First generation night vision looking at stand of aspen at approximately 25 yards – ambient moon/starlight only, no IR illumination
I’ve been wanting to check out digital night vision for some time. It’s not like conventional night vision with intensifier tubes that age, it also costs considerably less than most second and third generation units, while giving performance that far exceeds that of first generation units.
For comparison, I have a soviet-made first generation riflescope that has lived on a suppressed rimfire for about 15 years. Its performance has always been adequate, able to identify and hit vermin-sized targets up to 50 yards or so fairly reliably – with a little help from an IR illuminator. Without the dull-red glow of the illumination module though, first generation units aren’t very helpful.
I always wanted a little newer technology, something with better battery life and a tad more range. When I learned that I would have the opportunity to evaluate a Pulsar Forward F155 digital night vision unit for a few weeks, I was pretty stoked.
The Pulsar F155 is designed to attach to the objective lens of existing optics. There are several benefits to this: one doesn’t need a dedicated rifle for low-light shooting, and it isn’t necessary to switch optics and mess around with re-zeroing.
It comes with a series of rubber adapter rings to accommodate a wide variety of scope objective bell sizes. I do wish the unit came with a bottom mount so it could be attached to a picatinny rail. It isn’t technically needed, but would be a “nice-to-have.”
The night vision module has 4 buttons and one knob on top, it’s pretty simple to control once you learn what things do. The knob is for focusing the unit, the 12:00 button is the on/off switch and can be used to turn the screen off without shutting down the whole unit. This is a battery-saving feature. Holding down the bottom button activates the menu, which enables users to connect to their iPhone (for example), to stream photos and video, adjust brightness, set resolution of photos the unit can take, and turn the microphone on or off.
The 3:00 button activates photo or video mode, and the 9:00 button activates a sort of boost mode where brightness of dark environments is increased, without using an illuminator, though at the penalty of a slight loss in resolution.
As for performance, it’s very difficult to capture just how bright and clear this unit is. The pictures and videos I captured through the device really don’t do it justice, but with this technology at this price, I would say no one need purchase a first generation night vision unit ever again.
I only have one real concern about this unit; made in Belarus, customer support for repair and replacement parts (spare batteries, additional adapters, etc…) may be difficult. At the time of writing, these units are out of stock and it sounds like there may be some delay in getting more in.
Value…………………..4.5/5 for a unit costing several thousand dollars less than third generation night vision, the value is there. At a list price of $1319.99, it isn’t exactly cheap either.
Performance………..4.5/5 considering this is digital night vision, I was pretty impressed
Durability…………….4.5/5 It is sturdy and well-made, I don’t doubt this could hold up to a fair amount of rough field use.
User Friendliness….4/5 the controls aren’t bad, but you do need to read the owners manual
Availability……………? I don’t know when this unit will be next available to potential buyers , as it is currently marked out of stock and they wouldn’t even sell me the demo unit.
Taking availability out of the equation, that leaves this unit with a score of 88%, which is a fair score. I do plan on purchasing one of these for myself when they are available, as I do think it is probably one of the best ways to get into night vision without spending big bucks on a second or third generation unit.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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