Optics and Night Vision
An important resource to any Prepper is the ability to see long distances. Being able to do this could help you scout resources, avoid danger, etc. Good optics and using them correctly could give you a tactical advantage in these situations. In this article, I will focus on important considerations for a few different areas of optics: Binoculars, Rifle Scopes, and Night Vision. Each of these areas could give you the important winning edge in a multitude of ways. Lets talk about these.
Choosing a good pair of binoculars can be a bit confusing at first. When you look at your average pair of binoculars, you will usually see a set of numbers on the device itself or the packaging. A typical pair of binoculars might be 7 X 35. The first number indicates magnification or “power” of the lens closest to the eye. Which means an object viewed through them would be, in this case, 7 times larger than viewed with the naked eye. The other number gives you the size of the outer lens, also called the objective lens. The larger the number, the more light enters into the barrel of the device and thus the clearer the image becomes. Binoculars also have a field of view rating for example 499 feet at 1000 yards would give you almost 500 feet of view when viewing objects 1000 feet away. Most binoculars have fixed magnification, but some have a zoom lens to increase their magnification power. An example might be a 7-21 X 21 Binocular. However, keep in mind as the zoom or power of magnification increases, the field of view decreases. Zoom Binoculars do come in handy to let you track a moving object then zoom to view fine details.
Based on the above information, I’d like to recommend a few models you might consider for your prepping gear. I will try to offer something for everyone as I know money is always an issue. Keep in mind, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The first model to consider is the Bushnell Powerview 10 X 32 Compact Folding Binocular. Bushnell has produced a very budget minded, but quite compact and simple to use model. They should fit into any pack, offer 10 power magnification and are armored against drops and weather. A mid-level model I’d recommend is the Nikon 7216 Action 8 X 40. It’s a larger model with a clearer image and great value for the price. It is a bit larger, but much clearer than the Bushnell mentioned above. For the top choice I would recommend the Nikon 7234 Action 10-22 X 50. These are similar to the other pair of Nikons but can zoom from 10-22 power and thus are a bit more pricey. Another option is to get a Monocular which as the name implies has only a single tube. A good model which I own and love is the Tasco Essentials 10 X 25 Compact Roof Prism Monocular. They can come in quite handy if you don’t want use the space a full binocular takes up, but still want long-range viewing options.
Choosing the right scope for your gun can be as complicated as choosing the right pair of binoculars. There are many factors to consider such as type of shooting, type of rifle/gun, etc. If you have shot with open/iron sights before, you know you have to line up the rear sights with the front sight to get on target. A scope eliminates this. Look through the sight, put the cross-hairs/reticle where you want your rounds to go and hit where you aim. Also you can see your target in more detail allowing for more precise hits AND seeing where the rounds go.
The same guidelines discussed above for binoculars come into play with scopes as well. A scope has a certain power or magnification and field of view. Additionally, you will need to take into consideration what type of reticle or cross-hairs you like based on personal preference. The power of the scope will probably be your biggest deciding factor and will depend on how you want to use the weapon. Are you using it for target shooting or hunting? Are you using it in a tactical situation? Will you be in dense woods or open country? Scopes are also similar in construction to binoculars by having different lenses inside of them to allow you to see the image. These lenses are in a tube located inside the main/outer tube. When the zoom is adjusted on the scope, the inner tube moves to increase or decrease magnification. Once you have chosen your scope and mounted onto your gun there are two knobs that adjust windage (left to right) and elevation (up and down). These allow for adjustments to be made to “sight-in” your gun and actually move the tube inside as well. There are many, many different scopes on the market, but I can give you a few recommendations based on my research and experience. The UTG 4 X 32 CQB is a good choice as it can easily quick-connect onto many different guns with its quick release mounting system. Many people use this as a quick change scope between ARs and other guns. The BSA 4 X 30 Tactical Weapon Scope is another good choice and it will mount on several different kinds of guns easily. For a good zoom scope, I would take a serious look at the UTG Full Size Military Dot.
Most of us, when we think of Night Vision probably imagine Special Operations Forces taking out some “bad guys” in total darkness in some place like Iraq or Afghanistan. However, Night Vision technology has come a long way especially in the civilian market and could come in handy for many reasons such as: Hunting, Scouting, Observation, Security, etc. under cover of darkness. It is possible with the right equipment to see someone in total darkness at 200 feet away from you.
Night Vision works in two different ways: image enhancement and thermal imaging. Image Enhancement works by gathering tiny amounts of light and amplifying it so that our eyes can see. Image Enhancement gives Night Vision its signature green tint. Thermal imaging captures infrared light from heat sources and allows our eyes to see it by creating an image called a thermogram. A thermogram is created, electronically based, on the intensity of infrared light reflected from a special lens. Most Night Vision on the Civilian Market is Generation 1, which is also known as “Starlight Scopes”. They use amplified light from the moon and stars to produce an image visible to the human eye and therefore do not work well on cloudy or moonless nights. Just like Binoculars and Scopes, there’s lots of night vision equipment out there to pursue. Here’s a few of my recommended models: Night Owl Optics 5 Power, Night Owl Optics XGen, and Bushnell NightWatch.
Optics are a very important part of prepping gear to research and consider. There are many choices to pick from in just the three areas I covered. Please read my other articles! I encourage you to comment with further suggestions and hope my article helps you see the big picture BETTER. Happy Prepping!