Night Vision Running review of thermal monoculars/HMT units and my findings

jstokes1

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Hello all! Recently been a little more active on the "review" side of this hobby, so I figured that I'd post up some of my own personal experiences with the units mentioned below.

All of these thermals I have personally used/owned (not paid to do this) and are of my own opinion garnered through actual field use.

So let's start; here are my findings:

1.) IRay MH25: great unit for the price (roughly $4500 new). Light and small. 640 resolution with a 1280×960 display, 12 um sensor, and a 50 Hz refresh rate. 17.5⁰ FOV. Not a true 1x unity therefore bridging is more difficult. Cheap housing construction, needs the PVS 14 eye piece to make it usable as an HMT ($329 on average). Very smooth image, but over contrasts in black hot while looking in an open field, so you're stuck with white hot as the color pallet of choice. No dedicated TWS or clip on capability. Takes rechargeable 16650 batteries.

2.) Nox 18: great, realistic image that gives you lots of detail to work with on navigating. The image is more representative of an WP I² tube. 640x480 display with a 640x480 core, 12um sensor, and 60 Hz refresh rate States a true 1x, but comparing it to other 1x HMTs it looks demganified. Evenly contrast in all conditions in all color pallets, even looking in an open field. 24⁰ FOV. Housing construction is polymer, but very durable....but there is a weight and length pentality (less than the IR Patrol, but still much larger than other thermals in its class) No clip on capability but can function as a dedicated TWS and is rated to 50 cal (and if you break it, they fix it with their 5 year warranty). Takes rechargeable 18650 batteries/battery pack. Priced higher than cheaper thermals, but much cheaper than true milspec units ($6195)

3.) RH25: has a nice, crisp, smooth image. The image is not as realistic as anything with a BAE core, but it comes down to preference. HD display (1024x768 I believe) with a 640x512 core, 12 um sensor, and 50 Hz refresh rate. Feature rich. Much better built than the MH25 and is recoil rated as it can be used as a dedicated TWS or a clip on (308 recoil I believe). Weighs close to what a Nox 18 does, but is much shorter. 17.5⁰ FOV and Is a true 1x thermal in clip on mode, so it tends to fuse well (minus the non realistic I² look). Doesn't over contrast in black hot in an open field like the MH25 does. Even though the construction is better than the MH25, it's still inferior to true military clip ons or even civi units that are made by military companies (like N Vision or Trijicon). Takes rechargeable 18650 batteries. Average cost is $6000 with mounting hardware.

4.) Skeet L: a fantastic unit that despite its age, is a performer. 320x240 core with more than likely a 320x240 display (might be a 640x480, but typically all BAE cored units have a 1:1 display-to-core pixel ratio). 60 Hz refresh rate, 25 um sensor, with a 22⁰ FOV and bridges with NV like a dream. Like anything with a BAE core, it has a realistic image that looks more like night vision. A true 1x thermal with dedicated TWS and clip on capabilites using a Wilcox FTS mount. Even though this is a 320 core, it blows away anything else in its class in terms of features, housing construction, weight......the works. Also has a class 1 IR laser designator. Takes CR123s or you can run it off of a battery bank. Average cost is $3000-$7000 depending on etology and condition. No warranty....obviously.

5.) Skeet IRX: superimpose what was said above about the Skeet L and bump that resolution on the display and core to 640x480, plus a 17 um sensor. Still a 22⁰ FOV and clip on/dedicated TWS capable. In my opinion...this is the best there currently is as a HMT. The image is gorgeous, realistic, and these units are built to last the test of time (and retain their value). Still has the IR laser and uses the same Wilcox mount. Takes CR123s or you can run it off of a battery bank (my personal choice). Slightly larger and heavier than the Skeet L, but you gain twice the resolution and PID capability. Again....the difficulty with these units is finding them. Pretty much all of the units from the contractual overrun have been sold since 2020...and if you find one, expect to pay north of $13,000. Is it worth the price? That's on you. If you want the best for your larping basement circle jerk parties, or are a serious user, then look no further.

6.) Voodoo S: essentially a skeet sized UTM X in capability. 15x11⁰ FOV, clip on/dedicated TWS/HMT with a military etology. Amazing housing construction, tons of features, and is in the sweet spot of doing every task well. 640x480 core (in house made, but these are the guys that started BAE), 12um BAE sensor, 640x480 display, and a 60Hz refresh rate. The image, again, is ultra realistic and gives you depth perception like the Skeets/Nox/Trijicon units, also provides tons of detail. More feature rich than the Skeets. With the narrower FOV on this unit, its terrible to use on a helmet by itself, but excels as a bridged thermal (about the best Ive seen thus far) Uses a Wilcox FTS mount. Longer than an RH25, but weighs less, but also weighs more than a skeet L/IRX. Ir laser designator. 1 year warranty. Average cost is $15,000 to $17,000. Not many units made a year, but you can get them if you look around (Own the Night and HEAT sell them). Takes rechargeable 16650 batteries (if you buy their ridiculously over price $699 battery extender kit), a single CR123, or run it off of a battery bank with the DVR USB cable it comes with.

By the way, all of these options are better than the FLIR Breach and yes it's worth it for the price difference...before I get asked that question. I've been blessed to own/experience these, therefore I figured I'd add a little information to the hide.
 
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Lowdown3

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Well done, thank you.

Nox is an awesome unit for the price. Sold a ton of them, never heard of any issues with them.
 
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TheHorta

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    I don’t think the MH25 takes 18650’s. The RH does, but the MH uses 16650’s (if using battery extender).
     
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    WhereNow&How

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    :oops:


    1654467187251.jpeg
     

    Thermal L. Jackson

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    So let's start; here are my findings:

    1.) IRay MH25: over contrasts in black hot while looking in an open field,
    FWIW, I couldn't disagree more. I have about 400 hours behind the MH25, and black hot was my go-to, especially when running next to a PVS-14. Since most hogs are dark brown, they appeared virtually the same when viewed through each device.

    Here's just a few examples, but I never had that problem you're talking about with "over-contrast" in my AO.




    instagram com/p/CNYK0lmHvdfre4LDw3EA79efy8O2blt_QQDxdU0/

    instagram com/p/CSszmtWnZ_H7MS8JykmRPgOcs2zYoc4Dd0GxH40/
     

    jstokes1

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    FWIW, I couldn't disagree more. I have about 400 hours behind the MH25, and black hot was my go-to, especially when running next to a PVS-14. Since most hogs are dark brown, they appeared virtually the same when viewed through each device.

    Here's just a few examples, but I never had that problem you're talking about with "over-contrast" in my AO.




    instagram com/p/CNYK0lmHvdfre4LDw3EA79efy8O2blt_QQDxdU0/

    instagram com/p/CSszmtWnZ_H7MS8JykmRPgOcs2zYoc4Dd0GxH40/

    Ive played with 3 different examples of MH25, and every single one of them had this issue.

    When you're looking at an animal in a field close up, the contrast is even. When there is nothing but open field for miles, the unit heavily over contrasts....so bad to point that I won't see animals 500 yards away if there are any, much less mountains 10 miles away (which all of my other units easily pick up).

    I'm not the only one to report this. And again, it's in black hot only, this doesn't happen with white hot.
     

    Thermal L. Jackson

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    Ive played with 3 different examples of MH25, and every single one of them had this issue.

    When you're looking at an animal in a field close up, the contrast is even. When there is nothing but open field for miles, the unit heavily over contrasts....so bad to point that I won't see animals 500 yards away if there are any, much less mountains 10 miles away (which all of my other units easily pick up).

    I'm not the only one to report this. And again, it's in black hot only, this doesn't happen with white hot.
    Just went back and looked at one of my videos where I lazed a cow at 500 yards on a July summer night in Texas. Zero problems picking him up in Black Hot, and the contrast was the same in all color palettes. No issues with my MH25.
     

    Namekagon

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    @jstokes1 , can you elaborate on what you mean by not a true "unity" 1x on the MH25? And is that condition with or without the PVS-14 eyepiece upgrade?

    Also, any experience with these units in the extreme cold? I think the MH25 has a liquid crystal display of some sort.
     

    jstokes1

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    @jstokes1 , can you elaborate on what you mean by not a true "unity" 1x on the MH25? And is that condition with or without the PVS-14 eyepiece upgrade?

    Also, any experience with these units in the extreme cold? I think the MH25 has a liquid crystal display of some sort.
    Took the one I had down to -20 F without issue. And the PVS 14 eye piece does help with making it at 1x unity (true 1x magnification), but it's still slightly magnified, making it more difficult to use on a bridge with a PVS 14.
     
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    Namekagon

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    Took the one I had down to -20 F without issue. And the PVS 14 eye piece does help with making it at 1x unity (true 1x magnification), but it's still slightly magnified, making it more difficult to use on a bridge with a PVS 14.
    Thats encouraging, cold performance has been a big hang-up for me on getting a MH25. How long did you use it at that temp?

    I want a HMT to bridge with a PVS-14, but not sure I could ever swing 6k on it. It would be a stretch for sure, but not totally impossible. The weapons mount-ability and the durability that comes with that would be really nice, but I just can't conjure up a scenario in my mind where I'd be night hunting and not want it on my head. I have another dedicated thermal weapon sight to shoot with. At this point I'd be throwing my wallet at people if the NOX-18 was $4500, or if the MH25 was in the RH-25 housing without the clip-on capability.
     
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    jstokes1

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    Thats encouraging, cold performance has been a big hang-up for me on getting a MH25. How long did you use it at that temp?

    I want a HMT to bridge with a PVS-14, but not sure I could ever swing 6k on it. It would be a stretch for sure, but not totally impossible. The weapons mount-ability and the durability that comes with that would be really nice, but I just can't conjure up a scenario in my mind where I'd be night hunting and not want it on my head. I have another dedicated thermal weapon sight to shoot with. At this point I'd be throwing my wallet at people if the NOX-18 was $4500, or if the MH25 was in the RH-25 housing without the clip-on capability.
    I used it for several hours, but it was in my pocket and not on a helmet (didn't have the setup for an HMT at the time).

    Look on the forums, Nox's come up at that price (I would know, I sold mine for 4500 here 🤫)
     
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    jstokes1

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    So, here's some comparison photos through the RH25, Skeet L, Skeet IRX, Nox 18, and Voodoo S (last 2) respectively
     

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