Night Vision Generations Explained

Night Vision Generations Explained

Considering buying night vision gear? Read on to learn more about the various night vision generations and how to make the right choice for your needs.

When it comes to buying night vision scopes and goggles, you need to consider a range of factors before making a purchase. Perhaps the most important of these is the generation that you choose to buy. Those who are just starting to look into these devices will want to have a better understanding of the different night vision generations before making a purchasing decision. The more you know the more confident you will be when buying.

Below, we will be looking into the different night vision generations, as well as mistakes to avoid when buying, and more. We will also discuss three different products including a Gen 1 scope, a Gen 2 multipurpose system, and a Gen 3 goggle. This information will help you to understand more about the generations and what you should be considering when you are choosing products to add to your gear.

Generation 1 Night Vision

Night vision has been around for longer than many people realize. Generation 1 night vision began in the 1960s, and it is still a popular option for many today thanks to its affordability. Because it tends to be a budget-friendly option, more people will be able to add a night vision scope or monocular to their gear.

Of course, it is not nearly as powerful as the later generations. With a Gen 1 device, the useful range will be about 75 yards, although it could be less depending on the equipment and just how dark it is. You will also find that the resolution through a Gen 1 device is not as high as other generations. It’s not as bright, and you are likely to notice more noise in the images.

One of the other things to remember regarding Generation 1 night vision is that it can’t operate passively, which means the IR illuminators will always be one. While this might not be too much of a problem, it will make the user visible to others who might be using IR devices. Because it isn’t passive, it also means that the battery life for these devices is generally much shorter.

The field of view is smaller with the Gen 1 equipment, and you may notice image distortion when there is too much light. Others have found that the life expectancy of Generation 1 night vision devices is shorter, as well, but this will often depend on the overall quality of the item you are considering, not just the night vision capabilities.

Generation 2 Night Vision

Gen 2 was the next evolution in night vision technology, and it improved greatly on the technology from the first generation. It’s important to keep in mind that there are different quality levels of Gen 2 night vision and different models may have more power or capabilities than others. Regardless of the generation you are considering, always see just what the model has to offer before making a choice.

With some of the Gen 2 models, it will be possible to have a range out to about 200 yards. You will find that the resolution and the clarity of the images are better with the second generation, as well. The images will be brighter, and it can provide passive operation, so the IR illuminator doesn’t always have to be running. These devices will have a larger field of view, they have a longer life expectancy, and the batteries can last longer, as well.

Gen 2 can provide some great benefits over the first generation in terms of capabilities. Of course, with greater power and features comes a larger price tag. Those who can afford Gen 2 equipment will often find that it’s a good solution to their needs, and it’s still far less expensive than Gen 3. For those who have the money, it may be a good idea to choose Gen 2 over Gen 1.

Generation 3 Night Vision

Moving on to Generation 3, you will find the highest-quality options that are currently available for those who need night vision equipment. The Gen 3 devices are often used by the military and Special Forces. There are different grades and quality levels of Gen 3 devices, as there are Gen 2, and you will find that all of them can provide excellent results. They will often have autogated performance, so they can perform well even in areas where there are artificial lights present, ensuring that it doesn’t become too bright and cause blooming.

The range for these devices can often reach out to 300 yards or more. They have bright, clear, and clean images and perform very well in low light. They have passive operations. These devices have an exceptionally long life expectancy and can work well for those who can’t do with anything but the best.

However, the one major drawback for the Gen 3 night vision equipment is the price. These are the costliest pieces of equipment on the market today, and they might be out of the budget of some buyers. Those who have the means for Gen 3 will find that it is an ideal solution they will want to strongly consider.

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Night Vision Equipment

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is automatically believing that night vision equipment will be legal to own and use where you live. There are many places around the world and states within the United States where it is not legal to own night vision equipment. This is because there are people who will use it for illegal hunting after dark. Not all animals can be taken after dark, and what is and is not allowed will vary by municipality. Always look into the laws in your area before buying night vision, or any other type of gear for that matter.

Another mistake is always looking for the cheapest option available. Sure, everyone loves the idea of saving money. However, when you buy the lowest priced items available, you will find that the quality also tends to match the price. While you don’t have to go out and buy the most expensive pieces of Gen 3 equipment you can find, you will want to strike a balance in terms of quality and price.

Choosing the wrong device for your needs is yet another mistake that people make. If you are going to be using a rifle to take down predators that are threatening your ranch, then you will likely need to have a rifle scope that has night vision. You might also want a monocular or binoculars that you can use for spotting. Think about how and where you will

be using your night vision and make sure that the device you are choosing is the correct choice.

Quality Night Vision Devices to Consider

Below, you will find several night vision options for different types of gear that might be what you need. We’ve included an option from each generation. These are some of the top options in this field, and they can give you a better idea of what you can expect when you start looking for gear and narrowing your choices.

Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Rifle Scope

Firefield NVRS 3x42 Gen 1 Night Vision Rifle Scope

This Generation 1 night vision rifle scope provides good image quality and resolution for a Gen 1 device. The Firefield scope has 3x magnification and a 42 mm objective lens diameter. Since this is a 3x scope, it will typically be used at those shorter ranges where the Gen 1 night vision can still shine.

The scope has a quick detach weaver mount, so you can add or remove it to your rifle easily. This is a nice feature in case you are in a situation where your iron sights will be a better solution. It is lightweight and durable with a water-resistant IPX4 rating. The device features a built-in high-powered IR illuminator, and you can change the brightness of the reticle with ease.

It will take 2 AA batteries. The batteries will last for about 20 hours with IR operating or 50 hours without IR. The resolution for this device is 30 lines per mm, while the field of view is 21 meters at 100 meters. The range of detection for the device is 150 meters.

The night vision scope has multi-coated optics, along with a flip-up lens cover. The lens cover is fast and easy to flip, and you will find that the scope powers up quickly, as well. It’s a solid, rugged solution that may be a good choice for those who might have to shoot at night. For example, if you have a farm and some livestock that is being threatened by coyotes that come out of the hills at night, this can help you take care of them.

ATN Night Spirit 2 Gen 2+ Night Vision Multi-Purpose System

ATN Night Spirit 2 Gen 2+ Night Vision Multi-Purpose System

We take things up a notch with this device from ATN. The second-generation system is available in this multi-purpose waterproof device with a built-in IR illuminator. This means it can be used in total darkness and provide you with the light you need. The system also has multi-coated optics to ensure maximum light gathering.

One of the best reasons to consider this option is because it can be used in a range of different ways. It could be used as a handheld device, for example. There is also optional headgear with mounts, so you can use it on a helmet if you would like.

The battery life for the system without IR active is 30 hours, while the battery life with IR active is 15 hours. This is less than what some might like, but with the added power and resolution, it’s a tradeoff that many are willing to take. It will work with a 1.5V AA battery or a 3V CR123A battery.

Magnification for the device is 3x, and it has a 50 mm objective lens for excellent light-gathering capabilities. The system also has automatic brightness control.

ATN NVG7-3 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles

ATN NVG7-3 Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles

The NVG7-3 night vision goggles are another option from ATN. These are similar to the previous option from ATN on our list, as they can be used as a handheld device, or they can be mounted to a helmet or other headgear. However, there is a rather big difference since these are Gen 3 goggles. It also provides two eyepieces rather than one.

The system provides military-grade optics and can work well for those who need a hands-free system. This is a 1x magnification system that has multi-coated optics and a wide-angle IR illuminator. The head mount is included with the water and fog-resistant goggles. Battery life for the googles is estimated at 50 hours, but this can vary based on how it is being used. Keeping the IR on longer will often mean that the battery life drops.

The system offers bright light cutoff, an automatic shut-off system, a 40-degree field of view, and a bright, clear, picture. The night vision goggles are durable and can withstand the weather and temperature fluctuations that they might face in field use. They could be a good option for those who have the means for a Gen 3 device.

Conclusion: What’s the Right Night Vision Gear for You?

Now that you have a better understanding of the night vision generations, you will be more confident when you are buying your gear. Take the information above and think about how and where you might need to use the equipment, check to see that the generation will be sufficient for your requirements and look at all the other features of the device. Ensure that it can stand up to the environment and that it is built to last.

There are some great options available that can work well for your needs and that will be within your budget. It is time to find what’s right for you.


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