We get A LOT of calls and emails from people asking for our recommendations for night vision gear. As most of you know, we've been teaching NV courses for a long time (over 15 years), so we've seen a lot of gear in action. As a result, we have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. We also have a pretty good idea of what's necessary and what isn't. Understand that, while we have started selling gear, we are NOT primarily gear guys. We believe that the right approach to buying gear is to first define your mission and establish TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) and THEN find gear to enable those TTPs. So, with that in mind, here are our general recommendations for essential pieces of gear- gear that you'll need regardless of your specific mission or how you (and your team, if applicable) decide to do things. We'll do our best to address key items in more depth in follow-on articles.
We like the PVS-14 monocular for most applications. We specifically like the NVD-PVS14 from NV Devices because their quality is outstanding, their prices are good, and they have a full 10 year warranty. They're Harris/ ITT's master distributor, so all of the other companies building goggles with ITT tubes are buying the tubes from them. Binocular NVGs like the BNVD are a good choice for a small percentage of users/ applications. The difference between monocular and binocular? Essentially, you give up situational awareness to gain some speed when you use binos.
HELMET OR HEAD MOUNT
We honestly haven't found a helmet company that we're really comfortable endorsing. While there are a number of nice helmets available, delivery and customer service has been a recurring problem. The Team Wendy Exfil LTP is the best option for a bump helmet (despite foolish choices in the political arena). An alternative to a helmet that we really like is the Wilcox Skull Mount Lite.
We like Wilcox mounts for a variety of reasons, particularly quality and customer service. The G24 is their premium mount. To use it, you also have to buy a Wilcox PVS-14 mount arm. Because of the Wilcox dovetail system, this is the mount with the least ‘wobble’. A good, less expensive alternative is their G11, which uses the mount arm that comes with the goggle. You'll also want to use a Wilcox shroud, since using their mount without their shroud can cause dangerous problems and will void their excellent warranty.
IR LASER WITH BUILT-IN IR ILLUMINATOR
We recommend either the ATPIAL-C or the DBAL-D2 IR laser - both of these lasers have pros and cons. The D2 has a better IR illuminator. The ATPIAL-C has a slight advantage in terms of reliability. If you're going to be doing a lot of hunting, we'd probably recommend the D2. Otherwise, go with the ATPIAL-C.
WHITE LIGHT (WEAPON MOUNTED) AND CONTROLS
Surefire is the only answer when it comes to weapon lights. No one else meets our reliability standards right now. When using NVGs, we like an M600U Scout Light, Tail Cap, and Dual Plug Tape Switch. This allows you to use either IR laser/ illuminator OR white light on demand, which is critical when you're working in areas where light conditions are varied or unpredictable.
PISTOL WITH TRITIUM SIGHTS... OR AN ACRO
If you have the budget and ability (i.e. acceptance under agency policy), the new Aimpoint Acro is the way to go for making your pistol NV-capable. The Acro iprovides quick, accurate sighting under NVGs, and is dependable enough for duty or defensive use. Otherwise, we like Sevigny Two-Dot Tritium Sights. We find that 2-Dot is considerably better than traditional 3-dot Tritium for NV/ low light use because it simplifies the sight picture and eliminates the potential for confusing the front dot and rear dots to create 'false alignment'.