The Best Infrared Illuminators for Night Vision
- December 22, 2021
- By Jared Daub
Infrared Illuminators are an important piece of night vision kit. Choosing the right illuminator can be daunting. Our goal is to make it easier for you to grasp.
The entire month of December 2021 has been devoted to putting out quality night vision content and information for you. We want to help YOU make good decisions with your hard earned money.
What is the point of infrared illuminators and why do you need one?
Infrared illuminators are flashlights that operate in a spectrum that is invisible to the naked eye. Some wavelengths of IR lights will have a faint “red” glow at the LED diode. Otherwise, there is no visible signature to the naked eye as our eyes cannot see the IR spectrum. Night vision, like PVS14’s, DTNVS, BNVD’s etc. CAN see in this spectrum of light. What IR illuminators do is effectively provide a light source that night vision can use to see more clearly. It is a strange phenomenon, but under nods you will see shadows and light and dark spots in terrain. Even with the best tubes, you cannot see everything. IR illuminators allow shooters to illuminate these darker locations for better target ID and navigation. Analog night vision devices NEED light sources to amplify the light into a usable picture. In situations with a total absence of light, night vision intensifier tubes will NOT provide a visible image. This is where an IR illuminator shines…pun intended.
Why the illuminator is more important than the laser in our opinion:
Most people seem to get hung up on the laser. While having a laser is a nice luxury, focusing on it is, in our opinion, not the best use of your time. Consumer class lasers work just fine. A solid, high powered illuminator will go further and provide more value for those training with their night vision. This is why many people are now running lasers, like the holosun LS117IR and an illuminator separately, like the KIJI. The topic of separate IR illuminators and lasers is for another blog post, but there is a reason it is seen more and more today.
A few illuminators that have worked really well for our team:
- B.E. Meyers KIJI (Awesome distance, focused beam. Very little “flood”)
- Surefire X300V (good reach, less defined than the KIJI or Weltool LH2, but decent flood)
- TLR VIR ii (marginal reach of 50 yards or less, but compact, easy to use, built in laser, white light as well)
- Weltool LH2 head/BB3 body (insane reach, crazy flood. You get a TON of reach and a really wide flood for close range)
- DBAL-A3 (decent IR flood reach, 100 yards is pretty much max. The beam of the IR illuminator is very defined/sharp edge)
- DBAL-D2 (MUCH better IR than the DBAL-A3
Overall, the conversation of which IR illuminator to choose doesn’t have to be super complex. It is important, but make sure to not get hung up in the weeds. One thing we did to help is the video posted below. We show a host of different IR illuminators and their performance through our full spectrum converted camera. While we did not cover ALL IR illuminators, we covered a pile of them. Hopefully this video is helpful to you. Make sure to give the video a like and please share it with friends who are also into night vision and modern gear. This mission to proliferate arms, equipment and training to the masses starts here.
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