Editor's Note: For images of the lasers and lights covered, view our accompanying photo gallery, "Lights and Lasers: 2010."
This year's offerings in lights and lasers include both red and green laser systems. They're getting more and more powerful, feature packed, and smaller, thus enabling use on concealable handguns while still providing retina-searing light levels.
Contrary to Kermit the Frog's song, "It's Not Easy Being Green," weapon-mounted laser manufacturers are proving that assumption wrong. Many in the newest crop of weapon-mounted lasers are green laser light systems.
The Trade Off
Why are green lasers all the rage this year? If you were to set a green laser and a red laser side by side in a dark room, you'd hardly notice the difference. But where the green systems shine (sorry, had to do that) is in daylight or moderately bright environments. Our eyes see images in a defined spectrum from near infrared to near ultraviolet. Red is at the far edge of the spectrum close to infrared. But green is right smack dab in the middle of that spectrum, which is the most efficient frequency for the human eye.
So why deal with red at all? Battery life is the answer. For many years manufacturers struggled with the green laser. They chewed up batteries like a fat dude in a pie shop. Another factor was heat; green systems created higher heat levels than their red counterparts and as we all know heat is death to small electronics. With today's technology, however, green systems have become more cost effective and much better at managing heat and battery life, rivaling the red systems.
Smaller and Brighter
Pretty much every gun that goes into the patrol field today needs some sort of white light attached. It allows both hands on the gun for more accurate shooting. Handheld lights obviously still have their place out there. But, in a shooting situation or any low-light scenario where having a weapon deployed is justified, fumbling with a handheld can cost precious milliseconds.
The newest group of weapon lights could be used as landing lights on airliners-well, almost. The most advanced light emitting diodes (LED) have crossed the barrier of "that's really bright" into the realm of "wow, that's incredible." They're brighter, smaller, more efficient, and even more feature packed.
ATN Long Gun Lights
American Technologies Network Corp. (ATN) is best known for manufacturing high-end night vision devices-passive and thermal. The company has recently ventured into white light weapons illumination tools with its Javelin line of lights. ATN's flagship is the Javelin J600W. This light produces 600 lumens of paint blistering white light. That much light directed at a suspect's dark-adapted eyes can produce up to 10 seconds of transient blindness-a huge advantage when you may have to go hands-on and a real disadvantage to the bad guy if he's trying to get a sight picture that includes you.
The J600W is a substantial piece of kit. Its body is aircraft-grade aluminum with a bezel designed for offensive or defensive striking. The mounting system is also heavy duty and allows mounting on either a picatinny rail or weaver mount. It's eight inches long, weighs 13.4 ounces, and takes four CR123 batteries. The light is equipped with a wired remote pressure switch and a momentary activation tail cap.
ATN is offering two other lights in the Javelin line with most of the same features as the big light; the J125W is a two-battery system producing 200 lumens and the J169W is a three-battery light rated at 220 lumens.
Visit ATN Online
Crimson Trace Laser Grips
Last year Crimson Trace Laser Grips introduced the MVF 515 Red Modular Vertical Foregrip. It was and still is about the best integrated laser and white light foregrip I've ever used. This year they've brought out the MVF 515 Green and it's most definitely professional level equipment. The hard polymer shell surrounds a hard anodized 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum tang.
The MVF 515 Green has ambidextrous controls and three modes to choose from-constant on, momentary, and strobe. It also has a master on switch that can isolate either side's activation pressure pads. It uses two CR123 batteries for power and puts out a user-adjustable 150 or 200 lumens of white light. Dot size of the green laser is approximately .5 inches at 50 feet and it's fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Crimson Trace backs up this professional-grade equipment with a complete three-year warranty.
Visit Crimson Trace Online