With today’s technology, those of us interested in gear for the tactical and hunting worlds have an endless assortment of tools or toys use and enjoy.  Some of the coolest such gear is getting more and more affordable, and that includes Night Vision (NV) gear.  It lets us see in dark, which is great for night stalks and hunts, but the applications are virtually limitless if you need or want to see in the dark.  “Virtually” is an important word here.

Is NV a lot more limited than the manufacturers and retailers will admit?  Can you really see in the dark, when it’s really dark?  When you have no moon, or are deep under a tree canopy?  Yes, with a quality infrared (IR) illuminator.  Enter the TNVC Torch Pro.

We’ve used a bunch of different NV gear in 2012, and one piece that really makes a huge difference is a quality IR illuminator.  Wait, you say?  We thought night vision gear, particularly the real Gen 3 stuff, allowed you to see in the dark?  Essentially, that’s true.  Here’s how it works:  NV (not to be confused with thermal) simply amplifies light.  In some places, there’s enough ambient light – even at night – that you can effectively use NV. You might find this close to towns where the glow from city lights carry farther than you might think.

Of course, a strong moon on a clear night can make decent NV gear give you brightness and clarity that is amazing, even far from populations.  Unfortunately, the moon isn’t always available.  Even when it is, clouds can dim the light available for your NV device to amplify.  We’ve experienced this in West Texas wheat fields, and it really limits your options of spotting and taking game.

Another quandary involves hunting under a tree canopy.  We found ourselves in central East Texas, hunting under a thick canopy of tall trees.  Talk about dark! With just our eyes guiding us, we could barely see our own hands in front of our faces.  We had good NV gear, but without illumination, it really would not have been much fun.

The good news is that a quality IR illuminator like the TNVC Torch Pro solves both those issues.  The Torch Pro is to NV what a killer flashlight is to human eyes, and then some. The infrared light sent downrange from the unit increases the range of what you can see through NV.  TNVC likes to call this the “Extreme Distance LED Infrared Illuminator.” The Torch Pro does this very nicely as you can see in the included video from our friend Chris Lucci at Wild River Ranch.

I’ve hunted this ranch with Chris, and shot on this range.  You’ll see the Torch Pro illuminating effectively at 800 meters with its beam tightly focused.  Now you might not shoot at wild hogs at that distance, but you could spot them and move in on them in the dark, with no moon, no ambient lights from a nearby town, under heavy clouds.

With a light that bright, it would be far too intense up close for navigation, walking around, for checking equipment, driving, etc.  It would be, except for the fact that the Torch Pro can focus the IR light tightly to one degree reaching out long distances, yet diffuse the light softly when defocused to ten degrees.  The adjustment can be done quickly with just one hand, even one finger.

This was one of the keys in the product development.  Says Victor DiCosala, president of TNVC, “We wanted to build a unit with a variable beam bezel that one could manipulate while in a shooting position. Our Torch Pro allows just that with a silky smooth bezel that can be manipulated with your index finger while you arm is extended down the end of the gun.”

Another unique feature of this illuminator is its compatibility with the ubiquitous Surefire branded white light bodies and tail caps.  If you have a G2 in a drawer somewhere (we’ve all had them!), a 6P or a C Series, you can purchase just the illuminator head module and be in business. That one inch body tube diameter also means that the Torch Pro is compatible with a vast array of weapon mounts and runs on a couple of CR123 batteries.

The beam of IR light comes from a civilian legal LED.  For the vast majority of us, that civilian legal part is crucially important. The other significance is that not long ago, illumination at long range was something we civvies could only dream about. But now we can own the Torch Pro for $239.  Not bad at all for a Mil-Spec Type III Hard Anodized aerospace-grade aluminum housing.  Couple that with a German made impact resistant glass system and you get the idea that this is a high quality device.

TNVC Torch Pro IlluminatorActivation using the included tailcap is either momentary or constant (press or twist) and can be locked out entirely to persevere batteries or avoid accidental activation.  With batteries installed, the illuminator weighs in at 9.5 ounces.  Not bad hanging on your rifle, and it seems to weigh next to nothing in your hand.

The Torch Pro is available in three configurations:  Illuminator, Illuminator plus VTAC rail mount, and both of those plus a mount allowing the illuminator to mount to a D-740 or D-760 NV Scope.  The head module can be purchased individually for $199.

So here’s the deal from my perspective – if you’re going to invest the very real dollars to get into the NV world, you ought to plan to get an illuminator to go with your NV gear.  That illuminator ought to be versatile enough to effectively work in your vehicle or at distance.  The TNVC Torch Pro excels in these specs, with a price tag that delivers a lot of bang for the buck.

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