CORE Survival HEL-STAR 6: Illumination to Keep People Safe

As part of its essential line-up of on Identifying Friend or Foe (IFF) illumination devices, the HEL-STAR 6 was first introduced by CORE Survival in late 2011, and hit the market in 2012. Since then, the HEL-STAR 6 light has been through three generational upgrades to improve durability, functionality, and performance. Today the HEL-STAR 6 GENIII+ represents the latest in technology and design.

Designed specifically to fit the curvature of a helmet, the HEL-STAR 6 is an improvement over previous designs with improved emitter visibility/dispersion, added durable housing, and moisture resistance. Its lightweight housing and clear visible IFF emitter will help denote any friend or clearly delineate essential equipment.

With its all-enclosed emitter housing, the HEL-STAR 6 includes a power selector switch at the rear of the light that gives a clear audible and tactile ON/OFF function. In addition, in both the 620 and 640-Series, the rotating/sliding selector switch at the nose enables selection between visible and IR settings and has sufficient tactical sensation to be manipulated with or without gloves.

On the inward-facing exterior is a continuous field of hook-and-loop (male) to provide maximum retention to associated hook-and-loop (female) panels on most common helmet designs. The hook-and-loop has sufficient emergency breakaway retention to avoid injury. To add retention, the bottom also includes two tie-down retention points.

The bottom of the HEL-STAR 6 also provides access to the battery door that secures a single CR123 Lithium battery. Rubberized gaskets help ensure the battery compartment remains sealed up in water up to a depth of 300 feet.

The HEL-STAR 6 consists of omnidirectional LED elements that can be pre-programmed for visible color, intensity, and emission duration (to include Morse Code). The White-Flash LED element itself also meets the FAA 3-Mile requirements.

The HEL-STAR 6 is available in Desert Tan (featured) and Black. The LED emitters come in a variety of colors to include Green, White, Red, Blue, and Infrared.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): With its list price of $205.00 the HEL-STAR 6 GEN III+ is the latest IFF light emitter device offered by CORE’s Survival for both field operations and rapid identification. The device’s overall housing encloses the overall power source, emitters, and electronics—while the illumination controls are robust enough for impact mitigation and use in as all-weather. While the Manta Strobe ($219) by S&S Precision is the closest comparator to the HEL-STAR 6, other close alternative personal illumination devices include the HEL-STAR 5 EXO ($159), the MS-2k ($149) by ACR, or VLite ($44) by S&S (which has less robust housing and function). However, only the Manta has comparable robust construction and multi-functional use, and this would place the HEL-STAR 6 at a good price point for the consumer.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the HEL-STAR 6 kept a very solid purchase to the hook-and-loop (female) sections on a helmet, provided the 6’s full-field of hook-and-loop (male) material along the underside had complete contact with an adjoining field. If there was less contact surface, then the strength of the hook-and-loop’s retention was diminished. The ON/OFF and light function switches also had a clear and tactile feel to them when operating, so it was easy to tell when they were properly used despite the switches being out of sight on the back of the helmet. And while the HEL-STAR 6 has a variety of light colors and functions available, the evaluated omnidirectional Green/Red emitter was bright and easily seen over distances to identify location and direction of the wearer.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The durability of the HEL-STAR 6 owed its longevity to the rugged design of its all-enclosed emitter housing. The housing was made from a molded polycarbonate similar to many other firearm accessories. This housing allowed the emitter to maintain a minimalist domed contour that encapsulated the battery and electronics, while avoiding excess bulk. One point of note is the sliding selector switch (in the -640 series) itself is manipulated along a thin plastic guide, that is slightly exposed on the opposite side when it is in either position. Additionally, during drop-testing (released at arms-length from shoulder height onto finished concrete a total of 10 times) the top, semi-transparent housing did sustain some surface marring at the various points of impact against finished concrete (but the LEDs still continued to properly function properly and the housing did not become cracked). Submersion in a glass of water for 2 hours also showed no detrimental effect, with no moisture penetration to the interior or battery compartment, and the LEDs continued to function throughout. CORE Survival does offer a one-year warranty on the HEL-STAR 6, provided the device has not been abused, misused, or modified.
  • Functionality – Excellent (5/5): Functionally the HEL-STAR 6 did an excellent job at providing a simplistic, clear and readily identifiable light source identifying an individual’s location. The evaluated HEL-STAR 6 had a single ON/OFF switch with its Green/Red/IR light function, but the 6 has a wide array of different colors and functionality to include strobe and Morse lettering (selected at either the time of purchase or programmed via a separate control module). This gave the end-user a wide array of application with the HEL-STAR 6 both on the range, afield, or potentially with K9 units. The omnidirectional light emitters provided clear and easy visual recognition from 360-degrees of orientation to the IFF emitter, as well as above for possible aerial reconnaissance or extraction marking.
  • Weight – Average (3/5): At a demure 2.8 ounces, the HEL-STAR 6 was extremely light weight when mounted to the helmet, and did not detract with added strain or burden to the head or neck. Indeed, personal illumination/marking devices are often light in total weight for just that purpose. The 6 maintained a light weight by keeping its design compact and minimal so as to offer maximum robust protection to the overall housing and LED light emitters. In contrast, while other CORE Survival lights like the HEL-STAR 4 EXO (2.4 ounces) are slightly lighter in terms of weight, the closest comparator being the Manta Strobe (2.2 ounces) was of slightly less weight. But for the overall size and profile, the HEL-STAR 6 was of appropriate (or average) weight for its overall function and material.

Overall Rating – Good (20/25)

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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