Saturday, April 30, 2016

Factor COSSATOT Tactical Lights Review

Factor COSSATOT Tactical Lights Review - Performance with No More Batteries Ever

Every year I see hundreds of old and new tactical flashlight manufacturers introduce yet another newer improved light. Usually it is a bit of an underwhelming re-warmed product re-introduction of the same light as last year with some extra lumens. There are also plenty of brand new tactical light companies which offer non-competitive features at a above market price wrapped with great marketing. This year I was pretty excited to find Factor Equipment’s CASSATOT line of tactical flashlights which offered something not only a bit different, but really very practical at a extremely affordable price. No marketing hype, just great tactical lights at an extremely affordable price.

My interest was split between the very small and unusually powerful sub-$30 AA and AAA battery powered MiZPAH 130 Lumen and 160 Lumen models and the Factor Equipment’s Sub-$85 COSSATOT USB rechargeable 1000+lumen models. Yes, USB rechargeable for under $100 featuring CREE LED lamps.

All the Factor Equipment lights feature extremely high-tier quality components including premium CREE XP-L/XP-G2 LEDs with a life of 50,000 hours, real glass lens with double-sided anti-reflective coating, Type III hard anodized aluminum alloy bodies, removable coated steel pocket clip, are all waterproof submersion rated to IPX-8 standard (2 meters for 30 minutes), and feature digitally regulated output to maintain constant brightness.  All the models feature a “Blast Mode” which maxes out power to the LED for the highest light output possible. This mode is intended more for temporary use the output runtime of the battery, however the runtime is greatly reduced.

Operation across the models are very simply clicky tailcap operation to cycle through the modes, momentary half-switch positions and on/off operation. The COSSATOT 1000 and smaller lights just recall memory default to whatever the last mode used. The two larger light models included nylon holsters, but all the models included spare o-rings, and a replacement rubber tailcap - nice touches that make the Factor Equipment lights stand out in a sea of competitors.

Overall the light output of these lights compared to competitors is in the top tier from the 1000-lumen USB powered models to the AAA powered light. The light output to price ratio makes the Factor Equipment lights a bargain. Sure we how have a lot of options in the 500+ lumen range, however generally these lights jump above the $150 price pretty quick. Factor is delivering a heck of a light for the price and considering the COSSATOT models all include micro-USB rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and USB cables and still remain 2xCR123 battery compatible for backup, the rich features make it really tough to not consider these lights.

Factor Equipment COSSATOT 1000 XL Specs
The COSSATOT 1000XL is the company’s flagship USB rechargeable light delivering a blinding 1000-lumens. This light is setup and designed as shock and awe tactical light and always comes on at the 1000-lumen Blast Mode. For the record, the “blast mode” delivering 1000-lumens is insanely bright, but the 1000XL’s 6, 80, and 253 Lumen Low, Medium, and High modes deliver exceptionally useable light just a click or two away. The Strobe Mode is really REALLY bright and seems to be using the 1000-lumen output.

The full sized COSSATOT line of tactical lights run on either the supplied Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack or two CR123 batteries, so if you do not have a USB charger handy you can still get back up and running. No need to remove the batteries to charge the 1000 or 1000XL. Charging the COSSATOT Factor Equipment models is as easy as flipping up a waterproof rubber micro-usb cover on the side of the flashlight and plugging it into any USB outlet on your computer, a battery pack, solar panel, or even the same USB 110V outlet charger used for your phone. This recharging feature is an exceptional. The small blue indicator light on the side of the flashlight will turn off after the light is charged.

As someone who travels extensively each year, having a flashlight which can be easily charged via a USB outlet is an important feature. Those that use their tactical light continuously for work will find that rechargeable models can pay for themselves quick.

Another unique feature is the charge indicator light within the body of the COSSATOT flashlight. When remaining power is more than 50%, the light will remain off. When the remaining power is less than 50% a blue light will flash slowly. When power is below 10%, the blue light will flash rapidly. The flash is not a very bright which would be my preference anyway for a tactical flashlight.

The 1000 XL is pretty much a standard sized 1” tactical light profile with a 1.34” head and overall length of 5.93”.  The light output is no joke with a clear daylight output with a strong penetrating center dot with a softer flood extending out to around the 30-degree range.

Factor Equipment COSSATOT 1000
The Factor COSSATOT 1000 shared all the features of the 1000XL including the rechargeable features, and included battery and charger. The light output is similar to the 1000XL with clear daylight output with a strong penetrating center dot with a softer flood extending out to around the 30-degree range, but the operation is different in a more working light use. The on/off and momentary switching are all still done with the tail switch, however the modes are all cycled through using the side-thumb Mode Switch located on the opposite side of the micro-USB charging port.

The 1000 offers all the same modes as the 1000XL, however it is designed more as a general purpose tactical light. Where the 1000XL only comes on at the highest blast setting each time, the COSSATOT 1000 has a memory recall function which turns the light on to the last mode used. This is a handy feature exponentially increasing runtime and also delivers a better utility light which can be “staged” to a particular mode. If you want to “stage” the light for strobe, or a lower working light mode, you can. Select the mode, click and turn off the light, wait a few seconds and then turn it back on and it will be in the mode you selected last. That operational recall mode continues until you either remove the batteries or start cycling through other modes.  The CASSATOT 1000 is still a 1” tactical light, however it is a bit trimmer easier to carry profile with an overall straight profile versus having an enlarged reflector head.  

Factor has tuned the COSSATOT 1000 light modes differently than the 1000XL with overall higher output low, medium, and high modes. The 1000 also adds SOS and Rescue Beacon modes which could be handy in a survival situation. At an MSRP of $79, the 1000 is an outstanding practical light for the everyday user who is not looking for “just” a dedicated tactical light. Sure it can serve that purpose, however I think with the extra features and last memory recall and more useful everyday lighting output modes, it is perfect for dedicated CCW task and tactical lighting.

Factor Equipment MIZPAH 160
The MIZPAH is not rechargeable, however it is powered by just a single AA battery. At only $29 this single AA powered Factor MiZPAH 160 is freaking unbelievable bright and would easily challenge the vast majority of CR123 powered lights on the market. Though I carry a Streamlight AAA Microstream every day so much that the anodizing is worn off, I swapped in a heartbeat to the Factor MiZPAH 160 considering they are almost the same size and it offers higher output, mode based selectable lighting, and a high output strobe mode.

The 3.73” x 0.75”Factor MiZPAH 160 offers 6-500 lumen modes with 80-hour to 30-minute runtimes depending on the mode. The light recalls the last setting used, so you can stage the mode beforehand should you want to assure it is set to a particular mode. Though I love the single AA battery power, a rechargeable 14500 rechargeable Li-Ion battery can be used, however this is likely nothing I will every do. For $29, it is a steal and if you want something even smaller without giving up much light output the single AAA powered MiZPAH 130 drops the overall width down to around 0.5”.

The overall recommendation on any of these Factor Equipment lights is to “Buy One”. Through my testing, I have been extremely impressed with this lights. These are amazing lights with the good useable features without going nuts cycling through twenty modes and needing a manual every time you want to click into low power mode. Operation is so simple you do not need the manual. The price should really grab people’s attention considering the price is extremely competitive across all the models and the quality and features of this new tactical light line form Factor Equipment.

Shared Features
Utilizes high performance CREE XP-L/XP-G2 LED with a life of 50,000 hours
Glass Lens with double-sided anti-reflective coating
Body is corrosion resistant, CNC machined, Type III hard anodized aluminum alloy
Removable coated steel pocket clip
Waterproof to IPX-8 standard, 2 meters for 30 minutes
Rubber tail-switch operation; turns light on/off and switches modes
Recall memory function allows the light to turn on in the last mode used
Digitally regulated output maintains constant brightness

Factor Equipment COSSATOT 1000 XL Specs
LUMENS 6-Low 80-Med 253-High 1000-Blast
RUNTIME 130h-Low 16h 30min-Med 4h 12min 50min-High
DISTANCE 748ft. (228m)
INTENSITY 6580cd (Max)
WATERPROOF IPX-8, underwater 2m
MSRP $84.95
Flashlight’s blast operation ensures that light turns on highest 1000 mode output every start to support tactical operations
Four modes plus Strobe
Size: Length: 5.93” Head: 1.34” Diameter: 1”
Weight: 4.7 oz. (134g) excluding batteries
Battery: One 18650 Rechargeable Li-ion battery (included)
Includes: Cossatot 1000 XL flashlight, 18650 Li-Ion rechargeable battery, USB charging cable, holster, user manual, coated steel pocket clip, two spare o-rings, and replacement rubber tail cap

Factor Equipment COSSATOT 1000 Specs
LUMENS 10-Low 107-Med 417-High 1000-Blast
RUNTIME 100h-Low 15h-Med 2h 45min-High 50min-Blast
DISTANCE 551ft. (168m)
INTENSITY 5350cd (Max)
WATERPROOF IPX-8, underwater 2m
MSRP $79.95
USB Rechargeable
Dual switch operation; tactical tail switch provides momentary activation and turns light on/off; side switch changes modes
Recall memory function allows the light to turn on in the last mode used
Four modes plus Strobe, SOS and Rescue Beacon.
Size: Length: 5.32” Head: 1.1” Diameter: 1”
Weight: 3.4 oz. (97.2g) excluding batteries
Battery: One 18650 Rechargeable Li-ion battery (included)
Includes: 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery, USB charging cable, holster, two spare o-rings, and replacement rubber tail cap

Factor Equipment MIZPAH 160 Specs
LUMENS 6-Low 50-Med 160-High 500-Blast
RUNTIME 80h-Low 12h-MEd 1h-High 30min-Blast
DISTANCE 148ft. (45m)
INTENSITY 500cd (max)
WATERPROOF IPX-8, underwater 2m
MSRP $27.95
Recall memory function allows the light to turn on in the last mode used
Three modes plus Strobe
Size: Length: 3.73”  Diameter: 0.75”
Weight: 1.1 oz. (32.2g) excluding batteries
Battery: One AA battery (Alkaline, Ni-MH, or Lithium) or one 14500 battery (rechargeable Li-Ion battery)
Includes: one AA battery, user manual, two spare o-rings, and replacement rubber tail cap


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander .45 ACP Review

Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander .45 ACP Review
Now Smaller and Lighter

As noted in my previous review of the sized Government length Ruger SR1911, Ruger hit the nail on the head for .45ACP 1911 owners. Lustful full sized 1911 desires aside, the next on every .45ACP owner’s list is the more carriable Commander length pistol and again Ruger has answered the call with an all stainless SR1911 Commander and now a Lightweight alloy framed version of its hugely popular SR1911. At nearly 10ozs lighter than the all stainless version, the reduced weight is a welcome option.

I wish I could highlight something different in a review between the full sized SR1911 and the shorter barreled Commander length, however essentially the two guns are identical with the exception of a .75” shorter barrel. Really, they are identical. Sure, the spring, slide, and barrel are shorter, and an aluminum alloy frame versus stainless steel, however that is about it. Every other part between the full sized guns are theoretically interchangeable beyond the factory hand fitting. Of note the magazines are completely cross compatible between the Government and Commander size.

Let’s re-explore the finer points of the SR1911 platform. The Ruger Commander is a base priced 1911 in stainless with the basic “must do” upgrades covered all for under $979.  No need to spend a fortune for parts and gunsmithing services for the basic upgrades... Just plop down your cash on the Ruger SR1911 and go have fun shooting or start carrying it concealed.

Overall the Ruger SR1911 good fit for a production 1911s between the aluminum alloy lower receiver and milled stainless upper receiver. Perfect buttery custom gun feel? No, but tighter and smoother than many other production guns I have shot. Many will say, “Milled lowers are better”, however keep in mind Ruger’s high precision foundry has been delivering some of the most precise castings to manufacturers across the industry for decades.  I would challenge you to notice from a fit perspective that it is a cast lower versus milled. All the parts are tight and have that solid Ruger feel about them.  Most will find the fit and finish as good or better than most other production 1911s - note I said production, not custom.

The SR1911 Model 6711 feels solid, beefy and is comfortable in the hand. This lightweight version is a pleasure to carry at only 28oz. The shorter barreled SR1911 Commander moves the pivot point of the balance back for a less muzzle heavy feel.  The gun is very comfortable and the grooved rosewood grips and rear checkering provide a perfect grip without being too aggressive on the hands. Ruger did groove the front strap on the alloy Commander.

Ruger skipped the problematic newer generation firing pin safeties which leave many 1911 owners swearing about higher manufacturing costs, failures to fire, and harsher trigger pulls. Ruger just made the older simpler problem-free 70-series design just as safe by using a stronger firing pin spring and lightweight titanium firing pin. This allows the gun to survive drop tests without accidental discharge when the gun hits the concrete, provides nice upgrade, a less complex and less expensive design all while maximizing a great trigger feel.

The trigger is skeletonized aluminum with overtravel adjustment and is probably one of the better triggers I have tried on a production 1911. This particular Lightweight Ruger Commander has just a little bit of snag in the trigger which pushed the feel out of match quality range, however for its intended purpose it is a good trigger.

The stainless barrel and bushings are made from the same piece of bar stock. Why? Because every piece of bar stock is just unique enough that one piece will be marginally harder or softer than another. By using the same barstock for both barrel and bushings the chance for wear over the long term is greatly minimized and a better fit equals tighter groups now and into the future.  Nice detail.
Features - Standard Upgrades
The Ruger SR1911 includes a oversized mag release, thumb safety, beavertail safety with a nice palm swell for positive safety dis-engagement, skeletonized and bobbed hammer. The beavertail safety and thumb safety are not hugely oversized, so the Ruger should be a good comfortable carry option.  The hammer is nicely stylized and deeply serrated and can be cocked single handed with the grip hand. The magwell is more of a standard type with a decent magazine flaring and good enough for a carry gun.
The Ruger SR1911 magazine are some of the most gorgeous magazines I have ever seen on any production gun.  The Commander included just one seven shot magazine instead of a seven and eight rounder like the full sized. The magazines are mirror polished stainless steel with anti-tilt followers.  The 7 shot provides a flush fit with the lightly beveled mag-well while the optional extended 8-shot includes a hard plastic bumper.  These magazines are a work of art all unto themselves.  Just a note my Kimber .45 magazines functioned perfectly as well for those looking for possible compatibility options.

The sights are Novak three dot dovetail sights and provide plenty of function with the rear being adjustable for windage via a set screw. Unless you are a target shooter, these are all you will ever need.  It should be noted that the top rear of the slide is milled to accept other Novak equivalent extended combat and adjustable sights, however should you want other non-Novak compatible target sights, you may need to have the top of the slide milled to provide clearance.  Grips are beautiful cocobolo with deep aggressive checkering for plenty of grip.

Included in the now standard cardboard box was a lock, the gun, one magazines, the plastic take-down wrench, and a zippered pistol pouch.

Testing included three-hundred round of five types of ammo ranging from the inexpensive steel case Herters & Wolf, and various standard and premium Winchester rounds in hollowpoint and FMJ.  Everything feed, fired and ejected without a single issue.  Based on the fact the gun could feed anything I threw at it, I would not hesitate to recommend this 1911 for anyone intending to utilize the SR-1911 as a reliable defense gun.

For me the lightweight version of this Commander was actually a bit more accurate than the all stainless model. I wanted to replicate my testing of the full sized SR1911 and dug through the ammo box to find the same boxes and brands of ammo. The shorter sight radius marginally decreased accuracy, however, if placed in a Ransom rest, I am sure the groups would be nearly identical.  Almost all of my groups were solidly just over 2.5” for 5-shot groups; and about the same size as my full sized Ruger 1911.  Again the Federal HST and Winchester 230-Gr FMJ rounds delivered my best groups.  All around a very accurate 1911 pistol for the price.
The Ruger SR1911 is an outstanding value for a feature loaded production 1911 that you can just buy and have the confidence in to go out and shoot. The Commander version offers a carriable option which is ¾” shorter and a few ounces lighter to increase all day carry comfort.

Like the full sized version the grips are a bit big for my hands and would swap them for a set of VZ slim custom grips.  Highly recommended.

Caliber: .45 Auto
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Sights: Fixed Novak® 3-Dot
Length: 7.75"
Height: 5.45"
Width: 1.34"
Weight 28oz
Grooves: 6
Barrel Length: 4.25"
Twist: 1:16" RH


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Monday, April 25, 2016

The NiBx Browning A5 12 Gauge - Resurrecting a Legend - Part 2

The NiBx Browning A5 12 Gauge - Resurrecting a Legend - Part 2

In Part 1 of my Browning A5 resurrection, I updated the 1920s vintage Browning A5 with the Browning Speed-feed capability for faster and smoother reloads and cycling and added some magazine capacity in the form of a Nordic Components MXT tube extension to a 9 +1 total capacity.  All the upgrades tested out perfectly, however I knew there was more that could be done to update the nearly century old Browning.
For this upgrade phase, I decided to update the front sight bead to a high viz model and update the steel and metal finishes to update the looks and improve durability for another 100-years. Part 3 will be tackling the stock finish or making a decision to update to something new.
These days, a fiber optic sight has become standard equipment on most sporting shotguns. I elected to get all crazy, loosen up the purse strings, and added a $7.19 Marbles Expert Shotgun Red Fiber Optic Sight. This metal housing sight is well constructed, but extremely affordable. 
The Marbles Expert Shotgun Red Fiber optic sight threaded right into my Lyman Adjustable choke and gives me something to stare at and mentally reflect on, after I miss all the clays that were just thrown for me.  I know some are not big fans of even using the front bead, however I have found that if you are shooting at really close static clay pigeons, such is the case in many competitions these days, it can be a handy reference point. For under $10 it was a worthwhile investment and for me, it improved my hit ratio a bit.
Now that I was considering the WMD NiB-X coating, I stared at the uber ugly corn cob Lyman adjustable choke and then stared at it some more. I must have gone back and forth at least a dozen times on whether to convert to screw in chokes after completing Part 1 of the updates going so far as to break out the torch only to put it away before desoldering the choke. The question loomed on whether I should convert over to screw in tubes.
Although I am not a huge 3 Gun or clays competitor, I do see folks swapping out chokes in competition on a regular basis to combat winds and provide improved patterns at larger distances. This is the sweet spot for this Lyman monstrosity of a choke which allows fast and easy choke pattern changes with just a few spins of the choke. Keeping it, also saved me about $200 in gunsmithing to convert it over to screw in chokes which would have been a purely esthetic decision. With the WMD NiBx coating, the once ugly choke actually looks pretty steampunk cool now. Now I am thrilled with the looks and the NiB-X actually improved the patterns on the choke. I could not be happier and I have something unique that no one else has.
Like most affordable Browning A5 12 Gauge shotguns, this auction find picked up for $200 had finish issues. A little surface rust here and there, so ugly spots, and a lot of areas which really necessitated the A5 getting a full re-blueing.  I had done this task with my old Browning Sweet 16, the A5 12Ga little brother, and was not in the mood to do that task again; especially for a working shotgun. $200 seemed like a huge time saver which offered a permanent solution to rust and corrosion and added operational lubricity as well. I was sold on the WMD finish after my purchase of the MarineCoat Barnes Precision AR15, however any firearm can benefit from the coating; even this old Browning A5. It was the right decision.
The biggest update to looks, durability, operation, and reliability was definitely sending almost all the metal parts off to WMD Guns for their NiB-X coating. Actually, the only metal parts that did not get coated were the small pins, screws, and the bolt assembly simply because I could not get it fully disassembled which is required for the treatment.  
Even after bending three punches I could not get a couple of the pins to budge on the bolt, so a portion of the bolt was the only metal left untreated with the WMD NiB-X coating. I dark blued the bolt and reblued the screws and pins to add a nice color contrast against the Nib-X coating.
The WMD Guns NiB-X finish is roughly similar to NP3 or Nickel-Boron (Ni-Bo) finishes, however WMD’s proprietary Nickel-Boron finish adds a huge amount of lubricity and ups the durability as well. 
This was a $200 upgrade. Disassemble all the parts, package them up and send them off to WMD for coating. In about 60 days, you will have all your parts back fully NiB-X coated. They treat both aluminum and steel the same, so even if you have steel gun parts and an aluminum extension tube they come out the exactly the same finish. In this case, the parts came out unbelievable.
Honestly the most difficult part was not the disassembly, but actually the re-assembly. I must have watched the initial noted disassembly video fifty times to get all the pieces back into the A5 and working correctly.
For this resurrection of a firearm nearly a century old, the silver/grey finish was a huge update to looks, however the WMD treatment does so much more. NiB-X finish that will resist scuffs, wear, and moisture, minimize cleaning and lube requirements, and give your action a noticeably smoother feel…permanently.
The net result of the treatment was a gorgeous factory new looking Browning A5 which anyone could swear just rolled out of a high tech 1920’s factory in Belgium.  The finish is amazing, eye-catching and also very very slick. I would say that the newly treated parts are nearly twice as slick as they were previously and tuning of extra-light, medium, and heavy loads with the friction ring juggle was far less sensitive and required less lube for reliable operation.  All around much more than just a pretty finish upgrade.
There is no doubt that this redue has the same appeal to many as restoring a classic car. In fact, estimates are that this old Browning A5 is circa 1920s which puts it well into the vintage category of firearms .  I was thrilled to be able to breath new life into this nearly 100-year old but fully functional gun with a little TLC and a few upgrades.
I have run around five boxes of 2 3/4" shells through the updated A5 and it seems to be much faster cycling after the NiB-X treatment than before and is certainly exponentially smoother cycling. The coating of the Lyman variable choke also seems to have tightened my patterns a abit as well; perhaps because it smoothed and slicked up the choke.
Of note, there are three different tuning positions the recoil and friction rings can be placed for different load powers. The lower power clays loads used extensively in clays, 3Gun competitions, and upland game hunting were very reliable with my previous "medium" tuning spring setting, however lubricity of the WMD NIB-X finish definitely provides a wider reliability range on each each tuning stage without running the spring really wet with lube.
The WMD NiB-X finish is top notch and consistent even among aluminum and steel parts and my little fiber optic Marbles sight has really helped my clay busting game.  The only update that is left which needs addressing are the worn stocks which either need a finish refresh or new stocks completely - Stay tuned.
This A5 is set to deliver another 100-years hunting and clay shootings. After all, given the technology John Browning used on this original design, I am sure he would celebrate these high tech upgrades to his classic design.


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