Benchmade just launched their new and improved website. Check it out at Benchmade.com.
The Fight and Flight Tactical 4×4 Hybrid Patch Panel has been a big hit because its ability to carry a wide variety of small items like handgun magazines in addition to displaying patches. Fight and Flight Tactical has further expanded that capability to include larger items like rifle mags with the addition of the new 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel.
The 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel’s larger size means that it can hold more and larger patches. It can also carry larger items like AR-15 magazines, flashlights, and first aid items. It lays very flat like a typical patch panel when all you need it to do is hold patches and yet it offers plenty of space for extra gear when needed.
The 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel gets its name from its 5 columns and 6 rows of MOLLE webbing. It is 5″x9″ in size and is available in Multicam (with Multicam Velcro) and Coyote brown.
Check out the 5×6 Hybrid Patch Panel on FightandFlight.com.
Do you have a piece of gear from Mountain Ridge Gear (MRG)? Do you want to show off just how much you like MRG? Then you need one of the new MRG patches.
Check them out on MountainRidgeGear.com.
Some patches are more useful than others. The new GITD Reflective Patches are some of the most useful patches that you will ever find.
These patches look pretty neat and they are pretty low profile in the day light. Once darkness falls, these patches glow in the dark (GITD) and are also reflective. You can put them on your pack so you can find it easily in camp. They can be worn during low light training so you can keep track of people moving on the range. There are a ton of uses for patches like this.
The GITD Reflective patches come in a wide variety of sizes (1×1″, 1×2″, 2×2″, 1×4.5″, 2×4″) and a US Flag version. Check them out on Mojo Tactical’s Facebook storefront.
Terry at EdgeTactical.net recently gave me the opportunity to put hands on an EagleTac G25C2 flashlight. I jumped at the chance because I really wanted to see what 770 lumens from a single LED looks like. I can now confirm that 770 lumens is a whole lot of light.
EagleTac is a company that I have wanted to check out for sometime. Their lights generally get good reviews and seem to offer a good value for what they cost. All that aside, what really interested me in EagleTac is their documentation. While many light makers tell you how much light their flashlights can put out at the LED, EagleTac gives you that number and an actual output that is taken from a calibrated integrating sphere (a device for measuring the output of a light). The actual measured output takes into account the light loss from the reflector and lens. Many people don’t realize that only about 70-90% of the advertised lumen rating of many lights actually make it out the front of the light. This level of transparency and honesty in advertising is refreshing.
The G25C2 is a single LED flashlight that is marketed as a tactical light. At 6″ long and 1.5″ wide at the bezel, it is not a small light. It can be powered with 2 CR123A batteries, 2 RCR123A batteries, or 18650 li-ion battery in the configuration that I tested (there are battery extenders available that allow different battery options). It features 5 output levels that are spread over 2 modes, 2 strobe frequencies, and 5 hidden auxiliary modes (more on all these modes and levels later). It features a large, orange peel textured reflector, finely machined knurling, aluminum construction, black hard anodizing, a removable pocket clip, a blackened stainless steel bezel, and many other features. EagleTac lights are designed in Washington by EagleTac and assembled in China.
In the Box
Apart from the light itself, there are several items that come packaged with the G25C2 including: a glow in the dark switch boot, spare o-rings, a low profile grip ring, a tail-stand rubber boot, a lanyard, a lanyard ring, the user manual, and a sheath. Many of these items are very useful while others seem like an afterthought.
The sheath seems to be of decent quality (not great) but it is far too large to consider using on anything other than a duty belt. It is made of a semi-rigid nylon material that has small indentations that retain the light even if the flap is open. I think if I was going to carry a light like this on the belt, I would get some custom kydex made for it.
The metal gate clip on the lanyard is a bit cheap feeling but the rest of the lanyard and lanyard attachment point is quite usable. The lanyard attachment point is detachable from the light and must be removed in order to attach the tail-stand boot.
The tail-stand boot is easily one of the most clever accessories that I have ever seen included with a flashlight. It can be stretched onto the tailcap of the light and allows the light to stand on end. This allows you to sit the light on a flat surface and bounce the beam off the ceiling to light a room. It also functions well as a guard to protect the switch from accidental activation.
The user manual that comes with the G25C2 is surprisingly excellent. It contains succinct and useful instructions and information about the flashlight. There are numerous graphs and graphics that do a good job of conveying necessary information. I am so used to horrible, useless user manuals that it is extremely refreshing to find a good one.
Fit and Finish
The fit and finish are very good. The threads are large and rotate smoothly. The o-rings are properly sized to seal the light from water and dust. The knurling is very finely machined. The hard anodized finish is smooth and evenly applied. The polished aluminum reflector is massive and beautifully finished. The gun metal colored stainless steel bezel ring is a very attractive touch. The light even comes with lubricated threads and o-rings which one of those extra little things that shows that EagleTac really cares about their product. Over all this light is constructed very, very well. It certainly feels very durable and, in my testing, it showed no signs of having any durability issues.
There are a few things that might nag some users. The pocket clip is sturdy but it can loosen easily. It doesn’t loosen to the point that you will loose the light but it does wiggle even if the retaining ring is tight. I also noticed a lot of dust inside the bezel of the light on the lens. EagleTac went to great length to create an efficient reflector and uses very high quality glass with AR coatings, so it seems strange that they would allow dust in the bezel.
Output and Run Time
The G25C2 has 4 output levels in mode 1. The version of the G25C2 that I have uses a CREE XM-L U Bin LED to pump out 770/320/59/2 lumens depending on output level. The actual measured output is 640/267/49/2 lumens. These numbers underscore just how much advertised claims and actual measured output can vary. I applaud EagleTac for publishing these numbers.
The run time on this light is pretty impressive. It will run for 1.1/3.5/20/200 hours depending on output level. It wasn’t that long ago that LEDs finally became capable of “tactical” level output and you could get 60 lumens for 1 hour. Now, with the G25C2, you can have 770 lumens for 1 hour and about 60 lumens for 20 hours. Amazing.
The user interface of the G25C2 sounds somewhat complicated on paper and in some ways it is complicated. However, if you stick with the basics, it can be very easy to use. Most of the switching between modes and output levels is accomplished by twisting the bezel but there are some clicks of the switch involved in switching between some functions. Thankfully, the levels are basically set-and-forget. Levels can be selected with the bezel and the switch is only used for on and off when the level is selected.
There are 2 modes each with 4 settings. My sample G25C2 came set in Mode2 which has 2 output levels (770/90 lumens) and 2 strobe settings. Mode 1 consists of 4 output levels (770/320/59/2 lumens). These modes are basically just two different sets of output levels. They dictate how the flashlight behaves when you twist the bezel. Moving between the levels included in each mode is accomplished by twisting the bezel so you can set the desired level and then you can be assured that hitting the switch will result in the light mode of your choice (or in Mode 1, disorienting strobe).
The 5 auxiliary modes are somewhat difficult to access. Switching through them involves quickly rotating the bezel quickly from level 1 to level 3 (or 4) and then back to level 1. The modes are accessed in this order: Disorienting strobe/Flash(Hi)/S.O.S./Beacon/Flash(Lo). This is a bit cumbersome but I suppose these are basically hidden modes that are not necessary to most users.
I think it is hard to get a real idea of what a light is all about by shining it at white walls and the ceiling so I basically set about using this light for real world tasks as often as I could for several months. I am not police or military so I can’t comment as to whether this would be a suitable duty light for those types of users but I was struck by just how well this light works for general utility, camping, hiking, and preparedness. The long run times of the lower output levels make this exceedingly useful for those times that the power goes out or when the sun sets on the trail and you are still miles from your car.
EagleTac did a great job of splitting up the output levels. They are spaced well enough that each level is very distinct from the other and provides drastically different run times.
The lower output settings on the G25C2 are great. The 2 lumen setting is actually more than enough light to get around in a dark house or even a dark trail and at 200 hours run time, it conserves battery capacity for times when the higher output modes are needed. The 59 lumen setting is great for when you need to look further down the trail or need to light up a bathroom during a power outage but is still relatively thrifty with the battery at 20 hours run time.
The higher output settings are really awe inspiring. The 770 lumen high mode is absolutely amazing. 770 lumens is a lot of light. It is enough light to light a large room when bounced off the ceiling and enough light to spot items over 200 yards away. The 320 lumen setting is no slouch either and it can be handy for those times that you may need high output but still need to conserve run time.
The beam is very balanced thanks to the reflector design. I mentioned above that it can throw enough light to see items over 200 yards away which would make you think that the beam is very focused, and it is, but it also has a very bright and wide spill beam. Much of the light is focused into a tight hotspot but there is a lot of useful spill that lights a very broad swath of your vision.
This light is not very well suited to pocket carry because of the size of it’s bezel and reflector. It could be carried on a belt or in a bag but I prefer my lights to be more accessible. This isn’t really intended to be an every day carry light.
The switch on this light is deserving of praise. It is a forward clicky switch which means that you can press lightly for momentary on or press and click for constant on. This switch offers good resistance and a strong click. It doesn’t feel mushy or sound weak like some low quality switches.
This would be an impressive light just by virtue of its output but the other features like well thought out output levels, long run times, useful accessories, quality construction, and a well balanced beam shape really make it a great light. It is probably more complicated than I would want for a pure tactical light but all the extra modes turn this into an excellent light for the camper, hiker, or prepared citizen. I’m impressed.
Check out the EagleTac G25C2 for a great price at EdgeTactical.net.
Disclosure: This light was provided to me, free of charge, for review by EdgeTactical.
I really enjoyed testing the Emberlit Camp Stove. It is one of the least bulky and most functional ways that I have found to cook food on the trail. Now the Emberlit Camp Stove is about to get even less bulky with the future introduction of the Emberlit Mini.
The Emberlit Mini will be a scaled down version of the titanium Emberlit UL Camp Stove. With the smaller size, comes some advantages and some trade-offs. One advantage is that the smaller stove will work better with steel water bottles and the steel cups that nest on Nalgene bottles. It will also weigh less than the larger stoves. However, it will take more work to keep the fire up and you might see some longer cook times due to the lower capacity.
The EL-Mini will also feature a new design feature that is somewhat like a lanyard loop. It allows all of the pieces of the stove to be joined together with cord or a small carabiner. This new lanyard hole requires that a small extension be added to the top of each section of the stove which means that even though the opening in the top of the EL-Mini is smaller, the overall size at the top is about the same as the larger models. It will handle smaller cookware while still be very stable with larger cookware (the video below does a good job of showing this).
The new EL-Mini, or the full size stoves, would make a tremendous addition to a vehicle emergency kit or BOB. The Emberlit Mini Camp Stove will be available soon from Emberlit.com.
I have been testing a prototype of a new backpack, the Alpha Pack, from Mountain Ridge Gear for the last several months. The pack has been nothing but impressive and now the production version is finally available for purchase.
The Alpha Pack is more of an admin pack than a “3 day assault pack” though its construction certainly makes it tough enough to handle just about anything. It is constructed from 1000D nylon, all cloth edges are bound, the interior is completely lined with 420 denier pack cloth, the webbing and hardware are all military grade, and the sewing cleanly executed.
Eric at Mountain Ridge Gear has a gift for designing really useful organization features. The organizer in this bag has a ton of various sized slip pockets and pouches to hold everything from multi-tools, to flashlights, to business cards, to whatever other small item you would want to carry. The organization is built into the front pouch which also happens to function as a beaver-tail style load carrying area. I use the beaver tail to carry my lunch bag to work but it can also be used to carry a rain coat or any other item you can comfortably secure.
The interior of the main pouch is large and useful. It is lined with loop material so you can add whatever pouches you want. It zips open about 2/3rds of the way down the side of the pack to allow access to the contents. The exterior bottom sides of the main pouch have 3 rows and 3 columns of MOLLE webbing that are perfect for adding bottle holders.
The Alpha pack makes a great EDC bag or office bag. I have also used the prototype extensively for traveling. This bag is versatile enough to fill a few roles. There are more features than I have listed here and more pictures than I have shown, so you should definitely head over to MountainRidgeGear.com for more details.
The vast majority of kydex knife sheaths on the market are fold over designs or simply two pieces of kydex sandwhiched over the knife. Both styles are typically secured with large rivets that, while handy for attaching things, add a lot of width to the sheath which can make them less comfortable for certain types of carry.
Blade Rigs can make you a sheath like the ones mentioned above but they also build some really slick purpose built sheaths that are very unique. Their IWB and Pocket sheaths both use smaller rivets that really cut down on the bulk of the sheath. This makes them much better suited to their intended carry methods than typical sheaths.
The Blade Rigs IWB Kydex Sheath features a steel clip that can be used to secure the sheath in a number of ways. They can be attached to belts of various sizes, MOLLE webbing and even belt loops. The sheath is molded so that the knife can be inserted with the edge oriented in either direction. These sheaths seem to be very well suited to center line carry for some classic back up knives like the Gerber Guardian, Cold Steel Braveheart, and the Gryphon M-10.
The Pocket Sheath features a hooked cutout that is used during the presentation to snag the sheath to remove it on the way out of the pocket. The sheath is stippled to serve as a push off point for removing the sheath and as an index point so you can tell by touch how your knife is oriented.
You can find more information at BladeRigs.com.
There are a number of water bottles on the market that can filter your water. They work, but they generally aren’t my favorite bottles in terms of form factor and they typically utilize an expensive replaceable filter. My ideal would be a inexpensive filter that worked with bottles that I already have and like, like the excellent Camelbak Better Bottles. That just happens to be exactly what the new McNett Aquamira Frontier Sport Filter does.
This thing is slick. It can be used with any sport bottle that has an internal straw. It simply attaches to the straw and filters water as you drink. This means that you can step off the trail, fill up your bottle directly from a water source, and then drink. It is extremely convenient and costs much less than the propriety filters found in most other filter bottles.
You can check out the McNett Aquamira Sport Filter on BeyondIssue.com.
Last time I checked cameras still cost a whole mess of money. For some, their camera is also their livelihood. So why would anyone trust just any old camera strap to keep your camera around your neck? You shouldn’t.
Echo Niner (E9) makes what they call the E9 Camera Strap. If you spend much time around rifles and tactical gear you will recognize many of the materials used in these Camera Straps. They use 1.25″ heavy nylon sling webbing and then line it with rubberized grip enhancing material. There are 2 side release buckles that can be used to release the Camera Strap quickly or to create a shorter hand strap configuration. The E9 Camera Strap can be easily adjusted on the fly by just pulling the strap tail and the attachment points are constructed from MilSpec 5-50 Parachute Cord.
The E9 Camera Strap is built to withstand the rigors of combat photography. It can certainly stand up to a weekend warrior’s family trip to the zoo. Check out the E9 Camera Strap on ENiner.com.