Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DBAL I2 Initial Impressions and Night Vision Stuff

Night vision is not cheap. This PVS-14 and DBAL I2 in this picture cost as much as a nice enduro motorcycle or a decent used car. If you can afford it they are an excellent combination. If there is no way you can make that work I would not feel bad about it. You could rock trijicon night sights and surefire lights or consider cheaper Gen 1 night vision. They probably offer 20-25% of the capability (with IR illuminators) at roughly the similar fraction of cost. I can not in good conscience endorse Gen 1 night vision but it probably beats no night vision.

Shown aside the NOD is my DBAL I2 IR/ visible red laser. It showed up a week or so back. The laser also comes with a green vis option for about $200 more. I have heard green lasers can be seen much better/ further by a smart gal named Brigid. Honestly have no use for a vis laser on a fighting rifle so I saw no need to pay more money. For no particular reason put it on a shelf then left it there. Got to fiddling with it a bit today. Will do a brief version of the usual format.

Good: Seems like a quality piece of kit. It is a quality unit with a nice sturdy looking attachment method (though I would zip tie it in place to be safe). A few youtube videos showed that it returns to zero fairly well. I like that it comes in tan. Once the rail is on my rifle will be painted but taking a rattle can to a $800 laser isn't something I like the idea of. So tan is good enough for me.

As to effectiveness of the civilian legal class 1 lasers I can not yet say. A quick net search says dudes are smoking pigs past 200m with DBALs so I think it'll be good enough for me. 

The Bad: It runs on a CR-123 which isn't perfect but most lasers I have seen run on them. That battery is one we stock anyway so it's not a huge deal. Do need to pick up another dozen of them though.

Also getting the battery cap screwed on (to install the battery) was a hassle. Maybe mine is odd or it will break in a bit, however it took me 5 minutes to screw the darn cap on after putting the battery in.

The Ugly: I was under (in hindsight I'm not exactly sure why but I digress) the impression that the vis and IR lasers were slaved. Slaved lasers adjust together so zeroing the vis laser would zero the IR. This is not the case, the lasers definitely adjust separately. This makes for a big hassle in that I have to get out and zero the laser at night. Civilian ranges where you can shoot at night are few and far between. To zero an IR laser I'm going to need a fairly known distance and a very stable rest. A bit more complicated than just confirming a zero with a couple rounds shot at a rock way out in the desert. Granted this will be a one time hassle but it will be a hassle for sure.

In the next few days I will order a rail for the AR. If I wasn't mounting a laser I wouldn't bother with the rail. Well now I am so I need to. Personally I bought the laser first as rail's aren't going anywhere. A troy rail will soon be put on my rifle which will be shortly followed by painting and finally Project Upgrade AR will be finished. [Though I would like to get a BCM lower, for no particular reason, just so everything matches.]

When zeroing lasers there are a couple important things to remember. First the adjustments are opposite iron sights or a scope. Instead of moving the point of impact (the hole the bullet makes AKA POI ) to the point of aim (where your sights point AKA POA) you are moving the laser to meet the impact of the bullet. So adjustments are opposite. Example instead of adjusting right 10 clicks to make the bullet impact (POI) on the bullseye (POA) you are adjusting the laser left 10 clicks to make it meet the strike of the bullet.

There are two fundamental options when zeroing a laser. You can have it zeroed for a given distance or parallel. The plus side of a laser zeroed for a given distance is that it is dead on (perfect POA/POI) for that distance. The downside is that it is off to varying degrees at every other distance. Imagine two chop sticks, one is laid over the other at a gentle angle. The further you get away from the converging point the further the chop sticks get from each other. This options would make sense if for whatever reason you know you will shoot at a given distance. The other option is parallel. Think train tracks. If a laser is an inch above and 3/4's inch to the left of the muzzle it will stay there. So at 10 meters it will be an inch up and 3/4's inch left, same at 50 or 100 meters. This is the method used by our Army, at least in my experience. [Of course bullets do not fly strait. However at the ranges it would matter (past 300m for 5.56) you are probably not going to hit a whole lot at night anyway so I would argue that it doesn't matter.] I would rather have the laser consistently an inch up and 3/4 inch right all the time than perfect at one point and off an unknown distance for the rest.

Anyway that's my initial impression of the DBAL I2.


Anonymous said...

I do not own a Vis or IR laser sight or any night vision gear, so I’m just asking. Does the IR laser have its own dedicated lens it projects thru? If it does can you align the IR laser to the point of impact that you have the VIS laser dot set to while the VIS laser is also active or will the VIS laser light screw with the night vision you will be using?

Ryan said...

On the DBAL I2 they projecting through separate lenses. With this particular model you could not have both on at once.

Commander_Zero said...

First off, congrats on what is probably the most expensive preparedness acquisition short of a dedicated BOV or retreat.

This is kind of interesting from a philosophical, logistics, and mathematical standpoint.

Keep in mind, Im not being critical, Im just curious about your reasoning: you say that the laser/NVD combo is handy but if a person doesnt have one they arent doomed to failure. But you also say that they arent here's my question - this kit *seems* like it is a nice-to-have-but-not-essential bit of gear; how did you rationalize its purchase when there might have been other items that were likely to see more usage in a crisis? (Although I admit that I have no idea what your level of preparedness is, for all I know you may have everything else and this was the cherry on the top.)

I'd love to have a laser/NVD combo but I'd probably wind up sinking the money into something else that *I* think is more likely to be necessary for my particular situation...more food, more metals, more armour, BOV, generator & fuel, etc, etc.

Keep in mind, please...Im not being judgemental, I'm just wondering how you arrived at this big-ticket purchase vs. other, less expensive, preps that may have been on your list.

2heavyb said...

I agree with the need for this gear. Night is the time criminals really like to work their trade. However its something that has to wait until everything else is addressed. In the order of things I will be driving over to Austin to get the wife and I armor.

K@CSG said...

Regarding the CR 123 batteries....

Tenergy makes a rechargable CR123 and charger. I have been using them for a couple years now and have not had any issues with them. Saves me a fortune and I can recharge in the field with a small folding solar panel....

Have any luck finding decent trainers down there?

Ryan said...

Zero, Check back on the main page this evening.

2heavyb, Can't fault that thinking.

K, Excellent, thanks for the tip. As of right now time is running out in AZ. It looks like I am going to be moving to Louisiana then pursuing training. Since I will be within reasonable range of Houston, Dallas and New Orleans there seem to be a lot more opportunities down there.

Aesop said...


Dual lasers don't need to be slaved.
Zero the daylight laser in daylight.

Once that's done, all you have to do is go out at night, and adjust the IR dot to superimpose on the same spot as the visible dot.
A $1 truck reflector, or an IR high viz patch helps with the nighttime zeroing, but so does a piece of white cloth.

If you want to eliminate parallax, you can even adjust them to the exact distance apart at range, they are at the front of the unit, at either whatever range you think is your practical max for nighttime, or overall.

Works like a charm, because physics.

Ryan said...

Aesop, 1) It's not that they must be slaved, just that it makes zeroing a lot easier. 2) You cannot use the vis and IR laser simultaneously. I do plan to do something similar once I figure out a very solid rest for the rifle. 3) I have zeroed a few IR lasers (and planned/ coordinated/ supervised a whole lot more being zeroed) so am familiar with the mechanics of it.

Aesop said...

Comprendo, I know you're not an IR or laser newb.

FWIW, I did the same thing with a weapon with both a visible laser, and a compact red dot, and it worked like a charm, and didn't require a second trip to the range or the extra effort, because the visible laser was zeroed.

I've had people try and describe other methods to me, like how they made a grid of chemlights for a nighttime zero, etc., and it just sounded like too much clowns-coming-out-of-a-VW exercise to me.

Zeroing laser A, and then collimating a laser B to the first one, is virtually foolproof, and simple. All I used for a sturdy rest was several sandbags, since I didn't need to fire the weapon at all, just prevent movement while adjusting the laser.

Confirmatory firing proved the success of the exercise.

And as previously noted, I agree with Mosby's comments on NOD, and your rationale for purchase, for precisely the outlined reasons.
A guy with NOD and a compatible weapon is worth several using spray and pray after dark, and the tech is that most likely to be restricted or banned in the near-term.

Congrats, and here's hoping you never need it for anything but practice.

Ryan said...

Aesop, I plan to do more or less the same thing. Do plan to confirm, maybe with a target or maybe redneck style. How I've done it in the past is to make an offset target for the laser. EX if the laser is 1 inch up and 3/4in left then cut a hole there. Put IR tape in the hole. Aim at the tape and adjust the laser till the rounds strike in the center of the target (zeroed parallel to the laser).

Popular Posts