Web Blast Extra: Good To Go Gear
American COP Puts the Mark-II Squinty Eyeball on Guns, Gear, Gizmos and Widgets
From The March/April 2009 Good To Go Gear Column
By John Connor
XTI Procyon Tactical Rail-Mounted LED Light by Insight Tech Gear
Insight Tech Gear’s tough little Procyon passed the Pond-Dunk, Driveway-Skip, and the extreme Hockey-Puck-Whack Tests.
They say “the devil’s in the details,” but after thorough examination of the Procyon’s smallest details, we simply couldn’t find any devils. In fact, we found no inherent faults or shortcomings, and lots of little positive details. For example, the compression-sealing back plate, which is held and compressed in place with a formed flat leaf spring. That’s not unusual. What is unusual is you don’t have to almost use a crowbar to release it, a C-clamp to re-close it, and after about forty repetitions of this process, the back plate wasn’t permanently skewed and loose. We’ve run into that before. Precise fitting and machining pays dividends in user-friendliness and longevity.
Operating the controls is simple and straightforward. Flip either of the ambidextrous levers down and hold for momentary-on. The levers are spring-loaded and pop back up upon release. Flip either lever up and they will stay in place for constant-on. For momentary-strobe mode, tap a lever down twice quickly and hold it there. For constant-strobe, tap a lever down twice quickly and hold in strobe, then flip the other lever up. Now you’re in constant-strobe until you flip the raised lever back down. With this arrangement, they’ve made it relatively easy to engage the strobe, but not so easy you’ll activate it accidentally. I like that. Note too, we tested operation with light flight and regular patrol duty gloves on, with no problem.
Here’s the Procyon’s back plate, showing ambidextrous control levers. Operation is simple, and gloved-hand friendly. Yeah, they’re pretty sausage-fingered-klutz friendly, too.
The only improvement I would like to see on the Procyon is selection of a “navigation level” light function, maybe 20 lumens worth. There are times in tactical situations, for example, during approach to a hard target like a drug lab – when you don’t want or need a blinding white light like the Procyon’s 125-lumen beam. You need just enough light to pick your way through junked bicycles, noise-making ground-litter, discarded auto parts, dozing dopers and the occasional intruder-warning trip-wire. Otherwise, the Procyon’s powerful beam is excellent.
“Beam characteristics” I look for in a light like this are a narrow enough beam that you can shine through a doorway into a room from about three feet outside it without getting too much reflected light coming back at you from door frames and adjoining walls, yet having enough peripheral illumination so that once inside, say, a 12×14 room, minimal lateral movement is required to reveal presence or absence of subjects inside. Another factor is enough power to make “what’s in those hands?” determinations at about 75 feet. That’s a typical urban street with parkways and sidewalks on both sides, plus a bit. The Procyon delivers it with ease.
One of the big benefits of packin’ 125 lumens and a strobe mode is, using the strobe for rapid angle-change bounce-lighting searches. These become much more effective than when done with a lower powered strobe. Not all walls and surfaces you bounce light off are going to be as reflective as, say, painted white drywall. When you have to bounce light off dark non-reflective surfaces you need every one of those 125 lumens to achieve and maintain disorienting effect. You’ll really appreciate the tactical value of the Procyon in those situations. The disorienting effect of a rapid angle-change bounce-lighting search improves dramatically with more power.
The Slide-Lock interface also deserves mention. It comes with the latch bar set up specifically for a mil-spec 1913 rail, and the Procyon fit snugly and smoothly on four handguns and two rifles so equipped. Four hex-head screws in the rails – two each side – allow you to micro-adjust it for a custom fit on out-of-spec rails with different widths. Once adjusted to yours, you needn’t ever re-adjust it again. The Procyon also ships with a second, thinner latch bar for most commercial rail systems.
Four hex head screws make the Procyon micro-adjustable, and the included
slimmer latch bar lets it adapt to civilian (non-1913) mount systems.
It’s worth noting that not only has Insight provided maximum flexibility in assuring a precision fit for virtually all rail systems, but also, designing in the ability to replace worn rail interfaces and the latch bar shows they anticipated a long, long service life – and a tough one – for this product. Many makers just don’t do this, and their products become “consumable-disposable.”
We didn’t feel the need or have the time to conduct a lot of abuse testing. We thought tossing it in the pond (it doesn’t swim, but it doesn’t drown, either; it’s waterproof to ten meters) whackin’ it around the garage with a hockey stick and skipping it down a gravel driveway was sufficient. It’s tough, okay?
Throughout testing, the Procyon performed perfectly. Like all Insight Tech Gear products I’ve used, the fit and finish is uniformly excellent, and assures you you’re making an investment; not just a “purchase.” Which sorta leads us to…
The Procyon’s Brothers
The Procyon’s brothers: Insight Tech Gear’s single-cell H1X Proxima, the mid-size lithium-ion rechargeable H2X Arcturus, and the beefy three-cell H3X Regulus. All four including the Procyon are named for bright stars, but these three are tube-configuration handheld tac lights. If you’re sold on upgrading your weapon-mount light with a Procyon, you might want to take a serious look at the advantages of mating it with this “family” of flamethrowing tac-lights.
Before checking the specs, here’s the best part: all three high-powered LED lights operate in exactly the same manner: a tailcap control switch gives you momentary-on with a partial push, and constant-on with a full push to an audible click. Both momentary and constant-on commands deliver the highest power illumination instantly. Push down and hold your thumb on the rubber-covered switch, and the light will diminish in power through the entire range from brightest to one-lumen lowest. Stop at any level of light by simply taking your thumb off the switch. Double-tapping the switch rapidly activates the strobe function built into all three. Simple, consistent, and survivable; a sweet, low learning curve so when it hits the fan, you can run your handheld light(s) on second-nature autopilot, leaving your as-yet undamaged brain cells for other tactical use.
The family resemblance is there, all right: all have aggressively knurled machined heavy-duty aluminum tubes, with crenellated lens bezels and tailcaps, adding to your fighting options. All make good impact weapons and pain compliance devices, the smaller two have pocket / webbing clips, and all have removable retention lanyards. They’re O-ring sealed for all-weather protection, and easily maintained.
The four-inch H1X Proxima fits in your hand like a roll of quarters, a feature
with fighting characteristics of its own…
Basically, you’ve got a stout, single-batt (lithium CR-123) backup and on/off duty pocket rocket in the Proxima, a 4.2 inch long, five ounce light that rides in your hand like a roll of quarters – a feature which has its own tactical value in a spontaneous ass-kickin’ contest. It runs 90 minutes on high power – 80 lumens – and one hundred hours on its lowest power, which is one lumen.
The rechargeable H2X Arcturus delivers 120 lumens for two hours, and handles 90 percent of your patrol duty illumination needs.
Next up in size is the Arcturus, at 5.9 inches long and 6.5 ounces. This is the rechargeable bro’ in the lineup, using one long lithium-ion batt – a rapid charger comes with it – to deliver two hours at 120 lumens and 300 hours on low. This is your all-around MVP light; the one that will handle 90 percent of all your duty illumination needs, and do it at a tremendous savings in batteries. The battery-operated models really fill their niche, because sometimes you must be able to re-stoke your light in the field and even away from your cruiser, but a quality rechargeable is a necessary asset for patrol work.
The big brother – packin’ 160 lumens – is the H3X Regulus, which also offers
a stunning, disorienting strobe mode.
The big guy is the H3X Regulus, which, at 7.5 inches and eight ounces is still pretty handy compared to those old four and five D-cell flashlights – which by the way, the Regulus outperforms significantly. Three CR-123’s give you two hours on high power at 160 lumens, and 300 hours on low.
Having one tough, reliable user-friendly light is cool. Having a whole family of them is even better. www.insighttechgear.com
Blade-Tech’s Training Barrels made for full-size pistols can in many cases be
trimmed in length to fit compact and subcompact models.
One of my favorite training adages is: Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they can’t get it wrong. Now, how much time do you devote to practicing weapon retention and weapon takeaway drills? Once a year in Advanced Officer Training; a half-hour block, including 15 minutes of waiting for the Blue Gun? In my book there are two categories of cop-tasks you must train on until you can’t get `em wrong: First, “routine” tasks you do often – so you can accomplish them properly “on autopilot” keeping your higher-level brain functions clear for continual 360-assessment of your situation. Second, those tasks you may rarely or neverdo on duty, but screwing the pooch on `em gets you dead. Retention and takeaway drills are definitely in the latter category.
Within two months of leaving the academy, I had to execute two handgun takeaways – during one continuing fight in the midst of a hostile crowd. The first involved me grabbing a shooter’s 4-inch revolver from him seconds after he shot a rival gang member, and the next occurred seconds later, when I had to take my sidearm away from the dude who grabbed it outta my holster while I was taking the other guy’s gun. Fortunately, the crowd was so thick and pressing around us that Scumbag #2 literally couldn’t back away from me.
Now guess how much time I spent after that on retention and takeaway drills? How much emphasis I placed on `em when I became a trainer myself?
You cannot get a “real feel for the real deal” of having to re-take your own weapon if you don’t practice with your weapon. Practice using others, sure, but damn, guys, put in the time on regaining your own Roscoe!
For many drills – mag changes, malfunction clearance, draw-and-pop, assess and sweep – Blade-Tech’s Training Barrel is all you need. For the “Gimme-Gotcha Drills,” you need the Training Barrel and a partner who’s as hard-core as you.
Oh, you’re gonna take some damage – abrasions, scrapes from sights, strains and pains – but better to bleed in training than on the street, right? And keep this in mind: every minute spent training with your primary Roscoe creates and reinforces the neuromuscular memory patterns that will save your ass. With the Training Barrel, you’re gonna spend a lot more time on that investment. Buy two: one for you and one for your training buddy. www.blade-tech.com
Extrication Gloves by Ringer’s Gloves
Ringer’s Extrication Gloves work well for those incidents you hope will
never happen. Unfortunately, they do – so be ready!
It’s sad but true that most cops don’t go out of their way to get geared up for disaster situations. One element of this is, whether subconsciously or consciously, cops don’t want to think about such grisly scenes. Another is that most agencies don’t issue gear for large-scale tragedies. My first wake-up call was a really bad one: an airliner crash – no survivors, and a horrific crash site with wreckage, bodies and parts over four city blocks. A couple of years later came an explosion at an industrial chemicals plant where they etched and cleaned metals. Very bad news; less loss of life, but a different scene with its own challenges, including multiple partially-destroyed floor levels and a half-collapsed building.
A good pair of extrication gloves is basic essential gear, and might be the start of your personal disaster-readiness program. Having tried these, I’m comfortable recommending them. They seem to have the right balance of strength, flexibility, sensitivity and extended-use comfort.
Note on use of Armortex fabrics in these gloves: “Armortex” isn’t some meaningless made-up bullshit marketing term, like a lot of crap out there with names like “Rhyno-Butt BulletPruf” or “GatorTuff GrippGard,” okay? Go to www.armortex.com. This is a serious global outfit specializing in protective materials of all kinds, and diversified into everything from building blast-and-bullet-resistant storefronts to .30 cal armor piercing ammo-defeating windows. Armortex materials are even used in the spray skirts of the “stealth kayaks” used by a certain commando group I worked with. It’s good stuff, and extremely flexible for the level of protection it provides.
Ringer’s multi-purpose Military gloves are a good choice for patrol duties in
cooler temps from mid-30’s to 60’s, packed with features.
You might want to take a look at some of their other gloves too, at www.ringersgloves.com. Click on “Law Enforcement / Military.” For the money, their standard Military gloves make excellent all-around patrol-duty gloves for cooler weather. I’ve used them in 40-degree weather down to the 20’s, and I think they work best from 50’s-60’s down to the 30’s for general patrol, where you’re in and out of your cruiser, going from relative warmth to cold. They’re not bulky enough to preclude good weapons handling, and while picking up dimes from a smooth polished surface might be tough with `em, manipulation of most gear is accommodated pretty well.
Tactical HD gloves have segmented rubber knuckle guards and palms
designed to strike a good balance between flexibility and strength.
I haven’t extensively wrung out the Tactical HD gloves yet, but from the short time I’ve had to work with `em, they seem to be comparable to other makers’ tactical gloves at higher prices. I prefer their segmented rubber knuckle pads to most hard plastic ones, though I don’t like the ribbed rubber guard on top of the index finger. My fingers are thick, so you might not have a problem with them inside the triggerguard of your pistol, but for us fatter-fingered folks, that rubber bumper could create friction inside the triggerguard. Using a thin, sharp blade, I reduced its thickness and smoothed it – no problem then. I advise you to find a dealer where you can try the Tactical HD’s on to assure the reinforcing materials in the palm are flexible enough for you. They do get more flexible with use, but palm flexibility and finger length are areas where personal tastes are very important. Try twice, buy once…
Gauntlet-length FliteX gloves are thin and pliable but strong, showing close quality control on stitching and ergonomic fit – great for weapons handling, extended driving, flying and more.
If you’re a flyer, a state trooper who spends long shifts at the wheel, or you work in extreme cold weather, check out Ringers’ FliteX gauntlet-length flight gloves. These are some really well-designed, highly flexible, close-fitting gloves, with features like a seamless, unrestricted trigger finger, Carbon-X flash fire protection which also wicks away water and moisture for greater comfort and longevity of the glove itself, and Kevlar stitching throughout. They did a great job on the thin premium leather palms and undersides of fingers, and the cut of the glove keeps them from bunching up. Weapons handling with these gloves is excellent.
You might ask why I’d recommend a glove like the FliteX for extreme cold weather? Well, I was working with a Norwegian unit when I learned for myself the tactical advantage of wearing thin, flexible gloves inside mittens. Yup; “chopper” mittens. Well- insulated mittens keep your hands warmer than regular gloves with the same level of insulation because your fingers aren’t isolated from each other and they build up warmth inside the mittens faster. You can get mittens suitable for duty – and when it hits the fan and you need maximum flexibility for weapons-handling, it’s easy to whip those mittens off ( often, just by holding your fingers together and “flipping” them off ) and get to work… Better to have an extremely efficient combination of mittens and gloves than to have “compromise” gloves which do poor jobs of both warming your fingers and operating weapons and comms, right?
Titan Gun Vault by Titan Security Products
Here’s the basic Titan Gun Vault set – all you need to move your vault from
one horizontal or vertical mount to another.
This is a great rapid-access gunbox for users who don’t trust the new “biometric” boxes with fingerprint-scanning locks – like, what if your hands are bloody or you’re wearing gloves? Others don’t trust battery-operated boxes, and I can’t blame `em for that. The all-mechanical Simplex pushbutton lock mechanism has been around for about 30 years, I think, and it’s fast and strong. You can mount the TGV horizontal, vertical, standing or flat on its side, and the fact that you don’t have to make it big enough to get your ham-sized hand in there keeps it thin. It has a lot of good points, but the armature which automatically lifts your handgun up into grabbing position when you open the lid is the best.
One possible vehicle mount for your TGV. Note how the lever brings your
handgun up to grabbing position as the door swings open
Here’s another smart design feature: As explained in the print version of this article, you can simply unlock the vault from its mounting bracket and carry it, mounting it to another bracket – or any one of many brackets you have installed in your vehicle, RV, closet, under your desk, on the back of your nightstand, in your hovercraft, batmobile, or whatever. Yet, it’s virtually impossible to attack the connection of the vault to those brackets. That’s because a locking lever goes through the inside of the vault to connect with the bracket. Good thinking, right? That also makes it simple to disconnect.
Anywhere you’ve placed a bracket, your TGV can hook right up to it,
like under a desk or table top, as shown here.
If you’re thinking this is a good gunbox for the home – and you’re right – but you wear your Roscoe everywhere else you go, think about this: So, your comfortable carry piece is a Kimber Pro Covert II, but you’d like the backup of a full-sized steel-frame Custom TLE II? The TGV keeps it close at hand. In fact, the TGV and its “universal holster” will take any pistols, revolvers or derringers, as long as their dimensions don’t exceed ten inches in length, 6.5 inches in height, and 2.25 inches in width. That allows for lots of carry-cannons.
There’s even an adaptor to fit angled steel “Hollywood” bed frames.
Just one more point: If you’re short of brackets, or you’re carrying the TGV somewhere there’s no bracket available and you’re going to have to leave your TGV alone, outside your supervision briefly, it’s set up for an optional cable mount feature using third-party cable locks. You can even use a laptop cable lock, but be careful with those – many of `em are “strong as spaghetti.”
I can’t think of a worse scenario than one in which an officer’s small child gets hold of his unsecured sidearm, or a cop’s duty weapon gets pilfered and ultimately used to kill another officer. Both have happened. Don’t star in that kind of scene, okay? Connor OUT