What Can You Deduce About Those Using Active Night Vision?

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By the author of The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications and The Cartoon Ham Exam Handbook: A Complete Ham Radio Technician License Study Guide

When you purchase night vision, you typically can use either an active or a passive setting. Active night vision sends out an infrared light that the human eye cannot see but that the night vision can. What this IR light does is help to make it so that night vision can show you the world around you.

Imagine you’re walking through the basement of a warehouse with zero windows or skylights, the power is out, and it’s midnight. There will be zero light coming into that basement. This is problematic for night vision because it needs at least some level of light so that it can amplify it and show you the world around you.

This is where active night vision comes in. Active night vision sends out that IR light and makes it so that the wearer can see everything around him without anybody else without night vision seeing him.

When we’re outside, however, there’s a huge difference.

There will pretty much always be sufficient ambient light outside – no matter the cloud cover – that active night vision will not be necessary. Instead, you’ll be able to rely on passive night vision. Passive night vision sends out no IR light beam, instead just using all of the ambient light around it. This is good.

Remember, night vision can see IR light.

This means that if you are outside at night using active night vision, anybody else out there with night vision will see a Christmas tree in the distance. That Christmas tree is you. Why? Because night vision can see IR light. You make yourself a massive target using active night vision amongst other night vision wearers.

Knowing this helps us to better understand some of the workings of a grid-down, WROL world.

Do you remember that article we had on the things you can deduce from people simply by observing the type of radio transmission they are sending out? You can do something of the same with how they use night vision.

Let’s say there’s been a series of attacks against the American power grid.

Sounds like fantasy, huh? (Or not.)

All across the nation, significant portions of the grid are damaged and down and you’ve no way of knowing when they’ll be back up and running as the lack of electricity makes it so that none of the local TV stations, FM radio stations, cell towers, or the internet is working in your area. All of your news you pick up from word of mouth (which is mostly rumor) and shortwave radio.

You’re living in this world, and the violence has kicked up to an unprecedented level. People are scared and hungry, and everybody is taking advantage of the opportunity. Evil people are swooping in to do whatever they want, cops have no means of knowing where the bad guys are and no gas for their vehicles, nobody has the means to contact outside help, and those with only three days’ of food in their home or in need of particular medications are now long out of what they need and are resorting to violence to take what they need.

You need to protect your family, so you’re regularly standing watch at night to make sure they’re safe. You’re also using night vision.

It’s while you’re doing this that you see a huge beam of IR light off in the distance. Maybe several beams of IR light. You can’t see anything with your naked eye, so you know it’s IR light.

What can you deduce from this?

For starters, just one beam of IR light means that you have somebody in your area who is equipped with night vision. And if they’re equipped with night vision, what else might they be equipped with? It’s probably safe to assume that this person has some form of battle rifle, plate carrier, and who knows what else.

Seeing multiple beams of IR light means that you have a group of people wearing night vision moving through your area. Again, if there is a group of people with this type of technology, they are likely very well equipped. If you’ve also never noticed this amount of IR light before in your area, it’s safe to assume that you have a group of people not from the area who are moving through your area at night. Why would that be the case? Probably because they don’t have the best of intentions.

You’ll also be able to deduce that if they are using active night vision outside at night, they’re either clueless or rather brash in their assumptions of their power. You have somebody who perhaps stole those night vision sets, not knowing what the different settings on their gear mean, just knowing that they can see better with the IR beam on.

They may not even care if they’re spotted.

The other assumption we can make is that they may know that there’s a chance they could be spotted, but they really don’t care or don’t deem it to be a threat.

They’ve already taken out five houses the past five days with active night vision and have yet to find anybody who had night vision that was used against them. Night vision is rare compared to AR-15s in American households, after all. They’ve weighed the risks and believe that it’s just better for them to see better, as the chance somebody will be able to see them is minimal. And even if somebody does see them, they still think that they have the power to put an end to them quickly. If that’s the mindset, you have a group of people who have no qualms about resorting to extreme violence.

In short, if you see active night vision at night in your area, you know somebody well equipped is in the area, they don’t know much about night vision, and they may have a group of people with them that makes them feel invincible.

There’s stuff you can deduce from people just from the way they use their gear.

But, of course, it takes having your own night vision in the first place to even be able to do any of this.

If you’re currently looking for some (which I highly recommend purchasing before China invades Taiwan and makes it so that there is a severe chip shortage in the United States), Ready Made Resources, one of The Organic Prepper’s advertisers, has some in stock and offers financing to help with the sticker shock. I purchased night vision from another company almost a year ago, and month after month, they told me that my purchase was on backorder. They eventually canceled my order after about ten months of stringing me along. I got mine from Ready Made Resources in two days.

Night vision is a complete game changer. I highly recommend getting some to help you better protect your loved ones in a world gone haywire.

What do you think? What can you learn about others using your night vision equipment? Tell us in the comment section below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Aden Tate

Aden Tate

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  • An interesting discovery that we made with our night vision, is that the battery powered remote control for the TV uses IR. I wondered at the time if that could be used to my advantage, but it is relatively light here because of all the neighbors solar lights, so I haven’t experimented. Definitely something to think about because it could be placed somewhere nearby to act as a light source and a decoy.

  • Good article Aden. If bad people are running night vision, chances are they could be running IR equipped sights on their rifle? Your passive night vision will be able to pick up their position when they activate those sight’s, even if they’re smart enough to be using passive night vision. If you’re watching closely, you can gain the advantage over their position even if they’re IR sights are intermittent. I was taught by my military buddies, don’t turn your IR sights on when trying to maintain a covert position, anyone with night vision will see you.

  • i use infrared on my rifle and like night vision its a total game changer.im thinking of night vision also in a headset.

  • I picked up a thermal unit from Bob last year, gave me a great price and as you mentioned, it was in stock. Got some Arcturus wool blankets from him recently, nice stuff.

    • By leaving your night vision in pasive mode, you can not see as well, ture, however, you will see every form of night vision in use, be warned and have adequate time to react properly.

      • Problem with my thermal is seeing thru windows, otherwise it’s awesome. saving my pennies for a white phosphorus unit to go along with.

        • Good point. IR does not transmit thru glass, plexiglass, aluminized mylar and several other common materials. Consider masking or blocking your IR signature when appropriate.

    • One drawback for thermal is you cannot see thru glass making it useless for driving at night. Positive I.D. friend or foe like I.R. tabs and beacons are useless with thermal. Thermal IS a force multiplier at detecting movement at distance. One I.R. laser can be used with a group to point out concerns, as it is less expensive to equip a group with night vision. Don’t misunderstand an overwatch with thermal is a game changer and another tool in the set.

  • hi as a retired person im tired of hearing how affordable 3-4-5-6000 dollar night vision is …so how about this if any of you folks out there that spend your pocket change on these oh so affordable devices why dont you just send me one of your older ones and then go out and get the latest and greatest one their is with another pocket full of change …thanks

    • Yep. I’m in the same boat Brother Ray. Same goes for when they tell us
      we’re nuts to buy anything less than $2000-$3000 high end AR, and all the economy models are junk.
      I’ve had my economy model for 10 years, and it’s never failed to fire.
      I’m happy for those that can afford the newest shiniest toys, but the reality is many of us are hanging on by the skin of our teeth.

    • Insurgency training manuals online show how to make improvised night vision equipment from old digital cameras.
      If you don’t want to risk going on an alphabets watch list by looking at them, let me quickly outline a simple one.
      Find an old digital camera with an old CCD sensor. It will be sensitive to IR, unlike most modern cameras which have an inbuilt IR absorbing filter stuck to the CMOS sensor.
      Then simply fit a deep red photo filter (or an IR transmitting filter if you can find one) over the camera lens and presto, an IR night vision camera you now have.
      You will of course need a powerful IR light but it’s cheap and works.
      Better still, some compact cameras can also be mounted to a rifle scope giving you an improvised IR gun sight.
      Freedom fighters the world over use these cheap force multipliers to good effect.
      You will have to be in active and therefore visible mode most of the time, but you can also use the set up to locate other active IR emission sources.
      Just an idea to get you started………
      Probably get a nock at my door from an Alphabet for talking about insurgency manuals and improved IR gun sights now, lol………

  • Would love to have some NODS, Unfortunately, even the first generation NV is way outside my income. Financing? Been turned down too many times to waste the effort. When your incomes nearly at the poverty level, rejection is all you get for your effort.
    Not complaining, just pointing out a reality.

  • If you have active ir night vision carry a secondary ir light source! With a remote on off switch! Black out the nv’s ir light! Then use the secondary as a decoy to draw “Fire” and to over expose the enemy’s NV then use their gun flash for reference!

  • passive night vision can see other passive night vision. The fear of IR being picked up by “real” night vision is nonsense because they will see you anyway regardless. But it makes a great story to justify buying 4k optics

  • Making Assumptions is a fools errand.
    Never assume anything. Both scenarios he mentions are but a few of many possible ones. It could just be a group moving fast through unknown territory that is worried about walking into an armed stand off with local defenders.
    Or they could be reserve Leo’s that are poorly trained in using night vision or do not care if they are “seen” as they are the Law. So don’t assume that they have a bad intent or are bad guys.
    I can’t begin to number the former military and LEO’s and a lot of Current LEO’s that are poorly trained or have forgot most of their imitial training. Add to that, the stress of not having their usual communication and backup available, lots of unfriendlies, etc and you will probably see lots of messed up stuff.

    Once the grid goes down or SHTF, all assumptions should be set to off mode.
    Assuming will get you killed.

  • Something I learned providing medical care for JFK Special Warfare Center.

    High end night vision is nice but has serious limits. I cannot tell you how many troops (including instructors) I’ve treated for injuries walking through the bushes using night vision.

    Poor range of vision, inability to see low tanglefoot issues (many falls here).

    I like having the cheap passive stuff so I can look for active night vision. Thermal sights are really great. Ghillie suits don’t help.

    • Michael,
      While I was in, we had IIRC 2ndgen NVG, passive.
      Were they cool, yes. But they did have their limitations.
      As I understand it, the newer ones are much better.
      But I dont have a few thousands of dollars lying around to spare.

  • An IR emitter on your NVG or rifle scope is an easy to see target in the middle of your face to somebody else with NVG. If you have that kind of money to spend on gear, consider thermal instead. It uses no emitter because that’s not how it works. It also works in the daytime if you want to scan heavy brush or trees.

    I also keep UV flashlights for moving around at night because IR can’t see UV and the purple light is not easily seen by the naked eye at distance either.

  • I just discovered that my iphone camera can see IR. You can experiment with your TV remote, which uses IR to talk to your TV. So, maybe as a monitoring device you can scan an area for IR using the phone camera. Not as useful as NVD, but could be a cheaper work around on fire watch.

  • If you look at the videos taken at night of illegal immigrants crossing the border, you will see that they are all clearly defined bright white figures against the dark. Thank you laundry detergent with brighteners and whiteners. Whiter than white? Yup.

    Before you get dressed to go out at night, take a look at your own clothes with both active and passive night vision. Oops.

  • I would get one. Last time I checked they were very expensive, however. I could buy a lot of other stuff that might compensate, though I’d still want one.

  • Closer to home , a more helpful scenario is simply to purchase cameras that can see or scan your property at night. I’m not going to be roaming the neighborhood at night looking for trouble. However, I do realize that just about anyone coming to harm, kill, or rob me will probably do so at night. That applies now, and much more so after SHTF.

    One of my favorite devices is a Pan, Tilt, Zoom (PTZ) camera with the ability to see out to 1,000 ft at night. Plus it can sweep my entire 5 acre property and I have a 25:1 optical zoom to look at 2 or 4 legged varmints that enter my domain.

    On top of that, these small “bullet” type of cameras are quite useful to mount at places like your gate, front/back door, garage, food supplies, storage sheds, and so on. The bullet cameras replace the need for expensive intrusion & motion detection gear, as they can do all of the intrusion, motion, and boundary observation functions optically. Plus they can alert you in real time if you desire.

    I round out my personal defense with a small hand held & scope mountable color night vision unit that I use when I need to go out and patrol the perimeter.

    I too live on a fixed income, so I just add cameras & gear as I can afford it. For the past several years I’ve added a PTZ camera each year, along with 1-2 bullet cameras. Which of course do have a finite life span and will need replacing once in a while. And, I’ve learned to build a network system!

    The Cost? Not too bad! The Sunba PTZ camera is under $500 (on Amazon), and most of the bullet cameras are under $100. Maybe since I bought my last Archer or Lorex cameras, the price has crept up to as high as $140 for a quality unit. All of my cameras feed into a Digital Video Recorder with playback, which run about $300 for a really good one.

    The point is that Home Defense is a very big priority for me, so every year I add a camera or two, and whatever else I can afford – living on Social Security. My friends and neighbors saw the value of this type of affordable surveillance, so they too have been purchasing similar gear over the past 3 years. Heck, some of them are even starting to purchase the $30 GMRS Radios, so we can connect with or without cell phone.

    It can be an enjoyable hobby that is a perfect lead-in to neighborhood watch type of networking, which adds great value to our home defense, as well as peace of mind.

    Ok, last year I finally scraped up enough to buy the Sionyx Aurora color night vision scope. It is a delightful little toy and a nice fit to my personal defense. Lots of features (including recording and location), and it is shock tested so you can mount it on a rifle. Mind looks good mounted on a crossbow. It is about $640 on Amazon.

    All of these items together are still cheaper than a single PVS-14. Which I would probably own if I was “The Bad Guy” patrolling other neighborhoods. For home defense, you can put together a rather nice system for about a hundred bucks at a time. Within a year or two you’ll be inspired by and confident in what you can assemble.

    • You are describing exactly what I’ve been looking for, but my security company doesn’t carry anything like that. Where, oh where do you find them or a company knowledgeable about them?

  • I own a PVS-14 helmet mounted along with a suppressed .300 Whisper/Blackout. I have often wondered during SHTF how I would react if someone perhaps from behind, shined a powerful flashlight effectively blinding me. Would I be forced to shoot not knowing exactly who the target is? What if it is some stupid hapless neighbor?

    I hope I am not forced to make these kind of decisions, but it’s something to consider.

  • I have a couple old camcorders with near IR capabilities; hook ‘em up to a teevee and you’re golden With a few IR lanterns in the trees I could illuminate end monitor an Avenue of approach while simultaneously blinding the night vision of approaching units.

  • For everyone that thinks they are in poverty and cannot afford to survive.

    If you are at poverty level then you only have one choice.

    Change your income.

    Invent a domain. BemusedBerserkerSurvival.com ??????

    Install WordPress.

    Pick a niche. Food. Equipment. Night vision. Clothing. Shelter. Books. T-Shirts, Knives, Survival Fishing, Survival Booze, Survival vehicles, Survival Women, Survival Dogs, etc , etc


    If you can’t become an expert then FIND AN EXPERT and let them talk.

    Then write about them.

    Show them. Test them. Piss and Moan about them.

    Visit gun shows and interview vendors or the people visiting them.

    Make a Youtube channel of podcasts and rant and rave about things.
    Make a twitch channel and live stream every night and rant and rave about things.

    Create CONTENT.
    Put affiliate ads on your website

    Get a sales tax license and become a dealer and sell at gun shows and your website.

    Next you will tell me you can’t download 50 survival books from PDFDrive.com or using TOR, Z-lib.org?

    Then you will tell me that you can’t buy a life time subscription to one of those A.I. Writers on Appsumo.com and have the AI write a few hundreds of pages of those survival books and create your own book that you are the author of? And that you can’t become an expert?

    And that you can’t publish that book on Ingram lightning Source for sale on Amazon as well as buying wholesale copies to sell yourself? And you can’t set the discount to “short discount – 20%” rather than the normal discount that everyone else allows so the Amazon pirates get 40%

    And what about those Bemused Berserker T-Shirts that you start selling on Spread Shirt or Zazzle or Etsy?

    And what about learning marketing at BlackHatWorld.com so you can generate traffic to your site.

    You are telling me you can’t make a few dollars doing that and pay for your night vision, Barrett Light 50, truck, cabin in the woods, new dress for your wife and a new hunting dog?

    Gimmee a very large break.

    Of course YOU CAN!

    If everyone that read this website did exactly what I just said, THEY WOULD ALL BECOME SUCCESSFUL. They would not even “dent” the existing number of businesses. The pie is big enough for EVERYONE.

    Remember, the rubes are clueless. Help them out.

    • Dave, when your receiving Social Security Disability, you’re very limited on extra income. Everything you do has to be non reportable, and untraceable by the Guv’mint, so a sales tax license is a no go.
      We weren’t doing bad until my wife lost her job at the beginning of the Pandemic. At 60, she’s had no success finding work (age discrimination does indeed occur). Since her benefits ran out, we’re really struggling.
      I’ve some specialized skills working with, repairing and maintaining very high voltage power sources, unfortunately, I’m incapable of the physical requirements of that job anymore. Those that might use me to troubleshoot a problem do not hire cash only sub-contractors.
      Please believe me, I’m not bellyaching. “It is what it is” has been a mantra my entire life. I am now in the early stages of Renal Failure, to the point, they’ve begun to talk dialysis. Because of Cardiac issues, I’m a poor candidate for a transplant. Frankly, I’m ready to give up and accept the inevitable. My family doesn’t need my medical bills on their plate.
      Sorry to mention my problems on the site. I’ll send Daisy a request to delete my comments.

  • Night vision can be expensive. But I bought binoculars that happens to come with a camera and video, but it was under $200. And it works like a dream. If you go to Best Buy as an example and search for hunting night vision, you’ll find options that may be in your price range. Mine has a bunch of different lighting options and it works like binoculars but has a screen so that you don’t hold it to your face, but scan around looking at the screen for “wildlife” in the night.
    I thought I’d leave the tip for those who might not know about this. As prepped as most everyone here is, it may not be a surprise. But if I can help be mentioning it, I can only hope it will help at least one person. God bless.

  • I’m finding the comments more informative than the article, but without the article there would be no comments.
    Definitely worth the read it in it’s entirety.

  • I would like to apologize to everyone for bringing my personal financial problems into this discussion. That was inappropriate on my part, and I would ask Daisy to please delete my comments if possible.
    I promise to refrain from posting such in the future.

    • You are not alone. The plan is to make those that will be left alive do so in poverty. There are many thing we can do to increase our odds, Night vision is one.

    • BB, I hope Daisy doesn’t delete your posts. There is a wealth of value in true, hard facts. I would venture to guess that perhaps it feels vulnerable to state said facts and I don’t know if part of your motivation for requesting your posts be deleted is due to that. All of us could share experiences (and some have), whether current or in the past that cause others to stop for a moment and ponder a variety of things that are critically important. Many of us have been there or might be there some day and I personally gain a deeper depth of understanding by observing and listening to what you, and many others share. So, thank you for sharing your experience. You are one of a few posters that I make sure to read because there are often hidden gems I take away from your unique perspective. Anyway, FWIW, and from someone who rarely posts, those are my thoughts.

    • I can if you want me to, but you brought up some real issues that so many people are dealing with. I think it’s entirely appropriate because a lot of us are in your position. Let me know your decision but I urge you to leave the post for others. For every post that people agree with or argue with, there are a thousand other people nodding quietly in the background because they can relate.

    • No need to apologize! We are all human beings trying to find a way to survive this insanity. I’m in a similar situation with health and wealth deficiencies. God bless you and yours! This site provides a wonderful space for all of us to help, educate, and encourage each other. I have appreciated your and others’ comments here for the last year or so, but I rarely comment. You bring heart and soul, wisdom and knowledge to this group. We must all support one another!

  • Cameras also see infrared. If you have cameras installed on your house, and you still can power them, they work as well as night vision

  • I use high resolution cameras with IR capability to maintain surveillance on my home and property. You can clip the active IR modules so they don’t fire but the camera will still react to other sources of IR and show them on the monitor.
    I think that it would be fairly simply to modify an IR camera to use as a field scan unit and with the high resolutions available for under $100 that also include zoom capabilities, there are other choices for imaging that don’t cost thousands.
    Of course, one could always go out hunting and return with a high dollar thermal or IR device for the price of one .308 bullet.

  • and the weak point as always….batteries. Battery technology? At a minimum better be Lithium. BTW you can never have enough batteries for all these “force multipliers” we hang off our rifles (when I was in) PEC-15, Flash light, Thermal, etc. Way too many what if scenarios. I have used all of them on raids, house clearing etc. I carried a buttload of extra batteries. Which is great when you can re-charge them easily or just grab them from your unit. Which BTW is non existent when it comes down.

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