“You Light Up My Life”-An Economical and Efficient Weapon’s Light

“You Light Up My Life”-An Economical and Efficient Weapon’s Light

The first “Weapon’s Light” I ever had mounted on one of my personal firearm’s was a AA Mini-Mag light with a special end cap/pressure switch set up on a CAR-15 and a Mossberg 590. Compared to no light at all, it made a big difference. I bought them (bought 2) for the CAR-15 and my Mossberg 590 because of an incident I had with a skunk outside my home one night.

We had been having a skunk problem at the time, so when I came home from work at 11PM one night and saw a skunk start running across the yard under the Dusk to Dawn light, I whipped out my Glock 17 and engaged him, when he was far enough from the house to be safe.

Well, out of the four shots I fired at about 25-35 yards, I hit him with one. He made it beyond the shootable light and I stepped into the house, grabbed my 590 twelve gauge and a 3 D-cell Maglite, and took off after the wounded skunk.

I caught up with him quickly, but was concerned about getting to close, for obvious reasons. My first shot at him was about 35 yards away, I hit him, but he kept staggering towards a rock break I knew had a groundhog hole, and I didn’t want him to get away, being wounded.

Trying to hold and rack a pump action shotgun with a 3 D-cell flashlight in your hand is….difficult. On my first attempt, I short-stroked it. I finally got a round in the chamber and let it fly, just as he made it to the hole. I dropped him right there, and that was that.

After that incident I realized having a light on my weapon was pretty important, even if it’s only to dispatch a predator or nuisance animal on the farm, not to mention in a low light defensive situation. The next day I started looking in catalogs I had (this was the early 90’s, so…no internet) for a fix to the issue.

Keep in mind, I knew about the Surefire forearm replacement I could get for my Mossberg, but at that time (and income) of my life, there was no way I was spending that asking price on a light, and I would have had to modify the bayonet lug to get it to fit. Not happening.

I found a company that had started making a special clamp for a rifle or a shotgun barrel, and they also made a replacement end cap with pressure switch for the AA Mini-Mag light. At the time it fit my budget, it worked great, and I never had to try and figure out a “Work around” for those situations again.

Fast forward about 30 years later. The list of weapons lights I have used are pretty extensive, but suffice it to say, the model number usually had the “Surefire” name in front of them. I really don’t like CR123 batteries, but a number of my electronics unfortunately use them. They are expensive, not as common as AA’s, and when they die, they don’t give you any warning at all.

Although I have used pressure switches extensively, I’m not a fan because that is usually the most fragile part of a weapons light system. I had one fail on me in Iraq during a patrol and that is “No Bueno!”. If I can use the light with an easy to use switch, and without the need for a pressure switch, more the better. I have been using a system for a bit now that cost under $60, is versatile, economical, durable and efficient.

LXA-100 tail cap left, AA Mini-Mag light center, Magpul light mount right

The Light

The first part of the system is the tried and true AA powered Mini-Mag light. This version is L.E.D. and has a light output of 127 lumens. One of the downsides to the old Mini-Mag system I had, was the old style, plug in bulb could back out under heavy recoil. It did not work well on my HK-91 for that reason. This new version has an L.E.D. bulb, so it has a solid connection that won’t come loose under recoil.

Another thing to think about is the light’s output. My original Surefire 6P light’s bulb put out 60 lumens, and back then that was a lot! I bought an extra (expensive!) bulb that increased the light output to 120 lumens, and it was a pretty big deal. This Mini-Mag puts out 127 lumens, which is astounding in comparison to the older lights. Accessories that are available include extra lenses like the IR lens for use with night vision devices, and other lenses that are colored red, and blue for low visibility light signature.

Mini-Mag in an old laser mount on the left, next to that is an IR lens and it’s light head mount. The Mini-Mag accessory kit pictured on the right.

The Switch

Another addition to my system is a replacement, push button, end cap for the light. This cap is one of the programmable types that you can place on a certain setting and use it as programmed. Besides the ability to set the switch level, it also takes the pressure switch need out of the equation, thus eliminating a possible area for failure.

The last reason the switch makes good sense is the ability to completely shut the light off so you have no accidental light activations. This can get guys killed in a low light combat situation if the enemy is unaware that you are in the area, and someone inadvertently activates their weapon’s light.

With this system, you can turn the light head all the way to the left (as it’s pointed away from you), and it will not come on, even if you hit the switch. Need to use the light, set the light head to the focus setting you want, then hit the button when it’s needed.

The Mount

Finally, we come to the mount. I don’t know if you’ve looked, but except for the mount we’re gonna talk about, there are none that I could find, that fit the Mini-Mag. The nice thing about this mount from Magpul is that it will also fit lights like the Surefire 6P or G2 that I use. This mount can be purchased for either the left or right side of the weapon rail, and in either the 11 or 7 o’clock (right) or 1 and 5 o’clock (left) positions.

It is made out of the polymer that Magpul uses on most of their accessories, and sets the light in the perfect position for you to activate your light’s switch with your support hand thumb. Being a lefty, I opted for the right-side mount, so my right thumb can activate the light’s switch. Normally, I don’t like to mount accessories on the right side of my weapons, since keeping that side “Slick” makes it more comfortable if the weapon is snugged up against my back or chest. The way this mount rides on the rail, negates any discomfort issues with it up against my back.

Light system mounted on an 11.5″ Sig M400 AR. Pressure switch cover is for an IR DBAL  laser

NOTE: The most recent Magpul mount I received did not snug up as tightly on the Mini-mag light as the other three I have. My fix for this was the plastic hull, cut off of an empty 12 gauge shotgun shell brass base as a shim. If you run into that issue, this is a “fix” to that problem.

Well, that’s it. A weapon’s light that runs on commonly available batteries is durable with a good reputation, has the ability to be activated quickly and in a natural position by a switch that works well, All this is set up in a mount that is flexible and places the light where it is needed on you weapon. I’d call that a win, especially since it’s only about 60 bucks.

By the way, I like this system so much, I’ve replaced all the weapon light rigs on my “Go To” weapons with this new system.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
“You Light Up My Life” Series-My EDC Light

“You Light Up My Life” Series-My EDC Light

Over the course of a few decades, I’ve used A LOT of different lights. My first “Tactical” light, after a G.I 2 “D” cell “Anglehead” I had as a kid, was a Pelican “Sabrelite”. It was an OD colored, 3 “C” cell diving light. At the time, it was considered “Top of the line” in the military community.

I started carrying a light in my “Every Day Carry” gear back in 2003. I bought a Surefire “E2 Executive” (that model is no longer available) and made it part of my EDC gear. It was a 2 CR123 battery light, and worked well, but it was expensive and battery life sucked. Fast forward to 2015, and my Wife gets me a “Stocking Stuffer” that year that was a 1-AA led flashlight with a pocket clip. What’s not to love about a light that uses one, commonly available, battery, is easy to use one handed, whether turning it on, or focusing the beam?

I’ve been carrying that light for almost 5 years now and have yet to see an issue with it. It fits perfectly in the knife pocket on my Tru-Spec 24-7 pants. I liked it so much, four years ago, I bought nine more to add to various things like survival kits, shoulder rigs and the like. Focusing the beam is a simple matter of pulling out or pushing in on the head of the light. The beam output is 190 lumens, and that AA battery lasts a long time.

Galco “Classic Lite” shoulder rig with my Springfield XDs 45, a CRKT “Sting” a reload and my Coast HP1 flashlight.

An $8 light that is small, durable, power efficient, bright and works when called upon. What more could you ask for in a piece of EDC gear? I actually plan on buying some more soon, simply because they would make trade goods during a SHTF scenario. Check it out, you;ll be glad you did.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
“Adapting To Survive” The Shotgun “Shell Shrinker”

“Adapting To Survive” The Shotgun “Shell Shrinker”


Adapter Post27In the firearms or survival gear arena, I’ve always had a fascination with being able to adapt tools to perform more than one function, and do it well. In this series, we’ve discussed a cartridge adapter that allows the user to shoot a small pistol caliber bullet through a large centerfire rifle (.32ACP-.308WIN). We’ve also discussed the mechanical adapters made for some semi auto rifles and handguns. These allow the shooter to utilize the .22 Long Rifle cartridge for a practice/training or hunting application.
Next up in the series is another chamber adapter, but this one is for the shotgun. There are a number of “Shell Shrinkers” out there, that adapt one smaller gauged cartridge to a larger one. One manufacturer that comes to mind is Short Lane Gun Adapters. They make a number of shotgun, rifle and pistol adapters for a huge number of gauges and calibers. The adapter that we will discuss today is an old Savage “Four-Tenner” that I’ve had for a number of years.

Adapter Post28

As you can see on the right side of the adapter pic, the “Four-Tenner” has a mechanical extractor which you line up with the extractor in you shotgun for easier shell removal.

The “Four-Tenners” that I own (I have two) are both 20 gauge to .410 adapters. They are approximately 12 1/4 inches long, so unlike many of the adapters you’ll see at “Short Lane Gun Adapters”, this one is not pocket sized. Obviously, the adapter has a outside diameter the same as the 20 Gauge chamber/barrel it is placed into. Also, the “Four-Tenner” has it’s own built in shell extractor, unlike many other adapters on the market.
As with many adapters out there, these devices usually have two primary purposes. Those would be training/practice and hunting. From the training/practice side, I can tell you the “Four-Tenner” made a great understudy for my kids to learn the use of the shotgun at a very young age (they were 4 years old), and all without them having to initially deal with the recoil of a 20 gauge. I used those devices in my Savage M24, .223/20 gauge, and my Stevens 311 20 gauge to teach them how to lead a moving target properly.

Adapters Post29My kids also started their hunting “Careers” by using both of those shotguns to hunt squirrel. For them to achieve a solid killing shot on a squirrel, they needed to be within 20 yards or so. This had the added benefit of making them learn how to stalk the alert “Tree Rat” and get into position for a good hit.

Adapters Post21

The 3″ .410 pattern show on the left, the 2 3/4″ 20 gauge on the right. Both were #6 shot and were fired from 20 yards.

The test was simple. I placed paper targets at 20 yards because I figured this was a good average hunting distance. Using commonly available Remington ammo of the same shot size, I shot both targets with one round. For the .410, I used a 3″ high brass #6 shot load, and for the 20 gauge, I used a 2 3/4 high brass #6 shot load. As you can see by the photo, the .410 pattern shown on the left, has an obvious lack of “payload” for the number of pellets on target. That being said, it still will get the job done within a realistic range.
Another advantage to the “Shell Shrinker” concept is the obvious savings in weight and bulk, when comparing the .410 shell to it’s 20 gauge counterpart. The difference is carrying a cartridge that is approximately .45 of an inch in diameter and weighs about 22 grams, compared to that of a cartridge that is approximately .62 of an inch and weighs around an ounce. The difference with a box of 25 rounds is about 5 ounces in weight and a couple square inches in bulk.

Adapters Post03

Here is a comparison of the sizes of the two cartridges. The 20 gauge box pictured (#4 shot) was not the load used in the test.

All in all, I have gotten a lot of use out of the “Four-Tenner” adapter over the years. But the best use I made out of it was in teaching my kids how to properly use a shotgun, and starting them hunting with one. I know there are still “Four-Tenners” available on different sales sites, but honestly, you’re better off going to a site like Short Lane LLC to get what you are looking for. Hope this was helpful.
“Parata Vivere”- Live Prepared.

New Preppers With “2020” Vision

New Preppers With “2020” Vision

Me in August ’86, as a young Survivalist. I’d been preparing for about 5 years at this point.

As many who know me understand, I have been a Survivalist since I was a kid. I received a lot of flack about that while I was growing up, and even more as an adult, but I never let it deter my focus on what was important. So now Survivalists and Preppers aren’t all that foolish, huh? Apparently those of us who have prepare for hard times are not the “Doomers” and “Nuts” that we’ve been made out to be.

To make matters worse, the “Anti Gun” and “No need for a gun” crowds are apparently is getting upset that they can’t buy a pistol or other type of “registerable” firearm, and walk out the door with it (who knew?), in States that require a waiting period for purchase. The same people who are upset about a waiting period now, were either indifferent at best, or vehemently opposed to immediate purchase and carry firearms when the “Waiting Period” regulations were being enacted.

Many of us who have prepared for a long time, understand that we all had that epiphany, concerning preparedness, at one or more points in our lives. Some realized it earlier, some later and some had to re-realize it. As much as you’d like to rub it in to those who gave you a hard time in the past, this is not a moment for that. This is a time that should be used to educate those new to the “game”.

I’ve prepared for myself, my family and select friends. My supplies are for that group only. Except for advice on the “what”, “where” and “how” of preparedness, I am not a charity organization. With that being said, I have had no problem giving advice to friends and acquaintances who made fun of my preparedness in the past, but are now asking for advice because they’ve “seen the light”. Be the bigger person and help them out.

On another note, I’ve heard from a number of people, that all the preparedness supplies have been cleaned out. Well, that’s simply not true, especially if you are going cheap. Canned goods are still available. Bulk items like rice and beans are still available. Fuel items, whether gasoline for your vehicle or generator and propane for stoves or heaters are out there if you look. Supplies of ammo or firearms are definitely in shorter supply, but still available.

Get out and practice some scenarios with your preps.

Granted, in some cases, those who need them will have to do some serious searching to find those supplies. I told a guy the other day, the supplies are out there, but to use an analogy, they are pretty spartan and somewhat like the chances for getting a nice, whitetail deer, buck in my area back in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

Considering that this situation is about as light as a SHTF situation can be (and still be SHTF), at least for now, this is definitely a good time to learn, without the steep drop at the end of that “bell curve”. You still have things like electricity, water, sewer and working vehicles. For most, we are getting some form of income, whether you are still working or getting an unemployment check. Compared to many of the scenarios that have been envisioned by Survivalists and Preppers over the years, this one is a “lightweight”.

Let’s review what your needs are for a serious scenario? First, supplies for the environmental conditions. This includes your overhead shelter from weather. Heat makers like gas or wood fired stoves if the conditions warrant it. Also, appropriate clothing for the conditions are a necessity.

Clean filtered and purified water is next on the list. Water is followed by food to sustain yourself each day, and the calories needed depend on your own physiology and amount of calories you’re burning daily. Next up would depend on the threat situation. If violence is not typical in your situation, First Aid items are next. If the environment is “Non permissive”, firearms and other defensive items would be number four.

Some basic supplies for a short term SHTF event.

Many things are needed to make you a sustainable lifestyle. There are many resources out there to find out what you need, and for many, all you have is time for the research, right? If you are a Prepper or Survivalist, pat yourself on the back for sticking to your “guns”, staying prepared and practicing with your preps, when it is so much easier to “Eat, Drink and Be Merry”.

If you are new to preparedness, find one of the people you know (almost everyone has that one friend) to ask advice on “The steps” and “The Preps” required to give you some piece of mind in a “less than peaceful environment. I believe this is a lead in for something more severe, whether a “Round 2” of the pandemic, or “Gov overreach” from their “Plandemic”. We shall see, but being truly prepared is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

Keep prepping, but try to relax and enjoy the little things at the same time.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.