Welcome back to another weekly installment of Friday Night Lights. Last week we took a look at a newcomer to the night vision bridge game, the Rayvn Rail. This week we take a look at probably the most highly anticipated laser on the market, the Phantom Hill CTF2.
MFAL @ TFB:
Phantom Hill CTF2
The original CTF-1 was well received and Phantom Hill quickly sold out of them. However, people wanted more from Phantom Hill and they heeded the call for a modular Multi-Function Aiming Laser (MFAL). They made the CTF2 modular so it can take SureFire-compatible heads. Specifically, 3v M300 style heads.
Mike of Phantom Hill sent me the CTF2 with a Malkoff head. They now ship in their own Pelican case with laser-cut foam insert. The CTF2 is basically a laser built into a conjoined dual-head flashlight body. It holds the batteries and has activation buttons. Just like the CTF-1, the CTF2 is powered by two CR123 batteries, one for each side.
Phantom Hill’s CTF2 is mounted the same way as their CTF-1. It uses a single cross bolt and Picatinny rail grabber the entire length of the body,.
Since the Phantom Hill CTF2 uses 3v Scout Light compatible heads, you can add a B.E. Meyers KIJI 3º and you have a sweet setup. This is a MAWL-C1+ on a budget. You will have MAWL-C1+ performance with an integrated white light.
Using The CTF2
The CTF2 is an evolution from the CTF-1. Not only can you use 3v Scout Light compatible heads of your choosing, it now has three buttons. The buttons on the left and right are for activating their respective sides. They are momentary only and pressing them will activate the light head on that side as well as the IR laser. The aiming laser is eye-safe at 0.7mW. So while it will turn on with your white light, it won’t hurt any eyeballs nor will it drastically drain your CR123.
Now there is a third button. This is for IR aiming laser only. You can double tap this button for constant on. This is to help you when you zero it. The light activation buttons do not have constant on. Double tapping them does not keep the laser on.
The Phantom Hill CTF2 is just as low profile as the CTF-1.
As mentioned earlier, Mike of Phantom Hill sent the CTF2 with the Malkodd E1HT head. It is a 3v head and has a great beam pattern which you saw in the video above. It is only 325 lumens but puts out 23,000 candela. SureFire’s EDCL1-T is a 500-lumen head and while it would work with the Phantom Hill CTF2, it only puts out 7,000 candela. The Malkoff E1HT is a decent thrower.
Head Compatability And No 6V Compatibility
Back at SHOT Show 2022, the CTF2 prototype was able to use a single CR123 cell extender and power a 6v Scout Light head. I tested this at SHOT Show and was able to use my EDCL-2T head which puts out 1,200 lumens and 11,300 candela. However, the production CTF2 does not seem to be able to do this. I talked to Mike of Phantom Hill and they are aware of this issue. They have been talking to Modlite, Z-Bolt, and Malkoff as everyone wants their 6V heads to work on the CTF2.
In my testing, I found some 3v SureFire heads do not seem to work with the Phantom Hill CTF2. See the photo above. The three heads on the left all work with the CTF2. The heads on the right do not. Notice the difference? The heads on the left all have a spring. The heads on the right have a solid metal contact. Look at the photo below. I removed one of the heads to show you the contact. It is merely a metal disc.
On a SureFire Executive Series handheld or Scout Light body, the batteries make direct contact with the head. They are pushed into the head by the spring of the tail cap. That is not the case here with the CTF2. Only heads with a spring for positive contact will work with the Phantom Hill CTF2.
I was able to use a dummy cell between the CTF2 and one of those non-compatible heads, however, I do not recommend this. You do not have any buffer since it lacks a spring. So it is a solid metal connecting the CTF2 contact and the back of the LED head. You could damage the contacts, especially under recoil.
The Phantom Hill CTF2 excels when used on guns that are very short like this Rattler in the picture below. While the SIG Rattler has M-LOK slots on the sides and bottom, you compromise your support hand grip but that is not the case with the CTF2.
The 3D sintered body is rather cool under thermal.
I mounted the CTF2 on my Calico Liberty 1 using a short Picatinny rail bolted into the handguard.
Finally Thoughts On The CTF2
The modularity of the CTF2 is exactly what interested parties have been asking for. It is a minor disappointment that it is not compatible with a cell extender to utilize 6v heads. But with the right head choice, like the Malkoff E1HT, you have plenty of illumination for 100 yards and depending on lighting conditions, it can shine out to 200 yards. Think of what gun this will be mounted onto. Will you really be taking shots past 100 yards using 1x night vision goggles to look through? Probably not. I do question the color of the buttons. The bright yellow/green buttons are a bit ostentatious. I would have preferred a more subdued color like the prototype looked like it was Foliage Green. You can of course paint it any color you want.
The CTF2 is near perfection with a B.E. Meyers KIJI 3º head. You can surgically place the tight 3º beam through 3-dimensional barricades and not illuminate the insides or have light splash back causing your NODs to dim. Of course, this is a feature of the KIJI and not exclusively the CTF2. But now you have MAWL-like performance
I really enjoy the modularity. Before, on the CTF-1, the IR activation button was on the right side. This meant I had to reach across the body to activate the IR laser. I tend to utilize IR more than I do white light, especially with shooting in the dark so the CTF-1 button layout was not ideal for my use. That is no longer the case with the CTF2. I like the laser-only button and the button arrangement is obvious enough to be that I will not have button confusion and negligently activate the wrong button.
The CTF2 base body is cheaper than projected at SHOT Show, it retails for $699. Phantom Hill offers three bundle options. You can get the CTF2 with a KIJI for $1299, CTF2 with KIJI and Malkoff for $1399 or just get the CTF2 with Malkoff for $799. There are a lot of options if you have your own 3V Scout Light heads. Just make sure they have springs and not solid battery contacts.
I look forward to the next iteration of the CTF series of MFAL. The 6v compatible version will let you use brighter heads and hopefully they will be making one to use Modlite/SureFire DF heads. I heard Phantom Hill is working with some AK enthusiasts for a dedicated CTF laser for the AK platform. But I do not have any further information regarding this.
At the time of this article, Phantom Hill has sold out of their two drops. They will have another drop this coming Sunday, Oct 9. Go to their website for more information.