This is a review of the Steiner DBAL-A3, which is currently the most popular dual-beam laser for civilian, military, and law enforcement applications.
The standard-issue DBAL-A3 was built for the US military. However, Steiner released a civilian model with most of the same features. You receive an IR laser pointer, green laser pointer, and IR illuminator in a single device. It mounts to any weapon with a Picatinny rail and features a heavy-duty aluminum body.
At first glance, I found the Steiner DBAL-A3 appears quite bulky. However, it is surprisingly lightweight. The IR illuminator is also bright enough for use in almost pitch-black settings. You can also use the visible laser during daylight for increased accuracy.
While the DBAL-A3 is a highly recommended laser, it may not be the perfect fit for everyone. The following Steiner DBAL-A3 review provides a closer look at its main features, advantages, and disadvantages.
Keep reading to learn more about this dual-beam laser from Steiner.
- IR illuminator
- IR laser and visible green laser
- High and low power modes
- Submersible up to 10 meters for 2 hours
- Available in desert sand and black
- Momentary and continuous operating modes
- IR illuminator peak output: 4mW
- IR laser peak output: 0.7mW
- Visible laser peak output: 5mW
- IR laser range: 275 yards (day or night)
- Visible laser range: 16 yards (day)/820 yards (night)
- Mount: Quick-release HT mount for use on a Picatinny rail
- Housing: Aircraft-grade aluminum and MIL-SPEC Type III hard anodized body
- Battery: CR123A
- Weight: 7.7 ounces
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.6 x 2.8 inches
Steiner DBAL-A3 Review
The Steiner DBAL-A3 is a dual beam aiming laser. It is equipped with an IR laser pointer, a green laser pointer, and an IR illuminator.
The lasers produce a light beam that you can use as an aiming point. The IR illuminator helps increase your visibility through night vision devices. It essentially acts as a flashlight for the IR laser when using night vision (NV) goggles or other NV equipment.
Why Choose the Steiner DBAL-A3?
The military version of the DBAL-A3 is the most-used aiming laser. The civilian version still includes many of the same features that help make the standard-issue DBAL-A3 so popular. It is one of the only aiming lasers to include defocused adjustable IR illumination technology.
You can adjust the brightness of the IR illuminator for superior illumination at longer ranges, which helps make the DBAL-A3 more versatile. It is suitable for close and mid-range tactical and hunting situations.
- Features a single laser activation switch for quick operation
- Includes dual remote cable ports for remote firing
- Submersible in depths up to 10 meters for up to 2 hours
- Mounts on any Picatinny rail
- Easily adjust the intensity of the IR illuminator
- More compact and weighs less compared to the DBAL-A2 laser
- Requires a tool to adjust the windage and elevation
- Relatively expensive aiming laser
Main Features of the Steiner DBAL-A3
IR Illuminator and Dual Laser Beams
The DBAL-A3 is an upgraded version of the DBAL-A2. The previous model was manufactured by Laser Devices before the company was acquired by Steiner Optics.
Both versions include an IR illuminator on the left side and dual laser beams on the right side. However, the DBAL-A3 version has a single knob for switching between high and low power modes and continuous operation or momentary operation.
The visible green laser is brighter compared to the IR laser, making it suitable for daytime use. The IR laser is intended for use with night vision (NV) gear. However, the two lasers are adjusted synchronously using the same elevation and windage knobs.
The lasers are more powerful compared to the IR lasers found in comparable devices. However, the power offered by the civilian version is still significantly lower compared to the military version.
The full power DBAL-A3 produces 50mW of power for its IR laser pointer and IR illuminator. The civilian version delivers 0.7mW and 4mW of power for the laser pointer and illuminator. The visible laser has 5mW of power in the civilian model and 80mW of power in the military version.
While the lasers are not as powerful on the civilian model, you can still see the visible laser up to 820 yards away at night without night vision equipment. The IR laser is visible up to 275 yards away.
Low-Profile Windage and Elevation Knobs
As with most optics, the DBAL-A3 includes knobs for compensating for windage and elevation. The windage knob is on the upper-right side of the device while the elevation knob is on the right side.
The previous model (DBAL-A2) included knurled knobs. You could adjust the elevation and windage without any tools, which also allows you to quickly reset the knobs to zero when switching guns.
The DBAL-A3 version replaced the knurled knobs with slotted knobs. You need to insert a coin or a flathead screwdriver to adjust the knobs. Some people prefer the convenience of knurled knobs. However, the slotted design helps protect against accidentally adjusting the windage and elevation.
Dual Switch Activation
The DBAL-A3 features dual-switch activation. You can turn on the lasers by pressing the activation button on the device or remotely trigger the device with a remote activation pressure pad. Using the remote switch allows you to activate the device from a firing position.
You can tap either switch one time to momentarily activate the device, which helps conserve energy. You can also double tap the switch for five continuous minutes of operation.
You can also instantly switch from the IR laser to the visible laser. This is a feature that is not found on aiming lasers from other manufacturers. It is a convenient option that allows you to immediately activate the visible laser no matter the current operating mode.
Lightweight, Yet Durable Design
The DBAL-A3 looks large but is smaller compared to some of the other aiming lasers out there. It is slightly longer than the DBAL-A2 model but weighs less. The total weight of the laser with a dust cover, battery, rail mount, and dual cable remote switch is about 7.7 ounces.
Despite the lightweight design, the DBAL-A3 aiming laser is still durable. It is made with T6 aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard anodized body.
Self-Adjusting Quick Release HT Mount
The DBAL-A3 uses the Steiner HT mount. This self-adjusting quick-release mount makes it easy to quickly mount and unmount the laser on any rifle or carbine with a Picatinny rail.
The HT mount is highly durable and easy to use. The mount includes a sturdy throw lever for quickly attaching and detaching the DBAL-A3. It is made from aerospace-grade aluminum. It also features a hard-anodized coating yet weighs less than most other mounts on the market.
Alternatives to the Steiner DBAL-A3
The Steiner DBAL-A3 is one of many high-end lasers available for civilians. Here are a few alternative options to compare:
The Holosun Co-Axial Green & IR Laser is a good alternative for those that want a cheaper aiming laser. As with the DBAL-A3 laser, the Holosun sight includes a visible green laser and an IR laser for use with night vision equipment. The power output is also comparable. Yet, the DBAL-A3 laser is more durable and lighter. The Holosun sight weighs over 16 ounces.
The Sniper FL3000 is an affordable green/IR laser sight combo. It costs a fraction of the DBAL-A3, but the lasers are just as powerful. The FL3000 includes a green laser with 5mW power and an 850nm IR laser. However, the Sniper FL3000 does not have an IR illuminator. It is also a little bigger and heavier compared to the DBAL-A3.
The Steiner OTAL-C IR Aiming Laser is another cost-effective option for those that want a visible IR laser beam. It does not have an IR illuminator but includes a visible laser beam and an IR laser beam. The two beams are co-aligned, as with the previous recommendations. You can also mount it in front of a scope or a holographic sight.
The DBAL-A3 is a premium aiming laser for those that want the brightest lasers available for civilian use. However, it also comes with a premium price tag. It is one of the more expensive options but worth the cost.
Cheaper models are available with an IR laser and visible laser. However, they often lack the IR illuminator for helping increase your night vision visibility.
Another potential issue is the slotted knobs that require a tool to adjust. While pulling out a screwdriver or a coin to adjust the windage or elevation is inconvenient, it protects against accidentally adjusting the knobs.
Other than the windage and elevation knobs, the DBAL-A3 aiming laser is easy to use. It quickly mounts to almost any rifle thanks to the HT mount and has a single knob for switching between operating modes.
Consider ordering a DBAL-A3 dual beam aiming laser for increased visibility in low light settings.