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Addition of helium to an Ar/Xe gas mixture has been shown to significantly improve the fission‐fragment excited 1.73 μm atomic xenon laser performance. Using narrow band dielectric laser cavity mirrors to suppress the 2.03 μm atomic xenon transition, the 1.73 μm laser power efficiency varied between 1% and 3% for total pressures of 520–1550 Torr, He/Ar ratios of 3/1–16/1, and pump rates of 5–40 W/cm3. For a constant energy loading, the FWHM of the laser pulse with respect to the pump pulse increased by a factor of 2.5 when argon was replaced by helium. Small signal gain varied between 0.1%/cm and 1.0%/cm. The implication of helium substitution on the Ar/Xe laser kinetics is discussed.