There is something exceptionally raw and daring about the experience of hunting with a crossbow.
The popularity of this activity is gaining momentum around the world as more hunters make use of crossbows while out in the field. Naturally, crossbows don’t come standard with built-in scopes to make targeting prey a bit easier.
There is an array of high quality thermal and night vision scopes on the market that are perfect for this type of hunting. We took the time to select our top 5 best night vision and thermal scope picks and compared the pros & cons of each. Read on to find the best night vision crossbow scopes and thermal scopes and learn how you can take your crossbow hunt to the next level.
Here are the best thermal and night vision crossbow scopes you can buy:
1. ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
Best Night Vision Crossbow Scope for Video Sharing and Recording
This scope by ATN is a great affordable solution to both night and day hunting with a crossbow. The X-Sight day and night rifle scope features ultra HD high quality viewing as well as a ballistic calculator that ensures you’re on target with every shot.
The battery life on this scope is particularly impressive. Up to 18 hours of continuous use means you won’t be left in the dark at any point of your hunt. Recharging the device is also simple, requiring any standard power outlet to do so.
Perhaps the best thing about the X Sight day and night rifle scope is its onboard video recording ability. The scope will live stream everything it's seeing from the reticle of your crossbow. It will simultaneously save the HD video footage to the SD card inside the device.
The most notable features of the X Sight 4K are the following:
- 3864 x 2218 system resolution
- 5-20x magnification
- Streaming in 4K
- HD Video recording enabled
The scope comes with a detachable mount which ensures it can connect to any and all hunting devices. It’s also exceptionally lightweight and won't weigh your crossbow down. You can also save a little money by opting to get the older generation ATN X Sight II night vision scope.
2. Sightmark Photon RT SM18018
Best Night Vision Crossbow Scope Under $700
We love the simplicity of design in this night vision scope by Sightmark.
Like the aforementioned scope, the Sightmark Photon also has video recording abilities. Up to 8GB of footage can be stored on the actual scope. Live streaming to an external device is also available.
The night vision crossbow scope operates on an interchangeable battery pack. The pack can be replaced while out in the field by simply inserting a fresh pack.
The features worth nothing about this scope are as follows:
- Night time detection range of 200 yards
- 50mm objective lens
- 640x480 LCD display
- 6x zoom
The Sightmark is a performance-driven device in a simple body. It’s an affordable option in digital night vision technology and would bring ease to any crossbow-based hunt.
3. Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455
Best Night Vision Crossbow Scope for Long Distant Shooting
The Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455 is a rifle scope that allows you to hunt boar, predators and even vermin during the night or day. This is another inexpensive scope that’s suitable for hunters on a budget. You’ll appreciate the streamlined design of the Pulsar N455 scope which also makes it easy to mount.
This night vision scope has a 1280x720 CMOS sensor that’s paired with a 1024x768 AMOLED display. The NV optic has a detection range of 550yds and a 2x to 4x digital zoom. There are up to 10 reticles for you to use and a wide FOV (field of view).
The budget-friendly Pulsar has what most entry-level scopes don’t have which is a built-in recorder and streaming capabilities. There’s 16GB of internal storage where you can save your videos and pictures.
Most notable features of the Digisight Ultra N455 are the following:
- Removable modular IR illuminator
- 50mm objective lens
- 4.5 magnification
- Field of view: 6.2°x4.7°
- 50mm eye relief
- Built-in video recorder
Lastly, there are 5 individual shooting profiles that can hold up to 10 zeroing distances so you don’t have to set them every time you want to shoot your target. Pick from six color modes that work well in any environment.
4. ATN ThOR 4 384x288
Best Smart Thermal Scope for Crossbow
This is a more high-end unit by a brand you’ve probably come to recognize from the popular ATN Thor HD 384 line of thermal scopes. The ThOR 4 is the first of the thermal imaging scopes to feature ATN’s next-generation sensors.
The built-in ballistics calculator will deliver a constant flow of information including range, light, temperature, and humidity. It’s designed to help you make the most accurate shot every time, regardless of whether you’re using a crossbow or a rifle.
The scope has full video streaming and recoil activated video recording ability. Like many other ATN devices, the ThOR has an impressive 18-hour life span at full charge.
Some other notable features are:
- 1280x720 HD display
- Gen 4 384×288 thermal imaging sensor
- Field of view 16°x12.5°
- iOS and Android compatibility
- Variety of thermal hues to choose from
5. ATN THOR LT 3-6x
Best Cheap Thermal Scope for Crossbow
The ATN THOR LT is an entry-level thermal imaging scope that’s suitable for hunters on a budget. This is because the brand focused on integrating the basics that you need for a crossbow hunt. It’s the perfect thermal scope for beginners because it’s easy to operate.
This thermal imaging crossbow scope has a decent resolution of 160x120 with a detection range of 475yds. The identification range on this scope is 160yds. Additionally, it has a magnification between 3x and 6x and 60Hz refresh rate which is high for an entry-level scope. A high refresh rate is ideal when you’re hunting animals that run fast, such as hogs.
You’ll also get the one-shot zero feature so you can zero your scope with a single shot. The ATN THOR LT has an incredibly long battery life of 10 hours per charge and it comes with a USB-C charger.
Most notable features of the ATN THOR LT 3-6x thermal imaging scope are the following:
- 160x120 thermal sensor
- 60Hz refresh rate
- 1280x720 HD display
- 1.4lbs weight
- 90mm eye relief
The ATN THOR LT offers black hot and white hot color palettes which are suitable for beginners and most environments.
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro
Sightmark SM18012 Photon RT
Pulsar Digisight Ultra N455
ATN ThOR 4
ATN ThOR LT
Digital Day/Night Vision
Digital Day/Night Vision
Digital Day/Night Vision
Weight: .83 kg
Thermal & Night Vision Crossbow Scopes Buying Guide:
Whether you are looking for a night vision or thermal imaging scope for your crossbow there are several things to keep in mind to help you select the best one for you. Some of the most important factors are:
- Hunting Distance
- Battery Life
- Night Vision or Thermal
We will cover each of these as well as what crossbow hunting is and why it has grown in popularity.
What Is Crossbow Hunting?
Crossbow hunting is an adaption of the ancient technique of bow and arrow hunting.
Throughout history, bow and arrow style hunting was an effective means of targeting & bringing down prey in the field. Over time, the development of technology allowed for more advancements and the result is the crossbow.
A crossbow is a more automatic version of a bow and arrow. It requires less effort and input by the user in order to set up a kill. Instead of the hunter pulling the bow backward to create traction, the crossbow does so itself and holds the bow in place until released.
Crossbows essentially offer a hands-free method of bow and arrow hunting. The hunter can give his or her full attention to the target in question. It’s effortless to keep the bow cocked.
When ready, the hunter simply needs to squeeze the trigger in order to release the bow. The cross-bow will shoot the bolt at whatever target was aimed at. Night vision crossbow scopes are becoming more and more popular due to the advancements in technology that have brought the prices down.
Crossbow vs Rifle:
The following are the most notable differences between crossbow and rifle hunting:
- Blood: Rifles tend to lead to less blood when penetrating an animal however they cause a lot of trauma. Crossbows cause a lot of blood flow, but the trauma to the animals body is a lot less severe which means less meat will be lost.
- Distance: Naturally, rifles can cover a much longer distance than a crossbow.
- Energy: Crossbows require effort from the user in order to function. Rifles require little to no energy from the user other than the loading of bullets and pulling the trigger.
- Size: Crossbows are bulky devices. They are heavy to carry and come with an array of additional parts you need to carry. Rifles weigh a lot less and take up less space.
- Ammo: Crossbow ammo is reusable to a certain extent. Successful recovery of ammo means it can be reused, however, there are instances where ammo (bolts) can be broken upon contact. Rifle ammo is not reusable.
Budget for your Crossbow Scope:
When selecting your night vision crossbow scope or thermal scope budget is one of the first things you will need to decide on. A night vision crossbow scope is going to be cheaper than a thermal scope with its own pro's and cons.
That being said there are several scopes, both night vision and thermal that can be bought cheaply. Even the best night vision cross bow scopes will still need some light in order to function as they amplify the available light thousands of times to produce the images seen through the scope. Thermal on the other hand detects the temperature differences between objects and uses this information to create the image seen which means they can be used in total darkness. This difference in technology is one reason they are more expensive.
Crossbow Scope Mounting & Rail Types:
When purchasing a night vision crossbow scope or thermal scope it’s important to keep in mind the type of rail you’ll be working with when mounting.
Crossbow rails can alternate depending on brand. Some rails will be fixed to the crossbow and others will be removable.
Adapters can also be purchased in order to make a specific scope connect to a specific rail. When selecting the best thermal or night vision scope for you, familiarize yourself with the type of rail on your crossbow.
Specs to Consider:
There are a few imperative specifications to consider when assessing the features of your thermal or night vision crossbow scope. We have taken a close look at the most important of these.
Crossbow Scope Magnification:
Since crossbows cover a much shorter distance when in the field, the magnification ability of the scope can be a lot less than with a rifle.
It’s typically recommended you use a magnification of three times the usual distance with a cross-bow.
Always consider the weight of a thermal or night vision crossbow scope before purchasing. Since crossbows are already heavy instruments, your scope shouldn’t add much weight to this. A lightweight scope would be best for anyone entering the field with a crossbow.
Mounting a lightweight scope to your device will ensure there’s no extra weight affecting your ability to aim and fire the crossbow properly.
Crossbow Scope Shooting Distance:
For use in complete darkness, a shooting distance of about 30 to 50 yards will be enough. This is of course entirely dependent on the ability of your crossbow.
Selecting a thermal or night vision scope for your crossbow need not be a time-consuming feat.
By hunting with a crossbow you’re already at the advantage of not needing the most advanced technology to provide visuals over long distances. Distances are shorter, and lower magnification scopes can do the job.
Take your crossbow hunt to the next level and invest in a thermal or night vision scope today!