We all know, or at should know, that there are certain pieces of kit that we should have if we are truly preparing for a SHTF scenario of any type. We always discuss firearms, and that is first on most lists. We then have to add food and water, as well as shelter of some type, because we never know what the emergency might be that brings us to a scenario where we might have to bug out or are left to our own devices to survive as best we can. To many of us, this is an excuse to purchase more guns and ammo, and if that is your number one goal you aren’t really a Prepper, in my humble opinion. There is a lot more involved in surviving whatever may come our way than just owning a lot of firearms. As stated, food and water are a must. Without both of these preps, you will die in short order with your pile of guns and ammo at your side.
As a former Paramedic in another life, I hold first-aid and medical supplies high on my list of things to have on hand. Truth be told, we probably have more medical supplies than some small hospital ERs. This is for several reasons; number one, of course, is the health of my family. Number two is that I can barter my medical training and supplies in a SHTF scenario.
One thing that many Preppers simply don’t think of is night vision. Odds are good that in a really bad situation we may not have power, and this is especially true in the country as well as in the city. Without electricity, the street lights don’t work, and you can’t see danger coming your way. I live out in the boonies, and we don’t have street lighting of any kind. When the sun goes down, it gets very dark at my small homestead, if there isn’t a full moon out. Sure, flashlights help; however, you might want to see, without being seen, and a flashlight will give away your location. So, to my way of thinking, some kind of night vision scope is in order. I own several different types of night vision scope. Remember, one is none and two is one. If one breaks, you have none; if you have two and one breaks, you still have one!
I recently ran across the Firefield Nightfall 2, 5X50 night vision scope, and it is advertised as a Gen 1 scope. (I have more on this shortly.) I don’t like to give away costs on many products until the end of my articles; however, in this case, I paid about $150 for my Nightfall scope, but it can be found for about ten bucks less if you shop around. Over the past 20+ years, I’ve had occasion to test and play with a lot of Gen 1 night vision scopes, and to be sure some were about as useless as not having one. They didn’t really allow you to see very far, and it was hard to make out anything. This was especially true with the flood of Russian military surplus night vision scopes back in the early 1990s that flooded the USA.
Over the years, I’ve played with Gen 1, Gen 2, Gen 3, and Gen 3+ night vision scopes, and the higher the Generation, the better you can see things. They get much sharper and clearer in the viewer. Some Gen 3+ night vision scopes cost more than five grand. Are they worth it? It depends on your checking account, I guess. I will say that there is usually a big difference when you look through the different Generation night vision scopes, and you readily get spoiled when you look through a Gen 1 and then a Gen 3 scope. After that, you don’t want a Gen 1 scope, but what can you afford?
The Firefield Nightfall 2 is a Gen 1 night vision scope, and it is a monocular, as are many night vision scopes. You have one lens to look through, unlike binoculars, where you have two lenses to look through. This helps keep costs down, as well as allow you to keep one eye accustomed to the darkness, when you turn off your scope. Firefield advertises that this scope has “high quality image and resolution…” hype you might say… I say, “Not so fast!” The power is 5X magnification. Some scopes have 1X; many have 2X magnification. It depends on how far you need to see, as to how much magnification you might need. I live out in the country, so I want to see as far as I can at night. The objective lens– the front lens in 50mm– allows a lot of light in as well as gives you a more distant field of view for longer distances.
The Nightfall 2 has a minimum focus distance of a mere 1-meter. That’s nice, real nice! Diopter adjustment is +-5, which is good enough for my corrected vision. This scope also has an IR light that is invisible to the naked eye but when switched on is like a flashlight, lighting things up in total darkness. Night vision scopes depend on light from the stars and the moon to allow you to see. The more stars you can see and the brighter the moon, the more the scope magnifies the light, allowing you to see. However, an IR illuminator is sure nice to have. All electronics have operation temperatures that give the best performance. This Nightfall 2 says it will operate from minus 10 Celsius to plus 40 Celsius, so you have a good range of temps to work in.
Here’s one of the things I really appreciate about this scope; it operates on a mere two AA batteries rather than the CR123 batteries that are very expensive. I know, I have a couple scopes that use CR123 batteries. Firefield says that the scope will operate for 72 hours without using the IR light and 20-hours with it. Some of my other scopes operate for 20 hours, period. With them, it doesn’t matter if the IR is turned on or not. So, this is an added attraction to the Firefield Nightfall 2 scope. The only “bad” thing is that batteries are not included. However, this isn’t a deal breaker at all. You can buy a 24-pack of AA batteries for about $12, if you shop around. Plus, I keep on hand a lot of AA and AAA rechargeable batteries. It’s the way to go. I also keep some one-hour battery chargers and a generator, so I can recharge those batteries.
The Nightfall 2 only weighs 15.2 oz empty, and only a couple more ounces with two batteries inside of it. The scope is eight inches long and four inches wide, so it is pretty compact. It also comes in a padded carrying case. You should keep your scope in this carrying case to help prevent it from getting banged up and abused. There is a one year warrant on the scope, too. There is a lanyard on the scope, and you really should wrap it on your wrist when using the scope so you can’t accidentally drop it. The front lens has a cover on it with a pin-hole so you can test the scope in the daylight hours; just don’t ever point it at the sun, even with the lens cap on, or you can burn out the intensifier tube inside the scope rendering it useless. The scope operates easily with one hand. There are only a couple of buttons you need to press– the on/off button and the IR button to turn it on and off. One thing you will notice with most Gen 1 night vision scopes is that when you turn them off, there is still a green glow in the view finder; it takes a few minutes for it to fully shut-down when you turn it off.
Alright, remember Firefield says that this scope has “high quality image and resolution…”. Well, it does! I have tested Gen 2 night vision scopes that didn’t have this type of quality image and resolution. I kid you not! My other night vision scopes that I currently have are Gen 1, and they don’t come close to the resolution and image quality that this scope has! I am totally blown away with the quality of this Gen 1 scope. Living in the country, I have ample opportunity to watch wildlife after the sun goes down. We have deer that feed in our front yard all of the time– day and night. I can go on my front deck and talk to my deer. They know my voice and don’t run. They get very close to me because they know they are safe in my front yard. After dark, they oftentimes bed down in the front yard, where you can’t see them without night vision. It’s fun to watch them, when they think they can’t be seen.
With the 5X lens, you have to adjust the scope for varying distances, and it only takes a second to turn the lens so you can clearly see things close up or farther away. The IR illuminator is good out to about 100 yards, and that’s a fair distance if you ask me. Most of the time, there is ambient light in the sky, and I don’t have to use the IR. However, if I want to really brighten things up, I turn it on, and the wildlife can’t see it.
I am more than a little impressed with the Firefield Nightfall 2 Gen 1 night vision scope. It is one of the best bargains out there, and to my eyes it is equal to many Gen 2 or Gen 2+ scopes at a fraction of the cost. If you believe you have everything you need in your bug out bag, or your preps, think again. Give some serious thought to adding the Firefield night vision scope to your supplies, along with a good supply of AA batteries. I promise, it will come in handy when the sun goes down.
Note: The pics through the night vision scope don’t do justice to the clarity. (It is difficult shooting through the camera lens into the night scope’s lens.)
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio