You’re in the market for night vision, but how do you choose between monoculars, goggles, clip-ons, or high-quality night vision scopes when you can only have one?
You must choose wisely as no one optic does it all.
Though, a versatile monocular can you get pretty darn close to having it all with some compromise.
The PVS14-3 is not only one of the absolute best night vision monoculars, but it can also be a worthy night vision scope alternative if you do things right.
Here’s how you get it done and what you can get out of it.
What We Like: Gen 3 IIT
What We Don’t Like: Low recoil resistance
Best Uses: Night Shooting, Tactical Use, Hunting, Scouting, Varmint Control, Monocular, Head/Helmet-Mounted, Weapon-Mounted, Close-Range Detection
- IIT: Gen 3
- Magnification: 1x
- FOV: 40-degrees
- Resolution: 64 lp/mm
- Eye Relief: Adjustable
- Color Modes: Green Phosphor
- Battery: 50 hours
- Dimensions: 4.5 x 2 x 2.5”/.78 lbs
Our Verdict: With high-quality NV in your hand, on your head, or on your rifle, the PVS14 will do the job. Can you get value, performance, and multiple applications done with one optic? With the PVS14, you can.
Who is the ATN PVS14-3 Monocular Best Suited to?
If you want a monocular – you have it. If you want a single-sight head-mounted goggle – you have it. If you want a scope – you can have that too. It’s easier to afford than a PS28 clip-on with Gen 3, and when you do eventually upgrade to a standalone scope, it still has use in multiple ways.
But as an alternative to a scope, you may end up wanting to buy again especially if you want night vision with a higher caliber weapon system. Why not just get a scope from the get-go and buy once? You can do that too, but ATN does not have a dedicated night vision scope with an IIT. They do have digital versions such as the X-Sight 4K Pro and the X-Sight LTV.
How Does the ATN PVS14-3 Perform?
The PVS14 in Gen 3 is military-grade and mil-spec all the way and performs as promised. The monocular has excellent imaging quality given the tube specs, but it’s still not quite at the 3P or autogated level. How could it be? You’ll need to pay more for that. But still, it’s exceptional quality for Gen 3 with good-enough tube performance to deem it non-exportable and handled and owned only by U.S. citizens.
The effective range is 100 yards for positive identification. When equipped with a good IR, you can see out to 200 yards for great recognition. Since this does not have magnification, further identification is limited. It’s perfect for close-range, stealth operations and coyote hunting.
But what you really want to know is if this scope is good enough for handsfree and weapon-mounted use. Of course, it is. With the right adapters and hardware, you can wear the monocular or mount it to an upper receiver rail – best on an extended rail for use with a red dot.
The PVS14-3 is legit night vision in the palm of your hand. It may be the most expensive night vision you ever buy. Why not have a tool that can do it all reasonably well and buy once?
Features & Benefits
Gen 3 IIT
The PVS14-3 has a standard Gen 3 image intensifier tube. If you’re just entering the Gen 3 market, then this will be a huge upgrade from Gen 1 and standard Gen 2 NVDs.
Other important specs you should know include its 64 lp/mm resolution, gallium arsenide (GaAs) photocathode, and SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) of 22 which is above standard. Its FOM (Figure of Merit) value is 1600 which tells you that this is real Gen 3 night vision performance.
While you may not understand these figures, it means that imaging will be clear and sharp. Because Gen 3 night vision has an ion barrier film that can vary in density on the microchannel plate (MCP), there will be some loss of light that can result in minor blooming or halo effects around bright light sources like car lights and streetlights. However, to protect the tube from excessive bright light, it does feature a bright light cut-off feature.
The PVS14 monocular is often used as a night vision goggle. ATN’s PVS14 is made with military-grade materials to mil spec and is set apart from their NVM14 monoculars.
As a monocular, you can use it handheld for observation or mount it to a head set or helmet. With 1x magnification, close range focus, small objective lens, and high IIT performance, it can be appropriately used in multiple applications. Walking, running, reading, field dressing, vehicle maintenance, emergency first-aid, etc. – you can do it all.
What about shooting? While it’s not designed as a weapon sight, it can be weapon-mounted to aid with nighttime shooting. The catch? You need a PVS14 mount and a red dot. It sits rearward of the red dot sight and the eyecup should be replaced with the eyeguard for this type of application.
The best thing about the monocular is that when you have upgraded to a standalone or clip-on night vision scope, the PVS14 is far from an expensive paperweight. It still has use and a likely a lot of life left. After all, it is Gen 3.
This is a big deal for those who want it all from one NVD. Its only benefit to a shooter on a rail is if it’s paired with a collimated red dot or laser sight. In this application, its function is similar to a clip-on without the hefty cost of a clip-on.
With the bracket mount, you essentially thread the monocular to the mount. The thumbscrew clamp secures it to either a Weaver or Picatinny rail. You will need to align the optical axes for maximum efficiency.
The red dot sight also needs to have night vision compatible brightness modes. Some red dots may not specifically mention any NV modes, but it will be the lowest brightness settings.
Once the monocular is mounted and aligned, you can adjust for eye relief. Loosen the thumbscrew and move the mount forward or backwards along the rail to achieve comfortable and effective eye relief of the full field of view minimizing risk for scope bite.
You can adjust the diopter for sharp imaging quality of the viewfinder, and then adjust the objective lens focus for sharp and crisp imaging of the target.
As you can assume, the best night vision monoculars can be as expensive as standalone scopes and clip-ons. It all depends on quality and performance. While this monocular is pricey, it helps to put a few things in perspective.
Looking at ATN alone, the PVS14-3 is only a little more affordable than the PS28-3 clip-on. Both are Gen 3 and they have the exact same Gen 3 IIT specs. However, the PVS14 is more suited to monocular/goggle use and the clip-on is best suited to weapon-sight use.
Clip-ons are generally more expensive than dedicated weapon sights and are not typically compatible for mounting to helmets for hands-free use. With the monocular, you can both weapon-mount and head-mount it.
Then there’s the NVM14 monoculars. Tube specifications rival that of the PVS14, and they’re just as awesome and tough but best suited to civilian and recreational use. They could be a cheaper option if you don’t require the U.S. Military tactical design. But for the few hundred dollars more, you may as well upgrade to mil-spec quality with the PVS14.
What about a standalone IIT scope? ATN doesn’t have one, only digital models. Manifestly, the PVS14-3 monocular with manual gain has value and can hold its own.
Low Recoil Resistance
ATN clearly states that it is not a weapon sight, and as such, they cannot guarantee performance with shock to the IIT beyond 500G. However, they do make it weapon-mountable to M16/M4 rails, so it will hold recoil with light caliber recoil weapon systems.
This is only a flaw if you’re looking to weapon-mount the monocular which a lot of people will do out of a quality optic like this one. It can only handle recoil from nothing larger than a 5.56 NATO. So, AR-15 in .223 Rem - good to go. It is not designed to be loaded with 7.62 NATO or .308 Win. Again, recoil is low.
The standard PVS14-3 has a GaAs photocathode with 64 lp/mm resolution, 22 SNR, and 1600 FOM values – great specs.
The PVS14-3P has upgraded materials with a Pinnacle tube, a thin ion barrier film/autogated photocathode, 64-72 lp/mm resolution, 24 SNR, 1800 FOM, and 2000-2800 µA/lm photocathode sensitivity – best of the best specs! This is quite the upgrade in tube performance and imaging quality.
You must purchase a weapon mount separately. To mount to a helmet, you must also purchase the hardware and accessories separately. However, the PVS14-3 monocular does come with a head mount assembly for hands-free operation.
The PVS14-3 monocular requires one AA 1.5V battery to operate. Rechargeable 1.2V batteries are not recommended.
There’s not much left to say about the PVS14-3 as it’s all been said.
It’s a night vision optic that is very well the most popular and versatile monocular in the U.S. Army and NATO forces around the world.
With a Gen 3 tube, excellent clarity to 200 yards (or possibly more), and multiple ways to mount it, the PVS14-3 speaks for itself.
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. When not glassing the local wildlife, you can find him in the garden with his German Shepherd.