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Montana X-treme
Rifle Magazine
May - June 2005
Volume 3, Number 3
ISSN: 0
Number 13
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Cover photo by Donald M. Jones
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Weaver® NightView™ Monocular

Hunting in British Columbia, we made spike camp a full day’s ride from Lake Kluayaz, where the Otter had dropped us off the day before. In the early morning hours, a chorus of wolves briefly roused us from our sleep. The howling seemed right next door – I’d never heard it so loud.

The next evening during supper, guide Reg Collingwood made an exciting announcement. “I found an active wolf den not a half-mile away. I even spotted a couple of young wolves hanging around. That’s why the neighborhood is so doggone noisy.”

A few of us quietly made our way to the den, then did our best to watch for activity. We could approach no closer than 100 yards without giving our presence away. My 10x 40mm binocular did its best, but the moonless night revealed only fleeting, half-imagined images. I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of wolves, but I couldn’t swear to it in court.

I had no intention of shooting a wolf (I’d neglected to buy the proper license), but I would’ve loved to watch these animals in greater detail as they went about their business. The Weaver Night-View I’ve recently been testing would’ve made all the difference.

Night-vision optics have been around for decades but were first used exclusively for military applications. Civilian versions have been available for several years but labored under two drawbacks. Vary-ing from poor to downright lousy image quality left a lot to be desired in the early units I tried. Too, everything appeared bathed in a sickly green light.

Weaver’s NightView monocular is a big step in the right direction. Images still lack the clarity a good binocular delivers in daytime, but thanks to Weaver’s advanced digital imaging technology, they’re crisper and cleaner than those I’d seen with early night vision equipment.

The NightView’s array of controls is confusing, at first. Both the eyepiece and the objective lens can be individually focused. I had to fiddle with each, in turn, before getting a sharp image to look at. Once the NightView is properly focused, you need to shift your attention to the twin rocker switches atop the unit. The left switch is marked + and -, indicating how much (or how little) infrared energy you’re illuminating the target with. This energy is projected from an infrared light array at the front of the unit. You have 100 different levels of brightness on tap.

Projected infrared light works pretty much the same way the built-in flash on your pocket camera does. Up-close illumination is pretty bright, but beyond 10 or 15 feet it quickly fades away. If you’re unimpressed with the brightness of an image 100 yards downrange (the unit’s maximum effective range), focus the NightView on a blank wall a dozen feet away. The bright, round circle you’ll see shows both the illumination pattern and relative brightness

The right-hand rocker switch works exactly the same way to control display brightness. According to Weaver, the NightView unit uses a “Sony™ high-sensitivity CCD image sensor and displays through a premium ferroelectric liquid crystal ocular viewer.” I was a physics major during my first three years of college, but I’m still trying to figure out what that description means. Resolution is listed at 400 pixels (horizontal) by 225 pixels (vertical), which is pretty good.

Speaking of pixels, the unit can be connected to a video monitor through its RCA cable port. Lack-ing an RCA cable, I didn’t test this for myself. However, Ken Baun, Weaver’s senior vice president of engineering, tells me images displayed on a video monitor show greatly enhanced detail. “The result is so good, some sheriff departments are employing NightView units for surveillance work,” he said.

In addition to infrared energy, the NightView unit also takes advantage of illumination provided by virtually omnipresent ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet energy helps you see animals or objects that are otherwise invisible because they’re in deep shadow.

The first thing I noticed when tracking my coal-black cat acrossthe back yard just before midnight was the absence of green tinting. The image was unadorned black and white, although filters furnished with the unit can provide different effects. The gray, neutral density filter reduces the sometimes overly bright illumination level, while a red filter helps preserve your night vision. You couldn’t prove it by me, but the green filter is supposed to increase contrast.

Magnification is a nominal 1.5x, although pushing the “zoom” button just ahead of the eyepiece doubles that to 3x. I found 3x images – while useful – were of markedly lower quality.

It takes practice and experimentation to get the hang of Weaver’s digital night vision monocular. Every time I use it, I get better results. I’ve heard worries that night vision technology makes a great poacher’s tool. After testing several night vision units afield, that no longer concerns me. Poachers far enough into the back country to muffle rifle reports are far more likely to use truck-mounted searchlights to illuminate illegal prey. A night-vision monocular can’t help you aim a rifle.

I see the Weaver NightView and similar viewing devices as recreational tools for anyone who simply wants to be privy to the animals’ graveyard shift.

The Weaver NightView measures 7.2x2.2x2.9 inches and weighs just 9.3 ounces. Power is supplied by six AA batteries, which provide three hours of continuous full-power illumination. Suggested retail is $249.

For more information, contact Weaver Optics, Dept. SH, 201 Plantation Oak Drive, Thomasville GA 31792-3548; call toll-free: 1-800-285-0689; or visit online at www.weaveroptics.com

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