Night vision done right

When Laser Devices Inc. (LDI) debuted their class on IR lasers at last year’s SHOT Show, I knew this company was turning a corner in meeting its customer’s demands. This year they did not disappoint with several new products in the Class One line...


When Laser Devices Inc. (LDI) debuted their class on IR lasers at last year’s SHOT Show, I knew this company was turning a corner in meeting its customer’s demands. This year they did not disappoint with several new products in the Class One line. What excited me most was the DBAL-D2 (Dual Beam Aiming Laser-D2), a truly revolutionary development in the infrared/night vision world.

What makes the DBAL-D2 so special is the replacement of the left hand IR laser used as an illuminator, as seen on the DBAL-A2 and PEQ-15, with a powerful LED IR flashlight. Having used a military spec DBAL-A2 for several years, I have always found the laser-generated IR illuminator lacking. The amount of usable light was too tightly focused, making the illuminator almost useless in tight confines like houses and alleyways. I’m not saying that open terrain is not part of an officer’s beat; I only wish to point out that illuminating the exterior of a building 500 meters away with IR light has not been one of those things I have needed to do compared with being able to see down a staircase, or lighting up the interior of a vehicle.

For several years military, law enforcement and civilians who use night vision have been employing IR filters on white lights or IR flashlights, like the Surefire line of Vampire lights, to provide IR light for close or short range IR illumination. This has required operators to add a second light to their weapon, making their white light dual purpose. Neither are optimal as they add weight, time delays and can lead to confusion when the operator needs a white light and has to “convert” the light from IR. The best solution has always been an IR illuminator built into the IR laser that is capable of illuminating a room, as well as a hill or tree line several hundred yards away that activates in conjunction with the IR aiming laser. The folks at Laser Devices solved this issue with the DBAL-D2’s LED IR illuminator.

The illuminator consists of four IR LED lights housed in a focusable housing. The focus lens is like a camera lens in that the variable bezel allows the operator to focus IR light from a wide short range 30-degree beam to a narrow long range 2-degree beam. The illuminator has a high (600mW) and low (300mW) setting; operators can select the best application of light given their needs. It was very simple to use the illuminator and I was able to get the settings to where I needed them very quickly. Being right-handed, I used my left hand to reach forward and adjust the bezel and power settings when mounted on my M4 carbine. The left side of the D2 is larger than that found on other LDI models. This is due to the larger LED illuminator.

The right side of the DBAL-D2 is the same as Laser Devices’ other DBAL models. It houses a red or green visible aiming laser and a Class One 0.7mW eye-safe IR aiming laser. The visible and IR aiming lasers are slaved together, meaning they sight in together. The adjustment controls are recessed and protected from bumps and damage.

The unit can be activated by a button at the rear of the left side, remote pressure pad, or a constant ‘On’ setting. The activation mode selector switch alternates between visible laser, IR laser and IR illuminator, as well as high and low settings. I found that moving the activation button from the top of the unit to the rear of the left side was a great idea. It was very simple to reach up with my left thumb and activate the device. For those who do not like to use remote pressure pads you’re really going to like this, unless of course you’re left-handed. Gloved hands posed the only issue I had with this location. Sometimes under stress it was difficult to feel the center of the button. I suggested LDI engineers add a small raised ring around the button to help in locating it. It appears this ring was added to current production models, along with the ability to add a short section of rail on top of the unit to allow for the installation of a small red dot optic.

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