Over the years, there have been numerous well-written articles published on SurvivalBlog about the advantages of night vision devices for tactical use. If you haven’t read any of those articles, then I would encourage you to dig into the archives, and study. As a former Marine infantryman it is my opinion that after the requisite beans, bullets and Band-Aids, a quality night vision device should be considered essential kit. In a TEOTWAWKI situation you will want every tactical advantage that you can get and the ability to see in the dark is a game changer.
The most common current military issue night vision monocular, the AN/PVS-14, is the gold standard for individual night vision, unfortunately, it has a price tag to match. (From $2,400 and up to $4,300 depending on the Generation and options.) I was recently at a trade show for shooting enthusiasts and came across the SiOnyx booth. SiOnyx has come up with a revolutionary color night vision monocular camera (two versions, the AURORA I with optional compass and GPS and the AURORA SPORT), the SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision cameras start at only $399. So for those on a budget, they are an affordable alternative to the PVS-14. It gives you the ability to discriminate colors in the dark, which is a huge advantage over green monochrome for noticing and identifying specific objects or targets.
The Aurora Color Night Vision cameras use a Black Silicon CMOS sensor which is tuned to maximize light sensitivity in 850nm and 950nm IR spectrums to produce a color image in low light. This technology is completely different from either the light amplification imaging tubes or the FLIR technology cused in military night vision devices.
- Sensor: Ultra Low-Light CMOS
- Night Vision: Near Moonless Starlight
- Display: Color or Monochrome
- Lens: f/1.4 (Night), f/2 (Twilight), f/5.6 (Day) – 16mm
- Video: 720p .MOV
- FPS: 7.5, 15, 24, 30, 60
- Photo Shutter Speeds: .9MP images (1.5”, 1”, ½”, ¼”, 1/7.5”, 1/15”, 1/30”, 1/60”, 1/120”, 1/240”, 1/480”, 1/1000”, 1/2000”, 1/4000”, 1/8000”)
- Connectivity: WiFi USB 2.0
- Storage: MicroSD 4-32GB
- Viewfinder: Micro OLED Display
- Water Resistant: IP67
- Battery: Rechargeable 2h continuous
- Phone OS: iOS, Android
- Apps: Remote live view, Record, Download, and Share
I already own a PVS-14, but I was greatly impressed by the light gain and the color image produced by the Aurora camera. It is sturdy and has an IP67 rating which means that it can be entirely submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, and is resistant to dust. I doubt that I would put my Aurora (or my PVS-14 for that matter) to the test, but nice to know that it can be used in the rain without concern.
In comparing the AN/PVS-14 with the Aurora Color Night Vision camera, I will tell you that these devices are not created equal. The AN/PVS-14 without the aid of an IR light source has superior light gain and a sharper (albeit green) image in extreme low light conditions, so if you are doing sweeps of the interiors inside dark buildings during the dead of night, then you probably should spend the money for a state of the art mil-spec device. The SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision cameras work best with some ambient light whether it be moonlight in the wild or street lamps or the odd porch lights in a neighborhood.
The Aurora particularly stands out because it produces a color image. In pitch darkness an IR light like the EVOLVA T20 or even a simple IR filter on a non-LED flashlight gives incredible illumination and range for any NVD (keep tactical considerations in mind as you will be illuminating yourself for anyone else who is using night vision equipment).
The biggest consideration for me was that I could afford to provide multiple quality night vision monoculars for other members of my family in case of a TEOTWAWKI scenario at a fraction of the cost of a single PVS-14.
Check out the video links below to see actual performance of the Aurora Sport Color Night Vision camera.
- YouTube AURORA SPORT COLOR NIGHT VISION CAMERA vs. AN/PVS-14
- YouTube AURORA SPORT demo and review
- YouTube AURORA SPORT night shooting on the range
I should also mention that the PVS-14 and the Aurora share the same ¼-20 thread size for mounts and accessories, though the offsets are different. The PVS-14 J-arm rhino mount for Kevlar helmets and skull crusher/halo does work. The PVS-14 weapon mount will not work at all with the Aurora because of the offset.
SiOnyx does make a weapon mount for the Aurora, if needed. Personally, I think a weapon mount NVD is okay for stationary positions, but not so good for anything else. A more effective use, in my opinion, is to have the NVD on a head mount and use an IR laser, PEQ, or DBAL mounted on your weapon. But hey, to each his own.
Note: I have no financial interest in this company. I paid cash at the retail price for my SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision Camera unit.