It’s amazing to me just how affordable high-quality night vision devices have become. Seriously, you can now buy the latest Generation 1 night vision devices with 5 times the power magnification of original Gen 1 devices—and for less than $200!
That would have been unheard of even a year ago. One such device is the Night Owl 5X NOXM50 Monocular. It’s so good for the price that I’ve labeled it the best Night Owl night vision monocular for those wanting affordable, high-quality optical viewing after dark.
The optics make it clear.
The Night Owl 5X NOXM50 Monocular comes with amazingly clear, high-quality all-glass optics. Now, you may be asking: “What’s so great about that?” Well, I’m about to tell you. Older and less sophisticated Gen 1 night vision devices use impact resistant plastic lenses as opposed to glass.
There was a purpose for this at one time. Gen 1 devices were originally used in the jungles of Vietnam by American forces and needed to be rugged.
But the everyday consumer wanting to use their night vision monocular around the house, in the car and boat, or on camping trips and night outings, can focus more on getting the clearest vision for their buck rather than impact resistant lenses. Still, this is a rugged monocular.
All-glass optics provide superior clarity over plastic optics, especially with regard to light amplification. Plastic lenses suppress some of the light amplification needed for clear night vision, but all-glass optics do not. This allows for the best image clarity and quality. And with the NOXM50’s ability to magnify light up to 500 times, why wouldn’t you prefer all-glass optics?
And the glass ocular lens (eyepiece) is adjustable to your eyesight, important as each of us sees differently. At the other end of this monocular is a glass 50 mm manually adjusted objective lens that swallows up available light, maximizing the NOXM50’s capabilities.
The Night Owl NOXM50 Monocular is capable of magnifying images up to 5 times their size, making for better resolution and more accurate identification of smaller and distant targets. And it does this without adding weight.
You might be thinking that magnification usually affects resolution negatively, not positively like the NOXM50 claims to do. Once again, we come back to the all-glass optics. No picture resolution is lost during amplification, so when magnified, you see crisp clear detail, not shadowy dark spots common to some other Gen 1 night vision devices.
Speaking of resolution, the NOXM50 has an amazing 35 line-pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) resolution. And before anybody writes me screaming that they can get 150 lp/mm out of a black and white photograph, hear me out. Most people are unaware that the human eye can only resolve 5 to 10 lp/mm; so although the 35 lp/mm may be low in comparison to that 150 lp/mm B & W photograph, it’s still about as sharp and crisp as you will ever see in a night vision device.
Now you’re probably wondering why they even bother to get the line-pairs per millimeter above 10 if the eye can’t resolve any higher. Here’s why.
When the image is magnified and the lp/mm is low, distortion becomes an issue. So, assuming the average eye can resolve 7 lp/mm (average between 5-10 lp/mm), if you magnify the image 5 times, as is possible with the NOXM50 night vision monocular, you will still have crisp clear clarity because it has a lp/mm of 35. But any more magnification could bring distortion of the image.
The Night Owl 5X NOXM50 Monocular utilizes a high-quality Gen 1 image intensifier tube. Without getting into too much technical detail, the intensifier tube is where all the magic happens. It’s where photons are converted to light energy. The downside to Gen 1 intensifier tube technology is that it requires some ambient light to work, like moonlight for instance.
But Night Owl’s NOXM50 solves that problem by using a built-in infrared illuminator. Again, I’ll spare you the technical minutia. Just know that the infrared illuminator allows you to use the NOXM50 in complete darkness or to improve target recognition in any environment. That in and of itself sets this monocular apart from many others.
And did I say it was durable?
According to the manufacturer, this Night Owl monocular is the most durable in Night Owl’s product line. It comes with a soft-touch rubberized finish and an impact-resistant molded thermoplastic lens housing to protect the 50 mm objective lens. It’s also lightweight and very ergonomic, making it comfortable to hold.
But no night vision device is perfect.
A couple of things need to be considered when purchasing this night vision monocular. If you are thinking of using this device for tactical operations, it may not be the best choice, as it does not have an eyecup, allowing light to escape and making you viewable to others with night vision devices. If you were concealed however, then this would not be a problem.
The 50 mm lens has a bit of fish-eye to it to give it a wider angle of vision, but with that comes some edge distortion.
This monocular uses only one CR123 lithium battery, but must be purchased separately.
And as there is with other night vision devices, there are restrictions on the sale of this device.
In California, for instance, it is a misdemeanor to possess a device “designed for or adaptable to use on a firearm which, through the use of a projected infrared light source and electronic telescope, enables the operator thereof to visually determine and locate the presence of objects during the nighttime.” (California Penal Code 468)
In addition, this product cannot be shipped to D.C.; MA; Canada or Puerto Rico. In fact, Amazon states that shipping is restricted to inside the United States only.
What’s in the box?
- Battery NOT included
What are others saying about it?
Are you like me? Before I lay out my hard earned cash, I want to know what other people who actually have used the device have to say about it. The good, the bad and the nasty.
Well the first thing I noticed is that 90% of people rated this night vision device with top marks. And these reviews were written by people ranging from professional law-enforcement personnel, to rural area folk needing to stalk critters. There was one memorable review from a lady who was happy because she finally found the right gift for her “…man who has it all,” husband.
The biggest gripe was about the manual focus being a pain, and then there were concerns about the apparent power drain once the unit was switched off. Well the first is explained as inherent with most any optical device be it monocular, binocular or telescope. The second is due to the charge being stored by internal capacitors and in fact not drawing power from the battery at all.
Where can I get the best deal?
I like the convenience of shopping on the internet. I find that most times I can get great pricing plus a few other benefits thrown into the deal. Like free shipping and having the item sent directly to another address if it’s a gift.
The first place I always check is Amazon. Almost everyone I know has used Amazon before. Their iron-clad security and return policy satisfies even an old cynic like me.