Tuesday, January 29, 2013

X-400 on a Rifle

Surefire X400 as a rifle light.

Lasers are not something that everybody needs, but they have their place. As a threat de-escalator or a targeting reference tool especially. IR lasers are a must for weapon usage with Night Vision Devices (NOD’s).   

The X400 is your typical quality light as built by Surefire. The switch is the same as on the X300 with the addition of an output mode selector switch. The activation switch is a rocker up or down for constant and press forward for momentary, which is perfect for use on a rifle or pistol. The output selector switch has 5 settings; Off, Laser Only, Laser and Light, Light only and Off. Lumen output in the model I have for the white light is the 170 lumen version. I believe that the new X400’s are at 250 lumens now. The laser is for lack of better terms, added on to the lights body. This causes an approximate 2.25” offset between the laser and barrel. I have placed mine on a Daniel Defense 12” rail with FSP cutout in the 12 O’clock position.

Yes, the X400 laser mounted at 12 O’clock will block your iron sights. But then Irons are not what I’m shooting with, the Aimpoint T-1 is.  If the planets align perfectly (or is it wrongly) and the T-1 goes down, I have a couple options. First, use the front sight post and tube of the T-1 as a large ghost ring for close range shooting. Second. Activate laser in low light or no light conditions and use it. Third, flip up rear sight and shoot with rifle as one does on a suppressed pistol without raised suppressor height sights. Fourth, remove the X400 for distance shooting with Irons. This gives one four options in the extremely unlikely event that the T-1 goes down.

I found that using the X400’s laser is very easy for shooting from a compressed retention position or even a “reactive” shooting when you can’t obtain a full shouldered sight picture. It is also effective, not ideal, for use under NOD’s.

The 12 O’clock mount has not noticeably slowed me down. It has added a extra enabler to the weapon at the slightest disadvantage of a crowded iron sight picture. As I previously stated, I’m not worried about the crowded iron sights though do to the reliability of the Aimpont T-1.

Benefits of the X400 and it’s visible laser. Quality visible lasers cost good money. So is a visible laser a necessity for the average CCW/LE shooter? No. Is it a tool for the toolbox? Yes. If your in a situation where you have a suspect (or bad guy) located and pinned down but can not justify shooting them at this point, the laser could be used to gain compliance by informing the suspect that your not kidding with your verbal commands. Another option is for engaging from behind cover or shooting from odd positions, which I feel is self explanatory. Last I’m going to mention is target or area identification for friendlies. This is pretty much self explanatory as well, any more info on the subject is a OPSEC issue.

X400 as a poor mans DBAL or PEQ? Pricing on the X400 is less ($400ish) than pricing on the civilian legal DBAL-I2 series ($800ish). This makes it more likely for you to have a X400 on your weapon vs a DBAL. The disadvantage to this setup vs a IR laser is as follows. IR means not visible to those not wearing NOD’s. IR is a smaller dot under NOD’s versus a visible laser. Accidental activation of the white light portion of the X400 selector is possible – bad juju when under NOD’s. Having compared the X400 laser dot versus a DBAL-I2 IR dot under a PVS-14, the DBAL-I2 dot is smaller and not visible to the naked eye. However if your limited in funds, the X400 is a viable option.

Learning to use the X400. I spent a lot of time with the X400 on the laser only setting doing dry drills on the range and practice around the house trying to learn the output abilities of the laser. Learning what lighting conditions the laser is visible in and to what extent is vital to effective use of it. I found that the laser was visible in all low light conditions – visible on city streets out to 3+ blocks away. During daylight hours, the laser was visible unless in direct sunlight. During that time the Red Dot and Iron Sights are clearly visible which negates any need for a laser.

X400 compared to the other light/laser options on the market. I was formerly issued an Insight M6. The M6’s were a complete joke in the white light output arena. It was dim and had to be focused. The red laser was barely visible in low light and not even visible during lighted conditions. The switch was the standard Streamlight style of one side goes up and other side down for momentary and the opposite for constant. This is not effective for real world use. The Streamlight TLR-2’s that I’ve played with were the same switching and laser wise, but with a pre focused LED bulb and brighter output.

These are just my observations over the last six or so months of use on a rifle and two years of use on a pistol.

First two pictures are of the DBAL-I2 at 12 O'Clock with a Larue LT-660 "Tall" mounted Aimpoint T-1. 

The next two pictures are of a X-400 at 12 O'Clock with a Larue Tactical LT-660 "Tall" mounted Aimpoint T-1. 

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