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best civilian night vision goggles

Best Night Vision Goggles for Civilians: Top Picks, Reviews & Buying Guide

Shopping for the best night vision goggles for civilians?

Let us help you.

Buying night vision goggles is a little confusing, especially for civilians.

You might want to buy the right night vision goggles for your camping trips, night hunting, or other uses.

But considering the technical details of these goggles, the task might seem a little daunting, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.

If that is so, you don’t need to worry.

This article provides a detailed guide for buying the best night vision goggles for civilians.

Read on to find all about it.

Who Should Buy Civilian Night Vision Goggles?

Unlike popular belief, night vision goggles are quite useful for civilians, and their use is not just limited to military or surveillance use only.

Civilians can use these goggles for various purposes, like nighttime hunting. Many people like to hunt game, particularly bores at night. A night vision goggle allows users to see in pitch darkness.

Night vision goggles are also useful for bird watching. Bird lovers can only properly detect and see nocturnal birds if they visit their habitat. The place might be immersed in darkness, which is where night vision goggles prove invaluable.

Many adventure enthusiasts go on camping or night runs. They even partake in games carried out at night. Under all these circumstances, a pair of night-vision goggles can significantly enhance usability and make the experience much more worthwhile.

What's In This Buying Guide

In this buying guide we recommend, compare, and review some of the best NV goggles for civilian use today. 

After our reviews, we discuss features to look for when buying night vision goggles for civilian / non-law enforcement use.

We also discuss the limitations of night vision goggles before answering some common questions.

Best Civilian Night Vision Goggles

  1. 1
    Best Overall: Coolife 656ft Night Vision Goggles
  2. 2
    Best Technology: ATN BinoX-HD 4-16x
  3. 3
    Best for Rigorous Use: AGM Wolf 7
  4. 4
    Best for Occasional Use: Sightmark Signal 340RT

best civilian night vision goggles
  • Coolife 656ft Night Vision Goggles

  • Best Overall
  • Item Weight
    0.38 pounds

  • Magnification
    4x digital zoom, 3x fixed zoom

  • Day screen

  • Viewing Range
    656 ft.

  • Objective lens

best civilian night vision goggles
  • ATN BinoX-HD 4-16x

  • Best Technology
  • Item Weight
    1.8 pounds

  • Magnification

  • Day screen

  • Viewing Range
    300 yards

  • Objective lens

best night vision goggles for civilian use
  • AGM Wolf 7

  • Best for Rigorous Use
  • Item Weight
    0.9 pounds

  • Magnification

  • Day screen

  • Viewing Range
    Mid to long range

  • Objective lens

best civilian night vision goggles
  • Sightmark Signal 340RT

  • Best for Occasional Use
  • Item Weight
    1.4 pounds

  • Magnification

  • Day screen

  • Viewing Range
    380 yards

  • Objective lens

best night vision goggles for civilian use

The Coolife 656ft night vision goggles are one of the best options in terms of distance, price, and build, and it suits a wide range of users.

It has a very user-friendly design, and the IR technology used mean you can use them in total darkness.

A 3W infrared LED and 850nm Illuminator further enhance visibility. These technologies produce a clear image where objects are easily discernible from one another.

The optical clarity of this model is also one of the best for the price due to its use of a CMOS sensor.

Magnification goes to 3X in this pair, and the zoom adjusts to the best focal length based on the observation distance.

These Coolife night vision goggles feature a sturdy build that will not break or damage easily. The three buttons on the side of the body make navigating through different settings hassle-free.

You can record videos or take pictures, and it can store HD Images and 960p quality videos on its 32GB card.

Lastly, the Coolife 656ft is super lightweight, about as heavy as a typical cellphone.

You can use it for many purposes including camping, hunting, night fishing, wildlife observation, search and rescue, bird watching, etc.

Overall, we think it's the best choice for most civilian hobbyists.

Some noticeable features include:

  • 1.5" TFT LCD for spotting hunt easily.
  • 24mm objective lens.
  • 656-feet night vision detectable range.

The only issue is that the batteries run out of juice in a few hours. However, it uses rechargeable batteries so this is not that much of a problem.


  • Easily navigate the 4x digital zoom using the side buttons.
  • Video and Image payback modes can record the trip for future reference.
  • Compact and portable with a non-slip portable belt.
  • Features a Standard Tripod Screw SlotPull-wire design gives easy access to batteries.
  • Day screen shows colored images during the day.


  • It comes with 5 alkaline batteries that run out quickly.

2. Best Technology: ATN BinoX-HD 4-16x

best civilian night vision goggles

The ATN BinoX-HD goggles are well-built and feature both day and night vision. Instead of spending separately on binoculars and night-vision goggles, you get both for price cost of one.

With daytime vision, you get good-quality colored images. At night, the green vision produces clearly discernible images.

A rangefinder is also provided, making it especially useful during hunting and eliminates the need to carry separate equipment. Additionally, the smart E-compass helps with navigation.

To keep images crisp and clear, the binoculars feature a 3D gyroscope that prevents blurring by keeping images steady.

Another convenient feature is the E-zoom that lets you zoom in on the target without losing focus. This helps increase visibility and makes sure you capture every movement.

Some other notable features include:

  • 1080p video recording.
  • Wi-Fi streaming to smart phone or tablet.
  • Color day mode and green night mode

The only issues we have with the ATN BinoX-HD is that it does not include headgear to mount it on your head or helmet. There’s only one strap for wearing around the neck.

The ATN BinoX-HD night vision goggles pack a lot of technology into a compact unit that's perfectly suited for camping trips, wildlife and bird watching, night hikes, etc.


  • IR illuminator range covers up to 300 yards.
  • Smart rangefinder for use in hunting.
  • The 3D gyroscope keeps images clear and prevents blur.
  • Upgradable firmware to deal with bugs.


  • Large and heavy, so it is not the easiest model to carry around.

3. Best for Rigorous Use: AGM Wolf 7

best civilian night vision goggles

A Gen 2+ Level 3 night vision goggle, the AGM Wolf 7 delivers unparalleled performance in a very rugged and durable package. It's a great choice for civilians who want to upgrade their gear for long hikes.

These goggles feature optimum-grade optics and simplified electronics that provide clear and crisp images in low light conditions. 

Gen 3 image tubes accompany the expanded Gen 2+ tubes to deliver an exceptionally clear image that is arguably the best in this price range.

Despite such a robust build, the model itself is lightweight. It is also rugged and water-resistant.

Moreover, the Wolf 7 goggles come with headgear that is very comfortable to wear. The flip-up headgear makes it easy to wear the goggles on the head or over the helmet. You can also hold it by hand.

The goggles have a built-in short-range and wide-angle infra-red illuminator to enhance visibility in the dark. The multi-coated glass lenses cut off bright light that can hinder vision.

Similarly, an automatic brightness control feature helps improve visibility. Moreover, the package includes 3x, and 5x magnification lenses for mid to short-range viewing, and the goggles themselves have a magnification power of 1x.

LED indicators on the body convey important messages. They show low battery indications, IR illumination, and indicate excessive light conditions.

The battery life is quite sufficient, too. One battery can run up to 60 hours at 20 degrees C. This is good enough for long trips out in the wilderness where charging or buying batteries is not feasible. The goggles come with a carrying case, lenses, cleaning cloth, battery adapter, and a user manual.

Other notable features include:

  • Focus range: 0.25 to infinity.
  • 40 degrees FOV.
  • 1x goggle magnification power (3x and 5x lenses included)

The price is a bit high, however.

But if you’re familiar with night vision goggles and want to upgrade your kit, then the AGM Wolf 7 is a good option for you.  You won't be disappointed.


  • 3x and 5x magnification lenses are included in the kit.
  • Long battery life.
  • Water-resistance enhances durability.
  • Automatic shut-off system.
  • Gen 2+ and Gen 3 image tubes for better clarity.


  • Does not support video and image recording.

4. Best for Occasional Use: Sightmark Signal 340RT

best military grade night vision goggles for civilian use

If you want a night vision goggle for occasional hunting or wildlife watching trips, you will find the Sightmark Signal 340RT a good choice.

The goggles feature a 2x zoom that is sufficient for hunting in areas where the greenery or bush shade is not too thick. 

The powerful built-in illuminator has a 850m range and lends visibility in partial to almost complete darkness.

Moreover, the goggles are resistant to bright light so you will not feel the effect nor be blinded by oncoming cars, etc.

The Signal 340RT is small, compact, ergonomic, and user-friendly. 

The magnification power of this Sightmark night vision goggle is excellent, with up to 9x digital zoom. 

This model also supports wireless streaming directly to YouTube or to your smart devices in real-time using the Stream Vision App. The app is available for both Android and IOS. You can also transfer photos using this app.

Other notable features include:

  • 8GB SD card.
  • 640x480 pixel display.
  • Weaver rail.

The battery life of the Sightmark Signal N320RT is a bit shorter than we'd like. Without the IR illuminator, however, the battery will work for 3-5 hours.


  • 850nm built-in IR illuminator.
  • Bright light-resistant technology.
  • Wireless streaming for both Android and iOS.
  • 9x magnification power with smooth digital zoom.
  • Comes with a carrying case and a USB cable.


  • Short battery life.

Civilian Night Vision Goggles Buying Guide

best military grade night vision goggles for civilian use

Even though several night vision goggles for civilians are available on the market, not every model will suffice your need. To find a model that best fits your requirements, make sure you look for:


You need to be very clear about what you want to use these goggles for. You might want to use them for a specific task or several activities.

If you want night vision goggles for hunting, it is best to look for a model with a strong build and wide detection range.

If you want to buy the goggles for bird watching, invest in models with good resolution and imaging technology.

Features like high magnification and long battery life suit most uses. But make sure you don’t waste your money on high-resolution goggles for activities that won’t use more than 3x magnification power.


The weight of night vision goggles will affect your movability.

If you don’t carry a lot of gear on your trips, then even a heavy pair of goggles measuring 1.5 pounds or above is manageable.

But if you travel on foot and with a lot of gear, it is best to look for lightweight models. Similarly, make sure that if you wear goggles around your neck, they are not too heavy to strain the muscles.

Working Conditions

best military grade night vision goggles for civilian use

A hunting grounds, a wildlife safari, and a run track all have different conditions. You may encounter fog, rain, dust, etc., in these areas. That is why you must make sure that your chosen night vision goggles can ensure visibility under different conditions.

For example, if the hunting grounds are expansive and far-stretched, buy night vision goggles with a large detection and recognition range. For areas with rain and fog, invest in water-resistant goggles.

How are NV Goggles for Civil Use Different?

There aren’t many differences between night vision goggles for military use and civilian use.

However, depending upon the use, you may find some specific features in NV goggles for civilians.

For example, NV goggles for night hunting may have a rangefinder. NV goggles for night running or camping have a built-in compass.

Usually, military-grade NVs are a bit more advanced with better imaging. They may also have a longer-range IR illuminator.

NV goggles for civilian use are sturdy enough but not quite as strong as military-grade NV goggles. Moreover, military-grade NV goggles are expensive and not readily available to everyone.

What to look for When Buying NV Goggles for Civil Use

To get your money’s worth and a pair of goggles that perfectly suits your needs, make sure you look out for:

Head Mount

Although this may not seem like a big deal, a head mount can significantly enhance the convenience of use.

Despite the activity, it is inconvenient to hold the goggles in your hand at all times. Many models feature a strap for wearing the goggles around the neck. But this may cause problems like a strained neck.

Therefore, a head mount is a highly desirable feature. It has comfortable and lightweight straps that position and hold the goggles right in front of your eyes.

If you buy head straps separately, then you have to fix the straps with the goggles once before wearing the assembly.

Head mounts save you the trouble of holding the goggles in front of your eyes when you need to see through them. They keep the goggles in place and your hands free.

Bright Light Resistance

As discussed earlier, bright light resistance prevents blindingly bright light from interrupting the vision in NV goggles. But that’s not their only advantage.

Autogation or bright light resistance also protects the goggles from possible damage due to bright light.

In urban settings, where passing cars can cause flash firing in your NV optics, autogation works to protect the optics. This saves you from spending hundreds of dollars on repairs.

Weather Resistance

One of the most important features of a durable pair of night vision goggles is weather resistance.

Weather resistance is not limited to water resistance but also includes workable temperature ranges and dust-proofing.

Because NV goggles are made up of glass and electronics, weather can damage them sufficiently. It is best to invest in weatherproof models resistant to sun, water, and dust alike.

Lower-end NV goggles for civilian use are often sealed properly enough to prevent water penetration. However, most higher-end products are truly waterproof.

The heat of the sun also affects the operating temperature range of NV goggles. Make sure that the model you buy is resistant enough to withstand the weather conditions of your area.

We especially recommend buying good-quality weather shields for regions that experience sandstorms. Sandstorms can scratch the lenses and form a film of dirt over the glass, greatly reducing visibility and functionality.

Durable Build

best night vision goggles for civilian use

Night vision goggles accompany users to some of the roughest regions and working conditions. Therefore, to ensure longevity, you need a sturdy and durable build.

Most people prefer aluminum bodies because they are stronger than plastic bodies.

They are better capable of sustaining bumps that are frequent in outdoor environments. Moreover, they are better rated for shortfalls. However, plastic bodies are cheaper.

Other than night vision goggles, other optics like low-cost scopes also have a plastic body. Such gadgets are suitable for occasional use and need protection from harsh use.

Similarly, glass lenses are much more durable than plastic lenses. Glass is more resistant to scratching, is easy to clean, and provides better imaging quality.


The choice of rechargeable or disposable batteries is entirely up to you. But we advise you to opt for reusable batteries if you are going away from civilization on a long trip spanning several days.

On the other hand, NV goggles that consume more power are best paired with rechargeable batteries to prevent the operational cost of buying disposable batteries again and again.

Also, avoid pairing cheap batteries with high-end NV goggles. Cheap batteries also pose the risk of leaking.


The range of goggles determines the viewing distance.

Short-range goggles are suitable for night safaris or camping. But for hunting grounds, we advise you to use long-range NV goggles.

The range varies in different generations of night vision.

Gen 1 NV goggles have a range of up to 100 yards, while Gen 2 can view up to 200 yards. And Gen 3 goggles are suitable for long-distance viewing with a range of 300 yards.

Limitations of the Civilian Night Vision Goggles

Like every other gadget, civilian night vision goggles are quite useful for observing things in the dark, but their abilities have some restraints. These include:

Reduced Depth Perception

NVGs have low depth perception. They can detect the presence of objects and can clearly mark the outlines of the different parts of an object at a nearer distance, but the depth perception is still not evident. The images appear flat or 2D.

With low-budget night vision goggles, you might even find it difficult to distinguish the object from the background if the object is too far away.

No Colors

Several night vision goggles are also usable during the day. While day-time vision shows the colors of the field, night-time vision does not.

Everything in night vision is green, and objects may appear a lighter shade, such as grey or white. But, the overall color scheme follows a green pattern.

Image Noise

best civilian night vision goggles

Night vision images appear grainy because of image noise.

Image noise affects details and clarity. Noise is produced because there is too little ambient light to pick up the brightness and contrast information from the field of view.

If the noise is very bad, it may magnify as splotches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to own night vision goggles?

No, governments have not imposed any restrictions on civilians owning night vision goggles. Hence, it is not illegal to own night vision goggles.

However, when fulfilling both the military and civilian demand is not possible, manufacturers limit the availability of their products to civilians.

What is the average viewing distance length of night vision goggles?

The detection range of night vision goggles varies from model to model.

Depending on the model, you can see and detect objects from a distance of 100 yards or less to 1000 yards.

While low-budget NVGs allow you to look at a distance of 100 yards, only higher-end goggles with robust technology can see at a distance of 1000 yards.

What is the lifespan of night vision goggles?

The lifespan depends on the generation of the NVGs and varies from model to model.

Gen 1 NVGs have a lifespan of 2,000-4,000 hours. Gen 2 models can function for up to 5,000 hours. Meanwhile, Gen 3 units can last as long as 12,000-15,000 hours.

However, proper maintenance and care can increase their life.

Can you use night vision goggles with glasses?

Yes, people who wear prescription glasses can use night vision goggles.

But, you need to ensure that the size of the goggles is big enough to fit your glasses. The wrong size can deform the frame of the glasses.

The best option in such a scenario is to use wrap-around night vision goggles that feature eye relief. They fit well and are easy to manage.

Can I use night vision in fog?

Yes, night vision goggles can see through the fog. If your visibility reduces, it is because of the atmospheric conditions and not a defect of the goggles.

Final Verdict: What are the best Night Vision Goggles for Civilians?

We find the Coolife 656ft Night Vision Goggles is the best night vision goggle for civilians. It features day and night vision, a 3W infrared LED and 850nm Illuminator, and 4x digital zoom. It also allows image and video recording.

The NVG is suitable for use in camping, hunting, wildlife, bird watching, etc. It is affordable, sturdy, and serves many purposes.

However, if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, here are a few other cheap goggles to consider.

About the Author Rob Carson

I work in commercial construction, in Dallas, TX.

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