Prepping & Survival

Best Experienced Owner’s Review! (2023)

Buying any quality Night Vision Device (NVD) can be nerve-wracking. After all, not everyone has an extra $7000 lying around to purchase a quality piece of kit such as the ATN PS31s. So, in this review, I will do my best to relay my experience with the set of ATN PS31-3s I purchased over a year ago.

With that, it’s essential to know that this isn’t my first foray into the world of night vision. I spent years in Ranger Battalion with a set of NVGs hanging off my head. Since then, I’ve had a set night vision with me on and off in a professional and personal capacity for decades. So, with that being said, let’s dig into my review of the ATN PS31s.

Disclaimer: This ATN PS31 night vision goggles review article contains affiliate links that we may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you choose to purchase a product through a link on this page.

ATN PS31 Gen 3 Overall Opinion

The ATN PS31-3 BNVD is an excellent entry-level into the third generation of the ATN NVDs. It’s a compact, lightweight night vision goggle that replaces the older PS-15 model.

This night vision goggle offers improved resolution, reduced weight, better balance, and increased situational awareness for users. These goggles use advanced Gen 3 image intensifier tubes that adjust their brightness automatically. The pivoting tube housings allow it to be used in a binocular or monocular configuration—as binoculars for depth perception or as a monocular for versatility in changing lighting conditions. Plus, stowing them in a flat position against the helmet surface creates added equipment safety and durability.

I really like my ATN PS31-3s. They work well, provide excellent optical clarity, and, in my opinion, are a great entry point into the world of GEN-3 dual-tube NVGs.

ATN PS31 Googles with Box

EXCELLENT DUAL TUBE NIGHT VISION

  • Thin Film Tubes
  • Adjustable Diopter
  • Automatic Gain Control
  • Manual Focus

Features of the ATN PS31-3

The ATN PS31 has a variety of excellent features.

Thin Film Tubes

PVS31 Night Vision Goggles

Thin film tubes are a type of technology in night vision devices. They make low light, like moonlight or starlight, much brighter for users. Here’s how they work:

  1. Image Amplification: The auto-gated thin filmed tubes intensify the light to make it easier to see in the dark.
  2. Thin Film Layer: Inside the tube, there’s a thin layer that’s sensitive to light. It’s usually made of materials like gallium arsenide.
  3. Photocathode: At the front of the tube, there’s something called a photocathode. It takes in light and turns it into electrons.
  4. Electron Boost: Electrons get sped up and multiplied inside the tube. This makes the light much brighter.
  5. Phosphor Screen: After this electron boost, they hit a phosphor screen. This screen turns electrons into visible light, creating an image.
  6. Seeing in the Dark: People look at this brightened image through an eyepiece or display, allowing them to see in the dark.

Adjustable Diopter

An adjustable diopter is a valuable feature akin to what prescription glasses or contacts offer. It allows users to fine-tune the image to account for disparities in human vision. This adjustability is particularly useful as it accommodates the unique visual characteristics of each user. For instance, when I share the NVG with friends, they can easily tailor the device to match their eyesight needs, resulting in a clearer, in-focus viewing experience.

PVS31 with Carry Bag

Automatic Gain Control

The ATN PS31-3 features Automatic Gain Control (AGC), an automatic brightness control technology used in night vision devices. Auto gain capable NVDs adjust image brightness in different lighting conditions, amplifying light for clarity in darkness and reducing amplification in well-lit areas to prevent overexposure. This feature ensures users maintain visibility and image quality in varying light levels.

While AGC has advantages, some people prefer Manual Gain Control (MGC) because it allows users greater flexibility and control over their device’s performance in different lighting conditions. For instance, in extremely dark environments such as forests, users can increase the gain to maximize visibility, while in situations with more ambient light, they can lower the gain to prevent overexposure and improve image quality.

Manual Focus

Manual focus in night vision devices is a crucial feature that allows users to adjust the clarity of their vision in low-light conditions. This adjustment can be likened to sharpening a camera’s focus, but it’s for your eyes. With manual focus, users can increase system resolution and fine-tune the image to be crystal clear at specific distances, making objects appear sharp and well-defined.

Pros of the ATN PS31

In my opinion, the pros of the ATN PS31s far outweigh the cons. With that, let’s dive into the pros.

Performance and Durability

After months of use, I’m very satisfied with the ATN PV31-3 night vision goggles. They’ve endured a variety of harsh conditions, such as freezing rain, snowy blizzards, and blast-furnace deserts, and they’ve performed flawlessly. Aside from an issue with the included G24 mount, the goggles have proven reliable and durable.

Use in Very Low to No Light Conditions

I’ve put my night ATN PS 31-3 night vision goggles to the test in both rural and urban settings. In rural areas, they handle challenging conditions well, like heavy rain, no moonlight, and dense tree shadows—providing enough visibility to easily navigate without IR illumination.

Use in Moderate Ambient Light

On the other side of the equation is their use in environments with moderate ambient lighting. In rural settings, this encompasses the tiniest amount of moonlight or starlight, even if obscured by clouds, and in urban environments with artificial lights. When there is a moderate amount of ambient light present, expect the image quality to improve exponentially.

Dual Tube Goggle

ATN PS31 Night Vision Goggle Mounted on Helmet

As someone whose early days in the NVD world were spent under PVS7s in the Rangers, I’m a huge proponent of dual tubes. The independently pivoting tube housings create depth perception (something the old PVS7s lacked) or as a monocular NVD for versatility when operating in changing lighting conditions. With that, the dual tubes allow me to move around more quickly, quietly, and effectively at night, plus allow for operating devices such as control panels, buttons, knobs, equipment handles, etc—increasing operator safety and capability. In effect, dual tubes provide additional operational utility that a single-tube NVD alone isn’t capable of. Therefore, dual tubes are the way to go if your budget can afford it.

Low Battery Indicator

Having your night vision goggles turn off at a critical moment due to an exhausted power supply is a serious problem. With that, ATN enhances the overall operator situational awareness of their battery life through its low battery indicator. This indicator gives the operator plenty of warning to switch out the CR123 lithium battery or connect to the optional battery pack.

Cons of the ATN PS31

The cons of the ATN PS31-3 night vision goggles are minimal. However, considering the cost of these quality NVDs, not mentioning them would be a disservice to you, the potential buyer.

Weight

This is nit-picky, but while the ATN PS31-3 is reasonably lightweight at 1.27 pounds (23oz.), it is, however, by comparison, heavier than the smallest and lightest units, such as the much more expensive PVS31. Head-borne weight is a crucial consideration when you’re hanging goggles off the front of your face for hours on end. And, while the PVS31 is lighter, it achieves its lighter weight by removing features like the adjustable diopter. Therefore, while its weight may be a nit-picky con when compared to the pricey PVS31, it’s a great trade-off considering the features involved.

G24 Mount ATN PS31

Problems with the Included G24 Mount

Let’s talk about the supposed G24 mount included with the goggles. I’ll start by stating that the initial G24-style mount that came with my ATN PS31 NVD didn’t work. The mount wouldn’t lock the NVDs in, which allowed them to slip off the month. Obviously, this is a problem. Fortunately, though, ATN customer service was on the spot and sent me a replacement free of charge. And, while the replacement mount works pretty well, it’s still not on par with a genuine Wilcox G24 mount, which retails at over $500. My plan is to upgrade to the Wilcox as soon as it is within my budget.

The Bottom Line on the ATN PS31-3

ATN PS31 Googles Mounted to Helmet

A GREAT ENTRY INTO DUAL TUBE NIGHT VISION

The ATN PVS31 is an excellent entry for anyone looking to get into the dual tube night vision game at a reasonable night vision price.

I’m very happy with the performance per dollar of the PS31-3. In my opinion, this is a quality unit that is an affordable way to get into the GEN3 dual tube game. Whether it’s simply to set walking through the woods at night or for more of an operational role of employing your weapon-mounted optics, the ATN PVS31-3 is a game changer and well worth the price. Ultimately, I believe that dollar for dollar, the ATN PS31 may be the best night vision goggles on the market.

Stay safe!

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