Author Archive | Jon L

Review: Laser Devices DBAL-D2

The new class of infrared lasers freely available to individual customers, Class 1, has brought once out of reach technology straight into the waiting hands of serious end users. One of the best offerings in this new category is the DBAL-D2 made by Laser Devices, Inc. In short, you are getting the same piece of gear the military is using, made at the same factory, but with less powerful eye safe lasers. What an opportunity!

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser


The DBAL is a class 1, multi function, dual beam, IR/Daytime visible weapons mounted aiming laser with an effective range of approximately 250 yards. This capability is about the maximum usable range for even the newest PVS-14s, etc.  Integral to the unit is a very powerful and widely adjustable IR illuminator with a range of approximately 800 yards.

IR/Daytime lasers are slaved, which makes zeroing a snap during daylight hours. Included is a rugged, self adjusting QD lever/attachment fully compatible with any modern rail setup. This waterproof, 12.5 oz piece of equipment is powered by a single CR123 battery with a lifespan of one hour on the highest setting.

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Rear

Observations From Use

I purchased a DBAL-D2 with the daytime visible green laser from the very helpful folks over at Tactical Night Vision Company, and received it after an admittedly lengthy wait. I paid the premium for the green laser as it is daytime visible to about 100 yards. The red version is only visible to about 25 yards, which is a little short for my desired 50 yard BZO. I mounted this product on a BCM 16″ middy with an Aimpoint T1, Larue free float rail, Inforce WML IR/White light, and other appropriate accessories.

I found the function controls of this laser to be fairly intuitive with positive adjustments and an easy to remember layout, which is invaluable in the dark. While a rugged tape switch is included, I found it unnecessary as a momentary/constant on rubber clickie switch is conveniently nestled into the 10:30 rail position (if the device is mounted in the recommended 12 o’clock position). The INFORCE WML is a perfect companion here as it’s well sized for an unobtrusive 9 o’clock mount and contains a back up IR illuminator.

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Mount

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser with WML

I spent a fair amount of time familiarizing myself with this piece of equipment in my night time back yard so that my first “dark” range time would be fairly seamless. I can’t stress how important this is to avoid fumbling and humiliation during later training. All I can say about the illuminator is that the power and range of focus is nothing short of amazing as viewed through my helmet mounted PVS-14. After a very easy and pleasant daytime zeroing session I was ready for a night fire evaluation!

The green daytime visible laser is powerful enough to be used as a backup sight to the Aimpoint, even in bright sunlight. I’m not sure how much I would revert to this, but it is a nice option. So far during testing I’ve had about 9 trouble free months with 4-500 rounds downrange. I have to slightly alter my hand placement because of the amount of real estate required on the top rail, but for what I’m getting it’s a great trade off.

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Adjustment

The only (minor) suggestion I have to offer after this evaluation is more user friendly lens covers. My rifle is not subjected to super hard use and I found that it was just easiest to remove them completely. I’m not sure how possible it is, but it seems that some kind of clear sacrificial cover would be a nice option.

My dark range/time constraints limited me to a 100 yard no light evaluation on 2/3 IPSC targets. It was very satisfying to confirm the accuracy of the slaved laser system and I was easily and consistently able to hit these targets in full darkness with no adjustment besides what I had already done during daylight zeroing. I’m looking forward to testing myself and this gear at some point in the future at a night fighting tactics course.

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Narrow Illum

100 yards, illuminator tight focus

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Wide Illum

100 yards, illuminator wide focus

Wrap Up

This excellent piece of equipment is not stand alone, and, as a result, careful consideration must be given towards proper integration with a weapon and night vision device. I spent months looking at options and I carefully arrived at the decision to purchase this DBAL. Every time I’ve used it has been confirmation of a right decision. I highly encourage you to take advantage of the availability of this class of lasers, which only came about by a lot of tireless work and industry partnering by the folks at TNVC. Check it out for yourself today!

LDI DBAL-D2 Class 1 IR Laser Top

Review: Crimson Trace CMR-201 IR

Crimson Trace has been busy rewriting the rules when it comes to handgun grip mounted lasers. This innovative company has made a series of service worthy products in a category that until recently was thought of as “gamer gear” only by many in the shooting community. I’m pleased to announce that I found the CMR IR laser to be another excellent offering that earned a place in my armory.

Crimson Trace Rail Master IR


The Crimson Trace CMR is a very compact and lightweight IR laser that was designed to be mounted on the integral light rail with which most of today’s serious handguns are equipped. This product was constructed to fill a very unique offensive, low light handgun niche and is very small and lightweight. While this may be something that your average end user does not require, it’s far from the only application for this laser. Keep in mind that it is IR only and as such requires the use of a night vision device (NVD) for viewing.

Observations From Use

I had no need to run an IR only laser on a handgun, but I found a home for this product on my “battle rifle,” a Larue 7.62 PredatAR. My rifle’s primary role is for up close to 5-600 yards during daylight hours and to be as light as possible. Because it is not primarily a night fighting gun, and is heavy enough after being properly accessorized, I had no desire to add an expensive and somewhat bulky laser/illumination system. However, after being exposed to the CMR I was very impressed by its capability and small size and decided to try it out as a secondary night fighting accessory.

I placed the laser in the 12 o’clock position right in front of my forward BUIS. You would never even know it’s there. I’ve had it on the rifle for about 6 months now with regular use and even though the product was designed for handgun use, it doesn’t seem worse for wear. I zeroed the laser for 100 yards utilizing my helmet mounted PVS-14 and with an auxiliary source of IR illumination can get 100% first shot hits on a steel 2/3 IPSC target in full darkness. This was as far as my time/range constraints allowed, but the laser is visible at much farther distances through the NVD.

Crimson Trace Rail Master IR Top

Operation of the device is very simple: press either of the ambidextrous side levers and you have 5 minutes of laser. The IR dot blinks rapidly as a warning before automatic, battery saving shut down commences. It is powered by a 1/3N Lithium battery with a four hour lifespan. This battery should already be common to many Aimpoint users.

Despite my teeth rattling PWS FSC on a 16″ barreled 7.62 rifle, I observed no loss of zero during my live fire testing. One small point of contention with the product is that the windage/elevation adjustment screws were not labeled with directional arrows. The included written directions clearly explain which way is which, but when zeroing in the dark and having the CMR “upside down” on a top rifle rail it would have been nice (and saved some incorrect adjustments) to just follow the arrow. Also, one should note that zeroing an IR only device is a slow and sometimes frustrating process under the best of circumstances.

Crimson Trace Rail Master IR PVS14

Laser dot shown at 100 yards

Wrap Up

I like this device so much I’m debating as to whether or not to spend on a separate IR illuminator to mount on the rifle and make it independently night capable on the cheap. While price should never be the driving force of a gear decision, the reasonable cost of this piece of gear when compared to other IR options is worth noting. While I would not consider this for a primary night fighting rifle, it makes an extremely appealing back up. Check it out for yourself at Crimson Trace!

Disclosure: This product was provided, free of charge, to me for review by Crimson Trace.

Building Your Mindset – Carry Essential Tools

Most readers of this blog probably have many solid habits, including never leaving the house without some essential tools. This is often referred to as an “every day carry” (EDC) kit and the contents vary based on the needs and skills of the individual. I think it is safe to assume that most would consider a knife and flashlight as foundational tools which should never be left behind.

If you want to be prepared to help in a sudden emergency, you will have to have your EDC tools immediately available upon your person. Just like a firearm in the truck will do you no good during a business hold up, a knife at home will not help you when you need it out on the road. A recent tragic accident that I happened to run across in some news really drives home this point.

A semi truck driver did not see cars stopped in road construction traffic in time to react and he crashed into several vehicles, causing one to catch fire. This vehicle was occupied by a mother, father, and 3 year old girl. The father was able to free himself and good Samaritans were able to free the mother, who was on fire, although she ended up perishing on the scene.

According to witnesses interviewed in the video portion attached to this story, no one on the scene had a knife with them to cut the burning toddler out of her car seat straps. She also perished at the scene. My point is not to judge anyone present and we will never know if a rescuer with a knife could have changed the outcome of this tragedy. I just know that if I am ever confronted with a tragedy like that I would be sick if I was unprepared and missing what should be an essential part of my kit.

Resolve with yourself to never be out and about without basic essential tools. The life saved one day maybe your own or it maybe that of a stranger. Regardless, anyone who is properly equipped and has the mindset of a sheep dog should faithfully exercise the basic responsibility to be prepared.

Building Your Mindset – Continuous Observation

You just finished purchasing that new rifle you’ve had your eye on for some time now at the local Wal-Mart. While you were at it you went ahead and purchased some ammo before heading out into the parking lot to your waiting vehicle. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and everything is right in the world…until it’s not.

While you were making your purchases, you didn’t realize that you were being cased by a suspicious person hanging out in the store. As your thoughts drifted towards the big plans for properly accessorizing this newly purchased rifle, you didn’t see that same man, a felon on the run who recently shot four people, lying in wait for you in the parking lot. You did notice that man when he stuck a gun in your face and robbed you of your freshly purchased rifle and ammo, but by then it was way too late.

The sarcasm above is directed at myself and not the victim of this crime, whom I’ve never met. This recent brazen robbery in Columbus, IN just chilled me a little bit because I thought of all the times I’ve purchased a new firearm and walked out to my vehicle with my hands full and not necessarily on the alert for a parking lot predator. I don’t know the excruciating details of this robbery besides what I found in the local paper, but regardless I certainly found a good lesson.

For the wanted felon on the run, it’s really not a bad plan. People are buying guns like crazy these days and you just need to find some low hanging fruit. You don’t have any plans of filling out a 4473 and waiting to see if you’ll be denied during the back ground check so the next best thing is a quick parking lot robbery. As our society continues to unravel and people become more desperate, brazen crimes like this will probably continue to find their way out to the quiet bedroom communities around America.

Stay alert!

Complex AR-15 Malfunction

I have well over a decade’s worth of experience with the AR-15 rifle and have had the benefit of being instructed in its use in military, police, and civilian arenas. As a result, I have developed a certain amount of proficiency with this weapons system over the years. Learning to clear malfunctions is an integral part of this training and I have had the opportunity to deal with most of the possible malfs this type of firearm can spring on you. I have also soaked up most of the armorer skills necessary to accomplish about any modification or maintenance that the rifle may need.

All that being said, I had a malfunction recently during a range training trip that left me stumped. About six shots into a string of fire my BCM carbine abruptly went single shot only. The rifle would perform all the necessary cycle of functions except I had to manually operate the bolt via the charging handle to feed the rifle the next round. I had recently attempted to clean the lead out of my barrel after mandatory department training with .22LR conversion kits (don’t get me started) because the lead fouling in my 1:7 twist barrel had greatly eroded accuracy.

I am unfamiliar with lead and this type of heavy fouling and my initial thought was that because I had cleaned the barrel the night before with an aggressive compound I had somehow blocked the gas port or obstructed the gas tube. I took the rifle apart and checked the relevant areas for an obstruction and to make sure the gas key was still tight, which it was. At this point I had no choice but to take the rifle home for a detailed strip down and continue hunting for the problem.

I ended up beating out the tapered front sight pins and removing the front sight base (FSB) from the barrel and removing and cleaning the gas tube. After checking the gas path from the port in the barrel all the way back to the gas key I did not observe any signs of an obstruction. All I got for my considerable amount of wasted effort was a marred finish after removing the FSB from my nicely duracoated barrel. I took the rifle out again the next day with some other experienced shooters. The rifle still continued to function only in single shot mode, which was quite frustrating.

I tried using a different bolt/carrier and the rifle worked flawlessly, so we at least had the problem isolated to this parts group. I subscribe more or less to the Pat Rogers school of thought when it comes to cleaning – keep the gun well lubed with quality lube and don’t waste a lot of time doing unnecessary cleaning. This is quite a (welcome) departure from my USMC days, although I did receive some well earned wise cracks about the carbon build up inside the bolt carrier. However, I refused to believe that some carbon buildup would render the rifle suddenly single shot.

Finally, Matt noticed that there was an obstruction deep inside the gas key after a pipe cleaner failed to go all the way through. I had checked the tightness of this thoroughly, but I had neglected to detect the obstruction when I just visually inspected the gas key. The obstruction was a primer that had apparently blown out of a spent shell casing at the exact right instant in time to be hammered into the hole at the end of the gas key and literally peened in place by the end of the gas tube.

Yes, that is a primer inside the gas key.

I then drilled a small hole in the stuck primer and then inserted an appropriately sized wood screw and gave it a little twist. That allowed the aggressive threads to lodge the primer over the end of the screw and I easily removed the whole mess with the aid of a bench vise and a sharp tug. After a couple of cleansing passes with a pipe cleaner to get rid of the metal shavings, I applied an aggressive dose of fresh lube, and that somewhat dirty (on the inside) rifle was back in the fight!

The above incident was a great reminder that every trip to the range is an opportunity to continue the never ending cycle of learning. Also, no substitute exists for thoroughness and if I had exercised a little more of that initially I would have saved some time, not to mention the finish on my barrel. I hope this example will be helpful if you ever find yourself facing a similar malfunction with this type of rifle.

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