Elzetta and Progressive F.O.R.C.E Concepts are partnering to provide low-light training on November 11 and 12 in Park City, Kentucky. The courses takes place at the excellent Rockcastle Shooting Center facility where a cave can be used to provide low/no light conditions any time of day. The course takes place over the course of two days with one day focused on carbine techniques and one on handgun techniques.
Elzetta has announced the availability of their limited edition light for 2016 – the LE2016 Copper-Plated Alpha Modular Flashlight. It has all the features of the Alpha Modular Light but with a copper-plated finish that will age and patina. This light will look great when it’s new and even more amazing as it oxidizes and changes over time.
These never last long so act fast. Visit Elzetta’s website for details.
Elzetta releases a limited edition light in a unique, one-time-only configuration every year. The lights usually sell out pretty quickly and are never to be seen again. Past lights have included special black chrome finishes, colored anodization, and Cerakote. The details for this year’s limited edition light have not been released yet but you can register for a chance to win one!
I should also note that the promotional image for this giveaway might be a clue as to which light might be receiving the limited edition treatment this year. It appears to be an Alpha which would make sense considering it just received an output upgrade.
Elzetta.com is sporting an updated look these days. The new look also comes with updated flashlight selection tools to make it easier to get your hands on the Elzetta light that best fits your needs. For a limited time, you can save 10% off your ordwer when you use the code “NewSite”.
Elzetta has also updated their excellent single CR123A Alpha Flashlight (my current favorite EDC). The new light boasts increases in both output and runtime. The output is up more than 100 lumens to 415 lumens and the runtime has increased 10%! The light still retains its smooth, floody beam fitting its intended design as a close to medium range illumination tool.
Impact Weapons Components (IWC) produces a huge variety of mounts that are compatible with the Surefire Scout mounting interface. So, when it was announced that Streamlight would be producing lights that would share this mounting interface, IWC had a vested interest in ensuring the new ProTac Rail Mount lights are compatible with their entire line of mounts. They tested the lights themselves and then boxed up a ProTac Rail Mount 1 and 2 for me to test since I already own a wide variety of IWC light mounts.
This article will not necessarily be a full review of the ProTac Rail Mount lights though there will be elements of a review. The main thrust here is how these lights work with IWC’s mounts. I tried these lights on several different light mounts and on several different firearms.
The following mounts were tested and found to perfectly:
- THORNTAIL KeyMod
- THORNTAIL SBR
I will share specific thoughts about each combination below.
SMC and SMCXL
Tested on the following:
- AR-15 with MOE SL Hand Guards (MLOK)
- AR-15 with MOE Hand Guards
- AKM with MOE AK Hand Guards (MLOK)
In my opinion, this is the most exciting combination of mount and light that I tested. The SMC and SMCXL best represent the entire point of the ProTac Rail Mount lights – affordability. These are mounts that do not require a rail in order to achieve excellent light placement which makes the entire combination of hand guard, mount, and light very affordable.
The combination of the SMC light mount with Magpul’s MOE Hand Guards is pretty well vetted at this point. It works. The SMC and longer SMCXL move the light forward and offset it from the mounting point. This serves to clear gripping space on the hand guard and places it where it can be activated easily. It’s not just an affordable option. It’s a very good option that is hard to top with any other mount/handguard combination.
You can spend more on a hand guard, mount, and light combination but you will not necessarily get a more functional setup than what this represents. Additionally, this entire setup (for AR-15s) can be executed in such a way that there is no permanent change to the host rifle which may be attractive or necessary for some users.
Tested on the following:
- AR-15 with Fortis REV 12 Rail
- AR-15 with Parallax Tactical FFSSR KeyMod Rail
The THORNTAIL KeyMod is a unique mount in the IWC line. It mounts to KeyMod and accepts standard tactical lights via a flashlight ring, Scout pattern lights, and rail mounted lights. Like the everything else in the THORNTAIL line, it places the light in an offset position.
Interestingly, the Protac Rail Mount 1, is functionally and dimensionally similar to another light that IWC played a role in developing, Elzetta’s Mini CQB. I compared the two lights directly and while the Mini CQB is certainly the better made light, they are both functional options. The Mini CQB offers bomb-proof quality with a more flexible integrated mount. The ProTac Rail Mount 1 offers acceptable quality, a lower price, and AA battery compatibility.
If you need to place the ProTac Rail Mount light even closer to the rail than the THORNTAIL KeyMod allows, you can check out any of IWC’s inline mounting options. These mounts will mount on a similar footprint but hold the light closer to the mounting surface.
THORNTAIL and THORNTAIL SBR
Tested on the following:
- AKM with Ultimak Railed Gas Tube
- AR-15s with various rails
This is likely the most flexible mounting setup that I tested simply because of the proliferation of mounting rails. This brings the forward and offset light position of the THORNTAIL line of mounts to any firearm with a standard Picatinny rail. I tested it on the usual suspects but it could also be used on anything from a Ruger 10/22 with the right rail to a Marlin 336 with a XS Sight Systems Scout Rail.
I am impressed with these lights and the various mounts that IWC offers (which is why I own so darn many of them). The ProTac line of hand held lights has been used in weapon mounting and CCW applications for years before the release of the Rail Mount lights and seem to be trustworthy at a very attractive price. I think the various combinations represented here offer some very good budget options for shooters who aren’t ready or able to drop the coin on a premium light like a Surefire Scout or Elzetta CQB Mini.
If you are concerned that these may be “knock offs” of the Surefire Scout lights, please read my previous post on this topic.
To see more thoughts on the unique functionality of the Rail Mount 1, please read here (especially if you like the idea of a AA compatible weapon light).
Thank you to Impact Weapons Components for providing these lights for mount compatibility testing. The lights are available from Impact Weapons Components. All of their compatible light mounts may be viewed on their light mount page. You can use the discount code “triggerjerk” to save 5% on your purchase of IWC branded items.
Elzetta knows that the way to a flashoholic’s heart is through his battery tube. Stop by booth #2729 at NRA 2016 to see their lights and receive 2 free US made CR123A batteries. If you are a subscriber to their news letter, make sure you check your email because the latest news letter contains a way to get 2 additional free batteries.
You can also check out their new t-shirt design at the show and on their website.
I recently shared with you how impressed I am with Streamlight’s ProTac Rail Mount 1 and its ability to be powered from a CR123A or AA battery. Streamlight has just announced that they will be bringing that same technology to their ProTac handheld lights in the new ProTac 1L-1AA.
The new light will feature anodized aluminum construction, a “unbreakable” two-way clip, anti-roll bezel, and Streamlights TEN-TAP programming to allow the user to choose between 3 different output sets including high/strobe/low, high only, and high/low. The light is also IPX7 waterproof (1 meter for 30 minutes).
The output is basically identical to the ProTac Rail Mount 1.
- CR123A lithium battery output:
- High for bright light: 350 lumens; 6,400 candela; 160m beam; runs 1.5 hours
- Low for longer run time: 40 lumens; 720 candela; 53m beam; runs 14.hours
- Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 3 hours
- AA alkaline/lithium battery output:
- High: 150 lumens; 2,750 candela; 105m beam; runs 1 hour 20 minutes (alkaline); runs 4.25 hours (lithium)
- Low: 40 lumens; 720 candela; 53m beam; runs 7.5 hours (alkaline); runs 14 hours (lithium)
- Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 3.5 hours (alkaline); runs 8 hours (lithium)
The new light will be on display at NRA 2016 so swing by booth #5391 to see it in person. You can also learn more by visiting Streamlight’s website.
I have been working with both the new ProTac Rail Mount lights from Streamlight for a couple of weeks now. I have spent more time with the Rail Mount 1 in particular. This post should not be considered a full review given the short time they have been in my hands. Consider it something like my initial impressions and perhaps an answer to some common inquiries that I receive here often at JTT – AA battery powered weapon light availability and a more general question about affordable lighting set ups .
These lights were sent to me by Impact Weapons Components (IWC) for the express purpose of testing them with a variety of IWC mounts of which I own several. That article will come later and will have plenty of pictures of the lights on various IWC mounts and impressions of the combinations.
Initially, I have had the Protac Rail Mount 1 mounted in an IWC SMC Light Mount on an Arsenal SGL-21 with Magpul MOE AK Hand Guards and also on an AR-15 with Magpul MOE SL Hand Guards. This setup has proven to be very useful in both cases.
AA Battery Compatibility
I commonly receive questions regarding the availability of AA weapon lights. While alkaline AA batteries are generally less suitable for weapon lights than lithium CR123A batteries, I do understand that gun guys also tend to have a prepper streak. The perceived long term availability of AA batteries makes a weapon light powered by them attractive. I am happy to report that the ProTac Rail Mount 1 can be powered by a single AA battery without modification (the documentation specifically mentions alkaline and lithium chemistries).
The output is reduced to 150 lumens on high for the lower voltage AA batteries but, according to Streamlight, the light will provide regulated output for 1.5 hours on an alkaline AA and an impressive 4.5 hours on a lithium AA. Compare those numbers to 350 lumens for 1.75 hours with a CR123A. That 150 lumen performance for 4.5 hours with a lithium AA may actually be very appealing to those who prefer a light in the 120-150 lumen range (though lumens don’t tell the whole story of what makes a light bright enough or too bright).
Remember that it wasn’t that long ago that 120 lumen LED weapon lights were the bleeding edge. 150 lumens from a single AA battery is impressive especially considering this is one of the very few dedicated weapon lights that can be powered from a AA battery.
Questions about affordable versions of this or affordable versions of that are some of the most common questions received here at JTT with weapon lights being a frequent topic. I like to point out that you must also consider the price of not only the light but the mount and hand guard in that discussion. Additionally, your weapon light must be useful regardless of how affordable it is or isn’t. If you find a cheap hand guard but it requires a jerry-rigged mounting solution to work with a light, that isn’t a good value. If you have a high end hand guard but you are limited by your light’s integral mount (or lack their of), the usefulness of the total package can suffer.
This is where I believe these lights can really stand out due to their use of the Scout Light mounting system. The lights themselves are affordable and are compatible with a variety of affordable, high-quality mounts that can be mounted to affordable, high quality hand guards.
You could add Magpul MOE Hand Guards to you rifle (AR or AK), use an SMC Light Mount, and a ProTac Rail Mount light. Add a vertical grip or IWC hand stop if you are so inclined. All of these items are quite affordable but this isn’t just an affordable light mounting option. It’s a very good option. The light falls right where it should for easy operation. It is relatively lightweight. The hand guard is cleared for establishing a good grip. This is just a solid front end set up for your AK or AR that is all made possible by the compatibly of the ProTac Rail Mounts with existing light mounts.
In general, I have been impressed with these lights over my short time with them. There is certainly no replacement for time and repetitions over a large sample size when it comes to establishing the reliability of something like a flashlight so these impressions are very preliminary. On the other hand, the Streamlight ProTac handheld lights are fairly well vetted at this point.
The Rail Mount Lights use a large collimating lens in order to shape the lumens that are pushed out the front. The lens itself is quite large compared the reflectors found on the ProTac handheld lights (about the size of the lens found in the Streamlight TRL-1 HL). The beam shape is very good with a nice hotspot for good throw and a wide corona for taking in a wide view of your surroundings.
I am impressed with the value that these represent much like the Streamlight TLR-1. These lights come with an integral mount, a tape switch, a tail cap, and various other items for mounting and routing the tape switch. The Rail Mount 1 comes with both a CR123A and AA battery. The quality is on par with what I have come to expect from the ProTac line (I own several of the hand held lights). Part of the value is also Streamlight’s customer service which in my experience has always been excellent with quick responses and satisfying outcomes.
I will continue testing and trying different mounts. In the mean time, you can check out the ProTac Rail Mount lights and various IWC light mounts at Impact Weapons Components. They will be offering combo deals on these lights with their mounts soon so stay tuned. Remember to use code TRIGGERJERK at checkout to save 5%.
You may remember Streamlight’s SHOT Show 2016 announcement of the expansion of their ProTac line to include new rail mountable versions of these popular lights. The internet took one look at them and cried bloody murder about them being a copy of Surefire’s Scout series of lights. The opinion was likely based on the similar rail clamp and it did, in fact, turn out that the lights were compatible with Scout mounts.
From the initial announcement, I have never thought of these lights as copies. In fact, I think that the opinion that these are copies of Scout lights is actually very shortsighted. I have now been able to handle a ProTac Rail Mount 2 and I have some of the lights inbound for my own testing. This has confirmed my opinion that these lights are not copies.
The lights themselves are very different from Surefire Scout lights. You would never confuse one for the other. The Streamlight products are very much like Streamlight’s current ProTac line which many people (including Frank Proctor) have been using successfully on rifles for years. The family lineage is obvious.
The rail mount is extremely similar if not identical to Surefire’s Scout Light mounts. This may be the source of much of the consternation but I look at it as a very strong positive. This could signal a move toward an industry standard light mounting interface. We already have a host of aftermarket light bodies on the market that use this same mount interface and no one is crying about those. End users now how the choice of Surefire Scout Light, various after-market Scout compatible components, or the new ProTac Rail Mounts with all of these options using the same wide selection of mounts. This, I believe, is very good for the consumer.
The Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount Lights are not copies at all. They are a budget oriented light option that makes use of what is hopefully becoming an industry standard mount.
When Dave from Elzetta talks weapon lights and light mounts, you might expect him to spend several minutes talking up the light mounts and mountable lights that his company produces. He does cover those products but the entire discussion in the video below is couched in terms of safety (Cooper’s 4 Rules #2 and #4) and how various configurations can be beneficial to the shooter. The end result is that this video is not just a marketing tool but it is actually a very effective basic weapon light primer.