I talk to a lot of people about night vision. A lot. Most guys want to buy a PVS-14 for mounting on a rifle behind a scope. I can't blame them for thinking this a good idea. After all, unless you've served in the military or LE, you probably have no real idea what a PVS-14 is designed to do. You probably learned to shoot by looking through a weapon-mounted optic or down iron sights. So, wearing a goggle on your head and aiming with a laser on the gun is pretty foreign concept. So, let's debunk the myth of the "weapon-mounted PVS-14."
The PVS-14 is the standard issue night vision goggle for the US Military. It is designed for the Warfighter to use in combat and is worn on the head 99% of the time. Aiming is accomplished with a weapon-mounted infrared laser. This negates the need to use any weapon-mounted optic. You can look through a red dot sight while wearing a PVS-14 on your head, but it is neither fast or comfortable and is only advised if your IR laser is nonfunctional or you have reason to not emit a laser beam downrange.
The PVS-14, like all NVG's, is a designed to replicate the user's daytime vision capability. It is small and lightweight, so as to not add too much burden to the already overloaded Warfighter in the field. As such, the goggle features a small objective lens; designed to gather enough light to produce 100-115 yards of Positive ID (PID) in a non-magnified optic.
The PVS-14 can "also" be weapon-mounted. But, this is a distant secondary function. Because it is designed to be on the head, the PVS-14 has no shock mitigation system and is very limited to the recoil caliber it can handle. 5.56 is about as high as you can go. Even with un-filmed tubes, the PVS-14 housing is not designed to handle the recoil shock from a heavier weapon. The metal mount attached to a polymer body will eventually over-stress the housing and cause a fracture when exposed to high G-forces.
Recoil aside, the PVS-14 is extremely limiting to the user if weapon-mounted. If you attach it to a gun, you are now committing yourself to pointing your rifle at everything you are trying to look at. Not only is this extremely fatiguing as you stalk through the field, but you will end up breaking one of the 4 golden rules of safe firearms handling. That's a no-go. The goggle is much more effective on your head. You can traverse terrain, negotiate obstacles, interact with objects, drive vehicles, etc. And when you encounter a target, you simply ping it with the laser and engage.
But what about magnification? The 14 has no magnification and its objective lens is only large enough to gather enough light for its intended purpose (as we already discussed). So, placing it behind a magnified dayscope will severely cut the amount of light the goggle can collect. This translates into a much poorer image for you and much-hindered performance.
So, the question becomes: what is your mission? If you are planning on hunting with a night vision device while sitting in a blind and calling your prey in with a feeder or calls, then you want a night vision scope. Stationary positions are ideal for long range shooting. We have plenty of excellent options for night vision scopes. If you are planning on stalking your prey in the field, you want a goggle on your head and laser on your weapon. Make sure you look at the right tool for the right job.
This is a repost from the newsletter written by Chip at TNVC. I have this conversation with many people too, and I thought Chip's words were worth sharing.