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Letter Re: Advice on Affordable Yet Reliable Night Vision Scopes


Who makes the best Gen 1 and Gen 2 night vision optics? I am not sure I can afford to purchase Gen 3 for five people at this time. I can afford Gen 1, maybe Gen 2.
Thanks, – Martin

JWR Replies: I’d recommend that you purchase a professionally re-manufactured U.S. military contract Gen 2 scope such as the AN/PVS-2B. Beware the many “kitchen table” re-manufacturers out there! Buy a full mil spec scope from a reputable vendor such as Ready Made Resources [1] or STANO Components [2], that will have a genuine, new, Gen 2 image intensifier tube with a bona fide data sheet.

The following is some guidance and contact information that I included in my newly-released Rawles on Retreat and Relocation [3] book:

Late issue Third Generation (also called or Third Gen or Gen 3) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,000 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology) scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezoelectric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups–in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars that you can afford. They may be life savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube.(Or the bulkier AN/PVS-2 if you are on tight budget.) Make sure to specify that that the tube is either new or has very “low hours”, that it has a high line pair count, and it that displays minimal scintillation. (My troops used the highly technical term “The Sparklies”to describe the scintillation phenomenon.)

Again, it is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. (A Russian importer who shall remain nameless once offered to supply a U.S. dealer with forged data sheets “at no extra charge” with each starlight scope purchased wholesale. Caveat emptor! As previously mentioned, in addition to Ready Made Resources, [1] another dealer that I trust is Al Glanze (spoken “Glan-zee”) who runs STANO Components in Silver City, Nevada. Contact: STANO Components [2], P.O. Box STANO, Silver City, Nevada 89428 FAX: 775-246-5211. Phone 775-246-5281/5283 or 1-888-STANO-FX (1-888-782-6639) Or e-mail: NV@night-vision.com