Princeton Tec’s Switch MPLS Hands-Free Light

The Princeton Tec Switch MPLS offers not only a variety of mounting options, but a gooseneck lamp extension so you can point light where you need it.

The Princeton Tec Switch MPLS offers not only a variety of mounting options, but a gooseneck lamp extension so you can point light where you need it.

If you partake in nocturnal activities like fishing, hunting, camping, pub crawling or recreational coal mining, you need a personal light. To keep your hands free for whatever activity you do, you’ll want a light that you can mount  on your hat, clothing or gear.

I’ve been working with the neat little piece of gear to fit this need called the Princeton Tec Switch MPLS. It’s a tactical light, but really more than that. You can use it for a wide range of activities that require “working-level” illumination.

I originally got it to use for general navigation and administrative tasks while at the Crimson Trace Midnight Three Gun event. Last year I made the mistake of using a small white LED lamp equipped on the bill of my hat. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but I quickly learned that people don’t appreciate the use of bright white light as it tends to spoil everyone’s night vision. Red, blue or green LED lights are much more eyeball friendly in dark conditions.

Talking with the folks at Princeton Tec, I explained that I didn’t yet know how I was going to mount the light. Since the light would be used for loading guns and magazines, taping and resetting targets, and finding the next stage in the pitch dark, a handheld light was out of the question. Since I didn’t know how I wanted to mount this new light we decided to try out the Switch MPLS system.

The battery and lamp of the Switch are contained in a housing that’s designed to accommodate multiple mounting attachments. Since the lamp is at the end of a short gooseneck fixture, you can orient the lamp independently from the body and mount of the unit.

The standard Switch MPLS comes with two mounting options:

MOLLE: You can mount the Switch MPLS to a load-bearing vest or backpack.

MICH: If you wear a helmet for a living, this is probably your best mounting option. With firm attachment to the lower side, the light is pre-oriented towards the front and it’s easy to reach for activation and deactivation. A screw clamps the mount firmly to the helmet.

If you need different mounts, just order the MPLS Accessory kit which has these additional mounting adapters:

PICATINNY:  You can mount the Switch MPLS to a compatible rifle rail, or more practically, any range box, case or other accessory with a rail segment. Of course, you can always attach a Picatinny rail segment to just about anything, so use your imagination for solutions such as internal vehicle mounting.

ACH-ARC helmet rail mount.

Four mounting options are available - two included and two more available as options.

Four mounting options are available – two included and two more available as options. In this photo, the light it mounted on the MOLLE adapter.

The Switch MPLS has three light modes: low-intensity color, high-intensity color and 10 lumen white light. You can order models with red, blue, green or infrared light. All models have the white light option included.

One of the things I like most about this piece of gear is the built-in protection against the user whipping on that bright white light inadvertently. To activate the default red light, just press the main button. To make the red light a little brighter, press it twice. If you really want white light, and are sure you’re not going to ruin your, or your buddy’s night vision, you have to hold the button down for a couple of seconds. This, and only this, activates the bright white light, so you have to be very deliberate about wanting the white light activated.

Cool piece of gear – check it out. You can find them at street prices of about $50.

10 Worst Examples of Gun Advice From the Internet

Apparently I’ve taken on a task that is simply not possible without violating several laws of our physical universe – picking only 10 of the worst pieces of shooting advice from across the vast and vacuous expanse known as the internet.

I stopped counting at 32,987,412,318. But no worries, I’ll persevere.

If someone starts talking to you about "knockdown power" they better be talking about one of these.

If someone starts talking to you about “knockdown power” they better be talking about one of these.

Here we go, drum roll please…

1. A weapon light or laser will just give away your position!

If the self-defense scenarios swirling around your brain involve moving ninja fights in the dark that emulate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moves, you’re absolutely right!

A weapon light will give away your position, and your tactical pose hanging from the chandelier will be compromised. (Tweet This)

In real life, the benefits of seeing where and / or what you’re shooting at far outweigh any realistic disadvantages of “giving away your position.” One more thing, make it a point to tell the hundreds of thousands of military and law enforcement personnel who mount weapon lights and lasers on their guns specifically for the purpose of fighting in the dark that this is a tactical blunder. What do they know anyway?

2. To defend your home, blast your shotgun through the front door!

We all know that politicians are (self-defined) experts in all things. Some of the best (worst!) gun advice in recent history comes from our very own Vice President. “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” While blasting your shotgun through the door may help you drill a hole for one of those handy peep holes, it won’t help your legal cause in any way, shape or form. Most likely, this strategy will send you straight to jail. Just ask the Virginia Beach man who actually did this when confronted with two armed and masked home invaders. The bad guys escaped, but the Biden disciple was charged with a crime. The “Biden Defense” is just not likely to yield a positive outcome. Come on, we all know politicians are immune from repercussions of bad behavior. It’s an expected part of the job.

3. Don’t use an AR-15 for home defense!

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

You might have heard from internet commandos that a “high-powered” .223 round will go clear through your interior and exterior walls, Margaritaville machine, and most of Montana!

Or maybe that if you torch off a .223 round indoors, the building will explode! (Tweet This)

Actually, most standard AR-15 ammunition will only go through a few pieces of interior drywall with any significant energy. The projectiles are light and traveling extremely fast. This combination results in rapid tumbling and fragmentation when barriers are hit. While there may be other factors in the pro / con debate of using AR-15’s for home defense, over penetration is not one of them – especially when compared to pistol ammunition and buckshot. Of course, exceptions apply if you choose to use ammunition designed to penetrate.

4. You should carry your self-defense gun with the chamber empty.

Unless your self-defense gun is a single-action revolver with a hammer mounted firing pin, that’s almost always bad advice. If you think you can simply keep an eye on things around you so you have plenty of time to draw your gun, and rack the slide, in the event of an attack, try a Tueller drill sometime. It’s enlightening and will quickly relieve you of any security gained by carrying with an empty chamber.

Also, please write Hollywood and tell them to stop racking the slide every time someone is about to fire a gun. It’s a waste of perfectly good pretend ammunition. (Tweet This)

5. I only train for head shots.

Some of the couch commando elite speak of training for head shots to defeat body armor and perhaps save ammunition during these tough economic times. On the range, a cardboard target is pretty darn easy to hit anywhere you like. Now try that while running full speed. Then try that while you and the target are running full speed. Then try it when everyone is running full speed, shouting, and the target is trying to kill you. Enough said.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Finding Holsters For Light And Laser Equipped Handguns: The Impossible Dream?

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

Just a few holster options for light and laser equipped handguns.

If you’ve been around here before, you know I’m a big fan of lasers for home defense and carry guns. I’m also a fanatical, raving, and kind of creepy bit of a holster geek. But, until recently, I’ve been hard-pressed to equip all my carry guns with lights and/or lasers.

Finding holsters for light / laser carry guns can make you as frustrated as Mike Bloomberg at a Colorado recall rally.

Why? Finding holsters for laser-equipped guns has been quite the challenge. Of course I’m talking lights and lasers that are mounted up front, usually under the barrel. Lasergrip offerings from Crimson Trace and guide rod lasers from LaserMax can use standard holsters without modification.

There’s no blame in this. It’s simply a math problem.

Holster makes already have to account for 13,786,667.43 different models of handguns, with new shapes and sizes hitting the market hourly.Add a half-dozen laser companies to the mix, each offering several different models, and then what?

There are more possible gun / laser / holster combinations than the number of White House excuses for the Obamacare  performance. (Tweet This)

But hope glimmers on the horizon. Recently, I have working with some most excellent holster options for laser-equipped guns. Each of the manufacturers below make different products for different guns, so the examples here are just that – examples.

Oh, and if you’re a Crimson Trace user, check out their new holster guide. It’s updated constantly with new products from Galco, DeSantis, CrossBreed, Fobus, Blackhawk!, Mitch Rosen, Blade-Tech and more.

CrossBreed SnapSlide

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

The SnapSlide is a great solution for this Springfield Armory XD-S with Crimson Trace Laserguard.

I’ve been testing one for the Springfield Armory XD-S equipped with a Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard and I find it neat-o. The belt loops are spread apart enough to offer great stability. The Kydex holster shell keeps the whole thing slim, which aids concealment. The best part? The rig is designed to ride very high so it’s much easier to conceal with a shirt or jacket that most other outside the waistband holsters.

Check the CrossBreed website for all available light / laser options.

DeSantis Speed Scabbard

An open top design, The DeSantis Speed Scabbard is all-leather holster is made for a number of light / laser options like the Crimson Trace Lightguard or Laserguard for Glocks.

I really like the holster. It’s an outside the waistband model without a rigid mouth. I don’t have trouble re-holstering it as the leather is sturdy enough to keep the mouth open. It shapes well to the body and offers great gun security – in fact you’ll want to break it in to smooth out the draw.

I used one at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational with a Glock 17, Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a Crimson Trace Lightguard.

Galco Meridian Concealed Carry Purse (or most other models)

Ladies, this one is specifically for you. If you choose to carry in your purse, be sure to do it safely.

Don’t let your gun flop around in a main purse compartment along with all sorts of other daily paraphernalia. (Tweet This)

That’s asking for trouble. Not only will it be hard to find your gun during an emergency, you run the risk of something getting caught up in the trigger – with potentially disastrous consequences.

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

Got a laser on your Smith & Wesson Shield? No problem!

If you choose purse carry, be sure to keep your gun in a dedicated compartment. That’s where a quality holster handbag like the Galco Meridian shines.

The Meridian is a fine-looking and functional handbag with a magnetically closing outside compartment, main interior compartment and separate interior compartment. Most importantly, it features a dedicated gun holster compartment accessible via a lockable vertical zipper on the exterior. Inside this compartment is a sewn-in holster pouch with a Velcro retention strap which can be removed if you prefer. We found that the retention strap is unnecessary with the medium size guns in this purse – it will stay in the holster pocket just fine.

The Galco Meridian is available in black or chocolate-brown. Galco makes a variety of styles with similar concealed carry functionality.

Comp-Tac MERC

Comp-Tac makes an excellent and insanely adjustable hybrid holster. That means it has a large leather back for stability and comfort and a Kydex molded gun pocket.

Now, Comp-Tac offers their MERC holster - MERC stands for Most Economical, Reliable, Comfortable by the way – in models ready to go for mounted lasers and lights. The list of supported models will almost certainly change, but at time of publication, Comp-Tac offers Crimson Trace and LaserMax for guns including the Springfield Armory XD-S, Smith & Wesson Shield and Kahr P9. One of the neat-o things about the Comp-Tac offerings is the flexibility. Everything is adjustable including retention, depth, cant and even the color of the belt clips to help it blend in to your existing wardrobe. Check out the Comp-Tac web site for more information.

Galco Stow-N-Go

The Galco Stow-N-Go is intended for simple, deep concealment. It features an open-top design for quick access, a reinforced mouth for one-handed reholstering and open bottoms to let dirt fall out. A vertical orientation allows for different carry options. You can use it behind the hip bone or in an appendix position. The exterior of the leather is a bit rough to help keep the holster in place via friction with your clothes.

CrossBreed SuperTuck

I love the hybrid inside the waistband holster design. The big leather backing provides comfort and stability, while the kydex gun pouch offers great security without adding thickness to the holster. Now that CrossBreed is making models compatible with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Laserguards, you can easily carry a pistol equipped with both laser and light. It’s a great solution.

N82 Tactical

The N82 holsters have some interesting innovations.

Spurred on to entrepreneurial enterprise by the belief that holsters should be both comfortable and comforting, the dynamic Nate duo and a rental squad of Oompa Loompas created a basic design that makes for an inherently wearable, yet solid and secure inside the waistband holster.
N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

N82 Tactical Original Models allow lots of inside the waistband options for laser and light equipped guns.

The N82 is a multi-layer affair. A large backing panel goes between the gun and your tender midsection skin areas. The panel is large enough to completely cover the gun and all or most of the grip — depending on the specific model. This keeps sharp and abrasive metal and wood stuff away from your belly. A belt clip is affixed to the gun pocket so the whole mess is tucked inside the waistband with the clip securing to your belt. Pretty simple.

Here’s where the layering comes in.

The body side of the panel is made from soft suede. N82 Tactical chose suede for several reasons. It’s a natural material, so it allows your skin to breathe and feel cool — even in hot and humid climates. Another reason for the suede lining is that it has a friction coefficient. Yeah, I told you we wouldn’t get into quantum physics and material dynamics in this book, but hang in there for a second. Since the whole suede area has some “grip” it serves to spread the weight of the gun over a broader area. Not that we’re calling your area broad or anything. OK, enough of the fancy science.

Sandwiched in the middle is a layer of neoprene. If you saw the movie Jaws, or have been to Sea World, you’ll know that this is the stuff that diver’s wetsuits are made of. It’s waterproof. While you probably won’t be diving with your N82 Tactical holster, the neoprene barrier does in fact create a moisture barrier between your sweaty broad area and your expensive gun. Even if you sweat, your gun stays dry. Within reason of course. The other reason behind the neoprene moisture barrier is to prevent the leather portion of the holster from becoming mushier and mushier over time. Three out of four Nate’s believe that leather doesn’t ever stop breaking in. It continues to get softer and softer over time, especially with exposure to moisture. We’re not sure what doctors and dentists believe.

The outer layer is leather. This provides structure and stability and a safe backing for your gun whether it be steel or polymer.

The original model, or Standard Series, utilizes a stretchy material to secure the gun to the leather holster panel. N82 got a lot of feedback from law enforcement customers that they loved the comfort of the tuckable design with its stretch band holster pocket, but needed additional positive retention for more active situations. Like the ones you see on every episode of CSI Las Vegas.

N82 makes a the original series holster for a number of guns with trigger guard lasers. When you go to order one for your specific gun, you’ll see laser options if available for that model. I’ve used one with a Springfield Armory XD-S and Crimson Trace LG-469 Laserguard with great success.


Here’s a new, and patented, design worth a look. There are two basic models of the Recluse Holster. The OS models are open-sided while the TS models, as you can probably guess, are two-sided. The common element between the designs is the forward-facing solid leather flap that entirely hides the outline of your pocket gun.

The OS models feature a concealment panel on the outside. This completely breaks up the outline of the gun. The inside half of the holster is technically, kinda-sorta open. That’s where the patent comes in to play. Affixed to the leather holster is a molded plastic trigger block. This block is shaped to match the inside of the trigger guard of a specific gun. Molded into the block is a cutout that exactly matches the profile of the trigger.
To holster your gun, insert the muzzle into the bottom pouch, then shift the gun sideways so that the trigger block moves into position and the trigger is locked exactly in place per the trigger cutout. Once in place, the trigger is protected and secure.

To draw, you insert your fingers between your gun and the solid front panel to achieve a firing grip. The gun will come away from the trigger block sideways and can be withdrawn from your pocket.

The TS model is a little different. Rather than relying on a trigger block, this model features an interior leather panel. The interior leather flap is only attached at the bottom of the holster. To draw your gun, you shove your fingers between the leather flap and the gun, thereby creating space for a solid grip.

When you order direct from Recluse, you’ll see laser options on the product page where available.

I’m just scratching the surface here – and that’s a good thing. The holster market is exploding with options for lights and lasers on concealed carry guns.

10 Reasons To Consider A Light On Your Concealed Carry Gun

I’m a fanboi.

Of lights on guns.

I used to be a super fan of lasers on handguns. Then I shot the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. After what I learned there, I’m a fan of lights AND lasers on guns – like the Crimson Trace Lasergrip / Lightguard setup. To me, having a light and laser combo on a home defense gun is kind of a no-brainer. Of course you’ll also want a quality flashlight like this one on the nightstand strictly for looking. Having one mounted on the gun also speeds and simplifies target confirmation and aiming.

In fact, with today’s weapon-mounted light offerings, there is no reason not to have a light on your carry pistol as well. The only real drawback is holster availability and/or not being able to use holster you already own.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

I got to thinking of reasons to mount a weapon-light on your carry gun, and here’s what I came up with:

1. According to the FBI, the busiest hour for crime is midnight to 1am. Remember what Mom used to say – nothing good ever happens after midnight! Need proof? 93.72% of Lindsay Lohan’s arrests were after midnight.

2. Daylight savings. Or maybe you’re just burning the midnight oil at work. What time do you get home from work? Yeah, I know, later than you want. But is it dark when you get home? At least during the winter months? Might be nice if the gun you have has a light. If Sasquatch is hiding in your dark garage, you want to be ready with more than a Jack Links jerky stick.

3. If you have to use your light-equipped gun in the daytime, who cares? Worst case, you burn some battery, and batteries are cheap when doing a spreadsheet on life and death cost / benefit considerations. If you’re just practicing, the Crimson Trace Lightguard has an on / off switch so you can save your battery.

4. Powerful lights are now really, really small. I’ve got a number of Crimson Trace Lightguards on Glocks and 1911s. They add no width or length to your pistol. The placement just in front of the trigger guard means that there is no real impact on my ability to conceal a Lightguard-equipped gun – even using an inside the waistband holster. You get 100 lumens of light with no additional storage requirement. Why not?

5. Theaters. Remember Aurora? Enough said.

6. Restaurants (where legal) for the same reason. The good ones tend to be all romantic and dark. That’s great for foreplay, but no so good for gunplay.

7. Adding a light to your gun gives you an excuse to buy a cool new holster. Like this one. Or this one.

8. Light over 60 lumens has the possibility of temporarily distracting or disorienting an attacker. Don’t count on it, but a surprise flash in the eyeballs just might buy you a couple of seconds of much-needed time. Of course, since the light is mounted on your gun, this scenario only applies if you are in a position where pointing your gun at someone or something is warranted.

9. Even in reasonably well-lit indoor environments, a weapon mounted light will dramatically clarify both your target and your gun sights. Try it.

10. Your carry gun is also your home defense gun. Hey, if your carry gun lives on or near your nightstand while you’re sleeping, you definitely want a light on it. Yes, you want a separate flashlight nearby too for pure “looking” purposes. If you find any bad surprises, you’ll want that light on your gun.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.


Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Anatomy of a Stage at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

I just finished shooting and covering the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational in the high desert miles and miles from Bend, Oregon. It was an enlightening experience, and I’ll write about that in my weekly column on Shooting at night was also ridiculously fun. More fun than should be legal, perhaps. To give you an idea of what it was like, let’s look at just one of the 9 stages of the event. Keep in mind, this all happens in the pitch dark between 9pm and 3am. 

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

Hey, the following scenario could happen in real life. Right?

First, pick up your fully automatic SCAR, equipped with light and laser of course, and engage two, two-dimensional (cardboard) bad guys. That’s an easy one, problem solved!

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won't solve.

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won’t solve.

But wait, as you’re putting down your SCAR to celebrate your success with a post engagement cookie, you notice a car full of evildoers intent on doing you harm. Fortunately, you have an FN grenade launcher loaded and ready for action. From about 50 yards away, using a Crimson Trace RailMaster green laser aiming system, lob a 40mm grenade through the driver side window. Problem solved.

But hordes of evil two-dimensional dudes are called hordes for a reason. You see more headed your way. You notice 8 of them about 20 yards away. Drawing your Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrip and Lightguard, you sprint in their direction and hit each twice while on the run. Good thing you have a pistol mounted light as they’re blending into a sandy berm, and hard to spot. 

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

But, as you can probably guess, there is no rest for the weary. 8 ground-dwelling DHS drones, looking deceptively like steel plates set in the ground, are headed your way. As you continue to move towards the threats, you take out a couple of them with the remaining rounds in your Glock.

And that’s when the real trouble starts. Your Glock runs dry, and there are still drones to engage. 

No worries, just grab your Lightguard equipped shotgun. While heading down the dark path, whack em’ with some bird shot loads. and take them out.

It’s only then that you spot 8 NSA disk drives with recordings of all your most personal online conversations, cleverly disguised as 4 inch clay targets. These are scattered across a wide area in the sand, so it’s a good thing you have a tac lite to spot them. 

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

After you deal with those you can take a brief rest, until the next stage. 

And so it goes. 9 different stages designed to force reliance on lights, lasers and skill. Just for fun, there’s a daylight hours side match, where you clear six buildings with a fully automatic PWS Diablo short barrel rifle. As you have daylight on your side, that seems easy in comparison. 

Running around the desert shooting all night long is exhausting. But given the chance, count me in to do it again!

What Do You Need To Shoot 3 Guns At Night? Loadout for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

Later this week, I’m going to run around shooting guns in the pitch dark. Just for fun.

The Crimson Trace midnight 3 Gun Invitational event takes place far from city lights outside of Bend, Oregon. The matches begin at 9 or 10pm each night and continue until 3am or so. So it will be dark. Really dark. All three guns – shotgun, rifle and pistol – will need a 100 lumen light at minimum. Lasers will help  make target designation faster. Night vision gear is allowed, but I’ll take that plunge next year if I’m able to attend.

Since Crimson Trace is sponsoring the event, I’m choosing to equip with everything possible from Crimson Trace products. Just to see what’s possible with the current product line. Here’s a breakdown of the gear I’m bringing:

Glock 17 Crimson Trace lightguard lasergrips 9mm

Glock 17 Gen 4 – It’s hard to beat a double-stack polymer wonder gun for this type of event. High round count, low-recoiling 9mm ammo, easy availability of Crimson Trace Lasergrips and a rail to attach a Crimson Trace Lightguard makes this a strong contender or the ideal M3GI pistol.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Glock Lasergrips

Crimson Trace Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact – I like this specific version as it’s compatible with a Crimson Trace Lightguard. The laser features a rear-activated pressure switch while the Lightguard has a front-activation switch. There’s also a positive on/off button to save battery life when you’re shooting in daylight conditions.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear lightguard Glock 17

Crimson Trace Lightguard for Glock – Blasting out 100 lumens of light with 2 hours of continuous operation, this light will make target identification easy for anything within pistol distance.

Smith  Wesson M P 15 VTAC 8  1

Smith & Wesson M&P 15 VTAC – With a 1:7 twist barrel, this rifle shines with heavier projectiles at longer range. While this match, given the dark conditions, will have all targets inside of 200 yards, how can I not bring this honey? The Viking Tactics JP hand guard allows you to mount sling attachments and rail segments just about anywhere you want.

Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24 12  2

Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-6.5×24 with BTR-2 reticleI reviewed this a while back and loved the flexibility. With a first focal plane reticle, it acts like a red dot at true 1x power and a moderate range scope when zoomed in. It should be perfect for nighttime targets from 25 to 100 yards away.

Switchview 679

MGM Switchview – You know MGM Targets right? The folks that make all those fun steel plates and critters to shoot at? Well, they also have a nifty little accessory for rifle optics with a zoom ring. The Switchview lever clamps over the zoom ring and features a “throw bar” lever to make adjusting power level fast and easy. It also offers a great visual indicator as to how the scope is currently set. If you’re shooting in the pitch dark, like at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun event, you can feel the current zoom setting on your optic!

Crimson Trace MVF 515 673

Crimson Trace MVF-515 Modular Vertical Foregrip – I’ve used this in daylight and dusk conditions but can’t wait to shoot it in the dark. Dual touch controls on both sides operate either a green laser and/or a 150 to 200 lumen tactical light. Couldn’t be more intuitive.

Vtac ug main

Viking Tactics Padded Sling – Love, love, love this sling. Here’s why. It’s two point attachment allows you to brace the rifle for steadier shooting and of course tote your rifle around. It’s got quick-adjust tabs that allow you to instantly tighten the sling, or loosen it for shooting. You can even flip the rifle to your offside shoulder without removing the sling. The rifle carries well muzzle down in the front or muzzle up in the back without adjusting the sling straps. Oh, and it’s padded for comfort. Highly recommended!

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Magpul PMAG Window

Magpul PMAG 30 Gen 3 Window Magazines – PMAGs. Need I say more? With windows to see how many rounds you have left.

Mossberg JM Pro Tactical Class  1

Mossberg JM Pro Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Look for a full review on this one soon. In short, it’s part of the Mossberg 930 Signature Series and this one has Jerry Miculek behind the design. If you need more than the 9+1 capacity to deal with your targets, you might want to bring some friends with guns.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear RailMaster Light

Crimson Trace RailMaster Universal Tactical Light – I’m actually bringing this along with no intention of using it. Currently, I have it mounted on a rail segment on the Mossberg JM Pro. With 100 lumens of light and a constant on switch, it will work great for shotgun distance targets. Hopefully it will get left in my shooting back for the event. Read the next segment to see why.
? Crimson Trace CMR-204 Combination Light / Laser – Word has it that these soon-to-be-released units will be available to test at the match. So, if my assumptions are correct about this being a rail mounted unit with integrated light and laser, it will be taking the place of the RailMaster light currently strapped on to the Mossberg JM Pro!
Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  4 Mesa Tactical SureShell ShotShell Side Saddle Shell Carrier – Say that 10 times fast. Now again, but in Cantonese. When 10 rounds of 12 gauge isn’t enough, reach for some reloads on the side of your receiver. The match format calls for low-volume shot gun reloads so this should provide perfect insurance against the occasional miss.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Cyclops LED visor light

Cyclops Solutions LED Hat Clip Light – The whole place will be pitch dark! So I’m bringing this nifty little device I found on a recent trip out west. It’s a 3 LED light that clips on to the brim of most any hat. Turn it on and illuminate whatever is in front of your face. Unfortunately I’ll probably be sulking over my scorecard with this piece of gear.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear Safariland ELS competition belt

Safariland ELS Competition Belt and Magazine Carriers – Another review in progress, the Safariland ELS system is impressive. An inner belt goes through your pants belt loops. The outside of the inner belt is velcro. The outer belt is pretty rigid stuff with a velcro lining. This sticks on to the inner belt and is surprisingly secure. The outer belt features 118,839 holes (my estimate) that are used to attach ELS plate “sockets.” Accessories like magazine carriers, holsters, shotshell carriers, rifle magazine carriers, light pouches and duty gear are attached by mounting the male portion of the “plate sockets” to the individual accessory. You can easily add and remove components depending on your match or duty requirements. It’s really, really flexible. I’m configuring the belt with two Glock magazine pouches, two shotshell carriers, two AR magazine punches and a holster. I might add a Bat grappling hook system if I have time.

Desantis Speed Scabbard Glock Lightguard

DeSantis Speed Scabbard Holster for Glock 17,19,22,23 with Crimson Trace Lightguard or Laserguard – This is really more of a concealed carry holster for Glocks equipped with Lightguard tactical lights. It’s made of leather, not Kydex and does not feature a reinforced mouth for quick reholstering. As the match stages all end with pistol, the way I’m shooting them anyway, this will be fine. I’m really excited to use this as a CCW holster after the match.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear SportEar hearing protection

SportEar XT4 Electronic Earmuffs – I picked up a set of these at the Shooting Industry Masters event and have used them ever since. Not only do the electronics block out dangerous sound levels over 85dB, they amplify nearby sounds up to eight times. Separate frequency adjustment knobs allow you to tune the system to hear things like range commands and quiet noises like a twig snapping in the woods.

Crimson Trace M3GI Gear 685

Cabelas Armor Xtreme Double Long-Gun Hard Case – This case is a tank. Made of sturdy, high-impact resin, it has four crank-down locks and accepts two padlocks for travel. You can cut the center foam layer to fit your specific toting needs. It’s got a gasket seal and is water and airtight. A pressure release valve makes it cool for air travel. Most important feature? Lifetime warranty!
blackhawk padded weapons case Blackhawk Padded Weapons Case – This two rifle soft case is what I’ll use while at the range. The Cabelas Armor Xtreme is for travel while this one is for range use. A padded interior with divider allows you to easily carry to long guns. Extra pockets accommodate magazines and range gear. You can even unzip this case all the way to configure it as a shooting mat.

Danner Rivot TFX Hot Military Boots

Danner Rivot GTX Hot Military Boots – Danner has graciously provided these for the match. I’ve been wearing them the past few weeks to break them in and already it’s clear these are not only comfortable, but durable.

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields

ESS Crossbow Eyeshields – We reviewed these a while back and found them to be some of the best eye protection that money can buy, short of full combat goggles.

Think that’s enough? Let’s see how I fare with the TSA gauntlet of molestation…

Mounting a Tactical Light on Your AR-15

The next step in our Blackhawk! AR-15 customization project is to add a tactical light. Earlier in the series, we added a Blackhawk! Quad-Rail Two-Piece forend. This allows one to hang all sorts of important things on an AR-15. You never know when a rail-mounted accordion will come in handy, right?

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light

We chose two Blackhawk! components for this step: the Blackhawk! Offset Flashlight Rail Mount and the Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V hand-held tactical light.

The Offset Flashlight Rail Mount is a 6061 T6 aluminum component, which is at least 4 better than 6057 T6 aluminum. It has a hard-coat anodized finish to blend in with your rail and minimize any additional glare. The mount will accommodate virtually tactical light with a 1 inch diameter tube. It’s offset design allows different mounting configurations. For example, you can mount the light high, over the rail, or low to use with a vertical foregrip as we’re going to do here.

We chose the Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V light for a couple of reasons. At its brightest setting, it almost outshines Wayne Newton’s teeth. Yes, it’s that bright – about 570 lumens. Other light modes include Medium, Low, Strobe and Off. We particularly liked the rotating dial selector for the different modes. Unlike some other tactical lights where weird end-cap gyrations determine the mode of operation, you set this one with the dial with a positive click and the tail cap activates the desired mode. It’s simple and you know what you’re going to get when you activate the tail cap switch.

The light uses two CR123 batteries. The three light modes, high, medium and low generate 570, 220 and 20 lumens respectively so you can tailor brightness and battery life to the job. The 570 lumen setting will run for about 2 hours while the lowest setting goes for over 33 hours.

Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (2) Since the tail cap of the light is larger than the one inch mount diameter, you need to remove the cap to insert the light. No worries, you have to do this to install the batteries anyway.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (1) Note the large and positive mode-selection dial. Not shown is the momentary tail cap button on the back of the light.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (4) Mounting to a picatinny rail is a piece of cake. Just make sure the mounting bolt goes through a rail slot so the mount doesn’t slide backward or forward.
Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light (5) With this mount, the Blackhawk! logo is upside down, but we specifically wanted to try a low mount to use with the Blackhawk! Vertical Grip. If you elect the more common high mount on the other side, the logo will be upright!


Blackhawk Light Mount and Legacy Tactical Light position

For this build, we chose to mount the light on the right side. This allows a standard grip using the Blackhawk! Thumb Shelf and the option to use the vertical grip with the thumb activated light.


Blackhawk! AR-15 Vertical Grip: For Stability, Tactical Lights & Low Heat

Adding The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Moving right along with the Blackhawk! custom AR-15 project…

This time, I’m going to try out a complimentary accessory to the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Rest I installed last episode. The thumb rest can operate on its own to help grip, control and consistent hand placement. It also works great with a vertical grip.

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip will work on most any rifle with a standard rail up front. Of course, if you want the grip to be on the bottom of the forend, you must have a rail on the bottom.

But first, why does one need a vertical grip?

  1. The grip is one layer removed from even the rail, so it’s not gonna heat up with lots of firing. Keeping freshly manicured hands away from that softness-robbing heat has got to be a benefit. Along with a daily soak on Palmolive.
  2. Control. The vertical grip presents a modified weapon support method. It’s especially handy for short-stock configurations, like indoor use.
  3. If you want to add a tactical light, it provides a great way to grip the rifle AND easily control a tail cap activated light. We’ll explore that in a future article.
  4. You have to admit, it looks cool. That counts for something right?
Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip

Here the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is installed with the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb Shelf – they play well together.


Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip: Installation and features

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip parts

The Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip is modular in design, so you can customize the height of the grip. The standard vertical grip measures about 3 inches from the bottom of the rail. You can just fasten the included bottom cap to get a short post vertical grip configuration. This works great if you like to use the vertical grip as a partial hand support as shown in the photo later in this article. The kit also includes a grip extension that screws into the primary grip. This adds about 1 ⅝ inches so the total height of the vertical grip, with extension, is about 4 ⅝ inches. All of the parts are hollow and both the flat cap and extension grip piece include rubber gaskets to help seal the interior. This makes a handy place to safely store spare light batteries, small parts, cleaning supplies or maybe a few pieces of Bazooka Joe’s Bubble Gum. Your choice.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation

Since it’s a rail mount grip, installation is a snap. The grip itself has one half of a rail clamp molded in and a separate clamp for the opposite side. Two included hex bolts are used to fasten the grip to your rail. This provides a little extra flexibility for out of spec rails – you’ll still be able to get a solid mount.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip installation  1

The two included hex bolts are spaced to slide through grooves in the rail for forward / backward stability.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Vertical Grip water tight storage

The flat end cap has a rubber gasket to help keep moisture out of the storage area. Since there is not much surface on the flat one, there’s a large slot on the bottom to make it easier to remove. The extension piece also includes a gasket, but does not need a bottom slot and has a slightly rounded bottom.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest  2

Here’s the standard 3″ vertical grip installed with a Blackhawk! Rail Mount Thumb rest installed above and just forward of the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip.

Blackhawk Rail Mount Thumb Rest

The combination of the short vertical post and thumb rest works great. The thumb rest allows a little stable forward pressure and the vertical grip post allows a little backward pressure. The overall support-hand grip is rock solid. Of course, if you add the vertical grip extension, you have the additional option of using the vertical grip only with your support hand. In that configuration, you’re grasping the vertical grip more like a hammer.

One of the reasons I elected to install a vertical grip is that I’ll be trying out the Blackhawk! Offset Flashlight Rail Mount with a Blackhawk! Night-Ops Legacy L-6V tactical light. That one has a maximum output of 570 lumens, so maybe I’ll try it out at the 2013 Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Match

Buy the Blackhawk! Rail Mount Vertical Grip Here


Buyers Guide: Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

Although not invented by the late John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace, the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911’s was invented by the Association of Optics Genii – that’s plural for more than one genius by the way. Or so we’re claiming.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911

The Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701 mounted on a Springfield Armory TRP

When we did a full review of the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911’s we found that it does a wonderful job of complementing 1911 handguns that are not equipped with a tactical rail. As 1911 dimensions vary a bit from model to model, Crimson Trace has engineered this piece of equipment to fit the following 1911 models: Kimber, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson – either full size or compact. Since we had a Springfield Armory TRP in for review, we tried the Lightguard on that one as well and found it to fit perfectly.

This accessory adds 100 lumens of bright light to your rail-less 1911 without bulk or duct tape as it leverages the trigger guard for support. The unit features an instinctive activation pressure switch so it’s on when you are. A positive on/off switch allows for daylight practice without battery drain.

This is a well designed, and very handy add on, for your 1911. Highly recommended.

Available Here Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701

Pistol Light Review: Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light CMR-202

I may be slow at times, but I haven’t yet sunk to the mental aptitude of what we here in South Carolina call “pluff mud.”.

Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light

Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light

You see, it recently dawned on me why Crimson Trace named its new product line “Rail Master.”

They could have gone with “Rail Light” or maybe “Rail Flashlight Thing” or perhaps “Rail-ey Tactical.”

But they didn’t. I think it was because the Rail Master was intended to represent a family of products from the get go. Back in February of this year, Crimson Trace launched the Rail Master Universal Laser Sight. Now they have applied the same idea to a tactical light. Add a green laser version and an infrared laser version, and Rail Master becomes a family of products. A series of related products that become “master of the rail” with their respective functions.

We’ve had a new Crimson Trace Rail Master CMR-202 for testing and evaluation the past few weeks. So far, I’ve worked with it on two different pistols – a Glock 32 Generation 3 and a Beretta PX4.

Highlights (How about that pun?)

The Crimson Rail Master Tactical Light is one tiny little thing. It weighs in at just 1.5875 ounces (with battery) according to my Frankford Arsenal handy dandy portable scale. Since this scale has a selectable units setting, you could also call that 694.5 grains, 225.05 carats, or maybe 45.01 grams. Just saying.

Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light on a Beretta PX4 Pistol

We also mounted the Crimson Trace Rail Master on a Beretta PX4

The Rail Master Tactical Light uses a single standard CR2 lithium battery – available at most any store starting with “Wal…” I’ve found that most drug stores and quite a few grocery stores carry this batter as well. With a full battery, the Rail Master Tactical Light gets just about 2 hours of continuous light. It’s got a five minute inactivity timer so it turns itself off in case you forget or it gets inadvertently turned on some other way.

The Rail Master is fully ambidextrous and is turned on with either of two paddle levers that will end up just in front of your trigger guard. I found that it was convenient to reach with either my trigger finger or weak hand thumb on the opposite side.

The Railmaster installs on most any pistol with a rail mount. It also can install on rail equipped rifles – just be sure that placement on a rifle allows for natural activation of the switch as the unit does not include a remote on/off option. Not yet anyway.

According to Crimson Trace, the CMR-202 Rail Master fits the following:

Fits pistols, rifles, and shotguns with M1913 Picatinny or Weaver Accessory Rail including: • 1911 Government or Commander with Rail • AR-15/M16 or similar rail-equipped long guns • Beretta PX4 Full Size and Compact, 92Vertec • GLOCK 3rd Gen 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 35, 38 • GLOCK 4th Gen 17 and 19 • Heckler & Koch (HK) P30, 45, 45C • Ruger SR9, SR40, SR9c, SR40c • Sig Sauer P220, P226, P229 • Smith & Wesson M&P Full-Size and Compact • Smith & Wesson SD • Springfield Armory XD and XD(M) • Taurus Millennium Pro, 24/7 • Most other rail-equipped pistols with a minimum of 1 1/16″ from recoil lug.

Check out the light show…

The Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light has three modes of operation. The basic idea is that you set the desired mode using a very deliberate step. Then, each time the paddle levers are activated, the light operates in the pre-selected mode. The Rail Master can be set with the following options:

Constant On: Either button turns the light on. It remains on until you tap one of the two buttons a second time. Or, after five minutes of inactivity, it turns itself off. The inactivity timer applies in all three modes.

Momentary Activation: You need to keep pressure applied to either one of the paddle levers for the light to remain on. Removing pressure from the switch turns the light off. This mode is good for quick on / off scenarios. Like hunting rats in the garage. Oh yeah, or being discreet while defending your home against sneaky ninjas.

Strobe Mode: Tapping one of the paddle levers will turn the light on with a rapid strobe effect. It remains on until the paddle is tapped again.

I like how you switch modes on the unit. Simply hold down both paddles at the same time for a few seconds. The light will now change modes. Release and it “sticks” in the selected mode. It’s not too easy to change modes – you have to be very deliberate about it. That’s a good thing as you don’t want the lamp turning on in an unexpected mode at the wrong time.


Installation was simple, but read the instructions first. The unit includes 4 different adapters to optimize the fit to specific guns. The following steps show installation on a Glock 32 Generation 3, but we also installed it on a Beretta PX4 with no trouble.


crimson trace rail master close up

The Rail Master comes as three components: the body, the custom size insert (upper right in this photo) and the rail clamps. if yours comes assembled, loosen the two clamp screws and slide the clamps completely off the light body.

crimson trace rail master rail mount adapter

The insert will now slide out of the body.

crimson trace rail master inserts

Four inserts are included with the Rail Master to create a custom fit on your pistol. Refer to the enclosed chart to see which is designed for your pistol. Basically, the insert controls the distance that the light is mounted from the trigger guard. There are not necessarily hard and fast rules here. If you want the Rail Master to be be mounted more forward or back, feel free to experiment with some different inserts.

crimson trace rail master glock insert

For the Glock 32 shown here, the number 3 insert was the right fit. Slide it in from the left side as shown.

crimson trace rail master glock insert

Slide the rail clamps back on to the light body, making sure that the screws are still loose.

Mounting the crimson trace rail master on a Glock

Rock the assembly into place and check to make sure the light is positioned where you want it. Note how the insert fits into the rail slot on the gun to firmly position the Rail Master.

crimson trace rail master front view

The battery is accessible from the front. Simply remove the two screws next to the light lens and the battery cover slides off towards the front.

crimson trace rail master battery installation

Install the battery as shown. It won’t work flipped the other way around as we found out the hard way. It pays to follow the instructions carefully… Reinstall the cover and two front screws and you’re good to go!


Does it hunt?

I did not have any home invasions during the evaluation period, so I was unable to test the unit in a genuine tactical emergency. So I resorted to the next best thing. Garage hunting.

Here in South Carolina, many houses located near swamps are raised. ‘Raised home’ is a fancy way to say that your house is built on top of your garage, so you have to climb steps to get anywhere. Realtors sell these homes by advertising the swamps as scenic wetlands. But let’s face it. A swamp’s a swamp. Anyway, raised houses have two benefits if you’re into rodent hunting. First, the semi-enclosed garage is humongous as it’s the size of the house floor plan. Second, being a semi-enclosed garage, located next to a swamp, you tend to get the occasional rodent visitor.

What better way to test a tactical pistol light than stick it on a pistol, load a few CCI Shot Shells, and go rat hunting?

To get a better feel for the illumination pattern, we tried a few different options: The Crimson Trace Rail Master Tactical Light mounted on a Beretta PX4, the Crimson Trace Lightguard mounted on a Glock 31, and a Streamlight TLR 1 mounted on a Glock 17.

From the photos below, note the different beam patterns. The two units from Crimson Trace throw a fairly broad and even pattern which gently diffuses farther from the center. The Streamlight is a much more focused beam. Wandering around the swamp garage at night, I really preferred the broader pattern of the Crimson Trace units as peripheral view was much better.

Crimson Trace Rail Master comparison - Streamlight and Crimson Trace Lightguard

Left to right: Rail Master, Lightguard, and Streamlight TLR-1. Not the slightly brighter 130 lumen beam of the Lightguard and the narrow beam of the TLR-1. Distance is 21 feet and columns are 8 feet apart.

Closing arguments

This is a nice little unit and especially handy for guns that don’t have a Crimson Trace Lightguard option. While I’m still experimenting, I think I like the Constant On mode best – hit one of the paddles and the light stays on until you turn it off. The small size and light weight is a real plus as well. I’m looking forward to testing this out on a rifle. Unfortunately, during this review period we did not have one handy equipped with a bottom or side rail.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Simple. Positive activation. Light. Great mounting flexibility. Useful light pattern.
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture