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Nightstick USB-556xl

 Everyone should have a good flashlight, at least in my opinion. Nightstick is starting to be one of my favorites. Recently they introduced a new series of USB rechargeable tactical flashlights. After reading the press release, I asked if they would send one out. Nightstick sent the USB-556xl. The 556xl is a single cell LED flashlight with a max output of 750 lumens.

 The usb-556xl is packed with features. As one could guess, it is USB rechargeable. It comes with a little usb cord also, but not the charger. In today’s world, finding a usb charger is easy enough. Since I am on the usb, the 556xl has a built in micro-usb charging port. The port is hidden underneath part of the handle. One must unscrew the center section and then slide it down to reveal the usb port. It is not the easiest to unscrew because of the o-rings used to seal the flashlight charging port. There is also a tiny light above the charging port. The light is red when charging, and green when fully charged. Nightstick says it takes 4 hours to fully charge, and that seems correct, but I never actually timed it. While I like the usb charging function, the 556xl does use a proprietary lithium-ion battery. Once charged, just slide the cover back on, and screw it closed.

 Since the usb-556xl is a tactical light, it has options that are quite useful. For instance, it uses a push button tailcap. The light will automatically shine on high, momentarily, if you push the button part way down. Of course it then turns off when released. Also, if you push the button all the way in, it turns on, on the high setting. To get it into the medium or low setting, hold the tailcap down while the light is on, then release pressure when it gets to the setting you desire. Once the light is turned off, it defaults back to the high position. This is probably my favorite function. Because when I want the light on, or need it on, having it on the high setting is ideal. The light also has a strobe function. To access the strobe, you have to push the tailcap button all the way down, twice, quickly. It only strobes at the high output, but can be turned on from either low, med, or high while the light is on. I prefer lights without a strobe, but Nightstick doesn’t offer this light without a strobe function. I would like the button to be inset farther into the tailcap, that way one could set the flashlight down on a flat surface, and have it shine upward to illuminate a room or something.

 I seldom use a pocket clip, but the 556xl has one. Mainly the light just gets put in my pocket, but some people find the clip useful. The clip on the 556xl isn’t that great. It works, but is a little flimsy or thin. The clip is easily removed also. One advantage to the removable clip is that it can be turned around. By doing so, it can be clipped to things, letting light shine outward away from it. I actually did this and clipped it to a hat bill. So everywhere I looked, the light was shining. Kind of like a headlamp.

 Specs, everyone wants to know these. First up, the light is bright. On high it is rated at 750 lumens and 9350 candela. Medium is 250 lumens and 2950 candela. Low is 80 lumens and 1115 candela. You get a 1hr/2hr/5hr runtime at the above settings. So pretty good for a 750 lumen light. I loved these, the high setting lights up my backyard better than my porch light. On high the beam wasn’t too wide and the light shines pretty far. I do use the medium setting alot. It is useful for finding dropped screws and such. Not too bright, but not too dim. I hardly use the low setting, it is a little too bright for finding stuff in the car at night. But then again, the low setting works good if you need to see where you are going, especially if there isn’t much ambient light. The 556xl can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes before something bad might happen. At 4.7” in length, it is not too big for pocket carry. It also only weighs 4.4 ounces. The body on the 556xl is 1” wide, and the head is a little larger at 1.2”s. If you like black, your in luck, because you can have any color, as long as it’s black. But, it is a class III anodized aluminum body, so it should last a long time.

Low setting

Medium setting

High setting

 This light has been in my pocket, everyday for almost 6 months. It shows some wear, but not too bad. I really like how it can be charged just about anywhere. At 750 lumens, it is bright enough for anything I need. It doesn’t classify as “all the lumens,” but what can you expect for a single cell light. I’ve dropped it on concrete, in water, and it keeps on working, the lens isn’t even scratched up. Do I think this is a decent tactical light? The answer would be yes, even if it has some minor flaws.

 If you are looking for a decent flashlight, the Nightstick usb-556xl is worth looking into. I really like the usb charging feature. It has good runtime, especially if you don’t use it on the high setting. At around $100, it’s not cheap, but is in the same price range as competing models. Do yourself a favor and go checkout Nightstick, they manufacture all different types of lights.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

USB rechargeable tactical light

Target Market:

Anyone wanting a bright rechargeable tactical flashlight

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • 750/250/80 lumen output

  • 1/2/5 hour runtimes

  • 4.7” long

  • 4.4 ounces

  • Rechargeable

  • IP-X7 waterproof (1m for 30 min)

  • 6061 anodized aluminum construction

  • Momentary, constant on, and strobe

  • LED

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

320 and 900 lumen models

Link to other reviews:

None found

Price point:

MSRP = $111.00

Retail = $83.25 on Amazon

I need it now! Availability:

Amazon or Here

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Bright

  • Momentary (750 lumen only)

  • Low, Med, High settings

  • USB Rechargeable

  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Pocket Clip

  • Proprietary battery

  • End cap (button recess)

  • Strobe function

Score: 7.00 Good

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Work Sharp - Ken Onion Edition

 If you carry a knife, of any type, then you need a good knife sharpener. The people over at Work Sharp Outdoor have supplied me with just that. Welcome the Ken Onion edition knife and tool sharpener. I talked with them at the Blade show West and they kindly sent this out for review.

 The Work Shop Ken Onion Edition (WSKOE) is an electric sharpener. To sum it’s looks up, it resembles a handheld angle grinder. On the side is the belt/knife guide area, this is where all the magic happens. Then there is a handle with a trigger system. Then up front is the motor assembly. One can use this sharpener by holding it, but setting it down on a bench or table works best. The belt/sharpening assembly can also be rotated around to different angles by a spring loaded push button release.

 This little handy sharpener comes with everything you need. The excellent instructions give you an idea of what belt/belts to use for each task ,along with what angle might work best. The WSKOE comes with 5 belts. Basically they range from extra course to extra-extra fine. The extra course belt is basically for shaping metal. I used it to reshape a knife that the tip had broken off. It made fast work of it. The extra-extra fine belt is more of a polishing belt, used to give a mirror like edge. It is also super easy to change the belts. Just push up on the spring loaded tensioner, pop the belt off and slide a different one on. I may have tried polishing some fire control parts with it also, of which it worked quite well.

   To further enhance the sharpening abilities, the WSKOE has even more features. The trigger system uses variable speed and can be locked in whatever speed one wishes. There is also an edge guide that folds out for use with longer knife blades. I used the edge guide for big kitchen knives and hunting knives. Also on the belt head is an angle adjustable guide. This guide keeps the angle of the sharpening blade somewhat controlled. It is adjustable from 15-30 degrees. As mentioned earlier, the whole belt sharpening system can be rotated. I didn’t use this feature, but I can see where it would be useful for sharpening my lawnmower blade, or just general grinding on something larger.

 This sharpener works. I must have sharpened almost every knife we own, including kitchen knives. It is very quick once you get the hang of it. I only found one thing I didn’t like about it. The blade angle rest takes some getting use to. When you are sharpening the knife, you rest the cheek of the knife on the angle guide and pull the knife through. If you put too much pressure on the angle guide, you can overtake the spring and get a sharper angle. After a little use, this wasn’t a problem. Also when using the angle guide, the guide ends before the tip of the knife is guided in. This meant that I had to freehand the sharpening of the tip. Not a big deal, in fact I did take the angle guide off and sharpen some knives freehand, which also worked well.

 I really don’t even know how I sharpened knives the old way. I was actually looking for things to sharpen. The WSKOE does use a standard 110-120V wall plug in, so it isn’t cordless. Replacement belts are easily found, a couple of local sportsman stores have them. Other sharpening adapters are also available through Work Sharp Outdoors.

 The Ken Onion edition sharpener is top notch. Some might say it’s a little pricey at $130, but if you want sharp knives, it might not be. There is a small learning curve, but once mastered you will have sharp knives forever. Go check out Work Sharp Outdoors, they make all kinds of knife sharpening tool.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Powered Knife Sharpener

Target Market:

Anyone who wants a fast knife sharpener

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • 15-30 degree edge angle

  • 5 belts from 120-6000 grit

  • ¾” wide belts

  • Variable speed (1200-2800 SFM)

  • Speed lock

  • Adjustable head

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

NA

What others are saying?:

⅘ stars on Amazon

Great little sharpener. Beautiful convex edges. Tape the sides of your blades to avoid scratches.

I really like the Ken Onion Work Sharp. I purchased it because I wanted to try convex edges on my knives without the risk of ruining them while learning to do it freehand. My first attempt on the Work Sharp involved a brand new Ontario Knives Rat-1, an inexpensive, well-made knife with a pretty AUS-8 satin finished blade. In just a few minutes, I was able to produce a razor-sharp, beautifully mirrored edge. I also produced a LOT of UGLY scratches on that pretty AUS-8 satin finish because the metal particles that come off the edge during sharpening build up on the angle guides. When you pull the knife through as instructed, you get scratches. I honestly don't mind if my knives get banged up during use but I just can't see defacing them during sharpening. It's just not necessary. A quick search of Blade Forums confirmed others have experienced the same problem, especially with highly polished finishes. After reading a bit further, I decided to use painters tape on a different knife to protect the blade. Problem solved, a perfectly sharp convex edge in minutes and not a scratch to be seen. Other sharpeners like the Apex Edge Pro actually suggest this method. It would have been nice if the Work Sharp folks had done the same. Despite that issue, if you want to try convex edges, (they really are better), the Work Sharp is a great little machine at a fair price. I highly suggest reading the instructions carefully and taping the sides of your blades. Cheers and thanks for taking the time to read my review.

Link to other reviews:

The Truth About Knives

Price point:

MSRP = $129.95

Retail = $129.95 on Amazon

I need it now! Availability:

Work Sharp or Amazon

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Quickly sharpens knives

  • Adjustable grinding angle

  • Mirror cutting edge

  • Edge guide

Cons:

  • Angle guide

  • Learning curve

Score: 8.5 Great

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Favorite Link:   AR-15 Podcast

Blue Alpha gear SR EDC Belt

Written by Zane M.

  At first the belt seemed thin but being stitched double webbing it’s every bit as stiff as I have come to expect from a good quality belt. The plastic buckle is ugly, think life jacket, but if I were concerned with looks I’d wear a leather belt. Make no mistake, this belt is not a looker but it’s sure as hell functional. 

  All ready to go for the day with my new belt on and my typical set up I started my first day with the new belt. This belt had its work cut out for it. A typical load out for me consisting of a g17 with a trl-1 aiwb, a spare 20 round mag next to it, two cell flashlight in one pocket and a tourniquet in the other. All this in cargo shorts and a t-shirt. 

  Over the next few months this was my go to belt and still is as of writing. I found this belt less useful for holsters that require the belt be fed through the mounting points, it can be done but not without removing one side of the buckle (like a cobra buckle). I was, however, able to thread the buckle through almost all of my pants regardless of belt loops. The only exception was dress slacks and let’s be honest, this belt doesn’t  go with a suit anyway. 

  Sizing is super simple, unlike with most belt companies you simply order your pant size. There is plenty of adjustment. I was between sizes so I ordered up but either way looks like it would have worked fine. 

  Probably the best thing about this belt is the price. It retails for just under $35 on Blue alpha gear’s website. You would be hard pressed to find another belt this good for that price. 

 

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

CLAIM TO FAME:

Cheap durable edc belt 

TARGET MARKET:

Concealed carry 

FNBS (FEATURES & BENEFITS OF THIS PRODUCT):

  • Very reasonably priced. 
  • Alternative to the cobra buckle (for those like me that aren't a fan) 

WHAT OTHER AESTHETIC OPTIONS OR FINISHES ARE AVAILABLE?

Black 

Wolf gray

Coyote brown 

What others are saying:

From blue alpha gear’s website 

Outstanding value

Jeremy on Feb 11, 2018

What a great belt for not a whole lot of money. Fits in Levis and Carhartt with no issues. Solidly built and is the cost of a week's worth of coffee.

Works great for AIWB and regular carry. This is a perfectly capable everyday belt. Good stuff made in the US.

Price point:

MSRP - $34.97

At time of writing on sale for $29.97 from blue alpha gear 

I need it now availability:

2-5 day lead time at time of writing from Blue Alpha Gear

Our Rating:

Pros:

  • Super stiff
  • Very reasonably priced 

Cons:

  • Buckle is ugly 
  • No frills 
  • Doesn’t feed through all belt loops 

Score: 7.5 GOOD

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