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Old December 11, 2012, 01:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: September 27, 2004
Posts: 4,811
Let me approach this from a different angle.

Mistakes with N/V equipment are costly, so a bit of thinking ahead & planning will save you from possibly a very expensive mistake. This is a bit long & I apologize for that, but theres a lot of info you need as background so you can make a smart decision.

Ask your self (or your boyfriend) what exactly he plans to use it for & how exactly he plans to use it. This will dictate what exact type of unit you're looking for. I assume he's not contemplating military "night operations" against others with night vision equipment, so let's assume something like varmint hunting at night.

You said a "scope" & to me that implies a gun-mounted magnifying sighting systyem with night vision capacity. But there are other options with differing advantages & disadvantages, you can even combine some items to give an overlap of its capabilities.

A scope is just like a daylight scope in many ways, but with varying degrees of ability to see in low light/darkness. It has a restricted field of view, a bit like looking through a paper towel core held up to the eye. It also has the disadvantage of being bright in a very dark surrounding. That by itself can be a disadvantage as when using one you never develop natural night adaptation of the eyes as you would when your eye adjusted to night time levels of light. Removing it from your eye makes you completely night blind for 15 minutes or so.

Possibly either goggles or a monocular will be a better choice, particularly if you team it up with a night vision compatible red dot or holographic type sight attached to the gun. This would allow you to observe, navigate & so on with full night vision abilities & shoot with a night sight reticule, but you'd lose the magnification. It should be possible to get a good setup with both for (just) within your budget if you chose carefully. Weight can be an issue but I have a set that I can wear for a few hours without discomfort, mainly because they're balanced so they don't pull down on the front of the head constantly, creating neck strain.

As for how high tech it needs to be, it varies. "Costs more see more" is the rule, but wether you need to have some kind of "ultimate" NV or not is again a bit dependant on your needs. Firstly I'd ignore/forget just about 99% of anything you've seen on TV or in Movies. Most of that stuff is F/X instead of real life.

I have a good (not cheap, both exist) gen 1 Russian set of goggles. They give true binocular vision & allow you to operate/manipulate things because it gives you binocular vision's biggest advantage, 3D viewing & depth perception. They have less than 1:1 magnification, but in the real world that equates to normal depth perception & less barked knuckles because something looked "further away" (a comon problem with N/V goggles)!

They were bought for a specific purpose, working indoors in total darkness, but, they are perfectly usable outdoors in normal night time conditions, but can't cut it under heavy cloud at night or heavy foliage cover. They do have a built in IR illuminator, but like most of them its only useful to 12~15 feet. Image is fine I can see & identify things out to about 75 yds, after that the "pixellatiion" breaks up the image too much to be usable for fine detail work. They also are on a head-worn harness, which leaves the hands free, something to think about if you're planning on moving about with a rifle while wearing them.

I also have a 2nd gen rifle-mounted scope, it costs about $600~700 currently & being a European version is better than US made gen 2, because the US went to gen 3 which Europe can't get the technology for, so they developed better gen 2 instead.

It is big, it is heavy how big? this big, thats a full sized .30 caliber rifle it's sitting on!:

How heavy? About 4 1/2 Lbs. That limits your mobility a lot, but it saves you about $1,000 in costs over the newer more compact & lighter units. Its a used MilSurp unit, remember that. At some point you'll need maintenance or repair, how will you get spares & qualified service? Russian units are notoriously poor in providing customer support after the sale!

As for image quality this was taken under about a 1/4 moon in the Ozark National Forest 12 miles away from the nearest street light. Its perfectly adequate to do something like Cyote hunting out to about 200yds at night under moderate tree cover.

Is that "awesome"? I don't know, it depends again. Some have looked through it & said "Awesome!", some have looked & gone away unimpressed. I guess it depends on your level of expectation & experience with N/V.

Is there better, sure! Got about $5,000.00 spare then you can get Image intensification/thermal imaging combo units that are smaller & lighgter, they almost come up to Hollywood's portrail of N/V quipment even

Hopefully this will give you a bit of background & let you frame the questions to ask.
Allan Quatermain: “Automatic rifles. Who in God's name has automatic rifles”?

Elderly Hunter: “That's dashed unsporting. Probably Belgium.”

Last edited by wogpotter; December 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM.
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