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FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Streamlight’s Night Vision Friendly Weaponlight/Laser

At SHOT Show 2019 Streamlight showed off their new TLR-VIR II. It is a compact pistol weapon light that is night vision friendly. It has visible white light, IR illuminator, and an IR laser. The best part? It costs less than the SureFire X400V.

TLR-VIR II

TLR-VIR. NOT the laser version.

Streamlight came out with the first generation TLR-VIR a while ago. It sort of looked like the SureFire X400 type lights but rather than a laser hanging below the light, the TLR-VIR had an IR illuminator. This is not entirely that helpful if you are not using a red dot on your handgun. There is hardly a reflector for that small IR illuminator. The bigger problem is how do you aim an iron-sighted handgun with night vision? You can’t due to the shallow depth of field that helmet-mounted night vision typically has. So even if the TLR-VIR has enough IR illumination to cause your sights to silhouette against the light you cannot focus on the front sight with night vision without adjusting the front objective lens. When you do rack focus on the front sight, now everything beyond your front sight is completely out of focus and you cannot see your target.

Now steps in the TLR-VIR II. It has a white LED, with an off-center IR led and IR laser.

You can see the offset IR led at 3 o’clock and the IR laser sitting next to the white LED at 6 o’clock.

Size wise the TLR-VIR II is similar to the TLR1 and actually a little bit smaller.

 

What surprised me was that the TLR-VIR II is actually powered by a single CR-123. The white LED puts out just 300 lumens for 1.5 hours. But on IR mode the light and laser will run for 12 hours.

 

The night vision friendly TLR-VIR II only uses 1xCR123

 

Night Vision Friendly

The TLR-VIR II is designed to be used with night vision. Since lasers are regulated by the FDA, the TLR-VIR II laser is eye safe. It is just 0.8mw at 850nm wavelength. I was concerned about the offset IR LED illuminator because typically offset LEDs have terrible beam patterns. There is a reason you center an LED in a reflector and not have it off to the side. If you recall the PK M51-WIR light has an offset IR LED and although it is 50mw of IR light, due to the offset nature of the LED, it has a lot of artifacts so the beam is not smooth.

PK M51-WIR offset IR LED

But I was pleasantly surprised by the TLR-VIR II. It does not have a tight beam so it cannot throw the light very far but it is smooth across the beam pattern. Take a look at this video I shot with a SiOnyx Aurora night vision camera. There was a half moon out to provide ambient light.

 

At the range at night, the TLR-VIR II looks decent. But I was close to the targets. In mixed lighting like an urban environment, you will have photonic barriers. Lights will cast shadows and at distance, the TLR-VIR II is not as good as the SureFire X400V. Here is a comparison video I did at night starting at 44 yards and moving closer until the Streamlight TLR-VIR II light was useful. The SureFire X400V IR illuminator beats it however it costs more than double of the Streamlight.

One truly nice feature about the TLR-VIR II is the size. Since it is similar to a TLR-1 or SureFire X300, it fits in holsters that accommodate those lights. Now I only tried it with my friend’s Safariland 6354DO which was made for the SureFire X300. My 19X fit with the TLR-VIR II and locked into the holster. Other holster designs may not work depending on how the holster interacts with a weapon mounted light. Some holsters index and retain off of the light rather than the gun. So if your holster holds onto a SureFire X300 like some Kydex holsters do, then the TLR-VIR II may not fit your holster.

TLR-VIR II Final Thoughts

The price is fantastic for what the TLR-VIR II can do. It retails around $300 and is a great accessory to complement night vision. The IR illuminator is a little bit weaker than I would like but for close-range shooting, like USPSA distances it will perform well. CQB distances would be ideal for this weapon light. The form factor allows it to be used in a Safariland setup for a Streamlight TLR or SureFire X300 so if you have those types of holsters then you do not need to get a new one specific to this light.

The IR laser looks fantastic under night vision. Dare I say it looks better than the SureFire X400V? In my testing, it was more pleasant to look at and point. Could you put the TLR-VIR II on a rifle? Sure but just know that the illuminator won’t help you illuminate targets at rifle target distances.


The TLR-VIR II has a switch on the very bottom of the weapon light body and it is only three positions. VIS, OFF, IR. I wish the TLR-VIR II had the ability to isolate the IR laser from the IR illuminator. Unfortunately, they are slaved together so they turn on together all the time.

For just around $300 it is useful for shooting a handgun with night vision. For more information check out Streamlight’s website.




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