General Information : Night Vision

We offer a full line or selection of Night Vision Devices from a variety of different companies. Civilian or Military Grade - let us be your source for Night Vision Devices.

Before we go further, let me mention something important for those of you new to Night Vision. We are a USA company, and abide by the rules / laws of our country. There are some pieces of Night Vision (and Thermal) which can not be Exported out of USA without certain specific Governmental approval. In General, the NO EXPORT is in relation to the 2 generation devices and up. In General, 1st Generation Night Vision Devices can be Exported, according to the rules of USA - you the customer are responsible for knowing the IMPORT rules of your country.


A traditinal Night Vision device, takes a small amount of light and amplifies it greatly so you can "see at night".

Inside these devices or Housings is something called a "tube". Due to the way they are made, no 2 are exactly the same - that is why you can get two products that look the same on the outside, and may even cost the same - but when you look thru them at night, you may see a slight difference in the quality of the image.

You may have heard the phrase "1st Gen NV", and wondered what that was about... Night Vision has been categorized in 3 broad groups, 1st Generation, 2nd Generation, and 3rd Generation. Some manufacturers claim to have a 4th or even 5th Generation unit, but these terms have not been generally accepted industry wide.

In General the larger the generation number, the better image you will have, but unfortunately, the larger the price.

This is the best definition of 4th Gen I have found:
Some say that generation (Gen) 4 is the most advanced night vision you can buy. This is not the case. To dispel this myth, let's start with the basics. There are four Generations of night vision; however, they are Gen 0-3, not Gen 1-4. Historically, the U.S. Army has defined each Generation of night vision. In the late 90's the Army did define Gen 4 as the removal of the ion barrier film creating a "filmless" tube. This new advancement was to reduce halos while increasing sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and resolution, for overall improved performance. While performance was improved, the lack of an ion barrier in Gen 4 tubes led to high failure rates, ultimately leading the U.S. Army to recant the existence of Gen 4 definition. Recognizing the high failure rates of Gen 4 tubes, ITT chose to improve upon the existing Gen 3 technology and create a "thin-filmed" tube. By keeping the protective ion barrier, but greatly reducing its thickness, ITT was able to maintain the reliability of Gen 3 while at the same time delivering on the Army's performance requirements intended for Gen 4. This innovation resulted in the production of the Gen 3 thin-filmed tube, which is now the highest performing Gen 3 tube available.

Night Vision Devices come in a variety of sizes, features, and prices.
  • hand held only
  • hand held or head mounted only
  • hand held, head mounted, or weapon mountable
  • weapon mountable with no reticle to go behind a scope
  • weapon mountable with no reticle that goes in front of a day scope
  • weapon mountable with a reticle

    To add one more dash of something to consider, night vision comes in
  • Tube Version - Green
  • Tube Version - Black / White
  • Digital

Let me suggest you ask yourself a few questions... How do I want to use this device? Hand held, on a Weapon, or both

If you want to use on a weapon - you have choices. The most common choices are:
  • You can have 1 unit with a built in reticle on your weapon to see and shoot at night
  • You can have a scope you like with a reticle, that can go in "night vision mode" (a mode where you can not see the reticle but a piece of night vision can - If you can see the reticle, it is too bright for your night vision device) In this situation, you will put your scope which is NIGHT Vision Compatible in front, and the night vision closest to you, using the 2 devices together.
  • You can have a day scope you like, that will stay on your weapon most of the time, and then place a Night Vision piece in front of your day scope. This NV Device often has some type of coupler (thing to connect the 2 physically together), or a device that resembles an eye cup that gently goes around the end of your day scope to channel the image from one device to another.

Export Restrictions All Gen 3 and Gen 2+ night vision image intensifier tubes and devices as well as thermal sensors and devices are subject to United States export rules and regulations. Valid export licenses may be issued by the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, in accordance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), Title 22, Code of Federal Regulation 120-130; or by the U.S. Department of Commerce in accordance with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774. *USA Optics, Inc. Online pricing & sales is for U.S. customers only. International customers please contact prior to ordering so verification can be made to insure item you want can be legally shipped to the destination you need. By adding to cart I the customer acknowledge and agree that i can legally own, use, and operate this item and will comply with all rules and regulations associated with the this product holding USA Optics free and clear of any and all penalties or prosecutions.