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The night vision and thermal thread Login/Join 
Frangas non Flectes
Picture of P220 Smudge
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$349? That’s not a lot of bones for that capability with a scope.

I’ve had some further thoughts about passive aiming and why I think some opinions about it not being as viable except with maybe an Eotech have formed the way they have. I think the answer is that many (most?) people are looking through a PVS14. Light transmission of an optic when you’re only looking through one tube becomes a very big deal. When you can shoot with both eyes open, and both eyes are looking through tubes, you get the overlay effect, and light transmission is honestly not a big deal. It really doesn’t matter. Another thought I’ve had is if you’re using refocus devices, then the housing of the optic is very visible, takes up a large percentage of your view, and the dot all but disappears. This obviously isn’t helpful. With duals, you can run a differential focus to both eyes, so leaving your dominant dialed out so infinity so you can aim, and the other run up close for navigating obstacles is possible, and I’ve talked to guys who do it as a regular thing. It gives me severe eye strain, so I don’t do it, but I could if I really needed to.

I’d also completely forgotten another thing from the night shoot - I brought my 11.5 URGI to make sure it runs, but all I had for it was a Primary Arms red dot I bought many years ago. It absolutely does not have NV modes, and the dimmest setting still blooms my tubes. In actual shooting, it wasn’t a problem, and I easily put consistent rounds on steel at the 50ish yards we had a target set up. This was only possible because with duals, I could overlay the dot on the target, whereas if it were a single tube, the target would’ve been totally obscured.

Just some random thoughts. That range trip really revealed some things to me about what’s actually necessary for night shooting with NV, and where some of these opinions came from.

Doing a hike tomorrow night with some of the guys, and we’re doing another one of the bigger open invite hikes on the 17th. If you’re in the greater Phoenix area with NODs of any kind and want to join us, shoot me an email. The group is currently nearly 25 people, and there’s at least an another half dozen so far who expressed interest in joining us the next time we go out, so our group is expanding.


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Carthago delenda est
 
Posts: 16995 | Location: Sonoran Desert | Registered: February 10, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Light transmission of an optic when you’re only looking through one tube becomes a very big deal. When you can shoot with both eyes open, and both eyes are looking through tubes, you get the overlay effect
I don't doubt that everything is better with two tubes. I have experimented with the "overlay effect" by using a PVS14 while looking through a dot with my unaided eye; that didn't really work for me. I have seen it mentioned as a viable passive technique, but I have to assume those folks either never really tried it much, or have some sort of setup or technique that is different from mine.

quote:
whereas if it were a single tube, the target would’ve been totally obscured.
Depends on lighting conditions too. You can easily get away with even a single tube, if the ambient conditions are bright enough that the non-NV dot doesn't overwhelm the targeted area.

Good thoughts, Smudge. I am appreciative of the feedback you're providing, inspired by these events you're attending.
 
Posts: 1988 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So I am considering a diving board...

Not in any real way yet, as in I am not actively shopping for one; but I am thinking that type of mount may suit me.

I try to use one gun: the ol' general purpose carbine (GPC). In order to get the most mileage out of the one gun, in my use-case, it has a 12.5" or shorter barrel and it must be capable both day and night. To maximize capability during the day, I want magnified optics; to maximize it at night, I want an Eotech. I switch optics back and forth, and they RTZ well-enough so far.

I want to keep the rifle handy, which means keeping it trim on the front end; I also want lights/lasers on the side, so as not to obstruct the FOV of a variable power optic on low power. This makes using a full-size LAM impossible, lest I have an item on both sides of the handguard; that's not OK.

If I use a diving board mount for the Eotech and LAM, my laser can (easily) come off the gun during the day. This would enable me to maximize night capability in one of two ways: either continue using the OTAL, with the addition of a Z-Bolt dual light body on the gun (white and IR); or using a PEQ15 on the diving board and a lonely white light on the handguard. Both options give me more performance in the dark and a lower profile during the day.

Some people mock the tall mounts and the "diving boards". I certainly haven't seen the real advantage of the diving board until now (and I have been using a rifle with limited rail space), but it's starting to appeal.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
 
Posts: 1988 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I did some overdue thermal tinkering last night. On our walk through the woods to our shooting site, one man went ahead about 100m two different times, and "hunkered down", as if in an ambush position.

I had my Leupold LTO Tracker monocular, and a friend had a very nice Thermion rifle scope. As we walked, we periodically stopped and scanned with thermal devices, in an attempt to spot the ambusher. We spotted him both times; he did say both times that we called him out before he would have initiated the ambush. Both times he was unidentifiable through NVGs, until he either moved or stood up.

I was very pleased with the monocular's performance. It has very poor resolution, but the sensor is apparently sensitive enough to do what I want it to do. There's little chance I'd be able to ID specific aspects of something at any range beyond quite close, but the contrast is enough to pretty easily identify the presence of something the size of a human out to any realistic range of visibility in the woods. Being able to know that something is there is a big deal, when you would have been otherwise ignorant of it's presence.

One problem I already knew about, and will now assign a higher priority to, is the need for an eye cup. The monocular's screen illuminates the user's face in a big way. The ambusher did say that he could see (with NVGs) me utilizing the monocular. I intend to purchase and then adapt a rubber eye cup with and auto-opening/closing iris aperture to the device. This will unfortunately make it too large to be stowed in my chest rig, as I have up to this point, but I'll figure something else out.

Something else worth mentioning: As effective as the thermal devices are, it is not incredibly difficult to hide from them. If you put enough opaque concealment between you and the device, even at ranges inside 100M, you'll be largely invisible to it. A friend and I walked out to about 70M, while three others were using the thermion-equipped rifle on a tripod; he stood in the open, and I merely stepped off the trail, and crouched behind a healthy bit of vegetation. I could still see the white headlamps of the men at the rifle, but they couldn't readily see me until I moved around a bit and they scrutinized the area they knew me to be in. If you are potentially up against thermal devices, you need to keep in mind the fact that you can't rely on your personal camouflage, but instead prioritize defeating lines-of-sight between you and the potential location of the thermal observer. A healthy summer forest canopy would likely present a legitimate challenge to something like a thermal-equipped drone.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: KSGM,
 
Posts: 1988 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Frangas non Flectes
Picture of P220 Smudge
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Got together with a friend last night and previewed next Saturday's group hike: four mile loop in the desert. It was pretty flat and looped around a couple mountains. It was dark out at the extreme end of the loop. No moon, but clear skies. Cold, mid-forties. We had just gotten pounded with a storm that blew over, so the desert was in bloom and there were big puddles on the trail. There were cholla and saguaro right up on the edge of it, and I almost ate some ocotillo. Navigating that stuff in the dark is interesting. Cholla glows under NODs but if you light it with IR, you can't see the needles. Really interesting.

I've been wearing a pack with water, protein bars, spare batteries, chemlights etc. Last night I went ahead and added my war belt since there were just two of us and we were getting out a little further away from things. The hike went really well, and my conditioning is improving enough that I'm thinking about transferring what's in my pack to my belt and plate carrier and taking it instead next week. The guy organizing the hikes has developed a handicapping system with added tiers for added gear, we accrue points and at the end of the year, we'll do a dinner and some rewards. Tier zero is no points, then there's another tier for a plate carrier, a tier for a ruck, and a tier for both. Plate carrier and/or ruck have to be 30lbs to count, and I'm honestly damn close to that already with my pack and what all is in it. My plate carrier is a structural setup with tegris all the things plus an Eagle Ergo system, so it distributes weight a whole lot better than a backpack does. I have a hydration bladder in the back panel to boot, so I just went ahead and threw whatever GP pouches I had on my war belt and I'm going to condense and transfer my pack to that this evening, probably go on a short hike and see how it does.

Why wear all that shit for hiking around in the desert? I knew this growing up in El Paso, and it's only been reinforced a bit in my forays out there since I got to Arizona, but the desert at night can be a really strange place. Things happen. You're out there alone in an environment where all the flora and fauna is designed to be left alone and can seriously fuck you up or kill you. Twice last night, we saw lights that only showed up under NODs - the first was just a quick flash and the second was a prolonged, searching IR light that lit up the side of the mountain we were nearly to the base of. When we rounded the mountain, there was a loud whistle or screech that came off the side of it. I did feel like we were being watched by something or someone at one point. Hearing coyotes howl and yip isn't uncommon at night. Last night there was loud mariachi music drifting across the desert early in the hike and then five evenly spaced shots with no supersonic crack but sounded louder than a pistol. I dunno, the desert is just a beautiful, weird, scary and yet inviting place. It fascinates me, and yet I also fear and respect it. It's kind of like being out in the ocean - you have to take precautions, and if you go out there willy-nilly it can kill you.

I have a steel 12x20 silhouette coming, should be here Tuesday. Got some plans for a simple wood target stand for it I'm going to throw together, then try it out Friday during the day. If that all works out, then there's at least four of us in my little casuals group that have some steel we can ring, and the plan is to organize a night shoot some time in the next few weeks. One of the guys scouted a good spot that's hell and gone from anything, so we should have it all to ourselves.

KSGM, I was unsure of the Hydra and diving board stuff, but after putting my 11.5" URGI clone together and seeing all I'll actually have for rail estate, I'm starting to see the thinking behind it. I just wonder what kind of splash off the rail I'd be dealing with from the illuminator if I went that route. If the Holosun Iris ends up being what I'm hoping it is, I'm probably just going to go with whatever riser and an EXPS 3 with the Iris out front at 12:00 and a white light at 2:00. If the Iris is a dud, then I might just get an LS117 on a diving board and do the dual light body routine. I pieced together a Weltool LH2 scout light that I got just to have a stupid IR flood light, and it is that in spades. I could end up mounting that with a Z-Bolt just to see what I think. It has a ton of both throw and spill, both bright enough that it still manages to punch through all the photonic barriers it creates. I've been taking it on the hikes, and though it gates my tubes with the spill, it'll throw a couple hundred yards with a big hot spot.

As for thermal, it is next on the list for me, and I'm fairly well settled on a Jerry C2 and a Y cable off my battery pack. I don't need Predator vision, I just want detection capabilities. I was thinking a C5 would make more sense at 30° FOV, but one of the guys in the Discord channel made a good case for the 20°. If I remember right, the heart of it was that the more of the tube the thermal overlay takes up, the more distracting it becomes with false hits, and if you're scanning, you're going to be centering your vision on anything that doesn't look like a false hit anyway. Makes sense to me. Both the C2 and the CE2 will run off a battery pack, but the CE2 has no provision for accepting a battery and costs more. I don't see the logic in paying more for less capability.

This is airsoft, but it's pretty illustrative.


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Carthago delenda est
 
Posts: 16995 | Location: Sonoran Desert | Registered: February 10, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Frangas non Flectes
Picture of P220 Smudge
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Range trip Friday with the steel and both size URGIs was instructive. Shooting daytime at distances beyond 50 yards with an 11.5" and a dot with my astigmatism just ain't the thing. It's time to get with an optometrist anyways, so I'm gonna ask about what can be done for correction on that. If it can be done with lenses or contacts, then I can reassess on the insurance company's dime.

The 16" "URGI" was an absolute joy to shoot. I know this FN barrel to be accurate and smooth shooting with the Tubb's flatwire buffer spring and Spike's T2 buffer, but it was like putting on an old pair of sneakers that got shoved in the back of the closet for a while and giving them some new laces and insoles with the Geissele stuff: really familiar and comfortable, but even better now. First two rounds just about touching an inch outside the bull at fifty to sight in, and then I was stacking rounds on the 12x20 steel at a hundred. Walked it back to 150 and couldn't miss, then I felt like I was just wasting ammo. The SIG Tango MSR is pretty damn good for a "budget" LPVO. Got mine for $275, mount included. The illumination isn't great, nor is the eyebox, but the glass is pretty clear and there's hardly any edge distortion. Shooting it on 1x at 50 yards felt just as much like cheating as running it up to 8x at 150. First time out with an LPVO, and I'm a fan.

So, I need to get the eyes checked and revisit optics, then when cans get brought home, it'll be trying out muzzle devices and deciding on which Griffin taper mount to pin and weld on the 16" for a 14.5" chop. I want to set up both for night use, but the budget isn't there right now. It'll likely be one or the other for some time. If the larger of the two, it would then be down to figuring out whether to piggyback a red dot, or offset it because the eyebox on the MSR makes it impractical to use with NODs. If the 11.5, it's down to whether I go with an Eotech or a T2 and a magnifier, and at 2+" of rise.

Pretty sure I'm going to just go with either the Iris or the ACAL for a laser/IR ilum plus an Arisaka/Malkoff white light and just run both all the way forward. Not gonna worry too much about figuring out tape switches and all that right now.

Tentatively planning a big group night shoot for hopefully this weekend. Plan is to arrive before sundown to lock down the spot and scare off recreational types with gratuitous gunfire, cook a tailgate Coleman stove dinner, then everyone can try out everyone else's stuff and we can "knowledge transfer." The last shoot taught me a lot and dispelled some notions, I'm hoping each successive while being exposed to different gear helps me hone in on what I actually need from here.

And, because there's understandably not a lot of pics in this thread, here's some gratuitous fifty shades of FDE to send any lurkers over 50 running for eye bleach. Wink Big Grin



On that note, I did a four mile ruck with a dozen of the guys Saturday night. Conditions couldn't have been more ideal. 65% moon, clear skies, 65 degrees, no wind, and not a lot of light pollution from the city but tons of light from the heavens. The trail was very uneven and rocky in spots, and I damn near rolled my ankle about halfway out. I had my plate carrier stripped down to plates and hydration, and probably shouldn't have gone the full three liters, but you know, if I had snapped a knee, at least I wouldn't have have been thirsty while waiting for the life flight out. Roll Eyes

I carry around so much shit on these hikes, I need to get a pack I can keep my helmet in, along with all the associated nonsense that goes with it, plus hydration and some medical stuff and then scale it back as far as I realistically can. Maybe coordinate with the core crew and redistribute the load a little bit so there's less redundancy and weight overall. I just feel old.

Oh, and final parting thoughts: I have now gotten to look through high spec white phos Elbits, "Poortonis" 4G and Echos, and now NNVT "low spec" white phos tubes and compare them to my mystery Omni GP's. My conclusion so far is that specs truly don't mean shit in actual practice. I would still much rather have two lower specs tubes than one high spec tube, and the gap between Gen 3 and the Gen "2+" tubes is so small that my eyes don't really see the difference. Truly. Maybe with a sustained A/B test over weeks of different lighting conditions I could tell you which performs better at what, but outside of true zero Bortle conditions, it honestly doesn't matter, and if you look at Dark Site Finder, you can see how hard you'd have to work to achieve that. If you're a lurker and you're trying to figure out what to get, then just buy whatever you can comfortably afford, and preferably in a dual tube setup. What you gain in depth perception will more than make up for whatever you would be losing in definition, and trust me, you wouldn't know the difference anyway.


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Posts: 16995 | Location: Sonoran Desert | Registered: February 10, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am anxious to hear what you think, if you do try to use the MRDS piggyback or offset, on an LPVO setup. I have always speculated that the scope would make for something to bump your NVG into, due to it's close proximity to the MRDS. If it was me, I'd try piggyback; I don't have an MRDS, and have no desire to invest in one, outside of evaluating the combo setup for NVG use, so I leave it to you!

When it comes to remote switches, I don't think there's anything to "worry" about. If the factory switches don't work the way you want, Unity and Modlite have tons of options, as you know. Don't let the industry fool you into thinking that "cable management" is a thing; zip ties and tape are excellent.

The pack is a constant struggle. Over the past couple years I have gone through various attitude adjustments, and various loads. IMO, it comes down to balancing the capabilities granted by your pack, and the compromise in situational awareness and speed it presents. Some of the speed factor can be overcome with PT; the discomfort that leads to a reduction in SA is a bit harder to combat. A different or "better" pack can help, but some of it is about physical build, IMO. God made me narrow; I am 6'1" and about 165LBS; the most I ever weighed was 180, and I worked pretty hard to get there. That being said, I find that a load can cause me a good bit of discomfort in the shoulders; this can be mitigated with wider shoulder straps, and a belt on the pack.

I know it isn't trendy, but I have found the ALICE pack to be a very good option, for me. Even for loads that are smaller/lighter than what most would consider a frame pack be used for, the ALICE is sweet. I have a large and (I think) medium pack. I use the medium to carry a load that most would likely be tempted to cram into a cool little "assault pack". I find that the comfort afforded by the frame pack is worth the bit of extra weight/bulk. Also, keep in mind that it's easier to use a pack that isn't stuffed to the point of bursting. We're prone to trying to make everything as small and sleek as possible. In the case of a pack, that could mean you end up with something that you need to largely unpack, when you want something out of it, as opposed to reaching in and rummaging.

As previously stated: for me, it's about awareness. I can put on a heavy pack and cover some ground reasonably well, but my head is likely going to be down as I chug along. The comfort is key, when I want to maintain a "patrol" attitude that requires constant vigilance. The load depends on what you're training for. I believe that toting a good bit of sustainment equipment is a potential reality for civilians, in some hypotheticals, so I take it into consideration.

My next NVG outing is not yet scheduled, but the intent has been established. It is going to be some sort of force-on-force exercise, using blanks. I am eager to learn from the "two way range" context. Evaluating various signatures produced by an enemy, and experiencing a night time engagement circumstance against a peer threat, will likely be enlightening.

Thank you for your continued contributions, Smudge. I think it's cool that the NVGs have you getting out there more and more, and considering other aspects of your equipment and training attitudes, outside of the strictly-NV arena.
 
Posts: 1988 | Location: Northeast GA | Registered: February 15, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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