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Night Vision: Sneaky-Peek At The Bad Guys

Night Vision: Sneaky-Peek At The Bad Guys
Guiding You Through The Latest In The NV/Optics World.

Why the seemingly constant fuss over night vision? Actually there’s an easy answer: night vision lets cops see in the dark where the bad guys do their dirty work. In our efforts to eradicate terrorism, “owning the night” has given us a wholesale advantage. In your own efforts to eradicate domestic criminals, guess what gives you the same leg up? But we need to keep up to date on what’s new in the category. While technology changes, most basic gear remains similar, but some prices do fall, as the technology gets more affordable. You need to know about that so you can take advantage of it.

But what’s really new in NV products? There’s the ANPVS-14 … or the ANPVS-14 … or maybe the ANPVS-14 … or a variant of the ANPVS-14 like the SVPNA-41. No matter which way you scramble the letters or numbers, the standard law enforcement quality NV device available these days is … wait for it … the ANPVS-14 — or some slight variant.

There are a few exceptions, like the special purpose AstroScope from Electrophysics, a new unit — the MUM2 from L3/Insight — or the thermal viewer in a 14’s body from ATN. So let’s explore some of the variants along with the new stuff, plus a couple devices that can make using NV easier and safer, especially during SWAT-type incidents.

What follows is a quick look at what’s out there. If something catches your eye, we heartily recommend you do your own follow-up work and check out the company website or give ‘em a call to get more info. Don’t forget most companies are happy to lend test and evaluation samples so you can get hands-on with their gear.

night vision 1

The AstroScope is made by Electrophysics and it produces perhaps the highest-quality image I’ve ever seen in a night vision-equipped camera. This system is professional-grade for use with high-end broadcast quality video cameras, as well as for still photography. It electronically integrates with removable-lens cameras and camcorders (i.e. Canon, Nikon) to retain all the host camera functions. It’s powered directly from the camera too — no self-contained batteries.

It simply can’t be beat for surveillance photography, especially when joined with high quality camera lenses. The AstroScope has a variable gain function, which lets you control the brightness for superior images.

night vision 2

ATN will soon offer a pretty cool thermal system based on the 320×240 or 640×480 resolution
 FLIR VOx (Vonadium Oxide) detector with an 800×600 OLED display. The TTM-14 features digital processing and MIL-SPEC optics. The menu is icon-based for ease of use and it’s made in the USA. It’s a thermal viewer in an ANPVS-14 body, meaning the attachments securing your regular NV unit to your helmet or the mount for your patrol carbine will fit the TTM-14 thermal viewer. The switch-ology is the same too, cutting down on training. A single CR123 battery powers the unit.

night vision 3

All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips, APALS, were designed for military operators as a low cost combat identifier. The law enforcement crossover is obvious, helping improve situational awareness of team members in low/no light environments. They also help reduce the possibility of blue-on-blue accidental shootings. They’re great when used to mark areas already searched when looking for a suspect in an office building or home — just slap the adhesive side on the door and continue your search. APALS are hermetically sealed and have super sticky backs for reliable use in any environment, from hot and arid to wet and freezing, urban to heavily wooded rural jurisdictions. APALS from Brite-Strike are disposable, but have a runtime of more than 35 hours.

night vision 4

FLIR Systems, Inc. recently added a small LS-Series thermal camera to its handheld H-Series Monocular and Bi-Ocular Thermal Camera line for law enforcement. The LS 32 and LS 64 can see in total darkness as well as smoke, dust, light fog, light foliage, in any lighting conditions and at any time of the day, or night. They have a sealed eyepiece, diopter adjustment and resolution options. This series combines high performance, with affordability for patrol, surveillance and searches. Button features include zoom, polarity switching and viewfinder brightness. They have focus-free optics, a laser pointer and an embedded Li-Ion battery for up to 5 hours of operation.

night vision 5

The IR ICE Light from Torfino Enterprises Inc. in Florida features two user-selectable operating modes; constant-on mode for continuous illumination of an area, or room or a flash mode, which electronically rotates in a 360-degree pattern. It can operate for up to 4 hours continuously on a standard 9-Volt alkaline battery. It contains 15 LEDs having an expected life of more than 100,000 hours. The ICE LIGHT is housed in a high impact ABS plastic case with a non-slip rubber grip and includes a heavy-duty nylon holster and vehicle mounting kit. ICE LIGHT is only 7.9″ long and weighs just 6.6 ounces; it’s water resistant to 35′ and will float in water with the lighted side exposed out of the water.

night vision 6

The Mini Multi-Use-Monocular (MUM2), by L3/Insight Technology, is a high performance modular, handheld passive night vision monocular. Its 18mm Generation II-III intensifier tube provides crisp, clear images under the darkest conditions.

The “single tube/single eyepiece” approach to night vision in a tactical environment is based on the concept that independent use of each eye allows the user to operate under a wide range of low-light conditions. This enhances the field of view while reducing the risks of temporary night blindness, and you retain full peripheral vision in the unaided eye.

This is the smallest and lightest NV monocular I’ve ever used. Weight is killer when it’s cantilevered off the front of your helmet or headgear. The lighter the system, the less fatigued the cop, and a tired cop in a tactical situation is not a good thing. It uses a single CR-123 to power the unit and an integrated infrared illuminator, and it’s stunningly crystal clear.

night vision 7

The MONOCAM, by Morovision, is the perfect tool for night operations where ease-of-use and quick-readiness are factors in gathering critical information on target objectives or subject evidence collection. It uses a PVS-14 or MV-14 type monocular, the tough shockproof, waterproof and freeze-proof Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Digital Camera, and the lightweight patented MONOCAM Adapter and rubber bushing. It also features a .25″ tripod mount and a 2-bar rail mount on top for mounting an optional IR Illuminator or Laser Aiming Device.

The system combines the latest developments in digital camera technology, with the best US technology. The Night Vision Adapter is constructed of machined aircraft-grade anodized aluminum, providing the connection between the NEPVS-14 monocular and the camera.

night vision 8

Police work or recreational hunting doesn’t always happen in great weather so the Sightmark Night Raider is built for harsh conditions. It has IPX4 waterproofing, and the 3X magnification Night Raider is made of titanium for lightweight durability. Sightmark has combined an internally adjustable (for windage and elevation) 2-color rangefinding reticle with incremental brightness adjustment to allow you to see your target in even the darkest surroundings. Some of the features of the Night Raider are: Red or green rangefinding reticle with brightness adjustment, range of focus down to 5 meters, titanium body, integrated high-power IR illuminator with beam focus, protective flip-up objective lens cover and it’s photo and video adaptable.

The intensifier tube is Gen 1, but the Night Raider is fully capable for night operations. When combined with a good weapon-mounted IR-capable tactical light, it’s hard to beat for the price.

night vision 9a

night vision 9b

Tactical Night Vision Company or TNVC have been the go-to guys for all things night vision for quite a while now. If it helps you see in the dark, from thermal or NV, to the most sophisticated goggle or sight system, to an Infrared Vascular Trans-illuminator (I had to look it up too) — TNVC does it. Their PVS-14 is a device enabling a medic to start an IV using their NV goggles and no white light at all to give away their position — they have it and will ship it to you now.

Former soldiers and currently serving or retired law enforcement run TNVC. These guys decided to start making their own PVS-14s under exacting standards and with the highest of the high-quality components, especially the intensifier tubes. They get the tubes from ITT and L3 including the ITT Pinnacle and the L3 OMNI VIII Mil-Spec intensifiers. There’s no argument these are the top two intensifiers available.

Since moving production internally, they’ve been able to keep the price point down to a much more manageable level for the customer. While technically not MIL-SPEC, it nonetheless still meets the exacting standards. TNVC’s PVS-14 is available in black, crye multicam and flat dark earth. The TNVPVS-14 is also available with a full accessory kit.
By Dave Douglas
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