What do you reach for when you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night? The phone? Your rifle? I reached for my Mossberg Shockwave because it was handy.
Well after midnight last night, while I was in the basement working on yesterday’s blog post, I heard a noise outside that I did not recognize. Was it a car door closing? Someone driving up the driveway? I was not sure, but it came from that side of the house. This was not the cat or another noise I recognized; this was something unusual.
I tucked my Glock into my waistband, not even bothering with the holster or a spare mag. I grabbed the Mossberg Shockwave with the 1,000 lumen TL Racker and stuck my head and arm through the single-point sling. Not hearing any further noise, I took the time to jam my feet into a pair of shoes.
It was pitch black outside. No sign of light. That means the motion-detection lights on the house had not gone on, which I took as a good sign. There were also no headlights, and while you can drive without them, it is so darn dark out on a stormy night, that doing so risks running off the road or off the driveway, both of which have sharp drop-offs.
I cracked the door, noticing that there were no engine noises. I let the gun lead me out the door, pointed it down the driveway, and hit the pressure sensitive-switch. The 1,000 lumen LED lit up the driveway all the way down to the sharp turn.
My next set of back up iron sights arrived in the mail, so I evaluated them and compared them to the A.R.M.S. sights.
Today’s review of the UTG MNT-955 flip-up rear sight and the MNT-755 flip-up front sight will not only be a review of those sights but will also include a comparison with the A.R.M.S. 71L front and rear back up iron sights (BUIS) reviewed last week.
As you may recall, my aim in acquiring new BUIS is to outfit all the ARs in my possession that have only red dot optics or other scopes with a set of back-up iron sights for emergency use should the primary battery-powered optic fail.
The UTG sights I ordered from an eBay seller arrived quickly and neatly. The packaging was high quality and the sights inside were made from aircraft aluminum with matte black anodization. Both sights spring up with a push of your finger or thumb and lock into place. To lower the sight, you must press a small spring-loaded plunger, or button. This is intended to prevent accidental closure of the device.
After deciding he needs back-up iron sights on his guns, Pete tests the A.R.M.S. 71L polymer BUIS sights on his AR pistol.
I just installed a set of A.R.M.S. model 71L flip-up sights on an AR pistol that had no iron sights, just a red dot. I bought these because they were a good brand name with a price point which was not as high as Magpul sights, but was higher than cheap no-name crap from China that no self-respecting shooter would put on their airsoft gun.
These are not my first flip-up sights. I have flip up/fold down back up iron sights (BUIS) from Magpul (polymer), GG&G (metal), Yankee Hill Machine (metal) and a rear sight from ARMS (metal), their model 40L. The model 71L has some similarities to the 40L, but the 71L sights are polymer while the 40L are all metal. The 71Ls are easier to deploy than many of the metal sights, including the A.R.M.S. 40L.
2020 was a bad year, but will the future be better, or more of the same? We share our predictions for 2021 and the near future, and some might surprise you.
Happy New Year!
While many are happy to see the calendar leave 2020 behind us, I have doubts that 2021 is going to be any better than 2020. Here are some of my projections for 2021 and in some cases beyond it:
COVID-19 will not go away and will result in an even great dichotomy in the U.S. as proof of vaccination will become required to access certain services and locations. There will be new lockdowns, more emergency measures, new laws, and more court cases. Wearing masks will be required through 2021 despite a lack of proof that they do any good outside a medical setting.
The rich will keep getting richer, but there will be more economic upheaval for the middle class on down. More people will be hungry and more will be homeless.
The political divide will grow worse, not better. Biden will have no clear mandate and will face opposition at every turn. Taxes will be raised but the rich and big corporations will still find loopholes. Deficits will continue to rise. Congress will get little done. The 2022 election will see Republicans take over both the house and the Senate, and then even less will get done.
When it comes to dried meat, jerky is an American stable. But how does it compare to biltong, the favorite snack food of South Africans?
This is not a review of a specific brand or flavor of dried meat, but more of a comparison between the two: Traditional jerky, often made from beef, and Biltong, a thinly sliced dried beef that is South African in origin.
Let’s look at them both:
Who among us has not enjoyed a chewy strip of beef jerky? And I bet many of you have made your own, possibly with venison or another game.
Ripping off a piece of beef jerky when on the trail makes me think back to our forefathers who probably did the same thing, possibly even on the same trail. It seems to me to be a very traditional American trail food, but apparently the native Americans in both North and South America made jerky and it was adopted by both the Spanish Conquistidors and the early North American fur traders and settlers.
We found the Kindling Cracker to be a safe and easy way to chop kindling. Great for people with little or no prior experience or who may be uncomfortable using an axe or hatchet.
Model Tested: Extra Large
Over the years, I’ve split a lot of wood and chopped my share of kindling. I’ve used an axe, a maul, a sledge hammer, and wedges. For kindling, my go to is a hatchet, and I have them in several sizes and designs.
These days, I’m thinking seriously about going hydraulic for wood splitting, but I haven’t finalized that decision yet. Before I invest in a power splitter, I want to see how much wood we burn in a winter, how much it costs me to buy it, and what size and quantity of firewood I can harvest on our land.
But kindling is another story. After looking into a number of alternative ways to split kindling, I spent a little over $100 to buy the HA Kindling Cracker XL. This handy device is made in New Zealand but sold here in the U.S. in stores and online.
Pete installs the Streamlight TL Racker fore end light on his Mossberg Shockwave and gives you his unbiased feedback.
Model Tested: 1,000 Lumen model for the Mossberg Shockwave
The TL-Racker from Streamlight is the third shotgun mounted light I own, and it is the brightest, most ergonomic model I’ve ever used. It is also the first one integrated into the fore end. (Yes, all my prior lights have stuck off the side. For example, my Remington 870 has a mount from GG&G upon which a PowerTac E5 flashlight is mounted.)
Integrating the light into your fore end eliminates the need for a separate mount, but it does require a specialized tool to remove the factory fore end and then re-tighten the retaining ring to lock the TL-Racker into place. I pulled a Shotgun Removal Tool sold by Aim Sports out of my gunsmithing tools to remove the retaining ring, but if you don’t have a similar tool handy, installation can be more difficult. (These tools can be found online for $10 or $12 and in my opinion are well worth it.) When first slid onto the tube, the TL-Racker is a bit wobbly, but once you tighten down the retaining ring, it becomes solid and using it to rack a shell into the chamber is no different than it is with the stock fore end.
The on-off switches run down both sides of the new fore end, making it ambidextrous and giving you plenty of real estate to turn the light on or off. It defaults to momentary and takes some practice to learn the deftness required to switch to constant on instead of using the momentary setting, but this is preferable to the inverse.
Very Bright White Light
There is no doubt that the TL-Racker casts a very bright light a good long distance. Officially rated at 1,000 lumens with a 238-meter beam throw, it is more than enough to identify any target that you might comfortably engage with a shotgun. In fact, for use at home in the middle of the night, it may be too bright. In a small room, the splash back off light-colored walls could blind both the target and the shooter. While it is hard to fault a flashlight for being too bright, I would like to see some adjustability or variability.
For example, I carry a flashlight rated for 1,000 lumens, but I don’t keep it set at that level. The light has dim, low, medium, high and strobe. I find low (about 340 lumens) is sufficient for use inside and I will use the dim setting if I wake up in the middle of the night. Medium and high are useful outdoors. Another benefit of a lower setting would be an extended run time, although the 1.5 hour rating is darn good for a 1,000 lumen light being driven by two CR123s.
The lack of variable brightness is the only area in which this Streamlight product fails to meet my standards and is the primary reason why I cannot in good faith give it a perfect five star review. The lack of variability will not prevent me from using the light, it is just something to be aware of when you deploy it. It will likely blind your target; just make sure it doesn’t blind you as well.
Another plus of the TL-Racker is that it can use either the increasingly common CR123 batteries or a rechargeable 18650, which is my rechargeable battery of choice. This allows you the flexibility of using a rechargeable but popping in a couple standard batteries if you run low and cannot recharge. Another plus is that it comes with two CR123s, so you can be up and running immediately.
I own two other Streamlight products: A very early Scorpion flashlight from the era before LED bulbs were prominent, and a TLR-2 pistol-mounted light. Both have performed exceptionally and the latter has held up to recoil, something you cannot always be sure of with inexpensive brands. I also know quite a few law enforcement officers who carry Streamlight products on their duty belt. The TL-Racker is a welcome member to the rugged, dependable Streamlight product catalog, and a welcome addition to my gun safe.
Overall, I was very pleased with this purchase and have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who wants to add a bright, powerful white-light illuminator to their Mossberg or Remington shotguns.
Comfortable to use
Large on/off switch
Relatively easy to install – if you have the correct tool
Cost effective and less expensive than similar products from other brands
Can use two CR123s batteries or a single rechargeable 18650 battery
Additional bulk may prevent your use of certain shotgun scabbards
Does not offer variable brightness settings
Installation requires* a shotgun fore end removal tool
*Can you install this without a fore end removal tool? Yes, but you probably shouldn’t. While it is possible to fight your way through removing the original fore end and installing this one without a dedicated tool, chances are high you will scratch your gun or damage the retaining ring. Our advice is to get the tool.
Note: Pete purchased his TL-Racker from a major online seller at its standard sale price. He has received no promotional or financial benefits from Streamlight, the seller, or anyone else in return for writing this review. This review is based entirely on his personal experience and opinions and was not influenced by any third party.