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Laser Sights and Weapon Lights

Putting the right light on your firearm can give you a tactical advantage.

December 01, 2008  |  by - Also by this author


The majority of officer-involved shootings occur in low-light or dark conditions. So one of the most important tools that you can have is a good light. And sometimes the best place for you to have that good light is on the business end of your handgun or long gun.

Another great tool for you to have on your firearm—if your agency's policy permits it—is a laser aiming device. Not only can a laser sight make you more effective in a gunfight, it can intimidate a bad guy into backing down before shots are fired.

Here's a quick look at some of the latest weapon lights and laser sights for law enforcement applications.

BlackHawk

Named for a legendary sword used by ancient Greek soldiers, the Xiphos from BlackHawk Night-Ops is a high-tech weapons light that incorporates a disorienting strobe feature. The light fits easily on any weapons rail with the patent pending Cam-Clamp mounting system. It produces 65 lumens for more than two hours and features an ambidextrous activation switch. The light was designed to fit in BlackHawk's light-mounted Level 3 SERPA holsters.

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Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace's Laser Grips are some of the most versatile and easily installed laser aiming systems on the market. The company makes Laser Grips for a wide variety of long guns and pistols, including ARs, polymer frame duty weapons, 1911s, and revolvers.

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Glock

Glock offers a wide variety of weapon lights and laser aiming systems for its line of duty pistols. The basic Glock weapon light is the Tactical Light 10/11, a Xenon illumination system that features ambidextrous controls and adjustable focusing. The top of the Glock line is the Tactical Light 51/52. This Xenon-powered system incorporates a visible laser sight and an IR laser sight for officers who operate with night vision.

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Insight Tech-Gear

The Procyon is Insight Tech-Gear's top-of-the-line handgun light. It pumps out 125 lumens for more than 90 minutes from digitally controlled LEDs, and it has that nifty strobe feature that you see on some other tactical lighting systems. Waterproof to 15 feet, the Procyon is powered by two CR123A batteries and weighs four ounces. Another weapon accessory in the Insight line is the X2l, a combination light and laser aiming system. The X2L's light generates more than 40 lumens with a focusable beam and has a runtime of 30 minutes. Its Class III red laser aiming system has a range of more than 300 feet at night. Another popular model in the Insight line is the M2 UTL. This light is designed specifically for the Heckler & Koch USP pistol. It generates more than 90 lumens and has a runtime or one hour. One of the brightest weapons lights on the market is the Insight M3X. This system produces 125 lumens and has a runtime of one hour.

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LaserMax

In the last few years LaserMax has substantially broadened its line of laser aiming devices. The company now has a rail-mounted green laser and a rear frame-mounted laser. LaserMax's Uni-Max Green is a rail-mounted green laser that allows the user to fit other devices such as lights and optics under the laser system. U.S. military studies show that green lasers are much easier to see in daylight than red lasers. The Uni-Max system also features adjustable windage and elevation systems. LaserMax says that these user settings are guaranteed not to lose zero following battery changes. The laser can be activated by an ambidextrous sliding switch or a remote momentary-on pressure pad. LaserMax's new frame-mounted Sabre aiming system is designed specifically for polymer-framed pistols made by Glock and Smith & Wesson. A whale tail at the back of the pistol stabilizes the shooter's hand against recoil and holds the system's batteries. The Sabre system is compatible with most holsters.

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Laser Devices

Laser Devices makes a wide variety of laser aiming systems for long guns, handguns, and subguns. These include laser sights incorporated into foregrips. A good example is the company's HK MP5 grip. This system is manufactured using the HK factory foregrip, and it features the brightest laser system permitted by law. In low light, it is visible to 450 meters; in daylight, 30 meters. The built-in button switch is designed for momentary activation in a tactical operation. The sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and it runs on one CR123A lithium battery. No weapon modification is required.

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PentagonLight

One problem with long gun lights in a tactical environment is that most of them have only two settings: constant-on and momentary-on, both at full brightness. PentagonLight's new MD2 LED LaserLight offers a third option: low-power (five lumen), momentary-on light. Designed from the ground up for rifle mounting, the MD2 combines a high-power tactical light with an aiming laser. The light produces 120 lumens for 90 minutes. The laser can be adjusted for windage and elevation, and the user can also swap out the visible laser for an IR laser. Housed in CNC machined aerospace grade aluminum, the light is tough enough to handle the most arduous tactical environment.

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Safariland

One of the reasons that some agencies prohibit patrol officers from using weapon-mounted lights is that they don't want officers pointing guns at people when they only need to point a light. This is of course something that few officers would actually do, but bureaucrats think you're stupid. Anyway, Safariland's Rapid Light System (RLS) was developed to meet the needs of two populations: cops who aren't allowed to use weapons lights and people who don't want to buy a special holster to accommodate a weapons light. The RLS is a pretty ingenious concept. It's a handheld and a weapon-mounted light all in one. The mount attaches to almost any handgun or long gun accessory rail, and the 65-lumen LED light easily detaches for handheld operation. Another great feature of the RLS is that it operated on three AAA batteries for a total runtime of 50 hours.

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Streamlight

Streamlight's two most popular weapons lights are the TLR-1 and the TLR-2. The TLR-1 is an extremely bright weapons light that uses C4 LEDs to produce 135 lumens and has a runtime of 2.5 hours. It mounts to any Picatinny or Glock rail and easily detaches and attaches as needed. It also fits most existing light-bearing holsters. The TLR-2 offers all of the features of the TLR-1 and a laser aiming system.

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SureFire

SureFire's X300 is one of the more popular weapon lights in law enforcement. It produces 110 lumens, enough light to overwhelm an aggressor's night-adapted vision, according to SureFire. The X300 also boasts SureFire's Total Internal Reflection (TIR), which "creates a bright, tightly focused central beam with plenty of reach and enough surround beam to accommodate peripheral vision," the company says. Runtime for the light is 2.4 hours. The X300 is constructed of aerospace-grade aluminum and sealed with O-rings for water protection of up to 22 meters. It is operated with an ambidextrous toggle/push switch.

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Tags: Product Reviews, Laser Sights, weapon lights, Blackhawk, Crimson Trace, Glock, Insight Tech-Gear, LaserMax, Laser Devices, PentagonLight, Safariland, Streamlight, SureFire

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