It’s your worst nightmare. Something went Crash! in the living room You’re lying in bed, shocked awake and quietly trying to hold your breath while straining for tendrils of sound. The sole focus of your existence at this moment is trying to classify the problem as routine or something far worse. Fortunately, if you are among the growing group of truly prepared Americans, you have an extraordinary advantage that gives you the figurative high ground against any threat: thermal imaging and night vision devices (NVD).
By Brent T. Wheat
Is it the cat, a cat burglar, or something more horrendous? Did one of the kids get up in the middle of the night and bump a table, or is someone inside your home, preparing unthinkable horrors for you, or worse, your family? As your feet silently hit the floor and you consider the options, your first wish is for some kind of superhuman vision that would give you a clear advantage in what could soon be a lethal-force encounter.
Until recently, many home-defense responses involve the use of flashlights. Obvious cost comparisons aside, thermal and night vision devices represent a better alternative by all other measures, allowing a defender to silently observe the area without giving up the concealment afforded by darkness. This ability to observe, plan and act before openly committing to an engagement provides time—a truly priceless commodity.
Long a staple of military and law enforcement teams, these two technologies are becoming a more common and important part of the home-defense plan for those who are serious about self-protection. As prices continue to decline, physical size decreases and features and image quality increase, more homes, apartments, ranches and homesteads are gaining the significant advantages that come with these devices that literally offer a sixth sense.
In the electronic vision systems arena, there is considerable confusion between the two types of devices. Thermal imaging is much more effective at finding bad actors, especially those trying to conceal themselves because a heat signature is virtually impossible to disguise. On the other hand, NVD’s require some type of existing light, which, even if it is supplied by an IR illuminator, can still give away the user’s position. In the end the choice often comes down to cost, as NVD’s are somewhat less expensive, though the market is rapidly narrowing as thermal imagers come down in price.
For example, the new handheld or weapon-mountable FLIR ThermoSight Pro PTS233 thermal imager offers an unparalleled suite of professional features at a price starting under $2,200. Similarly, the compact, 7.4-oz. handheld or helmet/goggle-mountable FLIR Breach PTQ136 multifunctional thermal monocular starts at just $2,495. Still too much? Consider that the capable FLIR Scout TK thermal imager – ideal for detection and identification at the relatively close engagement distances typical in home defense scenarios – is available at a street price below $600. On the NVD side, the Armasight by FLIR MNVD night-vision monocular offers Gen 2 resolution for under $1,700. All are solid options for those who are serious about family and property protection.
Discovering a bad guy in the living room may be one of the most-feared home-defense scenarios, but plenty of other situations involve defense of the greater homestead. While catching someone burglarizing your barn or trying to siphon gas from your truck in the driveway may not be as grave as confronting an invader inside your home, any one of these possibilities can easily justify the cost of a thermal or night vision device.
Even without a specific threat, thermal imagers or NVDs are great ways to determine why the dogs are barking or why the driveway alert went off when there is no vehicle to be seen. The ability to thoroughly scan every inch of your property while hidden by darkness goes a long way towards ensuring a peaceful night’s sleep.
The home-defense mission also often extends to livestock and pets. Having the ability to see and engage raccoons that are constantly killing and eating your chickens, the feral hogs decimating your corn crop or coyotes stalking your dog in the back yard pays real dividends in both money and peace-of-mind.
With prices dropping and ever-increasing capabilities, now is the time to seriously consider adding a thermal or night vision device to your home-defense plan. The value of increased safety and security made possible by the ability to see through the darkest night while protecting your family and property simply cannot be measured.
Have you ever used a night vision or thermal device? How well did it work? Share your answers in the comment section.
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