I tend to be skeptical of “new-and-improved” products, especially when it comes to EDC gear. When I find something that works for me—a knife, flashlight, holster—I tend to stick with it and often buy two or three of them before they’re discontinued.
But I do pay attention to new gear introductions, and lately, it’s been an old-dog-new-tricks type of situation for me with some of the gear that has caught my attention.
I was camping years ago when, in the middle of the night, several raccoons decided to approach the open-front lean-to in which my children slept. Rabies was widespread in the region at the time. I lit up the raccoons with a tactical flashlight in one hand, and in the other I held a pistol at the ready.
As it turned out, the animals weren’t rabid, and I was able to scare them off (we kept a clean camp, and there wasn’t anything to interest them anyway). But I came away wishing I had a light mounted on my weapon.
I’ve resisted the notion of a weapon-mounted light for my EDC gun for a long time, but the light units keep getting smaller, making them more-reasonable options. One, in particular, is Streamlight’s new TLR-8, a rail-mounted light/laser combo. I’m quickly becoming a believer.
The TLR-8 combines a red-laser sight with a white light that has an output of up to 500 lumens. That’s plenty powerful enough to light up anything I might have to engage at handgun distances. The best part is that these lights are just 2.15 inches long and weigh under 3 ounces. The unit is powered by a single CR123A battery that you can find just about anywhere these days.
Another big benefit is that the TLR-8 can be snapped onto a gun’s rail and hand tightened without tools. That’s important, because I’m not executing arrest warrants anymore, so I probably won’t want the light on my gun 24/7.
So, whether I’m home, at a hotel in a strange city or in the woods at night, I can attach it in seconds and have the advantage of the light and the laser for accurate aiming in low light and from awkward shooting positions.
If you’ve ever done low-light shooting using a separate flashlight in your support hand, you know what an advantage it is to be able to get a normal two-hand hold on your gun, especially when follow-up shots are required. And, because the unit can be removed quickly, I have the option of using it as a separate handheld light for times I don’t want to point a gun at something I simply want to illuminate (such as raccoons in front of my kid’s tent).
The TLR-8 features ambidextrous on/off switches, light-only, laser-only and light-and-laser modes and has a locking mode to keeps the light from accidental activation. It has a suggested retail price of $350. There is also a TLR-7 model with light only, no laser, for an MSRP of $215.
SNAG MAG MAGAZINE HOLSTER
Having a spare magazine available for your pistol is a good idea, but carrying one loose in a pocket doesn’t keep it positioned for a quick reload. There are inside-the-waistband mag carriers and models that are carried deep in the pocket.
I’ve found something better.
Snag Mag is a single magazine carrier with a pocket clip that holds your spare mag just inside the pocket, as for a folding knife, and positions it correctly so you won’t have to fumble with it when you need to reload quickly. The Snag Mag is made of polymer and is offered in models for specific handguns. There’s a wing on the carrier to keep it from pulling out of your pocket when you withdraw your magazine. The Snag Mag is made in the United States and has a suggested retail price of $35.
STREAMLIGHT MICROSTREAM USB
I have drawers full of flashlights, but the one that has now become my EDC light is the new Streamlight MicroStream USB. It provides 250 lumens on “high” and 50 lumens on “low.” Yes, I have more-powerful small lights, but this one is just 3.87 inches long—and, more importantly, it is just .61 inch in diameter. That’s about the thickness of a ballpoint pen. It weighs only 1.2 ounces with a battery installed.
It’s powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Slide the sleeve at the front of the light forward, and there’s a micro USB port, so you can charge the light without removing the battery or the need for a separate charger.
It has a two-way pocket clip, so I can attach it to the brim of my cap for hands-free use. I might carry one of my more-powerful, bigger-diameter lights when I’m walking the dogs or heading to the woods, where I need to really light up the trail ahead. But for everyday carry, this light disappears in the pocket, and I do use it every day—day and night.
The light has a runtime of 1.5 hours on “high” and 3.5 hours on “low.” It charges in about four hours. A USB cord and lanyard are included. The suggested retail price is $50.
NAA RANGER II
I prefer guns larger than the pocket pistols that are now all the rage. But I do go tiny, too—around the house; when I have a larger gun close by; or I if am out for a jog, for which I need to go light in the extreme.
I’ve often carried a North American Arms Sidewinder five-shot, single-action revolver in .22 WMR as a backup and deep-concealment gun. Now, I’m testing the company’s newest design, the Ranger II. This is a break-top revolver of the type once popular years ago. Pull the latch on top of the receiver, and the gun opens on a hinge at the bottom of the frame, exposing the entire cylinder and making it short work to load and unload.
No, none of these tiny guns is meant for a sustained gunfight, for which you might have to perform a speed reload. But when I need to put the bad guy off balance, giving me the time to get to a bigger gun, this can do the trick.
I have the combo model, which includes a second cylinder in .22LR. It’s proven to be well made, reliable and surprisingly able to get accurate hits out to about 10 yards or so. The MSRP for the combo model is $574.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
The bottom line is that you have to be open to new EDC ideas.
So, should I get two of each, just to be sure I’ll always have one? Sure. (And while I’m at it, maybe I should get a second Glock 19, another Oriskany Arms 425FP 1911 and another HK VP9SK … .)
Steven Paul Barlow is a retired sergeant/station commander and former firearms instructor with the New York State Police. He has been writing on outdoor topics for more than 30 years and has served as the editor for a number of Engaged Media special publications, including Gunslingers.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.