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Optical System Technology’s AN/PVS-22 Universal Night Sight

Written by Charlie Cutshaw

The AN/PVS-22 Universal Night Sight™ (UNS) is one of the most significant recent developments in night vision technology and although it is widely employed by US Special Operations Forces, it is not widely known in law enforcement circles. The UNS is one of those rare technological advances that can change the way we do our business.

Although this may sound like advertising copy, the AN/PVS-22 must be used to be believed. The current state of the night vision art is generally considered to be the AN/PVS-14, but the UNS is so superior by comparison, it makes the PVS-14 look almost like the 1st Generation night vision we had in Vietnam.

The AN/PVS-22 image in almost total darkness is amazingly clear with absolutely no “sparkles,” “blooming,” or anything else to distract the shooter or viewer. The AN/PVS-22 UNS is described by the manufacturer as Gen 3+, but we have used Gen 3 night vision like the PVS-14 and the PVS-22 is superior in every way. It is about as close to Gen 4 as possible given current technology.

In addition to the superb image quality, the AN/PVS-22 is set apart by the way in which it mounts—ahead of the day optic, so unlike the AN/PVS-14 and other night vision devices that clamp to the day optic’s ocular (rear) via an adapter, eye relief is no longer an issue. These rear mounted night vision devices also require an illuminated reticle, normally infrared (IR). Since the UNS mounts in front of the optical sight, the day optic’s reticle can be used without illumination.

Looking through the day optic with the UNS in place is like daylight, except that the crystal clear image is monotone with a green tint. The day optic’s reticle and the rifle’s zero are unaffected. The UNS is only slightly larger and heavier than a PVS-14. The UNS can also be used as a handheld night vision optic or it can be attached to a spotting scope.

About the only down side to the AN/PVS-22 is that is requires an extended MIL-STD-1913 rail to mount ahead of the day optic. A typical mount is shown in the accompanying photos that show several rifles and carbines with an AN/PVS-22 mounted, including an H-S Precision FBI Rifle with the FBI specified McCann mount that not only allows mounting the AN/PVS-22, but other accessories as well.

The AN/PVS-22 mounted on rifles and carbines for just about any purpose from CQB to long range precision shooting. This is the reason for the term “Universal Night Sight” – the AN/PVS-22 can be used on just about any rifle or carbine as long as there is a MIL-STD-1913 rail on which to mount it. Our test UNS came with an ARMS quick detach (QD) mount installed, so the sight can be transferred from one rifle to another or instantly removed for use as a handheld night vision optic.

We have used the PVS-22 on several different rifles and carbines and have yet to find one on which the sight does not fit. As long as there is space for the sight to be emplaced ahead of the day optic, it will work. Distance from the day optic objective is not a major issue and the AN/PVS-22 can be mounted slightly off axis and still be effective. Day scope parallax is unaffected. Boresight repeatability is within 0.5 MOA.

In starlight, a man can be recognized as such at 500 meters and at 650 meters in a quarter moon. Facial recognition is 105 meters in starlight and 140 meters in a quarter moon. Gain is fully adjustable to accommodate virtually any conditions. The AN/PVS-22 is submersible to 66 feet for two hours duration, per military specification.

The AN/PVS-22 can be used with any day optic such as EOTech Holographic Weapon Sights, Horus Vision Talon 1-4x optics, Leupold 1-3x CQB sights or any telescopic sight as long as the UNS can be mounted ahead of the day optic. There are no special adapters required.

So what is the down side to the AN/PVS-22? This device is expensive! At approximately $9500 per unit, it is not for everyone, nor is it intended to be. Because it represents current state of the night vision art, sales of the AN/PVS-22 are restricted to military and law enforcement organizations, although individual officers can purchase a unit on department letterhead. Overseas sales of the AN/PVS-22 are highly regulated by the State Department.

Charlie Cutshaw is a small arms, ammunition and infantry weapons editor for Jane’s Defense Information. He served as an Army infantry, ammunition and intelligence officer prior to retiring in 1996. His military assignments included a tour of duty in Vietnam as an advisor. He currently lives in Alabama, where he is a full-time writer and reserve officer. He may be reached at CQCutshaw@aol.com. Photos by Chris Rohling.

Published in Law and Order, Jan 2006

Rating : 5.5


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