Night Vision  Best Thermal Offerings for the Money?

commandernavi

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I'm really new to the thermal scene and am just trying to do research to figure out what is worthwhile for the money. Ideally I'm looking for something handheld that could be later rigged up to a helmet to be used in conjunction with a night vision monocular. So far the Breach seems really nice, but I wasn't sure if there was anything better in the price range. Alternatively I was considering more inexpensive options like the Leopold Tracker if it is recommended too. Any thoughts on what is the best bang for buck in various price ranges?
 

Ronin_64

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Check out the threads on the N-Vision Nox 18 and 35. In the $6 to 6.5k range, if I recall correctly. They might fit the Bill for your needs.
 

Rerun7

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Well... it all depends on how broke you want to be, haha.

If you give us some more details on what you are using it for we can be more specific on what works.

I primarily hog/coyote hunt with mine and use a scanner / dedicated weapon sight in conjunction with NV. I’m currently transitioning to helmet mounted for the scanner so I’ve been doing heavy research on it.

you basically have 3 primary options right now that everyone is gravitating to

- breach $2500

- iray mh25 $4500

- nox 18 $6200

Each have pros and cons but there aren’t a lot of options under $7k for helmet mounted. After weighing everything out I decided to jump in with the nox. It is the most versatile, USA made and seems like a solid company/warranty.

there are several good threads on all three of those options here.
 
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Zback

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First you need to decide on price range. Then we can give you a better idea of the offerings available out there.
 
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BamaSE

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Cannot. Resist. The Ghost of Horta.....

Buy an ATN...cause ATN stands for:

America
Trijicon
N-vision
And anytime America and Trijicon and N-vision get together for a full on threesome then ‘Merica happens.
You’re Welcome.

RIP Horta. We miss ya and the softball tee ups for B rated humor in this polarized world.
 

ghostrider272

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Check out nightgoggles.com. Bering thermals are getting good comments over on predatormasters.com.
 

GreenMushroom

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I went with the nox18 and should be getting mine in a week or so. Most versatile and US made. They are new and the reviews are starting to trickle out and they look amazing.
 

commandernavi

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Thank you guys. Honestly I'm eyeing stuff in the Breach price range or less (but open to new and used suggestions). Discovering very quickly how the price range can jump up. Oof. NOX looks amazing but dang that pricetag.

In terms of budget optics, does anyone have experience with the Leopold Trackers or similar?
 

Namekagon

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I've looked through a Leopold Tracker in a store. I think you'd be wasting good money you could put towards a much better unit eventually. Except the Breach, all helmet mountable thermals are expensive. While a helmet mounted NOX or ChinaSkeet is likely THE WAY to scan for critters, I think you can build a very capable system for less. Not Gucci, but functional.

Do you have any other night vision devices, or would this thermal be the first one?
 

commandernavi

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Thanks! What did you dislike about the Leopold Tracker out of curiosity? Was it the originsl or the Tracker 2?

I have a pvs14 already but nothing thermal so it's my first hope into it. Hoping to bridge both (or at least have option to flip thermal down when needed if my brain can't handle both at once)
 

Namekagon

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Money be damned and starting from scratch, I'd probably buy a NOX and a 14 and helmet mount them, (though not necessarily for use at the same time). Then put a PVS-30 on a precision rifle. PVS-14 used for walking in the dark, NOX for scanning for critters, PVS-30 for positive ID and precision shooting capability. I think this would be the ultimate setup for coyotes. But I'm a poor, so that's not going to happen.

On a budget, you can be almost as dangerous with a headlamp for walking, a $2000 handheld thermal scanner, and a mid-level NV scope with a good IR illuminator. If that statement doesn't bring @TheHorta back, not sure what will!
 

Namekagon

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Honestly I couldn't give the Tracker a useful trial in a store setting. I could see light fixtures with it across the store, but they were just blobs.

If you already have a 14 thats great. But what do you plan to shoot with?

Edit: I think it was the original Tracker. My thought is that those are like $750, right? Thats almost half-way to something very useable in the $1800 range for a handheld thermal. One that will detect a coyote across a field and tell you he's there without a doubt. We have an $1800 pulsar handheld, and you can discern deer by the legs and the way they walk well beyond 300 yards. Tracker isn't gonna do that.
 

commandernavi

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Gotcha. Unfortunately money isn't unlimited despite wanting that to not be the case. haha

Shooting will be done via an laser, red dot, and pvs. Thermal will be used for scanning for deer/hog.

How does the Pulsar compare to the Breach? Anything else in that price range?
 

Namekagon

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I've never used a Breach. But I think if you compare specs between the Breach and whatever handhelds Pulsar offers, you'll find that for that same $2500 you can buy more sensor/lens performance in a handheld. For example, the Breach is a 320x240 12 micron sensor. A Pulsar Axion XM30 has a 320x240 12 micron sensor also, but price is more like $1600. It all depends on how bad you want it helmet-mounted.
 
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Rerun7

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Thank you guys. Honestly I'm eyeing stuff in the Breach price range or less (but open to new and used suggestions). Discovering very quickly how the price range can jump up. Oof. NOX looks amazing but dang that pricetag.

In terms of budget optics, does anyone have experience with the Leopold Trackers or similar?

I owned a tracker for a short time and it was pretty useless. Sold it after 2 hunting trips.

You should take a hard look at a handheld scanner. For less than $2k there are some very serviceable units out there that I think look better than the breach. I’m going to have a Pulsar scanner on the EE soon because I finally broke down and ordered a Nox.
 

GreenMushroom

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Thank you guys. Honestly I'm eyeing stuff in the Breach price range or less (but open to new and used suggestions). Discovering very quickly how the price range can jump up. Oof. NOX looks amazing but dang that pricetag.

In terms of budget optics, does anyone have experience with the Leopold Trackers or similar?

If you decide you might be interested in the nox give Robert at jrh a call. Great customer service but you have to call.
 

WhereNow&How

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Thank you guys. Honestly I'm eyeing stuff in the Breach price range or less (but open to new and used suggestions). Discovering very quickly how the price range can jump up. Oof. NOX looks amazing but dang that pricetag.

In terms of budget optics, does anyone have experience with the Leopold Trackers or similar?
Stay away from the Leopold Trackers. It aint gonna cut it.

Dollar for dollar, ounce for ounce, feature for feature the Breach is really the best HMT and allround personal thermal scanner currently going IMHO. The best thermal you have, is the one you always have with you.

You can stuff it in a shirt pocket. Point being, it is so dang useful you take one with you everywhere you go. It is extremely durable and the Mod Armory Battery Extension allowing 16650 rechargeable batteries gives excellent long time run capabilities plus by using rechargeable you save a ton on primary battery costs.

It's the F150 of the small footprint lower cost scanning thermals.

From there, the NOX is the next step.

If cost is the driving factor, the Breach can handle the task, just not quite as well as the NOX.
 
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Jgunner

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    Stay away from the Leopold Trackers. It aint gonna cut it.

    Dollar for dollar, ounce for ounce, feature for feature the Breach is really the best HMT and allround personal thermal scanner currently going IMHO. The best thermal you have, is the one you always have with you.

    You can stuff it in a shirt pocket. Point being, it is so dang useful you take one with you everywhere you go. It is extremely durable and the Mod Armory Battery Extension allowing 16650 rechargeable batteries gives excellent long time run capabilities plus by using rechargeable you save a ton on primary battery costs.

    It's the F150 of the small footprint lower cost scanning thermals.

    From there, the NOX is the next step.

    If cost is the driving factor, the Breach can handle the task, just not quite as well as the NOX.
    How far in good conditions can you see a coyote with a breach?
     

    Heavyopp

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    I’ve had a bering optics phenom for about a month now — go out with it almost every night just for a walk around the neighborhood — the number of rabbits in the shadows surprised me

    at just over $3000 I feel it was well worth it — I’m in New Jersey, no night hunting except coyotes with a shotgun during the season which isn’t now — I did not have the scanner for hunting season

    no helmet mount, no weapon mount — just a handheld scanner and I was amazed at the clarity, ease of use, and

    battery life51D4D904-F05C-4D78-82E4-AB9144FF0DA5.jpeg
     

    WhereNow&How

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    How far in good conditions can you see a coyote with a breach?
    Well, I am not a coyote hunter, but in an open field if you have your Gain turned up you probably good to 400 maybe 500 yards depending on emissivity conditions.

    I can see clouds miles up. :)
     
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    WhereNow&How

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    I’ve had a bering optics phenom for about a month now — go out with it almost every night just for a walk around the neighborhood — the number of rabbits in the shadows surprised me

    at just over $3000 I feel it was well worth it — I’m in New Jersey, no night hunting except coyotes with a shotgun during the season which isn’t now — I did not have the scanner for hunting season

    no helmet mount, no weapon mount — just a handheld scanner and I was amazed at the clarity, ease of use, and

    battery lifeView attachment 7600701
    Yep they pretty nice units, but that built in battery makes it a no go for me. That is a big problem down the road.

    I laugh at the dichotomy of "make sure to take the battery out of your Thermal or NV when not in use" yet some manufacturers have a built in battery that cannot be removed. :oops:
     

    Heavyopp

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    I can see clouds miles up. :)
    Lots of night flying birds too...


    Yep they pretty nice units, but that built in battery makes it a no go for me. That is a big problem down the road.

    I laugh at the dichotomy of "make sure to take the battery out of your Thermal or NV when not in use" yet some manufacturers have a built in battery that cannot be removed. :oops:
    I guess I never really thought about the battery and when it needs replacing — guess it will have to go in for service...
     

    WhereNow&How

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    Lots of night flying birds too...



    I guess I never really thought about the battery and when it needs replacing — guess it will have to go in for service...
    So if the Grid went down and no service available, what is you backup plan ?

    Plan B, C, D & E are important IMHO.
     
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    Heavyopp

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    So if the Grid went down and no service available, what is you backup plan ?

    Plan B, C, D & E are important IMHO.
    Doesn’t everyone have problems with battery eventually in a grid down scenario? I’ll recharge until I can’t.

    obviously the phenom isn’t an end of civilization long term answer — what it did do was let me get my feet wet with quality thermal at a cost that didn’t break the bank — this is the 1st time I’ve ever looked thru a thermal or any see in the dark device — in fact I’ve never seen one in person before
     

    WhereNow&How

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    Doesn’t everyone have problems with battery eventually in a grid down scenario? I’ll recharge until I can’t.
    You are correct somewhat, but with a bunch of rechargeables stored correctly, you can get a lot further down the road so to speak. Each rechargeable has theoretically x amount of charges before it craps out. Additional rechargeables that are easily inserted into the battery housing will get you back up going with unused charging cycles. So you start the process over.

    Thats plan B & C.

    Plans D & E Suck. :cry:
     

    Heavyopp

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    So you got me thinking about it — I’m pretty sure the phenom will run on external power — guess I should try it next time battery is drained.

    it would definitely be cumbersome
     

    WhereNow&How

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    Yes that is an option for sure. I just like avoiding cables if any way possible.

    Sometimes you can't so you just have to deal with it as best as possible.
     

    commandernavi

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    Thank you guys. Looking at a lot of handheld units, I dont really understand why more of them don't have provisions to mount them to helmets. They appear small and light enough. Can anyone comment on whether they were able to successfully rig one up to a helmet?
     

    commandernavi

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    I hadnt heard of Infiray until you just now mentioned in. Any idea why they aren't offered here? How do their clip on offering compare to the Breach?
     

    Namekagon

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    Thank you guys. Looking at a lot of handheld units, I dont really understand why more of them don't have provisions to mount them to helmets. They appear small and light enough. Can anyone comment on whether they were able to successfully rig one up to a helmet?
    I have seen pics of this successfully done. I think your challenge would be doing this while bridging with a 14 a the same time. But if you have metal working tools I'd say have at it.
     

    Mbaysinger89

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    The Phenom does run off of external power. I really like mine. I also have the Super Hogster and dont have problems IDing a coyote at 300 yards, further with time to see behavior. I want to upgrade the scope to a 640, just for shits and giggles, but it wont kill more.
     

    commandernavi

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    I think I have the know-how to rig something if it comes to that haha. Just curious that they all don't have a mount option. Seems cheap to add a threaded hole from the factory
     

    Rerun7

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    Some do. Mine has a 1/4 threaded hole so you can mount it on stuff. The issue is that virtually none of them are native 1x mag. I’ve tried walking around with mine but 2.5x for walking isn’t easy haha.