I was able to take a few Sightmark demo products out for testing this past weekend. Of them, the Night Raider 2.5×50 night vision riflescope stood out the most. It is designed for short to medium range shooting for calibers up to 7.62/.308. The main body is made of titanium which helps reduce the overall weight (a few parts, like the battery cover, are made of hard plastic). For those not accustomed to night vision scopes, the Night Raider 2.5×50 may seem a bit hefty on your rifle, weighing in at 38.2 oz. on our scale (with batteries installed).
The controls all feel solid with appropriate resistance with the exception of the reticle brightness knob. It adjusted a little too easily for my liking and felt like it could get accidentally adjusted; but does allow for precise brightness control. The objective focus knob is located in front of the power switch and clicks in a way similar to windage and elevation adjustments. There is an extra solid detent marked 100 m which is easily felt and useful for rough range estimation. The power switch has three position options: off, on, and on with IR illumination. A three button remote is also included (power, IR, and “quick start”) that provides operating convenience. There are also two Velcro strips with adhesive that allow you to quickly secure the remote as desired. The remote cord is somewhat tricky to attach to the scope, but is very secure once screwed in. The provided lens cover has a pinhole allowing the scope to be tested or sighted in daylight type conditions and is secured by a rubber fastener. The design of the fastener makes removing or securing the lens cover a bit slow but also ensures it won’t accidentally fall off.
The image is clear for an entry level Gen 1 scope, especially when the IR illuminator is on and within its effective range. There is barrel distortion on the edges, but it is less noticeable than with many Gen 1 devices. I tested on clear moonless night making the IR illuminator necessary in order to see much detail beyond 20 yards. The IR beam width can be adjusted by twisting the lens ring, however, adjusting the beam had little impact on effective range. A human form could easily be detected at approximately 150 yards with the illuminator turned on, so I’d recommend using an additional illuminator for any range beyond 150 yards on dark nights. It is important to note that the integrated illuminator outputs some red light in the visual spectrum. If you point it directly at someone, it is easily seen making it possible to give away your position with it turned on.
Overall, the Night Raider is a solid entry level Gen 1 option for those wanting night vision capability at a reasonable cost. For those looking for a step up, the Sightmark Night Raider line of scopes are also available with improved internal components sold under the Pulsar Night Vision brand name as the Pulsar Sentinal GS and Pulsar Sentinal G2.
Adam Alm is a night vision and outdoor enthusiast. A former Air Force fighter pilot, Adam gained night vision experience in combat missions and, more recently, with commercial night vision products. Originally from state of Washington, he now owns and operates ViperEyes.com with his wife Lindsay.