3:00 a.m. — Location: Undisclosed
I’m seated on the deck of an MH-60 Black Hawk. My legs are hanging out the starboard door. I lean forward into the night, my weight supported by my anchored harness. The warm prop wash hits my face as we continue to slowly orbit the compound 500 feet below.
I’m intently scanning the city of green through my night vision goggles (NVGs). I train my rifle with infrared (IR) laser site, providing sniper cover as my team clears the structures beneath me.
If you own the night — you own the operation.
But you don’t have to be a member of an elite Tier 1 special ops unit to know that having the advantage in the night could mean all the difference. Night vision could be extremely valuable:
- When hunting or camping
- In the event of a power disruption during a natural disasters
- During a home invasion
- When you don’t want to give up your position by using a flashlight
- Or if you hear a strange noise in your backyard at night.
Choosing the Right Night Vision for You
OK, so you’ve decided to invest in a night vision device. Here are some things to consider when narrowing down your list:
- Gain — This refers to the ability to enhance images even as it gets darker. Typically, night vision falters as the amount of ambient light dwindles and the viewing distance increases.
- Range — To capture objects that are far afield, night vision goggles need a magnification factor greater than 1x. A long and powerful lens is required to achieve this. But unfortunately, long lenses perform poorly in low light.
- Image Quality — The best night vision images are those that remain sharp at the center and at the edges. To avoid blurring and distortion, the goggles must produce high-definition images with a high resolution.
- Mounting Gear — Do you want or need the ability to head mount your night vision so you can be hands-free
- Budget — As with most things in life, the more you are willing to spend, the better product you will get. But if you keep these other factors in mind, you’ll be able to find a device that fits your needs without breaking the bank.
Here are several options available for civilian use that I recommend.
The ATN PVS7-3 is identical to the AN/PVS-7 — the night vision goggles issued to the U.S. Army. It can be used as a handheld, head-mounted or helmet-mounted device. $3300.
The Armasight Vega is an affordable and capable head-mounted Gen 1+ night vision device. It weighs 0.54 pounds and comes with flip-up headgear. $300.
The 6x 50MM Bushnell Equinox Z is the top model in Bushnell’s stellar Z Night Vision line. This night vision monocular weighs 1.7 pounds and runs on four AA batteries. $475.
The ATN Viper X-1 is a small Gen 1 night vision device for outdoor enthusiasts. This monocular not only is lightweight and compact, but also comes with a headgear kit. $275.
Only you can decide if night vision would be a useful addition to your survival gear. And now that you know a little bit more about what to look for in a quality device, if you do pick up a pair, you can own the night like a SEAL.