Thermal Suggestions

MtnGhost

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I finally had the chance to do a field test last weekend with my dual PVS-14 setup. The damned wildfires screwed up my plans to fill my hunting tags, so I decided to use those 4 days that I had closer to home in the North Cascade mountains to hunt smaller game and test some new gear (ahead of a longer solo hunting trip that I have planned next month).

What I realized on this excursion was that I needed to up my thermal game. All that I had with me was a Leupold LTO Tracker 2 HD handheld monocular. It works fine in more open areas and whatnot, but it definitely comes up short out in the old growth forests here in the PNW.

Since then, I've been thinking about what it is that I'm looking for my next thermal device(s) for solo hunts. One of the routes on my upcoming trip will take me through some fairly nasty old growth forest into the alpine / sub-alpine. The area is known for some monster size predators (grizzlies and cats.. not too concerned about the latter though). I've been face to face with those bastards before, and I'm not looking to repeat history again - so I want an upper hand. Ultimately, I'm going to want to traverse that terrain before first light, and I'd be better off with the aid of good thermal.

That being said - I'm already looking at getting a NOX to mount on my helmet. Trying to budget things, where I can score one of those and also pick up something stellar to mount to my rifle. My question then becomes - which thermal devices operate well in heavy brush environments like thick old growth forests? I would not be opposed to a handheld spotter unit that I could run outside of my PVS-14(s). Bonus points for something that also does a good job for target identification at longer ranges in open country.

What would be your choice(s) in this case? I would appreciate any feedback that you have 😎👍
 

Jgunner

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Don’t think a nox is available yet, so in the “affordable” range is iray mh25 for helmet stuff. I have no personal experience but those I have talked to about it says it’s best bang for buck.

I would wait for the nox, if you can wait. It prob won’t look as good, but more durable. Nvision is active on this site and listen to the people. Nox is also weapon capable and recoil rated.
 
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MtnGhost

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Don’t think a nox is available yet, so in the “affordable” range is iray mh25 for helmet stuff. I have no personal experience but those I have talked to about it says it’s best bang for buck.

I would wait for the nox, if you can wait. It prob won’t look as good, but more durable. Nvision is active on this site and listen to the people. Nox is also weapon capable and recoil rated.
Yeah with the NOX, time is the problem. SkeetIR would be nice, but I'd rather hold out on the NOX.

From what I've seen online with the Chinaskeet / MH25, I don't have the impression that it would be right for that scenario (I've never handled one, so I could definitely be wrong).

IF there was an option for a weapon mounted thermal with QD that I could also use as a temporary handheld spotter, I might be open to that idea too.
 

wigwamitus

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The patrol is an option.
I have skeet, patrol,breach

All work, some better than others
The newer patrols are 1.5x
But has the same bae core that will be in the NOX

New M300W is around $6,200 street price

Patrol + 14 on helmet



==
Used M300W which are 1x ... street price running around $5,200 ... but you give up warranty for used. They will still fix it if it breaks for $$.
 
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MtnGhost

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The patrol is an option.
I have skeet, patrol,breach

All work, some better than others
The newer patrols are 1.5x
But has the same bae core that will be in the NOX

New M300W is around $6,200 street price

Patrol + 14 on helmet



==
Used M300W which are 1x ... street price running around $5,200 ... but you give up warranty for used. They will still fix it if it breaks for $$.
I'm a slacker - I never realized the newer Patrols had those cores / specs. One of those might be able to get the job done!

1.5x though, hmm. That might be an interesting brain exercise trying to process that with one of my factory L3 14s on the other side. Are you running the 1.5x or the previous gen on the helmet?

Many thanks!
 

wigwamitus

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... 1.5x though, hmm. That might be an interesting brain exercise trying to process that with one of my factory L3 14s on the other side. Are you running the 1.5x or the previous gen on the helmet? ...
Yeah, mine is one of the older 1x ... HOWEVER ... I have run it on 2x digital while side by side with 1x 14 ... and it works for me ... even when rolling on the 4-wheeler (where safety actually becomes paramount sometimes, like when rolling across a pipe bridge with a 15 foot drop off on one side.

YMMV of course.

You can use these things called "eyelids" to toggle each optic on and off if needed. I do that on occasion, though my brain seems to also be able to do it without the eyelids most of the time. The images don't match up ... there is an offset, even on 1x ... but my brain can ignore ... via the dominant eye feature.

YMMV.

I've had plenty of people tell me I would get dizzy and fall down and die if I tried to run thermal on my head side by side with 14. Well I started doing it in fall 2015 and none of that has happened yet. I love the ability to spot hands free while on the move. Whether on foot doing 360s ... or rolling on the 4 wheeler.
 
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PlinkIt

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I have the 1.5x patrol that I run on a bridge with a 14 and I don't really register a difference enough to cause any issue...

With 14 on dominant eye it seems like my brain just kind of defaults to nv and I can think / wink myself into the thermal whenever I see a hot spot in the thermal. I use white hot and it works for me letting the thermal kind of become noise then when bright spot hours the screen I pick it up pretty easily

Several guys here also have magnifiers that will attach to the patrol which allows it to become a pretty powerful scanner as well
 
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wigwamitus

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... Several guys here also have magnifiers that will attach to the patrol ...
Yup, here's the patrol with 3xG on front and Radius on top/bottom and eyepiece cover. This is setup as a long distance scanner/thermal range finder.



(that's the breach below for comparison purposes ... but note the patrol is also a LOT smaller without the 3xg and the eyepiece shade !!)

==


With modifications, the 3xG can also be shot off 22LR or 556 (haven't tried with 762). Giving you essentially a REAP.

So yes, the patrol is very flexible !!

Both older and new patrols can be used as thermal weapons sight (TWS) ...as can the skeet and also the Nox.

The older patrols can be used as a clipon, but not the new ones or the Nox. Marketing says the skeet can also, but there are no boresight adjustments so you have to dial the offset on the day scope, or live with it. Practically speaking, I say that means the skeet is unusable as a clipon (except in emergencies on large/close targets).

The patrols take 3x and 2x magnifiers as is. The skeet has some, but they are few and far between. No off the shelf magnifier for the Nox.

WIth 1.5x native and a 3x magnifier ... that would give you 4.5x native and 9x on 2x and 18x on 4x (digital) so that's quite a bit of usable magnification !!

==
Now, if I was buying today, I'd have to think hard. I'd prefer to wait for the Nox ... at 1.1x/1.2x ... and better glass on the front ... and half way between the patrol and the skeet on length and weight. In the role of head mounted spotter ... the Nox will be nicer ... but the patrol is still more flexible, since it has the magnifier off the shelf ready to go. And as to availability, the patrol is available now, the Nox isn't, so if I had to buy today, it would be the patrol.
 
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TheHorta

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    The older patrols can be used as a clipon, but not the new ones or the Nox. Marketing says the skeet can also, but there are no boresight adjustments so you have to dial the offset on the day scope, or live with it. Practically speaking, I say that means the skeet is unusable as a clipon (except in emergencies on large/close targets).
    Gotta disagree here. I have four SkeetIR-x’s and all have MOA or less POI shift. Very simple / easy to adjust to your optic using this method:

    Originally posted by Falcom on ARF:
    If its like the UTM you adjust the thermal eyepiece until the reticle does not move when you move your eye/head around. Similar to adjusting parallax on day scope.
    If you turn the reticle on the thermal on its is easy to see minor movements in the image as you move your eye around the eyebox.


    I wonder if this has anything to do with the optic being used? The only 4 optics I’ve used in conjunction with the Skeet in clip-on mode are:

    Elcan 1/4x
    Elcan 1.5/6x
    ACOG 4x
    Razor HD 1-10x Gen III

    All four performed flawlessly using the above technique.
     
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    wigwamitus

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    Disagreement allowed and encouraged when based on experience !!!

    We each have to go with our experience with the unit(s).

    I've only tried with ACOG 4x.

    And its more about repeatability than otherwise. Numerous people have posted on numerous forums about repeatability issues with the skeet mount (aka the "wilcox" mount. So my expectations were not high to begin with.
     

    MtnGhost

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    Gotta disagree here. I have four SkeetIR-x’s and all have MOA or less POI shift. Very simple / easy to adjust to your optic using this method:

    Originally posted by Falcom on ARF:
    If its like the UTM you adjust the thermal eyepiece until the reticle does not move when you move your eye/head around. Similar to adjusting parallax on day scope.
    If you turn the reticle on the thermal on its is easy to see minor movements in the image as you move your eye around the eyebox.


    I wonder if this has anything to do with the optic being used? The only 4 optics I’ve used in conjunction with the Skeet in clip-on mode are:

    Elcan 1/4x
    Elcan 1.5/6x
    ACOG 4x
    Razor HD 1-10x Gen III

    All four performed flawlessly using the above technique.
    I wouldn't doubt it. I was experimenting with my PVS-14s on some of my airguns (too paranoid to mount them to my AR or Elk rifle). One thing I noticed right away was that both of the eyepieces on both of my ATACRs actually extend and retract slightly with magnification. I mounted some rails to the rifles so I could mount them via the factory J-arms behind the optics, had everything positioned just right - but as soon as I adjusted the magnification, the eyepieces would literally interfere with the PVS-14 objective ends (and thus causing eye relief type issues).

    Speaking of Elcan - I've been considering getting the 1x/4x or 1x/6x (7.62) for my AR. I love my 1-8 ATACR and all, but I'm anxious to play around with the Spectre reticle. Have you had any issues with the 6x version and/or see any design weaknesses in the unit itself? (I'm allergic to shit that breaks in the field)
     

    wigwamitus

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    I had a 556 1.5-6x elcan ... and loved the glass



    but to get full use out of the reticle, you'll have to try to match your gun/ammo to the reticle ... (or reassign distances to the reticle basiced empirical results from your setup)

    I switched to the M145C MGO Elcan 3.4x as that reticle more closely matches my gun/ammo ...



    I don't think it would be easy to break the Elcan in the field ...
     
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    MtnGhost

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    Yup, here's the patrol with 3xG on front and Radius on top/bottom and eyepiece cover. This is setup as a long distance scanner/thermal range finder.



    (that's the breach below for comparison purposes ... but note the patrol is also a LOT smaller without the 3xg and the eyepiece shade !!)

    ==


    With modifications, the 3xG can also be shot off 22LR or 556 (haven't tried with 762). Giving you essentially a REAP.

    So yes, the patrol is very flexible !!

    Both older and new patrols can be used as thermal weapons sight (TWS) ...as can the skeet and also the Nox.

    The older patrols can be used as a clipon, but not the new ones or the Nox. Marketing says the skeet can also, but there are no boresight adjustments so you have to dial the offset on the day scope, or live with it. Practically speaking, I say that means the skeet is unusable as a clipon (except in emergencies on large/close targets).

    The patrols take 3x and 2x magnifiers as is. The skeet has some, but they are few and far between. No off the shelf magnifier for the Nox.

    WIth 1.5x native and a 3x magnifier ... that would give you 4.5x native and 9x on 2x and 18x on 4x (digital) so that's quite a bit of usable magnification !!

    ==
    Now, if I was buying today, I'd have to think hard. I'd prefer to wait for the Nox ... at 1.1x/1.2x ... and better glass on the front ... and half way between the patrol and the skeet on length and weight. In the role of head mounted spotter ... the Nox will be nicer ... but the patrol is still more flexible, since it has the magnifier off the shelf ready to go. And as to availability, the patrol is available now, the Nox isn't, so if I had to buy today, it would be the patrol.
    Man that is BADASS!!! Does that 3xG thread right on there? (If so, are they fine threaded or somewhat coarse?)

    I'm definitely interested in the Patrol now lol. I'm just not sure what I want to do though with the NOX coming out. I hate selling shit as much a, but thermal is obviously an evolving technology like phones / computers. If the glass is going to be better substantially on the NOX, I'd never get that out of my mind in the longer term.

    BTW, I was indeed looking at the HALO-LR too. Toying with the idea of running dedicated thermal on at least one of my hunting rigs. I'm all about multi-use gear, being that I hunt in the mountains and hate extra weight, but TheHorta makes a compelling case for wanting to get the max (usable) magnification. I need to figure out what could give me decent shot precision out to 400 or so, but I'm also pretty big into hunting with PCP airguns now (usually to 100 or so, but no more than 250y --precision is essential). The tree huggers here report gunshots like second nature despite legality, so I try an avoid conflict all together with absolute silence when I get the itch to grease coyotes and small game closer to home.
     
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    TheHorta

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    I wouldn't doubt it. I was experimenting with my PVS-14s on some of my airguns (too paranoid to mount them to my AR or Elk rifle). One thing I noticed right away was that both of the eyepieces on both of my ATACRs actually extend and retract slightly with magnification. I mounted some rails to the rifles so I could mount them via the factory J-arms behind the optics, had everything positioned just right - but as soon as I adjusted the magnification, the eyepieces would literally interfere with the PVS-14 objective ends (and thus causing eye relief type issues).

    Speaking of Elcan - I've been considering getting the 1x/4x or 1x/6x (7.62) for my AR. I love my 1-8 ATACR and all, but I'm anxious to play around with the Spectre reticle. Have you had any issues with the 6x version and/or see any design weaknesses in the unit itself? (I'm allergic to shit that breaks in the field)
    I wish the 1.5/6x was 1x. That’s my lone gripe. That’s why I prefer the 1/4x, as it’s a true 1x and very RDS-like.

    I’d LOVE for there to be a 1/8x Elcan in the 1.5/6x package. That would be my dream optic.
     
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    wigwamitus

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    ... Does that 3xG thread right on there? (If so, are they fine threaded or somewhat coarse?) ...
    Are you asking about the patrol ?? If so, let me take it apart and take a pic of the parts so you can see.

    ==
    ... what could give me decent shot precision out to 400 or so ...
    Well in that case, the HALO-LR (50mm) is the ticket. Unless you want to spring bigger bucks for a thermal clipon !!!
     
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    MtnGhost

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    Are you asking about the patrol ?? If so, let me take it apart and take a pic of the parts so you can see.

    ==
    Well in that case, the HALO-LR (50mm) is the ticket. Unless you want to spring bigger bucks for a thermal clipon !!!
    Yep, very interested in that Patrol setup.

    I saw that UNV does a rental on the HALO-LR. I might take them up on that and see how that thing performs in a couple of specific areas out here (try before I buy kinda thing).
     

    MtnGhost

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    Alright, getting the HALO-LR rental on Friday. The weather is shaping up to be perfect for real-world testing in the PNW (100% chance of rain Friday-Sunday lol). Would like to see how it does in the worst conditions, but I think I'm also going to plan on driving out to the desert on Sunday where it should be drier. I know some spots where I can shoot out to a couple of miles, and that would be a good area to see where it maxes out for usability.
     

    stemikel

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    Following. Interesting thread. I am interested in the NV world, but I have so much to learn. Halo LR looks like it may be a good starting point. I appreciate hearing your feedback.
     
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    wigwamitus

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    ... Would like to see how it does in the worst conditions ...
    Around where I am ... central ish Kansas ... the "worst" conditions from a thermal perspective are either a "Noah's Rain" ... or a "Heavy Mist" ...

    In both cases ... at best ... in terms of terrain ... I can see the tops of the trees lines ... which are contrasted against the sky ... otherwise ... nada ... in terms of terrain ... can still see critters though ... at least 80 yards out ... maybe 150yds out ... depending.

    And 14 can't see any better ... though 14 can see a little better with the 3x on ... not sure why.
     
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    SnazSleepWalker

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    My setting is similar to OP's. Thick Pennsylvania forest, usually shooting under 100 yards. I would use this for hunting as well as SHTF preparedness.
    I would like to 'future-proof' my purchase, but I recognize that 90% of the time I will be looking within 300 yards or less.
    The breach is tempting because of my short range use and the dramatic price difference, but part of me is leaning toward the patrol on your recommendation of flexibility and quality. The MH25 also seems to be a contender. I simply cannot make my mind up given the capability/price differences.

    Depending on capability, I would run this side by side with a pvs-14, and as a handheld monocular. I use an eotech if that's something to consider.
     
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