A Thump in the Night and I Grab my Shockwave

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.

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Prepper Diary January 28: Time to Charge the Batteries

A search through our stock of radios leads to a marathon battery recharging session.

I was going through our boxes to find the FRS radios so that my wife can keep in touch with me while I am hiking around the area, and I decided to inspect all our radio components.  They are each stored in .50 caliber ammo cans lined with corrugated cardboard to provide a poor-man’s Faraday cage.

When I opened the can for our Sony shortwave radio, I was surprised to find 8 regular AA batteries and 10 Eneloop rechargeable batteries and a charger tucked away in there. Not knowing how old they were, I stuck the stored AAs in the “use first” pile, grabbed one of my other Eneloop chargers so I could charge them all in at once, and started charging them.  That took the better part of the day as they were quite dead.

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Product Review: The Streamlight TL-Racker Shotgun Fore End Flashlight

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

Rated 4.5 out of 5.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 Pickles.

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.

The subject of today’s review is the Streamlight TL-Racker shotgun fore end with integrated flashlight. We rate it 4.5 out of 5 pickles.

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.

Battery Options

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.

Pros

  • Very bright
  • Comfortable to use
  • Large on/off switch
  • Ambidextrous
  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

The Best Batteries for Preppers

When the power goes out, either for a few hours or forever, most of us reach for a battery powered device. Here’s our advice for the best batteries for preppers

The Sixth B: Batteries

If you’re a prepper, you’ve probably heard about the five Bs: Beans, bullets, Band-Aids, bullion, and the Bible.  This is useful, short-hand way of reminding you that to prepare, you need food, self-defense, first aid, a way to preserve your wealth, and to protect your soul. 

I’d like to propose an additional B to this traditional list: Batteries.  Because in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, electrical power will be the only thinking keeping us clinging to the modern world instead of slipping back to the dark ages.  If you doubt this, just ask home owners in California what it’s like when PSE&G shut off power to help prevent wild fires.  Or asked Venezuelans what it’s like to have rolling black outs.  Talk to someone in an apartment building with an elevator, or on a rural property where their water supply requires an electrical pump, and see how their life changes when there is no power.

When power fails – either locally or on a regional or wider basis – there is a cascading effect that results in a loss of refrigeration, communication, transportation, computation, lighting, and modern entertainment.  Should the power outage last long enough, there are often subsequent losses of other utilities, such as water pressure, sewage processing, and natural gas.  Yes, even those on municipal water and sewage systems may be affected as pumps cease working and system pressure drops.

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LEDs: The Prepper’s Bright Little Friend

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you’ll need bright, efficient, robust lighting. LED lights are the answer.

I started prepping in the age of the Maglite flashlight.  I stuck with black, but I bought my kids nice shiny red and purple models.  They used them in the occasional power outage to go trick-or-treating. We bought large packs of Duracell C batteries at Costco and stacked them deep.

Fast-forward 20 years and things are way different. The flashlights I own are smaller, brighter and last longer.

Back then, I carried a Maglite in my car and one by my bed.  Today, I carry a tactical flashlight clipped to my pocket, and it’s far brighter, lighter and longer lasting.  I have a spare tactical flashlight and a headlamp in my car, and the three of them together probably take up less room than the old Maglite.  That’s possible because of the incredible advances companies like Cree have made in LED technology.

Many people think of LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, as those tiny red or green lights that tell us an electronic device is working.  And that’s true. They blink at us from smoke detectors, light up when we push a button on a remote, and signal that our computer is on.  But somewhere along the way, LEDs got brighter.  And whiter.  And then brighter still.  A couple times.

My first LED-powered tactical flashlight was an old O-Light, which I bought because I could not afford a SureFire.  I still have is stashed in my emergency equipment, ready to be loaned out to someone or to be used as a back-up should something else fail.  It was 400 lumens, which seemed pretty bright at the time.

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