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Archive | Flashlights

Review: Streamlight Microstream USB

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

Overview

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

Cloud Defensive – Cloud Optimized Rail

Cloud Defensive’s new COR (Cloud Optimized Rail) is designed from the ground up with light and laser integration in mind. The COR mates closely with the Cloud Defensive OWL giving a nearly integral feel. The CORv2 features a recessed channel in the middle of the top rail that is optimal for remote switches like the Surefire SR-07 and DS-07.

The COR series of rail also feature M-LOK compatibility, integrated QD sling sockets, and makes use of BCM’s barrel attachment system. You can see the full line and learn more at CloudDefensive.com.

Review: Streamlight TLR-7

Streamlight’s TLR-7 is their first entry into the compact, EDC weapon light market that has come about recently. Most of the lights in this space are giving up something in terms of output, runtime, and ergonomics to their full size counterparts. The best lights try to balance all of these factors. How well does the TLR-7 balance all of these considerations? Let’s dig in.

Specs:

  • Weight: 2.41 ounces
  • Length: 2.1″
  • Width: 1.2″
  • Output: 500 lumens
  • Runtime: 1.5 hours
  • Battery: 1x CR123A

Observations from Use

I will say up front that I really like this light with one caveat. Unfortunately, that caveat may be a big one for some shooters.The TLR-7 is the right kind of compact. It is built around a single CR123A battery and closely matches the width of many popular modern handguns. It isn’t just easy to carry. It’s very comfortable to carry. By matching the width of most handguns, Streamlight has made a light that can actually make your handgun MORE comfortable to carry. The holsters for this light, with something like a Glock, are often very flat and slab-like which seems to reduce hot spots… for me at least.

The output (500 lumens) and runtime (1.5 hours) are great and Streamlight nailed the beam shape. Some compact weapon lights have beams that are obviously very slanted toward illuminating objects at close range. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but Streamlight has developed a very balanced beam pattern for the TLR-7 that offers a broad and bright hotspot with a generous spill beam. It is a great compromise between an “across the room” beam and an “across the parking garage” beam.

The TLR-7’s mounting system is solid, low profile, and adaptable. It comes with a variety of cross bars to accommodate just about any handgun. The locking disk can be turned with a flat blade screwdriver or an improvised item like a coin.

I especially like the lockout bezel feature on the TLR-7. Most light makers just tell you to back the bezel off the light in order to prevent accidental activation during storage or transport. Streamlight actually installed a tactile detent on the TLR-7 so you can feel when you hit the lock out point and the bezel is then less likely to back itself off any further during transport.

And now for the caveat… Streamlight designed this light to be compact and as you might expect, it’s activation paddles are also compact. Unfortunately, some users will find them too compact and difficult to reach. I lock the support hand wrist which places my thumb forward and high. Reaching the paddles and pushing them forward is not difficult for me with my medium sized hands… but it definitely isn’t as easy as a full sized weapon light. If your hands are smaller or your grip places your thumb further back on the grip, you may have difficulty operating this light.

I strongly recommend getting your hands on one these lights before you buy to ensure that it will work for you. If it does, I think you will be really pleased with it. I have just over 1200 rounds through my G19 with this light mounted with about 450 of those while actively testing the light. The light is working like second-nature to me with minimal adjustment to my grip but it is easy to for me to see how this might not ever work for some people.

Wrap Up

The TLR-7 offers a LOT of performance for a compact weapon light. The output and beam shape are excellent. The lock out feature is well executed and clever. If your grip and hand size will accommodate this light, I think it is a fine choice.

Streamlight.com

Best Tactical & Outdoor Gifts – Proven Arms & Outfitters

ABERDEEN,N.C. – (December 2018)- Proven Arms & Outfitters is excited to announce more holiday savings!  Whether you are shopping for yourself or that special tactical/outdoor someone, Proven Arms& Outfitters (PAO) has just the thing! Check out the vast assortment of AR15 parts and components from Geissele, Aero Precision, Magpul, Anderson, and many other popular manufacturers.  Tactical bags, packs, and firearm cases are always a great gift, and there are plenty in-stock from FirstTactical, 5.11 Tactical, Blue Force Gear, Pelican, and many other great brands.

Don’t miss PAO’s current special on Sig Sauer P320s!  Buy a full-size P320 and get a BlackPoint Tactical holster for $529.99 or K Rounds holster for $509.99.

Perfect stocking stuffers for the holidays are still available:

•    RE Factor Tactical Body Stacker Tees for $23.50

•    Streamlight Lights, Lanterns, and Headlamps for 45% Off

•    Thyrm Products for $17.59 to 26.39

•    Smith & Wesson M&P Mags 3 for $78.00

•    Magpul PMAGS on sale – 30 round for $8.99, 40 round for $14.99 and 60 round for $94.99

Each store location has a full assortment of ammo from Hornady, Sig Sauer, Federaland more at low prices.  Ammunition is only available in store; we do not ship ammo.

ProvenArms & Outfitters is proud to have a large variety of QualifiedProfessional Programs where law enforcement, military, first responders andmore can purchase firearms and essential gear at deep discounts.  PAO holds programs with SureFire, Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, FN America, Springfield Armory, Berretta, and IWI.  For more information on Proven Arms & Outfitters programs, visit ProvenOutfitters.com/Programs or call a store near you.

Check out our stores in Tacoma, WA and Woodbridge, VA or shop online here.

Stay tuned and look forward to more exciting announcements coming from Proven Arms & Outfitters soon! 

About Proven Arms & Outfitters:

ProvenArms & Outfitters is a leading supplier of apparel, tactical gear, outdoor gear, optics, every day carry products and firearms to Enthusiasts, LawEnforcement, First Responders, and Military professionals. We have the PROVEN selection of products designed to help you perform at your peak.  For a complete and current outfit for your weapon, build out existing kit, or gear up for your next adventure, choose us for our practical knowledge, experience, extensive selection, and exceptional customer service.  Visit one of our two Proven Arms & Outfitters locations, find us on the web at ProvenOutfitters.com, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram @Proven_AO, and Twitter @Proven_AO

CDM Gear CHS Light Mount

CDM Gear is set to release a number of new items and an improved website in the coming weeks. The CHS Light Mount is one of those new items. This rail mount is designed to work on the bottom of Magpul’s M-LOK Forends for shotguns where it gives the user the ability to cantilever a light forward of the forend. This places the light in a location where it leaves room for the user’s hand, can still be operated with the support hand, and acts as a handstop.

The CHS Light Mount will be available soon. Check out CDMGear.com.

Cloud Defensive Optimized Weapon Light – Now Even More Optimized

Cloud Defensive continues to improve their Optimized Weapon Light (OWL). They have given us a sneak peek of the production version that will be 1.2” shorter and 4 oz lighter than the prototype that has already been shown. It will also be powered by the now ubiquitous and potent 18650 rechargeable battery (with no CR123 battery option). Outputs and runtimes are still being tweaked but you can expect somewhere north of 1400 lumens with very impressive runtimes.

You can read up on the OWL at CloudDefensive.com. Keep in mind that this is a developing project and stats are likely to change (improve).

Review: ThruNite TH20 Headlamp

Headlamps have come a long way. Gone are the days when you were limited to lights with a chunky plastic housing with a hinge that will eventually break, multiple batteries, and anemic outputs. Today’s headlamps boast impressive output, useful beam shapes, great runtimes, durable aluminum housings, and extremely compact sizes thanks to the ability to be powered on a single battery.

I’ve owned multiple Zebralight headlamps for a while now and they are easily the best I have used. However, they can also be a little on the spendy side. So, I went looking for something similar but a bit more affordable for my family to use. After sifting through online reviews, I settled on the ThruNite TH20.

Here are some quick stats on the TH20:

 

  • CREE XP-L V6 LED
  • Mode & Runtime (Tested by one Eneloop AA 2450mAh NIMH rechargeable battery):
    -Firefly (0.3 lumens, 14 days
    -Infinity Low (1.6 lumens, 21 hours
    -Infinity High (230 lumens, 95 minutes )
    -Turbo (250 lumens, 93 minutes)
  • Batteries Applicable: 1x AA battery, 1x 14500 battery.
  • IPX-8 water resistance
  • 2.7 ounces (without the battery)
  • Aluminum body with hard anodized finish

Why I Like It

There were a number of things that drew me to this headlamp as a backup to my other headlamps. First, the price was right at $30. Second, it runs on a single AA battery and had documented runtimes/ouputs with Eneloop batteries (I don’t use 14500 batteries). Third, the output was more than sufficient for my needs. Finally, it was available with a neutral white LED for better color rendition and depth perception.

I am not the kind of flashlight nerd that dives deep into lumens, candela, and the latest emitters. I am more the flashlight nerd that is always trying to find lights that are the easier to live with than my last light so the ability to power the TH20 with a single AA battery is very important to me for a number of reasons. It makes the light more compact so it fits unobtrusively in a coat pocket and my kids can use it. It also makes it easy to carry spare batteries. Finally, the light is very economical to keep fed with the primary AA batteries and Eneloops that I already have on hand.

My little corner of the world gets dark very early in the winter so this light sees heavy use. A hard anodized aluminum housing means I don’t have to baby the light. A balanced beam shape means it can handle everything from hiking to swapping a bearing on a 74″ snow blower. I even use it when I am on the tractor, blowing snow after dark. Our open cab tractor has no interior lights so the TH20 helps keep the controls and dashboard visible even while it is absolutely soaked and pummeled with blown snow. The abuse it has weathered in this role is impressive.

The band is comfortable and it surprised me with its great quality (cheap headlamps usually have terrible bands). I haven’t noticed any parasitic drain on the battery – it always seems ready to go. The silicone light holder seems durable and is very comfortable against the wearer’s head. There is a lot to like here but it isn’t perfect.

Why It Isn’t Perfect

The switch is easy to operate, even with gloves but it can be a little too easy to operate. I have twice found the light turned on in my pocket from the switch being accidentally touched. Now, I wrap the head band around the light to cover the switch when I put it in a pocket and that seems to help.

Speaking of the switch, there is just one and the user interface controlled by that single switch has a learning curve. If you click once from off, the light comes on at the last level you used. Then you can also press and hold the switch to ramp up and down through the brightness levels. The light blinks at the upper and lower limits of the brightness scale. You just let go of the switch when you are happy with the light level. Finally, you can double click from on to access turbo mode, double click again for SOS mode, or press and hold from off to access a sufficiently dim firefly mode.

I like having the ability to fine tune the light level but it usually takes me a little fiddling with button to get the light right. I would prefer to just have the ramping feature without all the other click options.

Wrap Up

I have found the TH20 to be a great light for the price. It feels more like a tool in its usefulness and construction than most headlamps. It is also very easy to live with thanks to its compact size and common battery.

I have never seen ThruNite lights in a brick and mortar store so I purchased mine on Amazon. I have actually purchased several and given them as gifts.

ThruNite TH20 on Amazon (affiliate link)

 

Cloud Defensive Optimized Weapon Light (OWL)

It is hard to beat a well placed pressure pad for activating a weapon light when it comes to ergonomics and ease of use. However, some shooters just don’t want to deal with the wires that come with them. Cloud Defensive (CD) started with a product that made the wires easy to deal with… Now they are doing away with them completely.

The CD OWL is a proprietary weapon light with plenty of fresh ideas baked in. The OWL features an integral offset mount that also serves as a platform for the tape switch-esque pressure pad activation switch. This gives the shooter tape-switch style activation without the wires.

The light also features a quick attach/detach system for the heads and tailcaps. This allows the OWL to be completely ambidextrous, mission configurable, and able to upgraded as LED emitter technology advances. There will be heads available that are optimized for a wider spill beam and heads available with a tighter hotspot to optimize throw. Eventually, there may also be IR heads for use with night vision equipment.

The OWL is currently being tested for output but it is estimated to be putting around 1400-1600 lumens out the front. The switch provides both momentary and constant on functionality. The tail cap also serves as an installation tool and to remove the lens for replacement if necessary.

The OWL is user-programable with multiple modes of operation:

  • Full power, all the time (momentary and constant-on)
  • Full power for momentary, 60% for constant-on. Roughly 960 lumens at 60%
  • 60% power all the time (momentary and constant-on)

You can read more about the OWL at Cloud Defensive’s pre-order page. The first 500 lights are being sold at a reduced price and are expected to be delivered in July.

New Shotgun Magazine Tube Mounted Light Concept from Holosun

Holosun is testing the waters on a new shotgun weaponlight that mounts in line with the magazine tube. I suspect many shotgun users have dreamed about being able to mount a light on the end of the magazine tube over the years but switching for this light location has always been the fly in the ointment. The activation switch set up for this light has not been revealed at this time.

Holosun.com

IWC and HSP Go M-LOK

Impact Weapons Components and Haley Strategic Partners just dove head first into the deep end of the M-LOK pool with the release of 8 M-LOK compatible hand stops, light mounts, sling mounts, and more. You can view the entire line on IWC’s M-LOK product page and we will highlight a few items below.

The new QD Rotation Limited Sling Mount for M-LOK is likely the lowest profile sling mount IWC has made yet. It has a slick, angular design and weighs in at 1/3rd of an ounce. It, like several of the new M-LOK items from IWC, makes use of a captive screw system that retains the fastener inside of the mount.

IWC’s M-LOK Hand Stops and Barricade Stops are similar to past versions and the new captive screw design allows them to sit extremely close to the rail. The edges of the mount basically melt into the rail.

The flagship of the IWC and HSP collaboration has always been the Thorntail line of light mounts. All of the Thorntail variants are now available for M-LOK and many of them boast new features that are worth checking out. The Thorntail2 M-LOK Light Mount, for instance, features a new mounting system that allows adjustability in the way the Scout compatible light is attached to the cantilever arm. It provides .250″ of adjustment in order to accommodate other accessories like sights and lasers that might otherwise be in the way.

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