The PVS-14 is US military designation for this family of monoculars. Typical PVS-14s have 3rd Generation tubes, our test model uses a thin film high definition auto-gated tube.
Night vision is an interesting technology. In the civilian world quality night vision is something that is rarely seen. That’s not to say that quality night vision is not available but it is rare.
The PVS-14 is certainly no exception. It is a quality item and rarely seen outside military service. Minimum quality control for these units is 64 lines per millimeter resolution.
The PVS-14 has been around since 2000. Newer night vision exists but the PVS-14 is still in service with the United States Military and allies.
Layout and Design
The PVS-14 has a rugged polymer body with focal adjustments on the objective lens. Battery cap is on the objective side along with the gain adjustment. The On/Off switch is integrated with the IR illumination switch on the eye piece side.
Mounting the PVS-14
If you’re coming to the PVS-14 from a Gen-1, or Gen-2 monocular the PVS-14 will likely feel like a huge step up. The unit we got our hands on is in new condition. I’ve discussed the PVS-14 with numerous service members. A number of the Soldiers and Marines I spoke with mentioned that US Military PVS-14s are often abused and damaged but remain in service. A PVS-14 with damaged housing, glass or tube is not going to perform as well as a properly maintained unit.
Typically the PSV-14 is best used in a helmet mounted role. The unit came with a skull crusher type head mount. I ended up using our MICH helmet with Norotos mount almost exclusively during our evaluation of this product. The helmet is more comfortable than the skull crusher by far. The Norotos mount also has plenty of adjustment to get the monocular placed appropriately in front of your eye.
If you intend to use this unit for any type of fighting you should equip your firearms with infrared lasers. The unit came with a weapon mount. This is so that you can put the PVS-14 on the top rail of a rifle behind a night vision compatible holographic sight or red dot. I’d recommend against this practice.
The problem with weapon mounting…
The use of the PVS-14 on a rifle is a problem because of the way night vision works. Because the unit amplifies light, placing the unit behind a fixed light source can cause damage. Reports of damaged tubes on PVS-14s used with red dots are common. Using a red dot with this device can burn out the portion of the tube exposed to the red dot.
The PVS-14 cannot be placed in front of the optic because it is not a collimated system. This makes using the PVS-14 on a helmet the best option.
The image quality provided by this unit stands out. The image quality is clear and the focus has good adjustment. The gain adjustment is a good feature that allows the unit to work well in various lighting conditions.
The biggest impression I got from this unit: It “sees” more than the other units we’ve tested so far. I helmet tested the PVS-14 in various lighting conditions. While I was testing the unit in a suburban environment I noted that I could see a detailed shadow my body was casting. It was very dark for the area and the nearest light sources were about 200 yards away. I flipped the PVS-14 up to see if the shadow could be seen with the naked eye. Nope. I started to look for the light source that was responsible for the shadow. Through the device I determined that the light source responsible for the shadow was indeed the porch light 200 yards away.
This was pretty impressive. The other units I tested could not detect the contrast of the shadow from such a distant and low intensity light source. The impressive performance doesn’t stop there. In additional tests I could see navigation lights on aircraft miles away. I could not see these lights with my naked eyes.
High Performance +
At one point I turned the device toward the sky. I could see substantially more stars than with the naked eye. I was most impressed when I picked up a shinning point moving high above the earth, a satellite. I’ve seen satellites before with my naked eyes, but when I flipped the monocular away I couldn’t see this one. This was impressive. Something totally invisible to me, many miles away. I was able to observe the satellite until it moved out of view over the horizon.
The quality of image provided during testing is truly impressive. This unit certainly lives up to its HP +(High Performance +) designation.
Part of a system
The quality image provided by the PVS-14 means more capablity in the field. The unit is designed for military use, this translates into functionality for the preparedness minded individual. The strength of any NVD is not that it lets you see in the dark. Flashlights let you see in the dark. The strength of night vision is that it lets you see without being seen and see things that others can’t.
Infrared lights and lasers play a big part in effectively using the PVS-14. Aiming lasers allow you to use the device with firearms and strobes make identification easier. Acquiring infrared accessories will greatly expand the functionality of this unit.
General PVS-14 specs
- Resolution: 64 lp/mm (Typ)
- Film: Thin-Film
- Gate: Auto-Gated
- Brightness Gain: Adjustable from 25 to more than 3000 fL/fc
- Magnification: 1×
- Field of View: 40°
- Range of Focus: 25 cm to infinity
- Voltage Required: 1.5 Volts
- Battery Type: One AA
- Battery Life: Approx. 50 hrs at room temp
- Weight: 12.4 oz (351.53 grams)
- Dimensions: 4.5″ (L) × 2″ (W) × 2.25″ (H)
- Operating Temperature: −51°C to +49°C
- Storage Temperature: −51°C to +49°C
The PVS-14 HP+ is a quality night vision device. The use of this device on a quality helmet mount represents a significant advantage in situational awareness to the user. The device is compatible with all manner of Infrared lasers lights and strobes. The unit has as substantial price tag associated with it, but quality costs. While the unit can be weapon mounted, this is a dubious practice and use should be focused on head mounted wear with laser assisted aiming.