Getting into the Night Vision game is an expensive undertaking. Between the Night Vision itself, some sort of helmet and mount… And even with those purchases behind you, you still need some way of illuminating and aiming in the infrared spectrum. Enter the SureFire X400 Vampire.
If you are unfamiliar with SureFire’s naming conventions, the X-Series is in reference to it being a pistol mounted light and the 400 means it has both a light and laser. Additionally, this light in particular is the V model, standing for Vampire. Denoting the lights ability to produce infrared light as well. So the X400 Vampire is a pistol mounted light that illuminates in both the visible and IR spectrum and also has a IR laser.
This unit covers a lot of bases. Allowing the shooter to illuminate dark areas in order to see their environment and identify threats in both the visible as well as infrared spectrums, and additionally actively aim their weapon using the IR laser while using night vision.
The unit is activated with SureFire’s rocker switch on the rear of the unit. You can move the arms on either side of the unit part way up, or down respectively, for momentary on. Or continue to push the switch until it goes into its constant on mode.
On the white light side, the X400 V puts out 350 lumens at a peak beam intensity of 12,000+ candela. This will throw a beam approximately 225 meters and has a runtime of 2.5 hours on (2) CR123 batteries. The beam is pretty focused compared to some lights with a nice hot spot in the middle. Below is the light compared to the SureFire X300 light at 10, 25 and 50 yards.
On the IR side of it, the Vampire puts out 120 milliwatts of power. What does that mean? In my experience, it mirrors the visible light in output and beam shape. The runtime of the IR illuminator is approximately 16.75 hours.
And lastly, the IR laser on the unit, puts out 0.7mW of power. This keeping in line with the FCC regulations of it being a Class 1 laser and eye safe. The runtime of just the laser is around 20 hours. The laser unit protrudes from the bottom of the light housing. This does create a notable offset from the bore, especially on low probability targets up close.
One of my favorite features of the X400 Vampire is the bezel. It can be turned between 3 different settings. You simply grab the knurled bezel, move it out, away from the light body and turn it from white light, to off, or over to IR. The three different modes require a very deliberate movement. That is on the one hand easy to do, but also set up in a way that it can’t be accidentally moved from one setting to the next. And with the Off setting in the middle, it allows you to lock out the light to prevent white light or IR negligent discharges as well as keeping from any accidental activation while transporting or in storage.
While the bezel is used to move between spectrums, a separate switch is located on the bottom of the unit and moves in an arc. On either side of the arc are OFF positions. Then one position inward is either IR Light Only or IR Laser Only, or when the switch is in the middle position, both IR Light and Laser are activated. This gives the shooter options with respect to activation.
The IR Laser is zeroed using a small 0.05 Allen hex wrench. There are no markings for adjustment or notable clicks. This can make zeroing the laser not the most enjoyable task. If you have a zeroed optic on the gun it can help with getting a converging zero.
The housing of the X400 V is made of aircraft grade aluminum and is Mil-Spec Hard Coat Anodized. The unit weights approximately 5.7oz and meets IPX7 standards for water resistance, in part thanks to the O-ring and gasket seals.
While the X300 lights made by SureFire are incredibly well supported from holster manufacturers, the X400, with its protruding laser can be harder to find holsters for. One of my go to spots is Black Point Tactical which does a great job supporting most any gun combination with the X400 Vampire.
With all of this said, what has been my experience and how have I used it? My first real use of the X400 V was kind of outside of its design. I actually had it mounted at 12 o’clock on the top rail of my 300 Blackout Pistol. I used it in a one-day Night Vision course as well as some other range outings. Due to the laser protruding, in this case up, it required me to have my red dot on a 1.93 high Scalarworks LEAP Mount in order to keep a clear field of view. Aside from that, it worked great.
Fast forward a number of months and I used it mounted on my Glock 17 during a 2 Day Advanced Night Vision Course by Cuyval Dar Inc. Again it did a solid job. Allowing me to illuminate and target ID in the evening hours with the white light, and then switch to the IR setting for use under NODs (Night Observation Device).
Both on the flat range as well as moving through a structure, working CQB, the X400 Vampire did great. Part of it comes down to personal preference though. I will say the light is pretty bright and pushes pretty far with a distinct hotspot. This can cut both ways. In a small room it has the potential to suck you into the center of the beam, but out in the open at distance, say 100 yards or so, it is conducive to pinpointing your target.
The real magic of this unit is giving you a lot of options in one package. Attached to your gun you have the ability to illuminate your surroundings and identify targets in both the visible and infrared spectrum, as well as actively aim with the IR laser while using Night Vision. This pretty much covers most your bases.
The batteries are replaced at the rear of the unit, requiring you to open the door that also serves as the switch. This is good and bad. On the one hand it means you have to remove the light to change the batteries, leading to confirming or re-zeroing the laser. But it also opens up the option for other switches. SureFire makes the XT07 Weaponlight Switch. This is a remote dual switch assembly for the X-Series of lights.
With the XT07 you can replace the regular switch and run a duel switch pressure pad with secures onto 1913 rail. By pressing the pressure pad you can activate the X400 V (light/laser or any combo) intermittently, or press the circular button for constant on. Additionally on the back of a unit is a toggle switch which deactivates the switch so that it is not accidentally activated. Options…
Who do I think the X400 Vampire is good for? Someone looking for a solid reliable light that offers illumination in both the visible as well as IR spectrum, in addition to being able to actively aim under NODs with the IR laser. SureFire has created a stellar reputation for hard use lights and this is no exception.
The other thing that is great about the X400 V, is the switch support from SureFire. Thanks to the XT07, you can initially purchase this unit and use it on a carbine until the budget allows you to purchase a dedicated light/laser setup. At which point you can move the X400 V to your pistol, giving you the capability to illuminate, target ID and engage targets in both spectrums with your primary and secondary weapons. A solid option with respect to scaling capability while moving into the world of night vision.