Night Vision Monoculars
This unit offers night vision to a single eye without magnification. These units are often small and some of the newer generations can be mounted to a rifle scope or spotting scope. They can be head mounted as well. One benefit is that, since one eye is not looking through the lens, you have more situational awareness. Another plus is that you can switch back and forth between eyes when one grows tired.
Night Vision Goggles
Night Vision goggles are often head mounted. They provide viewing for both eyes with no magnification. This is done either by both eyes sharing one image tube or by each eye having its own image tube. The goggles with two image tubes provide each eye its own image instead of them sharing the same image from one tube. This allows for better depth perception. Some models come with a head piece of sorts, while others require a helmet to attach to. The down side can be the added weight of goggles themselves and the helmet if one is needed.
Night Vision Binoculars
These are essentially just what it sounds like; binoculars with night vision. Due to weight they are not head mounted. They are primarily designed for long distance nighttime viewing while standing stationary. The generations will be covered in more detail below, but gen 1 optics don’t illuminate at great distances. Because of this, adding magnification to a gen 1 device will cause the image to be dimmer. A gen 3-4 device offers plenty of illumination.
Night Vision Scopes
There are two types of night vision scopes. The first is larger and heavier than a normal scope and attaches to a rifle in the same manner as a regular scope. The second either attaches to or in front of a regular scope, sort of like the monocular. I don’t mind the monocular version, but the scope that offers night vision makes me uncomfortable. If you cannot detach it and must point your rifle to view things you’re breaking one of the safety rules; “Do not point at anything you are not willing to destroy”.
As you can see, there is a lot of data to take into consideration. Once you’ve figured out your desired generation, whether you want monocular, goggle, binocular or scope, you then get to look at all of the differences between models.
I really think night vision is a prep everyone should have on their list. For many of us it may always stay there. I think, if you can afford it, you should buy as much as your budget will allow. While I would personally love a gen 3 monocular, I’ll work toward a gen 1 and still have a leg up on the vast majority of the dirtbag gang.