Crimson Trace shoot (Part 3 of 4): Full-auto and night vision gear

One of the huge draws of the Crimson Trace Midnight 3-gun shoot was using infrared and night vision goggles in the dark. To top it off, they also provided full auto stage guns. In short, it was totally awesome. I’ve never used any IR or night vision gear, and my full auto experience is limited to my time on Top Shot. Here are the highlights.

On one stage we used a Primary Weapons Systems Mk 112 Full Auto in 5.56, Crimson Trace MVF-600 IR Light/Laser, and AN-PVS 14 NVGs.

PWS Mk112 5.56 in full auto, with a Crimson Trace MVF-600 IR light-laser vertical grip


Me with the AN-PVS 14 NVGs. Thankfully this was a shooting competition, and not a beauty contest.

The Crimson Trace IR pistol grip was great to use. One huge benefit of IR is that it is invisible to the human eye, so only an operator with IR goggles can see the green laser beam in the dark. Critical if you need to maintain a low profile. Obvious applications are military and law enforcement, and I’d love to hear any practical civilian use ideas in the comments!

Crimson Trace’s MVF-600 IR light/laser grip. Only LEO and military can purchase it. Sad face for us civilians.

The Mk 112 and AN-PVS 14 NVGs were very easy to use and literally boiled down to pointing-and-shooting at your target. I got used to wearing NVGs quickly, and it was amazing how much I could see in minimal light. After our squad was finished with the stage, one of the RO’s said anyone who wanted to unload two 30 round mags into the berm for fun could do so for a donation to a nonprofit camp that teaches kids how to shoot. Another chance to fire full auto? You bet my hand shot up in the sky!

Finally, we also fired an FN Mk46 (M249 SAW variant) with a FLIR Thermal weapon sight.

The FN Mk 46 in full auto, with a FLIR Thermal weapons sight

FN Mk 46 in full auto, with a FLIR Thermal weapons sight. You don’t want to be on the other end of this gun.

We had a small 10 round belt to unload at two targets. The FLIR scope was awesome, yet another critical piece of nighttime gear for military and LEOs. The FN Mk46 was very manageable to fire, and not to mention a ton of fun!

In the next and final installment of the Crimson Trace 3-gun shoot, I’ll give an overview of my pistol, a Glock 34 which is the big brother of the Glock 17.

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career. He shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community.

Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.


  • charles222

    That’s….a very strange way to wear PVS-14s; they’re meant for one eye only. Glad you had fun though 🙂

    • It was interesting to hear the organizers talk about how they had to jerry-rig two of them together. It worked really well!

      • charles222

        Yeah, I’m not sure why you’d do that actually. :p When you use an PVS-14 with only one eye covered but both open, you get this sort of three-dimensional, color/NV composite image. It’s fantastic. Glad to hear it worked well, though.

    • Bravada

      There’s no reason to jerry-rig two together. I use two on a regular basis with this mount.
      I prefer using two as my brain interprets it as being more natural versus the wooziness I get with just using one for a prolonged time period.

      • Charles222

        I’ve used a single for about eight years now; never bothered me. :p

  • They probably put the PVS 14s together because a lot of people get really bad vertigo the first time wearing one PVS 14 and it takes time and training to get your brain use to working like that. Once the brain clicks on the idea it works really well. It might be just a safety issue. I hear someone got DQed after getting turned around in the dark. Or the organizers were just having fun and could do it.

    • Ya, we didn’t get any training time with it. They literally sized us up for the helmet, put the NODs on and gave us quick instruction on how to turn it on and off. I’m sure they wanted to minimize any risk of getting disoriented.

      • charles222

        That’s a shame. It doesn’t take long to get oriented to NODs; they should’ve let you guys walk around abit.

    • sgt fish

      ive only ever seen one guy use a singe NVG tube and that was a SEAL that lost his right eye in a training accident. everyone in the military uses 2 eye goggles unless it mounted on a rifle.

      • Charles223

        You might try visiting a unit that’s gotten issued something newer than PVS-7s.

  • klyph

    In defense of a nighttime home invasion
    And basically, any of the millions of legitimate reasons to keep and bear arms when there’s no daylight. I don’t see why these should be restricted products.

    • Charles222

      A good tac light and simple optic are a far better choice for a home defense long gun than NODs and an IR laser. Simpler to train on and more intuitive for other members of the family; NODs + laser can take a lot of getting used to.

    • Adam

      In my understanding the powerful IR lasers are regulated by the FDA because of the danger to eyesight (Though you can’t see it, IR can still damage your eyesight), not the BATFE because of “leo only” rules.

      There is a newer IR laser and light unite that is less powerful (but, from what i’ve heard, still powerful enough), and available to all civilians. I can’t recall at the moment the manufacturer.

      • charles222

        Didn’t know the FDA regulated lasers. The vagaries of our government :p

      • Bravada

        Adam, Here’s but one source of class 1 IR lasers.
        Seems silly if one company doesn’t want to sell to civilians but it’s their loss as Laser Devices and many others are more than happy to.

  • Bryan S.

    Another legit use for IR laser… coyote hunting. Up here they are serious about controlling that population, even allowing semi-autos for taking them.

  • gunslinger

    i thought the “full NV” setup looked weird.

    but i can understand getting vertigo with 1 regular and 1 NV eye.

    man, i wanna play with this stuff.

    and +1 to the coyote hunting. i’m not in an area with pests? like that, but a former coworker said they’d go out to a friend or relatives place and do pest control to protect livestock/farming land.

    • charles222

      I’d guess the vertigo comes from keeping one eye closed. Alot of people do that with 14s at first, although you’re not supposed to.

  • Geoff Ross

    Just curious as to your impressions of the CT foregrip. Did you find it intuitive to use, were the controls easy to manipulate, was the grip difficult to use, too large, did you accidentally turn on the light/laser just gripping the foregrip?

    I have a CT grip with red laser and white light and often find myself turning on the laser when I grip the foregrip.

    I like the idea of having the light/laser available in one unit. But find the positioning of the controls a bit awkward. The light was partially blocked by the front sight/sling swivel/bayonet lug. The laser reflects off of one of the front mounting screws acting as a marker for someone looking for the source of the laser. Changing batteries is a royal PITA, and the CR123 batteries will not last that long under constant use. And the grip IMHO is very large and a bit awkward on an M4 size carbine.

    • Great questions Geoff, I had to get used to not holding the grip tightly or else I could have turned the laser off, so I think that’s a flawed design. If you were ever under stress with adrenaline flowing I could easily see someone gripping it too hard and turning things off. A better design could possibly be some sort of rocking on/off switch engaged via thumb.

      Other than the off/on switch, I didn’t experience any other problems with accessories or gun parts obscuring the laser/light, so perhaps it’s just part of the game of optimizing your AR15/M16/M4. Gotta keep trying to make those puzzle pieces fit!

  • John Doe

    Conclusion: civilians never get the cool stuff. Bring on the 3D printing!

  • Maury Povitch

    “Full Auto at Night”

    What could possibly go wrong.

  • ThomasD

    I realize this blog is intended to avoid politics, but when you make statements like “great for LEOs” about items restricted from other civilians, you are engaging in very political speech.

    • Hi ThomasD- thanks for your comment, I’m very sensitive to upholding the “Guns, not Politics” atmosphere on TFB, and I didn’t see my “great for LEOs” comment as political so I apologize. It was intended to be a statement of fact.

      I guess when I think of politics I think of Dems and Republicans, elected officers, policy, etc, but I guess I’m learning “politics” extends beyond that.

  • george

    I don’t come to this blog to read about the latest tacticool gear that’ll I’ll never see, and couldn’t afford anyway. What is the purpose of this series? To make us jealous? To inform us about new products that are mil/leo restricted, meaning none of us can buy them? Cool story bro? You wrote a 4 part series that has no relevance to the average recrational shooter.

    • Hi george,

      I’m still getting my feet wet here with regards to what topics and style appeals to the largest TFB demographics, and looking at past articles there seems to be plenty covering military and other gear you and I will never see, so it seemed within bounds. (btw- there’s a cool article from the 23rd on Infantry Tactics if you didn’t catch it).

      The purpose of the Crimson Trace series is to share my experiences with the guns I’m shooting. Three of the four posts cover weapons you can go buy tomorrow (AR-15, Remington 870, Glock 34). For the gear we can’t own/afford in this post, come shoot at the Crimson Trace 3-gun shoot next year! The Match fee was $175 and they gave everyone CT lights/lasers which covered that cost by 2x.

      As a heads up, moving forward I’ll be covering guns & gear on the low, medium, and high ends of the price spectrum, and we all know there will always be toys we wish we could have, but can’t afford. We drool and dream though!

    • charles222

      Don’t be a dick. Go spam up my thread. It’s not like you’re going to be shooting a Javelin or TOW anytime soon.

    • Bravada

      Hey George,
      While you may not aspire to own some of these goodies, there are a great many that read this site that do. There is nothing mentioned that you can’t own. IR lasers can be owned in the class 1 segment. The PVS-14 is legal to own as is a full auto weapon. Granted a fat wallet is needed but that doesn’t mean it’s not within reach. Please don’t poo on it just because your not interested.

  • Proph

    LEO and military only? How dumb is that?!

    • Bravada

      I agree with you but if the Crimson Trace MVF-600 IR light/laser grip is not a class 1 IR laser then there’s nothing that can be done about it.

  • EzGoingKev

    What is the yellow item inserted in the magwell of the rifle in the first image? Is it some kind of giant safety block?

    • Bingo. Since it was super dark, I think they wanted to make it easy to ensure the weapon was safe and cleared.

  • null

    Cool to hear/see all that stuff second hand even if as a civilian most would not ever get to play with it. And crimson trace and FLIR, both in oregon? The second pic down made me lol. Everyone I’ve met at the range from those companies has been real nice and friendly, and open for talking about whatever equipment they were testing…

    I still don’t understand why dumbed down versions aren’t being considered to the civilian market. Tactical advantage? But then there are lots of things that are restricted.

    And why don’t they host an event and charge so civilians can see them for a modest fee at least.

    Anyway, cool to see and hear about, even second hand.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Bravada

    Another legitimate use besides personal defense is Hog huntin’ Tejas style. At night with silencers.

  • iain

    Guys, thanks for the comments regarding Crimson Trace products. As noted, the MVF-600 is currently restricted to mil & LE, a decision which was forced on us by both the FDA and State Dept. Now for the good news – we’ve just launched a line of civilian-legal, eye safe IR lasers which are both available & affordable. I tried them out hunting hogs in TX recently & made first round kills out to around 200m – they’re plenty bright.