This article was to be a showdown of sorts. I started by wanting to enhance the utility of my ballistic helmet, a Team Wendy EXFIL, by adding white light and IR capability. As a primarily helmet-mounted light, it would need to be small, lightweight, with high output, and the durability to withstand getting banged around a bit. Naturally, it should also be able to double as a weapon light too. With so many options available in the market today, the final variable came down to price. Could a budget friendly light perform on par with a gold standard brand?
Enter the Inforce WML Gen 2, a relatively new contender on the market. This hit my radar based on two factors – price point, and the fact that it was promoted by a very reputable name in the industry. Inforce also states that their products are currently issued by every branch of the US military and by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
The WML weighs 3.2oz. It outputs 400 lumens of white light for 1.5 hours or 100mw of infrared for 4 hours. The exterior is constructed out of glass reinforced nylon, which has a nice texture and feels robust. Constant, momentary, and strobe functions are available via a non-replaceable button, and they’ve included a bail to help prevent negligent or accidental discharge. The IR setting is toggled by an easy to find throw lever, and mounting is achieved with an integrated, spring loaded clamp that fits all picatinny style rails. MSRP: $140.
Standing against the WML, I selected the Surefire M300V Vampire. Surefire has over 40 years of innovation and engineering behind their products and it shows. In the post-9/11 era, their lights have seen extensive use in combat overseas where they solidified a reputation for durability and reliability. I actually have personal experience with Surefire lights dating back to my time in the Marine Corps infantry. Suffice to say, any company that can make their product Marine-proof is good to go in my book.
The Vampire weighs 3.8oz with battery inserted. It outputs 250 lumens of white light for 1.5 hours or 100mw of infrared for 5 hours. The body is constructed of mil-spec hard anodized aluminum with a Z68 push button tail cap offering momentary and constant-on functionality. White/IR/Off adjustments are toggled via a twisting front bezel. The version I purchased came with the M75 thumbscrew mount that attaches to your standard picatinny style rail. MSRP: $400.
The Inforce WML felt good at first. Overall construction of the body of the light felt robust and durable. The safety bail clicked into place firmly, and the IR throw was easy to toggle without looking. I actually ended up absentmindedly playing with the bail almost like a fidget spinner. Unfortunately, this is where problems began. With repeated use, the bail ended up getting loose and jiggling around. It also had a habit of hyperextending backwards, which – while not the biggest issue, feels like it would have eventually led to a more serious failure.
Similar to the bail, I realized that with use, the IR lever was actually too loose. Brushing past objects could lead to the lever being partially engaged, which is not an ideal feature for a potential duty light. I would have preferred a lever with a more definitive actuation.
The front bezel also had more than a slight amount of play in it; not where it opens to the battery compartment, but in the bezel itself. And while the rail mount felt anemic (compared to the Vampire), I didn’t experience any problems with it.
Overall, these aren’t the worst issues to report, but having a light that rattles when you shake it doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence.
The Vampire, on the other hand, was built like a tank. Something about metal construction versus plastic lends itself toward the feeling of toughness and durability. The front bezel was tight, and shifting between White, IR, and Off took explicit effort. In fact, it would be impossible to accidentally toggle between white and IR light with the Surefire.
As opposed to the safety bail on the WML, the Vampire simply had a raised rear bezel around the button, effectively accomplishing the same thing with less moving parts.
The mount was as robust as the rest of the light and other Surefire mounts. The thumbscrew is large compared to the WML, but not oversized to where it gets in the way. While it’s always a good idea to dummy chord attachments, this mount is strong enough to handle being cranked down with a screwdriver.
Reliability is such an important factor in duty equipment. It gives you peace of mind knowing your equipment will be there when you call on it to perform. Unfortunately, the Inforce WML gets a failing grade from the start. Almost immediately, the WML exhibited spotty performance. It rarely stayed on when toggled. The majority of the time, the light flickered erratically like an offbeat strobe. IR functionally mimicked the visible light issues.
I tried tightening the front cap, replacing the battery, and checking the O-ring. Everything locked up tight and felt solid, but the light simply would not perform consistently. I reached out to Inforce customer service with my issue but never received a response.
Safe to say, I don’t have any confidence in the reliability of the WML. Reading other’s experiences on groups and forums clued me in to what seems like an epidemic among these lights. Not what I expected from such a supposedly prolific company.
The Vampire was quite the opposite, functioning with the same boring reliability that makes all Surefire lights hard to dig into. I admit I am biased based on my previous experience with them overseas, and in a sense, all Surefires feel the same. Confident. Familiar. Reliable. The lights just work, and the M300V lives up to its heritage.
As mentioned, the WML surpasses the Vampire in lumens, 400 to 250. However, I would caution against viewing it as necessarily better over the Vampire. Instead, consider the application you have for these lights. In my case, these were to be helmet-mounted lights first and possibly weapon-mounted lights second. As a helmet-mounted light, 250 lumens are more than adequate for the task. On the flipside, too much brightness can have the effect of washing out your target. Distance plays a factor here as well. Is a 400-lumen light too much for use at very close range? Unfortunately, it was impossible to test.
It should be no surprise that Surefire comes out on top for me. It’s just too good. And while I’m a firm believer in the adage, “buy once, cry once,” the price can understandably be hard to stomach. To be honest, for such a plain and boringly reliable light, I would like to have seen a few extra features. Whether it be a selectable high/low power function or the inclusion of an additional type of mount, a little value added would make the price more palatable.
And I know there are probably plenty of people out there who love their Inforce WML. I think it has the potential to be a really great light. But when it comes to producing a more budget minded weapon-mounted light, the fact remains that they cut one corner too many. That said, I look forward to a Gen 3 of the WML. Hopefully they can get the kinks ironed out.
Full Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Inforce, Surefire, or any other product mentioned in this article. The lights discussed were purchased with personal funds and the review was written without regard for any outside influence.