Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Our armed forces have been using them successfully for years. Military grade night vision goggles have, for the most part, eliminated their need to carry flashlights. They can wear them on their heads or helmets, leaving their hands free for carrying other gear and for performing other tasks. For wearers, night vision is nearly the same as daylight vision.
The PVS7 (also seen with the dash as the PVS-7 or the slash as the AN/PVS7) is pretty much the go-to set when it comes to military grade night vision goggles.
Let’s take a look at the offerings from ATN and Armasight (now FLIR). We’ll see what their night vision goggles are made of and what they can do, to help you see if one of the available versions of the PVS7 is for you.
If you’re in a hurry and already know you want one of these ATN models, just click the link to see it on Amazon.
Or if you prefer the Armasight brand, use these links.
- Armasight PVS-7 GEN 2+ HD
- Armasight PVS-7 GEN 2+ ID
- Armasight PVS-7 GEN 2+ QS
- Armasight PVS-7 GEN 2+ SD
- Armasight PVS-7 3+ Alpha
- Armasight PVS-7 3 Bravo
- Armasight PVS-7 3 Ghost
- Armasight PVS-7 3P
Even with this long list, you may find that most, if not all of the Armasight links just above lead to pages for “currently unavailable” products. (Sorry about that, but things change.) If so, try the next two links instead. You’ll currently find many products from AGM Global that weren’t available when this article was first written.
If you’re looking for PVS-14 monoculars, check out this article.
If you see a section that interests you in the table below, click it to go there immediately. Otherwise, you can just keep reading below.
Who Makes the PVS7 Night Vision Goggles?
It’s a little more difficult to explain who makes the PVS7 than it is for most other optics. The problem is that PVS7 is not so much a model name as it is a description of the device.
The full name AN/PVS7 stands for Army Navy Portable Visual Search (number 7). That seems to say that this Gen 3 product is the 7th version of the device and one that passed military specifications, thus making them military grade night vision goggles. The PVS5 was a Gen 2 device used in Vietnam.
PVS can also stand for Personal Vision System.
There are two big names – ATN and Armasight (FLIR) – that each offer a similar product. ATN names theirs the NVG7, and the Armasight / FLIR device is simply called the PVS7. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll see names like ITT also mentioned as developers.
Each company makes more than one version of the PVS7. And each company’s product is a little different than the other’s. When it comes down to it though, they are all PVS7 night vision goggles.
What PVS7 Models Does ATN Make?
ATN has several models for their PVS7 night vision goggle. They are designated by their night vision generation as NVG7-2, NVG7-WPT (white phosphor technology), NVG7-3, and NVG7-3P.
These model IDs correspond to the PVS7-2, PVS7-WPT, PVS7-3, and PVS7-3P in the Amazon links above.
The main difference between the last two is that the 3P uses the Pinnacle image intensifier tubes (IIT). You may also see image intensifier tubes called I2.
As you move up the scale from NVG7-2 through NVG7-3P, as you would expect, the components get a little better and the price goes up a little more.
Several features remain the same from one model (including the Armasight models) to the next. All have just 1x magnification and a 40-degree field of view.
The range of focus is from 0.25 yards (or meters) to infinity. All have an automatic brightness control, bright light cut-off, infrared (IR) indicator, and low battery indicator.
The operating temperature of each ranges from -40 degrees (F.) to 122 degrees. The storage temperature of these night vision goggles goes from -55 degrees to 158 degrees. All have a 2-year warranty.
The diopter, which allows you to adjust the focus for one eye, has adjustments from -6 to +2, except (according to the ATN site) for the NVG7-3 which is -2 to +6 (though that may just be a typographical error on the site). In either case, this gives you nine possible settings for the diopter.
The rest of the features discussed in this section
apply only to the ATN models.
All ATN models are rated as water resistant, which is generally lower in quality than waterproof. If you really need a waterproof model, check out the Armasight (FLIR) night vision goggles instead. That said, there is conflicting information on the ATN site. In one place it says “water resistant”, but elsewhere it says “waterproof”. I would think that a product of such high quality and specifications would be waterproof.
Each model has what ATN calls Proshield lens coating and their Total Darkness IR System. You can kind of guess from the names what each of those things does, but actual descriptions of them are not easy to find.
One would hope that Proshield coating means multi-coating on all glass surfaces, but I can’t verify that at this time.
Total Darkness IR sounds like you should be able to use the infrared capabilities no matter how much ambient light is available and probably without attracting attention to yourself.
The remaining features are all the same except for resolution and the generation, which are really the distinctive features from one model to the next and which will be covered below.
Here is a summary of model vs resolution and generation.
|PVS7-WPT||60-74||White phosphor technology|
|PVS7-3||64-72||3, Auto-gated / Thin-filmed|
|PVS7-3P||64-72||3, Pinnacle IIT|
|PVS7-3HPT-A||64-72||3, High-performance, Auto-gated / Thin-filmed|
|PVS7-W||64-72||3, White phosphor, Auto-gated / Thin-filmed|
|PVS7-WHPT||64-72||3, White phosphor, High-performance, Auto-gated / Thin-filmed|
White phosphor is supposed to be better than the older green pictures that you still see in many TV depictions of night vision goggle use. Auto-gating relates to keeping the power supply at optimum voltage. The alternative to thin-filmed seems to be filmless, and there are pros and cons to each specification. I can’t tell you what ATN means by “high-performance”.
What PVS7 Models Does Armasight Make?
Update: In June of 2016, FLIR acquired the Armasight company. I don’t know if they will be keeping the Armasight brand name on their products.
Armasight has a whopping 8 different PVS7 models of night vision goggles.
- PVS-7 GEN 2+ HD (high definition)
- PVS-7 GEN 2+ ID (improved definition with manual gain)
- PVS-7 GEN 2+ QS
- PVS-7 GEN 2+ SD (standard definition)
- PVS-7 GEN 3+ Alpha (high performance)
- PVS-7 GEN 3 Bravo
- PVS-7 GEN 3 Ghost (white phosphor with manual gain)
- PVS-7 GEN 3P (high performance with Pinnacle IIT)
Besides the similarities and differences mentioned above (in the ATN section), there are a few more to cover here.
First, the IR illuminator of the Armasight PVS7 also includes a detachable flood lens. There are certain to be situations when this will be very useful to you, if you use the goggles often enough.
All Armasight models are the same size, weighing 1.5 pounds and measuring 6.4×6.0x3.0 inches.
You can power each of them with either 2 AA or 1 3V battery, which should give you over 40 hours of use. All have an automatic shut-off system to preserve battery life. That’s a feature that I would really appreciate! I know I do on my camera that has a similar shut-off mechanism.
As noted briefly above, all Armasight models are rated as waterproof. I could find no water depth rating, so it may not be very deep. The waterproofing probably guards more against rain than pools.
The four Gen 2 models have multi-alkali photocathode tubes, while the four Gen 3 models have gallium arsenide (GaAs) tubes. I honestly don’t know the difference between the two, but I would hope and assume the latter are better quality than the former.
Again, the resolution is a major differentiator from one model to the next. Here is a summary of what you get in each of the 8 Armasight models. Note that, in general, a Gen3 pair of goggles gives you a few more lines per millimeters than a Gen2 model.
|PVS-7 GEN 2+ HD||55-72|
|PVS-7 GEN 2+ ID||47-54|
|PVS-7 GEN 2+ QS||55-72|
|PVS-7 GEN 2+ SD||45-51|
|PVS-7 GEN 3+ Alpha||64-72|
|PVS-7 GEN 3 Bravo||57-64|
|PVS-7 GEN 3 Ghost||47-57|
|PVS-7 GEN 3P||64-72|
Even though some of the Gen 2 models have similar resolution compared to the Gen 3 models, remember that Gen 3 generally has significantly better quality than Gen 2. And that said, all eight of these models are still military grade (MIL-STD-810), making any of them the best night vision goggles you’ll find. In fact, these may be more than some people will ever need.
Where Can I Buy Military Grade Night Vision Goggles?
To improve your own night vision, you could go directly to the manufacturers’ sites to make a purchase, but you might actually find it easier to go through Amazon. Both ATN and Armasight sell their products there too.
If you have Amazon Prime or some extra Amazon bucks to spend, the choice is obvious.
All products described in this article should come with free shipping.