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Interesting Product or Blatant Copy: Thoughts on the Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount Lights

You may remember Streamlight’s SHOT Show 2016 announcement of the expansion of their ProTac line to include new rail mountable versions of these popular lights. The internet took one look at them and cried bloody murder about them being a copy of Surefire’s Scout series of lights. The opinion was likely based on the similar rail clamp and it did, in fact, turn out that the lights were compatible with Scout mounts.

protac-rm2_logoed

From the initial announcement, I have never thought of these lights as copies. In fact, I think that the opinion that these are copies of Scout lights is actually very shortsighted. I have now been able to handle a ProTac Rail Mount 2 and I have some of the lights inbound for my own testing. This has confirmed my opinion that these lights are not copies.

The lights themselves are very different from Surefire Scout lights. You would never confuse one for the other. The Streamlight products are very much like Streamlight’s current ProTac line which many people (including Frank Proctor) have been using successfully on rifles for years. The family lineage is obvious.

protac-rm1_logoed

The rail mount is extremely similar if not identical to Surefire’s Scout Light mounts. This may be the source of much of the consternation but I look at it as a very strong positive. This could signal a move toward an industry standard light mounting interface. We already have a host of aftermarket light bodies on the market that use this same mount interface and no one is crying about those. End users now how the choice of Surefire Scout Light, various after-market Scout compatible components, or the new ProTac Rail Mounts with all of these options using the same wide selection of mounts. This, I believe, is very good for the consumer.

The Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount Lights are not copies at all. They are a budget oriented light option that makes use of what is hopefully becoming an industry standard mount.

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Review: TacPack April Box

When a TacPack arrives on your doorstep and you know that box is going to have some cool stuff in it but you aren’t quite sure what it will be… That is exciting. I recently received TacPack’s April box and it was a good one.

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What is a TacPack?

Before we get into the contents of the box, I should explain what TacPack is. TacPack is a subscription box service not unlike those found in other industries like fashion or cosmetics (fortunately, TacPack won’t send you makeup). You pay a subscription fee and then receive a box full of mystery items that are worth more than what you paid for the box. They deliver value by working out volume discounts and securing promotional items.

What’s in a TacPack?

The April box delivered very good value and had some great items in it. TacPack’s boxes cost $49.95 each and the actual value varies based on what they were able to work out for that particular box. In the case of April’s box, it delivered a value of over $120 but that is at MSRP. Even shopping around for good prices, the box value well over the $49.95 cost. I have seen other TacPack boxes and it is my opinion that they are doing a good job of delivering value and that is probably the most important thing for services like this.

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The April box included 5 items and, to me, none of them were throw-aways which is impressive. The items included:

RATS Tourniquet – I have a love hate relationship with the RATS. I like the form factor that lends itself to easy carry in a variety of methods. However, the testing shows that while it does stem bloodflow, it is not as effective as other TQs. In spite of that, I own a few of them because it is the type of tourniquet that can be carried in ways others cant which means I am more likely to have it with me. I think you can’t have too many TQs when you start distributing them between your kits so this safety orange RATS is an awesome addition to the box.

Gang Bangers Anonymous Patch – Everyone likes patches including me. This one is a lot of fun and it appears to be a well made PVC patch with great detail in the rendering of the AR-15 SBR. I dig it.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug – This mug is pretty darn nice. The handle is large enough to fit more than 2 man fingers through (seriously, why can’t mug makers do this more often). It’s made from stainless steel and insulated. It also happens to feature the logo of Black Rifle Coffee Company who you should definitely check out (I like the Just Black Coffee Blend because I am a pretty boring dude when it comes to coffee). Bottom line: This is a great mug from a great company and everyone can find a use for a good mug.

Pro Tip: Mugs can hold beer too.

Gerber Uppercut Push Dagger – This Gerber Uppercut is not terrible. In fact, it is actually a pretty neat little self-defense knife except for the sheath which isn’t great. It is light, slim, sharp, and like any push dagger, very intuitive to use. I think push daggers are underappreciated. They can be carried comfortably and accessibly on the wearer’s center line with a short static line. They are very easily retained in the user’s grip. Finally, if you know how to punch, you know how to use it. If you want to, you can do a light cord wrap on the handle, have someone whip up a simple sheath for use with a static cord, and away you go.

CRKT Edgie – The Edgie is a weird little knife but a cool little knife. Its a slip joint (non-locking) folder that actually sharpens itself when you close the knife. It’s just the kind of knife you would want to drop into a kit somewhere. Mine is sitting on my workbench now because the sheepsfoot blade is great for utility work. This is a solid value.

Wrap Up

Overall, I am really pleased with this box. The RATS TQ and the Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug are my favorites but I will use everything in the box. That isn’t really common with subscription service so I think TacPack deserves some kudos here.

Check out TacPack!

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Blue Force Gear – May Trade Show Schedule

BFG

Blue Force Gear was out and about in a big way in April. They aren’t slowing down one bit in May. In fact, from May 25 t0 May 26, they will be in three places at once!

You can find them at the following shows:

  • May 4 to May 5: ADS Warrior Expo West, San Diego, CA
  • May 19 to May 22: 2016 NRA Annual Meeting, Louisville, KY
  • May 23 to May 26: 2016 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, Tampa, FL
  • May 24 to May 26: LANPAC Symposium and Exposition, Honolulu, HI
  • May 25 to May 26: CANSEC, Ottowa, Canada

You can contact sales@blueforcegear.com if you would like to make an appointment with the BFG team.

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Desert Camo in the Woods

John at UW Gear recently posted an interesting video on his vlog channel, Alpha-Charlie Concepts. The video discusses and shows graphically how an effective desert camo pattern like PenCott Sandstorm can still be effective even in areas with heavy green foliage elements.

There is more to camo than just color matching. Remember that an effective camo will also use shape and depth to break up your outline. No camo pattern is perfect or universal but when coupled with fieldcraft, most can be quite versatile.

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How Stiff is Stiff Enough for a CCW Belt?

I received an email this week from a reader who purchased a belt that I have mentioned on this blog. He had not actually worn the belt yet when he sent the email. He was concerned when he actually put hands on it, that it wasn’t stiff enough (that’s what she said). It was a good reminder of an article that I have been meaning to pen.

Just how stiff does a CCW belt really need to be?

ares belt stiffness

The Superior Stiffness

If you could only choose that your belt be stiff one way, you should choose that it be stiff from top to bottom as shown by the red arrows in the photo above. It must be stiff in this direction to support the weight of the firearm which is key for comfortably wearing full size firearms all day.

Typically, if a belt is stiff from top to bottom, it will also be relatively stiff around the circumference (as shown by the green arrow) too but this is less important for how the belt handles weight. Remember too, that wearing the belt tightly will effectively “stiffen” it. That doesn’t mean that a sloppy belt should be made to work by wearing it tightly, just that there is not always that big of a difference between belts that possess varying degrees of acceptable stiffness.

How Do You Know If A Belt is Stiff Enough?

If you can handle the belt before you buy, put your forefinger on one edge of the belt, your thumb on another (like the red arrows show) and squeeze. If it collapses/buckles fairly easily, it likely isn’t stiff enough. It should resist crushing. In fact, I can not crush or collapse the webbing in the Ares Gear belt shown above… not even a little.

If you can’t handle the belt look for materials like double layers of thick webbing (especially scuba webbing), thick biothane, multiple layers of thick layer, or leather belts stiffened with HDPE or even spring steel. These will all typically exhibit acceptable stiffness.

You can also look for belts that are stiffened via rows of tight stitching joining two layers of belt material. Both vertical and circumferential stitching will very effectively stiffen a webbing belt. Snake Eater Tactical uses some very cool stitch patterns to adorn and stiffen their belts. Their belts are a good example of how belts can be stiff the right way, without being overly stiff around the circumference which makes them very comfortable.

A lot of the voices online will tell you that you need a “good” gun belt or a “stiff” gun belt but it isn’t always apparent what they mean. The above has been my experience and I hope it help you more closely hone in on how stiff a gun belt must be… or rather how a gun belt must be stiff.

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Mission First Tactical EPG16V2 Grip for AR-15

Mission First Tactical’s new EPG16V2 Grip is their first AR-15 grip to feature a more vertical, 15 degree grip angle. It has MFT’s typical light stipple-like texture and fills in the gap under the trigger guard.

Check out the EPG16V2 Grip at Mission First Tactical.

EPG16V2-black

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Smoke Composites Carbon Fiber Buttstocks

Smoke Composites makes some truly lightweight buttstocks for AR-15s. Their Carbon Fiber Buttstocks weigh between 94 and 128 grams (3.3 – 4.5 ounces) depending on the model. Those weights include the stock with integral buffer tube. They are available in two standard lengths and with an open or closed “shoulder plate”. They can also provide a custom length for a fee. These stocks use carbine buffers and springs.

Check out Smoke Composites’ line of Carbon Fiber Buttstocks.

smoke composite carbon fiber stock

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UW Gear Adds All-Terrain Tiger Stripe for Limited Time

UW Gear will be offering their selection of gear in All-Terrain Tiger Stripe for a limited time. This pattern is essentially tiger stripe elements in a very Multicam-ish color palette and according the UW Gear’s testing, it performs very well.

You won’t find this option on their website. Order the rig you want and mention that you want All-Terrain Tiger in the order notes or email UW Gear directly so they can send you an invoice.

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TIHK EvadeClip Update

The TIHK EvadeClip has apparently run afoul of indiegogo’s terms of service due to its inclusion of lock picks. If you aren’t familiar with the EvadeClip, you can learn more about it in our previous post. Rather than water down the tool, TIHK has chosen to take efforts to crowdfund it into their own hands by offering pre-orders on their own site.

You can now help make the EvadeClip a reality by pre-ordering directly from TIHK.

tihk evadeclip

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Falcon 37 Inc. HABU Mod 1 for 5.56mm/.223 Charging Handle

Comb risers and AR-15s typically don’t get along unless the design of the comb riser accounts for the movement of the charging handle. Ambidextrous operation of a charging handle usually requires a lever on each side of the charging handle which may be prone to snagging. The new HABU Mod 1 for 5.56mm/.223 from Falcon 37 Inc. thumbs its nose at those notions.

HABU Mod 1

You can think of the HABU Mod 1 for 5.56mm/.223 as a charging handle with a built-in cheek rest. Rather than a “T” shaped structure, the Habu Mod 1 terminates with a pad that rides over your stock. The pad is both a cheek rest and a large, easily operated handle for charging the host weapon. It is accessible by either hand and thus completely ambidextrous. The pad rides over the stock and can’t interfere with a comb riser because it is the comb riser.

Its an interesting concept that you can learn more about at Falcon37.com.

HABU Mod 1 for 5.56mm_.223 installed

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