What is gen 2 night vision?

generational night vision


In the realm of night vision technology, progress has been the guiding light, pushing boundaries and expanding our ability to see in the dark. The journey began with Generation 0 during World War II, moved on to Generation 1 in the 1960s, and then took a giant leap with Generation 2 (Gen 2) night vision. Introduced during the late 1970s, Gen 2 technology not only sharpened our sight in the dark but also broadened the horizons of nocturnal exploration. Let’s dive into the rich history, technical marvels, and lasting impact of Gen 2 night vision.

The Emergence of Gen 2

generation 2 night vision scope

Gen 2 night vision technology surfaced during the late Cold War period, bringing with it a wave of changes that amplified our ability to pierce the darkness. The most significant development was the introduction of the Microchannel Plate (MCP), a component absent in Gen 1 devices. The MCP was a game-changer, a novel addition that catapulted the performance of night vision devices.

The Intricacies of Gen 2

night vision specifications

Gen 2 devices were equipped with the powerful MCP, which sat between the photocathode and the phosphor screen. Similar to Gen 1 devices, the light photons hit the photocathode and released electrons. However, in Gen 2 devices, these electrons then entered the MCP—a component filled with millions of short, parallel glass tubes. The electrons would ricochet off the walls of these tubes, creating a cascade of additional electrons. This enhanced electron flux then hit the phosphor screen to produce a brighter and clearer image.

The introduction of the MCP led to significant improvements in image quality and light amplification, allowing Gen 2 devices to work effectively even in low-light conditions. The typical green hue associated with night vision carried over from Gen 1, given that the human eye remains most sensitive to green light.

The Limitations of Gen 2

Despite the significant improvements, Gen 2 devices had their share of limitations. The image quality, although better than Gen 1, still suffered from some distortion, particularly around the edges. Gen 2 devices were also bulkier and heavier than their predecessors due to the additional MCP, a factor that impacted portability.

Another drawback was the cost. The inclusion of the MCP led to a spike in the manufacturing costs, making Gen 2 devices more expensive than Gen 1, and therefore less accessible to the average consumer.

The Resounding Impact of Gen 2

The impact of Gen 2 technology on night vision was profound. It paved the way for modern night vision devices, setting a new standard for image quality and light amplification. The MCP’s introduction was such a pivotal advancement that it continues to be a key component in even the most modern Gen 3 and Gen 4 devices.

While Gen 2 devices may not offer the compactness and high-resolution image of the latest generations, they continue to find relevance in various applications, from wildlife observation to security. They strike a balance between performance and cost, making them a popular choice for users looking for advanced night vision capabilities without breaking the bank.


The transition from Gen 1 to Gen 2 night vision technology marked a turning point in our nocturnal journey. The addition of the MCP ushered in a new era, bolstering our ability to navigate the darkness and enhancing our understanding of the world after sunset. As we continue to push the envelope with Gen 3 and Gen 4 devices, it’s essential to acknowledge the pivotal role that Gen 2 technology played in shaping the future of night vision.