Letter Re: Recommendations for Night Vision Goggles?

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to say I enjoy your blog very much and look forward to it everyday. I am happy to contribute to your 10 Cent Challenge. Regarding your 20 February post on NVGs, I’ve looked at a few web sites just to see what is available. I have never actually put one of these models on so I may be out to lunch but it seems that most of the NVGs are built to cover your whole eye, allowing no peripheral vision, amplified or otherwise. I am currently an F-16 pilot in the Air Force and we fly quite a bit with NVGs. Our NVGs do not cover the entire eye and are more like a set of binoculars (without the amplification) positioned in front of the eyes. This is gives us the ability to glance down into the cockpit (a must in order to kill and not be killed) and have peripheral vision (though it is not amplified by NVGs of course). 40 degrees of NVG vision is not a lot and is akin to looking through a toilet paper tube. Having the ability to glance down at your weapon or detect movement out of the corner of your eye (movement, even at night, is best seen with your peripheral) is priceless. Once again, maybe I am wrong about the way they sit on your eyes but it not, then it is definitely something to think about. I would rather have 40 degrees of night vision and and still able to look down and have peripheral vision versus 40 degrees of night vision and nothing else. Once again thanks for putting such a great blog together. – Sterno

JWR Replies: Many thanks for your input. In my experience, the requirements for NVGs in ground combat are much different than for use in a cockpit. The biggest tradeoff is peripheral vision versus the risk of “raccoon eyes.” Let me explain: If you have the goggles set forward on a typical helmet mount to allow peripheral vision then they cast a bright glow on your face. This glow can be seen by someone in front of you for well in excess of 50 feet without NVGs, and for hundreds of yards with NVGs. That is one of the reasons that I prefer either NV weapons sights or NV monoculars with rubber eye cups (with the folding flap that opens only after your have pressed it to your face. To a bad guy in the distance, using any sort NV device without an eyecup looks like like you are shining a flashlight in your face.