Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Night Vision – essential for security

We attack at dawn! 

For centuries, this was the strategy for attackers who wanted to surprise their sleeping enemy. Attacking from the east also had the sun to their back and in their enemies’ eyes. But times have changed with the invention of night vision.  Now the time to attack is near the darkest point, with silencers or bows and arrows.  With out night vision, it is your most vulnerable time.
There are a few good options on Night Vision, and many cheap ones, so it is important to check around. Most people start with a cheap one and wish either they had bought a better one, or later they do buy a better one. Here is my advice.

Check with people you know and trust but also look at the ratings on places like Amazon who publishes the good and bad ratings alike. I only buy products with 4 star ratings or higher (5 star system) , that have been rated by 10 or more buyers, and have less than 10% of their ratings as only 1 star.

The same company makes many of the inexpensive brands so again trusted ratings are important. The main classification system is Generation 1, 2, 3 & 4. Four is latest and best but only available to the military. There is a big step up in cost and notable step in performance with each newer Generation. The Gen 1 sells typically for less than $1,000 and prices have gotten lower over time with some down around two hundred dollars. The Gen 2 is roughly from slightly under $1,000 to $2,000 and Gen 3 is 2,000 and higher. This is rough pricing, there are wide ranges on all of them, and in time, they should get lower. It is important to remember that you pay for what you get although you do not always “get what you pay for.” Some times, you pay high prices for good quality but get junk if you are not careful.

This link shows some dark night examples of the G1, G2 & G3 differences:

After considering the different Generations, there is Thermal like the FLIR, which is the best for seeing warm-blooded creatures with prices down just under $2,000 now for the least inexpensive models.

You can buy several types of NV (Night Vision) equipment:
  1. Monocles (lowest cost)
  2. Binoculars
  3. Scopes, with sights, cross hairs, dots, etc.
These different types have different ways to use them.
  1. Hand held only (lowest cost)
  2. Hand held &/or head &/or helmet mount
  3. Rifle Mount
Obviously, the most flexible mounting is one that does it all.
Using a low cost Gen 1 Monocle hand held, it sees OK out to about 75 yards in an open field on a star lit night, but only 25 – 50 yards in heavy woods or a dark over cast night. It is a good starter tool and can be used by a sentry or guard post observing the area, but you cannot hardly aim or shoot a rifle with it at all.

I like the Gen 3 PVS-14. It does not have any type of sighting like a scope does, but it is small and will mount in line with many scopes or sighting systems and will see 100 to 200  yards in most conditions except fog which favors a thermal sight. Here is a 100-yard example for the PVS-14:

It usually comes with a head mounting harness and a rail mount that will fit behind your scope and you can buy a Mitch helmet mount for about a hundred dollars. A very important feature is that the PVS is GATED. It switches off when exposed to light, protecting if from washing out like less expensive brands do. I have heard that being exposed to light a few times can render them useless.

Using the head mount, you can wear it and look around in all directions, with out having to point your gun (an act of aggression), and then aim through your gun sight to fire. This is easier to look around and an advantage as opposed to pointing your rifle everywhere, especially if you are in a snipers sight and he sees you point your rifle at him when just looking around.

Several sights like the EOTech 558

and Aimpoint Micro T1 are night vision compatible. They light up their sight with a NV visible only dot, so others do not see it and it does not illuminate your face like sights might. In addition, the T1 has a five-year battery life if left on full time. The EOTech battery life is about 600 hours on AA batteries, which is what I like about it along with many other excellent features.

Another consideration is the ACOG TA31 low light Scope (not NV).

It is the most popular with the military and has been for many years. They have one of the most versatile AR reticle aiming systems available for close range (Chevron) AND longer distance cross hairs for “large” targets. It also has a clever built-in ranging system. The cross hairs cover a 19″ wide target at their intended range. So you raise the scope up until the cross hairs width covers the width of an enemy soldier and fire as that is the correct range to use. They have a light gathering fiber optic tube that works well even in low light conditions and they have Tritium lighted cross hairs for use in semi-darkness although it will not be as good as a PVS 14 in total darkness or beyond 100 yards, and cannot be worn on a head mount like a mono or the PVS.

My preferred set up would be a Head / Helmet mount PVS-14 with a Micro T1 Aimpoint red dot sight for night (or the EOTech) and the ACOG TA31 for day time. This is a low/no battery consumption set up, with the night vision being the highest battery consumption, lasting about 40 hours. Normally, I like tools that use common AA batteries, which is not the case here, but rechargeable batteries are available although fully charged they run only about ½ as long.

There are obviously people who would disagree and that prefer other set-ups, but you cannot go wrong with these quality products and are unlikely to regret your purchase. Their only down side is they are expensive, but you pay for what you get, and remember your life could depend on these some day.

For more information on Security, see Passive Layered Security for your home and property or read the Prepper Handbook. on Amazon.  It is too large to publish in one paper book but you can down load the free reader on your computer, iPad or iPhone, order the book and read it with out a Kindle.

For additional information see the following links:

The Rule of 3 (set priorities by this)
Why we are ALL Preppers (for skeptics)

Food and water:

Edible Wild Plants:

Natural Disaster Preparations

Firearms and security:
Investing for Preppers (Financial Security)


Wilderness Survival:
Survival Pack (Security Patrol or Bug Out pack)

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