Not everyone can justify the expense of a £300 weaponlight, but everyone wants to prepare for the Airsoft Boogaloo.
So what do you do when you’re looking to increase your IR (InfraRed) light inventory, but only have about £50 set aside that the wife doesn’t know about?
You buy an ACM (All China Made) Surefire knock off and live your best boog-life, whilst not spending a holiday to Majorca’s worth of cash on a fancy torch with a specific bracket on it.
I’d been looking for an IR capable light for some time, my last being an Inforce WML Gen 1 that I quickly traded on in favour of a cheap Element Scout Light and flip up “IR Filter”.
Eventually though I’d started to see a few IR equipped lights such as the Surefire M300V being cloned to what was apparently a relatively good standard, with a recommendation from The Heresy Group‘s Tim, I decided to bite the bullet and grab one for myself.
ACM products are infuriating, mostly because they vary so much in quality and you also have no idea if what you’re buying is the same as what your mate has. As much as I suggest that this light is made in the same factory as Element’s own lights, I can’t be certain due to them not being CEO’s compatible with tail-caps and switches.
The light reviewed here is a copy of Surefire’s M300V “Vampire” White/IR Scout Light, It replicates it well enough with the trademarks being good enough to fool anyone not lucky enough to have a Surefire of their own…
Which as it happens, I do.
After seeing a genuine M300V come up for sale at a price I couldn’t say no to, I parted with more money than I really should have for a light I’ll use maybe half a dozen times a year.
Telling the lights apart is tough until you look closer, the giveaways being the placement of the serial number, the mount and also the lens itself.
There is also a slight difference in the colour of the black on the body and head, the genuine Surefire being somewhat shiny and in my opinion looking paradoxically cheaper than its matt/satin finished clone.
The light itself has two main controls, firstly an On/Off activation switch. This being positioned at the rear of the light as a self contained unit, this may be swapped with an included socket to accommodate a tape switch (also included and nicely traded as well) if you’d rather activate the light from another position.
The button switch does appear to be made well enough, but it lacks the “Momentary On” feature that I generally prefer to use. This isn’t a factor if using the tape switch but if like me you prefer the direct control, it does mean having to click on and click to off when using the light.
The second control is on the head, a rotating switch that cycles from White light to IR with an Off position in between the two. A great feature for ensuring both that you don’t have a negligent discharge (ND) of light, or that you accidentally run your cells down whilst in storage.
The head rotated smoothly through each function, a slight click at each function lets you know it’s in place and to prevent the light changing modes. This is actually a departure from the Surefire, the real deal having a spring lock that is bloody tough to swap between at the benefit of absolutely zero chance of the mode being switched accidentally.
The action of rotating the head causes the slightly offset head to go from the White LED emitter to the IR one, this allows each LED to take centre stage and make the most of the reflector surrounding it. The LEDs are slightly off in their placement but with the sheer amount of light being thrown out you can’t notice much distortion.
The body itself is knurled in places which aids greatly in handling the light, close enough to the Surefire original in its appearance but with Surefire’s being noticably more rugged.
The mount is one of the areas that differs from the real M300V Scout Light, only marginally but you can see where the Chinese have copied the M600 Mount (Thanks for the info Rich), the copy lacking the roll pin holding the captive bolt in place and the mount itself being slightly larger.
The hole spacing is virtually identical but due to the age old Imperial/Metric difference with Airsoft and real steel, I’d expect Airsoft mounts to work for the most part but using genuine bolts or certain mounts would require re-threading the light bracket itself.
Speaking of parts, the tail cap and tape switch is particular to this light. I attempt to swap them with an Element Surefire, but unfortunately it failed to work at all. There might be leads out there that do work with this light, but I’m happy enough sticking with what’s provided.
The lens is key to any light’s performance, a clear lens covers the reflector and protects it against small knocks and the environment. The lens is bigger than that of the real Surefire and I wouldn’t want to see the aftermath of this being shot at by a high powered Airsoft replica.
The light takes a single CR123A cell and is stated to put out 400 lumens at a 1.5hr run time compared to Surefire’s own 250 lumens for the same runtime, I can’t accurately verify this but the light is very bright without perhaps some of the “reach” of a Surefire.
The performance of the light is very good, certainly good enough for airsoft. Is it a Surefire beater? No, the Surefire almost certainly will put up with more punishment and the light has much more reach with less peripheral bleed but I’d certainly say that this light will certainly do what you ask of it and more. The IR is also pretty good, whilst it doesn’t throw as far as the Surefire, for CQB or FIBUA it’s more than enough.
The ACM clone doesn’t appear to have any durability issues, however putting it up to the test against a £300 light is probably going to show up some differences in the long run. I will say though, it’s a long way forward from the frankly terrible Nuprol scout lights and mediocre Element lights out on the market.
Can I recommend this light? Absolutely! I’ve just agreed to sell it to a good friend of mine, more so because of the real Surefire I now own than this one lacking in anything. If the real Surefire hadn’t come up for sale I’d happily be running around with this for all my night games.
So the big question? Where can you get one? Well I got mine from eBay. They are also apparently available on Wish, Amazon and also AliExpress but I can’t verify what you’ll get unless you buy from the same place I bought mine.