Friday Night Lights: Articulating Helmet Illumination

    Welcome back, night enthusiasts. Friday Night Lights is brought to you by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies. We revisit helmet lights and take a look at articulating helmet illumination.

    Helmets @TFB:

    Articulating Helmet Illumination

    Nitecore has come out with a new light, the HM01, for mounting onto ARC rails on your helmet.

    As designed, the HM01 sticks out a bit away from the helmet. However, it is an articulating helmet light so you can reposition it.

    The HM01 achieves this with a dual ball and socket for articulation. Nitecore calls this a 3D pivoting system that allows you 360º rotation at either end of the double ball socket.

    This reminds me of that photo of the Chinese Soldiers wearing some sort of night vision or thermal device on their helmets

    Photo from Asia Times

    Photo from Asia Times

    While this articulation adds a lot more range for the HM01, it is not really necessary for an articulating helmet light. As mentioned above, you can rotate the HM01 to sit more flush against the helmet. This reduces your chances of snagging things. While the HM01 articulating helmet light has a 3D pivoting system, the base can spin 360º with detents spaced every 30º.

    HM01 articulating helmet light

    When pressed up against the helmet, the HM01 does not sit flat with the mount.

    You can spin the entire HM01 around this point of articulation.

    HM01 rotated up for ceiling bounce.

    Activation is rather simple. The head has a single button that is on the side of the HM01 head.  Press and hold for 2 seconds to activate the light. It has two illumination modes. It starts at a low 35 lumens. Press the button again to switch to the high mode of 320 lumens. To turn off the HM01, you just press and hold the activation button down for a couple seconds. At 320 lumens, the HM01 has a run time of just 3 hours, but if you set it to low mode, then the CR123 will power the HM01 for 15 hours.

    I am a little surprised Nitecore did not use a rechargeable CR123A or their 18350 battery for better capacity and built-in USB micro recharging port.

    Installation is rather easy and straightforward. Just slide the dovetailed mount into the ARC rail of your helmet.

    There is a small set screw that you do tighten. This screw interfaces with the slits in the ARC rail. You don’t have to use it though. The friction from the rail is great enough that I do not see the light sliding out. But it is there for added security.

    How well does the HM01 articulating helmet light actually work? See beam shots below.

    Control photo before turning on the HM01.

    HM01 set on low.

    HM01 set on high.

    Same test but in a more open space.

    Control photo before activating HM01.

    HM01 on low.

    HM01 on high.

    The Nitecore HM01 retails for $89.99. It is relatively small and puts out a decent beam for administrative tasks. I like that the button needs to be held down for a couple seconds so there is less chance of accidental discharge. I would like a secondary LED for red low light use but it is not a deal breaker.


    Articulating A SureFire Scout Light

    Nocorium posted on his website how he mounts lights to his helmet. Other than the PTS MTEK FLUX, he is using a Thyrm Variarc to have an articulating helmet light. His priority is having the scoutlight as close to the helmet as possible while still being able to articulate the light. He shows two ways to achieve this. The first is a standard M300 Scout Light on an Arisaka offset mount. But his preferred setup is the SureFire M430 Pro which has an integrated offset mount attached to the light body.

    You can see in the photo below how the offset Arisaka light mount tries to bring the light body closer to the helmet.

    But the SureFire M340 has a hinge that can roll the light body inboard closer to the helmet.

    Here is the M300 vs the M430.

    When combined with the Variarc the SureFire M340 is now an articulating helmet light.

    For the PTS MTEK FLUX, Nocorium uses a Centurion Arms polymer offset MLOK mount.

    Last Illuminating Thoughts on Articulation

    Before these options, many people bought the S&S Precision M-Ax mount. It is a mini scoutlight body on an arm that has a ball and socket joint with a dovetail mount that interfaces into an ARC Rail on a helmet.  The M-Ax mount costs over $200 for the body. Add a head and light and you almost doubled the price of a scoutlight. So with the Variarc you can mimic the same range of motion but save yourself a lot of money. The Thyrm Variarc only costs $30. Yes, you may need an offset mount from Arisaka but those don’t break the bank.

    The Nitecore HM01 is not that expensive and does the job for an articulating helmet light. For more information check out their website.

    TFB’s Friday Night Lights series is brought to you by ATN

    Nicholas C

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

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]