Friday Night Lights: Vortex UH-1 Gen II – Now Night Vision Compatible!

    When the Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 came out, it was a great alternative to other holographic sights like the EOTech HWS. It is robust, has fewer parts and does not require a hood to protect it. However, there was one drawback to the UH-1 and that was the lack of a night vision compatible setting. Well, now Vortex has come out with an updated version. The AMG UH-1 Gen II will now work harmoniously with night vision goggles.

    Out With The Old, In With The New Huey UH-1 Gen II

    There are some changes between the old and new UH-1 Gen II. One of the biggest changes is the scalloping for weight lightening. Vortex removed more material from the UH-1 Gen II. You can see this when you see the two side by side. They removed quite a bit of material from the sides and a little bit off the top.

    The next big change is the battery cap. They went from a slotted design to a folding tab so the UH-1 Gen II does not require a coin or tool to help change batteries.

    While the UH-1 Gen II got a make over and tool-less battery cap, it lost the micro USB port.

    The micro USB port on UH-1 Gen I

    I’ll be honest, I forgot that my old UH-1 can use rechargeable CR-123s and has a built-in charger. However, I looked it up and refreshed my memory. The Razor UH-1 can only use LFP CR123. LFP, aka LiFePo4, stands for Lithium Iron Phosphate. They are different than your standard Li-Ion rechargeable batteries and you cannot swap between them. The chargers for Li-Ion are different from LFP chargers. Some Li-Ion chargers have a special mode to charge LiFePo4 batteries but it is not common.  So this feature complicates things. Sure the UH-1 Gen I has its own charger but your choices in LFP CR123 batteries are limited to only a couple brands. They also do not have as high a mAh capacity. LiFePo4 is on average 450 mAh while an RCR123 can be as high as 700 mAh.

    Vortex did increase the size of the rear window. Below you can see the NV button on the UH-1 Gen II nestled between the two buttons. While it is nice that the rear eyepiece is larger, the objective lens has not been enlarged so the sight picture has not really changed much between the two.

    Back side of the UH-1

    Using The UH-1 Gen II With Night Vision

    The Gen 1 Huey acted as advertised. Generous eye box and the EBR-CQB.

    Photo by Vortex

    But the problem with the UH-1 Gen 1 is that on the lowest brightness setting, it could be too bright for night vision devices. On some EOTech HWS sights, even if they don’t have an NV setting, you could dim the reticle down so you could use them with night vision. When I try this with the UH-1 Gen I, it is still too bright and the reticle blooms a lot in night vision to the point you cannot see your target. You could compensate for this by using more light – either an IR weapon light or IR laser illuminator. Or use the Gen I in an area with brighter ambient light. However, choosing the level of ambient light where you use your UH-1 Gen I is not practical. The UH-1 Gen II has 15 brightness settings. Four of them are for night vision.

    When I compared the Gen I to the Gen II, the Gen I was brighter even at the lowest brightness.

    Gen II on the left, Gen I on the right. Both set to the lowest day brightness setting.

    Gen II on brightest NV mode.

    Here is a video comparing Gen II to Gen I. I did notice that the Gen II maximum brightness is not as bright as the Gen I but it is bright enough for day use.

    There is an issue I have with the UH-1 and that is the built-in Picatinny mount. The mount is a bit chunky and it does not play with low profile rails especially if the body of the gun is too wide or too close to the Picatinny rail. The UH-1 does not physically fit on these types of rails. See how close the rail is to those arms that grab onto the HK SP5? Those interfere with the UH-1 mount.

    UH-1 mount has a rather thick profile.

    Because the UH-1 mount is too thick, it hits parts of the mount and it cannot hook under the Picatinny rail.

    The Kel-Tec CP33 has a similar issue. The width of the receiver is wider than the Picatinny rail and sits too close to the rail.

    The only way I was able to mount the UH-1 Gen II onto my CP33 was by using a Picatinny riser.

    Final Thoughts On The UH-1 Gen II

    The UH-1 Gen II solves the crucial problem with the Gen 1. Now we can use it with night vision. Of all the red dots on the market, the EOTech HWS goes with night vision like peanut butter and jelly. The generous field of view is what makes it work so well with night vision. Well, the Vortex UH-1 Gen II is now a solid alternative for night vision use. You get a similar field of view, a clear holographic reticle and now night vision compatible brightness settings.

    While Vortex got rid of the integrated recharging port on the Gen II, you can still use LFP CR123. You just need to recharge them in a dedicated charger. Also, the Gen II has that new tool-less battery cap so changing batteries is even easier.  The UH-1 Gen II has an MSRP of $799.99. Go to their website for more information.

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    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]