I spent some time thinking as to how to go about writing this article and have changed things from how I initially wanted to approach it.
At first I was going to talk about all the different meanings of night vision terms and what they do, but there is already lots of good information online about this already. What is lacking is a strait up answer to is it worth it to buy high end quality night optics.
If you are reading the articles here it is obvious you are interested in firearms and shooting. At some point you have looked at night vision and probably thought “man that’s expensive stuff, maybe one day” and written it off as something to do at a later date or if you won the lottery.
While it can be a daunting task figuring out exactly what you need, what works with what, and coming to terms with spending the money on it we can simplify things quite a bit and make it a lot easier. On to the question at hand, is it worth it to buy high end (gen 3) night optics?
Without a doubt the answer to this is yes, plain and simple. Once you have the opportunity to look through a high end device you will be astounded and think no wonder our military loves to work at night. There will always be people saying “I have a gen 1 optic and I can see fine with it there’s no need to buy the expensive higher end optics”. My answer to this is these people probably have never looked through a gen 3 device.
Back in April of 2014 I decided it was time for me to take the plunge in to night vision, but like everyone else I was not sure where to start but I knew it was going to be with a pvs14. I saw lots of places selling them online but found mixed results of the end product, some being very high performing devices then a week later someone got one that was less than stellar from the same vendor.
I knew Tactical Night Vision Company (www.tnvc.com) had a good reputation online for being of quality so I shot off an email and a couple phone calls to test the waters, I never mentioned Loose Rounds in any correspondence. I spoke with a few different people as well as the CEO Vic who I have chatted with a few times and personally took care to make sure I was squared away with my purchase.
All items I purchased were out of my own pocket with no discount. I opted to go with what is considered an entry level setup. A Team Wendy LTP bump helmet, USGI Rhino mount, and a TNV/PVS-14 with an ITT tube.
When I received everything in I was especially surprised when looking at the data sheet for the tube, with specs that exceeded Omni 8 military specs.
I then started setting it up for me, I’m using a surefire M1 for additional illumination when needed, a TLR1 pistol light for a white light option, an IR beacon on top, and a counterweight on the back to help balance things out.
I also bought a small IR laser to aid in aiming at night, which will be getting replaced by the Atpial-C which will be reviewed soon. I had no trouble wearing out a 6 inch steel plate at 100 yards under starlight only. I feel comfortable at being able to ID a man size target out to 200-300 yards and is possible to get hits on target at 150 yards once you get accustom to working with the laser and a solid rest.
For the past 10 months any chance I get I take off in to the night to see what working at night is all about. Sometimes tracking down coyotes, other times shooting from barricades and normal drills I would do during the day. It definitely changes your outlook on things, no longer are you limited to only working in the day time or giving away your position by using a light at night.
In the future I will be looking at ways to get some quality “down the tube” images from the PVS-14 to illustrate what exactly I am looking at as the pictures I have tried taking don’t properly reflect the devices capability as well as how I approach aiming with the laser, and working with different types of cover from foliage to solid objects.
To wrap things up if you have ever been interested in night vision or are using a lower end device, yes it is worth it to pony up for the higher end optics. While there is no definitive go buy this solution to what you should buy, giving TNVC a call and telling them what you intend to do is a great place to start and rest assured there will be no questions regarding quality of the device you receive or customer service like other vendors you may deal with.