With the development of mass production, night vision devices appeared in the arsenal of hunters. Despite the huge amount of information, this issue is not fully elucidated. We take a closer look at two of the most popular night vision devices, the night vision scope and the night vision monocular, from the point of view of the shooter on the hunt.
Your attention is presented to the characteristics that a hunter needs for a successful choice of a night vision device. Based on our guide, each hunter will be able to choose a device for their priorities.
What is Night Vision Technology?
Night vision technology allows you to turn the meager night light into a brighter one. On the screens of night vision devices, everything looks as if someone has set the brightness to maximum settings. And not 100%, but much more. In fact, this technology turns a dark night into a fairly lit scene where you can see all the details. This magical process takes place in an image intensifier tube (IOC). In order for this process to begin, a lens made of a special alloy collects moonlight and sends it to the image intensifier tube. There is a process of increasing the amount of light by several tens of thousands of times. And the illuminated image is displayed on the screen of the device, which is acceptable for viewing. In the case when the sky is densely overcast and there are no sources of night light, infrared lighting comes to the rescue.
NV optics lens collects IF light, and further, the process is similar to the above. Over time, image intensifier tubes improved, and they began to be designated in the order of generation (Gen) from 1 to 3+. Gen1 amplified the light very little and required IR lights for illumination. Gen2, 2+ could work without the backlight on bright nights, and when illuminated by a quarter moon or stars, they required additional IF lighting. Finally, Gen3,3+ can do without an IF light in the light of a couple of stars but in absolute darkness, and they need light. This generation provides the best of all possible options and is in service with the US Army.
Night Vision for Hunting
Every hunter knows that the night distorts the perception of space and objects. And it is quite difficult to rely only on your own feelings. Night vision devices give the hunter a three-dimensional image of the terrain, which is easy to navigate. Objects are clearly visible, and one can correctly estimate their size and degree of distance from each other. Night vision allows you to track down, correctly identify and hit the target animal. For example, consider a typical situation. In the dark, it is quite difficult to distinguish a cow-calf from a deer, especially if it does not move and is partially hidden by vegetation. The best night vision scope allows you to find out the presence or absence of horns, count the processes on them and determine their age.
If the night is dark, then you can always add an IF backlight with a flashlight and highlight important details. Thus, we can determine the kind, sex, and age of the animal and make the right decision about the shot. It should be noted that it is important not only to correctly determine the target but to make a humane shot. Since the vital organs are not as large as the body, the task becomes more difficult. Night vision optics allows you to get closer to the target, have a convenient reticle and built-in rangefinder, and, if necessary, highlight the target. This increases the chances of accurately hitting the target and the almost instantaneous death of the animal.
In addition, NV allows you to scan the area for security and reduces the risk of friendly fire. Finding a missing dog or equipment is also easy. Since the choice of NV equipment for hunting is a very broad topic, we decided to highlight two of the most popular gadgets. Their compact size, lightweight and great features make them a favorite of many hunters. Of course, we are talking about night vision scopes and night vision monoculars.
Night Vision Scope
The first factor influencing the choice of a night vision scope will be the budget. Based on it, you can plan the choice of the generation of the night vision scope. The best night vision rifle scope starts with Gen2, 2+. With it, you can expect to work in the range of 150-680 yards. This is the best option, designed for long stable operation with excellent image quality and additional options. For example, the function of protection against bright light and good resistance to side illumination. If there is a choice between green or white phosphor, then white gives less strain on vision.
Gen3 night vision rifle scopes are valued for their high image quality and unilluminated operation in near-total darkness. Equipment of this class can see small details at a considerable distance. This is the determining factor for the decision to shoot. In addition, the range is 220-880 yards significantly expands the scope of your influence. As for Gen1, 1+, their use is advisable in small areas for large targets. But, the quality of the picture will not allow you to appreciate the details. You can rely on silhouette images, and making a decision about the shot will not be easy.
Among other important parameters, it is worth mentioning the zoom of the night vision scope. For hunting at close and medium distances, 3-6x is enough. But if you need to hit a small animal at a considerable distance, then you can consider a zoom of up to 10x. It should be remembered that large zoom numbers narrow the field of view. Therefore, if you do not want to drive your scope along the horizon from side to side in search of a target, you should not get carried away with too much zoom. It is worth noting that most night vision scopes have a constant zoom. If it is important for you to shoot at near and far targets, then you need a manual zoom setting.
It is equally important that your hands do not get tired during a long observation. To do this, a night vision scope must be lightweight and compact. Weight is affected by the size of the objective lens, body material, and battery capacity. Medium lens size (40mm) works well in most cases. However, if the distances are large, then it is worth climbing a step higher in the generation of the scope. They will allow you to keep the weight of the night vision scope at the same level and provide a longer identification range.
As for the material of the night vision scope, lightweight and durable alloys based on aircraft-grade aluminum or carbon fiber are preferable. They will not make the scope heavier and keep the optics from impact. The degree of protection (IP) is responsible for safety. If you are hunting in wet weather, then IP65 will do. However, if you often get caught in the rain or snow, IP66 can withstand a stream of water without harm to the scope. Waterfowl hunters need the protection of at least IP67, 68. Any shooter will be happy to have a ballistic calculator and several types of the reticle. This helps to make the right calculation and accurately hit the target, especially at long distances.
Some models of night vision scopes can take photos and record videos. The moment of recording can be synchronized with the movement of the trigger and not be distracted during the shot. An equally important parameter is the operating time of the device. Finally, it is the capacity of the battery. Note that in the cold, the battery capacity is greatly reduced. And the device can turn off, despite the indicator with a remainder of 20%. Therefore, for safety, you should always have a spare or choose a scope with a connection to an external battery.
Night Vision Monocular
The night vision monocular has great features in a small size. It can replace night vision binoculars at short and medium distances. In addition, it can be installed in front of or behind the optical scope and may well serve as an alternative to the night vision scope. In addition to mounting on a weapon, it can be worn on a helmet, a special headband, mounted on a tripod, or worn on a belt. As you can see, this is the most versatile product of the entire line of night vision products.
In addition to versatility, the night vision monocular contributes to better orientation in space since the second eye is always adapted to the dark, and there is no glare effect.
Despite its low weight, the night vision monocular has the same technology as its older brothers. Its image intensifier tube is classified by generations from Gen1 to Gen 3+ and carries the same functionality as all night vision devices. The night vision monocular is equipped with a built-in IF light or has mounts for external light. As a rule, it has a constant zoom, which should be chosen taking into account your working distance. But there are manual options.
Despite the fact that the night vision monocular does not have a reticle, to some extent, it is replaced by a laser designator. The auto-strobe system protects the instrument from sudden flashes of bright light. This feature is useful for hunters who work near highways and settlements. In addition, manual brightness control will help you adjust the picture for better aiming.
The degree of protection is similar to the system for all night vision devices. The body of the device has an anti-slip coating and/or a ribbed structure. In addition, it is made from high-quality materials with an anti-reflective coating. For the hunter, it is important that the equipment does not give reflections and withstand harsh use. Note that the night vision monocular consumes battery power economically and lasts an average of 50 hours. However, it is always better to have a spare, especially when hunting in the winter.
Night vision optics should be in the arsenal of any fan of night hunting. She has no equal image quality in a transparent atmosphere and the presence of at least weak night lighting. Each of the night vision devices has its strengths. The monocular is compact and multipurpose. The night vision riflescope has unrivaled shooting accuracy at any distance. We can say that the scope is a more advanced version of the monocular, designed for a significant impulse load. Based on the foregoing, it can be assumed that experienced hunters will choose a night vision scope, with priority in long distances.