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Tactical biometric devices are used to establish the identity of individuals of interest in various military and law-enforcement scenarios. Most testing of these devices has been conducted in laboratory settings rather than in operationally-realistic tactical scenarios. This study describes an experiment which can viably replace this paradigm by measuring the performance of handheld biometric devices in a variety of tactical environments. The experimental procedure assessed the collectability, quality and matchability of images collected in operationally-realistic scenarios. Iris recognition accuracy was measured using several commercial algorithms. Results illustrate performance degradation in operational results relative to laboratory results; the collection limitations of the devices in operationally-realistic settings; and the effects of operators, subjects, devices and environments on performance. The authors believe that this experiment is unique in its exploration of these elements and that the powerful results presented suggest a need for refinement of design and procurement criteria.