Wednesday, August 7, 2013

GNB: Inforce APL review

Inforce APL is the latest weapon light to hit the market. It emits 200 lumens which is a bit less than comparable offerings from other companies(Surefire and Streamlight), but it seems to safely position itself in the market.

According to Inforce, APL runs 1.5 hours, with only one CR123 battery. More over it only weighs 2.8oz, adding very little to the weight of the gun. This is possibly the lightest weapon light I've used in a while.

The box it comes in is a simple white box that contains the light itself(and one battery), user manual, hex key, two screws, and one MIL-STD-1913 rail. The light already comes with Universal rail. (Note: This light can not be mounted on Beretta PX4 or H&K USP)

You can immediately figure out how to install and use this light. On the left is the lift side lever you pull out, fit the light to the rail, then lock it back in. To use the  light, you push one of the two bilateral paddles. Press and hold for momentary light, quick click for constant on.

There are some reviews of APL noting it does not hold up well to recoil. After reading those reviews, it seemed the problem generally showed up within 100 - 150 rounds. So 200 rounds were allotted for this review.

APL was installed on a Glock 17 and shot all 200 rounds without a problem. The shooting cadence was a combination of 10 rounds of rapid fire(about 0.5 second splits) followed by 10 rounds of slow fire(about 1-4 second in between each shot). After 10 shots, the light was turned on to check if it works. It did not fail in any of the checks. One thing that was not done was leaving the light on during shooting.

One of reviews stated that the light was mounted on a Glock 23 which generally has more recoil and the user swapped out the rail but did not use Lock-tite. Both could have been factors contributing to the light falling out from the gun, but at least for this review it did not happen.

Here are some points that is worth mentioning.

First, the shortcomings

1. In some guns(like Glock 17) the head of the light rests fairly flush with the muzzle. It looks great until you have to shoot some amount of rounds. Due to the way it is set up on Glock 17, all the grimes ended up on the lens. It seemed to be more than the amount that ended up on Surefire X300U which is a bit longer.

While chances of average people shooting large number of rounds for self-defense purpose is very slim, it does pose some question in certain handgun models.

2. Paddle operation could be a bit of challenge. First, out of box, the paddle is a bit stiff. This can be negotiated by using the paddle many times. At this point left paddle is easier to operate than the right paddle since left thumb was used a lot more often during familiarization.

Another problem is the activation method. According to some reviews a press of 0.5 seconds or less gives constant on, while longer is for momentary. This caused some problem during this review as there are times when owner wanted momentary activation, but ended up with a constant on. Owner can turn it off immediately, but it takes away any chance of operation under 0.5 seconds.

This is not a catastrophic problem, and chances are that average users would not run into such problem often. However, there are times when certain users would want more flexibility.

3. There is some lack of holster availability. I've managed to find two companies that make holsters for this specific light - Raven Concealment and Ares Armor. Both require some lead time and there isn't an off-the-shelf holster made for this light yet.

This does not say much about the light itself, but rather the lack of current market share which could change.

Some noted that it also fits Safariland SLS line holsters that takes Surefire X300, X200, and Streamlight TLR-1.
The light was spread out enough for checking peripherals while maintaining a bright center.(approximately 5 yards)

Let's look at strong points

1.It's light. It may not mean much to some people but having the added weight may not be as beneficial as someone thinks. Some people like the added weight for recoil management purpose, but for those who do not like to carry a heavy gun for a long time, the lightness is certainly welcoming.

2. It is very efficient. It emits 200 lumens, which is less than its competitors, but  this is a good amount, especially indoors. There are times when having more lumens doesn't necessarily mean better. Lights can splash back from white or light colored walls which doesn't help shooter's vision.

One CR123 battery lasts 1.5 hours which means that when you get 2 batteries, you can use it for about 3 hours with one battery change. Considering it takes a long time to use 1.5 hours, having two batteries could mean a really long period of use for self or home-defense use.

The design itself is brutally efficient too. Twist the headlamp and insert the battery, twist it back and that's it. Paddles are ambidextrous so it works for both hands.
APL after 200 round session

This is a very good alternative for budget conscious owners. It is not a bulky light and has enough(maybe even more) brightness for self and home defense use. With a bit of training and familiarization this should serve a lot of people well.

As noted above, the 0.5 second split between momentary and constant on is something that user needs to work on. If there was a way to alter the setting it would be very desirable, but there is no sign of such option at this time.

As of today, Ares Armor has them in stock for $92. It comes with their logo printed at the bottom, but it's not a major issue.

End note: Inforce stated that APL is for handguns only. Just for fun, it was mounted on an AR. The bilateral paddle was very useful, accommodating various positions - 3 o'clock, 9 o'clock and even in front of front sight. There was no live-fire test done with a carbine so it is hard to say how it will handle. Inforce has WML for carbines.