In today's operational environments--which can include everything from corn fields to jungles to cities of all sizes--versatility is the name of the game in equipment. In answer to that mandate, manufacturers have been designing tools that encompass more capabilities than ever. Lights that strobe. Lights that have different colors. Lights with snap on/snap off filters for color or infrared. Lights with lasers and more. This week's review is of the Pentagon Weapon Light, Model MD2 LED NVG-Light. This light pair provides 65 lumens of white light as well as the night-vision compatible infrared secondary light. To test the setup, I attached it to my Sabre Defence rifle and enjoyed a visit to the range, along with participation in a few building entry classes.
Those of you who have been reading my material for a while know that I'm an extreme fan of taking the power of light with me into any low-light situation. The reason for that is because about 80% of police shootings occur during the hours of darkness or in situations where the low levels of light are considered a contributing factor. And, while I'm not a huge fan of lights mounted on handguns, I'm a fan of having adequate light on a long gun. What's adequate? I consider 60 lumens the minimum level of light output for a "tactical light." In this case, the Pentagon Light MD2 LED light puts out a published 65 lumens with 90 minutes of run time from two CR123A 3V lithium batteries and a 3W LED lamp.
A few measurements are in order: The bezel is 1.25 inches, which is an industry standard and means you can use a host of filter attachments if you see fit. The overall length is 5.5 inches--and while extra power might be had from adding batteries, you have to recognize that each battery means another inch-and-a-half in length plus the weight.
I feel that the 65 lumens of light is sufficient for CQB work and, during hours of darkness at the range, the light proved more than adequate for identifying and engaging targets at twenty-five yards or less. I am very aware that "CQB" might range out to fifty or even one hundred yards, but when I think CQB I usually think inside of structures. Unless it's a warehouse, the large majority of your indoor targets will be well within that 25 yard mark. Sometimes, as ugly as it can be, it can be ten feet or less.
The IR/secondary light on the MD2 is powered by a single 544 alkaline battery pushing an infrared LED. Now, I don't own a pair of night vision goggles, but I am friendly with a number of agencies that do. I was lucky enough to get a pair at the range and discovered that it takes some getting used to that different color of...well...everything. I had forgotten what it's like. What I found was that the light provided by the IR LED is sufficient for navigation and REALLY close up work (inside of ten feet), but outside of that I didn't consider it sufficient for identification or engagement. Perhaps with more training I'd feel more comfortable with it.
The MD2 attaches by way of an A.R.M.S. lever mount. By using that mount and a Velcro-attachable pressure switch, Pentagon Light insured that the MD2--and all of their other weapon-mountable systems--can be easily and quickly attached and detached. Also included in the packaging with the MD2 was a large and thick rubber band. Instead of using the Velcro--which I hate to glue onto my gun(s)--I used the rubber band to hold the pressure switch in place. Works fine for me.
Now, Pentagon Light's published material says that the run time on the MD's LED is 90 minutes, plus another 300 of usable light. As we all know, LEDs don't die as quick as incandescent lamps. I'm not an engineer, so I can't explain exactly why, but what I know is that my LEDs always last longer on a set of batteries than my incandescent driven lights. The biggest danger to LED lamps is the heat that they generate. They are their own worst enemy. To test the run time on my MD2 LED, I ran it in ten-minute cycles: ten on, and then ten off. I did this for the better part of a morning, and didn't notice any reduced availability of light from the LED until the eleventh cycle. That means I got 100+ minutes of light before I noticed any drop off--and I was looking hard. The really noticeable difference showed up at about cycle sixteen. At that point I would have put new batteries in it anyway, so I stopped testing it.
True to form with any range testing, I did my fair share of banging the light against barricades and mailboxes. LEDs take much more abuse than incandescents do, and I'm thankful for that. My MD2 is still working without any issues.
An internet search found these lights priced in the mid-$400 range, with obviously lower prices for the variation that includes a laser aiming device in place of the IR light. While that may seem a high price, I don't consider it so. LEDs are typically more costly than incandescent-driven lights, and weapon-mountable systems are typically more expensive than handhelds. Anything that includes an IR capability is going to cost you a few extra bucks.
To get more information about Pentagon Lights check them out online.