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The Lightforce PRED9X

by Technical Advisor Brendan Atkinson
Australian Shooter February 2013

The PRED9X mounted on Brendan Atkinson’s old Sako
The PRED9X mounted on Brendan Atkinson’s old
Sako. It takes only seconds to attach or remove
the unit.

This is what comes in the PRED9X kit
This is what comes in the PRED9X kit. The batteries
have already been installed into the unit.

A close-up of the PRED9X on Brendan’s Sako rifle
A close-up of the PRED9X on Brendan’s Sako rifle.

A comparison of the beam from the PRED9X top, and PRED6X
A comparison of the beam from the PRED9X top,
and PRED6X. Note the small centre spot of the 9X.
There is no doubt that the Lightforce brand has set new standards for spotlights over the years, whether they are for fitting to vehicles or the hand-held type. Spotlight shooting is extremely popular in Australia and having a lightweight and powerful unit is paramount for long sessions in the field.

Spotlighting is usually performed in a group of three people, with one driving, one spotlighting and a third person shooting. But what about those shooters who may have a need to do it alone? Staking out the chook house waiting for a marauding fox is one scenario that I am familiar with, and of course, there are those who make their living from shooting game after dark.

The Lightforce PRED9X might well be a solution to this problem. The unit provides a powerful LED spotlight, leaving the shooter with both hands free to deal with the situation. It is described as a purpose-built firearm-mounted light and was designed by Lightforce’s research and development department and will be part of the company’s core range. The unit that I tested was a prototype, but the final production units will be very close to the one shown, with only some minor changes implemented.

The unit comes packed in a zippered pouch and contains the spotlight, along with battery chargers for both mains power and cigarette lighter car charging. Two batteries are required to power the unit and these must be fully charged up before use. You also get two spares, which should be kept charged and ready for use, should the others reach their endurance point when out in the field. Red and green filters are provided, as well as a remote control switch that can be very handy. A device that clamps to the scope tube and has a Picatinny mounting rail is an essential part of the kit.

I charged the lithium-ion batteries using the mains power adapter and fitted these to the lighting unit. They drop into separate holes and have threaded end caps to hold them in place. Now, these caps have some pretty hefty springs on them and getting them screwed in takes a bit of effort and a strong thumb. No matter though, as they are built like that to withstand the recoil of the rifle, so it is a small price to pay. Lightforce is working on a method of reducing this effort and this will eventually appear on production models.

The LED light has a main push-button switch at the rear. One press on this gives high beam, a second press gives low beam and a third press switches it off. If you look carefully, there is a red light in the centre of the switch. If it flashes continuously, the unit is overheating and needs to be switched off immediately. If it flashes every three seconds, the batteries are reaching a low state of charge.

If you want to store the light, there is another clever function available. Press the power switch and hold it in until the light flashes once. It is now locked off. To reinstate it, simply press and hold until the light flashes. The switch is silent, so as not to spook game.

In the field
So how does the PRED9X perform in the field? Well, my favourite spotlighting rifle is an old Sako in .222.5 fitted with a fixed Leupold 8x scope. This scope has a 1" main tube and the Lightforce device clamped perfectly to this - a 30mm version will also be made available. The top of this device has a Picatinny/Weaver-type rail, to which the light is attached with a lever locking system. At 3lb, the unit is not a lightweight and at first, it seemed to unbalance the rifle, but it did not take long to adapt to it. Weight and balance is just a small price to pay for what it can deliver the shooter.

It was a moonless night when I ventured out with the PRED9X for a trial run. It was mounted on the Sako, with the remote-activation switch stuck to the side of the stock near my thumb. Now, I would have to say that when I turned this little light on, I was impressed with the intensity of the beam. It is rated at 450 lumens and is a LED Cree diode. As such, it throws a very white light a long way. In fact, it’s difficult to believe the power of this unit.

The centre spot is quite small and the spill area quite generous. On the low beam setting, it gave more light than some of the old clunkers that we used some years ago - I guess that’s modern technology for you! With the two 3.7-volt batteries rated at 2200mAh each, it is claimed that two hours at full power is the expected performance. That is actual running time, so with switching it on and off, one should expect an evening’s use without having to change batteries.

Spotting for some game in the form of rabbits, I had to switch the power down, as it made them very nervous at the higher setting. This is nothing new and I was half-expecting it anyway. Kangaroos at 200 yards stood out like fence posts, and a set of fox eyes even further away were very obvious - that fox is no longer with us!

I decided to try the colored filters out on the rabbits, as my previous experiences with these things some years back were not all that successful. Firstly, I fitted the red filter and tried it at both full and half power, but the rabbits I spotted were not too happy about either and took off, as rabbits do. This was my past experience repeated, so I removed the red one and swapped it for the green filter. Now that was a lot better! The rabbits were still nervous, but sat for long enough to be despatched cleanly - ‘confused’ would be a better way of describing it, I think.

Strangely enough, the kangaroos I saw did not seem fussed by any of the combinations and many just went on eating after an initial ‘stand and survey’ of the intruder.

Now, I have tried other lighting methods attached to rifles, including powerful but small torches, but this new unit from Lightforce is very impressive. Yes, it is heavy on top of the rifle and yes, it occasionally gets in the way, but hey, like most things in life, there have to be some compromises.

I tried this set-up on an authorised permit kangaroo cull. A roof-mounted Lightforce 240 was in use and once game was spotted, I switched to the rifle-mounted PRED9X. It worked fine, but of course, the beam on the latter is nowhere near as bright as the 240.

There are a couple of things that may be changed on the production model I tested. There is no adjustment to angle the light from side to side or up and down. Fortunately, the unit was pretty well spot-on with my rifle, but if you were running a scope with say a 20 MOA rail on it, it may be pointing at the ground only a short distance out. Shims are provided, but a better method will be looked into. Also, the mounting ring and rail should be made from a tougher material or at least aluminium, as some harder kicking rifles might cause longevity problems under recoil.

At the time of the review, we were also advised by Lightforce that another version of this light will soon be available. Designated the PRED6X, this will be a slightly smaller and less powerful version of the PRED9X. Like the PRED9X, it is intended for medium-range hunting and hunting on foot, but the PRED6X will weigh just 0.5lb with a battery and will include a detachable flip-up red filter. As I write, the retail price of either unit has not been released.

For more information about Lightforce products, contact your local gunshop or visit