June 30, 2020
By Sean Utley
Over the years, and especially more recently, I have become aware of the great tragedy of gun ownership. That tragedy is in the ownership of too many firearms while lacking the important and truly useful supportive accessories, to outfit them all. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You more than likely have more guns than optics, bipods, lights and back-up sights for. In our defense, it sort of makes sense because our turbulent political environment over the past decade has left us hardly a second to breathe between stints of gun and ammo hoarding. This is where the discipline must enter and calculated thought processes must prevail, but often they do not. The typical approach is to buy the guns because “we may not be able to get them”, and forego necessities like quality optics and lights because “well, they won’t ban those”. This can lead to a grossly mismanaged armamentarium. One in which you may find many of the weapons you just had to have, to be non-beneficial because they are not properly equipped, nor prepared for the fight.
This begs a different approach. If you are indeed planning for an unforeseen, less than ideal scenario, and you don’t live on a compound or in the exact location where you plan to hold up, you’ll need to be mobile. Suburban residents will not likely be able to stay in their residence, nor may it be smart to do so. For those that live in an urban environment you’ll definitely be on the move. If you’ve got five, ten, or 15 guns, and 10 to 20,000 rounds of ammo you’ll need to have a solid plan to move it all. The alternative is to leave most of it behind for looters to collect, unless you plan to stay in place and guard your home. If you choose the former, you’ll need to consider how challenging such a move will be. If you are able to move it, what if you are intercepted by unsavory types in transit? You may have to fight for your in-transit arsenal, or give it up in hopes of staying alive. A good plan can help you avoid much of this, but maybe the answer lies in the “less is more” camp, focusing on quality guns and gear, in manageable, moveable numbers while optimizing their usefulness.
While there are countless types of accessories and gear, there are specific types that can give you a greater tactical advantage over others. It’s easy to assume by tactical we mean some offensive or defensive advantage, but in this case it means simply being able to remain undetected as often and as long as possible. I believe there are two critical types of products for the serious survival minded individual: Suppressors and night vision.
Seeing Is Believing
We’ll touch on a few of the available night vision products in a bit, but I’d like to stress the impact that NV can make. If you’ve never had the opportunity to use some sort of NV unit, whether in the form of a monocular, binocular, or weapon mounted unit, I implore you to do so. I’ve had several opportunities to do so, and each experience has been sobering in the very least. It’s a simple fact that can’t be denied, night vision is a game changer as well as a tactical and practical advantage for the user. I believe a couple of good weapons with solid NV capabilities are more valuable, and useful, than 10 weapons without.
A Night Optical/Observation Device (NOD), such as a handheld or head mounted monocular, will allow you to move about in the darkness, whether outside or inside. Tasks you would have needed to complete during daylight hours can be saved for night. Venturing out for supplies or reconnaissance will be less risky with a NOD. With a good weapon mounted unit, mounted in place of a conventional daylight optic, you can hunt at night and protect yourself and your family as necessary. Couple this with a quality sound suppressor and surprise is definitely on your side.
Another option is to use a Night Vision Device (NVD) mounted in front of your day optic. This will allow you to use your day optic, with all its features in the dark. You simply attach the NVD in front of your already mounted and NV compatible optic and turn it on. No zeroing is necessary as long as your primary optic was zeroed to begin with.
Make no mistake; quality night vision products are not cheap, they are an investment. However, consider the amount of money you currently have tied up in guns. Perhaps you might be better off liquidating a few firearms and using the money to own the night. There are many Gen 2 and Gen 3 NV wares that are more reasonably priced and should be considered in place of a couple, if not several firearms for the very real advantages they provide in low to no light.
The following are but a few recommendations for NV/IR units. The actual amount of available products is vast. Keep in mind this doesn’t include items such as FLIR and thermal units, which offer their own advantages.
Night Vision Units
Like most night vision devices, The PVS-14 was originally designed for the military. The PVS-14 is a monocular type of unit which can be handheld or helmet, head or even weapon mounted with the appropriate mount. Due to this it is a very flexible and highly useful device. Gen 2 and Gen 3 versions are available with the Gen 2 being the most affordable. Gen 2 versions can be purchased new for around $3,000 while Gen 3 versions typically run around $3,500 and higher. Manufacturers of the PVS-14 include Litton, ATN and Armasight.
The PVS-15 is a binocular unit which uses dual tubes instead of one. This provides greater depth perception that is absent when using a monocular, like the PVS-14. PVS-15s use Gen 3 tubes, and due to this are considerably more expensive than PVS-14s. Prices range from $8,000 to over $12,000. PVS-15s are indeed rather expensive, but their advantages are evident once you’ve used them next to the popular PVS-14.
The PVS-30 is a forward weapon mounted unit and is one of my favorites. The PVS-30 attaches to a MIL STD 1913 Picatinny rail in front of a day optic. The PVS-30 is heavy, but does away with the need for an IR laser and your optic’s zero never changes. If you’re using a magnified optic, your elevation/windage dope does not change either. Power is provided by either AA or CR123 batteries. Refurbished PVS-30 units can be purchased for just under $5,000 from usnightvision.com and they come with a 1 year warranty.