The Best Night Vision Goggles, Binoculars and Monoculars:2019 Reviews for Tactical & Hunting

I bet you’ve seen night vision goggles in your favorite spy or military related movies, but have you ever considered that it could be you harnessing the power of seeing in the pitch of the night?

Night vision goggles, or nvg for short, has been around for decades, and got its start in the battlefield, enabling soldiers to identify targets in the middle of the night. It’s easy to imagine how this would be beneficial on the battlefield, being able to locate a target from a distance while they are oblivious to the fact. But the benefits of night vision does not stop there.

Night vision goggles have a range of practical uses, from spotting that animal across the field that you have been tracking all day, to saving an individual on a search and rescue mission in the dead of night. Aside from these, when I was still a kid I just wanted a pair to bring out my inner spy.


History of Night Vision Goggles 

Surprisingly enough, night vision technology has been around since before World War II. The first devices were known as “generation zero” technology and were first invented by Germany. These were infrared devices that were capable of amplifying any existing light by 1,000 times.

There was a huge downfall in this early technology though, the devices were so big that it required a flat bed truck to be mounted on because of the infrared illuminator that was required for the night vision to function properly. That is a far cry compared to the handheld devices that we see today.

Vietnam proved to be the ultimate battle ground for night vision technology to flourish. Soldiers would be holed up in the jungle for days at a time, and someone would have to be on watch 24/7. These soldiers were equipped with “generation one” technology which was considered passive night vision. It didn’t require the bulky infrared illuminator like the previous generation. Because of this, these devices did not work well at all on moonless nights.

Generation two devices came next. These upgrades included increased performance and a better resolution then the previous generation of devices. The most substantial upgrade of all is the ability of the generation two devices to see in extremely low light conditions like on a moonless night, unlike the generation one devices. This is made possible due to the microchannel plate to the image-intensifier tube making the picture quality less distorted then the generation one night vision devices.

The next generation, generation three, is practically the same as generation two meaning there were no great advances in technology between the two generations. These night vision devices are currently used by the United States military.

Generation four is the latest in night vision technology. The most important improvement is the capabilities in both low and high level light environments. These devices are capable of adjusting instantly to fluctuations in lighting conditions. This allows the user to move between low and high light environments without any major distortion coming through the device. It creates a sort of seamless experience between the two conditions in which the operator doesn’t have to worry about the blinding effects of a light being switched on while wearing the night vision goggles.


The Main Night Vision Goggle Technologies

There are two main types of night vision goggle technology today. We got image intensification, which takes any existing light and increases that light through the use of technology and chemicals. If you have ever seen someone look at a light through image intensification night vision goggles then you would know it has a blinding effect, that is because of the increasing of light. Goggles today can increase light by 50,000 times or more!

The other main technology in use today is thermal imaging. Thermal imaging in a night vision application does not rely on the increase of light to function. You could be in complete darkness without a trace of any light whatsoever, and this form of night vision will still deliver results. Thermal imaging works by reading the infrared energy that emits from people, animals and objects.

Goggles vs Monoculars

When you do decide to invest in some night vision technology you’re going to have to decide between night vision goggles (binoculars) or a monocular. The key difference between these two types of devices is that the binoculars have two “tubes”, one for each eye. The monocular has one tube, for one eye.

The monocular has its advantages, you can have one eye free while you are using the device and the price isn’t as steep as the binocular version although the goggles are the most appealing if you are trying to unlock your inner spy. You may be thinking you’ll have a wider field of view with the goggles, but truth be told there really isn’t a noticeable difference.

Let’s take a look at a couple of different options that will get you seeing everything in the dark in no time.


Product Reviews

The Armasight PVS-7 3P

Product

PVS-7 3P - Night Vision Goggle Gen 3 High-Performance...

Top Overall Pick

  • Compact rugged design with waterproof body
  • Head or helmet mountable for hands free usage
  • Ergonomic simple and easy to operate controls
  • Built in infrared illuminator and flood lens
  • Export of this product outside of the United States of America is...

Our rating

Details

  • Compact rugged design with waterproof body
  • Head or helmet mountable for hands free usage
  • Ergonomic simple and easy to operate controls
  • Built in infrared illuminator and flood lens
  • Export of this product outside of the United States of America is...

My number one pick would have to be the Armasight PVS-7. This night vision goggle system is the most recognized system by the United States Military. The goggles can be equipped with either generation 2 or generation 3 technology, both of which are discussed earlier in this article.

This night vision goggle system is also equipped with manual gain control which enables the operator to adjust the image to varying levels of light, so if you were to walk into a room that has more light you can quickly adjust the goggles to ensure that you have the highest quality image possible. It is very important in a tactical scenario as it enables you to be 100% sure of your surroundings.

This system is also equipped with its own infra-red illuminator which means you can operate with zero light. This system is capable of being used as a handheld device or you can mount on your helmet when you need to be combat ready. The system is also waterproof and includes a warranty.

Sightmark PVS-14

Product

Sightmark PVS-14 Gen# 3 Select Night Vision Goggles

Top Pick

  • Single AA Battery Operation
  • Integrated IR Illuminator
  • Automatic Shut-Off When Exposed To Bright Light Sources
  • Low Battery Indicator
  • Hand-Held, Head Mountable, Weapons Mountable, Or Photo /Video...

Our rating

Details

  • Single AA Battery Operation
  • Integrated IR Illuminator
  • Automatic Shut-Off When Exposed To Bright Light Sources
  • Low Battery Indicator
  • Hand-Held, Head Mountable, Weapons Mountable, Or Photo /Video...

The Sightmark PVS-14 is a military-inspired night vision unit. It comes with a three-year warranty on the internals and a lifetime warranty on the housing. This night vision device can be used as a handheld device, helmet mounted device, weapon mounted device and even a head-mounted device with the included head gear.

Like the Armasight PVS-7, this device comes with its own infra-red illuminator. The night vision goggles run on generation three technology and has built-in automatic brightness control to let you know if the battery is running low. If you were to encounter a bright light the device automatically shuts off to prevent the doomed blinding effect.

The Sightmark is also waterproof and engineered to withstand the most hardcore user. I really like this device because its so versatile with so many different mounting options.

Armasight Nyx-7 Pro 3 Alpha

Product

Armasight Nyx-7 Pro 3 Alpha Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles 64-72...

Top Pick

  • Compact and lightweight, rugged design
  • Head or helmet Mountable for hands-free usage
  • Auto brightness Control
  • Ergonomic, simple, easy to operate controls
  • Adaptable for Use with cameras
  • Automatic Brightness Control

Our rating

Details

  • Compact and lightweight, rugged design
  • Head or helmet Mountable for hands-free usage
  • Auto brightness Control
  • Ergonomic, simple, easy to operate controls
  • Adaptable for Use with cameras
  • Automatic Brightness Control

I consider the Armasight Nyx-7 to be the little brother of my number one choice on this list, the Armasight PVS-7. The Nyx-7 night vision generation three goggles are made for the night vision enthusiast or law enforcement and military personnel.

The device itself comes in at a cheaper price then the PVS-7, but don’t let the price fool you s these goggles are fully capable of whatever you throw at them. They have a compact and lightweight design and are completely hands-free as they can be head or helmet mounted.

The goggles include auto brightness control and a flip-up shut off feature, so if you are using this as a head or helmet sight and flip the device up and away from your eye it automatically shuts off to preserve battery life.

These night vision goggles are also capable of being utilized as a long-range viewer with its optional 5x or 8x magnifier lens. The device comes with a two-year warranty and runs on a single AA battery for hours of use.

ATN PVS7-3A

Product

ATN PVS7-3A Gen 3 Night Vision Goggle

Top Pick

  • Standard Miitary issue, combat proven
  • Multi purpose system - hand held, head mounted, helmet mounted,...
  • Hi Res Gen 3 Image Intensifier tube
  • Equipped with momentary or continuous IR switch
  • This item is restricted for sale to the state of California and...

Our rating

Details

  • Standard Miitary issue, combat proven
  • Multi purpose system - hand held, head mounted, helmet mounted,...
  • Hi Res Gen 3 Image Intensifier tube
  • Equipped with momentary or continuous IR switch
  • This item is restricted for sale to the state of California and...

The ATN PVS7-3A night vision goggle is a standard military issue combat proven system. It is a dependable system that is identical to the AN/PVS7 model which is the US Army ground troops standard military issue goggle. This is a multi-purpose system that can be used as a handheld, tripod mounted, head mounted or helmet mounted night vision system.

These generation three night vision goggles also include an infra-red illuminator with two switching functions. You can choose between continuous on where the infra-red stays switched on, or a momentary on option for quick assessments. The device also includes a fully adjustable military head strap so you can use the device hands-free right out of the box. This is great for operators that need a device that is ready to go as soon as it hits their doorstep.

The housing of this system is full US Mil Spec, runs on two AA batteries and is designed to stand the test of time. The infra-red operation and low battery indicator are within the operator’s field of view, so current system status can be read without having to remove the device from your head. The device is also water and fog resistant. The ATN Corp. is widely known for their superior night vision systems and is trusted by law enforcement and military personnel worldwide.

FLIR LS-XR

Product

FLIR LS-XR 35mm Compact Thermal Night Vision Monocular,...

Top Pick

  • One-handed operation for swift spotting of animals from near to...
  • Choice of White Hot, Black Hot, and Installer
  • Small and lightweight to carry with you anywhere
  • unisex-adult

Our rating

Details

  • One-handed operation for swift spotting of animals from near to...
  • Choice of White Hot, Black Hot, and Installer
  • Small and lightweight to carry with you anywhere
  • unisex-adult

This thermal monocular provides a lightweight handheld option that can fit right in your jacket pocket. It incorporates a single hand design and is capable of extended zoom from 2x, 4x and 8x at the push of a button.

The built-in display is a crystal clear 640 x 480 LCD display. It is capable of detecting another human being from 1140 meters away. It has a white hot or black hot option button and also includes a brightness setting button to provide you with the most comfortable experience possible.

The thermal monocular also includes a red laser pointer to make targeting and tracking a breeze. The ergonomic eye piece fits comfortable around the eye blocking out most light allowing you to focus on what you’re tracking without any light protruding through. The included video put button makes it easy to hook this device up and record everything you see for future reference so you can focus on what’s important in the moment.


Parting Shots

The world of night vision is not something that can only be used on the battlefield or in the movies. You are a click away from unleashing your inner spy and uncovering a whole new scene behind the veil of darkness. Go ahead and get you a pair of night vision goggles, you may be surprised at what you can find in the dark.

By

Chris Frenchak has over 20 years of firearms experience between sporting and responsible concealed carry applications. Chris is a member of multiple pro-second amendment organizations including USCCA, NRA, and just as importantly, his local range. Chris is continuing a legacy of support for our rights by working with his family to increase firearms education and awareness as the lead editor of GunBacker.

The Daily Ammo

The latest firearms reviews, gear reviews and safe shooting tips for responsible gun owners.

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