STEINER SPIR CLASS1 INFRARED ILLUMINATOR
The SPIR (Special Purpose Infrared) LED Illuminator is part of Steiner’s growing Class1 Infrared products family. And, it happens to be one of the best IR illuminators available to the public. Since it is an LED illuminator, it is able to be designated Class1/ Eye-Safe. So, it can be sold to individuals. The SPIR is a dual-power, focusable IR Illuminator that can be hand-held or weapon-mounted when purchased with the Weapon Light Kit. It puts out <300mW on low power and <600mW on high power. That’s right: <600mW on high power. This makes it comparable to some Class IIIb laser illuminators and translates into about 1,500 meters of reach on high setting with a narrow focus beam. It is strong enough to allow the user to detect movement at these distances. While they may not be able to identify the target/threat at that range, at least they will know something is there.
IR Illuminators are used to produce extra IR light that can only be seen through night vision goggles when ambient light levels are low. They aid in detection and identification of targets and threats. The SPIR is a superb tool for this application. The low setting provides enough area lighting (combined with a wide focused beam) to aid in detection at close range (less than 50 yards). The beam can be dialed down to the narrowest setting to help focus the light on a particular area during a search. The benefit is that you will not wash out whatever you are observing on low power. For longer distance, the unit can be set to high power. At the narrowest beam, the cone of illumination almost fills a 6x night vision rifle scope. It will allow the user to detect movement of man/large animal-sized targets/threats out to 800 yards. Identification through a 6x Gen3 night vision scope can be made at about 550 yards (with optimal ambient light).
The SPIR is a tool designed for hard use in the field. For the first time, a U.S. manufacturer has produced a U.S.-made LED IR Illuminator for the commercial market. The controls are intuitive and quickly mastered. One thing to keep in mind when using the SPIR is the downrange signature of the LED. While it is an IR LED, it does produce a downrange red light signature that can be seen if the target/threat is viewing at just the right angle with a 2° cone. This is highly unlikely, but it is a possibility. While this is not going to produce a problem for civilian hunters, it is something that professionals should be aware of. The risk is minimal, but it is there.