You too can go hands on with the latest gear for free with AR15.com!

Thermal Rifle Scope ComparisonNo doubt – having a thermal scope or traditional night vision (NV) makes night hunting better. One of the biggest challenges is picking the best one for your needs and budget. Getting the chance to try out various pieces of gear side by side might not happen every day, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. All you need are some great people, a pile of gear, and the cover of darkness. Who better to create the draw than the largest online gun community in the world AR15.com?

AR15.com invited interested people to get some hands on experience with much of the latest and greatest in NV and thermal. This event took place on the border of Dallas and Rockwall, Texas on May 23rd. That’s as good as place as any, and since Dallas/Fort Worth has AR15.com readers who are in the night vision industry, it was no surprise that a few showed up. 

I arrived at the official kickoff about 7:30 that evening as the sun was working its way down the horizon. With only short notice, 20 – 30 people made it out to see the gear, meet new friends and have a blast. 

On hand were reps from some of the manufacturers and retailers, and Ed Avila, the founder of AR15.com. Ed is a newly minted Texan, leaving New York for the gun and business friendly Texas environment. If you had a question, chances are someone there had a good answer. By the way, welcome to Texas AR15.com!

ARFCOM Night Vision EventLocal vendor Tyler Adair from Ultimate Night Vision brought a variety pack of Thermal gear. Mounted to a single tripod were five different thermal scopes. Two from ATN, two from FLIR and one from Armasight. Some attendees brought their own equipment. Night vision monoculars were passed around, and I mounted one of the ATN NVM14s to my camera to get the NV pictures you see here. Need more infrared? IR illuminators were on hand too. James Sellers, President of Dallas area based Sellmark, came representing Pulsar, Sightmark and others was on hand. James invited me to come take a tour of the Sellmark HQ, so I’m looking forward to doing that and reporting back to you in the near future. Sachal Baig with ATN flew all the way in from California. Sachal is always a great person to have on hand. He knows his product (and some others too) and is a great communicator. He also loves educating people on thermal and NV. Perhaps we’ll do a hunt in California and go see the ATN headquarters while we’re out there.

Good gear isn’t cheap, but like a lot of other technologies, it costs a lot less than it used to. Just two years ago I was using a thermal scope that retailed for over $15,000 that is comparable to something that costs a third of that today. 

Ultimate Night Vision AR15.com EventLooking at the thermal scopes side by side was fantastic. Each unit had its benefits and each has room for improvement. There are so many variables to compare – sensor size and resolution, lenses, fit and finish, button layout, menu style and depth, and much more. Which one’s the best for you? No surprise, it depends on what your priorities are.

One word of warning as you look at the thermal pics here. They are taken with an iPhone, so there is no way to guarantee that the camera settings were the same for each shot. So take what you see here with a small grain of salt.

Cool gear is a good enough excuse for enthusiasts to get together, but it seems you always leave with new friends. At an event like this, people from a wide variety of backgrounds attend. It’s always good to hear the hunting stories, talk politics and discuss the gear on hand.

AR15.com EventCouldn’t make it, or didn’t know about it? Here’s some good news: This wasn’t the last chance you’ll ever have to see all this gear together in one place. In talking with Ed of Ar15.com, I learned that this meet up is only the beginning. Ed is creating a venue in Canton, Texas east of Dallas to showcase more gear you’ll be able to try. During the First Monday Trade Days which takes place the three days prior to the first monday each month, while others are shopping for knick-knacks and artsy items, you can enjoy being indoors with the cool guy gear. We’re talking about a large air-conditioned facility for you to come in out of the heat and take a breather. But if you aren’t an AR15.com member, you may want to join up before you head out to Canton. More on that as details become available.

Now is the time to mark your calendars for the next event – the July 4 weekend. Head to Canton to get some first hand experience with gear you might like to try and like minded people you might want to know. Stay tuned to the SHWAT™ social media channels and www.AR15.com for updates. Don’t live around Texas? Rumor has this this show may go on the road… Like, Follow, Subscribe and you’ll be in the know.

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