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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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New Aston House BC Pack from Hill People Gear

The Hill People Gear Aston House BC (Back Country), a back country pack based on the original Aston House Pack, is now available. The Aston House BC is similar in size and foot print to the original Aston House but it has less organization features and a more substantial chassis which, coupled with the Aston House’s compression features, allow this pack to carry anything from small daypack loads to heavier overnight loads.

The Aston House BC has a beefier suspension that includes a full frame sheet and dual aluminum stays. It comes with Hill People Gear’s excellent shoulder harness and can accept the Recon or Prairie Belt (belt not included).

The panel loading main compartment is completely lined with First Spear’s 6/12 material so you can add MOLLE or hook backed pouches. The main compartment can be accessed via the panel zipper or top and bottom zippers. The front panel of the pack features a full height slot pocket on the exterior and a mesh slip pocket on the inside. The exterior sides of Aston House BC have dual wand pockets similar to those found on other Hill People Gear packs.

The Aston House BC also comes with the Aston Panel, a MOLLE compatible compression panel that is made from First Spear’s 6/12 Laminate material (loop material bonded to hypalon). The panel can be used to compress the pack and carry gear like skis, a snow shovel, bulky clothing layers, and more.

Check out the Aston House BC at Hill People Gear.

Hill People Gear Kit Bag or GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster – Get Both!

Our review of the GunfightersINC Kenai Chest Holster is one of the most visited reviews ever posted on this site and we get a number of emails asking questions about it. One of the most common questions I receive regarding the Kenai is how it compares to the Hill People Gear Kit Bag. Well, I happen to be a long time user of both and that sounds like an idea for a post to me!

Links:

Kenai Chest Holster

Hill People Gear Kit Bag

The Same but Different

At the most basic level, the Kenai and Kit Bag are similar. They are both designed to carry a handgun in the most advantageous position for many outdoor pursuits – on the chest. However, the functionality and materials used are drastically different. This leads to different strengths and weaknesses for both, enough that I have purchased and use both depending on the situation.

Both are better than tucking your handgun into your backpack or not carrying it at all!

Background with the Kit Bag

My background with the Hill People Gear Original Kit Bag is fairly long. I’ve owned one since the first or second run. This was before they added a dummy cord loop and Velcro in the handgun compartment. I simply wanted a way to carry a handgun that was comfortable and concealed while backpacking. The Kit Bag worked well for that but I never really completely filled all the carrying capacity offered by the Original Kit Bag. I eventually sold it and replaced it with a Runners Kit Bag.

The Runners Kit Bag is ideal for me. It has the same footprint as the Original Kit Bag but is slimmer overall since the “middle” cargo pocket has been removed. It is large enough to keep my full sized handgun concealed but significantly slimmer while still offering more than enough carrying capacity to carry some basics.

Background with Kenai Chest Holster

I’ve been using a Kenai Chest Holster since late 2015. I find it to be the best interpretation of a “guide holster” available. GunfightersINC used their experience in the outdoors and some modern materials to bring the guide holster concept into the current century. It is slimmer than any traditional leather guide holster could ever hope to be, offers better retention without the need for a strap, creates a better draw stroke, and its modular.

I’ve worn this holster extensively and I find it to be extremely comfortable and extremely easy to draw from. They even designed the harness so none of the adjusters had to be positioned on the back where it could catch on wader shoulder straps or cause hotspots under a backpack. This is the level of thoughtfulness that went into this holster.

Get Both!

For a long time, the Original Kit Bag was the only way I had to carry a handgun on my chest and it worked. When I added the Kenai Chest Holster to my gear bin, I wondered if it would replace my Kit Bag but it hasn’t. It has only highlighted the strengths of both carry methods.

I can’t replace the Kit Bag because it offers three important benefits over the Kenai:

  • It can conceal a handgun without the use of a covering garment.
  • It can carry a huge variety of handguns from small to large.
  • It can carry additional items in a location that is easy to access.

The Kenai is surprisingly concealable under a cover garment but I live in an area that sees triple digit heat in the summer. I can’t always use a covering garment. I’ve used my one Kit Bag to carry everything from a Glock 43 or J-Frame, to a Ruger 22/45 Lite with RDS, to a large frame revolver. Additionally, the Kit Bag is great for carrying items like nav tools (compass, GPS, UTM grid, etc.), basic survival goodies (lighter, some bits of tinder, etc.), and other items you may want close at hand. It may not seem like a big deal but the efficiency of reaching to your chest for gear like chapstick or a GPS unit versus having to stop and remove your pack is not trivial when you are trying to cover ground.

I can’t replace the Kenai Chest Holster because it offers three important benefits over the Kit Bag:

  • It is more compact.
  • It offers a faster, more streamlined draw stroke.
  • It is more concealable.

The Kenai Chest Holster is smaller and slimmer than the Kit Bag that makes it a little easier to dress/pack around. That also means it is cooler to wear and that can be big deal when it is 95+ with less than 15% humidity. The Kenai’s draw stroke is very fast and straightforward. There is nothing between your hand and a full firing grip on your handgun with Kenai. The Kit Bag is fast but the Kenai is faster – how much faster will depend on your specific gear and some training. Finally, if I absolutely need to conceal the fact that I am carrying and the weather permits, the Kenai conceals under a coat easily.

I live in a very rural area that is a destination for outdoor recreation. That means that we have a healthy mix of the NRA crowd and Sierra Club crowd. Our property is on the outskirts of National Forest land that contains Grizzly habitat. My choice for which carry “system” to use often comes down to balancing those factors.

If I am headed to a popular trail, I know I am more likely to encounter the Sierra Club side of the house and prefer to remain discreet in how I carry. I usually reach for the Kit Bag in that case. If I am working or hiking on our own property, I don’t have to worry about concealment and I almost always use the Kenai. If I am going on a very long day hike (or overnighter), I am more likely to reach for the Kit Bag because of the convenience of carrying important items in the outer pocket. If I am going into an area where the grapevine says there was recent bear activity, I am inclined to take the Kenai.

Wrap Up

There are always factors to balance when deciding which gear works for you. If you are knee deep in big coastal brown bears while fishing for salmon you might choose differently than you would if you were knee deep in college kids while hiking the Appalachian Trail. For me, both the Kenai Chest Holster and Hill People Gear Kit Bags have been invaluable and I am glad I have both in my gear box.

Hill People Gear Tarahumara in Multicam Black

Hill People Gear has released a limited run of Tarahumara Packs in Multicam Black. The entire pack including the harness and webbing has been rendered in the popular camo pattern. The Multicam Black pattern gives the Tarahumara an interesting “urban” look while still retaining all the features and durability you expect in a Hill People Gear Pack.

Hill People Gear Tarahumara Multicam Black

Limited Run HPG Kit Bag in Blaze Orange

Hill People Gear has a limited run of their Original Kit Bag V2 in Blaze Orange with Ranger Green accents. This colorway would be perfect for hunters, search and rescue personnel, or anyone trying to stay visible in the woods.

Original Kit Bag V2 at Hill People Gear

Hill People Gear Original Kit Bag Version 2

Hill People Gear’s Original Kit Bag just learned some new tricks. The Original Kit Bag V2 now features a #10 zipper on the main cargo compartment (instead of the earlier #8). The inside back of the main cargo compartment is now lined with First Spear’s 6/12 material to allow for mounting MOLLE or hook backed pouches. Finally, the bottom of the bag has a single row of PALS webbing that makes a great place to affix a knife sheath.

The Original Kit Bag V2 available now in Black with other colors coming soon.

HillPeopleGear.com

Limited Run Teal and Grey Grid Tarahumara Packs

Sometimes brighter colors can help you blend in…

Hill People Gear’s Tarahumara is a great pack but it is typically only available in a decidedly “tactical” color palette. If you prefer something other than the usual greens, greys, and browns, check out the limited run of Tarahumara Packs in teal and grey.

Hill People Gear Ute Internal Frame Backpack

Details are now finalized on the new Hill People Gear Ute Internal Frame Backpack. It will cost $395 and should be available shortly. You can find just about everything that you want to know about the Ute in this video that HPG recently shared.

It looks like a tremendous pack that should challenge the likes of Mystery Ranch and Kifaru in terms of quality, design, and features.

Check out HillPeopleGear.com.

HPG Ute

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