If you hunt with night vision or are considering it, then you will inevitably find yourself looking into how to mount your choice of gear to your head. In that process, you will also inevitably come across the Wilcox line of night vision goggle (NVG) mounts. Wilcox makes some of the best mounts money can buy. One of the most common questions about these and some other mounts is “Why would I pay that much for a simple mount?”
The answer, however, is not a simple one. I saw one video on YouTube suggesting that you should buy an expensive mount because you spent a lot on your night vision (NV). You may have already guessed that the video was made by a night vision retailer. There is some truth in that statement but it leaves you in the dark, wondering if there is any real value or if they just want you to spend more.
If you are new to night vision and the extensive selection of gear that goes along with it, you may be in for a surprise. The night vision gear market is similar to the AR-15 market. If you walk into a gun store and say “I want to buy an AR-15”, the sales person should follow that with a long list of questions to identify the best configuration to fit your needs. This is no such thing as a one size fits all AR-15. There are too many configurations available for the AR platform. Once you decide on the gun, you will then need to choose all the accessories that go along with it such as iron sites, optics, magazines, etc. The process of choosing night vision is the same.
Let’s say you choose the popular PVS-14 monocular. It’s a highly versatile and useful choice. Now you have to choose a helmet, shroud, mount, arm, counter weight, weapon mount, filters, adapters, and on and on. There is a real temptation to start looking for ways to cut corners to save money because the price adds up fast, even becoming prohibitive for some.
There are ways to save and still have a quality setup. Cut the wrong corner and you could end up damaging or losing the most expensive part. Start by going with a brand that has proven to be tough and reliable. If it is used by the US military, it is likely sufficient in this regard. Buy it from a reputable source. You don’t want to end up with stolen military property.
Take Wilcox Industries mounts as an example. Wilcox has a variety of NVG mounts for a variety of needs. These mounts range in price from about $250 to more than $1,000. They are all quality products. Some of the higher end models are made for specific applications. If you don’t have a requirement that dictates a purchase of a specific model, then you have some options to save money or get one that fully meets your individual needs including fitment to your head and helmet.
I have a Wilcox L4 G24 NVG mount, so I’ll illustrate with it. Right out of the box, you can tell it is built solidly and with precision. The manufacturing tolerances are tight. Simply handling the mount itself makes this apparent. All the adjustments, of which there are many, are tight and positive. When buttons click into place, they do so solidly. There is no looseness or play. Knobs and levers are also without play. If something gets a little loose over time, there are set screws and tension adjustments to resolve the issue.
When it comes to adjustability, the Wilcox L4 G24 is top tier. Combined with the Wilcox AN/PVS-14 arm, commonly referred to as a J-arm, there are no less then 12 directions you can adjust how a PVS-14 style NV unit sits on your helmet.
Why does all this matter? I’ve used other mounts that lack the precision, build quality, and customizable fit of Wilcox. The result? Frustration.
Imagine walking through the darkness on a hunt or just a night-time hike wearing your expensive night vision unit and it is rattling in your ears and making enough noise to send wildlife fleeing. To top it off, you are having a hard time seeing, or worse, feeling queasy in the gut because the NV tube is shifting up and down and side to side as you walk. Or you can only see through two thirds of the lens because of a lack of adjustment. I have experienced all these challenges with lower quality mounts. With our Wilcox setup on Team Wendy helmets and using an ATN MVN-14 or an Ident Marking PVS-14, the frustrations are gone. It is a rock solid piece of kit.
Another function of the G24 is the breakaway ability and corresponding lockout. You can set the mount to break away from the helmet under stress. This reduces the chances of neck injury and damage to the NV device. You should, of course, use a tether if you choose to take advantage of this feature. At first I didn’t think that having the breakaway feature would matter to most hunters. Then I thought about all the situations where it could save my neck. One of the most popular modes of transportation for hunters is the ATV. Hit some foliage with your NV and it may get tangled, pulling you off the ATV by your head. A crash could have similar results. Getting in and out of a car or truck with NV in the up or down position frequently leads to hitting the NV gear on doors, truck roofs etc, especially for the inexperienced. If you don’t want to use the breakaway function, simply slide the mount release lever to the lock out position.
Heads and eyes are different for every person. Having all these adjustments and functionality means you can get the most from your night vision unit and potentially save yourself some money in the long term. It does come at a price up front. The L4 G24 has an MSRP of $487.29. The value is definitely there. If you are in a position to spend the money, it is well worth it in my opinion. Wilcox does make some lower cost mounts for popular NVGs like the PVS-14. The good news is that they are all great mounts. You won’t sacrifice quality by getting a Wilcox mount with a bit less on the customizable fitment.
As a last note, here’s a word to the wise. Be careful where you buy NVG mounts. I’ve seen mounts on eBay and other online sites that in pictures look just like Wilcox mounts, but cost less. Some even have all the same markings including the Wilcox logo, model numbers, cage numbers, etc. Like most other things, if the price is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake. These are usually not genuine Wilcox products; they are made in China and are designed for airsoft or decoration. They stand a good chance of failing when put to use. I once was given a LaRue mount that was a fake. It failed. You don’t want to go there. Others are genuine but have been stolen from the US military inventory. Let’s not participate in stealing from those who protect us. Besides, there’s no sense in the government wasting more money replacing what you’ve already paid for with your tax dollars.