Good evening everyone and welcome back to TFB’s Friday Night Lights series. We are excited to announce that FNL is now sponsored by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies. This week we just happen to start with ATN. Most night vision and thermal devices are somewhat expensive often costing well over $2,000. In some cases twice or triple that cost. I was curious to see how well their lowest-cost night vision monocular performs. One of the ATN NVM14 is just under $2,000 making it a bit more affordable.
I borrowed their NVM14-2. It uses a Gen2 image intensifier and I was curious to see how well it works compared to my Gen3 tubes. The ATN monocular uses a housing reminiscent of the MUM-14. You might have noticed the MUM-14 in my Skeetir-X review. The MUM-14 styled body uses the MUM-14 mini rail interface instead of the PVS-14 1/4-20 tripod screw hole for mounting to a J-ARM or bridge.
I am using an Insight MUM-14 J-Arm to mount the NVM14.
You can also use a bridge to combine the NVM14 with other devices. I used the Lions Gear MACHOS to bridge the NVM14 with a PVS-14.
You need to be careful with the bridges you use. Some of the arms or bridges are designed for attaching a FLIR Breach. The Mod Armory Thermal J-ARM positions the eyepiece based on the rail location which is in-line with the eyepiece on a Flir Breach. The NVM14 rail is offset just like the MUM-14. So if the arm or bridge is designed for a Breach, the eyepiece won’t line up right unless it has interpupillary distance adjustment like the MACHOS. See the photo below. You can see how far off the rail is from the center of the eyepiece.
One of the biggest differences between the MUM-14 and the NVM14 is the IR illuminator and the rear eyepiece.
The NVM14 IR illuminator is the tiny circle at the top opposite of the power knob. The MUM-14 positions the IR illuminator in that big gap you see on the NVM14. The MUM-14 has a shroud that you can attach an IR illuminator focus lens.
As I mentioned earlier, the eyepiece is different from a MUM-14. The NVM14 eyepiece is much smaller. See the image below. I circled the diameter of the NVM14 eyepiece and a PVS-14 bridged on a MACHOS.
The NVM14 glass still provides the same 40º FOV but with the eyepiece so small, you need to have the eyepiece a lot closer to your eye than a PVS-14 eyepiece or MUM-14 eyepiece. The target piece of glass allows you to move the monocular further away from your face giving you better peripheral vision.
Using Gen2 Night Vision
The performance of the NVM14-2 is all from the image intensifier. The housing and glass are a decent alternative to a PVS-14. Hop and Luke C both have NVM14s. I am not sure which versions they have since there are a number of variants and it is what image intensifier they use inside. The NVM14-2 uses an EKRAN EPM207G-2-11-13 tube.
EKRAN is made in Russia. Here is the datasheet I found on their website for this model of Gen2 image intensifier.
The specs do not seem that great. FOM (Figure Of Merit) has a low minimum. The best numbers on that sheet means the minimum would be just 903 FOM. While that sounds very low, how does it perform?
In bright ambient light areas, it is very useable. Such as urban environments with street lights and other sources of light. I brought the ATN monocular along with me when I was down in South Texas on an ATN thermal hog hunt. There was no moon shining on our hog hunt and the hunting grounds did not have any ambient lights so it was really dark. The NVM14 worked but not as well as Gen3 tubes. I used my UANVB binos for navigating in the dark but I pulled out the NVM14-2 to take some night pictures and videos.
Final Thoughts On Entry Level ATN Monocular
While the NVM14-2 is not the highest performing night vision monocular, it can get the job done. Its low light performance is better than digital night vision and there is no latency. You can augment its performance with the use of good IR illumination if peer forces are not a concern for you. The Gen2 EKRAN tube performed better than I had expected.
While the eyepiece is a bit small, it is still useable. You just need to position the eyepiece closer to your eye. It is powered by a single CR123 and has an estimated 60 hour run time. ATN’s website lists the NVM14-2 at 1.54lbs but I weighed this one and it is only 11.4oz. About the same as a PVS-14. The NVM14-2 retails for $1895. For more information go to their website.
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