When working in the police marksman world a decade ago, night vision came up on a number of occasions. I did not see it as an often-useful tool; an interesting option perhaps, but not a necessity. The devices back then were large, expensive, and difficult to get. The only local agencies fielding them had units picked up via government surplus, and they were huge. They were hard to set up, caused a significant change in point of impact, and were just impractical for most purposes. A marksman either had to set it up after deployment when needed, or take it down if they found that once in place, there was too much light. It was not uncommon for agencies to have dedicated “night optic” rifles that everyone trained on to address that issue.

Deployments were difficult under such circumstances. You either had to bring two precision rifles, or call for the night rifle after you were in your final firing position. Either way, it made for a difficult time and you had to hope the suspect allowed you the time to exercise these options.

Once in place, definition was spotty at best. That is simply not acceptable in police work, where there is zero tolerance for collateral damage. You must have the definition necessary to properly identify your threat, and that means specific traits. At that point, the technology had just not caught up to the needs of the police marksman, although it was improving year by year.

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