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Holosun LS321G Dual Laser and Illuminator Review

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Old July 22nd, 2019, 15:52   #1
pestobanana
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Holosun LS321G Dual Laser and Illuminator Review

I first got to see the Holosun LS321 series of Class 1 eye safe IR lasers at SHOT Show this year. They told us they would be available through Holosun Canada this year, and they are finally here, so BlackBlitz Airsoft got me one to review.

They are currently available at:

www.BlackBlitzAirsoft.com
https://www.opr8.com

A lot of times when people review new things, they just pick it up, try it out, and say "yeah I like it" even though they have no baseline for compaison. I decided that for this review, I'm going to compare it to two other established products on the market that are made for the same purpose: rifle mounted dual visible and IR laser with IR illuminator with remote switch capability. Class 1 eye safe IR lasers of course. I have a Steiner Optics DBAL-A3 and an Insight Technologies ATPIAL-C that I will be comparing. I will try to keep this review as honest as possible.

The Package



The LS321 comes in two variants, G for green laser and R for red laser. This is the LS321G. It came in a hard case with a remote switch, lens wipe, torx key for adjusting the picatinny mount, and two CR123s even though it only needs one. Nothing really notable here, but the extra battery is nice.



Controls

The remote switch is the most useless remote switch I've ever seen. It feels cheap - actually not just cheap, it straight up feels shitty. There is nothing about the switch that I like. The switch itself is very stiff and does not give a satisfying activation "click" feeling. It also doesn't work on half of its surface area. The rubberized picatiny mount for the switch is too soft that it literally falls off the rail by itself. I've tested this on 3 different guns, real and airsoft.

The switch however is not the end of the world. The on board activation button is quite decent. I'll never use it, but it is quite good. It is a bit stiff but it gives a positive click when depressed, and it is very easy to find. It works well.

The LS321 is also compatible with some aftermarket switches. Key word here is "some". It does not work with original Insight or Steiner switches. I have not tested it with the Insight Dual Switch or Unity TAPS or Hot Button, but it does work with SureFire Dual Switches.



On the left you have the mode selection switch, remote switch port in the bottom middle, and illuminator focus on the right. I actually quite like the rear illuminator focus dial. With other similar units such as the DBAL series, you have to stick your hand in front of the unit to focus the illuminator beam. The civilian ATPIAL does not have a focusable beam, but the Mil/LE version do, and also has the adjustment on the front of the unit.

I do not like the mode selection switch.
  1. It requires you to use at least two fingers to adjust, whereas with the DBAL-A3 and ATPIAL-C you can just use your thumb, meaning you don't have to take your grip off your handguard to change operating modes.
  2. Both sides of the switch feel very similar. Yes it is marked, but if you are operating this unit at night, you will have to go by feel to figure out which way the switch is pointing, whereas the DBAL and ATPIAL have a switch where it is very obvious which way the selector is pointing.
  3. I do not like the ordering of the modes. You have off in the top middle, to the left you get low visible and low IR, to the right you get high visible, high IR, and the various illuminator + laser settings. It should be made so that visible is strictly on one side, and IR modes are strictly on the other side of the off position. This prevents accidental firing of the visible laser at night.

The Unit Itself



All three diodes are housed on the same side of the laser, the two lasers are co aligned as usual. The lens protecting the diodes seems very clean. One potential drawback of having them both on the same side though is that you cannot use any laser pattern generators and you cannot use a visible laser blocker like you can on the ATPIAL and DBAL that prevent accidental discharge of the visibe laser.

The main body seems quite decent and I am not concerned with durability. The rear of the housing has a really shitty paint job. Walking around with the unit in my pocket was enough to take the paint off the corners.

The mount itself is decent, it uses a throw lever with a retaining latch. I didn't like it at first, but after I used it a few times and it worked in, its actually quite good. The mount and unit itself seems to hold zero under recoil, as it damn well should. I put it on my Colt Canada 11.6" MRR and co-aligned the laser with my Aimpoint, which I know very well holds zero. I only had time to put 120 rounds of XM193 5.56 down range with the laser mounted, but when I checked the co-alignment afterward, there was no noticeable shift. I am confident that this unit can handle 5.56 recoild no problem.

The Laser

Visible

Since I'm not a laser expert and there is no official statement, this portion in italics should be considered speculation.

One thing that is notable about this unit is that it does not use your standard green laser. It is listed as using a 520nm green laser, where most others are 532 nm. This would mean that the LS321G uses a direct drive green laser as opposed to a frequecy doubled DPSS (Diode Pumped Solid State) laser. There are a lot of technological differences, but what this basically means is that the LS321G uses a direct green laser, the diode itself outputs 520 nm green. Most other green lasers such as the DBAL-A3 use a 1064 nm infrared laser that has its frequency doubled, meaning its wavelength is cut in half to 532 nm green.

The benefit of the direct drive laser is that it is more efficient and not as sensitive to colder temperatures. The benefit of the DPSS is better beam quality.




Steiner to the left, Holosun to the right. You can see the difference in colour from the different wavelength. You can also tell that the Steiner has noticeably better beam quality, but I'm not certain if that is from the difference in technology or the quality of the lenses. Distance was roughly 10 metres.



ATPIAL-C visible laser at night, 20m



LS321G visible laser at night, 20m



DBAL-A3 visible laser at night, 20m

From here you can see that the DBAL has much better beam quality than the LS321. The quality of the laser on the ATPIAL isn't as bad as the picture makes it seem, pictures were taken at night with a phone camera. The actual quality looks similar if not slightly better than the LS321.

IR



20m at night
Left to Right: LS321G High Setting -> DBAL-A3 High Setting -> ATPIAL-C



20m at night
Left to Right: LS321G High Setting -> DBAL-A3 High Setting -> ATPIAL-C



ATPIAL-C at 20m, picture taken up close



DBAL-A3 at 20m, picture taken up close



LS321G at 20m, picture taken up close

I'm not sure why all of these IR lasers seem to produce a line like that, but it is only apparent once you leave the laser far away and walk up to the beam, or if it is a very dark area.

The IR illuminators all seem to work fairly well. The ATPIAL-C is the brightest, the LS321G has the cleanest illuminator and is mostly free of artifacts in the beam. One thing to note is that the LS321 illuminator gets brighter as it is focused smaller and dimmer as it is focused wider, whereas the DBAL-A3 appears to remain the same brightness regardless of focus setting. The ATPIAL-C illuminator is not adjustable.

One thing to note about artifacts in the illuminator or slight unevenness, you do not notice them at all when you are using them for their intended purpose. You only notice them when you point at a blank wall or flat background.



LS321G left, ATPIAL-C right. Distance roughly 15m, streetlights behind.



ATPIAL-C left, LS321G right. LS321G at narrowest focal setting, distance 25m.



ATPIAL-C left, LS321G right. LS321G at widest focal setting, distance 25m.



ATPIAL-C left, LS321G right. LS321G at same focal setting, distance 25m.

Form Factor

The LS321G is pretty small from the top, but it is actually pretty tall and noticeably heavier than the DBAL-A3, and the DBAL-A3 is significantly heavier than the ATPIAL-C.

Being wide like the ATPIAL-C has its shortcomings in that it is harder to get your flashlight to hug your laser unit closely. However, being tall also has its shortcomings in that it blocks your field of view when you are aiming down your sights.



View through Aimpoint T-2 on Scalarworks Lower 1/3 Mount, camera focused on reticle
Left to right: LS321G -> DBAL-A3 -> ATPIAL-C



One more for good measure: Aimpoint CompM5 on Scalarworks Lower 1/3 mount, camera focused on LS321G.

This is more of a problem if you use an absolute cowitness height mount or something else that is low. It is less of a problem if you use something really high like a Unity Tactical or KAC NVG height mount, or an EOTech EXPS series sight.

This blockage in the field of view isn't a huge concern if you train for it. I found it very noticeable when I was paying attention to how it sat, however when I actually shot I didn't notice it because I practice shooting two eyes open - the practice technique is to close the flip cover on the Aimpoint so you are aiming with the reticle using your dominant eye but you can only see and acquire the target using your non dominant eye.

Closing Comments

The LS321G may not be an IG operator's laser, but for a price that is significantly lower than a DBAL-A3 or ATPIAL-C, it is quite good. It is also a hell of a lot cheaper than other readily available comparable units in Canada. It can take 5.56 recoil, has pretty good beam quality, and does its job. It is also good to -40 degrees according to the website, which is a huge plus in Canada, where temperatures below freezing has the potential to damage other types of green lasers.

It is quite apparent to me that Holosun did their best to put good components inside an affordable laser, but they are inexperienced in the user experience behind laser units. I really like the illuminator focus knob, I just really don't like how tall the unit is and the mode selection mechanism.

In terms of function, it has a very good performance/value to cost ratio. If you're ballin' on a budget or you are simply looking for a laser that does the same job without much of a noticeable difference in performance, definitely give the LS321G a consideration. If you really absolutely need those IG operator points, stick with the more gucci brands.

Last edited by pestobanana; July 22nd, 2019 at 16:32..
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Old July 22nd, 2019, 16:29   #2
Wilkie
 
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Good review. Good to see a hypothetically eye safe laser for a lower price. Hopefully keep some people away from the knock off Dbals and such.
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Old July 22nd, 2019, 16:34   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilkie View Post
Good review. Good to see a hypothetically eye safe laser for a lower price. Hopefully keep some people away from the knock off Dbals and such.
They are eye safe Class 1 IR pointers according to the manual and according to Holosun. They appear to be the same brightness as 4 other eye safe lasers I compared to: ATPIAL-C, PEQ-15 on low, DBAL-A3, and CQBL-1.

I'm glad there are more affordable options in Canada now, but I doubt people in the US will buy these. They don't really care about eye safety, they think the brighter the beam the better.
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