SHOT Show 2013: Testing new tech at the FLIR Systems night shoot

After shooting new guns and seeing old friends at SHOT Show 2013 Media Day at the Range, attending the first-ever FLIR Systems night shoot was the perfect — albeit frigid cold — way to end our day

After a long day of shooting new guns at SHOT Show 2013 Media Day at the Range, Lindsey Bertomen and I attended the first-ever FLIR Systems night shoot.

First on the line was an M4 rifle with a FLIR ThermoSight T50 on the rail. The T50 offers a surprisingly vivid image, with automatically-adjusted brightness and contrast. The controls are big enough for easy manipulation with gloved hands, and the small package weighs in at just over one-and-a-half pounds, including batteries and lens covers.

Mounted on the neighboring M4 was the FLIR ThermoSight T70. The image is clear and bright, but doesn’t illuminate the operator behind the display, and operating on three AA lithium batteries it should give about six hours of continuous operation.

Guy Blocker, an applications engineer for FLIR, setting up the target for the 200-yard range before the first-ever FLIR night shoot at SHOT Show. I can assure you, there were many more holes in this target the following morning. (Image Courtesy of FLIR)
Guy Blocker, an applications engineer for FLIR, setting up the target for the 200-yard range before the first-ever FLIR night shoot at SHOT Show. I can assure you, there were many more holes in this target the following morning. (Image Courtesy of FLIR)

Offering adjustable magnification (1X, 2X, and 4X) for long-, mid-, and short-range fields of view with an easy-to-use ergonomic control, the T70 is — in my personal opinion — a great option for officers and agencies seeking to get the most out of a single purchase.

Next on the line was a LaRue OBR, equipped with a FLIR MilSight S135 MUNS. The OBR is an awesome rifle, and when paired with the S135 MUNS it becomes the stuff of nighttime dreams.

FLIR’s proprietary ‘Shock Mitigation System’ allows the S135 to be used on a wide variety of weapons — up to and including .50 caliber bolt-action rifles.

Lastly, a Barrett chambered in .338 Lapua was set up on the 200-yard range and had the FLIR S140 ADUNS-S mounted atop the rifle.

I was a little intimidated to try a 200-yard shot in all-but-total darkness, but immediately upon sitting behind the S140 ADUNS-S, my trepidation evaporated completely.

Target acquisition was easy, accuracy even out at 200 yards was tremendous — the product spec sheet declares ½ MOA or better, and my 100 percent hit rate that night is enough anecdotal evidence for me.

Like the LaRue, the addition of the FLIR unit made an already-awesome gun even better (and making a Barrett better is a nearly-impossible feat!).

Handhelds and Un-mounted Devices
There were several other FLIR systems floating around between gloved hands behind the firing line. I was equally impressed with the Recon BN10, Recon M24 and Recon M18, each of which offers excellent imaging.

Recon BN10 is surprisingly light — imagine picking up a block of foam rubber made to look like a brick — and boasts more than four hours of run time on one set of four CR-123 batteries.
The rubber outer shell provided a great grip, and although I didn’t do any sort of drop test (neither on purpose nor accidental) I suspect it also ensures protection against the type of damage which occasionally can occur on long nights of surveillance. 

The Recon M24 is a wider-angle — and consequently doesn’t have quite the same length of range as the Recon M18 — and seems ideally-suited to short-range surveillance and tactical scenarios. 

A Successful Evening
Upon my return from SHOT Show, I connected briefly with the folks at FLIR, to get their impression of their inaugural night shoot event. 

“I thought the event went really well, especially considering the cold temperatures we were all dealing with,” said David Strong, Vice President of FLIR’s Government Systems division. 

“We were quite pleased that everyone got some really good exposure to different FLIR sights. All of the sights there that evening — from the handhelds to the mounted thermal devices — are all military ruggedized and military field tested and offer law enforcement with a range of capabilities,” Strong concluded.

I had some favorites — particularly the T70, which was introduced only a couple of months ago and the Recon BN10, which I can easily see in an agency inventory for surveillance operations — but I was duly impressed with everything FLIR showed us that night.

I just wish they’d provided us with pocket warmers! 

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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