Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BAD Gear: Tactical Flashlights

It seems these days that as soon as somebody attaches the word "Tactical" to anything, it jacks up the price of an otherwise utilitarian tool. For example, Flashlights. They use to be 50 bucks or so for a decent hard use one, add the word "Tactical" and BLAM you got yourself a 100 dollar flashlight that does the same thing as a 50 dollar one. I do have a few tactical flashlights, some good, most shit.

Nowadays I don't use my tac lights too often anymore, but the ones I do have, I expect them to work and endure all sorts of shit, like recoil or being smashed up against one's face, or more mundane environmental conditions such as rain, sleet, cold, heat. They also should have positive grip and and a style that won't slip my hands. Some I have mounted as weapons lights, some I can dismount for Harries hold, or Ayoob hold, or neck index hold, or just plain "shove it in my mouth cause I need to look at my map" hold.

All my lights have a tail clicky. I like that, more than I like the Costco/Walmart/ side clicky you find these days. It's not ergonomically correct. Some lights also have a crenelated bezel, probably for making nice marks on badguy's forehead. I've never used it that way, but I'm sure it would hurt.

Other considerations include the type of battery (because in some shit hole third world countries, CR123A are not found easily, whereas AA batts are easier to find). So unless you have a logistics supply chain that can stock you with a steady supply of 123A's you may want to stay away from them. I didn't follow this rule, as I have rechargeables! haha.

Another consideration is the life of the battery with respect to the output in terms of hours and lumens. For me, batteries are a sacrificial part, and I stock up on batteries, so it doesn't really matter how many hours it will last as long as it will last days instead of minutes. Lumens, or how bright it is, is a big consideration along with the pattern it throws - whether its a dispersed or focused beam. A dispersed beam would give a very good wide area lighting, whereas a focused beam is really good for blinding somebody. It also tends to whiteout anything it is focused on.

Definitely there can be different lights for different uses. I have two dedicated white lights for weapons: Surefire Millennium M951 with LED conversion, and a Streamlight TLR-1. Both are LED, as I will very rarely ever use NVG anymore. Plus, I do like that they have better power consumption. Both have protected circuitry, and both throw extremely bright and powerful focused beams. Exactly what is needed on weapons mounted white light.

For an EDC I prefer something small, light, and can use my teeth to hold if necessary. Enter the Sunwayman R5. It uses AA batts, and has 4 modes. This comes with me overseas and on trips.

Some people ask me, "Why do you have a dedicated Surefire weaponslight, but EDC a Sunwayman, isn't Surefire better?" The short answer is, IF the sunwayman screws the pooch for whatever reason, they are cheap and replaceable. It is also a nondescript light that attracts zero attention at the airport. I do believe that there are better and cheaper alternatives to Surefire. This being one.

A very cheap general purpose LED light that I like to keep around the house is the nexxtech 3-watt light. It takes CR123A, but I have a metric tonne of those as rechargeables. This is by no means a tactical light, it's a "Holy shit, where that spider go?" light. I have a few of these kicking around the house in locations where its easily accessible in event of a power failure. This light is no longer for sale, but similar cheap lights can be had from Sunwayman or Fenix

Which brings me to the Fenix. This is by far my most versatile light. I have the TK11R5, Holy shit this is the brightest light I've seen in a long time 258 lumens. Although it is slightly larger for EDC, I have used it as such for a while. I put this into an offset light mount and have had it on my weapon. This is actually my home defence light and it sits in my bedside drawer beside a full mag of badguy bullets and a G17. When things go bump in the night (and they have), just having a light that can virtually stun and blind somebody and can be used an an instrument of force can give you that few extra seconds that get you into a better defensible position.

Ok, something that really isn't all that tactical, but is seeing tactical use is my Petzl Tikka. There isn't a need to buy the TacTikka unless you need the different filters like red eyes.  IMHO, if you plan on going up into your attic, or crawling around in the crawlspace, or through tunnels, or sewers, or just camping, you need one of these. Don't buy the blackdiamond brand - its shit. Get a Petzl. I totally wished LED Petzls were kicking around when I was sewer crawling. My jaws wouldn't have had such a workout.

These lights range the gamut from $25 - $400 plus all the accessories you can do. By no means spend 400 if you don't need it. But know that there are a few different options.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BAD Gear: Online Retailer Links

Very seldom do I ever go into a retail front to buy things without doing my research. Even more rare is the fact that I even go into a retail store. There are several online retailers of BAD gear. Some good, some bad, some OK. I'd like to at least list some of my favourite ones. I'm not going to list stores that just have a web front but no shopping cart, I'm listing sites that you can buy shit off of.
* = requires prior programme vetting approval for pro-pricing
Tactical, kill bad guy links...

  • DSTactical * - A well-run online retail store that has a very good selection of general purpose tactical gear. They also have a store front on the lower mainland. DS is where I go to get 5.11, Vertx, some Arcteryx, Tactical tailor, and other tac kit.
  • One Shot Tactical - Darren brings in some very good high use stuff. I go to Darren specifically for the BFG Vickers sling. Darren also brings in KAC shit, DD shit, and all sorts of other GOOD shit. He is the BFG distributer as well, I think.
  • OakelyForces * - For Pro-pricing on Oakley products (boots, eye pro, ear pro, watches, clothes, backpacks, that are exclusive to members of government agencies
  • Arctyerx LEAF * - Pro-pricing (not shown on website unless logged on) prices on LEAF line of Arctyerx products. This is where I get all my jackets and shirts
  • Rudy Projects - Rudy Sunglasses and Eye pro. Use 2Alpha or Tactical for discount
  • Budget Shooter Supply - Henry is good people, and a very honourable dude to get stuff. He's my go to for ammo
  • SFRC - Ryan and the peeps at SFRC are also good peoples, and is my alternate source for ammo
  • Armseast - Walter at Armseast is the exclusive importer for Stag Arms AR15, the supplier for Colt. The Stag is my workhorse.
  • NEA - Dave the president of North Eastern Arms has helped me out numerous times. NEA is a newly established AR15 manufacturer. With many years in the aerospace industry and weapons parts industry, Dave has established a growing track record of great Canadian-made guns. NEA makes a great PDW
  • Questar - Mark at Questar is an exclusive importer of several high end brands. I go to Mark if I need good bits and pieces for builds. Mark is also good peoples.
  • Brownells * - Yes I use them to import all sorts of stuff that I need. To get pro-pricing, you need to be pre-approved. Importing over the $100 limit is not hard at all. Look out for a tutorial
  • Fenix Tactical - Fenix has proven themselves to me in the field, with their high lumens LED light. Although not NVG compatible, LED has its uses in long lasting white light applications. I have the TK11R2, and it is simply BLINDING. I have it mounted on my gun.
  • SKD Tactical - An American supplier of tactical nylon. They've made custom pieces for me. Also the shizzle
  • ArmTac - A vancouver based importer and retailer of high end gun shit (VLTOR) as well as weaponlights and other things. Chris has been good to me, sending me the Multitasker AR tool which makes cleaning and maintenance of my AR easy peasy. He also sent me Sunwayman lights on the gratis. Its a good light that operates on AA batts. I like him.
  • DLASK - Dude is good at manuf weapon parts. I go to him to make me suppressors. I like that I can go and pick it up at his nondescript factory near Delta.
  • Canadian Peacekeeper - Mr Wheeler really has this site going on really good. They make good operational and duty products. I use them to kit me up for certain mission-specific items.
For everyday civilian starbucks hangout things...
  • Valhalla Pure Online - They are local on the island, and have all the good shit.
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op - Yeah do I need to say more.
  • Moosejaw - This would require you to have a US PO box to ship stuff to, but the pricing is worth it.
  • Thrifty Foods Online - Yes I grocery shop in my underwear. Sometimes, its just more convenient to pre-order the food you need, then just go and pick it up. Especially useful, when I try to help out while overseas...I order the food, BAM just goes in and picks it up. BLAM. Who's Bad Ass now.
  • Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy - So I don't look like a walking tactical magazine, I try to blend in with regular people clothes. You have to know your sizes at each store though, because they have vanity sizing. I'm a medium at one store, a large in an other, and an XXL in slim fit. so go figure.
  • Shoebuy - I've gotten work boots, shoes, handbags (for BAM) from these guys. Other than BOHICA on tariff, the prices are better as well as the selection - when compared to what is available locally.
  • Costco - Hells yeah on I've bought food products, chaise and lounger (chaise? you say...yes chaise, its that thing you sort of sleep lie on..), city attraction passes, strollers, hunting scopes, electronics. They generally offer higher end products than in their warehouses. Its a two-tier marketing system, if I recall what the CEO said...
  • New Egg - Computing needs
  • NCIX - Computing needs
  • Futureshop/Bestbuy - I don't buy online from them, I only use them as pricing reference, and then go into the store to get the price match
  • Chapters Indigo - Buy books and shit
  • Deal Extreme - cell phone accessories and a shitload of other made in china offerings at MIC prices - not mall storefront pricing. Always free shipping too. I get bike lights, cell phone chargers, cases, lightbulbs, LEDs, goggles....
  • HBC - Now they don't offer much of what I need, but they do sell suitcases and luggage.
  • Toys R Us - Yeah, you knew this was going to be on here...
  • TJ's Kids - Well, here's a local store that has online retail and they usually kiddy stuff cheaper than other island-based boutique children's store. They are also very very helpful in-store.
  • Huckleberry Baby Store - BAM goes here to support this local business, and the owner is also a friend and co-worker of hers. She sells this product called Baby Bottom Better, and its magical on my kid's ass
So so far, that is my list of online retailers I'd like to mention. As I recall others I'll post them on here.


Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.