key Features

  • Price: $5,580
  • Gen 3
  • 2,500 FOM, minimum
  • 40 degree FOV
  • Manual gain control.
  • Diopter range -6 to +2
  • Auto-gating enabled
  • L3 aviation-grade tubes


  • High FOM L3 Unfilmed White Phosphor models are in stock (currently)
  • Light weight at 10.8 oz
  • Multi-purpose for head or helmet mount, handheld, and weapon mounted
  • Allows one eye to be in the dark, creating good situational awareness
  • Water resistant at a depth of up to 66 feet for one hour
  • No battery pack required.


  • FOV is limited compared to other night vision goggles
  • Some models are built to order, meaning delayed shipping

At $5,580, the Licentia Arms Co. L3 Harris PVS-14 is a top-of-the-line monocular night vision tube that’s actually relatively affordable. You can use this in hand-held, head or helmet-mounted, or weapon-mounted positions. You can even find adaptors that allow the PVS-14 to attach to phones, cameras, or spotting scopes.

Licentia Arms Co. offers different custom options to better the PVS-14. Combining the L3 Unfilmed White Phosphor, High FOM, Knight Armament M14 housing, and the Dep ether ocular lens sets you up with one of the best night vision goggles available.

This combination will grant crystal clear views, tubes that can take a hit, and a lens set weighing 30% less than the typical mil-spec lens that accompanies basic PVS-14s. co*ker has used his PVS-14 since 2008, mounting it to shotguns, rifles, and even a crossbow. He swears by this night vision goggle and recommends it to anyone wanting to get into night hunting.

Best Dual Tube: L3 Harris BNVD 1531 2376+ FOM

Key Features

  • Price: $11,599
  • Gen 3
  • 2,376+ FOM
  • 40-degree FOV
  • Unfilmed white phosphor
  • 1x magnification
  • Works with dovetail helmet mounts
  • Manual gain control


  • Auto-off when stored
  • Adjustable diopter prolongs life (as your eyes get bad, you can adjust your diopter)
  • LED indicators in tubes will signal a 10 min. battery warning.
  • Single battery gives over 15 hours of use, or over 50 hours when connected to a battery pack


  • Currently on backorder.

This set of L3 BNVD 1531 dual tube night vision goggles is for the serious nighttime hunter or those functioning in a tactical environment. It’s a hybrid between the legacy AN/PVS-15, and the AN/PVS-31, some of the top performers in the US military.

The units are sold brand new and not refurbished. This type of night vision goggle is battle tested by some of America’s most elite special operations units. It works well with an IR laser for shooting, and with a flip-up mount, you can easily switch between night vision and scanning with the naked eye.

Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (7)

An objective focus of 18 inches to infinity allows for easy transfer from shooting to note taking in the dark. The adjustable diopter range of -6 to +4 allows you to adjust your night vision goggles as your eyes age, saving you from buying expensive add-on diopters. Compared to fixed diopter night vision goggles, the L3 BNVD 1531 is still relatively light at 1.88 pounds.

Its build of 4.2 inches long x 4.2 wide x 3.4 high comes from end-user input that allows for no interference with the articulating function of the dual tubes. You don’t have to worry about wet environments either with this set’s waterproof rating of 66 feet for two hours.

Best Quad Tube: L3 Harris GPNVG-18 Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle

Key Features

  • Price: $40,399
  • Gen 3
  • Minimum of 1,792 FOM
  • 97-degree FOV
  • Panoramic vision
  • Auto-gated
  • Auto-gain


  • Best FOV available
  • Focus of 18 in. to infinity
  • Unfilmed white phosphor gives crisp visuals


  • Snap-on, fixed -.5 diopter.
  • Requires battery pack
  • Expensive

Caldwell was on the team that developed the ground version of the quad tube, or panoramic, night vision goggles. They are not cheap, but they provide the best field of view available. The “minimum of 1,792 FOM” is a mandate from the US government that made it available for the civilian market.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that L3 Harris makes some of the best night vision tubes available, with some of the highest FOM ratings—so they might struggle to make any ‘low quality’ tubes. You might be surprised by the resolution you get with these quad tubes when you look through them.

The key feature is the wide field of view.

Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (9)

“I would just say that this gives you more situational awareness because you’re opening up your field of view more than double of what you’re used to,” Caldwell says.

At approximately 1.6 pounds, this set of panoramic goggles won’t weigh down your neck any more than dual tubes. The battery pack requires four CR123 batteries, and the battery life is 30 hours. Despite having four tubes, the overall size isn’t obtrusive. It measures 5.625 inches long x 8.5 inches wide x 3.75 inches high.

Best Budget: PVS-14 Photonis Gen 2+ White Phosphor

Key Features

  • Price: $2,799.98
  • Gen 2+
  • 2,000 to 2,600 FOM. Depends on the available tubes.
  • 40-degree FOV
  • 12.4 oz.
  • Diopter range of +2 to -6
  • Manual gain
  • Auto-gating


  • A battery pack is not required
  • Single AA
  • Operating time of 50 hours
  • Diopter allows for easy adjustment for those with imperfect eyesight
  • One eye in night vision, one in the dark, allows for good situational awareness compared to dual tube night vision goggles with similar FOV


  • FOV is narrow, compared to other alternatives
  • Gen2+ is not as good as Gen3 clarity

Steele Industries offers customers the option to be fully involved with building their PVS-14. But you can also leave it to the pros to set up. With a price point of $2,800, this PVS-14 is within reach for those serious hunters who don’t want to waste their money on a cheap alternative.

The PVS-14 is powered by a single AA battery. That means there is no heavy battery pack that your neck needs to support. This is a versatile night vision device: You can hold it in hand, attach it to your helmet, or slap it on your phone, camera, or spotting scope. The white phosphor image is better than the traditional green, and clarity is top notch for being Gen2+.

Best for Humid Environments: TNV/RNVG-A-SG Supergain Ruggedized Night Vision Goggle Articulating

Strategic Dark


Key Features

  • Price: $12,399
  • Gen 3
  • Supergain 2,376+ FOM.
  • 40-degree FOV
  • Diopter range of +2 to -6
  • Automatic brightness control


  • Good for those with lackluster eyesight
  • Articulating joint enables user goggle position preference
  • Lifetime system warranty
  • Unfilmed


  • Expensive
  • A battery pack is needed to extend battery life past 30 hrs
  • FOV is limited compared to available alternatives

Tactical Night Vision Company has infused the latest MIL-SPEC Image Intensifier technology from L3Harris into these Supergain Ruggedized night vision goggles. Supergain is one of the best advancements in night vision products since unfilmed technology was introduced into the Gen3 category.

Supergain provides more efficient amplification of available light to give you a brighter image in even the lowest lighting conditions. Users can see deeper into dark areas and underbrush, giving an ultimate advantage that America’s special operations soldiers have enjoyed for years.

Augustine “Augee” Kim, Chief Operating Officer of TNVC, says that every tube from them is guaranteed at the standard mil-spec EBI rating of 2.5, but that is often not what you get with other night vision devices.

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“EBI falls along a distribution curve, with very few examples even close to the extreme ends of the spectrum,” Kim says. “In all reality, tubes with an EBI even over 1.5 tend to be fairly rare.”

Kim added that they offer a no-cost hand-select option available to retail customers, where you can request specific parameters for performance, like an EBI under 1.0 or a 2500 FOM. These manual selections don’t typically slow down the delivery of your night vision goggles unless if you want to build something really unique.

Its rugged build will take a beating. Where older models broke at the articulating joint, these goggles have a tougher aluminum build.

How to Master Your Night Vision Goggles

Practicing with your new night vision goggles is important. One of the lessons Dufresne learned in the military was to familiarize yourself with the equipment you’re using. Dufresne compares first experiences of walking while wearing night vision goggles to a toddler walking for the first time.

Dufresne says to start by walking around your yard at night with your night vision goggles on. Practice picking items up off the ground or off a table, climb ladders, and go up and down steps.

“It just takes time and effort and deliberate practice to get used to the different depth perception,” Dufresne says. “If you don’t put that time in, you’re always going to be a toddler.”

co*ker used a simple trick to train new pilots to get used to the alternate green world.

“In the early days, we used to put the daylight covers on and give them to the guys just starting out because it’s just like flying at night,” co*ker says. “For safety, we would go do a late afternoon day flight and put the caps on to get them used to it.”

co*ker says daylight covers have tiny holes in the center, allowing minimal light into the tubes. You can double-check this by turning on your night vision goggles with the covers on in a room with the lights on. If they aren’t daylight caps, you won’t see anything.

Don’t wear your night vision goggles all day with the daylight caps on. But, for short durations of time, you can get used to the limited field of vision and the difference in depth perception.

Caldwell and co*ker both recommend storing your night vision goggles in a dark place, with lens caps on and to make sure to appropriately cap any infrared devices stored with your goggles. co*ker says at the very least, “don’t put them on and stare at the sun,” or leave them in a spot where the sun will blast them all day. This will prevent damage.

Another factor that might surprise some is the use of white lights in conjunction with night vision. This style of light, along with non-visible lights like infrared, help create contrast in dark environments. In other words, Hollywood’s depiction of secret squirrel operatives getting blinded by the flick of a light switch is a farce.

“Realistically, all it does is cause an oversaturation of the microchannel plate, which is a piece of the night vision tube,” Dufresne says. “And from there, it’ll actually fix itself.”

That’s “auto-gating,” and it’s the night vision goggles’ built-in defense that prevents damage to the internal parts of the tubes that are sensitive to light. The refresh rate (or ability to quickly auto-gate) will depend on the generation and technology built into your night vision goggles.

If you are looking for night vision goggles for hunting, you will need an infrared laser or an IR-enabled crosshair (if attaching a PVS-14 to a daylight scope). The IR-laser needs to be sighted in, just like you would with a standard scope.

Shooting with your laser guiding you will take some practice. You’ll still need to hold your rifle in a similar manner, with the buttstock firmly into the shoulder, but you will be looking over the top of the rifle, not through the scope or iron sights.

Join one of Caldwell or Dufresne’s classes if you have the chance; their experience has led to the creation of masterclasses on night vision, tactical operations, among other classes.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Night Vision Binoculars or Goggles

If you are looking into a pair of used night vision goggles or binoculars, make sure to test them before buying. Check for black dots, honeycomb patterns, or any imperfections that are visible through the night vision device. If you are seeing abnormalities, it’s likely the night vision device will require repairs and replaced parts—which can be costly.

Consider the other items you’ll need. If you are buying anything that uses technology older than Gen3, you may need an IR illuminator to brighten up your view to see your target. Another factor is the IR laser itself; depending on the quality and age, it could look more like a flashlight than a pinpoint dot. The same goes for red dot sights. You want to make sure anything you are using is night vision compatible.

By the end of your night vision purchasing adventure, you could be in for up to 20 to 30 thousand dollars. So, plan accordingly.


What are the best night vision brands?

L3 Harris and Elbit Systems of America are the top producers of quality night vision tubes.

How much do night vision goggles cost?

The range starts around $2,500 and goes up to $41,000.

How do night vision goggles work?

The objective lens of the goggle gathers available photons. They are converted into electrons in the image intensifier tube. The electrons are multiplied, otherwise amplified, and displayed on phosphor (white or green) at the backend of the tube, resulting in the image you see.

Final Thoughts on the Best Night Vision Goggles

The best night vision goggles or binoculars are no small investment, so you’ll need to evaluate your needs carefully. If you want something for maneuvering and shooting, night vision goggles are ideal.

If you strictly want an affordable option for spotting or reconnaissance, then maybe consider night vision binoculars. If you want your money to double down, buy dual night vision goggles and add magnifiers.

Caldwell compares buying night vision goggles to purchasing a car. You want to be sure of what’s “under the hood.” The intensifier tube, optical lens, microchannel plate, photocathode, and the housing are just several of the options available to customize depending on where you are buying from. Choose wisely and pay attention to the key specifications.

“You need to know what the FOM is because that’s where all of your money is. It would be like buying a Shelby GT 500 with a Honda Civic engine inside of it,” Caldwell says.

He also recommends that you seek out night vision goggles that have an adjustable gain and auto-gating technology. The more up-to-date your night vision device is, the more likely it will have these features.

Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023 (2024)


Best Night Vision Goggles of 2023? ›

In recent years, Tier 1 SOF, such as SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU) and Delta Force, have employed an innovative set of NVGs called the Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG). Designed by L3 Warrior Systems, the GPNVG solves the limited FOV problem by using 4 tubes.

What night vision do Navy Seals use? ›

In recent years, Tier 1 SOF, such as SEAL Team 6 (DEVGRU) and Delta Force, have employed an innovative set of NVGs called the Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVG). Designed by L3 Warrior Systems, the GPNVG solves the limited FOV problem by using 4 tubes.

How much does good night vision cost? ›

On the civilian style of night vision goggles expect to pay anywhere between $400 to $6000, again depending on tube generation and features.

Which is better red or green night vision goggles? ›

It is generally considered that red breaks down rhodopsin more slowly and, if preserving night vision is the main objective, red is better. But green light penetrates a little better, and shows more detail. It may be preferred for distance vision, and for close up clarity, such as reading instruments or maps.

What is the difference between infrared and night vision goggles? ›

In conclusion, while both night vision and infrared technologies are used to improve visibility in low-light environments, their underlying concepts and applications differ. Infrared technology detects thermal radiation to create a visible image, whereas night vision amplifies available light to make a visible image.

What night vision do Army Rangers use? ›

The Rangers are wearing woodland Multicam BDUs and AN/PVS-15 night vision goggles mounted on their helmets. The foremost Ranger's M4a1 carbine is fitted with a M320 40mm grenade launcher.

What night vision does the German military use? ›

For infantry operations in urban terrain, the XACT nv33 is the preferred night vision goggles of the German forces.

What is Gen 4 night vision? ›

Generation 4 Night Vision

The designation is widely debated and is referred to as Filmless & Gated image intensifiers by the US military. The "filmless" terminology refers to the removal of the ion barrier film that was added to the Generation 3 image-intensifiers.

Is it illegal to buy military night vision goggles? ›

Q: Is Night Vision / Thermal Legal? A: Yes, here in the United States, U.S. Persons (Citizens, or Permanent U.S. Residents) may own and use Night Vision and Thermal Optics.

What is the difference between Gen 2 and Gen 3 night vision goggles? ›

The third generation uses the same image transmission technologies as the second. But, due to a tube photocade to the screen, the quality becomes even better. The third type of night vision systems have the brightest, sharpest, and increased tube life of up to 10,000 hours.

Who has better night vision? ›

Best Night Vision

The gold for night vision goes to owls. These nocturnal predators have large eyes with five times the rod density of human eyes and a tapetum lucidum on top of that. Finally, their swiveling heads give them 270° visibility.

What are the cons of night vision? ›

The main disadvantage of night vision image intensifiers is that their efficacy decreases as the amount of nearby light decreases. This means that if the night is cloudy and overcast, blocking the light from the moon and stars, the clarity of the night vision image suffers dramatically.

How long do night vision goggles last? ›

A good Gen 2+ system should give you as much as 5,000 hours of use. A Gen 3 system can give you as much as 15,000 hours of operation, but 12,000 is probably more likely. If you want to extend the life of I2 equipment, shut it off when not in use.

What is the average price of night vision goggles? ›

The price scale for night vision is quite vast, as it can cost $2,000-$3,400 for a quality PVS-14 monocular and $4,500-$13,700 for a binocular. For most applications, a dual tube system outpaces a single tube, but this can easily double the cost.

Can you legally buy night vision goggles? ›

A: Yes, here in the United States, U.S. Persons (Citizens, or Permanent U.S. Residents) may own and use Night Vision and Thermal Optics. However, it is against the law to take these devices out of the country, unless specifically approved by the U.S. State Department with proper licensing.

What are the two types of night vision goggles? ›

Night Vision technology consists of two major types: image intensification (light amplification) and thermal imaging (infrared). Most consumer night vision products are light amplifying devices.


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