ANATOMY OF NIGHT VISION GOGGLES
If you’re ready to jump into the world of night vision, this is a must-read. By Daniel Bales
If you are looking to purchase your first set of night vision goggles (NVG), you must go beyond the basic unit, itself. Night vison is a system and requires several key components that work together. With so many options when it comes to night vision, it can sometimes be daunting to understand what the part is and/or does in the NVG system.
We’ll help you understand the required parts in detail to either help you better use your current system or assist you in purchasing a new system.
The required parts include the following: helmet, shroud, mount, J-arm, NVG unit, and lanyard. Each of these parts assists the other in making a complete, useable night vision package.
The helmet is the base to which all the other night vision equipment is mounted. The helmet can be one of two types. First is the ballistic helmet, which can deflect and/or stop certain rounds and shrapnel from striking your noggin, based on its protection rating. The second is a bump helmet, which will not stop projectiles and works more like the protective helmets you see bike riders use.
No matter which helmet you pick, there are a few things you will want that will make your NVG equipment more comfortable. They are the helmet padding and the chin strap.
The helmet padding is something that you don’t want to skimp on. The padding is what connects the helmet shell to your head, making it comfortable to wear over long periods
of time. The cheaper the padding, the faster your head is going to hurt.
Team Wendy’s Combat Helmet Liner system is a great padding system that you can adjust to your desired needs, based on your helmet and head size. The chin strap is again something you do not want to cheap out on. I recommend Team Wendy’s CAM fit retention system.
The CAM fit system allows you to turn the knob and tighten the strap to your head without even using the chin straps. Once the CAM fit system is snug, you can adjust the Team Wendy chin straps to your head size and you are ready to move to the next piece.
Team Wendy Exfil Ballistic: $1,011.10 Team Wendy Exfil LTP: $299.95
When buying your helmet, be sure that it comes pre-drilled for an NVG shroud. The helmet shroud attaches to the front of the helmet above your eyes and can be drilled in several ways, either three hole or single hole. I recommend three hole because it is more rugged. Helmets can come from the builder without a shroud, or pre-drilled holes. You should have it mounted by the builder, so you have one less thing to worry about. For the shroud, I recommend the Wilcox, based on their toughness. The helmet shroud attaches the NVG mount and NVG unit to the helmet, making them a single unit ready to use. Wilcox L4 Three-hole shroud: $60-$113
On your helmet, you should place some sort of lanyard retention device. There are several types
out there. Wilcox, again, makes my favorite. The Wilcox lanyard resembles a key lanyard that maintenance workers use on their belt. They can pull the keys to unlock a door and afterward let them go, returning them to their stowed position.
The Wilcox lanyard attaches to either the helmet shroud or the helmet rail system. The lanyard strap is then attached to the NVG unit. This lanyard system keeps your expensive NVG unit from hitting the ground, should you drop it. Another lanyard system is similar to a shoe string attached to the NVG unit creating a large loop that can be placed on the user’s head. This lanyard is inexpensive, but works nonetheless.
Wilcox NVG Lanyard: $113
“WHEN BUYING YOUR HELMET, BE SURE THAT IT COMES PRE-DRILLED FOR AN NVG SHROUD.”
The NVG mount attaches the NVG unit to the helmet and allows the user to move the NVG unit into the correct position over the eye or eyes. I again turn to Wilcox; their G24 mount is top of the line.
Most mounts have several adjustments. One adjustment is for the stowing feature. This allows you to move the NVG unit up into a stowed position or down over your line of vision. Mounts like Wilcox make use of an automatic locking mechanism—a small button is pressed to change between the two positions.
You will also find two or more adjustment levers and points that bring the mount closer or move it away from the user’s face, tilt the NVG unit at an angle, and slide the unit up and down on an arm for a more specific fit. This is important for individuals that wear prescription eyeglasses or shooting glasses and/or gas masks.
The last feature on the NVG mount is the NVG unit release. This releases the NVG unit from the mount and helmet, for tasks like changing batteries, cleaning the unit, or just stowing the unit when not in use. The release shouldn’t allow the NVG unit to be freed by something as simple as something brushing over it, causing your $3,000 unit to fall on the ground.
Wilcox G24 Mount: $463
These are just some of the features of the night vision system and my recommendations are based on what I have used (and broken). When looking for what you wish to buy, work with reputable companies and be sure to fit each part with the others to make sure they work well together.
If you are interested in training with night vision, or any other aspect of tactical shooting, check out LMS Defense for all your training needs. TW
Should the mount, shroud or J- Arm fail, or the tube somehow dislodge from the helmet, the lanyard will keep your $ 3,000 investment from shattering on the ground or becoming lost. A properly designed night vision system contains several crucial parts that you want to make sure are up to snuff.