On Force Multipliers (Night Vision)


…On Force Multipliers (Night Vision)

            Night vision, Passive, Infra-red, and thermal may well be the best investment that you can make to protect your stores and loved ones. I suspect when the seams of society unravel that the night will truly be the stuff of nightmares.

            If you have made good inroads into your stores, you may want to take a look into the market of night vision devices. Think about NVDs as you would your weapons battery it is just as important. They are tools that will allow you to do more with less.

ATN Trident Pro4 GEN 2+ weapons site in case with IR illuminator and tools
ATN Trident Pro4 GEN 2+ weapons site in case with IR illuminator and tools

            Most Preppers look at the prices for NVDs, gasp, and opt to buy another case of ammo. There are good deals out there if you shop hard. As I write this, I am taking delivery of two Generation 2 NVDs that I paid about $1800 for total. Both are ATNs, a brand that was sold to me by the Gen 3 that I have owned for some time. One is a monocular that can be weapon mounted with an adapter or used with a head harness via a J-arm. I also acquired a compass that will mount to this device, making night navigation easier. The other is a complete weapons system with mount and IR illuminator in a hard-shell case. Both were found on E-bay, new or near new, at half the going price for such devices. Not everyone buying or selling NVDs is knowledgeable, so if you educate yourself about NVDs in general and Google/Wiki educate yourself about the particular device you are looking at, you CAN find good deals.

Bushnell GEN 1 monocular and Aeoptics GEN 1 monocular with optional eyepiece for weapons mounting
Bushnell GEN 1 monocular and Aeoptics GEN 1 monocular with optional eyepiece for weapons mounting

            These two devices will back up an already considerable night surveillance package. The capstone of this system is a SPI MD-1 Thermal imaging pod. Yes this was expensive, but I still shopped it almost $1K off at $3000. Cheap for thermal. This pod has programmable PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) capabilities and also contains a HD video camera and a bore sight-able laser designator. It has recognition out to almost 200 meters. This will be on an elevated central mount on the retreat, fed to a controller with 3.5” display and 40” flat screen. (yes, we have extensive solar to power all this stuff). This can be programmed to perform automatic 360 degree, high-low surveillance patrols as well as track intrusive aircraft.

SPI MD-1 Thermal imaging pod shown with a PTZ controller with a 3.5” monitor
SPI MD-1 Thermal imaging pod shown with a PTZ controller with a 3.5” monitor

            To boost the effectiveness of two Gen one devices (one handheld-Bushnell, the other a weapon mounted-Aeoptics) there are a number of remote controlled 12V IR LED floods on the perimeter.

There is also a Gen 3 weapons mounted and a number of low-light video cameras. The thermal, cameras and IR floods are all controlled from a central location.

Photo 2
ATN PVS 14 Gen 2+ with J-arm

            A little education on NVDs, numbers you should know:

            NVDs amplify available light (starlight, ambient background light) to provide a recognizable image to the eye. The amount of amplification (GEN #) will determine the clarity/resolution of the image.

ATN PVS14Gen 2+ with J-arm mounted to head harness
ATN PVS14Gen 2+ with J-arm mounted to head harness

            Thermal detects the variance of body heat to the ambient background heat to display an image. The sensitivity to this difference will determine its resolution. Most thermal devices provide for a choice of positive/negative and a number of pseudo-color displays to enable you to choose the best option for your particular surveillance problem.

Thermal image face close up, pseudo colors
Thermal image face close up, pseudo colors

Gen 1-This is basically little better than updated Korean war era IR devices. Improved with an IR Light source. 20-38 lp/mm (line pairs per millimeter) this determines clarity; they have a IIT (Image Intensifier Tube) with a life of 2000-2500 hours.

Gen 2-provides very good service, some Gen 2+ approach Gen 3 levels. 32-45 lp/mm and a life of 5000 hours.

Gen 3-amazing clarity. 50-64 lp/mm and a life of 10,000 hours.

ATN Aries MK8900 Crusader GEN3+ weapons site in case with IR illuminator ,tools and batteries
ATN Aries MK8900 Crusader GEN3+ weapons site in case with IR illuminator ,tools and batteries

Thermal (FLIR-Forward looking infrared) all FLIR systems also have generational and image resolution specs that must be considered. These are also tied to image clarity. All FLIR systems are expensive starting at $3000+ minimally for a weapons site and going over $20,000, off the table for most all Preppers. I recommend a fixed mount system. These can be found used/surplus as 12V vehicle mounted Marine or Border Patrol units.

Other specs to be considered: power supply (AA, CR123,12V vehicle, or AC), mounts, lens covers, cases, reticles, IR illuminators, magnification and the adaptability to existing daylight scopes ,weapons mounts, helmets and head harnesses.

            The Force Multiplier theory: adding technology to increase the effectiveness of an individual team member to perform as 2 or more. Sadly we cannot buy team members, but for a few thousand dollars we can add night vision and turn a force of eight into sixteen or more. That’s pretty cheap for that kind of security. Remember that attackers must have a 3 to 1 advantage minimally to have a chance at breaching a defensive position. The more force that you can effectively project, the better your chances at resisting a large force.

            NVDs are very useful for perimeter defense as well as on patrol in ambush and anti-ambush situations. Some are also adaptable to vehicle operations.

            An important note: NVDs image clarity is degraded by smoke, fog and rain. Thermal is not.

Seize the night…long live the republic. D.

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  1. Wow – I have to agree here, these would be very handy – but only if you are Rich enough to buy them. $2,000 is not a price I can call a bargain. With so many people struggling to keep food on the table WHILE preparing for the inevitable, well I’d rather have seen an article about which foods to plant, and how to manage them (especially in small areas). An “IR” camera strategically placed can help monitor an area for a LOT less, and well placed flood lights can equalize a situation in the evening quite well…

  2. I agree that NVGs would be great to have when SHTF. In case of power grid failure, is it possible to recharge these with a small portable solar panel?

  3. I have to agree with Jim- No way can I afford $2000 for night vision- I have to pay my bills and keep food on the table. Good info, but not much good to me right now. . . .

  4. Tim:
    The PVS14 monocular uses a single AA battery (about 40 hours usage) get rechargables and the answer is yes.
    Jim & Rick:
    I understand money is tight, but there are many preppers who have been working at it for years, have their food, meds and weapons and are ready for this level of equipment.

    Also nowhere in the aricle does it state that any of the NVDs cost $2000 (two, Gen 2+ for $1800 total) The device I use most often is the PVS14 Gen 2+ ($775) the harness was $60, J-arm $18 and the weapons mount $20. Very versatil for under $875 for everything and it runs on a std. AA battery.(cheaper than your average battle rifle or a case of .223 these days) My Gen3 did cost $1995, the Gen1’s a few hundred each. The point was, NVDs can be affordable, if you shop well and hard. All of these were bought for about half of the going rate.

    The thermal IS obscene expensive, but one man will be able to surveil our modest retreat to 200M, nothing else will compare to its capabilities.

    Jim: Re;Food…back up a few posts to Aquaponics (space efficient), plant vegetables you eat and use now. Avoid the rutabaga and other weirdness that some reccommend. If you don’t eat it now, you wont eat it then.

    BTW I am retired, fixed income, hardly rich. Regards, D.

  5. Where can I get one of these PVS14 Gen 2+ ($775) the harness was $60, J-arm $18 and the weapons mount $20. Very versatil for under $875 for everything ? I have been looking and cant find anything near that price . Thanks for any help you can give me on this . My e-mail is [email protected]

    Robert W

  6. Robert: As stated in the article, they are still available on E-bay as used (or as the car salesmen prefer pre-owned)PVS Gen 3 are still expensive. Look for Gen2 used night vision. I am not gonna do your shopping for you,(do you want me to give you a fish or teach you how to fish?) you have to persistently look to get good deals. Gen 1’s are still about $200 and I saw at least one Gen 2 for $500 in the last hour. Mounts,harness and J-arms are the prices stated. Good luck.D.

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