pile of hogs with night vision rifle and scope on top

Night Vision vs Thermal Imaging for night hunting | What’s the difference?

If you are planning to hunt at night, you will need a thermal or night vision scope to be able to acquire the target successfully. But, while both of these devices will allow you to see at night, there are differences between the two.

Each has its own dedicated application, and each has pros and cons.

Let’s take a look at the differences, so that you can easily choose the best option for you.

You need to know the basic difference between thermal scopes and night vision scopes so you can choose the one that’s perfect for your hunting situation. Hopefully, the following section will make the differences between the two clear. So, keep reading!

Thermal Scopes And How They Work

The word “thermal” refers to anything related to temperature or heat.

Thermal scopes detect the heat or temperature of the target and use the radiation to generate the image.

thermal image of coyote

Thermal scopes detect the heat of a target and use radiation to generate the image.

The image can be generated in black and white or various colors depending on the device. The image will becomes lighter or darker with the increase or decrease of its radiation. Therefore, warm objects look brighter through the scope.



Pros and Cons of Thermal Scopes

Thermal scopes have pros and cons just like any other.

Unlike night vision devices, thermal scopes can be used both in the day and at night. And, because they use radiation or heat source to render the image, you can easily detect objects even if they are hiding or camouflaged.

hogs through a thermal scope

Some thermal scopes render images in colors.

In addition, thermal scopes can cover a larger distance than night vision scopes.

On the down side, during extreme cold, thermal scopes become blind.

Additionally, thermal scopes are heavier and more expensive than night vision scopes.



How Night Vision Scopes Work

Night vision scopes work quite differently than thermal scopes. Some night vision scopes render images in a green hue and rely heavily on a light source to render them. The light source can be ambient, like that of the moon, the stars, or the surroundings.

If there is no light at all, the infrared illuminator (IR) is used to generate light. Luckily, the IR is not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, your prey will not be alerted.


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Pros And Cons Of Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scopes are lighter and also less pricey than thermal scopes. They are available in various models and generations. Therefore, you can easily choose one according to your budget and requirements.

You can go for a basic night vision scope if you are a beginner. If you are a pro hunter, you could go with one of the high-end night vision scopes.

full moon

Night vision scopes rely on a light source like the moon or stars.

Since night vision scopes rely on an available light source, an unfavorable environment can affect the visibility. For example, in the fog, rain, snow, and dust, night vision devices are not as effective.

Additionally, night vision scopes can’t cover long distances as well as thermal scopes can.




Night Vision VS Thermal Scopes For Hunting

While hunting at night, you need to identify the target as your desired predator or animal, otherwise, you may end up shooting something else. And, the choice between night vision and thermal scopes depends on the shooting environment.

thermal image of coyote hunters with coyote

Thermal scopes can detect animals from long distances, but could be confusing for hunters if there are other moving targets in the field of view.

Thermal Scopes

Thermal scopes can easily detect animals or moving objects from a long distance whether it is day or night. Their detection is better than night vision scopes. Even in the roughest weather, they can help you see (except in extreme cold).

However, one thing to keep in mind is that thermal scopes render images in black and white, or in shades of multiple colors, which may be confusing for hunters and shooters if there are other moving objects in the target area. If this is not going to be an issue for you, then a thermal scope would work fine.






Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scopes can render higher-resolution images than thermal scopes. They use ambient light sources or the IR to help you see in the dark.

Through night vision scopes, you can easily detect your targeted game even if there are other moving objects since, you are getting almost the actual image.

However, during rough weather, night vision scopes can be blind. You also will not be able to find your prey if it is camouflaged or hiding behind an obstacle.

hogs killed using night vision scopes

If there is no available ambient light, night vision scope users need an infrared illuminator to be able to view in the dark.

Night vision devices are light-sensitive and can be damaged with bright light exposure.

In short, thermal scopes are good for detection and can be used in almost all conditions. On the other hand, night vision scopes are to be used at night and can render better images.




Final Thoughts On Night Vision Vs. Thermal

Both thermal and night vision scopes are great in their respective applications. You should choose one depending on your hunting environment.

When buying, remember the pros and cons of each device and choose wisely.

Whichever option you choose, good luck with your night hunting!

[Images used with permission: Jason Brooks and Infected Outdoors.]

long range rifle on shooting range

Shoot For the Moon: Tips for Long-Range Shooting

Whether you just got your first rifle, grew tired of handguns at the range, or want to be a serious marksman, being able to shoot down-range takes a different skill set. Luckily, there are a few pointers that may help you take on the challenge of long-distance shooting.

Long-Range shooting tips to help you become a better shooter below!

Choose Your Rifle Optic Carefully

After the rifle, your biggest decision to make when it comes to long-range shooting is which optic to use. Some factors to consider are magnification, lens clarity, and parallax adjustment,

Whatever your decision, make sure to choose the best long-range optic for you. When you mount it on your scope, be sure to give yourself enough eye relief for the recoil.



Divide By Zero

Once you’ve picked your optic and mounted it properly, it’s important to zero your scope for the distance you’ll be shooting at. Hitting a long-distance target comes down to inches, so accuracy is key.

target showing through rifle scope

Zeroing your rifle at 300 yards will help you once drop and weather that affects the shot more heavily at distances of 500 yards.

Zeroing your optic will give you that accuracy and allow you to hit what you aim at consistently. A good range to zero for is 300 yards in the beginning, because it gives a better ground for long-distance situations without being affected by the drop and weather that 500 yards causes.

Check Your Posture and Breathe Easy

Your shooting stance can impact your shooting ability significantly, whether you fire prone or kneeling. One effective position was used by American snipers in Vietnam, in which you sit on the ground with one knee up and the other leg tucked underneath.



Every shooter has a stance that works for them, so find one that you’re most comfortable with. Remember to keep the stock of your rifle tucked tightly into the meat of your shoulder.

Also keep in mind that there’s a main vein where your stock is, so controlled breathing is essential. For long shots, exhale, wait for your heart rate to slow, and remain still before squeezing the trigger.


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Consistency In Shooting Is key

One of the biggest separations between shooters is commitment to a routine. Especially in the beginning, the transition to long-range shooting is hard work.

long range rifle target

When shooting long distances, consistent practice is key, which helps to build muscle memory.

Mental toughness means practicing often and shooting in tight groups frequently. Muscle memory can help with breathing habits, trigger tension, and reloading.



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Study and Learn

The longer the shot, the more factors will affect the bullet. Over a distance of 300-500 yards, you’ll experience bullet drop and wind.

If the target is moving, you might have to calculate your bullet’s time to target and adjust. The average shooter won’t deal as much with this, but hunters and snipers will.

As you continue to shoot longer distances, you’ll pick up tips that you take with you, like what grain of bullet has the best velocity for your needs.



Be Patient

hunter shooting a rifle

The ability to be still is critical when shooting a rifle long distances. Individuals who hunt deer and other big game certainly know the importance of staying still and quiet.

When you take a long shot, your body needs to be still. For snipers and some hunters, the ability to be quiet and unmoving is one of the biggest assets.

Even for the average long-distance shooter, though, patience is important. Expert marksmanship takes time and practice, so don’t expect to master it overnight.

Experienced riflemen can take years to reach their level of shooting. Zero your optic, work on your routine, and continue to practice.



Keep Your Rifle “Safe”

One important aspect for long-distance shooting is your routine afterward. After you clean your weapon, what do you do?

You might need to wipe off the lenses of your scope and place the lens caps, but taking care of your rifle makes a difference. Dust or dirt can affect accuracy and rifling, so you should invest in a gun safe to keep your weapon clean and protected between shoots.




Final thoughts on long range shooting tips

So, whether you are a novice or an expert marksman at long distances, these 6 tips should help you hone your craft at long-range shooting. Let’s review one more time:

  1. Choose the right long range optic
  2. Zero your rifle
  3. Practice proper posture and breathing
  4. Consistently practice your shooting routine
  5. Keep studying and learning
  6. Keep rifle clean and protected between shoots


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03/02/2024 12:56 pm GMT

view while sighting in riflescope view
Richard Dougleas of Scopes Field
mounting a rifle scope

How To Mount A Rifle Scope | What You Need To Know

It is interesting that one of the most mystical elements of rifle-shooting (after buying a rifle scope) is getting a scope sight mounted correctly and, when done, finding out if the rifle will shoot straight after zeroing.

So, if you are not a pro on mounting a rifle scope, check out this guide below.

What You’ll Need

When mounting a rifle scope, the tools you’ll need can be as simple as a correctly sized screwdriver, and sometimes a small open-end wrench. (This all depends on the type of mounts being used, however, and yes, there are differences by the dozens).

A bench-rest system is a great way to install a scope. In some cases, an Allen wrench is also advised, or even required, to lock down ring screws. (However, in other situations, the full array of gunsmith tools are required when receiver bases and ring systems need installing).

bench rest for mounting rifle scope

A bench rest is a helpful tool to keep everything you’ll need close by while mounting your rifle scope.

What you’ll need to mount a rifle scope:

  • Screwdriver
  • Small open-end wrench
  • Bench rest
  • Allen wrenches



Mounting Your Rifle Scope | Step-By-Step

When going to work on a rifle scope mounting job, it is nice to have a clean, clear space to do the work. Even the use of a gun vise or mount is a great idea, and can save both time and effort in the event parts fall away from the scope or rifle.

If you’re worried about mounting a scope being a difficult task, let me put your mind at ease; I mount scopes while watching my favorite hockey game at the same time!


There are some jobs that require tapping new screw holes, and advanced mounts that require more parts then the scope contains. However, in general, most mounts are field dirt simple to work with and figure out for yourself.

Time needed: 15 minutes

Step-by-step rifle scope mounting

  1. Set scope in place

    Currently, modern rifle scopes are making more use of the Weaver-style bases that carry a rail with notches cut into the upper surface. The rings are set up with matching cuts and all you need to do is drop the scope into the rail.

    Be sure both rings are aligned with the correct notches, and set in place solidly. Once you have the rings in place, simply draw down the primary (large) compression bolt or nut.

    Independent bases are a bit more work in that each is set on the pilot holes in the receiver, one at a time and with two screws In most cases, they are set in place and tightened down. The bases are always paired with a specific scope ring type. Be sure the rings and bases match. If you buy them as a set, this should not be an issue.

    IMPORTANT: At times the base sets are not exactly the same height. Check each with care. In most cases (but not all), the higher base is forward, and the lower base is toward the rear. That is because the height of the receiver section is different. If bases were the same, you would have an issue there.

    A suggestion here is to get new combination rings and base systems, often called cantilever bases and rings. All you do is this:

    Using a Weaver-style (Picatinny-style) mounting rail, drop the whole system into place on the grooves, split the ring half sections, then set your scope onto the lower half of the ring group. (If you can’t do that, it is advised that you not shoot a gun either!)

    NOTE: Looking for the perfect scope for your rifle? Check this out.

    weaver style base for mounting rilfe scop

  2. Align the scope

    Now, with the rings installed as above, it’s time to align the scope within the rings. Keep in mind that the crosshairs require leveling, so leave the rings with the installed screws loose enough to allow you to rotate the scope as required.

    Also, be sure to check eye relief at this point. You’re may regret having leveled the scope, then tightened it down, and found that you’re stretching a mile to see through your scope.

    Why do I know this?

    Because it has happened to me more times then I should admit here.

    When leveling the scope’s crosshairs, see the horizontal line and set the scope in a solid rest position.

    Now look through the scope, again with the rings not turned very tight against the scope tube in order to allow that horizontal line to run level with an object that is of a known correct level. This can be the edge of a building, or some other related structure.

    When I align my scope, I use a bubble-mounted system that long-range shooters use, or at times, I just wing it and go with my gut feeling as to a correct level. When I recheck my level after mounting, I am almost always right on the money. I guess that comes with experience, as there are some weeks when I mount five or six rifle scopes in as many days.

    One thing is for sure, you don’t want to count on the person at the gun counter for all the help.

    I have friends who who do work in gun shops and sure as heck know their stuff. However, some of the “help” needs a tune-up and could well take a course on scope-mounting and parts sales to be sure. So, don’t assume everything is correct because the person at the gun counter says so.

    I have heard about hunters and shooters who went on “exclusive” and costly trips with a gun that was never checked beyond the gun counter.
    Not a good idea, as some have found out when a once-in-a-lifetime trophy walks out in front of them at 100 yards and they miss the shot because the scope is heading south when the shooter is looking west. (An exaggeration, but hopefully you get the point).

    So if you’re deer hunting for example and your scope isn’t dialed in exactly right, you’re going to have an errant shot. Arguments about what caliber is best don’t really matter if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at!

    rifle scope level

  3. Shoot for final zero

    Remember, just because a salesman at a gun shop “bore-sights” your scope for you, that is only a starter adjustment in terms of locating the correct zero for the rifle and scope.

    Bore sighting means getting a bullet some place on paper, with luck. After the rifle is bore-sighted, additional adjustments are necessary. In other words, shoot the rifle before ever counting on the correct sight adjustments on your new scope sight.

    When checking for scope accuracy and live fire shooting, try and shoot from a sitting bench-rest position with bags (sand is best). You want to eliminate as many variables as possible that could enter into producing a bad group or point of zero.

    As a final note, always shoot a group of at least three rounds for a quick double-check in terms of your bullet’s impact accuracy. Also, don’t be alarmed if someone shooting your rifle hits a different zero point. We all shoot a bit differently, even with textbook training. What is your zero belongs to you.

    sandbag rifle rest



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03/02/2024 05:55 pm GMT




Lapping Rifle Scope Rings

A word about lapping the scope rings. Lapping means taking any possible variation in roundness off the inside of the rings, so that you have as much contact between rings and scope as possible. Lapping the rings is a good idea if you’re shooting bench-rest or super accuracy group development.

man on rifle range holding rifle

Shooting for final zero is critical. Here the rifle shoots ½ MOA (minutes of angle) group on steel at 600 yards, because the work at the bench-rest with the rifle and glass was done correctly.



I do not lap my rings because my good rifles and ammunition all shoot sub-½ MOA, and that is all anyone not shooting bench-style events needs. (Bench-rest is shooting for the smallest hole possible in the target. One hole groups win in many cases.)

So, if you are deer hunting for example, lapping the rings isn’t really necessary.

screw bases on rifle scope

Be sure to check screws and bases often, as vibration can cause loose parts, which lead to innaccuracy of your rifle scope.



Final thoughts

Once you have properly mounted and sighted in your rifle, that doesn’t mean you never check it again.

Screws and bases need to be tight and checked often, as even general transport can cause vibration and lead to a loosening of parts. Bumping your scope when pulling your gun up to a tree stand is another thing that might cause you to need to check the accuracy of your rifle scope.

Happy shooting!