Items that come with the PVS-14 device:
Comes with a clear lens cap for protecting the actual lens while wearing the product outdoors, and also comes with a black plastic cap that can be used in excessive light conditions, and also protects the primary lens. The demist lens works well also. The rubber eye piece also fits well, both to the face, and on the PVS-14, and is of good construction. Comes with the J-Arm and the "skull-crusher" head mount. Works well. The head mount is not quite as uncomfortable as the name implies, older models were worse. It fits tightly and snugly and secures the PVS-14 in place well. If you're not afraid of "arts&crafts", the mount can be at-home modified with velcro and soft sole shoe inserts cut to fit. Not very beautiful, but effective at decreasing the loss of blood circulation around your skull and the migraines that accompany that. The bag that comes with the device is of good, solid construction and has several separated and useful compartments, including one velcro-sealed interior pouch for holding extra batteries. I do carry the bag attached to my waist-belt while I hike, to store the NVG device and the head harness until I choose to put them on. Also comes with the user's manual and a booklet of high-quality lens-cleaning fabric.
The PVS-14 itself definitely allows me to see in the dark very, very well, and works great with other infra-red light devices. By the way, if you shine an IR light into the eyes of a person or animal, they will "glow" at you very noticeably, which is great for spotting animals in the woods that are staring at you. Also, yes, this device comes with its own IR Illuminator light. BUT, it is not very strong, and really only works well indoors, or if trying to read something in the dark outside that you are standing right next to, like a painted sign on a hiking trail. Or reflective tape which can be used as trail markers. For longer-distance IR illumination, I suggest using a secondary IR device. This built-in IR light is just as good as any on the PVS-14 that I had on active duty, but still, that's only for up-close usage.
Has a fairly loud and noticable high-pitched ringing while activated, which can definitely be heard by deer and other animals, as well as you while you wear it. Sounds like tinnitus. In fact, if you have a very, very bad case of tinnitus, you might not be able to hear it. Also, one "at-home arts&crafts" modification was NECESSARY for me; I have to use women's hair scrunchies to keep the NVG device secured in a "not-wobbling" way to the head mount. Basically, the scrunchie wraps around the NVG and the part of the mount that extends from the forehead, which the J-Arm attaches to, and thus prevents the NVG from rocking, rotating, twisting or wobbling around. It works very well, keeping the tube in absolutely perfect alignment with my eye, even while jumping or running, and actually even looks professional. A rubberband might work as well, but they don't readily come in black and usually are not as durable. A woman's hair scrunchie is readily found in black, has the perfect amount of elasticity (not too much, not too little) and is more durable than any rubber band I've ever seen. If you own a modern military-style helmet, and don't mind wearing the extra weight, then you won't need to screw around fixing the skull crusher like I did. From personal experience though, the skull crusher holds the PVS 14 in place just as well as any helmet I've ever used has, and weights a lot less. On a helmet, the "rhino-mount" can be tilted up and out of the way, for immediate use of both eyes without the NVG unit- while on the skull-crusher, the unit cannot be removed from being located in front of your eye except by unhooking it from the mount completely, which is not as convenient.
I would have given this product a 5 instead of a 4 in the "Meets expectations" if it just didn't ring/hum so darn loudly, or at all for that matter. And I would have given a 5 instead of a 4 in the "Easy to set up" department if I hadn't of had to have modified the skull crusher so much to make it bearable/usable. But overall, this is a really great product and I am very happy with it. Aside from the humming, it is EXACTLY the same as the PVS-14s which I used on active duty. Good stuff.
Oh, and sometimes, it looks as if its snowing outside even though it is not. This is not very usual, but does sometimes happen, and I'm not sure why. I almost forgot to mention it at all. I suspect that this phenomenon could be battery or temperature related, but I'm not certain.
Pros: You can see in the dark pretty darn well, as well as IR lights & lasers too. Just as you'd expect.
Cons: High-pitched ringing while the unit is turned on. The head mount should be modified by the user to work better, if the user plans on using it.
This review was written in the old system and had content requirements that are different than reviews written today.