Gear Review: OPMOD Armasight GEN1M Night Vision Monocular

Hunting in the daylight is relatively easy, but when the sun goes away the game changes. There are plenty of flashlights out there that will light up the night, but when you’re trying to unobtrusively find your way to the hunting blind or stalk some wild porkers, light isn’t your friend. You want to be able to see even without much available light, and for that you’re gunna need a night vision optic of some sort. Optics Planet’s OPMOD skunkworks offers an entry level night vision monocular that’s perfect for those looking for more stealth on a budget . . .

OPMOD’s Gen 1M night vision monocular is a re-branded Armasight unit with a few extra bells and whistles. But that’s a good thing because Armasight is a well-respected name in the night vision business. Their products that I’ve handled in the past seemed well put together and functional, and the OPMOD monocular is no exception.

Right out of the box, the fit and finish on this device was excellent. The lens cap fit perfectly into place, the battery compartment cover screwed in tightly and without complaint, and the sole control button on the device was easy to use. Overall, I found it to be an easy-to-use design that fits my hand extremely well.

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The rear of the device has, as I mentioned, the sole control button on the entire unit. There’s a focus ring on the eyepiece to let you set the proper focus, but there’s only one button that controls the electronics. Click the button once and a green light starts shining on the back of the unit to let you know that it’s working, click it once mroe and it turns red to let you know that the forward facing infrared beam is on. That’s all there is to it, no fancy control pads or other techy stuff. Pretty simple and straightforward.

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Over on the business end we can see the objective lens and the IR light. There’s a rubber cap that is on a lanyard which covers the objective lens when not in use, mostly to preserve the delicate innards from the harmful light. Night vision devices work by using intensifier tubes, which multiply the number of photons coming through the objective lens and eventually produce the green image you see at the rear. During low light conditions you want as much light coming in as possible, but during the day too much light might damage the intensifier tube. If you do have the urge to use your NOD (Night Observation Device) in the daylight there’s a handy pinhole in the cover that lets in just enough light to not damage anything, provided you keep the usage to only a couple of minutes.

Off to the right is the battery compartment, and the only real gripe I have about this device’s construction. It’s a little tricky to figure out which way the CR123A battery should be placed in the compartment, and I wasn’t able to quickly find any markings that would help me alleviate the confusion. I had to resort to using the instruction manual, which is something I hate doing more than working the pits during a high power competition.

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The monocular comes in a pouch with a head mount thinger that lets you wear the monocular hands-free while you’re walking around, and the built-in tripod mount lets you put it damn near anywhere that standard mount can be affixed. I’m pretty sure there’s even a way to get this thing mounted on your rifle to be used as a rifle sight.

So, the thing seems to be well built and comes with some nifty bells and whistles. But the real test is how well it works at night, and it’s about as good as you can expect from a Gen 1 device. Objects nearby are pretty well defined, but anything over 50 yards is a blob.

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There are different generations of night vision devices, which correspond to different levels of technology. The Gen 1 devices are roughly 1960’s era tech, and as a result don’t have the same kind of resolution or quality of the modern stuff. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re useless. I wouldn’t recommend using this NOD for long distance hunting, but if all you need is something to get you to your stand in the dark of night this would be perfect. Also, if you’re working at 50 yards or less and have some supplemental illumination on your gun (like an IR flashlight) this would be quite sufficient. Especially considering that the next rung up the ladder in night vision usually breaks the $1,000 mark.

Overall, I’m very impressed with this product. For the money, it’s one of the best Gen 1 monoculars on the market. ATN has some products in the same price range, but the head mount and the accessories seal the deal. If you’re looking for something to let you get out into the darkness for the first time, this is a good beginner’s night vision monocular.

OPMOD Armasight GEN1M Night Vision Monocular
MSRP: $289.00

Overall Rating: * * * *
I would have liked to see a clearer marking on the battery compartment, and the IR beam could be a little stronger. But overall, an excellent product for the price.

comments

  1. avatar A-Rod says:

    Dear Santa……

  2. avatar peirsonb says:

    Any day I can read “multiply the number of photons” and “head mount thinger” in the same article it is a good day on the intertubez.

    Great review Nick.

  3. avatar Sovereign says:

    Really not a bad price for a night vision monocular. Seems like it would serve really well for night time hog hunts.

  4. avatar Bob Wall says:

    Only 50 yards of clarity? Most restraining orders call for 100-200 yards of distance. Sorry Professor D, you’re going to have to go to Gen II or III to keep an eye on Princess Shannon. >:(

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Creepy, man. Just…creepy.

      1. avatar William Burke says:

        And yet somehow fun.

  5. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:

    Quite.

  6. avatar Paul B says:

    Good review. Have been thinking about these for some time. I would assume any infrared transmitter would make things stand out a little more?

    1. avatar DJ says:

      An infrared floodlight sure would.

  7. avatar Defens says:

    I’ve had 2 or 3 Gen I NVDs. They are generally pretty poor – okay for spotting a racoon by the bird feeder, but not good at all for any serious use. A flashlight with a red lens is far better for any kind of hunting purpose. On the units I’ve had, you constantly had to fiddle with the eyepiece focus AND the objective lens focus to get any kind of image – and even then only about the center 1/3 of the image approaches “in focus.”

    The other major issue with Gen I optics is that the image intesifier has a pretty finite lifespan. They really only last a few years before the tube is toast, and you end up with a fancy housing and no image at all. I just had one crap out on me earlier this week; I’d owned it for maybe 6 years or so, after paying $250 or so for it.

    With NVDs you really do get what you pay for. If you want to play with a Gen I unit though, buy the absolute cheapest one you can find, because paying more isn’t going to improve function or optical clarity. ATN makes cheap ones that you can find on eBay for $150 or less. Or, save your money and buy a Gen II, or better yet a newer model.

    1. avatar DJ says:

      I’ve got an ATN Gen 2 scope, and it needs an illuminator in most circumstances. Seems like Gen 3 (PVS 7 equivalent) is where you start seeing good passive reception and decent clarity.

  8. avatar MrPredictable says:

    Any reason not to get the Yukon NVMT over this? It has a limited lifetime warranty.

  9. avatar SteveInCO says:

    At the moment, all I’d want out of one is for use investigating the Bump In The Night. In other words, to see bad guys in my house without turning the light on. So I figure something like this (it needs to function and be hands free) and an IR flashlight should suffice. But I have no experience with these devices whatsoever, so I have to ask: is there any flaw in that reasoning?

    1. avatar J in Ga says:

      I think I’d spend my $200-$300 on a nice handheld light and weapon light before I picked this up to investigate possible bad guys wandering around my house. It’s hard enough to see bad guys indoors with mixed/no lighting with a PVS-7 and arguably those were designed to see bad guys and are a lot better quality.

      Sounds like these would be fun for walking around the woods at night or possibly pig spotting like Nick suggested.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        Actually, I got a screaming deal on a *very* lightly used Surefire a couple of weeks ago; the only thing missing from it was the IR filter (apparently those are fairly easy to add on later). That goes on the shotgun. I already had one on the G20 (15 rounds of 10mm should please any hostile crowd). I think I have the visible flashlight situation covered. Of course the minute you turn the sucker on, they know where YOU are. Hence my desire for some sort of night vision.

        1. avatar Stu - Reno says:

          Although I’m an intrigued newbie hungering for NV Gen 1-3, I do have a recommendation for home security monitoring; get the 940nm nightvision video cameras and keep a small monitor by your bed (or wherever you intend to barricade). While the more common 800-860nm cameras give off a faint but obvious red glow, which may not be a problem, the 940nm types truly can’t be seen by human eyes. I use a few 850nm cameras outside my house toward the street BECAUSE they can be seen, hopefully therefore a deterrent. It would be easier, safer, and more comprehensive to merely check out the monitor (whether wired or wireless) than to use a narrow-angle gizmo strapped to your head as you explore your home. Plus with many of the 4- or 8-channel DVR units (which keep a record for later legal needs), motion within the view of any camera can trigger an alarm and notify you that something’s happening. A 4-channel system, with cams and recorder, can cost only $250. But I want this Gen 1 item for outdoors!…

    2. avatar Rich Grise says:

      I’d think that inside your own house, just turning on the light would make the most sense. I also have, and recommend, a PIR (Passive Infra-Red) porch light; when someone gets within 10-15 feet, it turns on the outside light, so the whole neighborhood can see them. I’ve never had a break-in, so don’t have any experience with indoor thugs.

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        “I’d think that inside your own house, just turning on the light would make the most sense.”

        No, because I want to be able to see them, without them being able to see me. They’re in my house without an invite; I am not obligated to play fair.

  10. avatar Anders A says:

    I would advise people not to waste money on Gen 1. Anything less than Gen 2 is worse than a flashlight, but Gen 3 gives you superpowers.

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