I own three of these things.... and have found them worth every single penny they cost, and more.
Lots of light... like 'reading comfortably' bright light, and a lower intensity mode that makes for very nice walking around the house/garage/patio type lighting.
Being LED units, they sip battery power like it was fine whiskey. I've used mine for outdoor party lighting all summer long, and never needed new batteries. With the oncoming storm, I replaced them anyway, just in case.
Most of those parties, the lanterns were forgotten overnight, and were found burning away the next morning. These things last forever on a set of batteries!
No heat, no flames, utterly safe, excellent and very useful features (Carry/hanging handle, blinking ready light, etc), and they last forever on a set of batteries.
Yup... I have three, and some batteries..... which means I have all the light I can use for days and days and days...
AR universe has more choices than stars in a clear night sky, or so it
seems, but every owner of the platform has to make at least one choice
from that list..... and they have no choice in that. One can walk into
any Cabela's and buy the latest and greatest whiz-bang AR-15 setup with
factory installed optical sighting, a rail farm complete with folding
backup sights, even a compass in the stock... and never do another thing
to change the package.
Except.... it has to be fed, and that
means magazines. The fanciest M-4orgery available only comes with one
magazine in the case, and nobody wants such a weapon with only one
In the arena of AR magazines, most owners go for 20 or
30 round models. There are oddities such as 10 round blocked magazines
for people who live places other than the United States. There are
also 40 round models, and even the Beta dual drum magazine which holds
In the field of 20 and 30 round magazines, there are
over a dozen manufacturers to be considered, and many of them build a
fine product indeed. For years, my own choice has been BFI and
C-products, although the spare magazine box holds other makes as well.
now I've gone over to another maker, and I'm more than happy to report
on my experience so far. The ready bag now holds a double handful of Magpul P-Mags. These are Polymer, rather than aluminum or steel like the traditional old fashioned AR magazines. Building
their magazines from Polymer, it appears that Magpul tossed the ancient
military AR design to the wind and started over. The P-mag has a solid
plastic body with built in feed lips and a removable base plate for
easy cleaning. Internally, the magazine differs from the traditional
design in many ways. One of the most visually evident is a ridge
running down the front of the magazine which separates the two stacks of
5.56mm ammunition. The same ridge guides the follower which travels
smoothly in the body.
One problem associated with all polymer
magazines is deformation of the feed lips. The area at the top of the
magazine is put under pressure by the cartridges being pushed upwards
under spring pressure. Over a day, a week, or even months... this is
not an issue when high quality modern plastics are used. Over a period
of years, the lips can give way under pressure, the magazine doesn't
feed well, and is no longer reliable. This is not solely a 'plastic'
problem, and even metal magazines show a lot of the same symptoms.
solves the issue by supplying a snap on magazine dust cover that also
serves to take the pressure off the feed lips. With the cover on, the
magazine is reasonably safe from dirt and dust intrusion. With the
pressure off the lips, the magazine can remain loaded for years, which
some AR owners seem bound and determined to do against all good
The 30 round P-mag's are designed to have the dust cover snap back on over the baseplate while the magazine is in use. The 20 round
magazine doesn't have that provision. If one is in a hurry, the dust
cover can be popped off under nothing but thumb pressure, and the
magazine slid home into the rifle.
The P-mag costs just a little
more than a standard high quality metal AR magazine such as C-products
or Brownells. For the extra coin, the shooter gets a lightweight
magazine that's incredibly strong and stable, and can be left loaded for
extended periods with no drawbacks at all. In the Fat Man's
experience, every Magpul P-mag I've owned so far has been drop free from
every rifle I've tried them in, and utterly trouble free. They require
no lubrication, very little care, and work 100% of the time. That's my
experience, so far.... and it's one of the few magazine lines I can say
(Having nothing at all to do with firearms or shooting...)
And everything to do with making a bad day just a little easier....
Some things have been added to the Old Fat Man's home recently, in preparation for another winter. Last winter there were a few power outages, and these served to point out some deficiencies. I'll be going over a few of those in the days to come, and sharing the answers I found.
One of these little issues..... cooking conveniently, and MORNING COFFEE.
To be honest, the cooking part is not a big deal. Our wood stove serves nicely for most things that can be simply heated, or slow simmered. Sadly, that is not the case for COFFEE, which needs to be perked over a fair steady supply of concentrated heat.
Towards that end, I fell back on something that mobile chefs know very well indeed..... a butane gas powered portable burner:GASONE Portable Gas Stove This one, purchased on Amazon, fulfills the need very nicely indeed. It's decent quality, easy to use, and the gas cartridges last quite a while. One of these on the closet shelf with a dozen pack of cartridges will serve for weeks of daily cookery, let alone the occasional power outage.
The gas cartridges can be ordered on-line, or are available at every rental store and restaurant supply store, as well as most Hispanic and Asian markets.
To be considered..... the package is also portable, and very low signature. No smoke, now fuss, no liquid fuels. Just plug in the gas can, turn it on, and light it. When done, pull the self-sealing gas can back out and pack it away.
Carteach now has one of these tucked away in the pantry, along with a supply of butane cans. It's been used already to cook several meals, and works wonderfully as an extra burner when entertaining on the patio. The reason chef's choose these things became evident the first time it was fired up.
Coupled with a good percolator (To be discussed later), and a good water filter unit (To be discussed later), this thing equals that most treasured and necessary of luxuries... a good cup of decent quality coffee.
Carteach seal of approval.... I bought one, I own it, I use it, and I recommend it.
million years ago (or so it seems), 'ol Carteach was treated to some
indoor range time one night. One night... meaning all of one night...
from late evening to early bright. A buddy and I kept the steel
ringing on the range for about eight hours straight.
What were we
doing, besides having a ball? We were practicing low and no light
shooting techniques. There was no instructor, no class, and no
professionals around. Just us, some gear, and a willingness to learn
It would be wonderful if this piece was being
written about a defensive class, with professional training, using real
life experience. The simple fact is.... Carteach is pretty average
amongst shooters, and that means time and money are kind of tight.
Low/no light defensive shooting classes are rather pricey, from a poor
'ol teachers viewpoint. The class's generally run around $600, and with
travel, lodging, meals, and ammunition tossed in the total quickly
Like most average shooters, this poor shlub
hasn't got big stacks of extra cash laying around. So what we're gonna
do is this.... ya'll watch close now.... we're going to take care of
this problem the American way, and just figure it out for ourselves.
The Carteach0 blog is all about sharing the fun with friends, and this
is no different.... so lets get busy and examine the situation.
to the way this big ball of mud is spinning in space, we can count on
running into low/no light situations about half of each day. Since
defensive shooting is all about defending oneself from predators, and
such critters prefer to operate in the dark when they can... it only
follows that defensive techniques need to take inadequate lighting into
account. That means one of two things; learning to shoot in the dark
using a Star-War's-like 'force' to guide us (good luck with that), or
bringing some light into the situation.
Like anything else in
shooting, and especially defensive shooting, forethought and training
make all the difference in the world. If it's professional training by
people who know what they are doing, that's great! For the other 98% of
us who can't buy ourselves that little present... we'll just have to do
it on our own. Sure, such self training may not be the bleeding edge
of knife.... but it's still light years ahead of no training at all.
to approach this issue in an efficient and intelligent manner (a real
stretch for Carteach!) we'll need to break this down into a few parts,
both closely related. Technology and techniques... with each reflecting
the other to a degree. Technology is quite simply the light we'll be
using, and this can effect the techniques depending on it's features and
capabilities. Techniques are how we employ the light, and the
techniques we wish to use greatly effect our choice in flashlight.
on the indoor range so long ago... our choice was limited. State of
the art at that time was the traditional Mag-Light, in whatever form one
possessed. These are simple flashlights, and gained fame for their
toughness, with many police officers adopting them as the patrol light
of choice. Reassuringly heavy in the hand, and often doubling as a
baton, the D-cell Mag-Light design dictated some specific methods of
use. It had a tradition switch on the body of the flashlight, and was
certainly a handful. It took a firm grip and some respect for it's
weight and bulk. I have personally beat the hinges off a door using a
Mag-light, when the situation demanded it. They are heavy and tough....
but we have other options these days.
The roll call of 'Tactical
Flashlights' can run for page upon page, and everyone gets to chose
what features they want... and can afford. Rather than run down all the
brands, Lets spend some time looking at features.
Today we have a
choice in general type of flashlight; LED or incandescent bulb. Not
long ago the LED lights were simply too dim to really serve a solid
defensive role, although they went a long way with their ability to
gently sip away at battery power. Modern LED lights can had that are
bright.... blindingly bright.... and still use the batteries sparingly.
Add in the incredible lifespan of a quality LED bulb. Life span as
in..... for life (for most people). Incandescent bulbs can be pretty
bright, at prices cheaper than high wattage LED's, but there is a
shorter life span to the bulb and they ravage batteries. On the whole,
LED's are the best choice for most people.
There are many ways to 'measure' light output, but wattage and lumens
are the most common. The thing is, they don't compare to each other at
all. To keep it simple, for defensive uses 5 watts is considered
minimum, or 90 lumens. 120 lumens are better, and climb well into the
'Blind your opponent in the dark' range.
Next to consider....
power source. Unless you want to drag a really long extension cord
behind you all day, we're talking batteries here. We can chose between
standard and lithium batteries, AA, C, D, or CR123a batteries, and
rechargeable units as well. The larger the battery does not mean the
brighter the light. A flashlight with a pair of little CR123a
batteries can easily be as bright as one carrying four large D cells.
Bigger batteries mean longer life, and this must be considered. Unless
the flashlight is rechargeable, commonality of the battery is also an
issue. A light with dead batteries is useless if none are available.
even the CR123a lithium batteries can now be had at most all major
stores, and many smaller ones as well. By mail order, they can be
bought at decent prices in packs of ten. Of course AA, C, and D cells
are on the shelf at every Wal-Mart in the land.
There is another
thought which must be considered here. Weight and size. While a
tactical light using CR123a batteries may only have an hours run time,
it's also small and light enough to ride forgotten in a pocket all day.
The same cannot be said for a large, heavy flashlight powered by big
batteries. An old saying can be paraphrased for this purpose; A .22 in
your pocket beats a .45 home in the safe. Well, an hours worth of
super bright LED in your pocket beats an aircraft landing light that's
home on your porch.
What about the rechargeable lights? Here... I
have an opinion. For an officer (or a mechanic) who uses his light
every single working day, getting into the habit of charging it every
night is reasonable. I have done this myself, using a Stinger
model in both school and shop. In fact, I still do.... but.... is it
the right choice for a defensive light that doesn't get used every day?
I would suggest not... and that battery lights are better. A pair of
Lithium CR123a batteries can last for a year with the light resting on a
shelf if need be, and still give good service. Should they be dead, a
few moments later new ones can be installed. With a rechargeable....
those few moments stretch out to hours, and equal not having the light
when it's needed.
Next feature to decide..... how should we be
turning this thing on and off? The switch can show up in many places,
but typically in one of two. Either on the end cap opposite the lens,
or on the body of the flashlight just behind the lens bell (like
Granddads flashlight). 'Tactical' flashlights normally have the switch
on the end cap, and for good reason. In this placement the user can
palm the light, while turning it on and off at will with the thumb;
Quickly, easily, almost instinctively. It's an end cap switch that
There are many, many more features out there. A
ring built in that can allow the flashlight to be grasped like a
syringe, that can be a good thing. Likewise good, some part of the
light body shaped something other than round... allowing the flashlight
to be laid down without it rolling away. Space for a lanyard to attach
can come in handy, and the ability to focus the light beam might be
One feature that I have become a believer in, and one
that rather limits the choice of lights, is the ability to work on a
'strobe' setting. This state of the art feature uses electronics in the
flashlight to 'blink' or 'strobe' the light on and off very quickly
indeed. The result is a flashlight
that can confuse an attacker, hide your position, and delay an
opponents reaction time by valuable seconds. It's because of this
feature, amongst others, that I carry at times a Blackhawk Gladius. I understand SureFire just added the same device to their line.
time for a disclosure. Blackhawk gave me a Gladius light as a gift,
for which I am grateful. It doesn't change one word I'll write about
it, but I need to be up front about that. I'll also say this.... I was
so impressed with the little bugger I went out and bought another one
for myself. That said, I have personally moved on to a Fenix made unit, which outputs over 300 lumens in a very small and light package.
To recap flashlight features useful in a tactical
light, lets add up. Very, very bright (200 lumens or more is better), uses a nearly
indestructible LED bulb, runs on common batteries, has a rear end cap
activation switch, shaped so it can be grasped like a syringe and
activated in one hand, and preferably flashes faster than the lighting
at a KISS concert. That about covers it, although there are lots of
other neat things to have with a light... the features listed are
Is it necessary to mention the one trait any tactical
light really must have? It must be tough as nails.... all but
bulletproof.... and all but idiot proof. Drop it, kick it, take it for a
swim, and use it as a hood prop.... but it must work every time.
looked at the technical end, it's time to move on to the technique part
of this missive. Here, I feel the need to repeat something. Carteach
is not a tactical trainer, nor is he some form of expert on this topic.
He's just some guy trying to decipher the mysteries on his own, and
taking his friends along on a virtual buggy ride while he does it. If
someone tries to play Rambo by practicing my meandering thoughts and
gets his butt lit up, that's all home grown stupid.... don't try
shipping it over this way. We have enough of our own.
techniques in low and no light situations; In this area I further break
it down to two simple methods of holding the light, and one simple
method of using said light. Lets face facts... simple is required
because simple is what I are.
There are more than two methods
of holding the tactical flashlight in use with a pistol, but keeping it
simple allows for better training. The reason to adopt two methods,
rather than the ultimate simplicity of only one..... every method has
it's pro's and con's, and every method has circumstances where it just
won't work. Two methods, each used when best, will cover the vast
majority of defensive situations. Some of the 'methods' in all
honesty, seem pretty silly... but we'll leave that judgment to the
I suppose, if it comes right down to it.... what I do is
really a summation of two methods, swiping the best of each and
combining them as needed.
Long ago on that indoor range, over the
hours, we practiced what's called the 'Harries method'. This involves
holding the flashlight in the off-hand, across the shooters body, and
resting the pistol to the left of the flashlight (for right handed
shooters), with the wrist of the hand gripping the pistol laying on top
of the other wrist. In the olden days, when all flashlights had their
switch on the body in the traditional place, the Harries method called
for an uncomfortable positioning of the off hand upside down, so the
thumb could activate the switch. While difficult to describe, a few
images will make the method clear. Here is the Harries method, adapted
to a rear switched flashlight:
the second photos reveals, there is a problem inherent in the system.
Looking closely at the muzzle of the pistol and the lens of the
flashlight, it's clear they are not pointed in the same direction. In
fact, with the unnatural positioning of the arms and wrists, it takes a
lot of practice and training till they will point together at the same
up in the bag of techniques, the 'Rogers' method, which has the
flashlight held in the offhand and positioned between the fingers like a
great big syringe. The rear tail cap switch of the flashlight is
pressed against the ball of the thumb, and the fingers need only squeeze
the flashlight to turn it on. The off hand holding the flashlight is
then pressed up against the side of the hand gripping the pistol, with
thumbs aligned as in a good shooting grip. Again, an image shows the
process better than words can describe it.
advantages to the Rogers method should be clear in the photo. The
hands and arms are in a far more natural position, and the flashlight
indexes to the bore much more readily. This is backed up and verified
with low/no light practice, especially valuable if the pistol is
equipped with a laser. Alignment of the laser dot and the center of the
flashlight beam is almost automatic, with a little practice.
do I combine the two methods? Well.... I use the rogers method as
shown, except when clearing a room from the left side of a doorway.
Then, rather than expose more of myself to an un-swept room, I simply
pass my flashlight hand from alongside the pistol hand, to underneath
it... effectively using the Harries method while still holding the
flashlight in hand with the Rogers method. Once again... images help.
"I have a question" was the text I got one evening a short time ago.
knew I was in an important meeting, so the text would not have come
lightly. As we had just finished the goodbyes, I hit speed dial on the
way back to my vehicle. "What's up?"
"I don't want you to worry, but I have a question. Is the gun in the XXXXXXX the same as the one in the XXXXXXX?"
"Huh?" I answered intelligently...
"Does it work the same?"
this point, with a bit of anxious questioning on my part, I was
informed she had heard a noise outside and, intelligent girl that she
is, immediately armed herself. Not to go outside and play commando, but
just as insurance while she went about her business in the home. I
assured her the pistol she had next to her worked exactly the same as
the one she had learned to shoot with, and was in exactly the condition
she knew the others to be.
In this case.... ready to fire by one simple action. Pulling the trigger.
conversation revealed a flaw in our home defense planning, and an
inexcusable one on my part. You see, Princess is not a shooter.... but
she's a bright lady and has learned to handle pistols well enough to use
them for their intended purpose... self defense. Not as CCW, but most
certainly around the home. She's more than demonstrated the capacity
and willingness to handle (and use) weapons in her own self defense.
She's a lot like the main character in 'Quigley Down Under' in that way,
just after he used a Colt pistol to dispatch the evil bad guy. "Said I
had no use for a pistol... didn't say I don't know how to use one".
it falls upon me, as the house expert, to see to home defense weapons
(as well as plumbing repairs, dealing with the woodstove, and most of
the dishes. In return, I never have to touch laundry... and I see that
as a fair bargain).
Her question pointed out a problem. While
*I* had plans, procedures, and safety checks... I hadn't made her aware
of them in enough detail. With her not being a shooter, I had covered a
few basics, assured her ability and judgement where safety is
concerned, and left it at that.
My mistake, and one rectified as
quickly as I arrived home. The noise? Some critter in the night
perhaps, but never a threat or bother. She was just being careful. You
can be assured... I announced myself before I walked in (g).
I hadn't explained well enough to her was this; In my 'home defense
weapon' plans, every pistol available (without unlocking something
complicated) is in the same condition. In our case, having no children in the home nor adult visitors of questionable competence,
we have weapons hidden well but still readily available. Each is in
the same condition... round chambered, no external safety engaged, and
ready to fire on pulling the trigger.
Each pistol is either a
Glock pattern with a 'Safe Action', or has a long double action pull.
They are highly unlikely to go off by accident, and are stored in such a
way that their triggers are protected.
The idea is simple. If we need them, they are there right now, ready right now, and are safe
until then. Nothing to manipulate under pressure, nothing to remember
before use, no intricate puzzles to solve. Two of the pistols have
laser sighting devices, but this matters little. They don't need to be
switched on to have the weapons function perfectly.
The fact that
Princess is a component of the plan, and is not a shooting enthusiast,
has a great deal to do with the thinking behind it. Any defensive
weapon in the home needs to be simple enough that she can use them well
under extreme pressure. She's not going to remember to sweep the safety
on a 1911 pattern, nor cycle the action on a pistol with an empty
chamber. Her judgement can be trusted, and she's more than intelligent
enough to keep her finger off the trigger till she needs to fire.... but
she's not going to practice with any frequency nor build up instinctive
muscle memory (In that... she's not much different from most of the
police officers in this nation, who's shooting experience revolves
around occasional mandated qualifications).
Long guns are
different, and not part of any plans involving Princess. For the
record, they too are stored in a specific condition. Chamber empty,
safety off, ready to fire upon working the action. Guns locked in the
safe? Totally different situation, totally different condition.
our home have children visiting, or if by chance we ever had adults
staying with us who were not proven safe shooters, all would be locked
It's an important topic, and one worth considering
thoughtfully. Each situation is different, and the people who occupy
the home will cause any plan to be modified as required. Where a single
person living in a secure area might simply leave a weapon in a
nightstand drawer, another person might need something more secure, such
as a coded safe. Once that's decided, further thought must be given to
weapon condition. Round in the chamber, or not? Safety on, or not?
Magazine in the pistol, or not?
Each situation is different, and
each persons ability and training must be taken into account. Also, the
possibility of split second decisions being necessary under immense
life threatening pressure.... and how different people can react to
Are there children in the home? Is a break in while the
homeowner is away a reasonable threat? Is a home invasion of an
occupied house a reasonable threat? All these and more must be thought
of ahead of time, and decisions made on dealing with them.
of all... most importantly... careful plans must be made in advance of
trouble... and as I learned, everyone concerned needs to know what they
These are not idle thoughts... especially in a world turning more dangerous by the minute. When things go bad in a hard way, there is seldom a lot of warning. Do your planning now, and work your plan.
for stopping in and spending time with 'Ol Carteach. If you are of a
mind to, don't hesitate to click on some of the ads posted here and
there on the site. You don't need to buy a thing, or even read them,
but each click does throw a few pennies into the ammo fund.... and these
days that's a lot!
This past week, attending the GRPC, I was honored to spend time with many, many good people. Folks who fight for their rights, and those of everyone else. People who believe in a future, freedom, and that good people win in the end.
It was an honor, and I give them my respect.
But.... I think it's too late.
Not regarding the individual civil rights of man, and of the right people have to defend themselves against force and violence.... no.... in that I agree with the fine people of the GRPC.
No, I think it's too late as a society. I think, for many reasons and most of all the shear incontrovertible math of our situation, that we as a nation have passed a point of no return.
Bad times are ahead.... and this I believe. I think otherwise good people are going to pay a hard price for their choices, and the choices others made before them.
I, personally, have given up any notion that politics can make any but the smallest difference now. Yes, the next president will choose the judges that populate the Supreme Court, and that will change many things indeed. That said... if the economic math plays out the way it seems to be going, even Supreme Court decisions will mean little.
Yes, I know.... in this I may be wrong. I've been wrong before, and will easily admit it when it happens.
This blog has always been a a simple shooting blog. Just one fat old man's way of sharing a passion with friends.
Perhaps it's time for that to change. There are more important things to discuss now.
Ken is good man, by the most traditional standards, and is working hard to fight the good fight. He's a Marine, has worked protective service, does firearms instruction, and is a practicing minister to boot. Ken traveled to the GRPC to report on the doings, and took time to serve as a speaker as well. He spoke on the ways. means, and purpose of using social media in the civil rights cause. Carteach highly recommends visiting the good Mr. Blanchard's site, and passing some time there.