When a threat arises, it can do so in an instant. Today’s personal-protection technology allows an individual to respond to that threat rapidly. Full-size and compact handguns are powerful, reliable and chambered for potent calibers. Rugged Kydex security holsters are available with intuitive one-touch pistol release buttons for a quick draw. Bright LED light sources aid in threat identification and can blind attackers. Laser sight systems allow for rapid target acquisition. All of these defensive innovations are valuable, although they may not always be compatible.
Adding tactical-rail accessories to a pistol usually renders a molded holster obsolete, while reaching for a separate light source may consume valuable time in a defensive situation. Even with some of the best equipment available, it may require multiple steps or a complicated routine to get an entire set of gear up and running. Viridian's Enhanced Combat Readiness (ECR) System is an efficient answer to the problem.
Simply stated, the ECR System allows an operator to activate his or her pre-programmed Viridian green laser sight as the gun is drawn from a Viridian TacLoc holster. No fuss, no muss. Start by holstering the pistol with the module turned on. The holster turns the module off as the pistol locks into place. When the pistol is drawn, the holster reactivates the module without any extra steps. What if the module needs to remain off when the pistol is drawn? Just holster the pistol with the module turned off and the light will remain off when the gun is drawn. It’s a no-practice-required system to master.
One ECR Combination
The Gen II X5L laser and light module is designed for use on full-size pistols, but it also fits the compact G23 as well. Even though smaller modules are available, I wanted to take advantage of the X5L's bright 154-lumen tactical light and a green laser ramped up to the maximum power level federal regulations will allow. The electronics are set in a tough, milled aluminum housing capped with Zytel polymer. The rail mounts are designed to work with a variety of Picatinny-style rails.
Pressing one of the X5L's left or right side activation buttons turns the unit on or off. A digital processor chip in the module allows the unit to be programmed for a variety of settings. Pressing both buttons at the same time cycles through the three main settings, such as the light only, laser only or light and laser together. Within each of these options, the operator has many more settings from which to choose. The light or laser can be set to produce a steady shine or to strobe or pulse, and each can be adjusted for brightness. Once the selections are made, those settings will be in place the next time the module is activated. If the settings need to be adjusted, just press both activation buttons and make the changes.
The X5L arrives ready to install with the rail mounts in place and a battery in the box. The battery can be installed or exchanged by unscrewing the LED light housing. This means it's not necessary to remove the sight from the pistol in order to exchange batteries. How long does the battery last? It depends on the settings used. The CR123A 3v battery supplied by Viridian is listed as providing a 60-minute constant-on life span with both the light and laser activated and programmed for a steady shine. With only the constant laser activated, battery life jumps to over six hours and shifting the laser to pulse will stretch battery life to over 10 hours.
The X5L box also contains an easy-to-understand owner's manual, an additional rail retention screw, two extra rail-mount screws, two rail-mount screw-sized Allen keys and a pair of laser-adjustment Allen keys. It's a nice touch for Viridian to include these extra components, as this spares customers the headache of dredging up these critical bits of hardware in case of loss or damage.
The TacLoc holster is a customized version of the BLACKHAWK! Serpa CQC holster system. The belt loop frame is attached to the holster using three screws in a triangular configuration allowing the operator to change the holster to a forward or rearward cant. A pair of removable spacers mounted in the belt loop openings can be adjusted for various belt widths up to 2.25-inches wide.
At the Range
The green laser provided an exceptionally bright, well-focused dot on the target all the way to the back wall of the 25-yard range. The X5L was removed completely from the test pistol and taken outside to see how the laser performs in bright daylight. The dot from the laser was clearly visible at 100 yards, just as the specifications claim. This is beyond a pistol's practical defensive range, however, it's nice to know you've got the juice if you choose to move the sight over to a defensive rifle.
When testing the X5L at home, I followed two simple rules to ensure the safety of the other members of my household. First, I field stripped the G23 pistol to remove the entire upper slide assembly and the magazine. This left just the bare frame to hold the laser sight and no equipment or ammunition in the gun to make it go "bang." Secondly, the hot green laser was not activated outside of my closed office except when I was the only person in the house. This guaranteed my wife and kids would not be at risk of coming around a corner and getting a beam of laser light shone into their eyes. This arrangement sacrifices some of the "realism" of home practice, but it’s worth it.
The 154-lumen light is bright, very bright if you are on the receiving end of it. In the interior daylight of our brightest and largest room, a quick look directly into the LED light (laser off, of course) left me blinking with spots on my eyes. In the darkest room of the basement, which was nearly pitch black, the LED light was unbearable, forcing me to turn away.
One of the real advantages of such a powerful light is that the corona, or outer rim, of the light beam is bright enough that the center of the light beam does not have to be pointed directly at a subject in order to identify it. In near and total darkness, I pulled the pistol frame in tight against my chest in a two-handed ready position. The center of the light and the activated laser indicated the muzzle, if it had been attached, would be pointed at the ground about 3 yards in front of me. With the X5L in this position and with it being the only source of light in the room, the corona of the light was bright enough to read the titles of the books I had shelved in the area. This may not be how everyone chooses to move through the home with a gun-mounted light. However, it does offer a reasonable balance of speedy target acquisition without pointing the muzzle of the gun directly at a center-of-mass location during subject identification.