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I want to create a place for folks to share their experiences and opinions on night vision and it's related lasers and illuminators, with an emphasis on real-world feedback and training. I'd like to avoid a geardo thread. If you've got some badass kit, I (and likely others) am more interested in what you've done with it, and your lessons-learned shooting in the dark, as opposed to a show-and-tell situation. I will share something I had previously posted in a now-defunct forum, to get the conversation going. I hope this becomes a useful reference thread for folks considering using night vision, and an interesting one for folks who already do...

*Note* I chose the rifle forum because that is the context in which I use night vision, and it would almost certainly be outposted into obscurity very quickly in the lounge. I considered the training forum, but the way that forum is described didn't seem to fit.


Night vision is a VERY useful tool. Anyone who has it or has used it will agree, and will likely attempt to motivate others to add it to their equipment. The primary hurdle is always the price. No tax stamp to pay for, no NFA wait times, just a high barrier to entry, cost-wise. It is worth it. It expands your capabilities almost immeasurably. I have had a PVS-14 monocular for a few years now, but it has really only hit me hard in the past year, how important it is. If you read my other recent post, you know I recently completed a year's worth of shooting only with iron sights. It dawned on me, as my proficiency with fixed sights grew, that my go-to gun's real advantage lay in it's IR laser and light, combined with the PVS-14; not any kind of optical sight. It is dark half the time right now, where I live. Unless your "area of operations" is strictly limited to the inside of your house, and a flashlight's range from it's exterior walls, you are damn-near incapable of identifying and accurately engaging a target in the dark, if you don't have night vision. Everyone's context is different, and I understand that avoiding the expense of night vision is justifiable in certain potential self-defense scenarios. A flashlight is arguably enough in close quarters, and donning your NVD in a quick-reaction scenario is not realistic. I guess night vision truly shines in a more militaristic context. The ability to seek, observe, and identify targets in the dark without projecting white light is awesome. The advantage in range of observation and identification is awesome. And, ultimately, the engagement of said targets with an IR laser is far better than with a white light and optical sight, assuming we are inside the range of white light to begin with. I need not mention the advantage in engaging targets outside the range of white light.

I guess my bottom line is, if you can take the financial hit, and your context is one that could be improved by it's addition, get some night vision. Maybe just don't buy those next two or three optics or guns, and use those funds to give you an advantage none of those things can. A gun with an IR laser and fixed sights is far more capable than one with the fanciest optic in all the land, if you can see in the dark.

If anyone here has night vision, and has anything to add, please do. If anyone has anything to say against it, please do. As long as it isn't the price. We all know it's expensive.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Raptorman
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I have a pair of rifles with thermals on them.

I use them to dispatch varmints and they excel at it.

I have no reason to think I'm gonna have to Buffalo Bill inside my house.

I tried IR NV scopes and they are only useful when you have a big honkin illuminator that can be seen with an iphone and the critters can just hide in the shadows.

As for a gallium arsenide tube amplifier, I have very little experience.


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Posts: 32441 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for starting the conversation! I agree that thermal provides a huge advantage in both hunting and the more "militaristic" context I mentioned in my initial post. Unfortunately, it is quite spendy and inconveniently bulky in a head-mounted setup, which is what I prefer. Also, in the context of my initial post, thermal is not a suitable replacement for conventional image intensification, but it is an excellent augmentative enhancement. The reason is, so long as your vision enhancer is tied to your rifle, you can't passively scan for targets or navigate terrain and vegetation. I agree that NVG is difficult in critter control, because it can't see through light vegetation. It may prove critical at extended ranges or in uncertain circumstances though, when it comes to positive identification of the target. A thermal signature doesn't tell you what kind of critter you're looking at, in many cases. Food for thought.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
hello darkness
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I have a gen2+hd monocular from Armasight. It isn't gen 3 but it is pretty damn close. I bought it to go hog hunting with a buddy on his ranch in Texas but he died before we were able to go hunt. So i bought a DBAL-I2 and stuck the nod on my old PD helmet. Went out in the dark and played with it one summer day. Set up a bunch of steel. It was fun. Damned nice temps in the summer at night and no one out in the desert to bother me. Took some getting used to using the one monocular. There is a lot more to shooting in the dark than I had realized.

I have taken it out in the dark for flyfishing as well. Works well on those late night fly gulping brown trout.

I also bought a thermal scope from Armasight. Its fun to use as a weapon mounted sight but spend most of the time using it as a hand held optic when i'm out in the woods.
 
Posts: 7151 | Location: West Jordan, Utah | Registered: June 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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and what kind of use is the OP talking about?
The plus and minus list is pretty application specific.


“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
 
Posts: 9670 | Registered: October 14, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by hrcjon:
and what kind of use is the OP talking about?
The plus and minus list is pretty application specific.


I use it in a "tactical" target practice and preparedness application. This thread's intent is not to only discuss it in the context the OP has experience with though. The goal is to have a centralized discussion location for all NVG and thermal experiences. If there ends up being more discussion about thermal optics used in hunting, than NVGs in the tactical sense, that's just fine.

You are absolutely right; the pros and cons of different equipment and practices fluctuate depending on the users intended application. The idea of this thread is to have a dedicated place to have those ongoing discussions, that can then serve as a quick reference point for folks down the line as well.

What is your experience with night vision or thermals?
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have no thermal experience (well not really I have tons of experience as a firefighter and search and rescue we use it all the time, but not when mounted on a gun).
But if I'm coming out of my house to investigate something nearby I'm using a modern set of long range white lights both hand, helmet and gun mounted. And those are (contrary to almost every assertion in your original post) superior in every way to running NV since there is no way that coming out of a lit house enables me to somehow then escape detection and go to passive NV.
When I do go on my property not wanting to project white light I use a modern helmet binocular setup with Gen3 PVS14 tubes on a flip up mount. I have hundreds and hundreds of hours doing that for practice and fun and pretty much understand the plus/minus of NV, which include many limitations in depth and width of field of vision and resolution of the tubes. But again all the flashlights I am running can switch from IR to White light and if there was a real deal issue, I'm probably going white light.
I have shot a number of times using NV with an IR laser at our local tactical matches which are sometimes run at night. It's pretty effective at modest ranges (which ultimately is all I would ever care about), but to your original OP I have never seen nor heard of anyone doing it with irons. I run an aimpoint with NV settings FWIW. And all those guys running their IR lasers constantly means that anyone with NV can see them better than if they had flashlights!


“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
 
Posts: 9670 | Registered: October 14, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by hrcjon:
I have no thermal experience (well not really I have tons of experience as a firefighter and search and rescue we use it all the time, but not when mounted on a gun).

All that experience in those other fields is certainly relevant to this thread's intent.
quote:
Originally posted by hrcjon:
But if I'm coming out of my house to investigate something nearby I'm using a modern set of long range white lights both hand, helmet and gun mounted. And those are (contrary to almost every assertion in your original post) superior in every way to running NV since there is no way that coming out of a light house enables me to somehow then escape detection and go to passive NV.

My OP wasn't necessarily addressing the same circumstances you present here. In my OP, I was referring to use in a more proactive, offensive scenario, than a reactionary self defense one. You presenting these additional scenarios is awesome for building everyone's understanding, including my own. It sounds as though you have many more hours behind NVGs than me, and I look forward to learning from you.
quote:
Originally posted by hrcjon:
When I do go on my property not wanting to project white light I use a modern helmet binocular setup with Gen3 PVS14 tubes on a flip up mount. I have hundreds and hundreds of hours doing that for practice and fun and pretty much understand the plus/minus of NV, which include many limitations in depth and width of field of vision and resolution of the tubes. But again all the flashlights I am running can switch from IR to White light and if there was a real deal issue, I'm probably going white light.
I have shot a number of times using NV with an IR laser at our local tactical matches which are sometimes run at night. It's pretty effective at modest ranges (which ultimately is all I would ever care about), but to your original OP I have never seen nor heard of anyone doing it with irons.

My comment about irons refers to another more detailed post on another forum about my experiences over a year of not using optical sights. I think you may have misunderstood. I was not implying any kind of iron sight utilization while implementing NVGs. I was saying that I believe a rifle equipped with an IR aiming laser and illuminator is arguably more capable overall than one with an optical sight, and no night capability. I also use switchable lights as illuminators, so the setup i am describing would have white light capability as well.
quote:
Originally posted by hrcjon:
I run an aimpoint with NV settings FWIW. And all those guys running their IR lasers constantly means that anyone with NV can see them better than if they had flashlights!

I have yet to try using a dot with NVGs. I am not opposed to it, by any means, but haven't made that leap yet. IR lasers are the standard for conventional troops, and that's good enough for me too, at the moment. Mine is always activated with a momentary pad, and is therefore immediately deactivated after the shot(s) are fired.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Raptorman
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Originally posted by KSGM:
A thermal signature doesn't tell you what kind of critter you're looking at, in many cases. Food for thought.


Where did you hear this? I can spot the difference between dogs and coyotes at 100 yards with ease. They aren't blurred blobs of heat, they are clear as if not better than amplified tube NV. No illumination assist needed in absolute dark either.


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Posts: 32441 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Mars_Attacks:
Where did you hear this? I can spot the difference between dogs and coyotes at 100 yards with ease. They aren't blurred blobs of heat, they are clear as if not better than amplified tube NV. No illumination assist needed in absolute dark either.

Can you differentiate when the targets are behind vegetation? My experience with thermal is limited. I viewed horses about 300m away with a Pulsar scope, and they were indeed identifiable as horses, but there was nothing between me and them, and I did already know what they were. My other experience is with a Leupold monocular viewing a pony from about 75m, through the limbs and leaves of a tree. All that was identifiable was a heat source, with no indication as to what it was. That monocular is admittedly not very sophisticated. What is your experience viewing through vegetation and other obstructions?
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
hello darkness
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quote:
Originally posted by KSGM:
quote:
Originally posted by Mars_Attacks:
Where did you hear this? I can spot the difference between dogs and coyotes at 100 yards with ease. They aren't blurred blobs of heat, they are clear as if not better than amplified tube NV. No illumination assist needed in absolute dark either.

Can you differentiate when the targets are behind vegetation? My experience with thermal is limited. I viewed horses about 300m away with a Pulsar scope, and they were indeed identifiable as horses, but there was nothing between me and them, and I did already know what they were. My other experience is with a Leupold monocular viewing a pony from about 75m, through the limbs and leaves of a tree. All that was identifiable was a heat source, with no indication as to what it was. That monocular is admittedly not very sophisticated. What is your experience viewing through vegetation and other obstructions?


I cant see objects behind other objects. Thermal shows you differences in temperature. Trees and even tall grass obstruct your target no matter what temp it is. You cant see through glass either. The problem with thermal is on a hot day, even several hours after the sun has gone down can, the objects can still radiate significant heat. My thermal scope has a dozen or so color palettes and using different palettes can make things stick out a bit more. On a cold day warm targets stick out pretty well but even sun light can warm rocks, wood surfaces and that can obscure targets at distance.
 
Posts: 7151 | Location: West Jordan, Utah | Registered: June 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by gw3971:
I cant see objects behind other objects. Thermal shows you differences in temperature. Trees and even tall grass obstruct your target no matter what temp it is.

Maybe the the terms "into", "around", or "past" would be more accurate then, as opposed to "through", when it comes to the thermal advantage in dealing with vegetation.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by hrcjon:
guys running their IR lasers constantly means that anyone with NV can see them better than if they had flashlights!


Aside from making the effort to avoid leaving lasers activated, another note on laser signature that I have noticed is a civilian-class laser doesn't have as much of the lightsaber effect that is often typical of high-power lasers. Obviously this isn't a rule, as certain environmental conditions greatly contribute to the phenomenon, but I have found low-power lasers to be less prone to it. The lightsaber effect is desired in some military contexts, for target designation/marking, and communication between elements. If these aren't priorities for you, and you don't intend to engage past the usable range of a civilian-class laser, a low-power unit may actually be preferred, in terms of signature.

I have been meaning to get on the receiving end of an IR laser, to see what the signature really looks like. Haven't done it yet though.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Raptorman
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I found amplified to be useless in where something can hide in the shadows or grass. The coyotes could see the 850nm illuminator like it was daylight and I guess they could feel the heat of the 950 as it wasn't much better.

The thermal made them show up like new pennies and now I am death in the dark.

Rats get in the grass and the amplified only saw grass and no rats. The illuminator would make the eyes shine and the shots were difficult at best, but the thermal was a whole different ballgame. It became a target rich environment immediately. With in a minute, the hood of my truck was covered in empty brass.


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Posts: 32441 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Raptorman
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The IDF quit using IR lasers as the enemy started using cell phones to zero in on them with ease.


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Posts: 32441 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Mars_Attacks:
The IDF quit using IR lasers as the enemy started using cell phones to zero in on them with ease.

I have heard this before, used as some kind of argument against utilizing IR lasers, which I think is a bit rash.

I would venture a guess that IDF soldiers aren't leaving their NVGs and/or IR lasers in the arms room because the enemy has cell phones.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Mars_Attacks:
The thermal made them show up like new pennies and now I am death in the dark.

It sounds like thermal is certainly the way to go, for your application. Others can certainly benefit from your experience, and I know I'd be ill-served in the same situation with a PVS-14.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My last guest on July 4th was an IDF soldier that did enough tours to get a full ride to engineering school.

His job was to take a NV equipped .22 Ruger bolt rifle and shoot the enemy in the legs that were trying to set up a mortar or rocket.

The instant they used lasers to sight in the most harmless area to shoot them at, they started taking mortar fire from guys with cell phones. They were ordered to no longer to use the lasers, so he just started shooting whatever part stuck out in the optic with zero repercussions from the officers.

I did notice a caveat with thermal I didn't expect was anything that is ambient temperature did not show in the optic. I noticed the rats would disappear and reappear inside the chicken houses. The metal feeding equipment was ambient and invisible. I discovered this after I sent a round bouncing through the house.

So, thermal will be useless against vampires and zombies.

It also can't see through windows. However, you will get a GREAT reflection of yourself.


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Posts: 32441 | Location: North, GA | Registered: October 09, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It sounds like IR lasers are indeed problematic in that specific IDF context. I'd imagine a specialized IDF unit performing a direct-action raid would utilize them though. You also don't hear the same story, to the same extent, in the context of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it is an interesting note, but not grounds to cease the use of IR lasers, in my existing and potential future applications.
 
Posts: 219 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
hello darkness
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I have been meaning to get on the receiving end of an IR laser, to see what the signature really looks like. Haven't done it yet though.


That would be interesting to see. Curious about the ir laser and cell phones as well. Guess i'm going to have to play with those a bit.
 
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