Rifle set up for night operations

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    • #134037

        I have not seen any specific posts on setting up your rifle for night operations. I am sure it was covered during the HEAT Night Operations class, but was interested in recommendations for those of us not able to attend the inaugural class. First Sergent touched on the importance of switches in his observations post which was helpful. I am interested in what other advice he and others can share. I understand the need for a minimum ir laser and white light, but what about an ir illumination? Is a OTAL ir laser or DBAL ir laser/illuminator the best option? What are the pros/cons of different setups? Is there a preferred urban vs rural setup? What are reliable/preferred brands? Thanks for sharing your knowledge in advance.

      • #134038

          Good post. This is deeply tied in to the technology you invest in. Different gadgets do different things to better or worse extents.

          Things to have on your weapon for night fighting:

          IR laser.
          White light.
          IR light.

          White light is for indoors, not outdoors.

          For example, I’m poor as fuck and I have an OTAL IR laser. I have a surefire light with the surefire excellent double switch that allows me to control both.

          I could have the surefire vampire that gives me the option to have the light be an IR illuminator.

          IR illuninators can really help.

          The issue is researching what will do what – you can get IR illuminators as part of your IR laser device.

          Others should jump in with available tech. I am giving you a broad outline of what you want th equipment to do.

          NO: looking through your daysight with your nods! On a super high mount. Don’t even go there.

        • #134043

            Thanks for the input Max. Right now I am running the OTAL IR laser with an inforce white/ir light. Not confident in the durability of the inforce light so was thinking about different options. The surefire vampire was one I was considering with the double switch. I look forward to hearing what others have to say.

          • #134044
            First Sergeant

              Either an IR laser that has an illuminator or get a Surefire Vampire Scout.

              Signal Out, Can You Identify
              Je ne regrette rien
              In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

            • #134076

                I run the same setup as max: otal-c and surefire vampire. It works.

                The mawl is super Gucci, and by most accounts great.

                The inforce acts like a flood, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

                • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by JohnnyMac.
              • #134077

                  If you decide to go with a dual spectrum laser (IR and Red), the Laser Devices/Steiner CQBL-1 Class 1 laser is a nice compact unit. The red laser and IR laser are slaved together, so you can sight in with the red laser, and you are good to go.

                  I have both an Inforce (single battery) dual spectrum (IR & white) light, and well as a Surefire M600 Scout with a KM2 dual spectrum head.

                  The Surefire is the one from LaRue with the integrated mount (I love LaRue mounts). I do not use a pressure switch with it. It is mounted on the left side of my rifle and I can easily activate it with the thumb on my support hand.

                  I run the Inforce on the side of my helmet. I light having a separate light on my helmet and the Inforce is very light and compact. I have not had the Inforce light very long, but from what I have read it is rugged and dependable.

                • #134093
                  Robert Henry

                    I run a DBAL-I2 9007 model, this is the DBAL that has the IR laser and an IR illuminator- no visible laser.
                    It’s the same footprint as a regular DBAL-I2, just without the useless visible laser.

                    Personally I’m not big on white light for the reasons Max stated- we live very rural. In place of a light I put a Luna ELIR IR illuminator. If you use a Luna, be careful that the filter that is screwed into the front of the lens doesn’t fall off, because that would make the unit much more powerful and of course we don’t want that (cough cough). If the filter did happen to fall off, you could use the little allen head wrench the manufacturer puts in the box with it to put it back on. Cough cough… :good:

                    The Luna will get you out there pretty far and has adjustable beam and power settings. At $350. or so compared to $700. for a SPIR, it’s the best option in a IR illuminator in my opinion.

                    On the switchology- mount your switches where your left hand normally sits on the rifle, ideally on a m-lok type block or similar. On our AKs I’ve had to place the tape switches on the handguard and a couple times a year I have to replace the velcro that sits on the gun due to heat. On my BCM I have it on a m-lok bracket so the velcro hasn’t shown sides of removal yet.

                    Finally remember switches are prone to breakage, you need extras. I gave out TWO during Max’s Night Ops class. On the OTAL-C the unit is USELESS without a working switch. On a DBAL type unit, there is a fire button on the unit itself also that you could use if the tape switch fails.

                    Finally (X2), ALWAYS take the batteries out when your finished using it for the night. “But but but I want to be ready!” well sure but when night is over, night is over… and an IR laser or a PVS14 isn’t going to do you good during the day. Take the batteries out, leave them with the equipment (spares in pistol grip of rifle, helmet counterweight, chest rig, etc.) and as dusk nears, put them back in. Good SOP to get in is to remove every time after done and put daylight covers on all NODS.

                    I’ve heard too many stupid stories from people that have damaged their equipment to believe this isn’t necessary.


                    Lost my MVT class list- been here a time or two :)
                    Team Coyote. Rifleman Challenge- Vanguard

                  • #134104

                      To the OP, for strictly night ops, a good RDS actually works pretty fucking well, as opposed to the old iron sights with tritium inserts. So if there is some natural illum, moon light, etc. this makes an excellent aiming device, on it’s own. There are very few times, when you’re in such deep bush that you don’t have some natural light to work with. A bigger FOV comes into play in low light, so EOTech style sights are more effective (incl Holosun, Vortex, etc.) than micro sights.

                      Now if you want to get into NVD’s (Night Vision Devices) then, yeah, we can add IR laser and illum. But here again, there is usually enough light that you can prosecute targets with IR laser, without active illum. But then there are times you do need active IR illum.

                      Then you look at urban CQB, versus rural woodland patrol. Can you fight in IR, or do you need to switch up to white light. Or RDS only. A lot of it depends on your terrain, light, and distances involved.

                      There is nothing wrong with a good OTAL set up. Especially when combined with Unity Tactical’s Gen II TAPS switch, which allows you to activate both IR laser and illum on the same push. For example you can set it up with one button as IR laser only, and the other as laser and illum. So no need to switch illum on/off separately from laser. One tap, and both laser pointer and illum on target.

                      Realize that lasers are notorious for not staying zeroe’d. Confirm laser zero as often as possible for night ops. Not only OTALS, but PEQ-15’s and others as well. Parallel or converging, whatever works best for you. I like to keep it simple, and set it for the typical ranges I will be working at. So with a -14, with std glass (no 3X mag), something in the neighborhood of 25-50m. Buddy zero like at MVT.

                      I am also a big believer in a good muzzle flash suppressor. I run a can because it makes the best flash suppressor, not necessarily because of the noise reduction. For a dedicated night vison rifle, I think this makes a lot of sense. Others disagree on that point, but for me, I like the idea of reducing my visual signature when firing and maneuvering. At the very least, get a good flash suppressor, like the Vortex, or AAC.

                      Experiment with different ammo brands. You’d be surprised at the different muzzle signatures they have. 5.56 powders versus .223. Training ammo versus war rounds. I roll PMC M193 for training and IMI M855/Mk 262 for war rounds.

                      I also like a low pro gas block and full length rail, so you can get the IR laser and pad as far out there as possible. So like a 13.5″ rail on a 14.5″ bbl, or a 9.5″ rail on a 10.5″. I like a free float rail, but you can affect the laser zero if it gets deflected a little (like pushing hard on cover), but as long as you realize that and take care, it’s not that big an issue as some make it.

                      I also put a little piece of adhesive fuzzy velcro on the buffer tube, as an index for my face. When I’m shooting with IR laser, I’m not scrunched down on the tube, with hard cheek weld anymore, it’s more like a side chin weld, so a little piece of something to remind me where that spot is gets me aligned to look over the RDS and pick up the laser. It’s much farther back than the traditional “nose to charging handle” pos. And it’s roughly an inch higher.

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