The field-test kit killer: How the XCAT instantly detects contraband in the field

Less time, less substance needed to detect everything from narcotics and gunshot residue to explosives


The following is paid content sponsored by RedXDefense, LLC.

By PoliceOne Staff

Getting actionable information quickly in the field is crucial to successful investigation. When those investigations revolve around narcotics, gunshot residue or trace explosives, getting information used to mean sending samples to the lab and waiting months—sometimes years—to hear back. Now, there’s a product on the market that can detect gunshot residue, narcotics, and explosives anywhere in a matter of seconds: the XCAT by RedXDefense, LLC.

The XCAT (photo courtesy of RedXDefense, LLC)
The XCAT (photo courtesy of RedXDefense, LLC)

The process goes like this: use a cartridge to swab the suspected contraband or a surface, such as the palm of a hand, and then place the cartridge in the XCAT. The XCAT does the rest, processing samples in as little as 10 seconds and providing a straightforward red or green light to signify whether any contraband was found.

“The flexibility of the XCAT provides immediate results early in an investigation, without hassles and delays,” according to Jan Johnson, veteran forensic specialist, trainer, and owner of Forensic Pieces, Inc.

How it works

Different cartridges are used to detect different substances. The range of detectable substances is comprehensive: gunshot residue, nearly any type of narcotic, and trace amounts of many types of explosives.

One of the biggest benefits of the XCAT GSR detection is that the same cartridge used in a field test can be saved and processed by a forensics lab for confirmation. Traditionally, field tests – especially for gunshot residue – have been hazardous to the user, and have consumed the field test sample. Being able to use the same GSR sample in the field for a presumptive result, and then send it to a lab for a more thorough analysis is more efficient and mitigates the risk of not having enough material to sample.

The XCAT’s rugged design makes it perfect for use in the field. It boasts a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a battery life of over seven hours. It is also IP52 rated for water and dust ingress and passes MIL-STD-810G, attesting to the rugged nature of the product.

Advantages over field test kits

For years, officers have been using field test kits to test for contraband. The process is familiar to officers: place contraband in a pouch, break ampoules, wait. What sets the XCAT apart from this traditional means of contraband detection is that there is no user exposure to chemicals, the results are not subjective, and – perhaps most importantly – the XCAT requires several orders of magnitude less substance to give a result, meaning more accurate detection in the field. More specifically, the XCAT can be used to detect trace amounts of a substance at about 40 micrograms versus the 3 milligrams required for the field test kit (note: there are 1,000 micrograms in a milligram).

Johnson noted that the XCAT is “sensitive enough to detect GSR on clothing worn by the shooter, as well as on the face and other exposed skin of the shooter.”

Budget-friendly and free to upgrade

One of the most unique benefits of this system is the ability to upgrade the units in the field. As new upgrades come out, units can be updated—at no additional cost—through the use of a micro SD port.

Also, budget-conscious agencies appreciate the fact that the XCAT is reasonably priced, especially considering its versatility. As Johnson notes, “For what it costs to send a couple of samples to the lab, you could own the XCAT.”

The XCAT is a versatile tool for law enforcement agents in the field, providing instant access to reliable, actionable information.

As Johnson put it, “Any agency that is tasked with investigating shooting cases should have this weapon in their arsenal.”

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