Learn more about night vision devices here.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
|Product|| || ||
|Lens Diameter||20 mm||24mm||26 mm|
|Resolution||35 lp/mm on center||47-54 lp/mm||64-72 lp/mm|
|Angular Field of View||30°||40°||40°|
|Weight||14 oz without head mount||16 oz||18 oz|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||5.2" x 4.9" x 2.1"||5.9" x 4.0" x 2.7"||6" x 3" x 6"|
|Battery Life||40 to 80 hours||60 hours||40 hours|
|Power Supply||(2) 1.5 volt Type-N batteries||(1) 3V CR123A battery or (1) 1.5V AA battery||(2) AA|
Night Owl Optics NOBG1
The Night Owl Optics brand is well known for producing affordable night vision optics that are frills-free yet effective. The NOBG1 is very basic but effective goggles for the night vision enthusiast on a budget.
This two-lens goggles offer a wider 30-degree field of view. They are designed for movement on foot, or for recreational vehicles like ATVs and UTVs.
With a Generation 1 device, you have a few flaws that you have to put up with. Namely, it lacks recognition and detection range. You are quite limited with a resolution of only 35 lp/mm in the center.
Like all Generation 1 devices, there is distortion around the edges of the view. The center is clear, but far from perfect. Do not expect to see fine details of say someone’s face or a deer’s horns. You have to counter these resolution elements with an integral IR illuminator.
It’s nice that Night Owl includes a full head mount, similar to a HALO system. It is an all-encompassing system which I can greatly appreciate being budget minded myself.
The optics also has a bright light cut-off system. This prevents the optics from being exposed to damage by sudden and bright lights. The battery life ranges from 40 to 80 hours, depending on the usage of IR illuminators.
- Resolution: 35 lp/mm
- Magnification: none (1-to-1)
- Angular Field of View: 30 degrees
- Weight: 14 oz
Best for the Money
Armasight Nyx7 Gen 2+
Finding a system that strikes a balance between quality and cost can be difficult. To find this perfect compromise of cost and effectiveness, you have to look at what creates quality and what can be sacrificed to lower the cost.
The Armasight Nyx7 Gen 2+ is an effective and affordable unit. Let’s get cost out of the way now, and I can get on to describing why the system succeeds.
For the money, you are getting a Generation 2+ system that is incredibly versatile.
You get a great 47-54 lp/mm resolution, with very little distortion around the edges of the lenses. You get a wide 40-degree field of view that makes moving, aiming, and driving vehicles easy and safe.
The system has an integral IR illuminator and can accept an external IR illuminator for longer range viewing. It can attach to any universal helmet or HALO mount.
It features an automatic brightness control, bright light cut-off, and IR indicator in the field of view.The battery is capable of powering it for a total of 60 hours.
To cut the costs, the system has what is considered a bi-ocular. Meaning it has two inputs for your eyes and one output lens in the center.
Of course Gen 2 tubes are another cost-saving device, compared to Gen 3 units which cost more than double its price. The Nyx7 is an excellent compromise of cost and effectiveness for those looking to save a bit of money.
- Resolution: 47-54 lp/mm
- Magnification: 1x (3x 5x 7x optional)
- Angular Field of View: 40 degrees
- Weight: 16 oz
Best for Hunting
Night Optics Patrolman Gen 3
Using night vision goggles for hunting is one of the most exciting ways to hunt. The animals are often more confident at night and easier to sneak up on. It’s also challenging to shoot them in the dead of night.
Because hunting at night uses a firearm, you always have to follow some basic safety rules. One is to know your target. So you need to be able to see it clearly with high-quality night vision goggles like the Night Optics Patrolman Generation 3.
These goggles deliver an extremely clear and bright 64-72 lp/mm resolution. There is no distortion around the edges of the lens. You get that clear picture you need to identify your target.
When hunting animals, you need to be able to see them clearly to ensure you are taking a legal game animal. A low resolution can make it very easy for a fox look like an opossum. In some states, killing a fox is a major felony and one you want to avoid.
The Patrolman Gen 3 comes equipped with an integral IR illuminator and can easily attach to any major mounting system.
The Patrolman system is autogated so it is protected from sudden exposure to bright lights. It is waterproof and can even be submerged to 3 feet for 30 minutes. It also has an outstanding detection and recognition range. These ranges are 1148 feet and 984 feet respectively.
The downside of the Patrolman series is the pound plus weight that makes it uncomfortable to mount on the head.
- Resolution: 64 -72 lp/mm
- Magnification: 1x
- Angular Field of View: 40 degrees
- Weight: 18 oz
Night vision goggles are interesting.
They are used around the world by the military, and are also available to you and I. When shopping for one, you need to consider what exactly you are going to do with it; especially that they can be used for a variety of purposes — from recreational to tactical.
Gen 1 goggles are better for casual observation and learning to use night vision.
The low resolution makes it difficult and unsafe to drive or shoot with it. General surveillance of an area is possible, however recognition is difficult. It’s a great choice for airsofters and paintballers.
Gen 2 optics allow you to step your game up when it comes to the use of night vision. It is the lowest generation optics that can be used for hunting, shooting, and driving safely.
Generation 2 and 2+ optics have a massive increase in resolution. They also need a less ambient light to function than Gen 1 devices. Gen 2 optics are not something I’d trust my life on during a tactical situation. But they are capable enough for easy movement and easy shooting.
With a Gen 3 set of goggles, you can do basically anything. They provide enough power and a resolution high enough to see and recognize almost anyone and anything at a respectable range. This is what the military is currently using in combat.
These devices are the first level you start to get tactical with. Rom tactical patrols to clearing rooms, these goggles work extremely well. They can also be used for observation, surveillance, hunting, shooting, driving, and more.
Gen 4 goggles are the best of the best when it comes to night vision technology. These devices provide the clearest picture currently possible with night vision technology.
Like Gen 3, Gen 4 devices are suited for tactical units. They can do everything a Gen 3 device can, but they do it clearer. The downside is the extreme cost that goes with its performance.
Weight is a major issue to consider when buying night vision goggles, since they are designed to be mounted on a helmet or a head-worn system. If they are too heavy, they can cause discomfort and strain to your neck. You really want to stay under 2 pounds if possible.
The size of a unit becomes a major issue if you attempt to try and use a firearm while utilizing the goggles. Too large and it makes it near impossible to gain a cheek weld on your rifle.
You need to determine what mounting system is compatible with your night vision goggles, and how exactly you are planning to wear them.
Rhino helmet mounts are the most common and what most military forces use. This mount is directly attached to either a helmet via a screw or to a tensioned strap.
A HALO or head mount does not require a helmet. It is composed of bands and webbing that situate the goggles over your eyes. These mounts are lighter, cooler, and cheaper than a helmet and mount system, but less comfortable overall.
Autogated devices are incredibly handy when wearing goggles since they are commonly used while moving, shooting, and even driving. The appearance of sudden bright lights can be dangerous. This sudden light exposure can easily damage a non-gated device.
An autogated device will not be damaged by bright light and will often shut off completely when exposed to bright lights.
An integral illuminator for night vision is important and desirable, especially with monoculars or binoculars.
It reduces the weight and complexity of an attached unit. It also makes it possible to see and move when there is little to no ambient light.
Goggles are designed to be worn while shooting, walking, and driving. For these tasks, you really want a zero to 1 magnification. If magnification is present, you may have difficulty moving safely.
When we start thinking of “night vision”, we usually picture night vision goggles. The tactical aspects make these a highly desirable system for night time movement.
Using goggles can also be a lot of fun, especially when playing MilSim airsoft. You can easily live out your Tom Clancy fantasies with a set of night vision goggles!