Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Solarforce Z2 Might Just Be my Perfect EDC Light

Click for the update post.
UPDATE 11/6/13: They're heeeeeeeere! Head to the bottom of this post and be on the lookout for a proper post in the coming days. 
UPDATE 11/6/13: It landed in my home state!
UPDATE 11/4/13: It has landed on US shores. Only a few more days. 
I've never done a post like this and I don't intend to do one ever again, BUT it's almost like Solarforce read my mind and the Z2 is the result of their efforts to prove their psychic prowess. Or not. Honestly, it would seem the flashlight connoisseurs out there need to have the latest LED and silly features in order to like a "new" light. If it doesn't have some kind of high tech components that run at maximum efficiency, automatically increase light output based on the dilation of the user's pupils, run on the most exotic battery while producing 1,000 lumens for 12 hours without generating any heat, throw 200 yards WHILE having user programmable spill and a perfectly smooth beam that changes colors based on user preference - then it's boring. In fact, I'm not sure the Z2 will even be popular at all and I have heard nothing about it and seen virtually nothing but a quick overview or two. By the same token, Solarforce has never really operated on those kinds of expectations or standards. My standards don't require electronic equipment to tell me that a light is doing what it is supposed to do; make light. Does it physically fulfill the role it will be used in? Does it make a useful amount of light for that purpose? Is the battery life reasonable?

Solarforce lights
Enter the Solarforce Z2 and Z1 - the Z1 being the CR123 version and the Z2 being the AA.
So does it physically fulfill the role it will be used in? It is an EDC light. It's small and appears to have excellent texture yet no humps or bumps that have no function other than looking cool. Forward clicky that you tap to change modes and is protected, and appears to tail stand. The pocket clip is as far back as it can be so that there isn't any extra light sticking out of the pocket but plenty to get a hold of when needed. There is a grove for the pocket clip so that it can't slide up or down and there appears to be the possibility that it can be reversed if someone should want to rock it bezel up - I can't see why but it happens apparently. Physically it is flawless.

Does it make a useful amount of light for that purpose? 120 lumens on high is sufficient for an EDC light in my opinion for EDC tasks. If you want a tactical EDC light, buy a tactical EDC light. It also has 4 modes which is probably more than I would have included but at least one of them is a low-low and there are no disco modes, no hidden modes, no programming, no nonsense.

Battery life? Only time will tell but 120 lumens, AA battery, probably good to go.

There is really more to the physical part of the equation though. Will the light last? I paid $17.00 and so it's not as if we're dealing with a $50.00 investment here. If it is up to typical Solarforce quality, it is a terrific bargain that's for damn sure. If the pocket clip proves to be functional then my perfect EDC light has in fact, been created. I feel excited enough to post about it and possibly spread the word before even touching it and when mine gets here I'll be sure to update this post.
Just arrived brand new Solarforce Z2

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Airgun Addition SIG X-Five

CO2 air gun reviews
Recently scored the SIG X-Five and a couple mags to continue my adventures with airguns. I think the area I live in itself has caused a sort of delay in the return of firearm ammunition to the shelves when compared to more populated parts. As planned, the price has appeared to take a permanent hike however. Time will tell, but for now I am enjoying my pop guns.

best air pistols available
There are numerous reviews out there for the SIG X-Five and it's every bit as impressive as suggested by virtually all of them. It is heavy. I don't know what the actual gun weights but this thing feels as heavy as my Rock Island, so in hand it is absolutely firearm weight and much heavier than polymer framed guns.

It's a big gun really for a 9mm but by all accounts a true duty pistol. Its grip is more filling than a 1911 but perfectly contoured in my view, with a bit more reach to the trigger for a medium sized hand. The thumb safety is intelligently sculpted and located in such a way that riding it with the thumb doesn't also inadvertently disengage the slide catch - an issue I've encountered with some modern pistols where the slide release is within reach of the firing hand thumb. And while I'm on the topic, this airgun can be slingshot/powerstroke reloaded from slide lock, unlike the 1911 pictured with it. If you've been following along you know this is one of my few gripes with the Blackwater 1911.

airgun reviews
Another nice feature of the SIG is the magazine selection. There is an "open" version with these large base plates. While the standard SIG magazine base plate protrudes slightly from the mag well already, these offer more real estate yet to ensure a solid seating and control of the magazine in hand. The Blackwater 1911 could use a healthy dose of exactly this kind of enhancement. Chip McCormick 10 round magazines come to mind.

The SIG X-Five is a good looking air gun replica for sure. The front sight includes the somewhat standard airgun white dot, but plain black rear sights. I personally don't care for dots anymore. My feeling is that 3 dots really just create a big white blob that is harder to differentiate than simply putting a black block inside a notch and using the daylight on either side as reference for precise aiming. I guess the single dot is at least easy to pick up especially in more dim light and if it is fine enough I can still situate the black block as normal. However I don't find it necessary and the only sights that are going to be useful for truly low light are night sights. I personally think the 3 dot blob problem is going to rear its tritium head again only this time it's coupled with the fact that you have 3 floating orbs in complete darkness. So as many professionals will suggest, the dots must be different colors (or shape or size) so you know you're lining up the right things. Then you get into lights on your gun and we're back to just having black sights like I said from the start. When/if I repaint these guns, chances are good that the sights will be big black blocks. You set the block in the notch ... simple ... keep it simple.

Not sure what to write here so this is a gratuitous slide lock shot.

Ah yes, my unrelenting desire to modify. Isn't that one of the things we love about 1911s? So the CO2 cartridge, tiny as it is, is still wider than a single stack .45 magazine, therefore the frame has these little humps to accommodate accordingly. I got these SkinGripz because they are inexpensive and made of some kind of composite that I figured could be modified. Don't ask me why I got gray because I'm not even really sure. I figured the gun would be black for awhile because Durcoating is on my list of things I want to try, just not really close to the top. Gray might still look cool with a brown color, I dunno. Anyway, 5 minutes with the Dremel and we're all set. It's not beautiful but it works. The grips do provide useful traction but they are made from a very smooth substance; if that makes sense. The thumb grove is somewhat functional but honestly, it doesn't shorten the REACH to the mag release ... not really. 

Next on the to do list; fix the thumb safety contours. It had this weird hump left at the rear end that you can see in other images of it in other posts. I don't have large hands, yet I don't understand why the thumb safety is designed like this so often. You'll note that the pad is down slightly and at an angle. My thumb naturally points parallel to the bore after the last joint, so it only makes sense that the safety pad should also. The last joint on my thumb is also nearly even with the rear of the grips while in firing position, so I don't see the reason the pad extends rearward so far. It actually creates discomfort because the rear of the pad is often digging into the joint of my thumb. If I force my thumb back too far I don't disengage the grip safety and we're all having a bad day. Aftermarket companies have solved this issue with "high ride" thumb safeties and such things but I noticed that the brand new Colt 1911 made for MARSOC has exactly this safety design - it sucks! I suspect this air pistol was designed after some Colt variant or another. At any rate you can see where I removed material and things are looking up. For those wondering, the thumb safety is removed in exactly the same fashion as the firearm.

The safety was also mushy and very weak. I don't want to get my thumb to thinking that the safety of the 1911 is so easy to disengage and then fumble it while doing live fire shooting. This was an easy fix. There was essentially no detent for the plunger to snap in to when on safe, therefore just adding one pretty well solved this problem. You can see the little notch I ground in and the green circle indicates where the plunger sits now. It doesn't quite have the snap of my Rock, (poor spring I'd guess) but requires approximately the same amount of pressure to disengage. Good nuf.
For older posts on the subject click here and here

Thursday, October 17, 2013

ATS War Belt Update, Kydex and Stuff

Mostly just sharing some pics today that have been sitting around waiting to be posted. I am thinking with MOLLE it's time to move on to MALICE clips except that they are a little pricey for what they are. At the same time the .125 Kydex isn't as ideal as it has always been suggested to be. MALICE clips have holes ready for mounting, though honestly, I'm not sure just how strong they are either when we're talking about hanging a gun from them. On the other hand, there are pro shops doing it and presumably with success. I'd almost trust the IWB "laminated webbing" loops with pull-the-dot snaps more than MALICE clips for strength but again, they are pricier still. My Kydex MOLLE strips are simple and have held up, but the quest for something smoother, simpler, better is a never ending one. I'm now in a position where I would like to use my War Belt for different guns and want a quick way to change things out. It's true that a second War Belt might actually be the simpler and possibly even more cost effective solution to this problem but there is always the need to know if it will work.

So I made a few knife sheaths to try out and scored a Maxpedition three-by-five to store minor range essentials. I realize that there are probably rules to setting up gear in the uber tactical operator world of the internet, but my purpose for owning the War Belt is the convenience of having all my stuff and being able to just throw it all on in a single click. It's also my, "does it work" test bed. Bottom line is the pics turned out pretty cool so here it is.




MOLLE kydex system

Rock Island 1911

Schrade SCHF10 kydex sheath 1911 sheath

ats war belt kydex

loaded first line gear set-up