Prepper Light – not your typical flashlight I love flashlights. It’s kind of a guy thing and in the last few years some very interesting technologies have become available. Weapon lights, LED lights, self charging lights and a whole host of new shapes, sizes and capabilities has resulted in many of us heating up our plastic. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com<img src=" /> While writing reviews of equipment is really not my thing, every now and then a product comes along that changes how I think about defense and survival. Some time ago, I was at a gun store and noticed a new “night vision device” on display that looked like a common flashlight. I read a little bit of the packaging and made a mental note about the name of the unit. It was called an ND-3 Long Distance Laser Designator and bragged that it was the “Ultimate Night Vision Solution”. Yeah, right. For $300, you bet it is the Ultimate Night Vision Solution. Since it looked so much like a flashlight, I went home and looked it up on the net. The company website looked good, but when I searched some of my favorite forums, a few people had bad things to say about the product. Comments like “mine is now a dog toy, save your money” were not common, but I did find them and forgot all about the product. Some months later, imagine my surprise when I opened a birthday gift and behold, there was a brand new ND-3. While maintaining a facial expression of pure joy, deep down inside I was wishing my wonderful family had not spent that kind of money without asking me. I opened the product and found a well packaged, completely accessorized “flashlight” with several mounting options, a nice carry case, a remote on/off switch, and a battery. The mounting hardware looked like it was of average quality. I started reading the manual and it claimed the light could illuminate targets (at night) up to 250 meters away. I was very skeptical. The little light is about six inches long and weighs about a quarter of a pound. I read that it only takes a single battery (CR123) and the battery lasts 7 hours. Something was wrong with this math. I own several top quality weapon lights, and this little unit was not big enough, heavy enough or powered enough to perform at that level. Its operational distance (up to 250 METERS) is almost three football fields. That is a very long distance for any flashlight. I decided I could still return the little light even if I tested it later. I began to concentrate on a way to gracefully take it back without hurting anyone’s feelings. Later that night, I took the ND-3 out into the back yard and turned it on. WOW! My yard is not that big, probably 30 meters side-to-side before ending with a privacy fence, but I could focus the width of the beam and the performance was impressive. The unit is actually a “wide beam laser”, not a traditional “light”. It emits a green light that can be narrowed (or widened) by turning a ring on the body of the light. I retrieved my best Surefire weapon light and compared the two. I could see much better at 30 meters with the laser than with the traditional white light. So I decided to wait until the neighbors were probably in the sack and try it out in the empty field next to our sub-division. I also took along an M4 (AR15) with an ACOG (4x Rifle Scope) mounted on it just for good measure. My first test was to pick out a tree with a small brush pile underneath and walk off 150 large steps. I narrowed the beam completely on the ND-3 and turned it on. I could easily make out individual branches of the brush, and could see a knot on the side of the tree. I put the little light on the M4 (with an old 1913 rail scope mount) and I could clearly acquire the knot of the tree through the ACOG. It was VERY impressive. I walked off another 50 big steps and tried again. I could acquire the tree no problem, but the knot and brush pile were not as clear. Still, that distance is way, way beyond any “normal” flashlight. My Surefire did not even “reach” the tree what-so-ever. About that time, I noticed a neighbor’s light came on and I didn’t want to explain to the local police what I was doing in the middle of a field with an M4 and a laser at this time of night, so I shut down my testing and went home. I performed some additional research and found the following: 1. Many people complained that the device did not work below 40 degrees. 2. Some hunters said that the light was visible to game, especially hogs and would frighten animals away. Others claimed it was the greatest thing for hunting ever. Typical internet confusion. There were several internet “posting duels” about this device which normally leads me to believe where there is smoke, there is fire. While many people thought it was a great device, others argued that it was worthless. I decided to keep the ND-3 as I really do not need it for hunting, and I live in Texas where weather below 40 degrees is uncommon. (The manufacture’s web site states there are “cold weather models” available.) My primary purpose for this device is in a defensive and survival role. First of all, any flashlight, at night, directed into someone’s eyes will disable them for a second or more. After “playing” with the ND-3, it seemed this device would be even more effective at longer ranges than normal white light. I did some research and found out that the ND-3 generates 18mW (18 thousands of a watt) of power. Then typical laser pointer is 1-5mW, and is now restricted in several countries. According to Douglas Johnson, a research physicist and laser safety officer at Texas A & M University, FDA laser standards are set at 1/10<SUP>th</SUP> the actual threshold of damage, so it would take 50mW of power to do permanent damage to the human eye. In addition, an article published on the Scientific American website states that the real “danger” involved with low power lasers involves “flash blindness”, where the person is temporarily blinded or disorientated by a brilliant flash of light. This is the same basic theory of a flash-bang grenade. Rather than kill like a common hand grenade, the flash bang uses light and sound to temporarily disable the occupants of a room until they can be subdued. Disable and subdue are words any defender likes to hear. It is common knowledge that both the Military and the United States Secret Service use a laser device often referred to as a “Dazzler” as a non-lethal show stopper. (<I>Lasers that can permanently blind someone are banned under a 1995 UN Protocol</I>) These devices are basically the same as the ND-3 only with much more power. If focused in an attacker’s eye, it at minimum will blind them for a short period of time. I also tested the ND-3 reading a map at night. It worked just fine. I then tested the impact to my night vision as compared to a normal flashlight. The green laser light did not impact my night vision nearly as much as the traditional light. Next, I tested it on an M4 with a PVS-14 Night Vision Device (Gen 3) to see if the ND-3 helped the NVD. While it did not “assist” the NVD as much as a dedicated IR light, it did help at longer distances. Finally, we tested the ND-3 as a signaling device. While not scientific by any means, it is clear that the ND-3 requires a far more direct angle to see the source of the light. To perform this test, a friend stood 50 yards to my right. I turned on the light, and while he could see what I illuminated, he could not see the source. We repeated this test with a flashlight, and he could clearly see me. The ND-3 as the source was not visible to him until he was almost at a 45 degree angle to me. This means that as signaling device, the ND-3 will not give away your location as easily as a normal flashlight. So, in summary, the ND-3 provides: 1. For the weight, this is the longest range weapon light I have ever seen. 2. For the weight, this is the longest range flashlight I have ever seen. 3. An excellent short range flashlight that has little impact to night vision. 4. A potential (but untested) non-lethal Dazzler that may provide a temporary advantage. 5. An excellent signaling device. If you have purchased a weapon light, the $300 price tag is not out of line for a quality piece. When you consider the probable capability to “dazzle” someone dozens of yards away, the price becomes more reasonable. The fact that you will not achieve the same range of illumination with ANY regular flashlight of the same weight justifies the product even more. The only drawback I can find is the 7 hour battery life, which is not that great by flashlight standards.