At Tactical Night Vision Co., we only offer the very best night vision equipment and related gear. While we have highly discriminating tastes in night vision systems from a quality and tube aesthetic standard, our reason for only offering the best is simple: We will not ask our customers to bet their lives on pieces of kit if we will not do the same. Every piece of gear we sell is something we use operationally, tested in the field under training conditions, and made sure it is something we would carry into harm’s way.
That said, we continually are asked about so-called “good, but inexpensive” night vision. These questions come from a variety of sources including civilian and Law Enforcement. The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as “good, but inexpensive night vision.” There is only “Operationally Proven” Night Vision and “Cheap, gonna-crap-out-at-the-worst-time” Night Vision. While everyone wants a deal, like everything in this industry, where you depend on your gear to keep you alive, you get what you pay for.
Sure, there are night vision devices that cost less. But, it has been our long experience that individuals or departments/agencies that attempt to buy cheap night vision have often found out the hard way that it was cheaper for a reason. We cannot tell you how many times we have been working with P.D.’s or S.O.’s who were supplied with “cheaper” night vision because the purchaser saw a large company’s ad claiming their products were “just like the ones fielded by the U.S. Military.” We get there and find out the tubes have broken, zeros are wandering eight feet off the target, etc. The worst thing is that the department cannot get their money back because the supplier claims the products are “as advertised” and “in proper working condition.” In the end, these departments are out the money and have significantly less or no money to buy the real thing from us. So, it could easily be said that “cheaper” night vision is actually more expensive. Buy cheap, buy twice.
“But, this manufacturer is selling, what looks to be, the exact same thing you are selling, but it’s hundreds or thousands less.” This is another thing we hear quite often. The bottom line is the gear that “looks the same on paper” is actually far from the equivalent of the real thing. These devices use less desirable surplus European or Russian image intensifier tubes (that are not anywhere close to the quality of U.S. tubes) in cheap, Russian body housings that do not meet U.S. Military Specification, and have poorly, machined materials and sub-standard glass. This is mainly the case with lower-grade Gen2 and Gen1 tubes. Some manufacturers and dealers do offer Gen3 tubes at lower prices. These systems generally use tubes that have been scraped and/or rejected by the manufacturer or its distributor as being unfit for their proprietary systems. Some less-than-reputable night vision dealers put these tubes in sub-standard housings, add a new power supply, and market them as “New Gen3 Systems.”
Add all this up and you have a night vision device that you probably would not want to take on a hunting trip, let alone on a two-way range. The savings of a few hundred dollars pales in comparison to the saving of a life.
U.S. manufactured Gen3 tubes are the top of the line in the night vision market. There are only two manufacturers of Gen3 tubes in the U.S.: ITT and Northrop Litton (L3). They supply the tubes to other manufacturers for use in their proprietary devices. The latest U.S. Military contract (Omnibus VII) demands U.S. Generation 3, the state-of-the-art in night vision technology.
At TNVC, we only deal in products that we would stake our lives on. Sure, there is a market for “cheaper” night vision products for hobbyists, but we have refused to get into it. We would rather lose a sale than send a Warfighter or Law Enforcement Professional into the field with gear that may compromise their lives. We strive to offer the best prices possible on the best gear available. We work with every system we sell and feel confident that we offer the best quality and best service. TNVC is not just a company that sells night vision, night vision is who we are. Period.