In the past several years, Insight Technology has become a major player in weapon-mounted illumination tools and laser aiming devices for the military, law enforcement and the public at large. While the company may have just become a public name, in reality, it has been a major defense industry contractor in these areas for more than a decade. Those outside the military did not become aware of Insight Technology’s existence until several seemingly random events brought it into the limelight.
In the early 1990s, the military issued a request for a Special Operations .45 ACP pistol. This project, which was known as the Offensive Handgun Weapons System, ultimately gave birth to the Heckler and Koch Model 23 Mark 0 “SOCOM” pistol. Along with this pistol, the government wanted several very specific accessories.
One of these was known as the LAM or Laser Aiming Module. When HK began to formulate its entry into this competition, HK officials looked to Insight Technologies to create the LAM for their weapons system. In the end, the HK pistol won the competition and became reality. And with it, the Insight LAM entered government service.
Based on this winning partnership, HK approached Insight to build a white-light-only version of the LAM that would interface with the rails of the new pistol. HK was on the cusp of premiering its newest pistol based on the Mk 23 design, the USP. Designated the Universal Tactical Light (UTL), this Insight product quickly became a hit in the marketplace. Other manufacturers followed HK’s lead in designing new pistols with rails attached to the forward dust cover for the mounting of lights and other accessories.
Close on the heels of the UTL, Insight again was approached to build a pistol light, this time by Glock officials, who were redesigning their pistols to incorporate a rail system. This partnership led to what became known as the Insight M3 light. The rest, as they say, is history.
From its inception, the M3 and M6 tactical lights have been what the law enforcement community associate with Insight. The M3 quickly became one of the best-selling lights in the marketplace and opened the door to many other products. Seeing the success of the UTL and the M3 series of lights, Insight decided that the time was right to enter the general market with a series of offerings.
Insight has been a privately held corporation since 1988, with President and Founder Ken Solinsky firmly at the helm. Solinsky readily admits that his company is still primarily a defense contractor; it is the maker of most of the lasers such as the AN/PEQ-2A that are now issued to U.S. troops in the war on terrorism. This being said, however, officials have now decided to enter the civilian and law enforcement marketplace with an eye toward crafting products that are useful to all three sectors; civilian, law enforcement and military.
Insight has obviously put a great deal in testing, evaluation, research and development to meet the ever-changing customer needs. Items such as having an onsite indoor range with numerous weapons available for testing is no small investment, but it is one that Insight officials chose to make so they can be assured their products can withstand the rigors of active duty.
A lot of the effort of researching new products or enhancing existing products relies on feedback from the end users, the officer on the beat, or soldier in action. Usually, police officers are quick to point out problems within their own departments, but getting them to write something down about tools or products they use is nearly impossible.
After-action reports and interviews with soldiers who have seen combat or officers who have seen action on the street greatly assist in enhancing these already top-of-the-line products. Changes in technology come about from testing and evaluation in both the laboratory environment and in the battleground of the real world. Improving on products and ideas is an ever-evolving task, and in this, Insight Technology is a state-of-the-art company.
Most recently, after gathering feedback from the soldiers in the field and officers on the street, Insight has developed and began marketing a new family of lights, the X-treme series. The X-treme series takes the M3 and M6 staples to an all-new level. Boosting the power to more than 125 peak lumens with one hour of run time, both the M3X and M6X have caught the attention and gained respect of even their biggest critics.
Both lights are waterproof to 66 feet and use two lithium 123 batteries for an output of 6 volts. The M6X, which features a laser incorporated into the body of the light, offers improved windage and elevation adjustments that provide for outstanding boresight retention.
Added to these lights is the new Shock Suppression System™, which has been built into the new series to protect the xenon-filled incandescent lamp from the abuse of recoil and impact. The enhanced mil-spec design allows the airtight X-Series to be exposed to the world’s harshest environments.
Along with the original M3 and M6 lights, the new X-treme series remains a versatile product with options such as interchangeable long-gun and pistol backplates and filters that are used to produce infrared light for use with night-vision technology. The X-Series is easily configured for multi-weapon, multi-mission needs.
The new backplate for use on long guns has assisted with integrating an already proven product into a new arena. The backplate is designed to accept a remote pressure switch that can be mounted at any location an officer or soldier desires. By simply changing the backplate on the M3X or M6X, the operator can easily mount the lighting system to almost any weapon.
This ability is due to Insight’s patented Slide-Lock™ interface, which allows instant, tool-free mounting and removal from any weapon equipped with rails or a rail adapter. If one needs more stability, as would be the case in some adaptations, the Rail-Grabber™ interface provides an even higher level of accuracy and reliability.
A close partner to the new M3X and M6X is the new X2 subcompact, which incorporates not only a white light but, just as with the M6X, a laser as well. The X2 is designed specifically for compact and subcompact handguns that might not otherwise be able to mount a light or a laser because of their size. With operational mode options such as visible light only, or visible laser/visible light combination, it brings a new option to the subcompact gun groups not available before.
While its forerunner was the genesis to many of the company’s best-selling products, the Laser Aiming Module 1000 is now available to the military and law enforcement agencies only. The LAM 1000 enables the operator to engage targets in close quarters combat, conditions of limited visibility or in total darkness.
Known through military channels as the ILWLP, the single integrated unit has an infrared aiming laser, visible aiming laser, fixed focus infrared illuminator, and a new focusable visible illuminator. Another feature of the LAM 1000 is the co-alignment of the lasers. Co-aligned lasers allows the operator to zero in the visible laser, and by way of benchmarking the two lasers during production, it automatically aligns the infrared laser, as well.
A deactivation switch has been added to the product that allows the operator to turn off the visible/infrared laser to limit the exposure to the operator when threat conditions exist. Also available are holographic pattern generators that quickly attach without the use of special tools, thus allowing the operator in the field to change or adjust what type of beam is cast downrange. These pattern generators are beneficial when more than one officer or soldier at the scene of an incident is laser equipped.
New for Insight is its entry into the handheld light market. Due to an agreement with a business partner, the company had remained out of this field. But the previous business arrangement has ended, allowing Insight to bring forth its expertise into this market.
Insight will begin this by manufacturing, under license, a version of the Gladius light that has to date been marketed by BlackHawk. This light, known as the Typhoon, will be the first of many lights slated to be offered by Insight. With the capabilities of a major defense contractor on tap, the ideas coming from New Hampshire should prove to move the marketplace in several new directions at once.
Also new for Insight is its entry into the optical sighting world. The Integrated Optical Sighting System (IOSS) is the first product on the market that will incorporate a red dot style sight along with both visible and infrared lasers and an infrared illuminator all in one unit. This unit, which is powered by one DL123-style battery (the same as used in most pistol and long gun lights), is waterproof and weighs less than 10 ounces.
Because its primary business is defense contracting, Insight has become the industry leader in tactical lasers and has a wide-ranging product line in this regard. Items such as the Carbine Visible Laser, the AN/PAQ-4C infrared aiming light and others are but a small percentage of what this company is bringing to market. Other products include night-vision and thermal-viewing systems that are truly bringing science fiction into the real world.
The trip to Insight Technology also included a visit to the nearby SigArms training facility where we were able to put the new products through the paces. Not surprisingly, while shooting several different makes and models of weapons, the M3X and M6X were found to be very reliable and accurate.
With the adjustable laser, the ability to zero in the light/laser systems to specific handguns was easily accomplished. Even for the subcompact weapons, the X2 weapon-mounted system was easy to operate with its ambidextrous momentary and constant- on rocker switch.
During a night shoot using a variety of AR-15-type weapons, the AN/PEQ-2A (PEQ-2) and accompanying MX10160 (A) generation III night vision monocular were impressively accurate and universal. The PEQ-2 used an infrared aiming laser for shot placement, while also using an infrared illuminator for target detection.
The infrared illuminator also has an adjustable beam to illuminate the target downrange in similar fashion to a high-powered flashlight being shown on the target, without the obvious detection. We were exposed to a weapon-mounted version of the night vision monocular, as well as a helmet-mounted adaptation.
The PEQ-2’s versatility was very impressive during the night shoot at 100 yards because of its accuracy and reliability. By using the helmet-mounted adaptation, the operator could virtually hold the weapon at waist level and use the infrared aiming laser and strike the target with deadly accuracy. This system has been battle-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more than 100,000 produced for the military. The PEQ-2 mounts to any MIL-STD-1913 rail along with the M4, M240, the M249, and all military standard direct-fire weapons.
Detective Sergeant Matt Rosenbarger is a firearms instructor with the Purdue University Police in West Lafayette, IN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.