I recently purchased a WMLxIR for use on a training/duty rifle. The rifle is used primarily for low light and night vision training. Having learned the hard way how difficult it is to operate under NVGS without proper IR illumination I was very excited to see a recently released and updated WMLxIR with better white light output. During a previous Night Vision course I had the opportunity to try a different generation of the WML IR and was impressed with the IR illumination especially for use in close quarters.
The light seemed like it was the perfect balance of white light output and IR illum… There were, however, several glaring issues that made themselves crystal clear with actual implementation:
First and perhaps the biggest issue is with the switch. Although the entire back of the light is theoretically the switch the reality is that to effectively activate the light you have to hit an impossibly small and off center part of the pad. The actual switch is a tactilely imperceptible nub under the rubberized pad that felt like it needed to be pushed in at exactly the right angle or it wouldn’t function. I moved the light no less than a dozen times to try and find an area where I could efficiently use the switch to no avail. Unless you can rest your thumb over the switch the entire time you might possibly need the light you’ll probably not get the damn thing to work when you need it. This isn’t the end of the world if we are just talking about a white light where I only have to activate one device at a time but as soon as you throw a laser device into the mix you’re really screwed. There is absolutely no way to effectively switch the WMLxIR on or off with anything other than your thumb, couple this with the need to use the same thumb to activate your laser and you are SOL. Yes you can double tap your laser, get it on, then move your thumb over and press the light on but this is an asinine solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist. About 1 out of 50 attempts I was able to utilize a knuckle or other digit to get the damn thing on but these efforts were hampered by the ridiculously microscopic actual switch area. If I was lucky enough to get the thing on then I could guarantee it wouldn’t turn off when I wanted it to. The switch is a complete joke! If you are going to make the whole back of the thing look like a switch actually make it work like one; Or better yet put a clearly tactile and protruding push button on the damn thing like literally every other weapon light in the world has!
(WMLxIR 700 lumens)
(Surefire E2D 200 lumens)
Over the seriously pathetic switch they’ve fitted a simple lockout bar that in theory protects the switch from accidental activation. Cool concept until you’re doing the magic fingers dance over the damn switch trying to get it to work and all you can seem to do is fold the lockout bar up and in the way. This happened to me several times especially when trying to activate the light from non-traditional shooting positions. Given how tiny the freaking switch actually is I’m guessing accidental activation is the least of your worries!!!
The next issue became glaringly obvious the first time I activated the IR illumination right out of the box. I tried the white light and was pleasantly surprised with the output, switched it over to IR and was shocked to see the amount of visible red light coming from the light. The four IR LEDS inside the light bezel glow a very bright visible red color, bright enough to be visible from a long distance to the naked eye. Nothing like giving up any semblance of surprise by giving your threats a bright red target area to aim at.
(Visible red glow from front of light when IR illumination on)
In addition to glowing red the IR illumination seems to be aimed downward at a significant angle when mounted to the left side of the rifle. In a CQB setting this was not a significant issue as the illumination has more than enough power and flood to completely fill an average room with useful light. This did present a significant issue though when used at distances greater than 50yds or when utilizing cover or concealment. At distance the ground between you and your threat is nicely illuminated but beyond 50yds there was very little useful light actually reaching the target. At about 75yds the illumination was no longer sufficient to identify my target. If you attempt to crouch behind cover or utilize a prone position you’ll be immediately greeted with blinding splash from the illuminator. I was unable to utilize the illuminator in these situations as the splash was sufficient to cause my NVD to autogate significantly reducing my ability to efficiently engage threats. The ability to focus the illuminator would be a huge step in the right direction!
(No IR illumination)
(WMLxIR IR illumination)
One of my primary concerns with the light was its’ proclivity for turning on anytime pressure was exerted on the front of the bezel of the light. Several times the light turned itself on when the rifle was set muzzle down on the ground with the bezel contacting the ground. The weight of the rifle alone was sufficient to turn the light on and thankfully a colleague noticed the light on or I would have come back to a nice melted mess. When picked up the light stayed on until I twisted the bezel tighter onto the body of the light. This issue reared its ugly head several times through positional shooting and use of the light for support on a barricade. Each time the bezel of the light had to be screwed into the body in order to turn the light off. I’m not sure if the bezel is coming loose during recoil or if there is a bad connection somewhere in the light but regardless it’s a significant issue.
I really wanted to like this light and I had crossed my fingers that the construction defect issues I had read about with previous WML’s were all in the past… Unfortunately it appears as though they have turned out a well-intentioned design that falls on its’ head when actually used as intended. This is one of the best footprint and best looking designs, now they just need to make it work.
+Cost significantly less than other options
+Great white light output
+Good IR flood for CQB
+Good white to IR switch design
-Absolutely dismal on – off switch
-IR illum seems to point downward
-IR illum displays bright visible red light out the front of the light
-Lockout bar is easily engaged while hunting for the actual switch
-Light turns on if pressure exerted on the bezel