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Streamlight TLR-8A FLEX: Blending Lumens and Lasers

Introduced in early 2018, the TLR-8 by Streamlight was an adaptation of the TLR-7 but with the added benefit of an optional red or green laser. Designed to fit with compatible conceal carry-sized handguns, the TLR-8 offers professional, competitive, and individual shooters with a steady source of light and pinpoint reference in an otherwise dark environment.

Compact in design, the TLR-8 was an improvement over the previous TRL-4 models in both appearance, size, and light output (measured as lumens). Its 6000 Series aircraft-grade aluminum housing ensures the light’s robust ability to withstand heavy usage.

In 2019, Streamlight added a new switch design to the TLR-8, designated the TLR-8A FLEX that allows for ambidextrous operation with the support hand by pressing forward on the rear-mounted high or low switch control. This is an evolution over the previous butterfly-style switch of the TLR-1 through 4, or the side buttons of the TLR-7. Each FLEX comes with both switch controls to allow the user to choose which best suits their preferred style. The FLEX rear-mounted switch controls allow the operator to select between three modes: Laser Only, Light Only, Both Laser/Light. Once selected, the additional strobe function for the light can be selected (if activated) by double tapping either switch within a ¼ second. The custom light optic produces 500 lumens (or 4,300 candela) in a narrow beam with peripheral illumination that reaches 140 meters before dispersal. In front of the optic, the TLR-8A glass is a Borofloat high temperature glass designed to have a high degree of heat and impact/abrasion resistance.

The TLR-8A FLEX is powered by a single CR123 lithium battery that provides the light/laser an average 1.5 hours of continual runtime, or 60 hours with just the laser only. The battery compartment is sealed via rubberized gasket to avoid penetration of moisture. A special design feature of the FLEX includes the same “Safe ON/OFF” design built into the facecap of the lens as the TLR-8 and TLR-7 that prevents accidental activation.

A series of different mounting keys are provided with the FLEX that provides platform compatibility across a wide variety of handgun platforms.

The FLEX has an overall measurement of 2.58” (L) x 1.18” (W) x 1.50” (H) and an operating range between -20 degrees Fahrenheit, to 120 degrees. It is sealed against moisture thanks to a rubber gasket and enclosed housing to provide waterproofing. It should be noted that the TLR-8 series is the red/green laser variant of the TLR-7.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Good (4/5): At an MSRP of $236.99 the price online can vary depending on retailer and availability of sales/coupons. At the time of this writing it is available for as little as $194.05 on third-party sites, but take care. Overseas counterfeits of weapon lights proliferate sites like Ebay and Amazon. For the MSRP, the TLR-8A FLEX is well below the cost of a Surefire XC1-B (the closest comparable competitor at $299 with 300 lumens) and almost half the size. Alternatively, the Olight Baldr Pro ($149.95) is a more reasonable choice economically, but at twice the bulk.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): Very light. In comparison to other weapon lights that lead the industry, the TLR-8 FLEX was almost half the weight and was hardly noticeable on the end of the pistol. There has been some Interweb debate on the designs of previous Stremlight switches, requiring the support thumb to come down and to either press inward or down, negatively effecting shot placement. However, the new FLEX switch design allowed the user to continue supporting the firearm in a natural position and driving the support thumb slightly forward. The size of the individual’s hands and grip dictated the choice of a high or low switch.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): Amazingly durable. The course of fire selected for testing the FLEX involved 10 magazines, each with 10 rounds, at a 15-meter target. Between magazine changes the light was struck a number of times on the housing and lens cap with the ejecting magazine before a new one was loaded. The process repeated itself until all rounds were fired. At no point did the TLR-8A light flicker or fail in the firing process, nor drift from center mass. The testing did result in some minor (cosmetic) surface scratches, but nothing that would impact the functionality of the light.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): Aside from the traditional ON/OFF and momentary light functions, the TLR-8A FLEX has an optional strobe feature that comes from the factory disabled. The laser also came from the factory engaged, so out of the box both light and laser functions are available. It took some time to try the different high and low rear switch options for the FLEX, and find one that was most comfortable. For the user with larger hands on a compact handgun (in this instance a Gen 5 Glock 19 was used) the high switch proved a more comfortable option with its taller profile, and with less distance (however minor) needed to move the thumb down and forward to engage the switch. Smaller hands may like the low switch option, as it enabled the switch to be directly in line with the thumb and thus drive the thumb forward into the switch. In all, preference was determined by the user, and the only way to figure out which option worked best was through trial and error. The FLEX switch design differs from previous switch designs in its alignment with the thumb allowed the support hand to retain its support while still actioning the switch. This is not to say it was better, nor worse than other Streamlight designs—just a different alternative. It was a little tricky to get the rapid nine clicks of the control switch fast enough, then hold the 10th to engage the strobe feature. But once engaged, the strobe easily functioned on the second press of the switch as designed. Disengaging the strobe feature was again little tricky, but after a few tries was successful. The TLR-8A FLEX also had the same “Safe ON/OFF” feature as the TRL-7 that had a tangible/audible click at the detent that indicates it is “Safe” or fully engaged. In essence you are unscrewing the battery connection to the point (or detent) that the connection to the battery became separated. It was a nice feature in application that clearly limited the risk of negligent light discharge when the weapon light is not in use. One notable positive of the TLR-8 (or other dual light/laser combos) was that although the light did disperse as distance increased, the laser dot remained clear and crisp. This could be of an added benefit for family members who are perhaps unfamiliar with WML or handgun function and use the laser as an impromptu point of aim.
  • Weight – Good (4/5): Weighing a mere 2.64 ounces (with provided battery) the TLR-8A weighs about one ounce more than the Surefire XC1-B (1.6 ounces), but provided 200 more lumens. The Olight Baldr Pro (4.55 ounces) was nearly double in weight and drew upon two power cells for its function. In comparison, the TLR-8A weighs half of a TLR-1 but also provided 200 more lumens. Thus, when considering the current market of available weapon lights, the TLR-8 and 8A FLEX were under the average weight of other legacy devices (including other Streamlight units), but comparable to newer models. The weight did not pull the muzzle of the handgun down nor have a notable impact to target acquisition while firing.

Overall Rating – Good (21/25)

Product Link: https://www.streamlight.com/en/products/detail/index/tlr-8-a

IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

Grey Ghost Gear UGF Battle Belt: Platform Compatability In One Belt

The UGF battle belt system, with accompanying Slimline Medical Pouch and Accommodator pouches by Grey Ghost Gear (GGG) provides an ideal platform for any shooter looking for a solid range belt, in competitions, or within a professional setting.

UGF Battle Belt with Padded Inner Belt

Initially branded the Banshee belt, GGG’s two-part belt system later became dubbed the Unicorn Gun Fighter (UGF) belt supposedly by US Border Patrol who apricated the system’s comfort and ability to meet a variety of configurations. As is, the UGF belt is a two-part range belt with an outer utility belt secured via hook-and-loop to an inner belt that is worn through the belt loops.

The inner belt is a 1.5” closed-cell, padded belt with 1.5” (female) hook-and-loop on the exterior that mounts to the corresponding (male) hook-and-loop field on the outer belt. The inner belt is worn through the belt loops and sizing is adjusted via an adjustable 1” tab that is secured using the available hook-and-loop field. At three points on the inner belt are rubberized nylon loops, reinforced with X-stitching, used to mount the belt to the UGF suspenders (sold separately).

The outer belt itself is a 2” SCUBA webbing belt (meaning a blend of 500D nylon and polypropylene) that has a low-profile AustriaAlpin EDC buckle to secure it. Sizing is adjusted via an adjustable 1” tab that is secured using the available hook-and-loop field. The outer belt also comes with a removable/adjustable elastic belt keeper bearing the GGG logo.

Along the exterior of the outer belt are two 1” bands of nylon webbing that are spaced ¼” apart (as opposed to the more traditional 1” spacing found in standardized MOLLE). The bands are then reinforced with bartack stitching at every 1” increment throughout the length of the outer belt to make it compatible with MOLLE/PALS accessories.

Along the interior of the outer belt is a 1.5” (male) hook-and-loop field the length of the belt that is used to mount to the corresponding (female) hook-and-loop field on the inner belt.

Belt Specifications:

  • SM: 34″-36″
  • MED: 37″-39″
  • LRG: 40″-42″
  • XLG: 43″-44″
  • 2XL: 46″-48″

Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com/collections/belts/products/ugf-battle-belt-with-padded-inner#shopify-product-reviews

Slim Medical Pouch

The Slim Medical Pouch (SMP) is one of two Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK) offered by GGG and is designed to carry most standards immediate aid items. Made from 500D Cordura, the SMP is a 5″ (H) x 4″ (L) x 2.5″ (W) clamshell design that is intended to minimize the width taken up on the main belt while still offering a full IFAK within reach.

The SMP has a shock cord retention system with ITW cord locks on the exterior to secure various items, under which is a 2.25” square (female) hook-and-loop field to mount medical or morale patches. On either side of the bungee system are two MOLLE sections.

Two zippers (one down either side opening completely to the bottom) and an oversized pull tab keep the SMP clamshell design secured, but enable immediate access if needed.

The rear of the SMP has five bands of nylon webbing, similar to the UGF belt, that are reinforced with bartack stitching (evenly spaced at 1.5”) down the center to provide the field to weave the provided MALICE clips through. On the bottom of the SMP is a single drainage grommet.

On one side of the interior to the SMP is a 3” (W) x 5.5” (L) pouch, on top of which are two 1” elastic cuffs of different lengths. Oppositely, is a single 1” elastic cuff the length of the interior, under which are three smaller 1” cuffs. All of these are intended to ensure items in the SMP are kept secure.

Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com/collections/pouches/products/slim-medical-pouch

Accommodator Rifle Shingle/Pistol Pouch

The Accommodator Magazine/Panels by GGG are the company’s take on providing a universal pouch that will accept any common, box-type magazine. Both the rifle and pistol pouches are made from 500D Cordura and feature an interwoven shock cord retention system that is adjustable and secured via an ITW cord lock. By adjusting the shock cord (with the magazine inside the pouch) the user can adjust the width and retention to fit any magazine.

For added retention, the Accommodator also include shock cord retention with nylon pull tab on the top of the pouch.

On the front of the pouches are two bands of nylon webbing that are reinforced with bartack stitching.

The rear of the MAP pouches have three bands of nylon webbing, reinforced with bartack stitching to provide the field to weave the provided MALICE clips through. Pistol pouches merely lack the webbing’s center division.

Accommodator magazine pouches do include a rare-earth magnet sewn into the rear of the pouch that can be used in lieu of top retention cord or to augment it further.

Accommodator Specifications:

  • Rifle: 5” (H) x 4” (L) x 1.5” (W)
  • Pistol: 4” (H) x 2.5” (L) x 1.25” (W)

Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com/collections/pouches/products/accommodator-rifle-panel

Product Link: https://greyghostgear.com/collections/pouches/products/accommodator-pistol-mag-pouch

Belt and pouches are available in Ranger Green (featured), Black, Coyote, and Multicam.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): The overall evaluated GGG setup varies in price due specifically to the color selection purchased by the individual. The UGF Belt itself is between $160.99-$164.99, the SMP is $41.99-$44.99, and the Accommodator (rifle) is between $25.95-$29.95 whereas the Accommodator (pistol) is $19.95-$21.95. It should be noted that most colors were on the more inexpensive side of cost, whereas Multicam (a licensed pattern) cost slightly more. The total cost for the system evaluated would be approximately $294.78 (before tax). Comparable, full battle belt systems that could be seen as market alternatives would be G-Code’s Assaulter’s System ($295) or a customized system by HSGI ($364). Thus, for its cost and the included items, the GGG UGF battle belt system is very well priced.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The wear of the UGF belt was very comfortable thanks in large part to its thick padded inner belt. That inner belt was also comfortable when worn as an EDC belt. Research of other customer input on websites showed complaints as to placement of the inner pad and outer buckle pinching the wearer, but upon examination of usage (via user’s photos) it was recognized individuals were incorrectly wearing the UGF system. The inner belt is designed, by virtue of placement to the hook-and-loop panels that secures both inner and outer belt, to be worn offset with the inner belt’s cinch loop to be at either the 11 o’clock position or 1. Thus providing the outer belt, with the EDC buckle worn at 12, sufficient overlap in padding and avoid pinching the wearer’s body. When worn correctly, the UGF system was very comfortable and distributed the weight around the waist appropriately. While the SMP did take up minimal room on the UGF belt, this was in exchange to it sticking out a considerable distance off the body and easily caught corners or was uncomfortable against the back while sitting in a vehicle (it would have almost been preferred to mount it horizontal rather than vertical but that was not part of its design). The SMP is likely ideal for those already running a crowded battle belt and want a full IFAK with the reduced tax on real estate. Use of the Accommodator pouches provided good retention of the magazine once they were appropriately sized. The overall loaded weight of the UGF system can further be offset by using the UGF suspenders (sold separately) and transferring some of the weight to the shoulders if desired.
  • Durability – Excellent (5/5): This is an area where the UGF system really excelled in, given almost every aspect of the belt, the SMP, and Accommodator pouches were completely reinforced with either double-line stitching or bartack. The AustriaAlpine buckle also translated to significant durability as the buckle has been well known to sustain its locking mechanism against significant weight. This translated to a high degree of durability and strength that would make the UGF at home in either a professional or competitive setting. Tactical Tailor does stand by its products offering a 100% warranty if, at any point, their product fails through defect but this does not extend to misuse or inappropriate care by the user.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): From a functional aspect; the UGF system, SMP, and Accommodator pouches all provided a very solid platform for shooters.
    • Donning and removing the UGF belt was very easy given when it was appropriately sized for the waist. The inner layer of the UGF belt was even functional as a stand-alone EDC belt that would make reacting to an active shooter or any situation as easy as reaching for the exterior belt. The spacing between the nylon bands on the exterior of the belt was an atypical ¼” spacing that made mounting MOLLE/PALS hardware somewhat difficult, but by pinching the material was still readily achieved.
    • The SMP provided almost an immediate access to its medical contents in that the pull tab and dual zippers opened the pouch completely to the bottom. The elastic cuffs inside the SMP provided good retention although the single long cuff for chest seals had almost an excessive amount to be useful if used for other items. That aspect could be improved by Tactical Tailor by dividing it into two different length segments, or by making it an adjustable strap with a small slide release buckle.
    • Being able to use either .223/5.56 or .308 magazines in a single pouch gave the Accommodator platforms a good level of functionality for its broad magazine commonality. There was a little movement in the Accommodator pouches once mounted into each webbing loop, but not sufficient to cause significant problems. Getting magazines in the Accommodator pouches was a little more difficult than when drawing them, simply because these pouches are nylon based and not kydex so the material gives a little when pushing the magazines in and occasionally snagged on the magazines. One suggestion here would be to offer some level of rigidity to the opening that would not hinder the adjustable elastic of the Accommodator pouches and make getting mags down into the pouch at any angle easier.
  • Weight Good (4/5): While each component of the UGF battle belt system obviously weighed differently, their combined weight was what bore on the body. Coming in assembled at 2.21 pounds (empty) the UGF system was still remarkably light. This in comparison to G-Code’s Assaulter’s System (2.15 pounds), or the HSGI system (2.1 pounds) all of which effectively balance functionality with lightweight materials/design. These aspects, without becoming excessively heavy, as more traditional systems in either leather or thicker nylon do, give the UGF battle belt system a solid scoring.

Overall Rating – Good (21/25)

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Propper HLX: For Duty of Daily Wear

Introduced at the NRA show in 2018 and released in late 2019 after some initial improvements, the HLX clothing line by Propper Apparel is designed for professional and civilian use, and offers improved durability and comfort for whatever the mission.

The HLX pants represents a blend of features from Propper’s popular traditional tactical pant line, and the Kinetic lines to give a polished and professional appearance. Constructed of a 5.8oz polyester ripstop (67% polyester / 33% canvas), the material is treated in Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to offer a large degree of abrasion and water resistance be it on the job, at the range, or just as an every-day wear.

At the waist, the HLX pants have seven 1.5” wide belt loops (four on the front, three on the back) with a contoured, elastic waist line. The waistline is secured via metal push-through button, with flex panels built into the pocket, and on the waist. The fly uses genuine YKK zipper and the shuttle comes with a logoized pull tab.

The “classic” cut of the HLX pants offer a wide pant-leg from hip to ankle that maximizes maneuverability. It also has the standard four-pocket layout at the waist (two pockets in the front, two zipper-secured concealed pockets in the back), with the front pockets re-enforced to accommodate clip-on items (such as a pocket knife or flashlight).

Each thigh has a 4” wide low-profile pocket that will fit most modern smartphones or a single rifle magazine. Additionally, each leg of the HLX features a rear-opening concealed pocket behind the magazine pocket for documents or other items.

The HLX comes in Alloy Grey (featured), Black, Earth (featured), Khaki, and LAPD Navy and is sized between 28 to 56 waist, and 30 to 37 inseam.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $59.99 the HLX is rather inexpensive as a tactical pant, combining design aspects from previous Propper lines while not breaking the bank. The polyester blend involved (both in percentage and weight) is inexpensive, while still providing moderate resistance to abrasion. Appropriate comparison to other trousers on the market include Under Armor’s Enduro Tactical Cargo Pants ($85), 5.11’s Apex ($69) or Stryke Pants ($74.99), and Galls Elite Ops Tactical Pants ($49.99). Obviously there are tactical trousers (such as by Crye) that far exceed the HLX in terms of cost, as well as some trousers (Condor) that are cheaper—so it becomes a balancing act for the consumer what features and materials they feel are needed for the task they want the trousers to perform. As is, and among those competitors noted, the HLX is of median (or average) cost to the consumer for a light tactical pant.
  • Comfort Fair (2/5): With minimal gusset in the crotch and inseam, flexibility for more dynamic body movements (lunges and taking a knee) was notably limiting, but not restrictive, in the upper thigh and inner groin. The overall material of the HLX felt lighter than Kinetic pants, and while Propper states the fit of the HLX is a “classic” cut, the trousers felt more like athletic fit (which would explain the tightness). The front pockets had an interior polyester lining on the bottom, and soft fleece on the top and were a nice improvement on comfort over other tactical trousers. But items placed in the front pockets (keys) profiled to some extent (due to tightness in the thigh). The zipper-secured rear pockets felt nice and kept the contents in place regardless of the stressors. The inner lining of the low-profile pockets were also lined with fleece; however, it should be noted that the low-profile pocket will accommodate a rifle magazine or cell phone—but not a cell phone in a protective case. For these aspects, and hopefully some areas of improvement, the HLX scored fairly but could use some improvement in fit.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): From a durability aspect, the HLX had extensive bartack throughout the pants and the reinforced stitching was noted at key stress points to include at the belt loops, and pockets. The DWR did keep some light moisture off (poured water) thanks to its repellent properties, but the long-term application of this treatment could not be tested. It is likely the DWR will keep some aspects of moisture, such as rain or mud, off for a time, but not if submerged. The YKK zipper slid easily and did not cross-thread, while the metal push-through button was a notable improvement over the Kinetic’s plastic one, and the button had sufficient durability despite the pockets being weighted down and a gun belt added.
  • Functionality Average (3/5): Functionally, aside from serving as a pair of tactical trousers, the HLX had some aspects that the Kinetic did not, while could have used some that the Kinetic did have. Specifically, the HLX presented a lower profile and sleeker fit that avoided the obvious statement of being tactical. There were a number of lose threads in and around the belt loops that was purely aesthetic and needed to be either pulled or burned (typically associated to the bartack machining process). Elsewhere, the rear pockets were secured via zipper, which ensured the contents remained contained, and avoided spillage (something that was an added bonus during stressor drills to avoid loss of the wallet). And while the elastic waistline of the HLX did provide a little flex, it was not nearly as adjustable as the elastic sliders found on the Kinetic. The gusset could have used a little additional material, which in turn would have provided more flexibility to the upper thigh and waist. This would be my recommendation to Propper in future considerations for the HLX that would maintain its low profile, and provide added flexibility.
  • Weight Excellent (5/5): At a measurable 1.5 pounds, the HLX was extremely lightweight, something attributed to the polyester blend of its materials that balanced abrasion resistance with flexibility. This also makes the HLX lighter than the Enduro Tactical Cargo Pants or Apex (2 pounds), and just under the Elite Ops Tactical Pants (1.6 pounds) or Cyre’s G3 (1.7 pounds). Overall the HLX extremely competitive in terms of weight and amongst its competitors on the current market.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

Product Link: https://www.propper.com/propper-mens-hlx-pant.html

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

 

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