April 1, 2010

Insight Technology Inc., Tech-Gear M6X Laser/Illuminator: An Enlightening Experience

Weapon mounted laser/lights have been a source of controversy among gun enthusiasts for some time, even among our own staff.

Weapon-mounted laser/lights have been a source of controversy among gun enthusiasts for some time, even among our own staff. Purists state that lasers lead to poor shooting techniques, and the misguided belief that the laser beam has a “guided missile” property to it, and of course, that all batteries fail, usually at the worst possible time. While we agree that lasers are no substitute for proper shooting techniques, we also believe that they can be a valuable tool in low light confrontations. Their continued popularity among our Law Enforcement and Military communities is also a testament to their effectiveness.

For long guns and sidearms, they assist in close quarter actions, when traditional sights become difficult to use. They also serve as an aid when non-traditional sighting is required, as when engaging a target while staying concealed behind cover. Throw in the target identification and their ability to temporarily impair the vision of a potential assailant with the flashlight portion of the unit, and you have very potent aid in personal self defense.

Insight Technology Inc. has been a pioneer in tactical lights and lasers since 1988, and today is one the leading suppliers to U.S. Special Forces. It created a new Division, Insight Tech-Gear to focus on the needs of Law Enforcement and personal defense.

M6X Mounted on a Ruger SR9

Both versions of the M6X mounted on a Ruger SR9 and a Stag Arms AR-15 with a Samson Quad Rail

We had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of trigger time with two variants of their M6X Laser/Illuminator, which combines a 125+ Lumen Light with a Class IIIa Red Laser in a compact package.

The Specs

The M6X is constructed of a High Impact Polymer, (also known as plastic) that meets Mil-Spec requirements. The long gun model is rated waterproof to a depth of 66 feet, however the best we could manage was submerging it in a swimming pool, and it passed our less stringent test. It is furnished in two versions: a Slide-Lock® quick disconnect latching system, and a Rail Grabber™ screw tightened attachment for higher recoil firearms (M6X-000-A1 and A15). The Polymer construction allows the Slide-Lock® to weigh in at 4.4 oz. with two CR123A batteries installed, and the more robust Rail Grabber™ at 4.8 oz.

Suggested Retail on the M6X Slide-Lock® is $384.95, and is available in versions to fit Glock, S&W, and 1913 Mil Spec Rails. The Rail-Grabber™ comes in the same options with an MSRP of $495.95. Both versions come with Long Gun and Pistol variants for an additional cost that include a variety of pressure switches for remote operation. All of these products can be found discounted from any number of retail suppliers.

The light on the M6X is of the standard high output variety, rated at 125 lumens peak output with a minimum run time of one hour, and facial recognition capability to 25 meters. It uses a proprietary Shock Suppression System to dampen recoil that would damage the light. The light can also be defocused from a spot to wide dispersion by rotating the front bezel.

The M6X Slide-Lock®

The M6X Slide-Lock® uses two latches for a quick connection or disconnect without losing the Laser's zero

The M6X’s Class IIIa visible red laser is rated to 200 meters. An optional Class IIIb IR laser is also available for use with night vision devices.

The M6X comes packaged in a foam-lined plastic box along with an instruction manual, spare bulb, and batteries. Insight Technologies also backs their products with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Operation

The M6X uses a rear-mounted rocker switch with dual paddles to control the on/off function of the unit. Rotated counter-clockwise it provides momentary operation until released. A clockwise turn provides constant-on operation until clicked back to the neutral (off) position . This action becomes quite intuitive with a little practice, and the momentary option is excellent for tactical operations where quick illumination and movement prevents identification of your location.

The M6X provides for control of the light and laser via small circular knob with ribs for gripping ease. The switch has four positions: system off, laser only, light only, and laser/light tandem on. Once again, these switching options are easy to reach and change, providing the operator a variety of target acquisition options.

The Rail-Grabber shown with an optional Long Gun Backplate and Remote Pressure Switch

The laser on the M6X is adjustable for windage and elevation via two small hex screws located at the bottom and right side of the laser. Insight suggests sighting in at 25 yards, using a provided hex wrench. Unlike other versions, the M6X keeps the wrench handy by keeping it attached with a tool that screws into the front of the unit. Other models, like their M6, have a separate hex wrench that can be easy to misplace.

A variety of optional switch and filter options exist to customize the M6X for a variety of applications or preferences. A contoured pistol and long gun remote backplate allows for pressure switch activation. Our long gun version came with the remote backplate, along with a wired pressure switch that plugs into the M6X and can be attached to a foregrip or stock of a rifle. With a front foregrip attached to our Stag Arms AR-15 with a Samson Star C™ Rail ( www.samsonmfg.com ) we found could operate the controls without using the optional switching. Since we never met a wire we couldn’t tear loose, we found this to be a great asset in keeping the set-up neat and simple. The same could be said with our Ruger SR9 pistol mounted version. We found the manual switches within reach of our index finger.

The Laser Adjustment Tool stays with the Rail-Grabber™

There are also flip-up and bikini-style filters for the light in Opaque, Red, and IR versions.

Our Opinion

We’ve spent a lot of time with both versions of the M6X, and found much to like, with only a few complaints. Call us old school, but we tend to favor metal over plastic when it comes to our flashlights. However the polymer used on our M6X’s proved to be durable and trouble-free. Since our pistol and rifle also had polymer as part of their construction, we are probably contradicting ourselves.

Both M6X’s lasers held their zero well throughout our firing sessions, even when removed and re-attached to the same weapon. It should be noted that it features a red laser and not the more powerful green variety, so it is useful in low light conditions only.

We did have an issue with the light used on the M6X. The idea of defocusing the light to provide wider coverage is good in theory, but results in “dead spots” in the light throw when adjusted. We kept our units set at the tighter spot setting. If we want to cover a wide area, we would take Insight’s own advice, and aim the light at the floor, ceiling, or wall, to provide indirect lighting to silhouette a potential threat without giving up one’s position.

The M6X Controls are easily reached by hand, making for a compact and neat attachment

We had no problems with the standard light’s power or length of runtime. Nor did we experience a failure due to recoil. However it did exhibit the issue that all standard lights have; when it goes out, it does so all at once. We’d like to see Insight eventually incorporate the same LED technology used in their new series of high performance weapon lights, such as their XTI Procyon, which extends runtime to 90 minutes at full power with usable light for several hours afterward.

We particularly liked the clean multifunction interface on our AR-15, without our rifle being burdened with multiple devices and the separate controls that come with them. In case of emergency, both the Rail-Grabber™, and particularly the Slide-Lock®, offer quick transfer from one weapon to another. One might lose the exact laser zero, but the light is still available, and in extremely close encounters the laser should still allow for some aiming assistance.

Our issues with the M6X are outweighed by its overall performance in a small, lightweight package. In summary we like the M6X, and while it will not replace practice with one’s weapon, it can be a valuable tool to one’s personal defense arsenal. We can recommend the M6X with confidence, but also hope that Insight Tech-Gear incorporates some of their newest LED light technology in future models.