Chad Berck shared presentations on owning the night at our Pontiac and Danville locations, complete with images and videos. He also brought a number of scopes and setups on a couple of rifles that work quite nicely for him.

Right now in Illinois, if you’re hunting coyotes or other animals that might be hunting you back, some sort of optic that allows you to see in the dark makes a huge difference in making effective hits.

Thermal scope image via

What’s more, technology keeps improving by leaps and bounds, while prices continue to plummet as more and more gun owners embrace these sights. Chad made the analogy that twenty years ago, these scopes were like your old CRT TV sets. Then the newer digital ones came along, and then HD TVs and their resolution and now we’re at the 4K level of resolution and detail at prices mere mortals can afford.

He also said that feral hogs will soon be migrating into Illinois, so there will be even more opportunities to have fun putting one of these gizmos to use while having a whole lot of recreational fun.

These sights come in three flavors.

There’s the old IR scopes that rely in infrared spotlights to see the intended targets. These work just fine for four-legged varmints but if you’re using the gun defensively against two-legged predators, especially those who might have some sort of night vision, your IR emitter will stand out like a beacon in the night – as well as anyone using an IR scope in passive mode (without emitting an IR source).

Then there’s night vision that relies on starlight and/or moonlight to “see” in the dark. These are very nice and have come a long way in sensitivity.

(For a more detailed piece comparing and contrasting IR vs. Night vision, check out this post.)

The newer type are the thermal scopes that “see” heat signatures. These truly are cutting edge. They don’t reveal your position yet they allow you to see even the smallest of animals at quite a long distance away with the better (more modern) units. The higher the resolution of the scope, the greater its effective range at identifying a potential target.

The latest units to hit the market, based upon Chinese intellectual property theft of America’s newest military sights are the hybrid sights. They incorporate night vision and thermal in addition to a “red dot” type scope.

Holosun has one out right now. It was released earlier this year at $1600 and is now already selling in places for $1200 or less.

Berck noted how we reported on it in a recent issue of GunNews. The downside to it is the relatively poor resolution which limits its effective range to a couple of hundred yards. For hogs and ‘yotes, that’s probably plenty.

However, if you’re patient, there will be a higher resolution version coming out very soon (this fall?) priced at about $2300.

Entry level versions of the IR, night vision and thermal are available for $600-800. These will usually have options to change your color schemes to green or red to keep you from wrecking your eyeball’s “night vision” while using the scope. Chad says walking with only one functional eye may lead to disorientation.

Bluetooth, wifi, lasers and other tech add-ons will do some really neat stuff for you, including interfacing with your phones and other gadgets but they will bump your out-of-pocket cost to $1500-2000 for lower end units (which are still pretty darn respectable).

Higher resolutions enable target identification at greater distances, but that comes at a price, like everything. Also, pricier units come in smaller packages (see the $15000 X-27 above). You can spend $5k – 25k on one of these scopes depending on how fancy you want to make it.



2 thoughts on “OWN THE NIGHT: Chad Berck on thermal, IR and night vision scopes”
  1. I find it hard to believe that your state dictators are going to allow the common peon to own such a dangerous device!

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