A few months ago, I was attending a tactical weapons class for SWAT operators. As the chief instructor walked along the firing line during the instruction phase of each drill, I’d turn my head sideways and intently watch his rifle as it swung back and forth on its sling. He had a light on the forend that I’d never seen before, and it was eating me up that I couldn’t even figure out who made the thing.
During a hydration break, I asked what it was. The instructor answered, “The WML from INFORCE.” The what?
I’d never heard of the WML and yet there it was, staring me in the face. This bothered me because I pride myself on keeping current on rifle goodies.
It turns out that I knew the company that was producing it. Founded in 1991, Emissive Energy Corporation spent their first ten years manufacturing custom laser and LED-based products. In 2000, the INOVA brand was developed and later built into a product line with distribution in over 40 countries. In 2008, the INFORCE brand was established to develop products specifically for military and law enforcement applications.
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In 2010, INFORCE sold the INOVA brand to another manufacturer. This now allowed INFORCE to focus the full prowess of their design and manufacturing capabilities on producing excellent lighting products that are consumer driven. Just how consumer driven, you ask? The WML is a great example of this. It was almost entirely conceived based on the direct criteria laid out by the military.
In early 2010, the WML was started as sketched ideas of a dedicated weaponmounted light that was feature rich but small and very light. SLA polymer models were produced to ergonomically test the product. For the SHOT Show 2011, it was shown to multiple members of the SOCOM community for direct feedback. Minor tweaks were made to the outer design to make it as sleek as possible.
In the closing minutes of SHOT 2011, some members of our military came over to the INFORCE booth where they laid out some specific criteria they were looking for in a weapon-mounted light. They wanted white, IR, and a long run time on minimum settings so that their guys could navigate with the light all night without changing batteries.
By March 2011, it was 90% finished and was being shown to government and military representatives. By July 1, the first GSA delivery of 300 lights was sent to select units and put to work. The WML was requested, designed, and built as a close- to medium-range carbine light and has been received extremely well.
In late 2011, INFORCE officially presented the WML to the civilian market. It was an instant hit and continues to rapidly sell through online and big box retailers. Google the phrase INFORCE WML and see what you get. I’m not even going to tell you the price point on this light because you’ll laugh your tail off when you see how affordable it is.
Upon seeing the WML’s price points, I contacted the factory and spoke with the VP of Military & Government Sales, Matt Wolfe. In short order, it became apparent that he’s a guy with a clear-cut idea of which way INFORCE is heading in the world of tactical lighting. In response to my query about why the price points are so low, Matt said something that really stuck with me: “Pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered.” Dwell on that for a moment. What it means is, if you’re doing well with your product and have a decent profit margin, why would you gouge your customers just because you can?
WHY THE WML?
I can answer that for you in one word— sustainability. The price point on this light is so affordable that you can get four WMLs for about the same price you’d pay for just one of the most popular remote-switch-equipped lights currently on the market.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing the praises of using pistol lights directly rail mounted to an AR-15 for a myriad of reasons. The first is I like a trim fighting rifle that is light and mobile. Second, I detest anything that’s between me and my light. Third, I live what I preach, and I’m a tightwad with my money. I have a wife, three kids, a dog and a mortgage to support. I don’t have expendable income for $600 “lighting systems” that I’m afraid to bang around for fear of dings and scratches.
Not only am I a S.W.A.T. Magazine writer, I’m also a paying subscriber, which means I read it cover to cover. So I know I’m not the only writer preaching the KISS principle. “Keep It Simple Stupid” is what the WML does at a whole new level.
While the market still clamors for tape-switch-controlled lights, the WML delivers unparalleled user value in that it offers the best of both worlds. Occasionally INFORCE receives bid specs asking that the WML be outfitted with a remote tape switch. Why? To do so would totally defeat the purpose, not to mention the genius of this design.
I go in the opposite direction and urge my students to leave those alone because the chance of damaging the cords is an ever-present problem. Not to mention that I’ve watched and/or suffered more ADs at the hands of class and team members with tape switches than anything else. This happens so often that in training vernacular it’s called “Getting Smurfed” when someone causes an AD near one of those blue plastic barrels that are so commonplace on the range.
I want to clarify that the use of a tailswitch- activated handheld light in a rail clamp is not what I’m squawking about. That’s a great idea. What I’m talking about is adding a remote switch to said light. By doing this, you take simple and muck it up.
The WML offers a true one-size-fits-all package for any NAR/MIL-STD-1913 rail equipped long gun. It bears saying that while I‘ve spent many years preaching the use of rail-mounted pistol lights, I was indeed envious of the pressure-pad activated lights that made room clearing so smooth.
However, I was not willing to surrender the simplicity of a single unit to all the fuss that goes with the other lights. Stress will make you do dumb things— I’ve done them and seen them done. This is where the WML shines (no pun intended). It’s really hard to screw up a room clearing with a WML.
The WML gives you all the features you’re looking for in a weapon light all neatly tucked into a unit that is just a bit longer than a pistol light. The WML produces 125 lumens of white light for two hours and at its low setting of 30 lumens it runs for ten hours. With a tight beam for close- to mid-range applications and balanced peripheral light for discernment of the surrounding area, the WML delivers the goods.
Before you say, “There are lights that have X lumens…” remember this: the guys who asked for this light were only looking for 100 lumens, and these are the folks who go into harm’s way on our behalf while we’re sleeping warm and cozy in our beds. If a SOCOM operator says that 100 lumens is more than enough light to kill by, you might want to remove your online rant about the WML being underpowered at 125 lumens.
The WML features field-programmable white light. The single tail switch controls high-to-low or low-to-high, plus a strobe that is easily disabled. A thumb-action twist of the mode selection switch provides military-grade IR (850 nm). At high, it provides 75mW of infrared light for 3.5 hours and in low, 25mW for 17 hours. Its angled activation button is comfortable to operate without interference of wires or tape switches.
The WML works anywhere you place it on a rail. The integrated rail clamping system is compact, convenient and secure. The light is waterproof to 66 feet, so have at it. Two easy-to-operate lockouts are built into the light. The first is the aforementioned twisting of the bezel, which is the same way you install the battery, and the second is a lock-out bar that just swings up over the pressure switch, making it hard to AD.
In an effort to refine their lights, INFORCE seeks out input from end users, and in doing so has found ways to further simplify the WML. During a phone conversation with Matt, it came up that a buddy and I were interested in a switchology change to make the WML more user friendly for pure high-speed CQC. We wanted a version that did nothing but turn on when you pressed the switch and turned off when you released it. No IR, no strobe, no high-low—nothing but a simple light of 125 lumens.
Matt promptly delivered that model in what we’ve been calling the “dumb light.” Feel free to laugh, because I chuckle every time I use the thing. Matt said that to make this light, they basically gutted the WML chassis of its control boards (brains) and between the batteries and LED head made a simple link that gave two commands: on and off. I love it!
INFORCE’s choice of switches seems to be a point of contention with the same folk who talk about the lumens. The rants state that the switches are stiff and require a fair amount of pressure to activate. Yep, true on both counts. Coincidentally, that’s by design. In the same manner that you don’t want a “hair trigger” in a tactical rifle, neither do you want a soft switch in a light meant for rough-and-tumble environments. ADs piss off everybody around you when you cause them. So yes, stiff is good when it comes to light switches.
If you could choose only one weapon to protect your family, you’d make sure it was the best it could be, right? Likewise that weapon should have a light on it that is equally as trustworthy. Every night the INFORCE WML is the light I depend on to be there for me should I have to reach for my rifle. This is not a choice I take lightly.
The WML espouses the ideal that simple is better. Big things come in small packages and, at a scant 4.1 inches long by 1 inch in diameter at the bezel, the WML is a powerhouse of capability. Stay tuned: you’ll be hearing more about the WML and its pistol version in the months to come.
Oh, that’s right, I failed to mention there’s a pistol version in the works that will blow you away. Trust me—I’ve seen it, and you won’t be disappointed.