Review: N-Vision Optics NOX18 Thermal Monocular

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N-Vision NOX18 setup on my helmet after successfully helping me detect this pig.

Last year N-Vision Optics started shipping out their NOX thermal monocular. They offer both an 18mm or 35mm version to better fit different applications. Aimed at filling the role of a dual-use helmet-mounted monocular/thermal scope, the NOX18 is a compact and powerful package. 

N-Vision NOX18 setup attached to a bridge via the included dovetail adapter

The N-Vision NOX18 boasts a 12μm pixel pitch and 640 x 480 sensor resolution with a BAE core to provide great clarity out in the field. Starting with a base magnification of 1X, the NOX18 provides a wide field of view well suited for close engagements or helmet-mounted use. N-Vision states a detection range of 753 yards for this unit, but I could easily detect deer out to 1000 yards, and cows much further. Utilizing a compact 18mm lens, the detection range is impressive for the size. Again beating their specifications, I could distinguish between larger animals (cows, deer, pigs) at around 400 yards. 

All thermal images were taken from my phone taking a picture of the display. The image the end user sees is much crisper than these photos. From right to left: person at 50ish yards, two people at 250ish yards, and the far left hot spot is a cow at around 600 yards
Screenshot of a video taken from my phone of the display of the NOX18

For me, the coolest thing about this unit is the ability to use it as either a helmet-mounted monocular or scope for your rifle. The versatility is amazing. For those who want a quality thermal rifle scope, but also the ability to hike around hands-free looking through thermal, the NOX18 was made for you. While other dedicated thermal scope options with a larger objective lens would provide more clarity, the NOX18 blends weight, size, and function beautifully. Being used in the lightest configuration while running a battery pack, this thermal weighs in at 13.5oz, which is still manageable. My only overall size complaint is that when running a PVS14 and the NOX18 on a bridge mount, the side the thermal is on wants to slide down if your helmet isn’t strapped on well. However, I think the benefits of a dual use helmet-mounted thermal are worth it.

The dovetail is reversible so the NOX can be mounted for helmet use for the user’s left or right eye. However, the quick detach scope mount can only mount to one side, so if the user has the NOX setup for helmet use on his left eye, he will not be able to detach it from his helmet and quickly mount to his rifle like he would be able to if it was set up for his right eye. Removing the mount saves 2.5 oz, but then limits users to using the thermal as just a scanner. It is good to have options, and N-Vision did a great job providing them. 

Dovetail which can be mounted on either side
Picatinny QD mount

The buttons are simple enough to use, and the menu is intuitive. From changing reticles, zooming, calibrating, taking photos, or adjusting color settings, the NOX18 is ready to be custom tuned to your preferences. It should be noted that the buttons are fairly small so when shooting in the cold or with gloves, going through the menu is slightly more tricky, but not unmanageable once you are familiar with the system. 

All 5 of the buttons for the NOX18

Sporting 8 different reticles, as well as 4 different display modes (white or black hot, white or black outline) users, will be able to mix it up to find what may work best for them. 

The four different color pallets, pictures taken by my phone held up to the NOX18

Built to be durable, the NOX18 has an IP67 waterproof rating and utilizes some sort of composite molded housing that feels solid while allowing the unit to remain lightweight. A great feature is a USB-C connector that is recessed into the housing and will not break off like some other high-dollar thermals have had issues with. This comes with an integrated rubber dust cap to help keep the port clean and ready to run for an external power bank, or an external DVR to record what you are seeing. While this unit does not have the option for onboard recording, it can store up to around 60 pictures internally.

USB-C port

Another huge benefit to this system is the multiple options available to power the unit. Users can use a single CR123A to keep a small form factor and get around 90 minutes of run time, attach an adapter to run a 18650 battery which is supposed to provide 4-7+ hours of run time, or just run an external power bank attached to the back of the users’ helmet (not included). The incorporation of a 18650 battery option is fantastic as it provides great run time with widely available and cheap rechargeable batteries common to most new weapon-mounted lights. 

CR123A configuration
18650 adapter

Included in the box is everything you see below. The NOX18 comes with a legit pelican style case, QD and dovetail mounts, 1X CR123A battery, 1X 18650 battery with the charger and cords, 1X adapter to use 18650 batteries, 1X USB-C cable, 1X challenge coin, a couple stickers, and the typical users manuals.

Overall, I am very impressed with this system. While there are other dedicated scopes that may have the edge in performance, or lighter weight dedicated helmet mounted thermals, the NOX18 bridges the gap and provides a great balance between a dedicated thermal scope and a compact helmet-mounted option. The N-Vision NOX18 Thermal Monocular comes in with an MSRP of $6,195. Made in America, this thermal provides a lot of capability in a one-size-fits-all unit. 

Specifications:

Sensor Pixel Pitch: 12 um

Resolution: 640 x 480

Refresh Rate: 60 Hz

Lens: 18mm F1.0

Focus: Manual, non-rotating

Field of View: 18mm: 24.3(H) x 18.3(V); 30.4 (diagonal)

Digital Zoom: 1x/2x/4x/8x

Display Type: OLED 640×480 B&W

Power: One CR123 or one 18650

Remote power: USB 5.0V

External connector: Waterproof USB-C

Calibration (NUC): Manual

Weight, CR123 Battery: 13.5 oz (w/o weapon mount)

16 oz (w/ weapon mount)

Weight, 18650 Battery: 15.3 oz (w/o weapon mount) 

17.6 oz (w/ weapon mount)

Size, CR123 Battery: 5.0×2.9×2.4 (w/o weapon mount)

5.0×2.9×3.0 (w/ weapon mount)

Size, 18650 Battery: 6.4×2.9×2.4 (w/o weapon mount)

6.4×2.9×3.0 (w/ weapon mount)

Detection range: 753 yards

Recognition range: 267 yards

Identification range: 136 yards


About the author:
Mitchell Graf is passionate about hunting and competition shooting. During college he was the shooting instructor for Oklahoma State’s Practical Shooting Team, and these days he spends as much time as he can chasing after pigs and coyotes with night vision and thermals. You can follow Mitchell’s adventures over at his Instagram @That_Gun_Guy_



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