FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: 2019 SHOT Show Roundup

    2019 Shot Show

    My friend Jayden shooting Thermal

    In this week’s installment of Friday Night Lights, I will recap some of the honorable mentions at SHOT Show. This 2019 Shot Show Roundup will showcase items regarding the latest in night vision, lights, and lasers.

    2019 SHOT Show – Night Vision

    Photonis

    Photonis is the only real competitor to L3 in making image intensifying tubes. At Show Show they announced a new 16mm tube. Traditional night vision tubes are 18mm in diameter. You can see the comparison image above.

    The 16mm tube is 30 grams lighter and 40% smaller in volume. I am not sure if these are backwards compatible with existing night vision bodies like the PVS14. The problem is you would need a spacer and somehow get the connections on the tubes to make contact inside the housing. I suppose a simple spacer with built in connections could bridge the gap.

    Photonis claims that with their lighter weight tubes, lighter weight eye pieces and a smaller bridge they can get binocular night vision devices (BNVD) to be only 320 grams. My ANVIS9 dual tube goggles weigh about 500 grams and Richard L’s PVS31 weigh around 450 Grams and those are considered to be some of the lightest weight dual tubes in the night vision game.

    Of course the smaller tubes will have a slightly smaller field of view than the traditional 18mm tubes but it won’t be a significant amount.

    2019 SHOT Show – Lasers

    L3 Technologies

    While the L3 NGAL is about a year old, we were able to get our hands on the display unit at the L3 Booth. The NGAL is a smaller form factor than the standard PEQ15 or ATPIAL laser that you may be accustomed to.

    You can see how small it is in my hands and I have medium sized hands.

    Unfortunately the NGAL is for LE/MIL only at the moment. I hope L3 will eventually make a civilian legal version. While I was at the L3 Technologies booth, I had to try on the GPNVG-18 quad tube night vision goggles.  If you recall, the L3 GPNVG-18 were prominently used in the Zero Dark Thirty movie.

    My friend, Andrew, tried them on last year at SHOT Show but didn’t post about it until after SHOT Show was over. I begrudged myself for not thinking of that at Shot Show 2018. So I have been waiting for a year to try one of these. It was anticlimactic and very underwhelming. I was hoping for something amazing but the image looks like three distinct circles. It is like wearing dual tubes and holding a monocular PVS14 in each hand and holding them off to the side so your peripheral vision can see them. I was expecting something else and was a little disappointed especially considering these things cost north of $35,000-$60,000 depending who you ask.

    Wilcox

    Unfortunately Wilcox was rather protective of their new RAID-X laser module and would not allow photos to be taken of it. But Thanks to Soldier Systems Daily we have some stock photography. From the photos below, the RAID-X looks similar in size to the L3 NGAL.

    Credit: Soldier Systems Daily/Wilcox

    Credit: Soldier Systems Daily/Wilcox

    Credit: Soldier Systems Daily/Wilcox

    Viridian Lasers

    Viridian had a rifle mounted green laser illuminator at their SHOT Show booth. If you recall there was a company called Laser Genetics that had a similar product but it seems that company may have gone out of business and their products reportedly don’t have the best of track records. I tried buying a new one and it was broken right out of the box. I tried to contact customer support. Gamo/BSA was the company importing them and they said they no longer carry them nor honor warranty claims. So I was forced to return the broken laser. Most illuminating devices are an LED based flashlight. However these have limitations regarding illuminating targets past 200 yards. There are some exceptions to this but they are impractical for weapon mounting.  Laser based illuminators are quite common for night vision and you will find such illuminators on lasers like the PEQ15, DBAL and BE Meyers MAWL. But you don’t see them that often in the visible spectrum. There are a couple of smaller companies making lasers for coyote hunting but they all seem to be from China.

    The Viridian V310 Illuminator is laser based. Just like the Laser Genetics laser illuminators, it is green and features a focusable lens to constrict or widen the laser beam pattern. While the Laser Genetics is cheap with a manual rotating head like a Mag Lite flashlight, the V310 is motorized.

    V310 beam as tight as it can go.

    V310 beam as wide as it can be.

    In my own visible spectrum illuminator testing, I have found it difficult to illuminate a target past 300 yards. Most weapon mounted flashlights struggle to even go past 150 yards. Sure you can slap a SureFire Hellfighter and ID targets out to 600 yards but that is impractical unless you have a large belt fed machine gun. So I have high hopes for the V310 and that it will help illuminate a target past 300 yards.

    B.E. Meyers

    There wasn’t much new with B.E. Meyers, but I found a possible unicorn at their booth. The ever elusive MAWL-ER. Not much is known about the ER but speculation is that it stands for Extended Range.

     

    I spoke with Chris Danks of B.E. Meyers and what he could tell me about the MAWL-ER was that it was redesigned to work with clip on night vision devices like the KAC PVS-30 you see in the photo above. I posted the photo of the MAWL-ER in a Facebook group and BE Meyers owner Matt Meyers pointed out that this laser is not even the real MAWL-ER. It is just an early mock up with the name laser engraved on the side. Interestingly the MAWL-ER is not mentioned on this poster they had in their booth.

    SHOT Show 2019 Flashlights

    Cloud Defensive

    Thanks to a few friends, I was able to get hands on a Cloud Defensive OWL (Optimized Weapon Light). It is a lot bigger than I imagined. We will be getting one in for review but I wanted to show case it here in the mean time.

    Cloud Defensive loaned a gun to SB Tactical sporting an SB tactical brace but more importantly it had their new Cloud Optimized Rail (COR). Made specially with BCM for the OWL and tape switches.

    The one on display was the CORV1. This rail has a section of top rail that is lower than the rest of the top rail. This lowers the height of the OWL or if you are running a MAWL. It does not seem like such a big deal until you get your hands around it and play with the OWL. It feels like the OWL is not even there. One of the complaints about the Cloud Defensive LCS tape switch mounts and the OWL is how tall they are. I have a number of LCS tape switch mounts and have not found it to be too bulky but this rail will make them almost vanish from view.

    Inforce

    Just before SHOT Show, Inforce posted photos of a new offset weapon light. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Cloud Defensive OWL form factor. The OWL design was based on the BE Meyers MAWL laser. They are both offset and are ambidextrous by swapping the head and tail cap positions. Not the case for the Inforce light. It is ambidextrous but you have to flip the mount 180 degrees. Also it requires tools, something both the MAWL and OWL do not need.

    The Inforce light will retail around $229 and will be powered by an 18650. It will have 1500 lumens on high. The rear tailcap has a rotary selector knob to change modes; off, momentary, high, and low.

    Unity Tactical

    Unity Tactical is the maker of the dual tape switch TAPS. Their programmable TAPS is rather impressive.

    TAPS (Tactical Augmented Pressure Switch) Pro from TNVC and Unity Tactical is a complete one point command and control system for all weapon-mounted electronics. It provides low profile, user-programmable, dual-device control for lights and lasers. TAPS Pro allows placement of weapon accessories in optimal location while providing a single point of actuation of the operator’s choosing. Rather than needing to place both light and laser where they can be activated directly, or needing to find places for multiple remote pressure pads while securing loose cables, TAPS Pro literally places control at the operator’s fingertips in a single, user-friendly package.

    Unity Tactical TAPS

    Now Unity is making a simplified set up called the Hot Button. The Hot Button will come in an assortment of versions. It will be MLOK compatible. They will have versions that will have a SureFire scoutlight plug or an Insight ATPIAL plug for activating lasers. They will also have a version that will have both leads so you can simultaneously activate your white light and visible laser. Something I can’t do with my SureFire dual tape switch.

    Edit: I have been told recently that they will not be making a keymod version but they will be making a version for Streamlight HLX

    Something else new from Unity Tactical is the FAST mount. The FAST mount is a tall red dot mount for use with night vision or a heads up shooting style. Some could call this a chin weld since the optic is so tall. This is designed for rapid target acquisition and better situational awareness with a more heads up position. Also with the taller 2.26″ red dot position, it will play better with helmet worn night vision devices.

    KAC made something similar but the Skyscraper mount has a built in magnifier riser. The FAST mount is modular so if you don’t want to use a magnifier you don’t have to. The FAST mount also has built-in iron sights. I am not sure how practical they are since the sight radius is super short. However, you can remove the front sight and use it with a normal 1.42” height front sight for better sight radius

    Unity Tactical is also making magnifier FAST mount. Right now they only have it setup for Aimpoint magnifier but they will make one compatible with the EOTech G33 magnifier. It will take a little designing to work around the adjustment knobs on the G33 magnifier. Most magnifier mounts flip the magnifier off to the side. However this leads to a potential snag hazard. The FAST mount simply lowers the magnifier down nearly eliminating the snag hazard of an offset magnifier.

    I hope you found this 2019 SHOT Show Roundup interesting. We have reached out to a number of these manufacturers and hopefully will get hands on some new products for further review and evaluation. If there is something you want to know or see regarding night vision, thermal, lasers or lights please comment below or send me an email.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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