There’s nothing quite like being able to see in the dark when you’re hunting, and it instantly adds a whole new level of excitement to your outdoor adventures. We know that to achieve this eyesight in the dark requires special night vision scopes, but just as important is using the best IR illuminator attached to your platform as well.
They emit an infrared light which is picked up by the night vision accessory, and it gives you an even clearer view than before. Because night vision requires some small level of light, whether it’s from the moon or starlight in the sky, you can’t always rely on this to be the perfect amount and An additional light source may be necessary.
Investing in the best IR illuminator will dramatically increase your night vision experience whether it’s for hunting or just playing around in the dark. With so many different makes and models on the market, this can be a tougher search than you might have envisioned, so we’ve compiled this comprehensive buying guide to help you out.
We’ve rounded up the best of the best and found you the top rated illuminators for hunting, long range, and affordability, so you don’t have to look around any longer. We can also show you the essential features to look out for when choosing this vital accessory, so you’ll be an expert in no time at all.
Best IR Illuminator For Hunting:
Best Long Range IR Illuminator:
budget IR Illuminator:
Our Top Picks For The Best IR Illuminator
With so many different illuminators out there, it’s difficult to just lump them all into one category and choose the overall best.
Depending on how you’re planning on using yours you might be looking for the best rifle IR illuminator or best IR illuminator for digital night vision, so there’s no one that can rule them all. Here are our choices for the best illuminator in these popular categories.
Best IR Illuminator For Hunting: ATN IR850 Illuminator
They’re one of the most respected names in night vision gear, and ATN has so many great accessories to choose from if hunting at night is your passion. The ATN IR850 Illuminator is a long range device that is ideal for those who hunt, are in law enforcement, or the military, so you know that it has the goods to perform.
This is a long range illuminator and it offers twice the power that standard models do, and when used in conjunction with a digital scope you’ll really notice a difference.
The IR850 will achieve about 300 meters or 985 feet of vision at night so you can get the best views even in total darkness. The batteries are rechargeable which is a nice bonus and saves you from constantly having to replace them.
The adjustable mount that comes with this illuminator means you can attach it to a Weaver rail or ATN Smart Scope with ease, so you have quite a bit of versatility if you use a number of different weapons.
When you’re hunting, having something that’s adjustable like this can be a real time saver and it means you’re not limited to what you bring along with you.
Although it’s great to have a versatile illuminator, some found that the matter of getting the adjustments right took some time. They believe they could have been designed better and easier to use, and the lack of a proper manual with the product didn’t help much either.
Some customers had to look it up on Atn’s website to be able to read it clearly, which isn’t that good considering the price.
The adjustment issue aside, you really are getting a spectacular view at night when you use this in conjunction with your night vision scope.
Attaching the ATN IR850 to your platform will improve your skills, make you a stealthier hunter, and give you the edge that you need on your prey and others that you might be hunting with, so it’s definitely worth the price tag.
Best Long Range IR Illuminator: Streamlight Long Range Illuminator
Not everyone likes to get up close and personal with their night vision powers, so if this sounds like your approach you’ll want a powerful long range illuminator like the Streamlight.
This is a serious device with so many features that you won’t know where to begin. If you’re wondering what is the best long range illuminator, you can look no further.
The Streamlight Long Range Illuminator has an IPX 7 rated design and all of its openings are sealed with an O ring to prevent damage being done. This means you can take it out in all kinds of weather from rain to snow and not have to worry about it failing. It can even resist moisture in warmer climates and humid settings, so it’s an all-weather device.
Powered by lithium batteries and including two with purchase, you might find it annoying having to change them whenever things get low. However, with its special optimized electronics means this power is regulated while it’s being used so it will continue to deliver the same amount of light for the entire time that it’s on.
When you purchase a long range illuminator like this you have to be prepared for it to underperform when looking at objects up close. People found that it washed things out when they got too close and it was really only suited for long range viewing, so if you like to do a bit of both with your hunting then this might not be the best choice.
The Streamlight Long Range Illuminator works with a number of devices including the Streamlight 69100 Rail Mount and 75910 holster so it’s relatively easy to clip on to your setup.
This is a great choice for any long range needs you have and is especially good for hunting when you’re trying to scope out the game in the distance and don’t want to spook them.
Best Budget IR Illuminator: Evolva T20 Illuminator
When you’re looking for the best illuminator at an affordable price then definitely consider the Evolva T20 Illuminator. This device uses a powerful black LED light compared to the standard white you’d find on a flashlight, and it’s capable of delivering 850nm of infrared power.
The T20 uses an aspherical lens which means it can either focus in on one tight space for seeing things farther away or you can broaden the angle and create a full flood effect. The 38mm lens has a lot more adjustable range than you’d find on other IR illuminator seems so it’s ideal for those who like some variety in how and where they do their hunting or night vision shooting.
One major annoyance for those who purchased the T20 was that there was only one battery, and replacing it was kind of hard to do. As it uses an 8130 battery, these aren’t as readily available as you might think so if it runs out while you’re in the middle of a hunt then you’ll find it pretty much useless.
The battery is an inconvenience, but as long as you have a backup you should be okay. Packing an extra one in your hunting gear is recommended and possibly even buying them in bulk when you get the chance.
This device was designed to be lightweight and compact which it delivers on, so if we have to sacrifice somewhere and rely on this battery then that’s the price to pay for convenience elsewhere.
This is one of the more affordable illuminators on the market and it’s backed by a solid three year warranty from Evolva, so you can have peace of mind that it’s going to deliver. Although, not as long range as The other infrared illuminators mentioned with about 165 yards of coverage, it can do both close and long range viewing so it should be adequate for most.
What To Look For When Choosing An IR Illuminator
Shopping for something like an IR illuminator can be challenging, especially when you look at all the specifications and features to try and understand exactly what’s on offer.
To make your purchase even easier, we’re here to explain what features matter most and how they can impact the final product when it comes to finding the best night vision IR illuminator.
There are three different types of illuminator to choose from, and the one that’s best for you will depend on what device you’re using it for and how you plan on using it. The integral illuminator is one that’s built into the device so these can sometimes be found already installed on scopes.
An attachable IR illuminator is one that clips onto other weapons and they usually have been made to be compatible with specific types. A flashlight illuminator works just like a standard flashlight that you hold in your hand or fasten, however it doesn’t shine a bright light like you might expect.
There are a few different options for batteries in these devices, so you’ll need to think of them in addition to your rifle scope.
Batteries can either be one time use which will need replacing when they run low or rechargeable types that let you power them back up as needed. Some prefer the rechargeable method to save money whereas others like having replacement batteries that they can carry around with them.
Wave Length Of light
The wavelength of light is usually measured with “nm” so this is the easiest way to tell what it offers. The standard range for these devices is 730nm to 950nm with the higher numbers being able to emit a light that is virtually invisible to the human eye, and ideal for not startling prey when you’re hunting.
The range of an IR illuminator refers to how far ahead it can see, and this can be measured in feet or yards. Some might prefer a long range device that’s best for hunting from afar and others will want something that can flood the area instead.
There is the option to choose one that can do both, but they usually perform better when chosen for just one purpose and length.
Durability And Longevity
Any item that you take out hunting needs to be reliable, and there are a few ways you can look for a quality device.
The materials used for illuminators should be durable but lightweight enough that they don’t weigh down your entire platform. Another way to look for quality is with the warranty offered, with a few years being the minimum you would expect.
A Must Have Accessory For The Night Shooter
Once you try the thrill of night vision while you’re shooting you won’t ever want to go back to the daylight again. Not only do you need to get quality night vision gear like goggles or scopes though, but you also need a quality illuminator to make them work their best.
No matter how and where you plan on using your illuminator and night vision supplies, you really need to shop for one that suits your needs specifically. If you plan on laying low and hunting from afar, one of the long range options are best, but for those who like to mix it up and shoot from all distances then there are probably better choices available.
The wonder of night vision technology has truly changed the game for those who like to shoot, whether you’re playing a game of paintball with friends or on a hunting trip at night. With these handy devices you can see a whole world that you never experienced before, and it’s all thanks to this amazing technology and affordable brands.