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Weapons: Green Dot Versus Red Dot
   Next Article → ARMOR: Driving In The Dark To Victory
November 29, 2011: Red laser spotting devices for rifles have been around for over a two decades, but superior (in many ways) green laser versions began to appear a decade ago. These had many advantages over red laser, and are now frequently showing up in military and police use. Despite the superiority of green laser, red laser showed up first because the red laser beam was easier to generate and required less energy. But now technology has advanced to the point where green laser devices are as compact and sturdy as red ones.

While the green laser dot can be seen twice as far (50 meters with the naked eye, 100 meters or more via a scope) as red laser, it also creates a more prominent laser path, which leads right back to the shooter. But for many combat situations the longer range and better visibility (to the shooter) is a crucial advantage.

But there is another type of light pointer that is even more effective. This has long been present in the U.S. Army's MFAL (Multi-Functional Aiming Lights). This looks like a small flashlight, and attaches to the rifle. But this device can put out visible, or invisible (infrared, or IR) light. The invisible (except to the shooter, or anyone else viewing the scene through IR sensitive lenses) IR light maintains the element of surprise.

There are other advantages to IR. When using IR, you go into a cave or dark room providing light only you can see, with your night vision equipment. If you are real quiet (or sort of quiet), you have a big advantage over the bad guys trying to hide in the dark. This rig also allows you to see any booby traps the enemy may have laid for you. MFAL also emits a laser pointer (red dot). The MFAL was developed with the help of feedback from combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mounted on the rifle like a scope, the Integrated Laser White Light Pointer (ILWLP) provides an infrared aiming light out to 600 meters, and an infrared illuminator that will be good for 300-600 meters depending on how much moonlight is available. The infrared illuminator will also be able to light up an interior space of about 45 square meters (400 square feet). For the infrared illuminator, you need infrared lenses on your goggles to see what the infrared light illuminates. A red dot laser is also built into the unit and has a range of 10-25 meters, depending on the lighting conditions. There is also a white light (flashlight) capability, that can allows facial recognition out to 25 meters. Naturally, the ILWLP costs more than ten times as much as the Surefire White Light. Green dot can be added to these devices, as some green dot pointers weigh only 29 grams (one ounce), including batteries.

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