Guns and Gear

See At Night, Win The Night

Guns and Gear Contributor
Font Size:

By Cork Graham

As we’ve learned war after war, law enforcement response after law enforcement’s response, those who effectively maneuver in the dark win the night. As with any operator put in extreme danger at night, for the common citizen practicing self and home defense, being able to see in the dark is just as important. So many options for the public nowadays, even sans the physical side-effects of prior evolution of gear: night vision or thermal? 

When I first used these types of devices, it was 3rd generation night vision optics that often left those of us fighting communism in the mid-1980s with headaches and having to switch out with a combat buddy after 30 to 45 minutes as we navigated through the jungles, mangrove swamps, coffee and banana plantations, and lush corn farms of Central America.  

Later I used them while acting as team leader on Discovery Channel’s fake-umentary Treasure Quest Snake Island. Ironically, I had to use my method acting skills, because the thermal scope we had on the show never worked, and so had to recall my experiences of using NVDs and thermal in order to deliver in the scenes, which was later corrected with addendum thermal images in post-production a la Hollywood reality TV. 

Many might think that all this technology applies only to the military and law enforcement market, but just a few nights ago I was reminded of how useful such equipment can be for the average citizen, either in an urban or suburban environment, or rural, as I live. When my American Brittany goes out for his evening patrol of the house and barks, I come running with rifle big enough to deal with the black bears and much bigger Alaska coastal brown bears that cross the property. 

Nowadays I also bring a Pulsar Core FXQ50 thermal attachment, which serves as a monocular thermal scope and an add-on attachment to a rifle scope. Sent to me by Clifford Cheadle at Third Coast Thermal in Katy, Texas I’ve been conducting trial and evaluations for the last year. I’ve also seen wild boar lit up against the darkness due to their body temperature while hunting with it mounted on a 6.5 Creedmoor AR10 built by Hunter Rifle Works of Houston, Texas. 

Preparing to deal with what I thought was a bear a few nights ago, it became clear in my scope that I what had stirred my dog’s barking was a moose feeding in the dark, feeding on the tips of an Alaska elderberry bush in the front yard. For someone living in the city, or the burbs, it could have been a cat, or racoon, that might have a jumped the fence, or something much more ominous, especially as the economy drives more individuals to crime. 

So, which to use: night vision, or thermal? One will only serve you in the night, the other will help day and night. Night vision is exactly that: you will be able to see the environment as you would in the day, using incidental light, or infraredThermal enables position recognition of a subject. 

For most civilians, I’d recommend the thermal. For hunting situations it’s clear whether something is a deer or wild pig, a bear, a moose, a wolf. Whatever your hunting target or animal threat is, it’s easy to discern with thermal. 

If you’re using it to in a more urban environment, thermal is also good for picking out someone hiding in the bushes, or immobile in the dark or hidden in brush during the day. It’s all about picking up the body heat in contrast to the surrounding environment. 

NVDs, on the other hand, enable facial recognition, which in the world of special operations and law enforcement is of upmost importance. 

For more information, contact Clifford Cheadle at 

Author and TV/Film actor Cork Graham’s first arrived at literary acclaim in 2004 with his internationally reported story of intrigue in his 2004 bestselling Vietnam prison memoir The Bamboo Chest: An Adventure In Healing The Trauma Of War. His latest is a whistleblower memoir about the dark side of the reality TV industry, titled So You  Want To Be A Reality TV Star: Everything I learned About Sex, Drugs, Fraud, Rock And Roll, And Vipers…As Team Leader Of Discovery Channel’s Treasure Quest Snake Island.

Catch his YouTube Channel/Podcast and news at www.corkgraham.comClick here to follow Cork on Facebook.