For those of you who have been paying attention to Night Vision world over the past 3 or so years, it has been pretty exciting. With the growing popularity, many new companies popped up aiming to develop the products consumers have been asking for, and even going above and beyond what consumers thought they even needed. The Noisefighters Panobridge is a great example of this. While everyone knew GPNVG’s (the four-tube helmet setup that provides a 97-degree panoramic field-of-view) were awesome, not too many people had $40,000 sitting around to acquire them. Now enter the Panobridge MK2. This is the original panoramic night vision bridge that provides up to a 75-degree field of view when paired with mil-spec AN/PVS-14s.
So why do we care about a larger field of view? Every degree added increases what you can see in the dark without panning your head around. Not only do you spend less time scanning back and forth, but you can see more which drastically increases your situational awareness. For this same reason, I prefer to run thermals scopes with low base magnifications as the increased field of view helps my scanning capabilities. Single PVS14s or traditional binocular setups all use a standard fixed 40-degree field of view. Pairing two PVS-14s with the Panobridge almost doubles this to a maximum whopping 75-degrees.
According to Noisefighters:
“The Panobridge provides a panoramic night vision image by exploiting the brain’s ability to merge split images from two outward-angled monoculars into one cohesive picture. The so-called tube effect that is traditionally experienced with single or dual intensifiers is eliminated. With our innovative AFOV (Adjustable Field of View) mechanism and resulting wide-view image, you can enjoy vastly improved situational awareness and the feeling like you’re not even looking through image intensifying tubes. Whether it’s driving a vehicle and seeing through nearly the entire windshield or clearing a building and not missing an unexpected visitor coming down the stairs in your periphery, the Noisefighters Panobridge will open up new possibilities for efficient and safe work at night, allowing you to focus more on the task at hand and less on panning and scanning for threats or points of interest.”
I have found the above statement to be true throughout my testing. It surprised me how easy it was for my brain to look through two different tubes panned apart while feeling so natural. While it is possible to spread out the two tubes to get a 75-degree field of view, it can be harder to shoot like this. Bringing an optic up straight in front of you at your natural point of aim, you will notice the reticle is on the very edge of the tube if not in between tubes so finding it can be more tricky. While you could just shift your head to face slightly to one side to see the red dot, I found when the tubes are diverging by about 20-degrees instead is more ideal for shooting than when full spread at 35-degrees. This results in a field of view of about 60-degrees.
At first, I was skeptical about how well my brain would be able to merge two diverging tubes but it works great. When the tubes are panned apart there is an overlay in the middle that appears exactly like a Venn Diagram. If standing still and looking directly at something, this is noticeable but not troublesome. However, when moving about and looking around, these overlapping lines basically fade away. As the Panobridge pans wider and wider, the overlapping section gets smaller and smaller, which in turn happens to be more noticeable. As the Panobridge converges, the image again becomes more and more seamless. “Collimation” is the process most manufacturers go through to perfectly align two optics or NV tubes to bring both the images perfectly into focus keeping the user from seeing two separate images. With the Panobridge, this does not happen when the bridge is panned apart, but when bringing both tubes back together to work as a traditional binocular setup, I have found it takes a little bit of wiggling around to get both PVS14s aligned. When panned apart my eyes see everything just fine, but when converged and not aligned there is eye fatigue involved. While it only takes a couple of seconds for acceptable self-collimation, I wanted to mention that with my two tubes it took some work instead of just quickly adjusting them both back to the center.
Each attached monocular can be rotated independently, and both sides are fully articulating which is a huge perk. Being able to rotate your NV up and out of your sight, while not flipping the whole mount back to be stowed on top of your helmet, provides for a much lower clearance and less of a snag hazard. Driving with your NODs folded up can be tricky. In most vehicles I have tried this in, my NV ends up hitting the ceiling and I have to sort of squat down. However, with an articulating mount, I can just stow them out of my vision while maintaining more clearance above my head.
The MK2 Panobridge weighs in at a measly 1.5 ounces which is 25% less weight than a single standard mil-spec J-arm. Having the ability to not only bridge two-night vision devices together but also include panoramic features at less weight than a single J-arm is just plain awesome.
Made from “high-performance” Arkema® polymer, Noisefighters claims they have produced a “nearly indestructible bridge mount,” and they back this up with a no-questions-asked transferable lifetime warranty. The material is aimed to be highly impact-resistant by flexing to absorb shock rather than being brittle and fracturing like other existing mounts on the market. This allows the mount to flex around when you are adjusting your night vision, and not seem quite as sturdy as other metal mounts. However, the Panobridge remains stiff enough to not self-adjust while running around. Noisefighters has built a great reputation for themselves over the past couple of years through their customer service, and offering free upgrades to their new and improved MK2 design for those who purchased an original Panobridge. Even before reaching out for this article, I have had good interactions with Neal from Noisefighters and he has always stood behind his products.
When purchasing a Panobridge directly from Noisefighters, they also include one separate arm to mount thermal monoculars such as the FLIR Breach and Infiray MH-25. The arms are quick and easy to swap out and provide great versatility. I bought a used adapter for the MH-25 and it was stripped out so I had to shim my thermal in place. These adapters are only like $20, but this was my only real letdown throughout the testing. Running one thermal device and one NV device has pros and cons, but a lot of people including myself want the perks both technologies provide. While getting both a thermal and NV image to overlay in your brain can be kind of tricky, fine-tuning the settings can make this doable.
Overall, the Noisefighters Panobridge MK2 can add a lot of versatility to your kit. The bridge is extremely lightweight and even without the panning abilities would be a great option as a fully articulating lightweight mount. Drastically increasing your useable field of view is a massive advantage. Available with thermal mounts as well, the Panobridge is quick to set up for whatever application you so choose. MSRP is $550 and can be found at Noisefighters website HERE.