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FOG HORN Gear Review 2 September, 2010

Surefire’s IR M1 Infrared Illuminator Both of the IR images that you see in this
review are at 19 to 25 meters from the
By: Sal Palma NVD.
Surefire’s M1 illuminator is a handheld
infrared flashlight, designed explicitly for
use with Night Vision Devices or NVDs.
The M1 comes packaged in a one-inch
diameter aluminum housing 3.8 inches in
length and Mil-Spec Type III hard anodized.
The light source is an IR LED that is
extremely durable and capable of providing
a sustained maximum output of 10 mw at
880 nM1, and runs on a single 123A battery.
The entire package weighs a mere 3.10
ounces, which includes the battery, so it is
easily carried in your shirt pocket, or
mounted on your rifle using the appropriate
mounting hardware.
In this slice of my IR illumination series, I
will be examining Surefire’s M1 Infrared In the IR image below, designated as Slide I,
Illuminator. we see a well-defined circle with a much
darker area all around it. Note that the dark
For this review, I took to the woods to put
areas lack recognizable details; it is only at
the M1 through its paces. I also wanted to
the hot spot that we are able to recognize
show readers that night vision technology is
the tree leaves. An image you would see if
not the great magic potion that we think it
you were operating in a jungle, where you
is - it has limitations.
contend with heavy tree canopies. This is a
With this article, I want to accomplish two clear indication that NVDs require a light
important things. First, provide you with a source, and it illustrates why the DoD wants
thorough hands-on review of this excellent to incorporate thermal imaging at the
handheld illuminator. Second, demonstrate operator level and throughout the ISR
why illumination is necessary. chain.
To accomplish my goal, I selected a forested 1
mw is a milliwatt and it’s a measure of power output. An
area with a heavy tree canopy. The canopy nM is a nanometer and it is a measure of wavelength.
acts as a shield or umbrella to limit the When discussing light that falls outside of the visible

amount of ambient light. There was also a spectrum, we describe it in terms of its wavelength and

power output.
considerable amount of cloud cover.
Copyright, Sal Palma dba Twobirds-Flying Publication, 2010. All rights reserved.
FOG HORN Gear Review 2 September, 2010

Slide I IR image in a wooded area at ~ 25 m Slide II IR image of the same area at ~19 m

In Slide II, we are closer to the objective so Surefire’s M1 IR illuminator is easy to

we begin to receive the benefit of the operate with its tailcap switch: press for
peripheral lighting, from the M1’s IR LED, momentary-on, twist for constant-on. The
with more of the surrounding area and its switch lock out prevents accidental or
background becoming definable. unintended activation of the light.

Current revisions of NVDs provide a higher Conclusion

level of performance so operating ranges
will be improved; however, broadly There is not much more that can be said
speaking, Slide I and II is representative of about this little light. It functions flawlessly;
what you can expect to see in a heavily it is reliable, shockproof and waterproof.
wooded area. The IR LED will last for thousands of hours.
The housing is built to Mil-Spec so it will
Readers should also note that depth take anything that you can throw at it.
perception is impaired when NVDs are Finally, as an added incentive, the M1
used. If you look at the pictures, you will illuminator ships with a great lanyard. In
see that they are flat and lacking a sense of short, it’s Surefire!


Copyright, Sal Palma dba Twobirds-Flying Publication, 2010. All rights reserved.