SO YOU WANT TO GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT?
WHAT IS NIGHT VISION?
In simple terms, a night vision device allows you to see in the dark as if it was daytime. This technology makes shooting in the dark just as easy as shooting during the day.
There are 2 main types of Night vision Devices. Analog night vision & digital night vision. Here at Black Flag Aresenal, we specialize in Analog (“true”) night vision devices. In general, there are a couple options in the night vision world: A monacle, or “duals”.
A night vision monacle, most commonly referred to as a PVS-14, is a small unit that you can mount to a helmet, and you use only one eye to view through it. “Duals” get a little more complex, as there are multiple different models (and acronyms) of dual tube night vision, that all have their own unique benefits and drawbacks.
Price varies widely, especially in the dual tube market, as different features come into play. Do you want your tubes to articulate? Do you want the lightest housing possible? Do you need a housing that allows you to use a remote battery pack? Do you want the exact model the Marines are using RIGHT NOW? The list of questions could continue, but they are some of the questions that might steer you to different models of “duals”.
Everything you can do with a set of duals, you can also do with a PVS-14. Duals just makes it easier.
Our base recommendation is, if your budget allows for it, go with a set of duals that meets your needs and budget. If your budget doesn’t allow for a set of duals, then get into a good quality PVS-14 and get out there and start training!
The biggest factor in the nightvision world, is training with it. A guy/gal who goes out and trains with a beat up 15 year old tube will shoot circles around someone with the nicest set of Duals, who’s never been out and used it. You don’t even need to shoot (all the time), just go out and take a walk through the woods, and get time behind your tubes!
WHAT IS THERMAL?
Thermal provides the unique ability to see the thermal heat signature of your environment. Unlike analog night vision, where you look through the device at the true image, with thermal you are looking at a digital screen inside the device. Thermals’ major advantage is its ability to quickly identify and highlight hot objects like animals and people. Thermal can both be mounted on a helmet like night vision (see image bellow) or mounted to a rifle as a thermal scope (see image above).
With thermal, as with all things, you get what you pay for. Generally as price increases, the amount of features and quality of sensor increases. With a better quality sensor, comes some benefits, like: Longer detection distances, better resolution, which helps with target identifcation at distance. For instance, it allows you to be able to tell the difference between a Coyote, and your barn cat at a longer distance, which we’re sure you can understand why that is beneficial.
Thermals come in two form factors, weapon mountable, and a monacle. Weapon mountable units can be used as a scope itself, with built in magnification abilities, or as a clip on, that goes in front of your existing glass. A monacle can be held in the hand, or mounted to a helmet similar to a nightvision monacle. if you want to get into the latest and greatest with thermal, you can run a hybrid set up which we discuss below.
WHAT IS HYBRID?
Hybrid is the new kid on the block. By helmet mounting both a night vision monocular and a thermal monocular one can achieve a thermal and night vision overlay. This technology is in the early stages and therefore is not perfect but can be achieved with specialized adaptors. This type of set up is not ideal for everyone, but in certain circumstances provides clear advantages.
THINGS TO HELP YOU SHOOT
An IR laser allows you to aim under night vision by projecting a beam of infrared light. The infrared (IR) spectrum is not visible by the naked eye making your laser invisible to anyone without nightvision. This IR laser can be sighted in with your rifle so that you simply put the laser dot on your target and pull the trigger. When done correctly, this enables you to shoot quite accurately, even at a distance. Most laser aiming modules also include a visible laser. The visible and IR lasers can be switched between easily. Laser Aiming Devices (LAM’s) can be activated by pressing a button on the device itself, or using a remote pressure pad that connects to the LAM via wire, which you would then mount somewhere on your weapon.
IR Illuminators allow you to light up even the darkest corners. Think of it as a flashlight, but one that is only seen by someone with a night vision device. While night vision devices can enhance vision in a dark environment, it does need a small amount of light to function optimally. If it is an overcast night or you are inside a structure, you will want an IR illuminator.
IR Illuminators sometimes come integrated into your LAM (Laser aiming module), or as a separate device you control indepedent of the LAM. It all depends on the LAM you purchased. Some IR illuminators, like the Surefire Mini Scout Light Pro IR, can also function as a standard weapon light, and switching between IR and White light mode is as simple as twisting the control head of the unit.