Maglite Drop in LED: Updating a Classic

The Maglite dominated the “tactical” market for many years until the market shifted from large lights to the handheld lights that are now popular.  Unfortunately Maglite didn’t keep up with the technology to match the performance of the more current offerings from companies like SureFire, or StreamLight.  Despite the poor performance, there is something comforting about the size and heft of the of the old school Maglite.

But, there’s an option to bring back that old maglite out of retirement.

20160813_165851There are a few companies that are making drop in LED modules that replace the incandescent bulb.  The unit I found claims to upgrade the output of the light to 140 lumens.  I can’t substantiate the output, but it does substantially boost the performance of the light.

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Maglite with Terrlux LED module
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Maglite with the original incandescent bulb

 

The photos show how much better the light output is.  The module also doesn’t require any modifications to the light itself, so you can still use the spare bulb that is in the tail cap if needed.

Maglite bulb assembly
Maglite bulb assembly
LED Upgrade Slips Right In
LED Upgrade Slips Right In

There you go, bring your Maglite out of retirement for less than $20.  We will bring you a performance review in the near future.

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000B868NE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Review: Karrimor Sabre Delta 25

Here’s the feature list from the website:

“With the Coolmesh windtunnel back system the Delta 25 allows moisture to evaporate and be carried away from your back.

Main fabric, KS100e:

KS100e is a 1000 Denier Nylon fabric coated with a Silicone/PU elastomer for improved tear strength and flex resistance. Finished with a fluorocarbon durable water repellent (DWR) that improves the water resistance of the fabric.

Features

  • Coolmesh Windtunnel back system
  • S-shaped shoulder harness
  • Sternum strap
  • One main compartment
  • Mesh side pockets
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Compression straps
  • Shock cord carry system
  • Crampon loops
  • Ice axe holder
  • Map pocket
  • Rotproof thread
  • Reinforced with bartacks
  • Durable water repellent (DWR)
  • YKK Zips

Volume: approx. 1,525 cu. in”

 

I was very impressed with this pack when I first opened the box.  The Karrimor Sabre Delta 25 immediately exudes quality when you handle it.  The shoulder straps and back are thickly padded, the stitching is beautiful, and the product’s finish is exceptional.  Did I mention I was impressed?

Starting with the exterior, the two mesh pockets are decent for water bottles, or small items you might need right away.  There are ice axe and crampon loops, which will never get any use from me, so I can’t comment on their effectiveness, but the shock cord is perfect for stashing a light jacket.  The map pocket is sized for smaller items at about 10″ x 8″, and the compression straps do a good job tightening up the pack when it’s not full, or securing the loads inside.  The zippers are nice YKK units with paracord pulls.  I particularly like the rubber lined main zipper.  Topping the pack is a nice large grab handle.  Next to the grab handle is a large pass through that goes from the top of the pack down into the main pocket.  The back panel of the pack has a deep channel and mesh for cooling.  There’s a nice sternum strap with elastic for ease of movement.  There’s also a wide, but un-padded, stabilizing hip/waist strap.  The mesh where the strap attaches to the bag is a nice detail.  The top of the pack features stabilization straps normally found on much taller packs.

Inside the main pack is one large main pocket with a small divider presumably for a hydration bladder and a small zippered pouch.  I’d love a few more smaller pockets or dividers in either the main pack or the map pocket for more organization, as the pockets tends to “black hole” my smaller items.  The pass through at the top of the pack is interesting.  It’s much larger than a normal hydration tube pass through.  You might make use of this pass through for carrying items longer than the inside of the pack would normally allow.  We are going to have to test what type of options this give us in the future.  The strap stabilization straps might be there just for this purpose.

The pack feels very form fitting and aerodynamic when worn.  It is very comfortable even when carrying 20lbs.  The channel between the pack and your back is also great as it allows for airflow to cool and dry the middle of your back.  More testing needs to be done to test the water resistance of the fabric, but it did work for a very light drizzle that lasted about 10 minutes.

At just under $120 ($117.49), the Karrimor SF pack isn’t exactly cheap, but…seems to buck the old saying “you get what you pay for”.  I’d expect this pack to be more in the $150-$175 range, and expect it perform with $200+ commercial hiking packs.

 

The back of the pack; note the compression straps, mesh, and shock cord
The front of the pack; note the compression straps, mesh, and shock cord

 

Padding on the back of the pack. The channel promotes air flow.
Padding on the back of the pack. The channel promotes air flow.

 

Load adjustment points on top of shoulder straps
Load adjustment points on top of shoulder straps
Rubber zipper covers help with water resistance
Rubber zipper covers help with water resistance

 

Pocket on the front of the pack
Pocket on the front of the pack

 

Inside the main pocket of the pack. Sleeve against the back of the pack, and a small zippered pouch on the front side.
Inside the main pocket of the pack. Sleeve against the back of the pack, and a small zippered pouch on the front side.

 

Cramp-on loops...I doubt I'll ever use these.
Cramp-on loops…I doubt I’ll ever use these.  The mesh pockets work well for holding smaller bottle and items.  the standard Nalgene bottles are too large.

 

Grey Ghost Gear

Review: Strongsuit Gloves

TSG has been using a new pair of gloves from Strongsuit — specifically the Q-Series Enforcer TAC Night Camo. 

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Night Camo Q Series Enforcer TAC gloves from Strongsuit.

The company has pulled in Gary Quesenberry,  Top Shot All-Star finalist, to design a line of gloves for shooters.

We have to say that we’ve been a fan of the Mechanix tactical gloves for a long time. But we are always on the look out for a thin, supple shooting glove, which is why we tried out these gloves from Strongsuit.

First, these gloves are pretty high tech. They feel completely different from any kind of glove we’ve normally used. The only “organic” textile identifiable is the completely useful terry cloth wipe on the back of the thumb portion.  The rest is totally manmade.

IMG_1741
Good tactile feeling while offering protection.

They are very thin and the palm portion is made up of some sort of material which the company calls TAC-Sense. It’s a smooth material that does a good job of transmitting feel. It’s not sticky or tacky, but yet gives a good grip.

These gloves have some great features:

  • A large carabiner clip grommet built into the cuff so you can clip them together or clip them to your rig or harness.
  • Form-fitted, pre-curved fingers making for a better fit than flat gloves.
  • Breathable fabric on the back of the hand to keep them cool.
  • Terry cloth portion on the back of the thumb. The company says it’s for sweat, but these are fantastic for the runny nose you get when it’s cold.
  • Velcro wrist closure strap.
Palm is a synthetic material that offers a good balance of feel and grip.
Palm is a synthetic material that offers a good balance of feel and grip.

While showing the Night Camo model here, the gloves are also available in Black, Desert Tan, Sage, Camo, and Pink Camo.

Pros

  • Very thin, good feel.
  • Very comfortable, breathable.
  • Carabiner clip for keeping these gloves organized and available.
  • The terry cloth portion is perfectly positioned for wiping the sweat from your brow or the runny nose we all get in cold weather.
  • Good value for the cost.
  • Good wear for thin gloves. They’ve used shooting, setting up and tearing down targets and frames, and weightlifting.

Cons

  • The sensation is diminished at the very fingertips where the seams come together, just like every other glove. Not a deal breaker.
  • Here’s one that is totally not the fault of the glove — they do not keep your hands warm when it’s cold. But then, they are not designed to and we know we were using them outside of their intended mission. In one case, we were freezing during a night shoot on the range and they were the only gloves available. In another case, we used them outdoors in the snow knowing they would not be warm. These gloves are supposed to give you some protection while still allowing good tactile sense.

Cost

  •  $24.99 retail at a gun store.

Review: Kali Combatives with Master Apolo Ladra

We recently took a Kali combatives seminar with master Apolo Ladra.

Check out the video below for an overview of the style of Apolo Ladra:

As you can see, Kali can use empty hands, blades and sticks. It is the national martial art of the Philippines. Apolo volunteered to us that he looks at the stick training as a way to introduce students to the blade. “We didn’t drive out the Spanish with sticks,” he said. “We used machetes.”

The course I took was open to anyone from 13-years and older. The class was a mix of teens and adults, mostly karate practitioners and beginning Kali students.

We have to include ourselves in this description. We have very little formal Kali training. Although the little training we’ve had allowed us to get a glimpse of what can be possible through some hands-on demonstrations and individualized attention from Apolo.

First of all, Apolo Ladra is a fantastic instructor. He is engaging, funny, and adept at teaching to the level of the individual student. He can take complicated concepts and techniques and make them easily understood.

Apolo Ladra teaching at recent Kali seminar.
Apolo Ladra teaching at recent Kali seminar.

What is also extremely attractive is his answer to the second and third question — the counter to the counter to the counter. You know, the questions that always come up, “Yeah, but what if he does this?” “What if he grabs your wrist?” “What if, what if?”

Apolo’s mastery of the subject matter is evident in that he effortlessly shows you the counter to the counter. And then shows you the additional counter to the counter while bringing you back to the original technique or concept he was first teaching. 

This is important as a student, because you get this ah-hah! moment where you see what we are trying to accomplish. Getting back to the original technique or using a technique we just learned is extremely important in building confidence that the technique or concept is sound.

Pros

  • Apolo Ladra’s teaching style and presence make for an very enjoyable seminar.
  • The concepts were very easy to pick and an apply in a short time.
  • Apolo’s demonstrations with his assistant instructor showing how the techniques flow into advanced self-defense techniques.
  • The drills allowed you to see how the techniques worked.
  • The seminar was useful for all ages and abilities.
  • The seminar was a “learning” seminar that gave ample time for drilling and practicing the techniques with a partner. It was not designed as a “smoker” session which tested your fitness levels. Nor was it a “competitive” session that pitted you against other students in sparring or grappling.
  • The length of the seminar was right for getting a good amount of information while keeping up your concentration.

Cons

  • It’s hard to find any — except for intermediate and advanced practitioners would not benefit from the basic level of instruction. But, keep in mind, this was billed as a seminar helping a school introduce Kali to area and their students.

Cost

  • $50 for four hours of instruction and training.

Review: Speed Marksmanship with J.J. Racaza

TSG signed up to take a course with J.J. Racaza called Speed Marksmanship held at the Clark County shooting facility in Las Vegas. Some of you might know the name from the television series “Top Shot” and some of you might know his name from the competition world.

J.J. Racaza instructing students at Speed Marksmanship shooting class.
J.J. Racaza instructing students at Speed Marksmanship shooting class.

But what most don’t know is that he has spent a substantial part of his career dedicated to the Department of Homeland Security in operating and training.

That combination of competition and practical firearms perspective made this course extremely interesting.

First things first: this a high-level class. It is not for beginners. The subtle concepts will be lost on those who have not attained an advanced level of skill. Seriously — if you are not willing to explore the advanced concepts of trigger control for 6 hours, this is not the class for you.

The exciting aspect of this course was the focus on breaking through the “normal” concepts of shooting and give you a doorway into the physical and mental aspects of the world’s fastest competitive shooters. It is designed to ruthlessly push your boundaries and force you onto a whole new level of shooting. And J.J. does this in a really, really engaging way.

That being said, J.J. emphasized the “marksmanship” aspect of the course title. It doesn’t matter how fast you are shooting if you are not hitting your target. He reinforced this concept during some of the competitive challenges during the course — only the times with hits were counted. In other words, students with extremely fast misses were disqualified leaving slower students who achieved hits as winners.

Here is a video from the course showing J.J. coaching Brad. The goal of the drill is to increase the speed of the shot transitioning from the near paper target to the far steel target.

As you can see, J.J. is saying Brad had a “delayed press” on the first string. He is coaching him to begin prepping the trigger even as he transitions from the paper target to the steel one about 15 yards beyond. The coaching yields a dramatically improved time for the second string.

Speed Marksmanship Course Concepts

  1. The fundamentals mastered.
  2. Trigger control.
  3. Presentation.
  4. Target transitions.

Class Pros and Cons

These are impressions coming from our experience for one particular day.  Remember that variables such as a different day, a different location or a different group of students can have an effect on the course experience for you. In other words, your mileage might vary.  Also take into account the yin/yang aspect of a positive aspect creating a corresponding negative aspect. Increased personal attention and coaching = pro. The corresponding drag on the rest of the class = con.  You decide what’s more important to you.

Pros

  • J.J. has an engaging personality and his teaching method is a good blend of friendly and firm. He’s the type of instructor who pushes you in a way that makes you want to perform.
  • Surprising amount of personal coaching and one-on-one time.
  • The concepts are extremely advanced which challenge you.
  • Instructor who DOES what he is teaching.  J.J. demonstrates the concepts giving you concrete examples for some very esoteric information. Demonstrating the drills and the concepts at a very, very high level also reinforces the credibility of the instructor. In this case, J.J. makes most of it look easy.  When he pushes himself towards the upper limits of his own speed, you start to see his accuracy degrading — just like students experience.  In business leadership, this expression of vulnerability (J.J. showing us he is human as he begins to “fail”) establishes trust among the group.
  • The concepts are measured. The shot timer is out and used religiously giving students a very real barometer of performance. This is important because some of the methods, particularly for transitions between targets, are perceived to be “slower”, yet the timer proves they are actually faster.
  • Friendly competition and making a game out of the drills adds to the fun and keeps interest.

Cons

  • The length of the course might challenge your concentration and attention for a skill  that demands concentration and attention.
  • The personal coaching time for individual students leaves the rest of the group with some down time. This is great for reloading magazines, hydrating, snacking. But it can make the overall course tempo feel somewhat slower — particularly later in the evening.

Cost

$250 for 9 hours of instruction and training.  Expect to shoot about 500 rounds.

Check out more background on J.J. in the video below:

Grey Ghost Griff Pack Preview

Here’s a quick dirty look at the new Grey Ghost Gear Griff Pack.

The Outside:

Unassuming 'Grey Man' pack from Grey Ghost
Unassuming ‘Grey Man’ pack from Grey Ghost

The pack comes in a light grey color that almost looks like a foliage green.  It looks a lot like a civilian pack with just a pinch of tactical mixed in.  There’s a D-ring, a few loops of webbing, and a patch of loop material.  The addition of the loop material is used extensively throughout the pack, as will be seen later in the feature.  I also like the little detail of the gryphon that’s the same color as the pack just above the loop material patch. The gryphon (or griffin) is a mythical medieval beast with the forend of an eagle and the hind end of a lion. It symbolizes ‘strength and intelligence’.

Detail on the back of the pack. Can't tell if it's a gryphon, or a dragon, but I really like it just the same.
Detail on the front of the pack. Can’t tell if it’s a gryphon, or a dragon, but I really like it just the same.

The back of the bag is lined with mesh on top of foam.  There are channels along the back look to be for ventilation, but that will need to be evaluated to see if they are big enough to actually help.  The mesh and foam carries over to the straps as well.  There are also loops of webbing for a hydration tube, and easily adjustable sternum strap.

The back side of the pack
The back side of the pack

 

Pack side: Compression strap and pass through slot mirrored on both sides.
Pack side: Compression strap and pass through slot mirrored on both sides.

The sides of the pack feature a compression strap and a pass through slot on each side of the pack.  The pass through slots are able to be closed off, or opened to allow access to the rear most laptop pocket.

One side of the pass through slots. Inside this pocket is more loop material, a zippered pouch, and a lap top sleeve.
One side of the pass through slots. Inside this pocket is more loop material, a zippered pouch, and a lap top sleeve.

On the top of the pack is a great grab handle and a covered slot for a hydration tube or ear phones.

Large comfortable grab handle and covered slot for a hydration tube.
Large comfortable grab handle and covered slot for a hydration tube.

The Pockets:

Soft Lined Pocket
Soft Lined Pocket

Just above the loop patch on the front of the pack is a small pocket lined with soft material.  There’s a clip for keys or valuables.  The pocket seems the perfect size for a phone or glasses, though the clip might defeat the purpose of the non-scratch material.

Next is an organization pocket.  This pocket has elastic loops the perfect size for double stack Glock magazines, and a single stack magazine fit very well as well.

Front Organization
Organization Inside Front Pocket

On the opposite side of the interior are several pockets.  They are all the same width, but are of multiple depths.  Half the inside has loop material sewn into it for adding any hook backed pouches you might need.  There is also a second clip for securing valuables.

Next comes a large middle pocket.

Large Middle Pocket with Loop Material Lining
Large Middle Pocket with Loop Material Lining

The middle pocket opens almost fully and runs the length of the bag.  One side has loop material on the entire back side which allows you to attach any hook backed pouches you might want or need to organize your gear.

Behind that is another full size pocket with a laptop pocket and a zippered pouch.  Below the zippered pouch is more loop material.  This loop material is meant for positioning a pouch or holster that can be reached through the pass through slots on the sides of the pack.  Grey Ghost makes hook backed kydex holsters that can be used with the loop material on this bag.

Full size pocket with lap top sleeve, zippered pocket, and loop material.
Full size pocket with lap top sleeve, zippered pocket, and loop material.

Stay tuned for a more in depth review, and better pictures (once I dig my camera out of whichever box my wife packed it in for our recent move.)

Grey Ghost Gear