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Author Archive | Matt

Review: Nitecore P18

The Nitecore P18 is one of Nitecore’s newest lights in their P Series (Precise Series). It is aimed at the “tactical” market and manages to shoe-horn 1800 lumens into a surprisingly compact package. It also packs a number of interesting ideas that made me jump at the chance to review it.

Overview

The P18 is just over 4″ long and weighs in at 3.7 ounces. It utilizes a CREE XHP35 HD LED to pump out up to 1800 lumens and is powered by a single 18650 rechargeable battery (included). It comes packaged with a manual, sheath, extra o-ring, and lanyard.

This light boasts a completely silent “tactical switch” and die-cast aluminum construction, both of which really piqued my interest.

Observations from Use

I consider this light to be very ambitious with a number of forward-thinking ideas and concepts. It is VERY different in construction and operation than any light I have ever used so it should come as no surprise that some of the ideas in this light really connect and some could probably be improved.

The tree line in this photo is 40 yards away. Turbo mode is activated. This photo does not do the spill beam justice but you can see the intensity and size of the hot spot even at 40 yards.

Beam – The P18’s beam is balanced with an emphasis on flood. It has a relatively wide, defined hotspot with an ever-so-slightly donut-like hole in the middle. This “hole” is slightly noticeable on a white wall but it is so slight that you do not see it outdoors. The spill portion of the beam is wide and bright. The engineers at Nitecore appear to have successfully balanced both throw and spill. I find it excellent for all-around use.

Construction – I think the die-cast aluminum body design of this light is very successful. It is a unique shape for sure but it is a shape and construction method with some strong advantages. First, it seems to handle heat very well, staying cooler on turbo mode than other lights I have with even less output. Second, the flat-ish sides allow this light to ride in the pocket VERY comfortably and easy to index which is important given the switch configuration. The overall shape and benefits of the die-cast body are some of my favorite things about this light. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a difference it made in the overall experience with the P18 and I hope Nitecore continues to play to with this concept with future lights.

Switches – The P18 has two switches: a small round switch on the side that controls only the red LED and a larger switch that controls all of the white light options on the tail of the light. Both switches are metal so there are no rubber boots to wear out.

The tail switch is shaped roughly like a rectangle and is located directly next to the P18’s battery cap which can make pressing the switch a little awkward unless the light is oriented in your hand correctly (which is easy to do thankfully). It is what Nitecore calls a “silent tactical switch” which means it has no feedback at all – no click and no real change in resistance. This can take some getting used to since half presses are required to move through the UI (user interface) and the line between a half and full press is minimal. I would prefer that the switch offered more feedback as I think that would make the UI a little easier to deal with. As it stands, I think that one of the things holding this light back is the main switch.

User Interface – The user interface of this light is relatively easy to move through, but, as stated above, the switch can feel like it is fighting you at times. I actually like the output spacing between modes but given the complexity, I find this better suited as an outdoor light than a tactical light.

The UI offers 5 levels of white light, 3 flashing white light modes, a red light mode, and a battery charge level indication. All modes are accessed via two switches.

The side button controls the red light and allows direct access to ultralow white light.

  • Press and hold to activate the red LED.
  • Press and hold to deactivate the red LED.
  • Press and hold the side button and tail button to access ultralow mode directly.
  • Long press (3+ seconds) to view the battery level indicator flash sequence.

The rear button controls numerous white light functions.

From Off:

  • Press and hold the main button to enter Turbo mode directly (after a short delay). Release to turn light off.
  • Press and release to enter the last used output mode. The light remains on after release.
  • Half press to enter last used mode. Release to turn light off.

From On:

  • Half press to switch between output modes (including Turbo).
  • Half press and hold to access Turbo mode directly. Release to return to last used output mode.
  • Full press and hold for 1 second to enter the special modes (strobe/beacon/SOS).

As with most flashlight UIs, they look more complicated on paper than they really are. However, this is more complicated than I would like in a tactical light but the multiple modes and all-around useful beam shape make this handy as a camping/hiking light in my opinion. In fact, I really like it in that role. It is also important to point out that this UI has two important features: direct access to turbo and direct access to ultralow.

Battery – The P18 can be powered by 2x CR123A/RCR123 or 1x 18650 battery. It comes with a flat-top 3100 mAh 18650 cell. The light is limited to cells under 67mm in length. It can operate with longer protected 18650 cells but the tail cap will not fully close rendering the light susceptible to water ingress. The use of CR123A or RCR123 cells will remove access to the turbo mode (high mode replaces turbo for all direct-access functions). The cap will fully close on 2x CR123A cells.

Build Quality – The build appears to be very good on this light. The threads and o-ring came greased from the factory. The tail cap turns smoothly with no grittiness. The LED is well centered in a flawless reflector. There is no dust under the lens. The finish is evenly applied and attractive.

Other Observations – The pocket clip on this light is excellent. It grips the pocket well and, because of the mostly flat sides of the light, it allows the light to carry very comfortably in the pocket. It is not reversible which seems like an unfortunate oversight.

Wrap Up

Nitecore markets this light for the “tactical” market and I think that is a miss. The switch and user interface conspire to make it just a bit too complex for that market. The switch doesn’t offer enough feedback to allow the user to work within the UI effectively. However, I find this to be an excellent light for outdoor use and I applaud a UI design that offers direct access to both the brightest and dimmest white light settings.

I was surprised at what a positive functional difference the shape and unibody, die-cast construction make. I hope that Nitecore continues to innovate this unique shape and construction method.

Flashlight.Nitecore.com


Nitecore provided this light, free of charge, for review.

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BCS APTUM Series – Front Flap Options

The Beez Combat Systems APTUM PC (plate carrier) system was introduced recently. As part of that release, we are covering many of the available options for this new PC. This installment covers the 2 front flap options that the end-user can select based on their mission.

The BCS APTUM can be utilized with or without a front flap over the cummerbund. For those who need the additional MOLLE compatible real estate, BCS offers two front flap options. Both front flaps feature BCS’ exclusive laser cut GRID material to keep weight to a minimum and maintain a slick profile when there are no pouches mounted.

Both front flaps also offer quick-detach functionality but the method by which the flaps attach/detach is what differentiates the options. Users can select a front flap that attaches via G-hooks or Velcro.

See all of the available options for the APTUM at BeezCombatSystems.com.

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FACTR Trigger for Glock Gen 5 Now Shipping

The FACTR Trigger for Generation 5 Glocks is now shipping. This trigger features a machined 6061 trigger shoe, slightly curved trigger face, 420 stainless steel springs, reduce pre-travel, and more. It comes with a reduced power striker safety spring that FACTR maintains will not reduce reliability. All 3 safeties remain functional with this trigger. These triggers are made in the USA.

FACTRUSA.com

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Holosun Technologies, Inc. Names Gordon Myers as Director of Sales

CITY OF INDUSTRY, CALIF. – July 15, 2019 – Holosun Technologies, Inc., an innovative designer and manufacturer of sport optics products and accessories, announced today that Gordon Myers has joined the company as Director of Sales.

“We are pleased to announce the addition of Gordon Myers to our corporate leadership team as Director of Sales,” said Victor Sun, President of Holosun. “Gordon’s extensive sales and leadership experience in manufacturing companies, including within the sport optics space, fits well with Holosun’s current and future plans. We are confident his addition will allow us to strengthen our overall position within the industry.”

Myers’ most recent experience had him building and leading the Nightforce Optics Sales and Marketing teams, with similar previous experience at Creative Tent International and Smiths Power, as well as other organizations.

As Director of Sales, Myers will be charged with developing Holosun’s sales strategies and leading the company’s sales teams. “I am excited to be bringing my background and experience to such an innovative organization,” Myers said. “Holosun products offer an amazing value proposition: Excellent quality, innovative features and a great price. I’m looking forward to working with the team to create new strategies to drive success for the company, as well as for all those organizations who work to sell and promote the Holosun brand.”

Myers has an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, as well as two bachelor’s degrees from Washington State University.

About Holosun Technologies, Inc.

Holosun Technologies, Inc., located in City of Industry, California, is committed to creating innovative optic and laser/IR technologies that benefit a broad range of shooting, hunting, law enforcement, and professional needs. Using the quality manufacturing standards demanded by some of the best-known optics brands in the world, with a wide range of affordable options, Holosun is at the forefront of development of new sight technologies. Key innovations include Shake Awake TechnologyTM, 100,000- hour battery life, Solar FailSafeTM, Multiple Reticle SystemTM MRS, Super Green LED, and IR/Laser units that utilize the most recent advancements in laser and LED technology. At Holosun, we pride ourselves on providing cutting-edge equipment at a competitive price that astounds the competition and the end-user.

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Convex Machine LOP Picatinny Spacer for Magpul Hunter Stock

Convex Machine’s LOP Picatinny Spacer makes it very easy to add a monopod to your Magpul Hunter Stock. The machined aluminum part takes the place of one of the plastic spacers included with the Hunter Stock and has a short section of rail at the bottom. This places the rail in the optimal position for a monopod.

The LOP Picatinny Spacer is made in Idaho and available in three finishes: bright, matte, and raw aluminum.

ConvexMachine.com

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Stop Your Boat! Mission Spec

It looks like Mission Spec is considering getting into the morale patch game. You may not be jumping onto moving narco submarines but maybe you would like to have a patch that celebrates the men that do.

Just in case you don’t know what this is about: CNN

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Bravo Concealment Glock 43/43X 3.0 Holsters Now Available

Bravo Concealment continues to bring new options to market in their injection molded lines. The BCA 3.0 (OWB) and Torsion 3.0 (IWB) are now available for the G43 and G43X. They are also offering a free magazine pouch with a holster purchase so it might be a great time to check out the new holsters.

BravoConcealment.com

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On Foot, Off Grid: Cold Weather, Battery Powered Gear, and You

There is a cruel irony in the fact that we rely more on electronics, like flashlights, during the short days of the winter months when cold weather can wreak havoc on your batteries. Cold weather slows the chemical reactions that take place inside the battery which lowers its ability to deliver the power you need. 

Have you ever had a phone or flashlight refuse to work because of cold weather? Depending on the circumstances, that can be anything from a mild annoyance to a very serious situation.  Fortunately, you can mitigate the effects with solid gear selection and some planning.

Bring Them Inside… Your Jacket or Sleeping Bag

Your first line of defense against the cold is your clothing. The same goes for your electronics. Anything that you have with a battery should be stored inside your jacket during the day and your sleeping bag at night. This will keep them at a similar temperature to your body which is more than warm enough to keep them running.

This is, perhaps, the best argument for choosing compact, lightweight gear. It needs to be able to fit in pockets or sleeping bag, close to your body, without being a burden. It’s also the reason that I prefer base layers with a chest pocket as this can be a great place to store a smartphone even if you have removed insulation layers during high activity. 

If the electronics you are keeping near your body are sensitive to moisture, consider keeping them in a plastic bag or some other vapor barrier to protect them from your perspiration.

Battery and Gear Selection… Choose Wisely

This series has covered a lot of rechargeable electronics in part because I have been working to streamline my own loadout with rechargeable options. However, I will readily admit that rechargeable battery chemistries are often very susceptible to cold weather. There are ways to mitigate this with your battery and gear selection.

Choose the Right Battery – Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries show a significant reduction in efficacy when the temperature of the battery drops to around freezing according to published testing by Panasonic. You are unlikely to notice this until the air temp is colder than the freezing point since factors like the battery’s own warming from internal resistance, warmth from your hand or head, or other factors can play a role but the fact remains that these batteries can begin to suffer performance loss at freezing and more drastic losses below freezing. Recharging at these low temperatures can also be an issue.

Lithium primary batteries like CR123As or lithium AAs, are more resistant to cold. These batteries can usually provide acceptable performance to temperatures well below zero. Energizer for instance, touts that their AA Lithium batteries will retain around half of their capacity down to -40C/F (depending on the rate at which they are discharging). Which brings us to…

Choose the Right Gear – If you are going to select something like a flashlight or headlamp that uses rechargeable batteries, it would be wise to ensure that it can also operate with lithium primary batteries for cold weather use. If you have selected a light that will accept lithium primary batteries, you can then either leave the rechargeables at home when you expect cold temps or at least carry some spare lithium primary batteries as a backup. Options are a good thing. 

In the early days of 18650s, it was typical for a light to be made for CR123A batteries but also accept 18650s. This dual-fuel concept is not always the case these days with more and more lights being made specifically for these high-performance batteries. Flashlight makers are chasing lumens and courting flashoholics that seek only the highest performance which can often only be provided by lithium rechargeable batteries. Make sure you understand what kind of batteries your light can take before you open your wallet.

The following are headlamps that accept rechargeable batteries for 3 season use and primary lithium batteries for cold weather. I have purchased all of these, use them, and will be reviewing some in future installments:

If you need even more cold resistance than battery selection alone can provide, consider something like a headlamp with a remote battery pack. Headlamps with battery packs in the back, separate from the light emitting portion of the lamp can be worn with the battery pack under your hat and/or hood to keep the batteries at a good operational temperature. Some headlamps that are built for cold and/or longer runtimes even have larger remote battery packs with a long cable that allows it to be placed in a coat pocket or on the beltline.

Headlamps with remote battery pack options:

There MIGHT Be a Cold Weather 18650 Option… Maybe

I should point out that Nitecore, who is known for selling good quality 18650 batteries (I say selling instead of “making” because most flashlight makers just rewrap batteries from other makers), offers two batteries that they claim are built to handle temps down to -40C/F fairly well. Many people who know more than me speculate that these are just rewrapped Panasonic NCR18650F cells which will cost less but are not as easy to find. I couldn’t find much in the way of testing, other than anecdotes, on these batteries so I am hesitant to spend the money on them when I have other workarounds.

Wrap Up

Cold weather doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your electronics. You can mitigate its grip on your batteries with some planning and remember, you should always carry some analog backups where possible, like a map and compass.


Do you have a gear or concept recommendation that fits the On Foot, Off Grid series? Do you have strategies for dealing with cold weather? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.


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Sons of Liberty Gun Works “We the People” Lower Receiver

I have sad news. The “We the People” Lower Receiver from Sons of Liberty Gun Works (SOLGW) is already sold out… but it is still worth a mention.

We have all seen lowers with “LEO Only” roll marks. It feels like manufacturers are rubbing our faces in the fact that some items that shouldn’t be restricted to own, are restricted. SOLGW doesn’t play that way. They brought out a lower with their own “restricted” roll mark just in time for the 4th of July. Feast your eyes:

These lowers are sold out but SOLGW has plenty of other items you can check out. Maybe you can convince them to do another run of these lowers.

SonsofLibertyGW.com

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RifleMug

You could say RifleMug was an idea born out of necessity. It was developed by a veteran who noticed how hard deployments were on his and his friends’ coffee mugs with broken handles being normal. They were hesitant to replace their ceramic mugs because they had custom prints on them.

This experience highlighted the need for a tougher mug, made from polymer, and that could be custom printed with insignia. They might as well have a rifle as a handle because… well, it’s just cool. The idea for RifleMug was born.

Now there is a small team attempting to make this mug a reality. RifleMug is available to be backed on Kickstarter.

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