Top 5 things to know when buying Night Vision

Researching night vision for some time now and there are a few things i have found out and am planing to share with you.

1. Just because it says AN/PVS Gen 3 doesn’t mean squat of the performance.

There is a lot of surplus AN/PVS systems out there with gen 3 tubes from as far back as the 80’s. There will be people trying to sell you old stuff for new tube prices. Surplus means that it can either be top notch unused and just been in someones closet or a runtime of well over 10,000 h. If there’s no datasheet then it can older than you. Remember the on time of the tube will matter if you will use it or not.

A good step stone here is to learn about OMNI contracts.


2. Pricing isn’t everything. Facts are!

Just looking at a price will give you a false sense of hope. If the price is too good it probably is or your making a great deal. Be careful with buying from eBay and such because the seller maybe doesn’t know what they are selling. They heard it was a Gen3, but it was actually a Chinese replica with a IR camera+display inside.

Data sheets are what you should get with new intensifier tubes which has as it says all the data you need about it. Here you also take into account what the optics are like and the condition of everything around.

A descent to good Gen 3 totally new tube will set you back $1500-$2000 in the US, in europe you are looking more towards $1800-$2900. And that’s only the image intensifier tube at dealer prices! There will be a little more on the top if you buy from a reseller.

3. No datasheet? Always take ’em for a spin

Some say you should always know what’s under the hood of a car, but even a HEMI can lock up. Take ’em fora spin instead. And if you have no idea what to look for educate yourself (step 4+5). No reason for you to put out a months pay for something that is only worth a quarter of what you paid. Get facts about the image intensifier as model number and serial number. Which also brings me to the next point…


Here is maybe one of the most important pieces of info. The people who work with NVD’s as in development, service or anything else don’t just see it as a job but because they (usually) have a passion for it. They will be on different forums and FB groups. So these are really good to have to help when maybe researching a NVD without a datasheet. But be respectful of their time and have patience when waiting an answer. But be aware that in the same waters there can be salesmen and forum warriors. The last one will always try to show that they are right with mostly weird proofs and “when i had those” and the salesperson will use their knowledge to undermine the quality of parts to scare of newcomers to sometime make a good deal and try to sell something else for “a good price” from them or someone they know.

Contacts are the hardest part of everything, but it pays of to learn as much as you can from the people who really know what they are talking about. The worse contacts you have the more cash you need to be ready to spend.

5.  Get Educated son!

There’s no easy way of getting a great NVD for a really good price without knowing what you want or who to talk to about it. If you have the money the sky is the limit, but if you are a normal person and want to just get a great system for a reasonable price you need to read. NVD’s are not a  easy subject since the only popculture they have are movies and games. But those don’t help you at all in this field. Find your forums and FB groups and try to talk to people for more info. Learn all the acronym for easy sailing.

If you live in the US, TNVC (Tactical Night Vision Company) had had some “try NVD’s with airsoft rifles at a CQB field” for a little over a year ago. keep trace of what’s going on and try to get there.

If you are in Europe and want to get a hold of NVD’s or have questions check out ACT in Black


Hope this helped you in your quest of finding light in the dark.

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About the Author

Started airsoft back in 2005. Now mostly working a day job and getting into the details of gear, optics and NVG.

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