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  1. #1
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    If you could only have one...

    I have been thinking about getting some type of night vision for a while now. I will definitely have to save up for it, but it's a good goal to have.

    The question is between night vision and thermal, which one would you get (and why)?

    I'm sure there are pros and cons to each one, I'm just not familiar enough to know enough to make a decision.

    I am not (yet) asking for specific recommendations but rather a why or why not for each one. Later on I can get into specifics.

    In general though I don't want to spend some insane amount. I would say between $1000 and $2000 would be the price range.

    I also don't need anything to see a mile away. I'm primarily thinking about say a 100 to 200ish yard ability to ID and/or take a shot.

    I'm not sure what form any of this will take. I've seen tons of people with helmet mounted gear and all that, but I've also seen pic rail mounted options, and even things that mount to an existing scope.

    At this point I am thinking about maybe mounting something on my 300blk or even my 10.5. Both of them have RDS and one is QD so taking them off isn't a big deal.

    I don't know enough to really make any kind of decision but hopefully I can learn more going forward.

  2. #2
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    Would be good if you defined some priorities. E.g., threat ID on the property, or killing a hog? Pretty limited budget, there. For the "threat ID on the property" I'd think maybe a PVS-14 monocular but then you'd want an IR Laser, too. For the hunting scenario, then the Pulsar / Sightmark scopes could make sense.

    I don't own any of the above.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    Would be good if you defined some priorities. E.g., threat ID on the property, or killing a hog? Pretty limited budget, there. For the "threat ID on the property" I'd think maybe a PVS-14 monocular but then you'd want an IR Laser, too. For the hunting scenario, then the Pulsar / Sightmark scopes could make sense.

    I don't own any of the above.
    I am starting completely from scratch. At this point I am looking more for pros and cons of NV vs Thermal. Why would one be better than the other or vice versa.

    If it comes out that I would need to throw $5 grand at it, I probably won't do it. That said I threw out that 'budget' because I have seen several things that fall in that price range.

    As for my use of it, probably primarily for night hunting of pigs, but also for threat ID or whatever around the house. It will more than likely get used but not in some super hard use extreme environment or anything like that. If pigs get to tearing up my yard (or someone else's) I would like the option to go out there at night and help eliminate the problem from a deer stand or whatever.

  4. #4
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    The general rule of thumb is that thermal is used for detection, while I2 is used for PID.

  5. #5
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    Disclaimer: I am not a frequent NV shooter, although I have hunted and shot under NODS a handful of times. That said, here is my advice, based on research that I've done.

    And money is the solution to the whole NV question. Cubic dollars. A helmet-mounted binocular NV system can run $7,500 for an acceptable setup, and that's just the tubes. The helmet, mount, battery pack, and any other add-ons are yet to be added to the tally. There's a guy that advertises on the M4C marketplace that offers such a deal on Harris/L3 PVS-14 tubes, white phosphor, gen 3, so, decent start, but not for the faint of heart! NV Guys does have binocular packages closer to 5k, including the mount. Those use PVS-14'a as well, IIRC, but there is a wide range in quality and some "kits" require assembling the components. Returns are another huge factor, and like anything else, "buy once, cry once" and "you get what you pay for" apply in full force.

    Another option for you would be a clip-on to mount in front of your weapon-mounted optic, but the limitation is that you're swinging the barrel around, tracking prey, or predators.

    A setup that works at a somewhat reasonable price would be a monocular for spotting and an ATN 1x-6x NV or thermal scope. That can be had for inside your budget, and would allow hunting and keeping track of the predators that are trying to surround you without sweeping your buddies.

    PS: Those sexy quad tubes that ST6 uses run 40k.
    There's no "Team" in F**K YOU!

  6. #6
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    I have only run NOD's once (my sons gear) along with a MAWL he has mounted on his rifle. Its a pretty sweet setup and seems like it would have more versatility than just running a thermal scope. The NOD's can be run by themselves for night spotting or the MAWL can be switched to a different rifle a lot easier than a thermal scope attached to just one rifle. It just seems like a person has more options and configurations with the NOD's setup than a thermal setup... Like Joelski said, buy once cry once. Think long and hard before pulling the trigger on your setup. My kid is in the last phase of ITC, (Marsoc) and I know they are running some high end shite. They mostly run night ops, if you want I can shoot him a text and get some intell on what would be a good setup for what your looking for. On his last break him and his buddies went bush whackin for some hogs at night in NC and I believe he was just running a monocular and a MAWL, IIRC. Oh, and I would up your budget to 8K-10K
    Last edited by Stone; 28 March 2022 at 17:00.
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  7. #7
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    My cousin was in the SEAL teams up to 2005. His setup was monocular and he kept his other eye for white light. That would be hard to adjust to walking around with one eye closed at night. Of course, you blow that advantage any time you need your depth perception.
    There's no "Team" in F**K YOU!

  8. #8
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    If you could only have one...

    Didn’t quite catch it earlier, but is it for people or animals?

    Work for me mostly at night with heavy NV use, combined with fair amount of thermal toys. They both have their pros and cons under a variety of situations…..but using them together and utilizing their strengths is money!!

  9. #9
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    I don't know much about the low end of I2 stuff; my experiences under NODs have purely been in force-on-force roleplaying and some flat range stuff, using a relatively nice dual-tube setup. My time with thermals is very limited, just flat range stuff with my COTI. The budget way I might suggest is to get a budget PVS-14 and just do passive aiming using a tall mount, assuming that your environment has relatively easy detection where you don't need a thermal for detection, since you seem to be wanting to do ambush tactics rather than something more dynamic.

    I don't think there's going to be very much overlap with what the military uses and the current presented use case, simply due to issues of budget. One can certainly get into thermals and I2 on the cheap, but expectations must also be managed. I have a friend that's killed pests with a suppressed .22 LR and a cheap IR laser, using a Nest camera to aim with; not exactly high speed, but hey, it worked for him in this specific use case. Stuff like ATN or other budget manufacturers are essentially like what Hi-Points are to guns; yes, they work to a certain extent, but they're still pretty dog shit all around... but if that's all you need, well, mission drives the gear train.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tact View Post
    Didn’t quite catch it earlier, but is it for people or animals?

    Work for me mostly at night with heavy NV use, combined with fair amount of thermal toys. They both have their pros and cons under a variety of situations…..but using them together and utilizing their strengths is money!!
    I've never shot anyone, or at anyone, and hope to not have to in the future That said I would say the primary use would be to shoot pigs that come up into the yard and/or other people's yards and tear stuff up. A good secondary option would be to ID around the house or whatever. Around where I live there are a lot of state prisons and from time to time people escape and have been known to do more stupid things.

    That all being said when all that crap was going on for the past couple of years, having the ability to operate at night (even on a really basic level) would be a massive advantage should it ever come to that.

    It would be cool to learn how to operate in teams or whatever, but for my primary use this is not in the cards so far. With that in mind I could possibly take out a second person to operate as a spotter or something. I would for the most part be operating that out of a vehicle, most likely a small ATV/Mule or something. Call me lazy but all that physically running around and stuff starts to become work.

    Having both would be ideal for sure. In fact that might be an option too. Get a little hand held monocular or something that operates on thermal and then have the NV on the rifle. To Default.mp3's point, I could do detection with one and shoot with the other or something along those lines. If I did get both I would want the option to mount them up so I could swap if I decided to do so.

    If this was a money is no object thing I would be having a different conversation all together. The WEVO bug is still definitely alive and well though.

    Right now I am thinking more about a basic setup for me to use on my own in low stress situations like staking out an area for hogs or whatever and use them on/with low recoiling firearms like ARs or something. It is very unlikely that I would ever be running around a shoot house in the dark with a group of other dudes.

  11. #11
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    Given that I am barely starting to look, something like the one in the link below is possibly a contender for what I would use it for. This was kind of more what I had in mind. Then again as always I am open to ideas.

    I will look at thermals as well and see if I can find something along the same lines as the NV in the link.

    https://sightmark.com/products/sight...tal-riflescope

    If I got something like that I might get something like this from Arisaka to go with my existing light. I can just swap out the head for one of the IR heads and hence will have a pretty minimalist setup.

    https://arisakadefense.com/malkoff-scout-light-head/
    Last edited by alamo5000; 28 March 2022 at 22:54.

  12. #12
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    Here is a thermal for under $1000 bucks.


  13. #13
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    That image really does start to fall apart past 150y. Something to keep in mind with inexpensive thermal is the resolution of the image. Typically they're pretty low, which means the farther away something is, the more blurry and non-formed the images will look on the "screen."

    Joelski mentioned the quality of the tube and how it relates to price, and that's really important to understand. Getting something that can react quickly to light, isn't fuzzy, and doesn't have 19 different black dots (blemishes) in the tube ups the price considerably. A Gen 3 OMNI 6 or better seems to be where I'd start if I was going to wear it.

    The majority of my career I've used OMNI 4 tubes and they're okay, but in this day and age, why not pay a little more for better clarity in varying light levels? But as was mentioned, you're probably looking at the $3.5-4K minimum for just the tubes.

  14. #14
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    I have a couple of technical question that maybe someone knows about. It's specific to the illuminators more than the NV device.

    First off I am just window shopping at present. I haven't even come close to picking a specific product.

    That said I see some terminology that I am not quite sure what it means.

    1. For example I see things like this: "850nm IR Illuminator"

    What does the nm stand for?

    2. I also see stuff like: "700mW output"

    I take it that just like any other flashlight it would be similar to lumens and/or candela.

    Then of course you have design issues such as flood, hot spot, etc which I am a little more familiar with, but the above two abbreviations I am not completely familiar with. A lot of it I suspect has a lot in common with flashlights. Such as I have two Surefire lights, an EDCL1-T and a Tactician. Although one has more lumens (on paper) these two in my opinion are drastically different. One has a lot tighter of a beam that can be fairly effective outdoors to a couple hundred yards (at least). The other (the Tactician) has more lumens but it throws a wall of light but it won't extend nearly as far.

    Anyway if anyone has some further info on illuminators please share.

  15. #15
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