(above: DEVGRU operator Matt Bissionette, with some detailed photos of fellow ST6 team guy, “Shady” Shadle’s Opscore helmet with an MS2000 and his with a Manta strobe in the lower photo, from his book, “No Easy Day”)
Personal marking lights have been around for quite some time, my initial experience with them came from the use of Chemlights (aka. Glowsticks) and the MS 2000 strobe both used as marker lights for marking a room that had already been cleared, marking an aerial reference point from the ground and as IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) to minimalize blue on blue incidents.
Since then more and more companies have been coming up with innovative products that do the same thing but with a myriad of added operational benefits and adaptability.
S&S Precision was one of these companies and they came up with a way to incorporate all the benefits of the Chemlights into a lower profile, more reliable, longer lasting, more versatile innovation called the V-lite. An electronic version of the glowstick, that pretty much could be attached to anything, and could be turned on and off as needed.
In around 2010/2011, if I am not mistaken, photo sightings of SEALs conducting HALO operations with a glowing, snail-shaped gadget, attached to the back of their brain buckets began to surface. We find out that S&S Precision had come up with yet another innovation; this Snail-shaped strobe we learn is something called the Manta Strobe a device that shares all the functional features of the MS2000 only 50% lighter and more adaptable.
Above: overt green
S&S Preceision: Manta Strobe:
The Manta Strobe is described as a helmet mounted multi-spectrum light emitter optimized for Military Operations. It is specifically designed to fit the curvature of modern combat helmets, the Manta Strobe is a dedicated helmet-mounted individual marking device. It provides Infrared and overt light modes at the push of a button. Easily found and activated with one hand, buttons are positioned in an intuitive manner so the operator does not need to look at it. Unlike any other device, the form factor sweeps back with no protruding edges, greatly reducing snag hazards. Its patented design prevents accidental discharge of white light, so it will always turn on in Infrared mode. A tiny vibrating motor pulses, letting the operator feel that the Infrared strobe is active. Two side buttons require simultaneous activation to trigger the visible strobe, reducing operator error and increasing safety in the field.
To operate the Manta Strobe;. Simply depress the tail cap and the strobe will vibrate 3 times, alerting the user that the strobe, an IR strobe function consisting of 3 LEDs. is about to turn on. To activate the overt green strobe, depress both buttons located on either side for about 3 seconds, this will activate the 2 green LED strobe lights. (Note: . Clicking one side button at a time does do anything. ) To return to the IR strobe function from the green strobe function, depress the tail cap switch halfway. Personally I prefer to turn the strobe completely off by depressing the tail cap switch and then turning it back on, as I find it easier to manipulate consistently as it can be hard to tell what the halfway point is especially when wearing gloves. The device will always vibrate 3 times before the IR strobe function is activated. The Manta Strobe takes one CR123 battery. Average cost per unit: around $230USD
Weight: 1.5 oz. (w/o Battery)
Power: One (1) CR123 Lithium Battery
Construction Housing: Impact Resistant Polymer
The operation of the MS2000 is very simple. Push the sliding switch toward the front of the device to activate the strobe. Zero overt light is emitted when the IR filter is deployed, to switch from IR to overt light; pull the IR filter forward and rotate it 90 degrees toward the top of the device where it locks into place, to revert back to the IR strobe perform the previous steps in reverse. All the above functions typically have to be done with two hands unless the device is very securely attached to something. The MS2000 is flat with rounded edges, there is an attachment point for a lanyard, typically when mounting the device to a convex surface, such as a helmet, one has to get a but creative. It was typical to see users attach them to the top or backs of their helmets using any combination of duct tape or glued on Velcro. Eventually gear manufacturers started producing strobe pouches designed for the MS device allowing it to be easily affixed to a helmet without any modification. The MS2000 takes two AA batteries. Average cost per unit: $50-$80USD
• Dimensions 4.5 x 2.2 x 1.1 in (11.4 x 5.6 x 3.3 cm)
• Weight: 4.0 oz (115 g) (w/o battery)
• Construction: Case, lens and flashguard-high impact polycarbonate; IR filter-butyrate
· Infrared Mode with Vibrating feedback (the MS2000 (M2) also has this feature)
· Curved base specifically designed for helmet attachment
· Tool-less battery change
· Smaller battery type, and less usage
· Longer run time (about 5 hours longer)