Review - S&S Precision V-Lite Multi-Mode
Updated: Jun 20, 2021
History of S&S Precision
S&S was founded in 2007 and is owned by veterans, a factor that weighs heavily on their
designs, manufacturing and end products. Their products are made for use by Military Units, Federal Government and Law Enforcement Professionals. The expanding company employs various engineering and technical specialists and their products are shipped worldwide.
For more info - visit S&S Precision website.
Why S&S Precision?
S&S Precision continue to manufacture tactical equipment in use by military forces and LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) across the globe. SEAL Teams own Bravo Team rarely deploy without their helmets, and the setups seen whilst personalised for each operator also feature common tactical equipment, generally tailored for each deployment. I've previously covered the S&S Precision Manta Strobe MS-0015 and the Princeton Tec Charge Pro MPLS which Bravo use frequently. In addition to these two items, Bravo also utilise the S&S Precision V-Lite either as a fixed mounted pair or a mounted single. Colours vary across the team, with Green and Red being the most common. IR variants are likely also to have been used. The V-Lites used appear to be genuine issue and not the imitation versions that you can pickup everywhere. Their low profile and rugged exterior mean that they're durable and usable across nearly all operational environments.
The V-Lites have been seen active in several night time missions that Bravo have undertaken and their IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) purpose ensure that team members are quickly and easily identifiable through night vision or by eyeball, on foot and by air. Continuing to build towards a screen accurate loadout, I purchased the Red and Green Multi Mode V-Lites.
Herein lies the product description from the website;
The V-Lite Multi-Mode is a versatile personal lighting / identification marker allowing the user to program the light to their preferred function. A simple and intuitive alternative to chemlights. One button to cycle through the programmed functions keeps it simple. Fully encapsulated to ruggedize the electronics, the flexible silicone body not only protects the good stuff inside, but also conforms to curved surfaces. Mounting is made simple with the V-Lite sleeve, providing the operator with a Velcro-backed attachment system. Weighing in at a mere 0.8 ounces, it’s an unnoticeable addition to your helmet during routine operations and low-profile enough to reduce snag hazards during airborne operations. Use it in the field, at home or abroad; or slip it into MOLLE / PALS webbing.
V-Lite MultiMode Colors: White, Infared, Blue, Purple, Red, Yellow, Green, Pink & Orange
Runtime: 120+ hours continuous
IPX8 150' (waterproof up to 60ft)
Run-times vary depending on frequency of use and duration of "ON" cycles
Programmable Functions: On/Off, Blink/Off, On/Blink/Off, & 1/4 / 1/2 / 3/4 / Full Output
Waterproof flexible silicone body
Battery is not replaceable
Micro LED’s that indicate low battery & mimic main LED blink pattern
Includes Plastic V-Lite sleeve with Velcro backing and Lanyard
Width of one MOLLE/PALS webbing column
Weight: 0.8 oz, Length: 4.25”
Patent # US 8444291
National Stock Number V-Lites:
Infrared NSN# 6230016065535 Red NSN# 6230016287083 Green NSN# 6230016287084
Available on GSA (General Services Administration)
What does it actually mean?
IFF - Identification Friend or Foe
IPX8 - this is the International Protection regarding protection of equipment from water, dust, electromagnetic interference etc. Further details for IP can be found on Wikipedia. For the V-Lite, the code stands for;
IP - International Protection.
X - no data available to specify a protection rating with regard to this criteria.
8 - immersion proof 1m (3'3") or more. Testing agreed with manufacturer, generally 3m.
The patent for the V-Lite was submitted by S&S Precision in 2009 and the actual patent documentation provides a huge wealth of information and background regarding the design, history, observations etc. The patent information can be found here.
An illuminating device has a transparent body including an electronic components section with at least one circuit board, at least one light emitting diode electrically connected to the at least one circuit board, and one or more switching mechanisms electrically connected to the at least one circuit board. The illuminating device is capable of activation, deactivation, and subsequent reactivation by manipulating the one or more switching mechanisms. A method of using the illuminating device, including activating, deactivating, and reactivating the illuminating device by manipulating one or more switching mechanisms.
The V-Lite comes in a simple plastic moulded box stamped with the S&S Precision logo at the top, underneath is the V-Lite name. The plastic is moulded to fit around the V-Lite itself so there's no room for movement, which helps to protect it. At the front of the packaging is a piece of card bearing the S&S logo, a card section stating 'New! Multi Mode' and the traditional 'Made in the 757' logo (included on S&S Precision products). The rear of the packaging again has inside of it a piece of card detailing the V-Lite specifications. At the bottom at the rear is a sticker denoting the colour of the V-Lite inside, model number and patent number.
Red - RED LED, MULTIMODE, VL-R01 2V PAT. 8444291
Green - GREEN LED, MULTIMODE, V1-G01 2V, PAT. 8444291
The V-Lite can be split into four parts; Mounting sleeve, V-Lite, lanyard, velcro fixing attachment.
Mounting sleeve - made from a flexible coyote brown material that is stamped with the V-Lite markings.
V-Lite - polyelastomer (silicone) light marker housing electronics and LEDs.
Lanyard - use for attaching / securing V-Lite to self or kit.
Velcro - designed to fix lanyard loops to rear of housing if required.
V-Lite exterior in detail
The V-Lite is lightweight, weighing in at only 17 grams and its size can be measured in two versions;
V-Lite fitted in mounting sleeve : total dimensions are 11 x 2.7 x 1.2 cm (L x W x H).
V-Lite no mounting sleeve : 10 x 2.5 x 1 cm (L x W x H).
This small size and weight enables the V-Lite to easily be carried in the palm of your hand, in a pocket or attached to kit without being cumbersome, getting in the way or even being noticeable. The small size was specifically designed in mind of molle and PALS with it being able to be fitted within molle spacings. There are no rough edges on either the V-Lite itself or the housing which again shows the manufacturing process and detail used on the parts. The V-Lite fits snugly into the housing and there is no possibility of it falling out or being removed without considerable force. The V-Lites silicone like durable and flexible exterior also prevents damage to the electronics that are injection moulded into it and by the electronics being encapsulated, it remains waterproof and dustproof, hence it being IPX8 rated. The housing being flexible, also has hook velcro fitted on the rear allowing attachment to loop velcro on a helmet or other equipment.
Below images show side views of the V-Lite and housing, note the slight curve of the housing.
Focussing on the rear of the V-Lite, it features as mentioned, hook velcro fitted to the housing. At the top is a small loop through which the lanyard can be threaded allowing the V-Lite to be carried around the neck or using the lanyard to secure it to equipment. The lanyard can be completely removed if required. The small removable velcro patch is used to fix down the lanyard when wrapped up to secure it in place.
Highlighted in the 4th picture above, are the mounting holes used to securely attach the V-Lite to a piece of equipment such as a rucksack. Using the lanyard, you can untie it and thread it through the holes (lower two holes need to be punctured first).
The simple design of the housing and V-Lite further enable the user to remove the V-Lite from the housing, especially useful if cleaning is required. The silicone like exterior being flexible is easy to clean under cool soapy water with no risk of water or dust entering the electronic section housed at the top of the V-Lite. Recommendation is to air dry the V-Lite post cleaning. Of note is that the instruction manual states that bending the V-Lite specifically where the main LED sits is likely to cause damage and may render the V-Lite unusable.
The mounting sleeve when removed enables the user to fully see the V-Lite. The top 1/3rd of the V-Lite houses the electronics (circuit board, LEDs, power button etc), the lower 2/3rds of the V-Lite is just the silicone material.
The 1st image shows a top down view of the V-Lite. The 2nd image shows the top of the V-Lite, and of note are the 'Ind.' (indicator) LEDs, red and green. These miniature LEDs are designed to illuminate for two reasons.
Green Ind. = lights up when battery has good capacity.
Red Ind. = lights up when battery is below 25%.
The 3rd image shows the underside of the V-Lite and you can see the bottom of the circuit board and the CR2032 battery fitted. It's important to note that there is no access or ability to replace the battery.
Mode Programming Instructions
The V-Lite Multi Mode as the name suggests enables the user to choose between a number of modes which again allows the user to modify the V-Lite to suit their operational requirements.
The card insert within the packaging folds outs to contain the programming instructions which are below;
V-Lite default mode is set to Mode 5 'Demo Mode'. This means that when turned on and cycled through the On and Blink modes, if no changes are made, after 30 seconds the V-Lite will turn off to conserve battery.
(Note - This is especially useful if the V-Lite is accidentally turned on at the bottom of a kit bag, the 30 sec shut off saves the battery).
Step 1: Press / hold Power button for 5 seconds to enter programming mode. LEDs will flash rapidly indicating programming mode.
Step 2: Momentarily press the button to cycle through V-Lite modes. All LEDs will blink. The number of blinks between pauses indicates mode (see below chart). Each press of the button cycles to the next mode.
Step 3: Cycle to desired mode, press / hold button for 5 seconds to lock in mode. All LEDs turn on for 2 seconds then turn off to indicate mode has been programmed.
Step 4: Turn V-Lite on and cycle through mode to ensure mode was programmed.
S&S Precision have produced a video step-by-step guide which demonstrates the above instructions which is simple to understand and follow.
Fitting the V-Lite to a helmet (direct)
The V-Lite is designed to be directly fitted onto helmets and is typically mounted on the rear of the helmet to the left, right or both sides of the NVD battery cases that are mounted to the rear of the helmet. The V-Lite as mentioned is within a flexible housing and can be bent to fit the curvature of a helmet.
Bravo used V-Lites in different combinations, again based on personal choice, sometimes wearing one V-Lite on the left or right and sometimes mounting 2 at the rear for use. Due to the V-Lites low profile it's unlikely to get snagged or caught up in undergrowth, however it's likely that if it did, it would simply rip off without causing damage to the helmet / helmet cover.
The below example is of dual V-Lites mounted on the rear of the ODG helmet cover on an Ops-Core FAST repro helmet.
The V-Lites purchased produce single colours, in this example, Green and Red. (S&S Precision also manufacture the V-Lite Multi-Color which provides a multitude of colour options within one V-Lite). The V-Lites do emit enough light to be noticeable at distance (see below ref video).
Thoughts and opinion
The S&S Precision V-Lites are undoubtedly simple pieces of equipment to use that do exactly as stated, emit light. The new Multi-Mode variant enables the user to tailor the V-Lite to their specification. Whilst not a piece of equipment that is used all day everyday, it's still available if required, and by buying the official S&S Precision product, you're buying quality and the assurance that when you need it, it'll work.
The main downside for me is the battery, more specifically the fact that it cannot be replaced. It's advertised that the battery can last 120+ hours (continuous use) but even then, the cost of these individually, based on your frequent use of them may mean you buy a number of these over your operational days. I'm awaiting S&S Precisions response to the question, 'If the V-Lite is used in Mode 4, and used at 1/4, 1/2 power etc, does this extend the battery life?' There is potential that with time, effort and skill you may be able to remove the rear silicone, replace the battery and re-silicone it, but the V-Lite would then a) lose it's warranty, b) lose security ie you cannot guarantee the V-Lite being water or dustproof and c) potentially fail you when you need it most.
Once I can get back to the ranges, I will be producing a video to demonstrate the V-Lites in action in daylight, dusk and dark night hours. I'll also be comparing them when in use in both urban and woodland environments.
I would recommend the V-Lite to those wanting to mount markers / IFF devices that will be reliable and easy to use. A drop on the floor or even the full weight of someone stepping on them won't make any difference unlike conventional bulb or LED markers, I know I've tried.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.