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Posted: 9/4/2019 10:17:18 AM EDT
Hello all,

I have been reading ARFCOM for several years, and have gotten lots of laughs out of GD, as well as lots of other useful info. I have a question that I can't find a good answer to, and it has (finally!) motivated me to join this forum as this is probably the best place to get info on this stuff.

First, a bit of background to my question:

I am in the process of trying to get setup with some budget night vision- I'm currently in graduate school and want *some* type of usable generation 3 night vision before the summer of 2020. My budget is about 1.5k.

This brings me to my main question...

How do I verify if a tube is legit? If I have a copy of the datasheet (assuming there is one), could I contact the manufacturer to determine if the tube is stolen or not? I've read plenty of horror stories on here (and elsewhere) of people accidentally buying stolen/lost equipment and then having to surrender it later on. I don't want to have that happen to me for obvious reasons.

What motivated me to ask this question is that I found a seller through Instagram who is advertising about 30 used L3 Omni VI-VIII tubes. Their website looks professional, but I can't find any info from anyone who has dealt with them.

What do ya'll have to say?

Thanks!
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 10:25:51 AM EDT
If the tube(s) come with data sheets, they’re likely legit. Any vendor or seller worth their salt would welcome manufacturer verification. If they balk, go elsewhere.

$1.5K is low, but with patience and experience you can do quite well buying used and biding your time for the right deal(s).
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 12:45:57 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 12:54:16 PM EDT
Thanks guys for the advice- I do know that there is some risk in this...

If the seller says "They don't come with datasheets they are contract tubes", should I absolute run? Or is there some other way to check if the tube is legit? He says they have ITT CAD numbers, so could I just call L3 to find out if they are legit before buying?
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 1:03:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/4/2019 1:04:27 PM EDT by TheHorta]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By biometrician:
Thanks guys for the advice- I do know that there is some risk in this...

If the seller says "They don't come with datasheets they are contract tubes", should I absolute run? Or is there some other way to check if the tube is legit? He says they have ITT CAD numbers, so could I just call L3 to find out if they are legit before buying?
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The problem is, unless they’re legit overruns, contract tubes were likely sold to one of Uncle Sugar’s many children. That’s the only thing a manufacturer can confirm. That doesn’t mean it’s stolen, only that it once belonged to BigBro. Many units that were not marked deMIL-D (marked for destruction) or DRMO’d (which must legally be returned or destroyed if no longer used by the domestic beneficiary agency) have been released and found their way into general circulation. A provenance check with the OEM will only tell you that it was originally sold to some .GOV agency, not truly whether it’s legit or stolen. You’d have to check with CID or HSI, and even they don’t know 100% of the time, so their default is always “confiscate first.”

Then, you’re screwed, even if legit.
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 1:11:17 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 1:14:24 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By TheHorta:

The problem is, unless they’re legit overruns, contract tubes were likely sold to one of Uncle Sugar’s many children. That’s the only thing a manufacturer can confirm. That doesn’t mean it’s stolen, only that it once belonged to BigBro. Many units that were not marked deMIL-D (marked for destruction) or DRMO’d (which must legally be returned or destroyed if no longer used by the domestic beneficiary agency) have been released and found their way into general circulation. A provenance check with the OEM will only tell you that it was originally sold to some .GOV agency, not truly whether it’s legit or stolen. You’d have to check with CID or HSI, and even they don’t know 100% of the time, so their default is always “confiscate first.”

Then, you’re screwed, even if legit.
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So, essentially, if it was a military tube it's not supposed to be on the market? What if it was a LE tube that was not obtained through DRMO (I know, not very likely...)? If I call and the tube is a legit overrun I assume that they're probably legit, right?
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 1:19:39 PM EDT
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Yes- I read through that thread and it's exactly what I'm trying to avoid...
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 3:52:30 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 4:48:09 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Lowdown3:
Danger Will Robinson!

If you were stuck on a used tube cheap, I would start looking at the EE here and hit up guys there that post on the forums here.
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I highly agree with Robert! There are some real solid people on this forum. I’ve had exceptional experiences buying used gear from members here. There are some killer deals. Tubes pop up, just keep an eye out and be ready to buy or else someone else will first.
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 5:49:41 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By will-1:
I highly agree with Robert! There are some real solid people on this forum. I’ve had exceptional experiences buying used gear from members here. There are some killer deals. Tubes pop up, just keep an eye out and be ready to buy or else someone else will first.
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Originally Posted By will-1:
Originally Posted By Lowdown3:
Danger Will Robinson!

If you were stuck on a used tube cheap, I would start looking at the EE here and hit up guys there that post on the forums here.
I highly agree with Robert! There are some real solid people on this forum. I’ve had exceptional experiences buying used gear from members here. There are some killer deals. Tubes pop up, just keep an eye out and be ready to buy or else someone else will first.
I've been thinking the same thing- I've been watching the EE on and off and I do see some amazing deals. I like that there is a feedback system on this forum- I'm on another forum (more local to me) that has a similar feedback system, and it seems to make buying/selling easier.

Part of me wants to FO on the deal I've found- a sub $500 Omni VII tube with almost no blems is pretty tempting, but part of me thinks it might be too good to be true, which is what prompted me starting this thread. Also, me joining ARFCOM is long overdue.
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 6:03:23 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By biometrician:

I've been thinking the same thing- I've been watching the EE on and off and I do see some amazing deals. I like that there is a feedback system on this forum- I'm on another forum (more local to me) that has a similar feedback system, and it seems to make buying/selling easier.

Part of me wants to FO on the deal I've found- a sub $500 Omni VII tube with almost no blems is pretty tempting, but part of me thinks it might be too good to be true, which is what prompted me starting this thread. Also, me joining ARFCOM is long overdue.
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Sub $500 Omni VII L3 tubes on IG definitely sounds pretty sketchy, especially if they’re non-blem. I’d ask for pics of the tubes with serial#. You can try and check with L3. If the guy has no history at all with anyone I’d personally pass unless you’re a gambler. If you use PayPal use your card and don’t do FF so you have some protection.

Pretty good first post lol
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 6:33:15 PM EDT
If they don't have a factory data sheet or a complete commercial unit with a SN that you personally verify with the manufacturer don't buy it. As mentioned, tubes with factory data sheets should be good. Complete commercial units you verify should be good, though there is always the chance someone does a tube swap I suppose.
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 7:20:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/4/2019 7:23:12 PM EDT by TNVC]
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 7:26:42 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By TNVC:

Hmmm, wasn't the guy I linked to who is probably going to prison an AFRCOM guy too and posted on the EE and also had a word of mouth secret squirrel PM program going on? He too was also "soild" guy according to many here.

This also happened awhile back with restricted lasers on the EE with a super secret PM program.

ALWAYS ask for inspection period and do due deligence as best one can to inspect all used gear during this inspection period.
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Ya got a real solid point there Vic
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 7:35:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/4/2019 7:36:19 PM EDT by TNVC]
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 8:26:42 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/4/2019 11:22:21 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By TNVC:

I wasn't blasting your point at all Brother in that regard. Most here are great guys, I know many on a personal level as well. This latest incident (while I didn't know this user), nor did he ever purchase from us. But MANY vouched for him and the PM secret squirrel appears to be pretty large to skirt around a paying dealer status here. My guess this was the reason for not publicly dealing in a formal fashion, but all secret squirrel stuff which should have been a possible "tell" this supposed solid guy never even owned a NV company in that regard and in the end MANY were burned here.
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Not taken that way at all That is a very good point you made about Lamneth. He affected a lot of people.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 3:04:05 AM EDT
No risk no reward. Good deals can be found out there and one good deal makes the risk of getting a lemon worthwhile. Was able to set up a couple buddies on college budgets with NV for under $1.5k in the last couple months by passing on a couple decent deals on tubes.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 7:46:03 AM EDT
I got all in on a helmet, PVS-14, and relevant mounts for $1.5k.

It's doable, you'll have to build it yourself, but it's possible. The EE or a facebook group are the only places to find these type of deals. I tried to play the middle ground between the most die hard anti-vendor people and the vendors who say to never ever buy used. It should be pretty easy to see what is best for you if you read into this stuff a lot. If you are willing to risk the used market, you can get some absolute deals that will make NV much cheaper than you see online.

That being said, $1.5k doesn't go very far in this world and you might as well start saving for duals now
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 8:01:51 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By mzincamo:
I got all in on a helmet, PVS-14, and relevant mounts for $1.5k.

It's doable, you'll have to build it yourself, but it's possible. The EE or a facebook group are the only places to find these type of deals. I tried to play the middle ground between the most die hard anti-vendor people and the vendors who say to never ever buy used. It should be pretty easy to see what is best for you if you read into this stuff a lot. If you are willing to risk the used market, you can get some absolute deals that will make NV much cheaper than you see online.

That being said, $1.5k doesn't go very far in this world and you might as well start saving for duals now
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What Facebook groups all I see are airsoft ones?
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 8:28:32 AM EDT
Smeeg said it best. I think the issue is what risk level you are comfortable with. I also think most first-time buyers should go through a reputable dealer and then maybe look for deals once you know what you're doing, but many guys want go right to it. I think the OP says it all; used tubes and newbie buyer; lots of risk there.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 8:29:39 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By smeeg:

What Facebook groups all I see are airsoft ones?
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Cool Guy Tactical and Airsoft Night Vision has a lot of gear for sale. TNVC Sam and Augee are active on them
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 8:57:11 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By mzincamo:

That being said, $1.5k doesn't go very far in this world and you might as well start saving for duals now
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I had to chuckle- there's a lot of truth in that statement! Dual tubes are in my long term plans, along with a good clip on unit, and probably about the same $$,$$$ in laser/illuminators. I know that in ~ 1 year I'll be going back to my industry job, and I hope that will allow me to afford some nicer stuff. At that point I'll probably become a customer of TNVC for a lot of obvious reasons. However, even in the future, I'd still like to have a "cheap" unit to loan out to buddies or to use as a backup.

From what I can gather after reading all that's been posted, it's probably best for me to save a bit more money. That said, I see decent quality commercial units come up at a slightly higher price than my current budget, and that may be a good option.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 1:07:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/5/2019 1:44:50 PM EDT by tlandoe07]
While I can understand the want to verify the provenance of your purchase, it’s almost next to impossible to get into gen3 night vision on a strict budget. So I agree with some others here, you really have to determine what level of risk you’re comfortable with.

ETA: there’s really no definitive way to prove your tube is legit unless you buy new from a reputable manufacturer. I hazard to guess that even then, there could be times where a clerical error on the part of either the government, or the tube manufacturer, could potentially land you in the “grey” area. So just keep that in mind, if you want cheap, there are certain risks you simply have to accept. If they’re not acceptable to you, then cheap isn’t an option.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 2:34:35 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 3:10:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/5/2019 4:07:59 PM EDT by texassooner]
Buying used is cheaper, but there is definitely more risk when buying used. You can mitigate that risk somewhat by being educated on what you are buying. You can reduce a lot of risk but its still there. I have a bricked PVS-30 in my desk drawer that can attest to that. But even with the hit ill take on that unit, im still way on top money wise with my NV gear as a whole vs buying new.

I like to try a lot of different gear out, and that wouldn't be possible for me if it wasnt for the EE. The depreciation hit you take when buying new would just hurt too bad. At this point i dont even know how many NV units ive had. Nearly all of them bought through the EE.

If you are buying on the EE id say do your research on what you are buying. Ask questions in this forum and ask the seller questions. Where did you get them? How long have you had them? What kind of tubes? Spec sheets? Get pictures through the tubes. Know what you are looking at and if you don't then come ask.

Vet the seller - does he/she have a long history here buying/selling/trading high end stuff. Less of a chance you are going to get dicked around if someone is active in the forum and has history. And any legit person selling this stuff wont have a problem answering those questions or giving you those pictures (which should be in the ad already). If you get a bad feeling, walk.

Used to be an occasional PVS14 would come up in the EE about once a month. Now days there are multiple 14s, binos, thermal devices at any given time. No need to rush into a deal if it doesnt seem right. Just wait and more will be posted eventually.

But do realize the best deals are going to be the ones that you take the most risk. No data sheets, no history, etc. You just need to know what you are looking at and gauge if that risk is acceptable to you. Some of the most smoking deals i got on this site have been that exact situation. As with anything, caveat emptor.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 4:02:55 PM EDT
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[b]
But do realize the best deals are going to be the ones that you take the most risk. No data sheets, no history, etc. You just need to know what you are looking at and gauge if that risk is acceptable to you. Some of the most smoking deals i got on this site have been that exact situation. As with anything, caveat emptor.
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All my best stuff I bought used under the condition that I don’t ask where it came from
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 4:10:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/5/2019 4:11:33 PM EDT by texassooner]
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Originally Posted By tlandoe07:

All my best stuff I bought used under the condition that I don’t ask where it came from
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Yeah i have a set of PVS 15s that have EXCELLENT tubes. The guy i bought them from didnt have data sheets, didnt know much about them, etc but told me where he got them. I know the person he got them from and he doesnt turn out crap. Sent me pics looking through the tubes - no blems. Sold.

Also, one other thing i didnt think to say - dont pay for anything that the seller doesnt have physical possession of at that time.
Link Posted: 9/5/2019 8:26:36 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/6/2019 9:02:38 AM EDT
Ya'll do make a good point on taking some risk.

Doing a cost benefit analysis, if I spend 4-600ish on a tube and it doesn't work/isn't legit, I'm only out about that much. I would still have all the other parts and could just re-build my unit later. It's a lot right now, but I can recover that amount in a month or two, and once I'm out of academia 4-600 won't be so much to me. If the tube is good to go, I will have built a pretty decent PVS-7/PVS-14.

On the other hand, if I wait longer (~6-8 months), I could go the cry once buy once route and that is certainly appealing to me...

Well, thanks to everyone for responding- I do have a lot to think about. My plan is to keep my eyes open and not rush the process.

When I eventually get NODs I'll try to get some epic pics- it's not ARFCOM without epic pics!
Link Posted: 9/6/2019 8:28:17 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By biometrician:
If I call and the tube is a legit overrun I assume that they're probably legit, right?
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Over-runs, assuming they are not simply applied to the next shipment, ship with a Data Sheet.

The Army buys tubes in lots of 1000 or more. The Army doesn't want thousands of data sheets because they don't need or want them. They only care that the tubes meet spec. The vendor has to be able to produce a data sheet on demand, but they don't ship with the tubes.

Commercial customers generally get a paper data sheet with each tube, though large customers might get a CD with the data sheets as .pdf files.
Link Posted: 9/7/2019 1:03:25 AM EDT
I don’t think OP is referring to overruns. If he’s talking about the IG post I think he’s talking about, they actually look like severely blemished and/or damaged and heavily used tubes. If I had to guess, I’d say they were more than likely replaced under warranty or contract and sold off to offset some of the cost.
Link Posted: 9/8/2019 1:27:06 PM EDT
The problem is there is no certain way to prove a used tube is legit but it’s quite easy to be accused of it being stolen.

It’s risk reward like everyone has said.
What ZERO risk?....pony up the money, find a dealer and buy a brand new unit with warranty (AND buy a lanyard haha)

There is a reason that route is expensive tho.
Link Posted: 9/8/2019 1:30:55 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By MrPlayer:
The problem is there is no certain way to prove a used tube is legit but it’s quite easy to be accused of it being stolen.

It’s risk reward like everyone has said.
What ZERO risk?....pony up the money, find a dealer and buy a brand new unit with warranty (AND buy a lanyard haha)

There is a reason that route is expensive tho.
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Spot on. If you want safety (not stolen property and excellent warranty) then buy new. If you want lowest cost and willing to accept risk then used is the only way to go. Oh yeah, and buy a lanyard!
Link Posted: 9/8/2019 11:05:00 PM EDT
I can tell you first hand that having an HSI special agent send you an email about stolen tubes that you’re in possession of just kind of sucks. It’s hard to swallow the price of admission on the new stuff if you don’t have a bunch of disposable income, though. Go be poor somewhere else, I guess.

I’ll get new wizard eyes though. I’ll be back!

If you can afford it, buy new. If you can’t afford new, pay your money and takes your chances.
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