FLIR BNVD-40 Night Vision Goggles
I’m quite familiar with night vision and thermal imaging devices and applying them to other shooting activities that I get involved with once the sun goes down, but I also get asked about night vision by people who want to use it for airsoft events.
The questions are usually along the lines of “what’s the best cheap night vision to buy?” There are a few things out there that come in under £200 or between £200 and £400 but these will be first generation units that were superseded a long time ago as the technology improved. The bottom line is that if you want to get into night vision it does come with a price tag because you’re going to want to look at something that is Gen2+ or beyond.
The FLIR Systems BNVD-40, (binocular night vision device), or NODS, (night vision observation device), are state of the art, dual channel hand held, or helmet mounted night vision and the particular unit that I have is the BNVD-40, which refers to its 40 degree field of view. Forty degrees is the standard across the board for this type of NV device, however, FLIR have recently released the BNVD-51, which has an increased field of view to 51 degrees. This 25% increase in field of view makes a big difference if you’re law enforcement and clearing rooms that might have bad guys in them; that split second could make the difference between getting a shot off first or being on the wrong end of an engagement, but if you’re looking to use these in the airsoft environment then the 40’s will be perfect.
As soon as you handle these NODS you can feel that they are built to an incredibly high standard. They’re solid, tough, rugged, and the housing is fully waterproof. You might think that all this would equate to something that is fairly heavy, but not so and they weigh in at just 0.64 kg, or in old money, 1.4 lb.
The FLIR BNVD NODs are able to run on two different types of batteries. These can run on a single AA or a single CR123 battery. The reason for this that it’s a Law Enforcement requirement that devices are able to run on AA batteries. If you’re out in the field and were to find yourself running low on battery power the easiest batteries to find are AA, they’re virtually sold everywhere. But, how does this dual battery capability work, seeing as there’s only one place to insert a battery and an AA and CR123 are completely different in shape and size? When you undo the battery compartment there’s an insert inside the cap that can be removed and then inserted the other way around. Within seconds you can go from one power source to another one. This is a fantastic feature. Switching between different batteries won’t give you less power, but will give you less life depending on what source you’re using.
On each side of the unit housing there is a dial that enables you to move the tubes in and out so they align perfectly with your eyes. There are two dials on the front, one is the power on/off and the other is the manual gain. The manual gain dial gives the user the ability to brighten or dim the tubes, so that if you’re going from a dark environment into somewhere that’s better lit, or if there’s a higher amount of ambient light you can dim the NODS down to reduce glare; once you’re back out into the dark increase the gain and it will grab all the available ambient light there is and amplify it.
The on/off switch is also used to activate the built-in IR illuminator. To switch the IR on, first switch on the NODS and then pull the on/off switch out, as you would the button on the side of a watch and turn it one click further.
The IR “on” is indicated within the eyepiece by a small red LED up in the 2 o’clock position. On the evening that I ran these in a night game the sky wasn’t completely overcast, there was a slither of moon light, but we were in a heavily wooded area, so it was really quite dark. I still didn’t need to activate the built in IR! This unit was able to grab every scrap of available ambient light and amplify it so I was able to engage targets long before they were ever going to see anything. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.
Also, each tube can be independently moved out of your eye line, so again, if you were moving from a dark to a better lit environment where NV is not completely necessary you can lift the tube from in front of your sight eye and go directly to your gun mounted optic. By adjusting the manual gain you would be able to comfortably keep the other tube on your non-sight eye giving you the best of both worlds.
As soon as you flip one or both tubes up and away from your eyes they will automatically switch off which means that you’re not moving about with one or two glowing tubes on top of your head and also saves battery power. As soon as you bring them back down into position they switch back on, so no need to be fiddling with the power switch when you need both hands back on your gun as soon as possible.
It really is very difficult to explain just how good this BNVD unit is, the build quality, the functionality, everything about it just screams quality; and incredible quality is exactly what every single penny of your hard earned money gets you.
Now, right at the beginning I mentioned that there’s no real cheap route into the world or night vision, or at least no cheap route if you’re looking to go for something that you’re not going to want to upgrade fairly soon afterwards and the FLIR BNVD40’s or the 51’s are definitely the way to go. You will not want to replace them; you won’t need to replace them; these will do everything you want them to and more. Remember these are built for and used by professional operators and Law Enforcement agencies. The FLIR Night Vision Goggles are the absolute real deal. They’re incredible!
When I used them they received a massive amount of interest and when people looked through them they then understood just how I was able to pick off targets in the darkness without them getting anywhere near me.
I’m lucky enough to test and demo some fantastic products across the shooting industry and the day that these had to go back to our friends at Scott Country International it was very sad indeed.
The prices are listed below:
- FLIR BNVD-40 Night Vision Goggles GEN2+ ID (Improved Definition), £3,990.95
- FLIR BNVD-40 Night Vision Goggles GEN2+ 2HD (High Definition), £4,317.95
- FLIR BNVD-40 Night Vision Goggles GEN2+ 2QS (Quick Silver), (White Phosphor), £4,989.95 (featured here)
- FLIR BNVD-51 Night Vision Goggles GEN2+ 2HD (High Definition), £4,693.95
The FLIR BNVD Night Vision Goggle are available from Scott Country International and you can see more by clicking here.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow I have NODs on, so it’s totally cool”