Many players in airsoft one time or another come across low light situations. Many of us conventionally use Handheld or weapon mounted flashlights to aid in those low light situations. To have that small edge on the battlefield some players have obtained night vision devices to see without being seen. But is that price tag that comes with Night vision devices worth the investment and also what types of these devices are useful. In this tutorial we will go over the aspects of night vision devices pertaining to airsoft from first hand experiences. We will go over the different types and generations of night vision with all the accessories needed to get the experience out of the devices that you look to receive with the price tag.
What is the difference between the Generations in Night Vision?
To make this simple. First off you have Generation 1. These Devices will need more light as well as more infrared light to gain a good picture threw the device. Generally during airsoft games these devices suffer to those with higher generations as well as against users with flashlights. Flashlights easily damage these units if direct constant light is shined into them. Many of these units have Auto-off settings that will shut the unit down when exposed to too much light as well as IR light. These units generally range in the 500-800 range for monocular and 750-1000 for a binocular. These devices I have found are not very useful in airsoft with the limitations of light input as well as useful sight distance.
Generation 2. These Devices are a slight upgrade in picture quality as well as need less light as a Gen 1 unit. For airsoft use these units work quite well as you have a decent sight picture in low light situations without infrared illumination. These units are also less susceptible to tube damage from light sources. They generally all have an auto off function to aid in this. They can take in more light than a Gen 1 before shutting down. These units generally range in the 800-2000 for monocular and 2000-5000 for a binocular. These devices are great for a player wanting to get into night vision without putting out a large amount of money and still have a very useable device.
Generation 3. These Devices are a large upgrade from a Gen 2 unit. For airsoft these units work very well as they need even less light to create a picture and can see at farther distances. Some Gen 3 units are also auto-gated which means they will automatically turn down the power source to allow the tube to only expose itself to emit so much light. What does this mean? Simply that when a light source is shined at the user, The device will maintain the same picture to the user without damaging the tube or shutting the unit off. If way too much light is exposed for an extending period of time, The unit will shut it self off similar to the other 2 units. The Gen 3 picture quality is much clearer and crisper than a Gen 1 or Gen 2 which allows the user to also see farther distances. These units generally range 2400-4000 for a monocular and 5000-13000 for a binocular. These devices are great at giving players a more in depth experience into night vision as well as that edge on the low light battlefields.
Monocular VS Binocular:
With a Monocular device you will only use one eye to view threw. These devices are generally cheaper and easier to use. You will lose your depth perception and some users can get minor headaches from use. The good is that using a monocular you can determine others users and whether they are using IR or Regular flashlights. Over constant use your are able to work with the Depth perception issue.
With a Binocular device you will use both eyes to view threw. These devices are generally more expensive and require different mounting options. You will still have your depth perception with these units and have a wider field of view. These units are also heavier in weight. One of the large cons to these units are the non ability in airsoft to decipher White and IR light as both eyes are viewing threw the device.
There are a few other parts to night vision devices that need to be mentioned.
You need to determine if you plan to head mount your night vision device or weapon mount. We will briefly go over these two mounting options:
Head mounting is the most common. This is one of the best ways to use a Night Vision device in airsoft as most players are constantly moving. With the device head mounted you will have a hands free way to navigate yourself on the battlefield and see where you are going as well as id and target your enemies.
Weapon mounting is less common. With the device mounted on the weapon you would have to be sighted down your weapon to be able to move and see. If you are in a static position, Some players may weapon mount there devices as they may be in this position for awhile.
Some Key things to remember with night vision are:
Infrared Illuminators are a huge must. You need a good and powerful infrared flashlight to help the device gain more light were there is literally none. Some good options are the Surefire M952V, Surefire Scout with KM2 Head and the WML with IR function. These lights all have a regular light and IR light function which is a great feature.
If Head Mounting, Find a good Shroud arm and Shroud setup. The best I have personally seen and used are the Dovetail Setups. These Setups have very little wobble.
IR lasers are not a must have when first getting into night vision. But it is defiantly a great edge for yourself as it can be difficult to aim during the night with your night vision head mounted. Also a key note : With the IR Illuminators mentioned you can use the spot feature of the IR that almost acts as a giant laser. IE if you have them covered in IR you will most likely hit them.
The experience you receive using Night Vision devices in a game or vent is one like no other. As many ask, Is the money worth it? I would say the experience’s that I have had using night vision devices in game has been amazing and made the investment well worth it.