What Night Vision Scope Does the Military Use?

While night vision scopes are used by the military and law enforcement, it’s also used by everyday civilians. There are a few differences between conventional night vision scopes mainly price, functionality, and features. There are different generations of night vision devices, such as Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, and Gen 4. Gen 1 an Gen 2 night vision optics are generally available commercially. They’re often used by hunters, hikers, birdwatchers, game watchers, target shooters, hog hunting, and for night surveillance. As they are available commercially, they are not priced extremely high like Gen 3 and Gen 4 models. They are truly the best option for those who will be using their night vision scope strictly for hobby purposes.

The military uses Gen 3, and even Gen 4 models as they are generally a lot more expensive but they offer better support, functionality and range capacities. However, they can be priced close to 5,000$ and up (some of the best models used by the Government are priced at 7,500$ to 11,000$ or more). As such, they’re built by the companies for military purposes and are rarely accessible for purchase to citizens. If you think that a Gen 3 or Gen 4 model is the right fit for you because of the added features functionality, and design, just know that Gen 1 and Gen 2 will definitely fit your needs and you can find some pretty advanced night vision scopes ranging from 100$ and 850$.

The batteries on military grade night vision scopes is usually expensive but they’re also extremely powerful. Military night vision scopes are not rechargeable, whereas non-military night vision scopes can be recharged. They also use accessible and common batteries like AA, AAA, or lithium batteries.

If you’re interested in learning more bout how military night vision technologies like binoculars and goggles have developed and advanced throughout the years, check out this short video/documentary to learn more!

Using night vision devices in general also have a few laws surrounding them, particularly you want to research if it is legal to hunt with your night vision devices. You can check out that information here, you’ll be introduced to a 50 State Summary/Guide regarding the laws and regulations on night vision and hunting in each states. There are other laws regarding the sales and transportation of night vision devices, as you do not want to be transporting valuable equipment without a proper licence. Especially since the United States of America military has some of the most advanced technology, other countries that still use Gen 1 or Gen 2 night vision scopes will try everything in their power to get their hands on the USA’s technologies.

To summarize, the military typically uses Gen 4 (and sometimes highly-advanced Gen 3 night vision scope models that are either way too expensive for the regular guy or just not accessible in stores or online for the civilian. While Gen 4 is great, it allows the user to see extremely clearly in low-lights while having great brightness, clarity and sharpness to your optics.


The US army has officially selected the Leupold company’s scopes. The Oregon-based sight maker Leupold will furnish the service with its Mark 5HD 5-25×56 rifle scope to use on the Mk 22 Mod 0 PSR based on the Barrett MRAD bolt-action multi-caliber system. It has also provided scopes for the army’s M110 and the M2010 enhanced sniper rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum, which replaced the .308 caliber M24 sniper rifle.

The US military started its research on night vision in the late 1940s by establishing a night vision technology development program. Since then, they have started developing various night vision technologies. By the end of the 1950s, they developed viable infrared viewing systems. Now there has been far more significant development in this field. Night vision technology equipment has reached a level of generation 4 now, which is highly advanced.

Night vision scopes use thermal imaging techniques by using infrared light. Infrared rays are emitted by a body that is captured by night vision scopes to display the image. Human bodies emit heat; due to the thermal imaging technology, you can see images of anybody in the dark. The target is displayed in green color. The green color is used for displaying images because the green color is most receptive to human eyes.

NO, night vision does not damage your eyes. The research done by the Army Research Laboratory on US marines has proven that their eyes show no negative effect after using Night vision goggles for long hours. Green color is less intensive on human eyes. Because of this reason, green color is displayed in the night vision binoculars or goggles so that human eyes won’t get affected in any way even after long hour use of binoculars.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at Ballachy.com .

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