Tag Archives | Night Vision

Review: Phokus Research Group Hoplite

Night Vision is a tremendous resource for LEO, military, and the prepared citizen. It is not inexpensive but it is best thought of as an investment. If you have invested in something so costly, why wouldn’t you spend a little more to make sure you had the right gear to maximize and protect your investment? That is exactly what the Phokus Research Group Hoplite does.Phokus Research Group Hoplite on PVS14 Phokus Research Group Hoplite


The Hoplite is a plastic cover for night vision devices that primarily alters the way that the device can be focused so that objects both near and far can be in focus and secondarily protects the objective lens from damage. It focuses the device via an adjustable aperture (3 sizes included) on the cap and protects the lens via a sacrificial lens that is always in place over the objective lens when the Hoplite is installed.

It looks very much like a scope cap but you need only to put hands on it to see that its quality far surpasses a typical scope cap. Scope caps wear out in three places – the spring that snaps them open, the friction lock that keeps them closed, and the hinge. The Hoplite doesn’t have a spring to break or wear out. It doesn’t have a friction lock. Instead, it relies on a large, well-constructed hinge to stay in the open and closed position.

The Hopelite attaches to the night vision device via a tension lock mechanism that is very secure.

The hinge is secured with a fairly large and confidence inspiring pin.

The hinge is secured with a fairly large and confidence inspiring pin.

Observations from Use

You only need to look through a Hoplite equipped night vision device one time to understand how valuable it is. It allows you to focus your device for “infinity” and then never touch the focus again. Without the Hoplite, that would mean that distant objects are in focus but near objects are blurry and unrecognizable. The Hoplite allows both and near and far objects to be in focus simply by closing the cap.

The difference that the Hoplite makes is readily apparent. One of the most dramatic examples that I can think of from my time with the Hoplite is that it was actually possible to peer into the chamber of a carbine at arm’s length and focus well enough to identify what type of malfunction you might be dealing with while still being able to glance down range and see targets in perfect focus.

Phokus Research Group Hoplite Aperture Installed

Hoplite cover with an aperture installed

Phokus Research Group Hoplite Aperture Open

Hoplite cover with no aperture installed

Phokus Research Group Hoplite Aperture Sizes

All 3 aperture sizes

I recommend that you spend a little time learning which aperture works best for you. The smaller apertures will allow you to focus closer than the full open aperture. However, we noticed that there is a pretty heavy trade-off that comes with the smaller apertures. They greatly reduce the amount of light that makes it into the device so as you decrease the aperture size, you greatly increase your dependence on an illuminator. If you don’t have a solid illuminator set up when using the smallest aperture, the image you see through the device will be very grainy and may be unusable.

One of the night vision owners that checked out the Hoplite with me was thrilled to see the sacrificial lens built into the Hoplite. He felt that was a very strong secondary benefit given that night vision devices are not cheap and there is supply chain support for the civilian night vision owner. Any protection that you can give the objective lens is invaluable.

Phokus Research Group Hoplite Protective Lens

The sacrificial lens goes a long way toward protecting your investment.

Wrap Up

The Hoplite’s ability to correct the focus shortcomings of night vision devices while also protecting it from damage make it indispensable. I can’t think of a reason not to own one if you have already made the investment in night vision.

Check out the Phokus Research Group Hoplite.

Phokus Research Group Hoplite Removed

The proof is in the pudding. This is the view through a PVS14 without the Hoplite. The target with ear pro is at 4 feet and the targets down range are at 100 yards.

Phokus Research Group Hoplite In Focus

This is the view through a PVS14 with the Hoplite. I wish the image turned out better to show how sharp it really is but the difference in definition on the near target is obvious. The far targets are still in perfect focus.

M845 Mk.4 Gen 3 from TNVC


TNVC’s M845 Gen 2+ is already pretty well known as a high value night vision rifle scope. Now they are one-upping themselves with the introduction of the M845 Gen 3.

The M845 Mk.4 Gen 3 has much of what made the Gen 2+ version great. It has a 2.8X magnification, 2 MOA red dot reticle, wide field of view, adjustable reticle brightness, and 1913 Picatinny rail compatibility.

Check out the M845 Mk.4 Gen 3 at TNVC.



Civilian night vision owners have a new Class 1, eye safe IR laser option. It’s called the RAPTAR Lite ES and it is pretty stickin’ slick.

The RAPTAR Lite ES is made by WILCOX and available through PRG Defense. Like other devices that are currently available, it provides class 1 IR laser aiming, visible laser aiming, and IR flood illumination. However, the WILCOX also has a visible white light illumination capability – an LED head manufactured by none other than Surefire!


The user can control the intensity of all elements (IR and visible lasers, IR illumination, and white light) on the fly. The white light is available with 80 lumen or upgraded 120 lumen output.

The rear of the RAPTER Lite ES features an LED display that makes it easy to keep track of which mode it is in. It weighs only 10 ounces including the remote switch and is powered by a single CR123A battery. Battery life is very respectable, ranging from 1.3 to over 7 hours depending on the mode chosen by the user.

Combining all IR and Visible light and aiming functions into a single unit really save weight and real estate on your host rifle. This unit appears to have a lot of promise. Check out the RAPTAR Lite ES at PRG Defense.


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.

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