Two Letters Re: Advice on Night Vision Gear

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have been reading your site for almost a year now and am grateful for your advise. I’ve read both Patriots and Retreats. Currently, I live in suburban Detroit and am looking for a farm out in the country. I’m good on food and many other items, but question my weapons battery. BTW, both my wife and I have attended the excellent training at Front Sight. Currently I have three handguns: an XDM-40 with four mags, Steyr M40 with four mags and a Taurus PT92 9mm with two mags. My long guns include two short-barrel 12 gauge shotguns with one having a dedicated light, one DPMS {AR-15 clone] .223 with dedicated light and Trijicon ACOG 4×32 scope, one DPMS .308 AR-10, and one Ruger 10/22. Crossbows are on my wish list. I have between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds of ammo for each weapon. I want to buy more ammo as well as reloading equipment and supplies.

I want to buy a scope for the 308 and decided on a Leupold Mark-3 4.5-12x 40mm scope. My concern is night vision. Do I get a dedicated night vision scope for the .308 and forget the Leupold, or a stand alone [hand-held] night vision glass? What good is it to see with night vision, if I can’t see it thru the scope to shoot? I don’t think I’ll need night vision in my subdivision, until I purchase the farm, but think I should get it now well it is still available. Of course my budget and lovely bride will only go for so much. Can you please advise?

Thanks so much, – RP

JWR Replies: Assuming that it is equipped with a flash hider, you should set up your AR-10 with an AN-PVS-4 Starlight scope, as your dedicated night-fighting rifle. With a throw-lever scope mount and a flip-up back-up iron sights (BUIS), you can quickly detach the Starlight scope and use the AR-10 for daylight shooting. (But of course be sure to do some target shooting tests to insure that the scope has correct “return to zero”, when re-mounted. Be patient and plan to buy bolt action .308 (such as a Savage Model 10) for daylight long range shooting. (That is where the Leupold Mark-3 4.5-12x 40mm scope that you mentioned would be most appropriate.)

And BTW, buy more magazines! With a renewed Federal ban now looming, you should acquire at least six spare mags for each handgun, and at least eight spares for each battle rifle. Buy them now, while they are still affordable. Full capacity magazine prices are likely to triple or quadruple if the Federal AWB is renewed.

Hi James,
I’ve been reading your blog for the last two years. Let me just tell you that you’ve been an inspiration to my family and my friends. We have recently acquired a country property here in Canada and are in the process of building our retreat.

One thing that I have completely ignored, was the need for night vision equipment. In the country, in remote locations, or when the grid goes down, it is almost completely dark at night. I mean you cannot see two feet in front of you.

I’ve been researching what is the best night vision equipment to use for patrolling, security and combat. I think I’m going with Gen2 goggles, but there is this one product called SuperVision by company called Xenonics. But I’m not sure how it works and whether it is suitable for retreat defense.

Looking at different night vision products, my question to you is: What is the best option for avoiding night vision device (NVD) detection [by an opponent that has their own night vision gear]?

The IR beams that some equipment generates or IR gun sights will be visible to someone using passive NVD, right? I’m just thinking that the best night vision equipment will be the one that has no signature, or are all NVDs visible to other NVDs?

Another problem I see is that most firearms leave flash signature. Does the Vortex [flash hider] eliminate the flash completely? I think defending your retreat at night is a completely new ball game, there are many things that most of your readers might not be aware of or experimented with. I think NVDs are a must, just like the firearms. Without a good night vision equipment you cannot defend your retreat at night unless you get a good illumination from the moon. Thanks, – Peter

JWR Replies: Let me begin by stating forthrightly that the claims of the makers of Supervision are more marketing hype than substance. They do not perform well out in the boonies where there is not much ambient light. Instead, go for mil-spec Gen 2 night vision gear, or better yet Gen 3 if you can afford it.

Vortex type flash hiders reduce muzzle flash by about 90%. This video clip shows the dramatic difference of a rifle with and without a flash hider. (Can you see why I’ve had the muzzles threaded on all my bolt action centerfire rifles?)

For versatility, I prefer weapon-mounted scopes that can be detached for use as hand-held monoculars.Make this your first purchase. If you have a big budget, then you can go on to buy goggles, but get your weapon sight first.

You also asked about opponents equipped with vision gear being able to detect you. In brief: If you use active IR devices (illuminators or lasers), they can definitely be seen! But it is important to note that even “passive” night vision gear casts a back-light. (This is the light of the image that you are seeing being cast on your face.) Through another NVD this looks like a bright flashlight! For this reason, I discourage SurvivalBlog readers from buying any night vision scope that does not have a baffled (“flap”) eyecup type eyeguard. (The baffle only opens when you have the scope pressed up against your eye, minimizing back-lighting.) This fault is common with nearly all of the commercial night vision gear on the market. (But some of these scopes can be retrofitted with mil-spec eyeguards.)

My recommended suppliers for Starlight weapon sights and goggles are JRH Enterprises and Ready Made Resources. For full mil-spec units as well as spare intensifier tubes, talk to STANO Components.