This week, I will be reviewing The Bushnell Equinox Night Vision Scope.
Most SurvivalBlog.com readers readily know that I’m a bargain hunting hound. I have to be. I simply don’t have enough income to purchase all the “toys” I want. It’s been this way my entire life, too. Several of my are amazed at my bartering skills and survival mindset, but I have to be this way. Now that I’m semi-retired and collecting my very meager social security benefits each month, I once again am forced by life to make do with what we have.
I know that many people believe that all writers make millions of dollars a year. If only that were the case! Most gun writers I know hold down a second regular job. They can’t live on what they are paid for their articles. What we do is akin to a “ministry”, if you will. Our hearts are in it. We love to pass along information to our readers. When testing various products, we all hope we get it right most of the time.
The local gun shop knows that I love a bargain. It has to be a bargain before I’ll even look at a firearm and consider purchasing it. Every now and then, the gun shop will set a firearm aside for me. They seem to know that I’ll probably buy it some how! I know I’m in trouble when I walk in the front door and someone starts waving a gun in the air to get my attention. Grrrr!!
Friends who know me and my family well are always amazed, even shocked actually, to learn how little we spend each month for food, too. We’ve learned to live in a survival-type mode, when it comes to eating most months. Again, circumstance and life in general have forced us to live this way. We don’t mind. We’ve been doing it all our married lives. To us, it is just a way of life that many people can’t understand.
Even after being married for close to 38 years now, my wife and my daughters still don’t understand my likes and dislikes in food. I’m a simple eater. My favorite food is pizza. Even homemade pizza is high on my list. My second favorite food is a good Chicago-style hot dog. Then we have a good burger. I know many will disagree with me, but I even enjoy a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. After that, just about any kind of sausage is on my list. Toss in a side dish of some sort, such as macaroni salad or potato salad, and I’m living the good life. Really!
Okay. I just wanted to lay down some of my own ground rules, when it comes to buying just about anything. If it isn’t a deal in my mind, I’m not interested in even looking at it. However, with my survival mindset, I know there are certain things that we must have for long-term, or even short-term, survival. Of course, we have a good food supply and firearms and ammo– all the basic things anyone should have. We have good camping and survival gear, too. We don’t cut corners on these things. If we have to, we’ll save up to buy the best. If you buy junk, you will continue to replace it with more junk.
We live out in the boonies. At least most folks think it’s the boonies. We are 10 miles outside of one small town and six miles outside of another small town in Western Oregon. Plus, we are three miles off the beaten path– the main highway. We are really tucked in there. It’s easy enough to find, if you know where we live. But it’s far enough off the main road that in a serious SHTF scenario, the bad guys are going to go after easier and closer targets. Still, security is a concern. There are no street lights where we live, and we like it that way. It is a very rural road, too.
We have a huge front yard. Our house is too close to the road, but we like the area. So we make do. We fenced the front yard and have two driveways. One enters to our house, and the other to our tiny guest house next door, where our oldest daughter lives. We have driveway alarms and then the best alarms of all– our German Shepherds. They are always alert to anything passing by our house. They let us know. Still, at night, things go “bang” and need to be investigated.
We have motion-sensor lights at various locations, too. It helps light up certain areas of the yard and the houses. Still, for the most part, our huge front yard is in the dark when the sun goes down. Yes, we have high-powered flashlights that can light up the entire yard and even my neighbor’s property across the road. But there are times when I want to look around and not be seen by holding a flashlight. Enter night vision scopes!
I’ve owned at least a couple dozen different night vision scopes over the years. They’ve ranged from the really poor quality Russian imported versions 20 years ago to some of the most hi-tech Gen3+ night vision scopes that easily cost ten grand. No, I didn’t actually own some of those expensive scopes. They were on loan for articles. I would have loved to have kept them. But back to my budget and my survival mindset, I have to look for the most/best use for my money. That usually means Gen 1 night vision scopes. But not all Gen 1 scopes are the same, not even close. I’m not sure if there is an agency that controls the generation classification of a night vision scope.
My survival mindset is like this, and it should be your mindset, too. One is none, and two is one. That means that you should have a backup to all your gear, including firearms, knives, tents, and every night vision scope. If you only have one firearm and it goes down, you are in deep, deep trouble. If you only have one night vision scope and it goes down, how do you see at night? The time will come, and I promise it will, when you will need to see without being seen! We have contingency plans. A few other like-minded people who will make their way to our digs when the SHTF will join with us.
We are all former military and know how to patrol or set up listening posts or observation posts. In pitch black, it is impossible to see without a night vision scope. You don’t want to turn on a flashlight and give away your location. A night vision scope is an absolute must, if you ask me.
The local gun shop I haunt is also a pawn shop. They get some great deals on products and pass the deals along to their customers. I ran across a brand-new Bushnell Equinox night vision monocular. The original price, from where it came from, was $249. I got it for $125, which was a steal-of-a-deal. Bushnell manufacturers several different Equinox night vision scopes, too. They are not all the same. This model is a 3-power with the front objective lens being 30mm. This is about perfect. Keep in mind that this is a Gen 1 scope, sorta.
This Equinox model operates on two CR123 batteries. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about it. I would have preferred it run on AAA or AA batteries that I can recharge. However, I have a very good supply of CR123 batteries, and I add to my supplies every couple of months. Viewing range on this particular scope is about 650 feet. That’s pretty good. It will more than suffice where we live. Because of the heavy timber, I can’t see all that far in most areas. This is one of the smallest handheld night vision scopes I’ve played around with. It is only about five inches long, less than three inches tall, and less than two inches wide. Plus, it only weighs 7.4 oz with the two batteries installed.
You can also mount it on a tripod, too. It is water-resistant, not waterproof, so care for it accordingly. It will operate from 113 degrees down to minus 10 degrees. In weather that’s hotter or colder than that, keep it inside your pack or clothing and only take it out and use it for a short period of time. Keep in mind that it will operate in temperaturess above and below the specified ranges, but manufactures play it on the safe side.
The Equinox comes with a front lens cover. Keep it on until needed. Never turn your night vision scope on in bright sunlight or point it at bright lights. If you do, you’ll ruin it. It’s just that simple. Another very unique feature on this scope is that you can view the surroundings with the traditional green hue or press a button to make everything in black & white. This is important. If you constantly look through any night vision scope at everything green, it will play tricks with your eyes. So, you can switch back and forth with this model, which is super cool if you ask me.
We also have a built-in infra red illuminator, for those nights when there is no ambient light from the moon or starts. The infra red illuminator allows you to see out to about 10 yards. It really lights things up without lighting up your position, and it can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Bushnell claims that this model exceeds specs for Gen 2 night vision scopes. I’m not about to dispute their claim. It is “that” clear when you look through it. Everything is sharp, edge-to-edge, too. Bushnell also claims that this model is energy efficient and will run, without the infra red illuminator on, for six hours. Well, I will dispute this. I’ve tested my sample, and it easily ran more than eight hours. Keep in mind that you will not be looking through a night vision scope for a 12-hour night shift. You will turn it on and off at various intervals to check out your surrounds or when you hear something go bump in the night.
At 100 yards, you have a 46-foot field of view. That’s really more than sufficient. This scope is easy to operate, too. It has an easy on/off, and it is simple to turn on the infra red light. Focusing is done through the front lens and the rear. Once you have the rear lens focused for your eyes, then any further adjustments are done using the front lens. As mentioned, you can view things through the green hue or switch it, very easily, to view things in black and white. In my testing, I found it easier to see some things through the green hue and other things, especially in heavy wooded areas, using the black and white hue It’s great!
Here’s one nice feature, too! You can adjust the brightness of whatever you are viewing. Well, its not the brightness of the object but how bright you are able to view through the lens. Sometimes things appear too bright and they are harder to see. In this case, you can tone it down a little bit by simply rotating a knob. How cool is that? A greed LED on the front of the scope will start flashing when you are down to about 15% battery life. When you are changing out the batteries, change them both out at the same time.
One thing you will notice with many night vision scopes are the tiny black specks in the lens. These specks are part of the manufacturing process. There is nothing wrong with your scope. My sample had to look very hard to see those tiny imperfections. Don’t let it bother you.
It is very difficult to take pictures through a night vision scope with a digital camera. The on-board computer in the camera goes a little bit crazy. The coputer tries to focus on things outside of the lens, when the camera lens is actually right up against the rear lens of the night vision monocular. Be advised that my daughter and I played around a lot to get the best pictures we could for this article. This Equinox scope’s capabilities are much better than the pictures reflect, much better. This scope will not dissapoint you. It is so good that I’m on the look out for another model. While I have a couple of other night vision scopes, this one is just outstanding. Even if you paid $249, you’d be getting a great deal. However, I have to find a super-deal before I’ll buy another one.
If you live in the city or out in the country, you will appreciate being able to see without being seen during a SHTF scenario. Trust me on this. So, check out this Bushnell Equinox night vision scope. It is a must-have in your preps!– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio
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Exactly which model “Bushnell Equinox Night Vision Scope” is this? Or do all them about the same capability? Are models with the “Z” in the name any better?
It is just called the Bushnell Equinox 3X30 Compact Nightvision on the box…no other info…Pat
you can buy rechargeable cr123a batteries from all-battery.com
Pat, thank you for another excellent review. About a year ago I purchased an Equinox Z. It is basically the same unit you described in this review, but with some nice added features. It uses 4 AA batteries for power. I haven’t timed the battery life, but it is impressive. Also it has a built in camera/camcorder function. It doesn’t come with an SD card but can accept one up to 32GB. It has a Picatinny rail, but no reticle for weapon sighting, I plan to pair it with an IR laser on a night only rifle. It has a day time mode as well, but the picture clarity is not as crisp as a good set of binoculars.
thanks for all you do.
Bushnell also makes a rifle mount version of the Equinox Z in 4.5×40, It mounts on a Picatinny rail, and, when combined with a red dot sight, makes a decent low-cost night vision set up for your rifle. One thing to keep in mind – it’s long (nearly 8″), so you need to have a long upper rail if you want to mount both it and your red dot.
Thanks for the review. Just curious…it is a positive review because it only cost $125? Would the recommendation change if you had to pay full price? How does this compare to competitors in the same price range?
I have a very early version of this unit you tested, and have put many hours on it over the last few years … still working great and uses AAA batteries. I plan to buy another one even if its full price as I know feel its warranted based upon your article. Thank you very much for the reviews. I read every one of them even if I’m not going to buy the product; if someone asks me about an item you’ve reviewed I can give them good advise.
God bless and keep safe.
Without the unit having crosshairs wouldn’t it be considered a monocular?
That IR illuminator WILL light up your position, if someone else out there has NV as well.
Outdoors, I will never use an IR illuminator. The Taliban have used cheap digital cameras, just to detect IR light on the battlefield.
In the article you mentioned that you have several motion detected lights on your property. I’t wouldn’t take much to convert those, in a shtf scenario, or even install extra ones with IR light bulbs. The possibilties of what you wanted to do are limitless as far as setup and function. For instance have the timers on the standard bulb motion lights shut off after a few minutes and the IR ones stay on for longer. Even install some in the woods that you mentioned. Again options are limitless.
How does this compare to the firefield you reviewed a while back?
Pat, Do they make a helmet mount for it and if you use it while shooting will the muzzle blast fry the tube?
I often stay in a RV parked in total darkness. Will this unit work looking out through a glass window.
The unit can ‘see’ infrared light coming in through glass, but if the illuminator is on it will be just like trying to look through a window with a flashlight. Your best bet would be to mount one or more infrared flood lights on the outside of your RV (you can find them on Amazon) and turn the illuminator off when you’re looking through the window.