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Armasight Night Vision: Single-Tube, Dual-Tube, And More



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The availability and popularity of night vision in the civilian shooting community has seen a veritable explosion over the last several years. Whether it’s decreased price points, increased exposure in popular culture, or a perception of capability gap by armed citizens, there’s no doubt that the age of night vision “for the rest of us” is here in a big way. But as with any cutting-edge technology, good information seems harder to come by than the devices themselves.

Alternately referred to as night vision goggles (NVGs) or Night Observation Devices (NODs), there is an ocean of available platforms available to see in the dark both on and off the shooting range. Armasight has come to market with a wide array of consumer-focused options offering great performance at good price points, offering features and flexibility for the end user.  

SINGLE-TUBE WEARABLES

Single-tube NODs are a great way to get into night vision. Sometimes referred to as “the AK-47 of night vision devices” single-tube platforms can be mounted directly to a firearm, camera, or helmet. Lightweight and compact, most single-tube NODs can be carried in a cargo pocket or MOLLE pouch for casual intermittent use.

They are also the least-expensive way to get into quality night vision. Armasight offers three wearable single-tube NODs: the MNVD-40, MNVD-51, and the PVS-14. The MNVD features a lightweight housing, sacrificial lens, and demist shield – all standard, good features to have with any night vision device. The only difference between the MNVD-40 and MNVD-51 is the available field of view.

Putting on night vision feels like looking at the world through a cardboard toilet paper tube, but Armasight has made wider-than-normal peripheral views available directly to the consumer.

As the names imply, the MNVD-40 offers a 40-degree field of view, while the MNVD-51 uses a different front lens to offer (you guessed it!) an expanded 51-degree field of view. 

Also available alongside the MNVD is Armasight’s PVS-14. The complete proper military nomenclature for this style of night vision device is AN/PVS-14, for Army/Navy Portable Visual Search, presumably model or version 14. The PVS-14 has been a staple of military night vision tech for decades.

Even as the actual image intensification technology inside has gotten better, this single-tube housing style has remained standard issue for the vast majority of American ground troops outside of pilots and special operators.

While heavier than the commercial MNVD housing, it is compatible with military surplus mounts and accessories which are widely available on the commercial market. 

DUAL-TUBE WEARABLES

The next step up from single-tube platforms are dual-tube platforms, or true goggles. Dual-tube NODs offer the advantage of binocular vision, which can be more comfortable, and allows better situational awareness through the tubes.

What it doesn’t offer, ironically, is a wider field of view. It’s easy to think that your field of view would double when going from a single-tube system to duals. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t. Instead of getting an 80-degree field of view, you simply get the same 40-degrees but with both eyes engaged. You do get increased ease of use by not forcing your brain to reconcile a split image of one eye through a tube and the other working naturally.

PVS-14 Gen 3 Pinnacle + Sidekick Kit

Just like with single-tube devices, there are multiple types of night vision goggles. Examples include the DTNVS (Dual-Tube Night Vision System), BNVD (Binocular Night Vision Device) and the mil-spec AN/PVS-31, among others. The differences between them largely boil down to weight, ruggedness, and on-board features.

Armasight offers two styles: BNVDs, in both 40- and 51-degree variations, and a PVS-31D. The Armasight PVS-31 with Gen 3 Pinnacle Elite white phosphor image intensifier tubes are manufactured exclusively for Armasight by Elbit Systems of America as a version of their popular F5032 system, which is part of the US Marine Corps’ Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles (SBNVG.)

The biggest differences between the BNVD and PVS-31D are in the feature suite. The PVS-31D uses a military-style dovetail mount and includes adjustable diopters and an on-board IR illuminator for true no-light conditions, while the BNVDs use a bayonet/horn style interface, fixed diopters and do not include an illuminator. 

WEAPON MOUNTED NODs

There are two styles of weapon-mounted NODs – clip-on devices, and night vision scopes. Clip-ons are meant to be mounted in front of your existing daytime scope or red dot, while night vision scopes include things like crosshairs and windage/elevation adjustments and take the place of a daytime optic altogether.

Favored by precision rifle shooters and snipers, clip-on devices allow you to retain the full use of a high-end daytime scope, so you do not have to swap optics and re-zero to go from day to night use. The trade-off with clip-ons is added weight, and required mounting space. Modern chassis-based precision rifles with full-length picatinny rails above the barrel/action are ideal for clip-ons, with most traditional hunting rifles unable to accommodate mounting both a scope and a clip-on NOD.

The inverse is true for night vision riflescopes, which offer an all-in-one package for a lighter weight weapon system. The downside is, of course, that these scopes cannot be used during the daytime at all, Even at night, their magnification range and optical clarity falling well short of even mid-market daytime rifle scopes.

Armasight offers three clip-on devices: the Mini Clip-On, the CO-LR, recommended for scopes up to 10x magnification, and the CO-MR, which is advertised for scopes up to 12x magnification. This illuminates another limit of clip-on devices (no pun intended), which is that, past certain magnification levels, the clarity of the scope will surpass the ability of the clip-on to focus clearly enough to see. 

Armasight CO-MR

Armasight’s Vulcan line of night vision rifle scopes are all available in fixed 4.5x magnification, and include a wireless firearm-mounted remote that allows you to “wake up” the device without taking a hand off your firearm. The Vulcan-D offers multiple digital reticle options. Each is available with any of Armasight’s tiered image intensifier tubes.

LET’S TALK TUBES

While the phrase “tubes” has now become slang to refer to NODs/NVGs in general, the night vision tube doesn’t refer to the entire device, but to the image intensifier technology inside.

While the details of tube science and performance metrics is well beyond the scope of this article (but you can learn more in this RECOIL OFFGRID feature) Armasight offers three grades of night vision tube in their devices: Bravo, Pinnacle, and Pinnacle Elite.

These three tiers differ in the amount of light amplification they offer, as well as image clarity and the amount and location of blemishes inside the tube. While housing and features are a factor, the performance level of the tubes is the primary cost-driver for night vision systems across the board, and Armasight has done their best to balance that performance against a sliding scale of cost levels to make their products available to as many customers as possible.

Regardless of what your use case, or preferred platform style, night vision is not only a great way to add capabilities as a shooter but can be used for everything from property monitoring to photography to star-gazing.

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