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Review: Hill People Gear Lever Light Mount

If you were to enter the search terms “lever action light mount” into a search engine, you would find several forum discussions full of jerry-rigged contraptions, comments like “I don’t even know why you would want to mount a light on a lever action”, and various mounts that were too large for their intended purpose. That is why this review of the Hill People Gear Lever Light Mount will be just as much a justification of why something like this should exist as it is a review of the product on its own merits.

Overview

The Hill People Gear (HPG) Lever Light Mount is a 3-slot picatinny rail that clamps onto the magazine tube of .30 caliber lever action rifles. It is designed to be very compact and lightweight (1.24 ounces) so that it has as little effect as possible on the attributes that make lever action rifles so suitable for backcountry use.

The Lever Light Mount consists of two hard anodized, 6016 T6 Aluminum aluminum halves and two screws. One half of the mount has the 4 bar, 3 slot picatinny rail with a machined groove running from front to back on its underside. The other half has a raised ridge that mates with the groove in the first half to create a hinge point. Both halves have opposing curved clamping surfaces that grip the sides of the magazine tube. The screws pass through both halves, drawing them together and hinging the clamping surfaces closed to grip the magazine tube tightly.

Why the Lever Light Mount Exists

The practicality of firearm mounted lights is widely accepted for the purposes of home defense but I rarely see the concept discussed for backcountry use. This is a real shame because they have such obvious utility for the woodsman.

It gets truly, truly dark when you venture out into the backcountry and not just at night. If you are under a stand of Western Red Cedar (or another dense canopy tree), you may have travel limiting darkness an hour or more before sunset. If that same dense stand of timber is shaded by a mountain, you may not be able to see your hand in front of your face long before the official sunset time. The same could be said for tight valleys, slot canyons, the hills and hollows of places like Kentucky or Southern Indiana, during lousy weather, and other common situations for the backcountry traveler.

I live, work, play in an area that is one of eastern most parts of the Pacific Time Zone and you can’t go much further north without crossing a border. That means it gets dark early. The area is characterized by defined mountain ranges with wide valleys and tons of timber. That means it gets dark in some places even earlier! There are areas on our property this time of year that require a flashlight to move through before 3PM (and that will move earlier as we get closer to the winter solstice). I could probably show you moose or bear sign in at least a few of those same spots right now.

Be Sure of Your Target and What is Beyond It

That is the fourth of Cooper’s gun safety rules. It holds true whether you are target shooting, defending a suburban home, or cruising the backcountry. Your obligation to identify your target before you start shooting doesn’t end once you are off city streets.

The use of a firearm mounted white light is one of the most practical ways to accomplish the positive identification of a target. A .30 caliber lever action rifle is one of the most practical firearms for the backcountry travel with its combination of compact size, lightweight, quick follow up shots of a sufficiently powerful cartridge, and affordability. So it stands to reason that a lever action rifle with a light mounted on it would be very practical.

Beyond the safety argument, there are practical reasons to have a really, really bright light on your backcountry rifle. Even the largest ghost ring rear sight or best optics money can buy will fall short in true dark. You will not be able to find your front sight or reticle unless you can silhouette it against a brightly illuminated target. Why even carry a rifle if it won’t accommodate the lighting conditions you are likely to encounter?

Observations from Use

The Lever Light Mount’s two half, hinged construction has some unique advantages. It allows the mount to accommodate slight variations in diameter of magazine tubes. It allows the mount to be installed without disassembling the rifle. It also reduces the overall weight of the mount since it does not have to wrap fully around the magazine tube.

The Lever Light Mount is very compact. That really sets it apart from the other lever action light mounting solutions out there. You barely notice it when it is tucked up against your rifle’s hand guards. That is nice in states like Idaho where you will have to remove your light when you are hunting in order to comply with hunting laws.

Installing the Lever Light Mount is easy. You can figure it out by looking at it though Hill People Gear does wisely caution against over tightening since you could compress the walls of the magazine tube and cause feeding issue with your rifle. I used thread locking compound because, if it has screws… I use thread locker. I think it is especially important in situations like there where you can’t necessarily turn the screws until they bottom out.

The mount didn’t move or break through 100 rounds of ammo through my Marlin 336. That isn’t exactly a torture test but it satisfied me (and I am just about out of .30-30 ammo). Those rounds weren’t on the range either. The rifle was shot in field conditions and I learned a lot from it, like why Hill People Gear decided to place the light where they did…

Switching it generally very intuitive with the light mounted at the 6 o’clock position in front of the hand guard. I found that I could easily use the index finger of the support hand to active both momentary and constant on with both of the pistol lights I used.

The 6 o’clock, forward of the hand guard position also makes good sense when the shooter is bracing the rifle on a something for a more stable shot. The light is centered so it doesn’t create a lot of back-splash if you are bracing on a vertical surface like a tree trunk and it is forward of the hand guard so if you are bracing on something like a backpack or shooting sticks, the light is forward of the brace.

The 3 slot rail is completely sufficient for mounting any light I would want to put on my lever action rifle. I tried the Lever Light Mount with two types of pistol lights: Surefire X Series Lights like the X300 and Streamlight TLR Series Lights like the TLR-1 HL. Both worked well but I found the switch on the Streamlights to be a little easier to use in the 6 o’clock position. It is also more than enough rail for use with a flashlight ring or lights that use the Surefire Scout pattern rail mount. The rail is small enough to not be overly large for lights with smaller footprints and large enough to fully support the rails on pistol lights.

Wrap Up

I am familiar with many of the current light mounting solutions for lever action rifles and I think the Lever Light Mount stands out among them for a number of reasons the chief of which is its compact size. Lever action rifles are great for backcountry use because they are slim, slick, lightweight, and compact. You don’t want a large heavy light mount to screw that up.

You can check out the Lever Light Mount at HillPeopleGear.com. It is on sale as of the time of this writing.

Disclosure: Hill People Gear sent me the Lever Light Mount, free of charge, for this review.

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Tease: New TLR Series Light from Streamlight

Streamlight will be showing a new light in their TLR weapon light series at SHOT Show 2018. While the only image we have is a teaser, the light appears to be Streamlight’s response to the trend toward compact handgun lights made specifically for the concealed carry market.

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Unitaskers – Gear That Does One Thing Well and Why You Should Keep It That Way

More features. More functions. More settings. More buttons. More blades. Everyone loves a good multitasking tool. This is the way things go in an industry where modular, multi-function tools are the norm…There is a place for that kind of thing, but I would suggest that you are not always best served by a tool that tries to do everything.

No one would carry a tourniquet with 4 modes of operation and a built in bottle opener because this type of simple, life saving equipment should be just that… simple. Yet, people will carry a flashlight with those features and a case could be made that the flashlight is just as important as the tourniquet. There are at least two parts of your every day carry gear that should be occupied by a unitasker if it isn’t already – knives and lights.

Let’s get our terminology straight before go any further. When I type unitasker, I am not just referring to a tool that does one thing well. I am referring to a tool that does one thing well AND that is set aside only for that specific task.

The Case for the Unitasker Knife

There are at least two very good reasons why your self defense knife should be a unitasker. First, the best and most intuitive self defense knife designs are marginal (or worse) as utility knives. Knives like the Spyderco P’Kal, Ka-Bar TDI, push knives, ShivWorks Clinch Pick, and similar are great self defense knives but they are not great letter openers. Sure, you could open letters with them but a tiny Victorinox Classic would be easier to use.

The second reason is more broadly applicable to knives that may be good utility designs but also have merit as defensive knives (think Spyderco Delica or Benchmade Griptilian). That hair splitting edge you work so hard to achieve of your defensive knife is going to loose a little something every time you use it. After a week of cutting cardboard, zip ties, envelopes, loose threads, rope, and everything else you cut on a daily basis, are you confident that your knife still has the edge you want?

The Case for the Unitasker Light

The reasons to carry a unitasker light boil down to maximizing output, maximizing ease of use under stress, and ensuring your light is ready when you need it.

When it comes to output, I want all the light I can get when things go bad. If I am just poking around under my desk looking for something I dropped, I don’t want or need 1500 lumens. It is tempting to say I should just get a multi-mode light to deal with this problem but then we would bump up against another problem – user interface/ease of use.

I’m a simple man and I like simple user interfaces on self defense lights. I don’t want anything more complicated than push-button-get-light… lots and lots of light. When you are trying to control a flashlight while you talk your way out of a situation, or (heaven forbid) trying to track sights and control a trigger, push-button-get-light is best. A good self defense oriented light will have a simple user interface and a switch that is designed to be operated in the ways that a self defense light may have to be operated. For a utility light, I am more tolerant of more complicated user interfaces because all those extra modes can be useful.

The last reason your self defense light should be a unitasker is very much like the second argument for the unitasker knife. If you are like me, you use flashlights all the time. You are loosing a little juice every time you use the light. Heck, those nasty little buggers are sitting in your light right now self discharging! If you use your light for 5 minutes here, 30 minutes there, and who knows how many short bursts trying to find the darn key hole… Can you really be sure your light will be ready to go when you need it?

Sanctified!

I am suggesting that you consider your self defense knife and flashlight sanctified (set apart, for you heathens) for their specific purposes. Carry a separate knife and light for utility purposes. Before you show up with torches and pitchforks shouting about how I am asking you to carry too much stuff, hear me out…

These utility items don’t have to be big. They also don’t have to be carried in priority locations like you should carry your dedicated self defense tools. Most of your utility tasks could likely be handled by key chain sized tools like a small Swiss Army Knife and Maglite Solitaire. You can scale these items based on your needs but we are talking about small, lightweight tools, that can be carried in more out of the way locations. You can handle that.

The additional benefit here is that you can keep a lower profile with these smaller tools. Mark Greenman wrote a great article outlining his “Public Knife” concept. For many people, something the size of a Spyderco Delica is a “big knife” and you are drawing attention to yourself when you whip it out in the office to pick a splinter. This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about being discreet.

Wrap Up

If you have made the choice to carry tools like a flashlight and knife with a self defense mindset, you have already acknowledged that there may be a need for such tools. Doesn’t also make sense to keep these tools as ready as they can be?

BlackPoint Tactical Introduces Holster Options for the Olight PL-2 Tactical Light

One of the major barriers to considering a new handgun mounted light is the availability of holsters for that light. The flashlight manufacturers with the largest market awareness aren’t always the ones pushing the limits of lighting technology. There are innovations coming from light manufacturers many “tactical” consumers may not have even heard of or would consider buying. Holster makers have little incentive to tool up for a light that few people will buy and buyers won’t buy a light for which they can’t get a holster. This feedback loop has the potential to scuttle the success of otherwise good weapon lights.

The Olight PL-2 Valkyrie weapon light has received some solid reviews and boasts a whopping 1200 lumen output. However, until recently, it had little holster support. There are some holster makers who can accommodate the PL-2 but you’ll have to dig a bit to find them. That changed when BlackPoint Tactical introduced the PL-2 as an option for many of their holsters. They are likely the highest profile holster maker to date to add the PL-2 to the line up.

I don’t know that this is the first step toward broader acceptance of the PL-2. I haven’t even tried one of them. However, as a consumer, I appreciate when a company is willing to try to fill a potential market gap even if it is small. As holster makers continue to streamline and modernize their processes, I hope to see more of this.

Elzetta Shield Lights

The newest lights from Elzetta aren’t likely to be part of your EDC… unless you EDC a ballistic shield.

Elzetta Design, LLC is pleased to announce the release of our new line of lighting systems for ballistic shields. The Elzetta Shield Lights bring a new level of quality and performance to the tactical protection market. The basic Elzetta Shield Light includes a horizontal handle with an integrated solid-state tape switch while the innovative TriDextrous™ version provides three unique gripping surfaces with light-activating switches in each location. Both models deliver 1,000 lumens of neutral-tint white light through two solid-acrylic optical flood lenses for a wall-of-light that uniformly illuminates an entire room. All electronics are fully potted for extreme durability with redundant circuitry for the two light sources to ensure continued operation should one source be damaged. A strobe feature is optional.

Elzetta Shield Lights are OEM devices installed on ballistic shields by the shield manufacturer. No soldering or wire-routing is required for installation and the units are backed by a five year limited warranty. Initially available on Blueridge Armor Vengence™ Ballistic Shields, Elzetta Shield Lights are currently in low rate initial production. Like all Elzetta products, the Shield Lights are Made in the USA by Americans. For more information, email info@ELZETTA.com or call 859-707-7471.

Interesting USB Charging Concept from Streamlight

Flashlights that can be recharged via USB ports are not new. However, Streamlight is taking the concept to new heights with an entire suite of lighting products that can be recharged via USB and a central product, the Super Siege Lantern, that can serve as the charger!

Streamlight’s Super Siege Lantern is great product on its own but by adding two headlamps and a handheld tactical light to their USB rechargeable lineup, the Super Siege is now the central element of an entire concept. The lantern features a large capacity rechargable battery with USB ports that can be used to recharge items like cell phones… and now flashlights. The applications for something like this are broad – hiking/camping, emergency lighting in the home, trade work like construction, and the list goes on.

Streamlight.com

Sneak Peek: Cloud Defense LCS with Integrated Light Mount

Cloud Defensive gave a sneak peek of a new version of the Light Control System that features a direct mounting option for Surefire Scout pattern lights. The new LCS prototype, the LCS-DM, will have a special direct mount panel that mounts in place of the standard cable routing panel. This allows this modification to be backwards compatible with all current generation LCS units.

The new LCS DM will be available as a package that includes the DM panel and standard panel. The DM panel will also be available separately. The pricing is expected to be around $15 for the panel whether purchased separately or added to a package.

Check out Cloud Defensive.

Sneak Peek: CDM Gear MTRS Light Mount for Mossberg 590 Shockwave

CDM Gear gave us a sneak peek of their upcoming MTRS Light Mount for the popular Mossberg 590 Shockwave. The MTRS provides two sling mounting options (for slings up to 1.25″ wide) and a rail section for affixing a pistol light the like the Streamlight TLR-1 shown in the image below. The rail can be placed on either side of the shotgun to accommodate right and left handed shooters.

The MTRS is designed to mount between the barrel and magazine tube so it can not rotate under tension. The mount is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and will have a hard anodized finish.

These mounts should be available in July with an MSRP just below $40. CDM Gear doesn’t offer pre-orders but they will notify you when the mounts are available if you email shockwavemount@cdmgear.com (notification only, no product questions will be answered at this email address).

CDMGear.com

Limited-Production “Decade Edition” Flashlights from Elzetta

We look forward every year to seeing what Elzetta is going to do for their annual limited edition flashlight. Past flashlights have been mirror polished or coated with cool colors. This year, Elzetta’s 10th anniversary, the limited edition light trumps all the past lights… because engine turning!

The new Decade Edition Bones Flashlight is based on Elzetta’s newest light, the more affordable Bones Flashlight. However, unlike the standard Bones Flashlight, this one has been spruced up with Blue Anodization, engine turned flats, and great looking “Elzetta Made in the USA” and “Decade Edition” engravings. I looks like the kind of thing you would find in a high end classic car restoration.

These limited edition lights never last long. Collectors snap them up in a matter of days. This one may last less time than usual.

Check out the Decade Edition Bones Flashlight at Elzetta.com.

Tactical Lites – Work and Tactical Gloves with LED Lights

Tactical Lites, LED enabled gloves, are the brain child of a high school senior… let that sink in for minute. They are different from every other LED glove on the market in several ways but one big one – they are actually usable.

Most LED gloves are basically novelties with short battery lives and dim, sickly output. They just don’t work for anything other than maybe weird rave dancing. Tactical Lites has designed their gloves in such a way that the lighting module is removable, USB rechargeable, weather-proof, and able to put out an impressive amount of light. The light unit is fairly unobtrusive and it wouldn’t surprise me to see established glove makers licensing Tactical Lite’s technology.

From Tactical Lites:

No smart military member, law enforcement agent, EMT, Private Contractor, security professional or worker in a long list of trades wants to go without a pair of premium quality tactical work gloves on the job,  Entrepreneur and devoted expert on all things tactical Cade Cassidy, remarkably still a high school student, was quick to realize while there are many great products on the market, they all are missing something which seems like a quite obvious way to increase their value and functionality in extreme and not so extreme situations of all kinds – being able to supply high quality illumination.  This led to long research and development with professionals from all of these fields to come up with the Cade Cassidy’s new Tactical Lites – a rugged, premium quality glove with removable LED lights that can provide just the right amount of life to help in a long list of potentially vital situations.  The young entrepreneur recently announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to bring the first run of the Tactical Lites gloves to consumers.  The early response has been wildly enthusiastic.

“I’m not ashamed to admit I am near obsessed with developing superior tactical gear to help our heroes who protect our nation and our workers who build our country be able to perform more efficiently and more safely,”  commented Cassidy, founder of the company.  “We knew this was a need that had to be met and made sure we sourced top of the line materials to make it happen.  With us it is always quality over quantity.”

According to the company, six versions will launch initially covering both the tactical and worker communities.  Utmost care has been put into selecting the LED lighting system which feature three forms of removable LED lights, with each appropriate for different common situations professionals face.

Special features of the lights include: multicolor LED functions; USB charging; and completely IP44 weatherproof design, making them valuable even in very harsh weather conditions.

This same attention to detail was paid to the glove manufacture and design itself, which are rugged and can be counted on in even the harshest of situations.  Each are touchscreen enabled for quick and easy use, with a Velcro pocket for storing essentials; are completely form fitting and comfortable like a second skin and both reinforced and padded where needed.  The grip was designed to be extra secure and the gloves are both breathable and zero crunching to make them as comfortable as possible.  Many tactical professionals in the past have left tactical gloves behind for being bulky and annoying to wear, so this was a vital design feature Tactical Lights made a top priority to address.  After all if no one wears the gloves, because they are a nuisance, they are near completely worthless.

Special perks have been established with the Kickstarter campaign, which begins on June 7, 2017 allowing interested parties to donate and receive the first run of Tactical Lites gloves at a significant discount as a thank you for supporting their campaign.

Tactical Lites will begin their crowdfunding campaign on Wednesday, June 7th. You can preview the campaign on Kickstarter now. Stay tuned for a reminder of when the campaign goes live and other continued developments.

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