The last time I reviewed a Nitecore light I was a bit underwhelmed. The P20 was a mediocre light for a weapon-mounted flashlight and underpowered compared to other offerings. Nitecore did offer up their new NU05MI mini IR signal light and their CI7 dual output IR flashlight.
NU05MI IR Marker
Normally I do not get excited over IR markers. But the NU05MI is a cool little device and a bargain at $25. Why am I excited over a little blinking light? Because it is so tiny, inexpensive and does something no other IR marker of its size can do. It is rechargeable.
In my night vision helmet accessories article, I mentioned two IR strobes but they are at the upper end of the scale in terms of function and cost. In most cases, you do not need all those features and a simple IR strobe or visible strobe will do just fine. Take a look at the photo above. The Unity Spark is a self-contained strobe. It only blinks a red LED and while it is good for 200 hours it is not rechargeable and the battery is not user replaceable. Yes, you could cut the Spark open and possibly change the battery that way but it only blinks red. Other helmet marking lights like the S&S Precision V-Lite are double the price of the NU05MI. The V-Lite is sealed just like the Spark and it does come in infrared as well as other LED colors but it is not dual output.
The NU05MI is dual output. It has two IR LEDs as well as two green LEDs.
The NU05MI technically has a third color LED, it has a red indicator LED that lets you know the light has been turned on or off in IR mode. When you turn on the NU05MI the red LED blinks rapidly for a couple seconds and the IR LEDs will blink. Pressing the power button again will cycle through the different modes. It is always IR flashing, IR beam, green flashing and green beam.
The NU05MI comes with a Velcro mount and the light body itself has a clip for attaching it to MOLLE. The Velcro mount has built-in cable management clips or you can secure the mount with cordage.
The NU05MI light is clipped into the bracket.
You can see how small the NU05MI marker is.
As mentioned earlier, the NU05MI has a built-in MOLLE clip for attaching it to a vest or backpack. I suppose you could permanently remove this and stick on some adhesive hook Velcro to skip using the velcro bracket.
What sets the NU05MI apart is the fact that it is USB rechargeable. Of course, there is a slight compromise. The NU05MI battery life is only 20 hours of continuous use. It is IP66 rated IP as “dust tight” and protected against heavy seas or powerful jets of water.
The NU05MI IR LEDs produce 940nm infrared light. Typical IR lights are 850nm. Why would you want 940nm? It is higher on the light spectrum and harder to see with the naked eye compared to 850nm.
Nitecore CI7 – A 4X Vampire
At first glance, I did not think much of the CI7. That is C-EYE-Seven. I mistakenly thought it was C-Seventeen. It is a dual output white/IR light. Sounds boring. That was until I had it in hand and realized that it is like four Surefire Vampires all in one light. Most lights that have both white and IR LEDs use offset IR LEDs which compromises the performance. But what about the SureFire vampire lights? They too are dual output. But the head spins to bring either the white or IR LED into the center of the reflector. The CI7 is similar but it has four white LEDs and four IR LEDs. Just like the NU05MI, the CI7 IR LEDs produce IR light at 940nm. This makes it harder to see to the naked eye.
The CI7 produces 2500 lumens of white light. It is powered by an 18650 but can be powered with 2xCR123. When set to white LEDs you have five brightness levels: 2500, 1100, 320, 90, and 8 lumens. Take a look at the chart below for run times. The CI7 has a similar tailcap design as the P20. It has a mode button that gives you a strobe if the light is turned off and set to white LEDs. When the light is on and set to white LEDs the mode button cycles through the brightness settings. Pressing and holding the mode button will switch to turbo mode on command.
When set to IR mode the CI7 pumps out 7,000mW or 7W of IR light. The Modlite 940nm IR head only produces 500mW of light and their 850nm IR head produces 1200mW of IR light. I do notice that the 850nm Modlite is brighter looking when using night vision than the CI7. However, there could be a number of factors. The reflector is better in the Modlite than the CI7. Also, it is easier to see 850nm with night vision than 940nm.
Here is a little test I did using the CI7 to light up trees and a street.
The RSW2D is more functional though. The button on the tail cap itself can be used for constant on. If you press and hold down that button, the light will cycle through the different brightness settings.
The tape switch has two buttons. You can see a parallelogram just behind the rails NITECORE logo. That is also constant on and if you press and hold it down the light will strobe on white. The rest of the tape switch is used for momentary activation.
Final Thoughts On Nitecore’s New IR Lights
I think Nitecore knocked the NU05MI out of the park. It is perfect for night vision use and has visible green for those who do not use night vision. I am torn with keeping it the way it is or streamlining the NU05MI and removing the MOLLE clip to have hook Velcro and eliminate the need for the Velcro mount entirely for use on my helmet.
The CI7 is a decent light and for only $129 it does not break the bank. I am not sure how well it will handle recoil so I would be cautious about using on a gun. As a handheld light, it is a little bit bigger than a Surefire 6P but the light output is respectable and the IR light is decent.
For more information go to Nitecore’s website.