Sunday, February 24, 2013

Product Review: Fenix TK22 LED Flashlight


The Fenix TK22 LED Flashlight with Carry Pouch

So it’s been a few months since the Gun Shack G3 Flashlight went dark for the last time. I had sort of put a replacement light on the back burner, until now. I've started walking after supper in an effort to drop a little weight. Since it’s dark after supper and we have very few street lights, staying on the sidewalk and out of the ditch can be a bit challenging at times.

From my poor experience with the G3, I developed the following criteria for my next light:
  • A multi-output light with at least 30 lumens on low and as many lumens on high as possible;
  • I didn’t want to break the $100 threshold for MSRP. I didn’t want too inexpensive either. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better;
  • It had to be fairly simple and intuitive to operate;
  • It had to have a strobe mode for dazzling anything that goes bump in the night;
  • It had to be compatible with a remote pressure switch;
  • It had to have a 1 inch diameter body since I already had the Offset Light Mount;
  • CR123A battery powered. They’re small and fit into grips and stocks;
  • It had to be a size compatible with carrying in a pocket or belt pouch, and mounting to an AR-15; not too big and not too small.
I ended up using MidwayUSA.com for my search, since they have such a large selection, and it‘s the easiest website I've found to compare items with. Of all their dual output lights meeting the criteria above, I narrowed the search to three. In order of preference, they were the Fenix TK22, Streamlight ProTac HL, and the Fenix TK11. For months, I’d been drooling over the Surefire P2X Fury with 500 lumens, but the low setting was still only 15 lumens and the price was over the $100 limit, so it got a pass.

Fenix Remote Pressure Switch
I didn’t actually end up buying the Fenix TK22 from MidwayUSA.com. I bought the light from ShaoloGear.com since they had it and a remote pressure switch in stock with free shipping. I knew it was a risk using a new website rather than the tried and true Midway USA  but there were no issues whatsoever with the purchase.

OUTPUT

I thought that from my brief experience with the G3 that 15 lumens weren't going to be bright enough to help me on my walks. I didn’t think 15 lumens would be bright enough to suit me. The Fenix TK11 had a high and low setting of 258/48 lumens. The 48 was very appealing for use on my walks, but the 258, though very bright and probably more than enough, just left me wanting more. The Streamlight put out 600/33 lumens. Again very appealing so it made the cut, but I kept looking. I read some reviews of the TK11, and that led me to the TK22. It had 4 output levels (7/75/250/650 lumens). Come to find out, when it’s darker than the inside of your hip pocket, 7 lumens is bright enough to see where you’re going without ruining your night vision.

PRICE RANGE

All three models came in under the $100 threshold. At $95, not including the remote pressure switch, the TK22 just barely eked in just under the threshold. Its little brother the TK11 was $70, and the Streamlight was $80. I got the remote pressure switch for another $20.

EASE OF OPERATION

This is the only negative I have for the Streamlight. This light has three different groups of settings that you can change to by programming the light, but I didn't see the need for that much complexity. The TK22 almost got the boot as well. All the other lights work off just the tail switch. My first readings of the TK22 were confusing about how the light actually operated, because the TK22 has a side switch AND a tail switch. Come to find out, the side switch only changes the mode. The tail switch is the On/Off switch.

Closeup of the light showing switch placement.

After using the TK22 for a while, I’m not entirely sold on the side switch. You have to hold this light with your thumb at the tail switch. The mode selector should be back there as well. If you have the light set to come on at the 7 lumen level, and you need to put this light into use at a higher level in a hurry (i.e. to strobe a potential attacker,) you have to change your entire grip to get to the side switch. I guess with some practice, I could learn to work the side switch with my pinky finger, but that’s not a finer motor skill I want to really rely upon in a panic.

STROBE

All of these lights have a strobe mode that works at max output. I never knew how effective a strobe was was until I took the light to work and one of my coworkers figured out how to turn the strobe on and proceeded to shine it in the eyes of another coworker. In a well-lit office, the TK22 at 650 lumens, made him quickly turn away cussing up a storm. I would imagine in the dark it would have an even more devastating effect. I hope I never have to find out, but it’s nice to know I have a secondary weapon.

SIZE

The size of the TK22 is deceiving in pictures. It’s the largest of the three lights I was looking at. The OAL is 5-3/4 inches, and the bezel is 1-5/8 inches in diameter. The reflector is 1-1/4 inches in diameter. The body measures 1.001 inches in diameter at the knurling. The TK22 weighs in at 6 ounces with the batteries.

The Fenix TK11 measures 5.3 inches long with a 1 inch diameter body and weighs in at about 5.8 ounces with the batteries installed.

The Streamlight Protac HL has an OAL of 5.4 inches with a 1 inch body, and weighs 5.6 ounces with the batteries.

POWER

The TK11 and TK22 run off either 2 CR123A batteries or a single 18650 battery. The Streamlight only runs on 2 CR123A’s.

The TK11 has run times of 2.7 hours on high and 12 hours on low. The Streamlight will run 1.25 hours on high and 18 hours on low. The TK22 will last for 1.5 hours at 650 lumens, 4.5 hours at 250 lumens, 17 hours at 75, and 168 hours at 7.

PERFORMANCE

I've been carrying it on my walks for the last couple of weeks. I tested it on the lowest setting in various places along the route, in both the darkest and brightest areas. At 7 lumens, the dark areas lit up well enough to see where I was going even with oncoming headlights shining in my eyes. Once the light was off again my eyes quickly readjusted back to the dark.

ACCESSORIES

The light came with a nylon belt pouch with a Velcro flap. The pouch does not snap on and off your belt. It has to be threaded on through the nylon loop, so I opted to use the metal belt clip on the light itself. The belt clip is stout enough it easily clips onto my leather gun belt. It also came with a wrist strap that can be attached at the tactical ring, a replacement tail switch cover and two replacement o-rings.

Everything that comes with the light
CONCLUSION

I chose the Fenix TK22 because I thought it was a better all-around light than the runners-up. With the 4 output settings, I felt it gave better versatility. I was looking for a weapon light as well as a light for safety and general purpose use. So I got a light that I can keep on the bedside table for bumps in the night, I can keep it in the truck for roadside emergencies, or I can use it at work to perform inspections.

I haven’t mounted the light to my rifle yet, but when I do, I’ll run it through its paces and report back to everyone with an update. Hopefully, I can get that done this week after work. If I can't, it will probably be a few weeks before I can hit the range and devote enough time to really evaluate it and get some drills in at the same time.

Be safe.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Product Review: Tapco 30 Round Mini-14 Magazine



I've wanted to get more magazines for my Ruger Mini-14 for a few years, but Ruger wanted like $30 a piece for them. (Now they sell for $40 and up , if you can find them.) Reading around on the gun forums, I learned about Tapco magazines. I’d heard mixed reviews so I finally broke down and bought one. I figured that for $12 if the negative reviews were correct, I wasn’t out an arm and a leg. If it turned out okay, I would buy a few more.


Well, it took me a while to get it to the range, and sure enough, it let me down. There were no problems loading the magazine, but it took 4 or 5 tries to finally “force” it into the gun, and then the bolt wouldn’t close. So, the negative reviews were correct. Maybe people have some good experiences with these mags. I’d like to hear them. Has anyone tried sending them back to Tapco for an exchange?

So I learned my lesson. I’m so glad I didn’t buy half a dozen of them. This should be a lesson to all of you as well. When you buy gear, test it before putting it into service to protect yourself or your loved ones. Can you imagine what would happen if I went to use this mag in the middle of the night with someone sneaking up my hallway?

Be safe.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GG&G Quick Disconnect Sling Attachments for Mossberg 500A Shotguns


The GG&G QD Sling Swivel Attachments for Mossberg Model 500 Shotguns
This is a long one folks, so get your favorite beverage and get comfy. I think it will be worth the read.

I’ve had my Mossberg Model 500A since the late ‘80’s. It’s always had a 30 inch full choke barrel on it. I used it to hunt deer, turkey, squirrels and rabbits. Later in life I tried it out on doves and ducks. My only real complaint about the gun was the lack of a sling. Back then, a shotgun sling was nothing more than nylon webbing tied in knots around the barrel and butt of the gun. (At least it was for the folks I hunted with.)

Fast forward 25 years… Early last year, I thought I’d like to use the Mossberg for home defense, so I ordered a 20 inch barrel and extended magazine tube for it from Brownells. This is when I found that they now made slings and sling mounts for shottys. Now I just needed to decide what kind of sling and mounts I wanted. That decision wasn’t made until after I got my AR-15. With the hopes of having interchangeability between the AR and Mossberg, I opted for QD (quick disconnect) mounts. Unfortunately, the sling isn’t as interchangeable as I thought it would be. Once adjusted for the AR, the sling doesn’t swap over to the shotgun as well as I had hoped. No worries, I just need two identical slings, because, as my favorite Rootin’ Tootin’ instructor always says, “Consistency wins the day.”

So I settled on the GG&G QD front sling attachment and the QD receiver plate rear sling attachment. Both of these came with a heavy duty QD sling swivel. The front mount is a Parkerized, ambidextrous, steel mount. The rear mount is made of aluminum and has to be purchased as either right or left handed. (Right hand models have the sling attach on the left side of the receiver when looking down the barrel as if shooting.) It mounts between the receiver and the stock, utilizing all of the gun’s original hardware. The thing I like most about these mounts, like other quality QD mounts, is that the mount won’t allow the swivel to rotate more than about 45 degrees, keeping your sling from getting twisted. These mounts are fairly low profile (in my opinion at least), so they are less likely to hang up on gear.

DISCLAIMER: The instructions shown here are not complete detailed installation instructions. They are provided for additional information to assist you with following the manufacturer's instructions provided with the swivel mounts. 

Now for the install. Ensure your weapon is unloaded. The mounts come with fairly decent instructions, but I think pictures would help.  Although I’m showing this on a 500A with a 20 inch barrel, these mounts will fit any 500A with any length barrel.

Ensure the weapon is unloaded again and remove the barrel in accordance with your owner's manual instructions.

Once you remove the barrel, you have to remove this star washer from the back of the barrel retaining bolt.


Use a small flat tipped screwdriver blade to hold the washer in place while you turn the barrel retaining bolt counter-clockwise.
The washer will thread itself off the bolt. Get some needle nose pliers to hold it when it gets close to coming off the bolt. It will be prone to flying across the room, otherwise.
Reinstall the barrel less the bolt. Place the QD mount on the side you want the sling to mount on. Insert the barrel retaining bolt and tighten securely.
And you're done with the front.
Remove the recoil pad retaining screws. 

That screw is 6-1/2" down. You're going to need a long screwdriver. (Trust me on this one.) 
Sears has Craftsman 8" flathead screwdrivers on sale for about $7.  A regular 6" screwdriver won't reach.
The Mossberg 500A receiver with the stock removed.
Install the rear mount, then carefully realign the stock and retaining bolt. Secure tightly being careful not to strip the threads.
I'm not crazy about the gap created by the addition of the mount. I haven't figured out if I want to fill the gap, or if I should even worry about it.
Here is the side view.
And you're done with the rear sling swivel mount.
Sorry I couldn't get a closer picture of both mounts at the same time.
Mossberg 500A with VTAC padded sling
Be safe.