TacticID FAQs

Q – What is TacticID?
A – TacticID is a state-of-the-art Raman handheld system specifically designed for rapid, nondestructive identification of unknown substances by safety and security personnel.

Q – What is the purpose of TacticID?
A – The main function of TacticID is to provide fast and accurate first response or screening results for a wide variety of dangerous and/or illegal chemical-based substances.

Q – Can TacticID replace my laboratory grade Raman or GC Mass Spec identification equipment?
A – TacticID is designed to be taken out of the lab/office/department directly into the field at the point of need. The instrument’s small size, weight and simple interface makes it ideal for first responders , customs and border patrol, safety personnel and others looking for a first-level identification of substances in the field. It provides rapid identification results that can supplement laboratory analysis by providing rapid screening in the field and thus reduce the need to utilize lab-based equipment to analyze harmless materials such as cutting agents.

Q – What can TacticID identify?
A – TacticID can identify thousands of substances including narcotics, cutting agents, narcotic precursors, controlled substances, pharmaceutical pills, toxic and non-toxic chemicals, solvents, certain food materials and more.

Q – How many versions of TacticID are there?
A – There are two TacticID models – TacticID-GP and TacticID-N.
-TacticID-GP contains a library of more than 10,000 signatures of narcotics, pharmaceutical drugs, precursors, cutting agents, binding agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and common chemicals. It supports custom library building capabilities.
-TacticID-N comes with a closed library which contains signatures of more than 1,000 narcotics, pharmaceutical drugs, precursors and cutting agents.

Q – What kind of narcotics can TacticID identify?
A – Both TacticID models can identify a wide variety of illicit narcotics and pharmaceutical drugs including, but not limited to:
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Cocaine Base
  • Cocaine HCl
  • Crack Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Steroids/testosterone
  • Painkillers
  • Methylphenidate
  • Phencylidine
  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • MDMA
  • Many more
Q – Can TacticID identify marijuana?
A – The Raman technology of the TacticID is best suited for chemicals and synthetics, not plant materials such as marijuana.

Q – Can TacticID identify heroin?
A – Heroin identification is possible using the TacPac™ SERS (Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy) kit. Many street samples and real-world samples are dark in color and not pure. The dark color, often due to impurities, gives rise to fluorescence that interferes with the Raman measurement. The use of the TacPac™ SERS suppresses the fluorescence of a sample and enhances the Raman activity / signal, allowing for heroin identification. The TacPac sample takes only a few minutes to prepare and can be scanned directly with the TacticID. Without use of the TacPac, TacticID can positively identify heroin that is generally over 80% pure, although this is unlikely in a real-world street sample scenario.

Q – Can TacticID identify fentanyl and heroin/fentanyl mixtures?
A – The TacticID library has several fentanyl derivatives in it. The library continues to be enhanced to keep up with the rapidly expanding fentanyl narcotic problem and the growing number of variations. Fentanyl cut with heroin or other cutting agents can be difficult for Raman spectroscopy to identify due to fluorescence. We are continuing to add fentanyl derivatives and heroin/fentanyl mixture capabilities into our libraries.

Q – What about ‘spice’, ‘smile’, synthetic marijuana and other emerging narcotics?
A – TacticID has the ability to identify synthetic cannabinoids either directly on the device or through the use of the TacPac. Generally, if the drug is powder, crystalline or liquid, the instrument can identify the sample directly. If a liquid solution is sprayed onto a grass-like substance, fluorescence issues will prohibit a result with Raman spectroscopy.

Q – Can the TacticID be used for identification of explosives?
A – A complete explosive library is available for first responders and other users of the TacticID-GP. This library may be subject to US export control to some territories. More information on TacticID’s explosive measurement capabilities can be found by contacting the B&W Tek US office.

Q – TacticID-GP allows users to add custom library items. What are the legal ramifications of this?
A – The custom library feature of TacticID-GP is designed to allow global users to be able to quickly add new, emerging or region-specific substances into their library if they are not already present. This allows for rapid identification of new threats using custom-made non-validated libraries. The customers are responsible for the integrity of the library content they created.

Q – Are software and library updates available for the TacticID?
A – B&W Tek publishes release notes for software updates, and customers are notified of the availability of library and software updates. These are available at no charge within the warranty period.

Q – How are these updates sent and downloaded?
A – Update notices are sent via email. Users are then provided with a secure download link for the update file which is installed on their TacticID from the computer-based TID software either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Users will then be guided to install the updates to the instruments.
Q – Are the narcotics identification results considered confirmatory in court?
A – Currently all handheld Raman narcotics identification is purely PRESUMPTIVE evidence. Raman Spectroscopy is a Category A method for identification of drugs in the recommendations of Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG), requiring an additional test in a forensic lab to confirm identity. Raman is a proven, widely used analytical technique in many industries including the pharmaceutical market.

Q – In the future, will Raman results become confirmatory?
A – It is a commonly accepted notion that in the relatively near future, enough court precedents will emerge to push Raman from presumptive to confirmatory. There are several recent cases that are paving the way to this precedent. B&W Tek is working with several U.S. law enforcement agencies in an effort to move TacticID and handheld Raman toward admissibility in the court system. Currently, Raman spectroscopy is valid as 1 of 2 complementary identification techniques as designated by SWGDRUG.

Q – Is TacticID IP certified for field conditions?
A – Yes, it is IP65 certified for water resistance and dust proofing.

Q – Is TacticID drop test certified?
A – Yes, both TacticID-N and TacticID-GP have passed the transit drop test according to MIL-STD-810G, METHOD 516.6.

Q – Is the laser contained in TacticID dangerous?
A – TacticID models contain a Class 3B laser and comply with 21 CFR 1040.10. When used properly, this laser is completely safe. Users should be aware of the following precautions:
  • Do not look directly into the laser aperture.
  • Hold the instrument a minimum of 18 inches from your eye line.
  • Use caution when scanning colored substances – potential for ignition is possible.
Q – Is the laser power adjustable?
A – The TacticID uses a 785 nm laser with a maximum power output of 300 mW. The laser power is easily adjustable from 10% to 100% maximum power in 10% increments.

Q – While analyzing samples in glass or plastic bags, can the TacticID see the active ingredients inside? Will the presence of water impact the results?
A – Raman spectroscopy can “see” through water and thin transparent or semi-transparent glass and plastic. Therefore, there is no issue when there is sufficient concentration of the active ingredients. The identification of an active ingredient will depend on its concentration in the mix of chemicals and its Raman signal strength relative to the other chemicals present. Depending on which sampling accessory is used, the ability to measure accurately through translucent materials will vary. Case by case tests are recommended to provide complete and accurate data.

Q – The TacticID contains Wi-Fi connectivity. Can this function be disabled?
A – We understand that certain users may not or cannot utilize this function. Wi-Fi can be disabled in the system settings.

Q – Does the TacticID have an “intrinsic” battery?
A – The TacticID has a rechargeable lithium ion battery with power capacity for around 5 hours of continuous use. Standard operation allows for the instrument to be used for longer periods due to the system standby mode feature which, after a few minutes, makes the instrument idle without losing data or the operation point within the software.

Q – How long can the battery last in standby mode?
A – About 10 hours.

Q – What is the battery lifetime and how easily can a battery be replaced?
A – The battery usually can last about 300 cycles of 100% charge and discharge. If the battery is not fully discharged each time, the number of cycles available over the lifetime of the product will increase. Generally speaking, the battery can last about 2-3 years. The lithium ion battery is an industrial standard battery. A replacement battery as well as a charging cradle can be purchased for the TacticID. The battery can be easily replaced at the customer site without additional tools.

Q – How many scans can the TacticID store on the internal flash memory?
A – About 3,200 scans can be stored on the internal flash memory depending on other data and configurations stored on the system before the next synchronization to PC is performed.

Q – Are the scans permanently stored on TacticID?
A – Scans are stored on the instrument until synchronization is performed through the TID software into the secure database via the PC. Once synchronization is complete, all result data on the instrument is removed. The purpose of this feature is to maximize instrument internal memory (the TID server on the computer is the secure database storage site, and is the TID Client/Server software used to generate non-editable reports for all result data).

Q – In the TacticID reporting software (TID), can I customize the outputs?
A – Users can add custom entry fields and custom logos in the TID results reports that can appear on the print outs.

Q – Are there multiple operator level logins on the system?
A – There is an operator level and an admin level login.

Q – What is the standard warranty period?
A – The standard warranty for the TacticID is 2 years. Extended warranty packages and service protection plans are available. Extended warranty and service plans can ensure that your TacticID will perform at an optimum level for many years to come and offer the benefit of factory monitoring and maintenance of the instrument. These types of warranty and service plans can extend the life of the instrument for maximum return on investment.

Q – What support can B&W Tek provide in case of hardware failure?
A – There are a series of built-in-diagnostic tools for the user to verify performance of the instrument at any time. Certain service functions, such as software and library updates, can be performed remotely by trained B&W Tek engineers or representatives, which ensure constant optimum performance. In special cases, where service cannot be provided remotely, B&W Tek can arrange for a loaner or replacement unit. In addition, B&W Tek has a global network of trained service centers. Contact us at www.bwtek.com/support

Q – Can the TacticID “see” through black or dark colored polybags?
A – It is typically difficult to measure samples in dark containers with handheld Raman. Some tests have shown positive results, but it is always best to test the containers for the ability to consistently produce positive results.

Q – Can the TacticID use disposable batteries?
A – The TacticID is supplied with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Additional batteries and a charging cradle are available as is an optional disposable battery cartridge that can be used with six 123A batteries such as the Surefire 123A battery.