MARCO: Next Gen Personal Illumination

Representing the next generation of illumination, the Marco by Blue Force Gear represents an evolution in personal marking during Period of Darkness. At a fraction the size of traditional “chemlights”, and in a compact dispenser, the Marco will help provide individual illumination in any environment.

In 2” ampules, each Marco light stick gives off as much lumen output as two previous 4” light sticks taped together. The light sticks, and their internal chambers, are specifically designed to prevent accidental activation/breakage. The available colors for the Marco light sticks include; Red, Green, and Blue.

The Marco Light Dispenser is an injection-molded, thermoplastic container that is spring-loaded and comes pre-loaded with 30 of the 2” Marco light ampoules. It is designed with an integrated break-point, for ease of one-handed deployment. The dispenser has the consistent dimensions of a traditional AR magazine, and can fit in any corresponding pouch. Alternatively, the Marco has different carrying pouches (sold separately) for either direct belt carry or as a MOLLE attachment.

It should be noted to keep the loaded Marco dispenser in its original packaging, as all chemlights (or the ability of the chemicals to generate light when mixed) deteriorate once exposed to ultra violet light. The overall dimensions of the Marco dispenser are 5.33”(H) x 2.33”(W) x 0.73”(D).

Featured in this review is the associated 10-Speed Belt Pouch Hangar for the Marco dispenser. It consists of a combination nylon webbing and military-grade elastic that, using the included slide-release buckle, allows the Marco dispenser to hang off a belt or other MOLLE webbing.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): Each loaded Marco dispenser is $49.95 and comes preloaded with 30 light ampoules. In comparison, on the current market a 30-pack of 6” chem lights run approximately $40, but take up the space of a medium flat-rate shipping box and have no means of carrying (thus often why you see shooters weave it in between MOLLE webbing). In comparison, the cost of the Marco is equitable given what you gain in functionality over the larger, more traditional chemlights to mark self or feature.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Marco dispenser is very robust, and took a good deal of hits. For the purpose of this review it was struck by an AR magazine ten times each time reloads were required to simulate what it would be like attached to tactical gear. The dispenser neither broke nor became marred, and continued to function as intended. The belt hanger was noted to sustain some surface fraying on the elastic cuff from being struck, similar to what was observed with the 10-Speed M4 Chest Rig that uses the same material, but none of which was detrimental to the overall function of the item.
  • Functionality Excellent (5/5): The ability of the Marco to give off the same amount of lumens as larger chemlights was noted and directly comparable, but not greater. While the output of lumens was the same, larger chemlights only appear to have more light output because they spread out that exothermic reaction over a larger surface area. The Marco did have the same 12-hour lumen output, but is designed for smaller, individual marking for use in nighttime operations (such as room clearance, trail marking, individual marking). The dispenser functioned well, and the integrated break point did as intended (although you can literally crack the chemlight in your hand just as easily). The spring-loaded aspect of the dispenser ensured each ampoule was under enough tension to be retained, but was still readily deployed. The fact you can reload the Marco dispenser with additional Marco ampoules (sold separately) means you can use the dispenser repeatedly translating to cost effectiveness. The belt-pouch hanger has a slide-release buckle that is secured to the belt via a hook-and-loop, that gave the MARCO ambidextrous functionality on any MOLLE webbing or belt side.
  • Weight Excellent (5/5): A fully loaded Marco dispenser weighed approximately 3.8 ounces, and when deducting the weight of the dispenser itself (which includes a steel spring) the weight of each light ampoule is measured in the range of very low grams. In comparison, the weight of 30 full-sized chemlights was almost two pounds, and still with no means of carrying or dispensing.

Overall Rating – Very Good (17/20)

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IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, 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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