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Review: Nightstick TCM-550XL Weapon Light

The Nightstick TCM-550XL is relatively new to the weapon light market but it is from a maker that has been making first responder lights for a long time. Let’s dive right into the review to see how it stacks up.


The TCM-550XL is a compact weapon light from Nightstick, a division of Bayco Products. It is about 2.5″ long, just over 1″ wide, and just over 1″ tall – a size that allows it to sit well inside the footprint of a typical double stack handgun like a Glock.

It boasts 550 lumen output and uses a collimating lens to produce a beam with a relatively wide hotspot. The runtime for this single CR123A light is published as 2.5 hours.

The main body of the TCM-550XL is machined from 6061 aluminum with a polymer back plate. It weighs in at 2.5 ounces. Other highlights include a paddle style switch and lock out bezel.

Observations from Use

I typically shy away from direct product comparisons in these reviews but in this case it feels unavoidable. The TCM-550XL is similar in size, shape, and execution of at least two features (the lockout bezel and rail clamp) to the Streamlight TLR-7. However, I feel that the TCM-550XL actually has a major advantage over the TLR-7 in that its paddle style switch is MUCH easier to operate and it is brighter with better tint than my TLR-7.

Speaking of the switch, it offers constant/momentary operation. The user interface should feel familiar as it has become somewhat standard across many tactical lights – quick press for constant, long press for momentary. This is a system that works fairly well with just a bit of practice.

This brings us to my first criticism of this light. It turns on instantly but there is a delay in turning off, almost as if the light is deciding whether it should stay on or turn off based on your input. It is just a moment (not even a second) but it is noticeable when running drills. Apart from that delay, the switch is actually very impressive. This is a very compact light but the well designed switch operates as easily as a full size light.

The lockout bezel works well though the detent that indicates the light is locked out can be a little difficult to feel on my example. It is still a thoughtful feature and there are markings on the bezel to indicate where the lockout exists.

The beam profile is very good. It has a wide hotspot with plenty of spill. The TCM-550XL balances throw and spill very well for a compact light. Those 550 lumens do a good job is filling a room with light or extending the range at which you can ID a target outdoors.

I am very impressed with this light. It has standout ergonomics among compact lights, a compact footprint, and good output for a single CR123A light. It has a lot of potential but it shares the same stumbling block to that potential as any new weapon light – lack of holster support. This light has what it takes to be a great CCW light but as of right now, it will be hard to find a holster for it. Safariland has this light listed in their holster finder but all of the compatible holsters are more suited for duty carry, not CCW.

Wrap Up

The TCM-550XL has the size, weight, output, and ergonomics that I look for in compact weapon light. The switch in particular stands out among a lot of compact weapon lights. It ticks all the boxes but until there is holster support, it will be hard for it to reach its full potential.


It’s a Sticker Now! Skeletor Wielding an AK47

Russian Roulette Clothing’s Skeletor Wielding an AK47 shirt has been a smash hit for them. It’s one part nostalgia, one part comedy, and at least 25 parts smoking AK47.

Now you can get your Skeletor Wielding an AK47 fix on more than just a t-shirt. Russian Roulette Clothing is offering the graphic on a 4″, full color, vinyl sticker suitable for sticking to your gun safe, tool box, truck, or Panthor’s battle saddle.


OscarDelta GTFO Wrist Strap

The need to break a side or rear window in your car rarely arises… but when it does, it really does.

The GTFO Wrist Strap from OscarDelta is a glass breaking tool that can be worn on your wrist so that it is always with you. It consists of a length of shock cord with a tungsten carbide bead.

To use the GTFO Wrist Strap, remove it from your wrist. Hold the shock cord in one hand and the bead in the other. Stretch the shock cord and release the bead so that it strikes the window. This simple design allows the user to generate high velocity for the bead in a confined space.


These are also available at USA based dealer, Vigilant Gear.

Sicario II Knife from RE Factor Tactical and Toor Knives

The original Sicario collaboration knife from Toor Knives and RE Factor Tactical was popular but it was a straight up fighter. The new Sicario II builds on the original concept by adding some utility to create a knife that is still obviously slanted toward a compact fighter but can also be used for regular knife tasks.

The new Sicario II still has the slim, 5/32″ thick, Persian style blade with a piercing point but more height has been added to the blade to better support the edge and point. This design change adds little in terms of weight or size but makes it much more robust for utility tasks while still maintaining its overall stabbyness.

The handle features sculpted layered walnut scales. The pommel and thumb ramp are heavily textured for backing up your cuts/stabs without fear of slipping.

The Sicario II comes with a kydex sheath that is suitable for a number of carry and concealment methods.

  • Blade Length- 4.25″
  • Blade Width- 1″  
  • Handle Material- Layered Walnut
  • Length overall- 8.5″
  • Weight- 3.8 oz
  • Country of origin- USA 
  • Steele- CPM 154
  • Blade Thickness- 5/32″
  • Blade Rockwell Hardness- 60


Heavy Cover Mini Mess Kit Knives

The Mini Mess Kit Knives that Heavy Cover has been teasing us with for months are now available. These knives are draw inspiration from the iconic US Military Mess Kit Knife, a design more than 100 years old.

The knife features a 2.5″ D2 tool steel blade with a nitride finish. It comes with a kydex sheath complete with deep carry clip.

This first run of knives is available with your choice of Ti or OD Green micarta scales is extremely limited. Only 20 of each scale option were produced. They likely will not last long.


FHF Gear Sportsman’s Bag – Discreet, Rifle Friendly, Duffel Bag

FHF Gear’s new Sportman’s Bag has a unique design and a ton of potential uses. If you want a bag that can carry everything you need for a carbine class, it can. If want a bag that can carry all your gear including your rifle into hunting camp, it can. If want a bag that can organize your tactical gear while looking like just a plain old duffel bag in your trunk, it can.

The Sportsman’s Bag is basically a duffel that is split in two by a fully padded rifle pocket running down the center. This pocket is accessed by a full zip across the top of the bag and includes a removable padded divider so you can carry two rifles. There are two more large zippered pockets (1 on either side of the rifle pocket) that are also accessed with top zips. These pockets are more than large enough to carry tactical gear, insulation layers, ammo, or whatever else you might need to support your adventure.

This bag is constructed more like an outdoor technical garment than what you may be used for a duffel bag. FHF Gear designed it with a bathtub bottom, built it from Spectra Centurion fabric, and sealed all the seams so it would shed weather. Then they added webbing handles that wrap around the bag for more support, a unique yoke strap that allows the bag to be carried without tipping back and forth, and finished it off with ITW metal hardware and YKK zippers.

The Sportsman’s Duffel is available in 3 sizes. You can check it out at FHFGear.com.

NOTE: FHF Gear is offering 15% off through April 27th when you use code RUNOFF15

Review: Streamlight Microstream USB

I’ll spoil this review right up front. I really, really like my Streamlight Microstream USB.


The Microstream USB is an extremely compact LED light. It features a tail switch, a two way pocket clip (that is removable and replaceable), and two output settings (250 lumens for 1.5 hours and 50 lumens for 3.5 hours). This light is USB rechargable via a USB-C cord (included). It is less than 4″ long, barely wider than a AAA battery, and weighs a little more than 1 ounce.

The Microstream USB is available in a number of anodized colors but I recommend the FDE version because it is the only one that gives you the high output mode on the first click. The other colors (Black, Blue, Red) activate the 50 lumen mode on the first click.

Observations from Use

I normally prefer single output lights for EDC but the Microstream USB gets a pass. Streamlight designed it so that you could only access the 50 lumen low mode with a very fast double click. You can execute typical low light techniques without ever dropping into the 50 lumen mode. The user interface is dead simple and well designed.

The power to weight ratio on this light is incredible. It is so small and so lightweight that you will never leave it at home. It still has large light features like 250 lumen output and a tail switch in spite of that small size.

I typically carry a USB backup battery both at the office and on the trail. That makes it easy to keep this light up and running no matter where I am.

The light is recharged by sliding the bezel up to reveal the USB-C port and a small charge indicating LED (red for charging, green for charged). This sliding collar is o-ring sealed and it seams to do a good job given that my light has been through the wash with no ill effects. Still, this is the source of my major criticism of the light. I wish that this was sliding collar was threaded so that it had to be screwed down over the o-ring. This would make it even less likely to have water ingress. As it stands now, the user will have to keep a sharp eye on the o-ring to ensure that it is in good shape.

Wrap Up

This light is a tiny power house. I have larger lights with more output that I can can carry but this light is so small, lightweight, useful, and cheap to operate that I often carry it as a backup or even my primary light. It’s affordable too (less than $30)!

Have I said that I really, really like this light?

I had trouble finding the FDE anodized version when I bought mine last year. Now they are much easier to find. I purchased mine at Amazon who happened to be one the only places that had them in stock at the time: Streamlight Microstream USB on Amazon

Evernew Cross Stand 2 for the Trangia Spirit Burner

I’ve been using my Trangia Spirit Burner (alcohol stove) for a while now based on the recommendation of the folks at Hill People Gear. In the time I have used it, I have tried several pot stands and haven’t really been over the moon about any of them. The biggest problem is that they are often too large for use with a small pot. They also often too bulky or inefficient due to placing the pot too close to the jets.

A friend recommended the Evernew Cross Stand which is an “X” shaped stand made from titanium that is designed to sit on top of the Trangia (or Evernew Alcohol Burner). However, I found that it sat too low on the Trangia. Fortunately, Evernew makes a second version, the Cross Stand 2, that sits higher and places the bottom of the pot about 1″ above the jets.

My experience with the Cross Stand 2 has been excellent. It weighs less than an ounce as you might expect for something made of thin titanium with plenty of skeletonization cuts. It packs completely flat and should fit inside just about any mess kit. It’s height allows for a very efficient burn and it is really optimized for solo cook pots or nesting cups. I pair it with a simple aluminum foil wind screen to further optimize efficiency.

The Cross Stand 2 is marvel of simplicity and it has been a great solution for me. If you carry a Trangia in your hiking gear or preparedness gear, this could be a good solution for you toon. They are available on Amazon: Evernew Cross Stand 2 on Amazon

You are like to find even lower prices if you shop around.

Two Thumbs Up: Outdoor Research Customer Service

I have purchased lot of gear from Outdoor Research over the years including multiple pairs of gloves, hats, insulation payers, shell layers, and more. My experiences with the products themselves have been great but until recently, I never had occasion to test their “Infinite Guarantee”.

I purchased a Ferrosi Hooded Jacket (which is an incredible layer worthy of its own review soon) recently from an online retailer. It was on sale for a very good price. When I received the jacket, I noticed that chest pocket was sewn or welded shut via some assembly step gone awry. The retailer was already out of the jackets so they would be unable to replace it.

I called the number listed on the Outdoor Research website to see if this was something that they would exchange for me. I was bracing myself for having to deal with an automated call center or for them to tell me to take it up with the retailer. To my great surprise, my call was answered by a live person after just a couple of rings and I was informed that the replacement would be covered. All I needed to do was fill out their online replacement form which was easy.

OR issued a pre-paid return label via email within 48 hours of me completing thereplacement form and they sent an additional email explaining the actions they would take. They shipped the replacement right away, before they even received my return so I had it in just 2 business days.

It isn’t just impressive that they so completely dealt with my issue at no additional cost to me but how painless, polite, and personal they made the entire process. That is definitely not the norm these days. Kudos to OR!


Emdom Flex Inner Belt

Emdom’s new Flex Inner Belt is now available. Like most inner belts, it offers plenty of loop material coverage for anchoring your duty or battle belt and the low profile closure ensures that there are no hotspots under heavy load bearing belts.

The Flex Inner Belt also has a number of interesting features that you do not typically see in other inner belts. The flex derives its name from the heavy duty elastic panel sewn into the back center of the belt. This panel helps ensure a comfortable fit. The belt also features several hidden pockets for storing items like cash or keys. It also features a Trelleborg HANK patch at the center back to help prevent the belt from sliding along with other HANK and Blue Force Gear UltraCOMP panels to prevent excess wear on Velcro parts.


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