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We’ve all been there: You get out in the field with all your gear and switch on the IR laser or illuminator, only to have it not work as effectively as it needs to.
That’s why we tracked down and reviewed 10 of the best IR laser and illuminators out there. There’s also a comprehensive buyer’s guide that will help walk you through anything else that you need to know to get the perfect product the first time.
|Best Overall||Streamlight TLR-VIR II Rail Mounted Illuminator||
|Best Value||Accufire Technology IR300 Illuminator||
|Premium Choice||Steiner eOptics Laser Device||
|Best IR Illuminator for Hunting||Beamshot Compact IR Laser Aimer||
|Holosun CA Visible Red Laser w/IR||
|Battery life:||12 hours|
|Style:||1913 rail mount|
If you’re shopping for the best deal on an IR laser and illuminator, what you want is the Streamlight TLR-VIR II Rail Mounted Illuminator. It’s an outstanding mix of price and performance, and it includes both an IR laser and illuminator.
Furthermore, it has a traditional LED light that you can use, making this an extremely versatile tool. The on-off switch has an ambidextrous design, so it works great on both right- and left-handed weapons, and the 3.82-ounce design makes it a lightweight addition to any rig.
This VR illuminator also has a rugged and durable design that can handle inclement weather with ease. With so many great features, it’s not hard to see why it’s the best overall IR laser and & illuminator for night vision scopes.
A drawback is that the mount only works with a 1913 rail mount system, and if that isn’t what you have, this mount won’t work for you.
|Battery life:||5.5 hours|
|Style:||Picatinny rail mount|
If you’re looking for a low-priced option, consider the Accufire Technology IR300 Illuminator. It’s affordable, and with all the features that it offers, it easily earns our nod as the best IR laser & illuminator for night vision scopes for the money.
It uses a rechargeable battery so you don’t have to spend more money to keep using it. The illuminator itself has an adjustable output, so you get exactly what you need without overpowering a location.
The entire setup is easy to install and use, but compared to most other mounts, it is a bit heavy. The 5.5-hour battery life also isn’t great, but it’s not a deal-breaker. For the price, you’re not going to find a better option out there.
|Battery life:||100 hours|
If you have extra money to spend and want the best of the best, the Steiner eOptics Laser Device is what you’re looking for. This device has both an IR laser and an illuminator, and the low-profile design makes it a great tactical choice.
Additionally, it’s easy to install and use, durable, and completely waterproof. Steiner also offers a 2-year warranty to help protect your investment.
You can go 100 hours between battery changes, so this device lets you focus on your time in the field, instead of worrying if your equipment is going to die on you.
However, this is expensive, and at 8 ounces, it’s not the heaviest option out there, but for a product at this price point, we’d like it to be a bit lighter.
|Battery life:||2 hours|
|Style:||MIL-STD 1931, Picatinny, or Weaver|
One of the top-selling points of the Beamshot Compact IR Laser Aimer is that it has multiple mounting options.
It’s also one of the lightest IR options on the market, but don’t let the lightweight design fool you. Beamshot created the right combination of price and performance with this product, which is why it’s near the top of the list.
Our only complaint is the battery life, which is just 2 hours. Still, with everything else that this product offers, it’s worth considering — just keep extra batteries on hand!
|Battery life:||8 hours|
The Holosun CA Visible Red Laser with IR is a great device that works with your night-vision setup. It includes both a laser and an illuminator, and the laser works just fine during daylight conditions too.
This means you’re getting even more out of this device. The battery life gives you 8 hours of use between charges, and you can use up to three laser beams at once!
Moreover, it’s a product that you can take out in inclement weather with confidence because it boasts an IP67 waterproof rating. The tradeoff is that the aluminum casting isn’t the most durable and it’s expensive.
Still, it’s not an option that you’ll regret.
|Battery life:||5 hours|
|Style:||NATO 1913 and Picatinny rails|
Steiner makes great optical devices, and this eOptics OTAL-C IR device is no exception. With both a NATO 1913 and Picatinny rail mount, it should fit on most rifles.
It has a wide operating range that is easy to use, and since it only weighs 4.9 ounces, it’s not going to weigh down your setup. While we would like the battery life to be a bit longer than 5 hours, the AA batteries are easy to change.
Like most Steiner products, it is a bit expensive, but it does come with a 2-year warranty, so you don’t have to worry about getting a dud right out of the box.
|Battery life:||6 hours|
The EOTech ATPIAL-C Laser Aiming System with IR Illuminator is an expensive option, even if it does have great features.
It has both a laser and an illuminator, and the low-profile design keeps it out of your way whether it’s in use or not. This device’s laser-aiming system works with or without night vision, and it’s one of the most precise devices out there.
The entire setup is easy to use, but it is expensive. Also, the battery life is relatively short, it’s a bit heavy, and there’s only one mounting option, the 1913 rail system.
None of these things are necessarily dealbreakers, but when you’re paying this much, you might expect more for your money.
|Battery life:||Up to 16.75 hours|
|Style:||M-LOK and Picatinny|
If you’re looking for an IR device that can do it all, the SureFire M640V Scout Light Pro IR/LED might be just what you want. Not only does it have an IR illuminator and laser, but it also has a super-bright LED light!
Also, it can run for up to 16.75 hours before you’ll need to swap the batteries! Despite all the extra features, the SureFire M640V Scout Light Pro IR/LED only weighs 4.8 ounces.
It not only works fine with a Picatinny rail system, but it also has an M-LOK mounting system.
That said, it does have a long design, so it’s better for mid- to long-range applications.
|Battery life:||130 hours|
If you don’t need something that attaches to a weapon, the Nitecore CI7 White and Infrared IR LED Flashlight is worth checking out. It doesn’t mount to anything because it’s just a flashlight, but it does offer plenty of infrared illuminating properties.
It also has a traditional LED light, so it’s useful in that way too. The battery life can last an impressive 130 hours, and it comes with a built-in battery life indicator. Finally, it’s IP68 waterproof rated, so even if you’re out in inclement weather, it’ll work just fine.
Still, you can’t mount it to anything, so if you’re looking for something that works while hunting, this isn’t for you.
|Battery life:||7 hours|
The Steiner eOptics TOR Mini-IR is an excellent combination of price and performance, and like all the Steiner products on this list, it comes with a 2-year warranty. The range on this product works for up to 270 yards out, and the entire setup is easy to use.
The biggest drawback of this option is the fact that it doesn’t have an IR illuminator. There’s also only one mounting option, but since it’s a Picatinny rail mount, it will fit most rifles out there. Still, if your rifle has any other rail, it won’t work for you.
There are so many great IR products out there, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow it down to just one choice. That’s why we developed this comprehensive buyer’s guide, to walk you through everything that you need to know to get the right product the first time.
The most important thing that you need to look at when considering IR devices is the mounting options. If you plan on mounting your IR laser or illuminator to a weapon, you need to ensure that it actually fits.
We highlighted the mounting capabilities of each of the IR products on this list, and you need to double-check that your choice works for your setup before you order it. If you are unsure what your weapon uses, check a guide that breaks down the most common options.
Battery life is a big deal because the last thing that you want when you’re out in the field is to have your equipment die on you. Just keep in mind that for each option on the list, the given battery life is how long it’ll last on a single charge.
So, get what you need, but don’t overpay for a slightly longer battery life when you know that you can just change it before you head out again, anyway!
It depends on you and your setup, but the more accessories that you add to your rig, the more it’s going to weigh. By going with a bunch of lightweight options, you can put more accessories on your weapon without weighing it down too much.
How much this matter is up to you and how much weight you’re comfortable lugging around from place to place.
When you’re looking at IR lasers and illuminators, it’s important to realize that they’re two different things. IR lasers emit a laser pointer-like light that you can only see on the IR or night-vision spectrum.
This essentially gives you a laser sight, but no one else can see it unless they’re wearing a night-vision setup too. IR illuminators, on the other hand, make it easier to see things when you’re using night vision.
Once again, you can only see what it’s doing when you’re wearing night vision, but it does make it easier to see everything around you!
If you’re still confused about what IR device to get after reading through the reviews and buyer’s guide, just know that as long as you have a 1913 rail mount, you can’t go wrong with the Streamlight TLR-VIR II Rail Mounted Illuminator — there’s a reason that it’s our top choice.
Of course, if you’re looking for a more affordable option or have a Picatinny rail, the Accufire Technology IR300 Illuminator is perfect. What’s important is that you order the right gear sooner rather than later, so when you need it, you have it.
Featured Image Credit: Optics Planet
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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