Streamlight Siege

You guys remember Hydrox cookies? If you couldn’t pop for real Oreos, you bought Hydrox. Much like how if you’re on a budget, you don’t buy Frosted Flakes but rather the generic store brand ‘Frostie Flakes’ or some such (Slogan: “Theyrrrrrrrre….okay”.)

To me, Streamlight has always been the working-class version of SureFire. Yes, Streamlight has, as I read it, been around a tad longer than SureFire but SureFire gets the rep as the ‘high end’ tacticool product. (Interestingly, Hydrox came out before Oreos, as well.)

20160731_142828I’m kind of a gear snob, but I’m a pragmatists even more. A few years ago Streamlight came out with a product that, as far as  I know, has no comparable version from SureFire…the Streamlight Siege. (Although, to be fair, Eveready and a few others make a similar product but I don’t believe it to be as rugged and well thought out as the Streamlight product.)

The Siege is an LED lantern for area lighting. Nothing remarkable about that, but as you look the product over more closely you get the idea that it was designed for a very particular demographic….we happy survivalists.

20160731_143108The Siege runs on three D-cell batteries….one of the most common sizes of batteries around. Just about everyone has a couple D-cell MagLites floating around the house or car..the Siege takes advantage of that common battery. If you really want to streamline things, there are battery adapters that allow you to run one size of battery in devices meant for a larger size. Most often we see this with adapters that let you run AA-batts in devices that were meant for D-cells. But, my logistics revolves around three battery sizes (AA,D, and CR123) so I have plenty of D-batts laying around. (Interestingly, it seems like virtually the only thing I have that runs on D’s these days are flashlights. The days of radios and other devices running on D-batteries is coming to a close. )

20160731_142908The light source for the Siege is four white LED’s, and a fifth red LED. Holding down the one control button toggles between red or white. When the white LEDs are selected you have a choice of three brightness levels, starting with the highest. When the red LED is selected you have one brightness level, but double-clicking the button puts the red LED into SOS blinky mode.  The plastic ‘shade’ of the Siege diffuses the glow of the LEDs and is removable if you want more harsh lighting.

The top and bottom of the Siege has rugged rubber ‘bumpers’ making the light pretty resistant to being dropped, knocked over, or just banged around. Theres a foldaway clip on the underside of the light for hanging it upsidedown when you have the shade removed, and there’s a bail handle on the other end to hang it from whatever is handy when you do have the shade on.20160731_143039

The non-skid tread on the bumper-like bottom of the light keeps it from sliding on slick surfaces and provides an excellent grip for unscrewing the base to change batteries.

Light output on low is enough to illuminate a room so you don’t trip over anything, on high it’s bright enough to get things done but you’ll still feel like you’re in a power outage. Where this light seems to really shine (as it were) is as an emergency ‘area light’. When the power goes out its the light you turn on and stick high up in a corner of the room, hang in the stairwell, or put in your emergency gear storage area. It’s an awesome emergency light for when the power goes out and you need some light to get your gear together or start up your secondary systems (generator, transfer switch, etc.)

I haven’t beaten the crap out of it yet, but it has rolled off my desk a few times, and once bounced out of the truck….seems to still be doing just fine. Your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve been very pleased with mine and will be getting three or four more as spares/backups/loaners.

They’re available at the usual sources, like Amazon, but once in a while you can find an outdoors-gear vendor having them on sale. Even at regular price, though, they’re a good purchase.

Tab clearing

Oh merciful Crom, it is *hot* out there…. someone get Putin on the phone and tell him to dial down the weather machine.

Some interesting tidbits from around the interwebs…….
When Dyeing PMAGs, Liquid Or Powdered Dye? – An interesting piece from TFB about dyeing sand-colored pmags to whatever color you happen to need. I generally don’t use plastic mags but color-coding magazines has some appeal to me. I’ve always liked bright orange magazines for range practice and this would be a good way to readily segregate ‘practice’ mags from ‘critical’ mags.

Citizen science takes on Japan’s nuclear establishment -DIY nuclear background monitoring. I’m a fan of empirical data over government supplied data. What’s interesting is that some placesdont want you to own early warning systems because you might misread them and cause panic. And, of course, you might stray from the ‘official’ reports.

The new Microgun – Smaller than an M4, but with a cyclic rate of about $1400 rpm. This really might bring the man-portable Jesse Ventura backpack electric gun into reality… these would make amazing suppressing-fire weapons for light vehicles and temporary facilities. I thought I read somewhere that someone was working on a version that ran off a cordless drill…..

And just for fun…rubber-band MP5 – Because.

Building for sale. Location: 14 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Building for sale. Comes with: helicopter deck and 360-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wait, what?

The Chesapeake Light Tower – 14 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach – has both, and it hit the auction block last month.

I wonder if it’s far enough out there to be considered out of the US’ jurisdiction. History has several sea-stead attempts at creating sovereign micronations….I wonder if this would be another one.


You know that things like plastic bullets, beanbag rounds, rubber buckshot, etc. are called “Less-than-lethal”, right? It used to be they were called “non-lethal”, but the problem was that sort of title implied that you couldn’t kill anyone with itg. Sixty seconds on Google will show plenty of episodes of people getting brained with ‘non-lethal’ baton rounds and that sort of thing and winding up dead. So…the moniker “Non-lethal” was changed to less-than-lethal meaning that usually it won’t kill someone if you use it properly. A lot of distinctions there.

Many of the blogs I read advocate ‘self-sufficiency’ as a goal. They propose the dream house that is ‘off the grid’ and independent of the umbilical cords that connect us to the major infrastructure. This is all great if you can do it, but it’s a tall order. It seems that the choices are binary…you are ‘off the grid’ and ‘self-sufficient’ or you’re ‘on the grid’ and screwed. There hasn’t been a term for that in-between stage. I think that term is ‘less-than-dependent’. It implies that you aren’t self-sufficient, but you are more resilient to an infrastructure failure than those who are 100% dependent on that infrastructure. Let me give an example…

X has a house in town that has city water, city sewer, grid electric, natural gas, gets his groceries from the market, and that sort of thing. Z has a farm in the hills with a well, septic field, solar/wind generators and batteries, livestock and a huge garden, and all the other gee-whiz that we dream about. X is dependent and not self-sufficient, and Z is , by pretty much most definitions, independent and self-sufficient. Lethal vs. non-lethal. But is there an unrecognized or unacknowledged ‘in-between’? Take Y, who lives in the burbs or on the edge of town. He has his home set up just like X with it’s tie-in to ‘the grid systems’, and he doesn’t have the dedicated systems like Z….but he has backup generators, a cistern and pool full of water, a pantry loaded with food, a large propane tank to run his emergency heater and stove, etc, etc. He’s not 100% dependent, but he’s not 100% independent either. He is, I think, ‘less-than-dependent’.

I bring it up because sometimes I think we forget that it isn’t a binary choice…you’re either dependent or independent, self sufficient or not self sufficient. I think there’s a grey area in there and that grey area is where most of us are. I’m certainly not self-sufficient, in this context, but I’m far from dependent. I may not last as long as the guy out in the hills with his self-sufficient setup, but I’ll far, far outlast my totally dependent neighbors. We all want to leave the dependent stage, and I think we all want to reach the self-sufficient/independent stage, but we should recognize that less-than-dependent is still a huge step in the right direction. Some people may be okay with less-than-dependent, some people may see it as just a stop on their way to independent/self-sufficient, but…if you cannot get to that independent/self-sufficient stage, at least try to get to the less-than-dependent stage.

Article -Confessions Of A Former Apocalypse Survival Guide Writer

This is like finding out the call girl doesn’t *really* love you…..

The first time I bid on a freelance job to ghostwrite a doomsday survival guide, I was only asked one question: Did I have experience writing for middle-aged Republican men? I told the client that I had experience writing for a wide variety of ages and political affiliations, which was noncommittal enough to be true.


The client said, “Sounds good, bro.”


We were off to the races.

Article – Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights

I highly doubt anyone here does this but:

As previously noted, Pokemon Go also requires extensive app permissions to run. And the Pokemon Go privacy policy states the company may share aggregated data with third parties, and identifiable user data with law enforcement agencies and other parties for a range of reasons it deems appropriate.

It isn’t hard to imagine that somewhere, “someone” wanted a way to bring millions of people into a program where they could be tracked, have their phone mined for data, and have who knows what other ‘third party’ stuff slipped into their phone. Disguise it as a game and people will line up to hand over their digital keys.

Or, perhaps it’s just a game.

But, to me, it’s just an unnecessary risk. If someone were to really want to play this game, I’d suggest buying a burner phone and using it instead. Expensive as hell, but you probably shouldnt be wasting your time playing this modified and rebranded version of geocaching anyway.

Streamlight Sidewinder cont.

When I was a kid, I loved playing with flashlights. One time I came across a military anglehead flashlight and I was a bit perplexed. All the flashlights I had played with previously were basically tube-shaped with the light coming out of one end of the tube. The GI flashlight was bent into an L-shape and holding the flashlight to get the beam pointed in front of you wasn’t as natural a movement as with the other kind. So…why the awkward design?

Of course, as a little kid it didnt occur to me that when your hands are full (as with a rifle or gear) you needed to hang the flashlight on your webbing and for it to point straight ahead the flashlight had to be in that L-shape.

Nowadays there are several ‘wearable’ flashlight for this sort of thing. A few years back I purchased a Streamlight Sidewinder. It’s been part of my casual everyday carry gear for a while now and it’s worth remarking on how it’s held up and how satisfied I am with it.

The Streamlight Sidewinder is, basically, a 2-AA battery flashlight with four different colors of bulb, and four settings of intentity, with a swivel head. That’s the short version. Longer version is that I’ve found it to be an immensely useful small flashlight. Many times I just drop a little 1-AA light in my pocket and go with that, bur for a more dedicated kit or layout of gear, the Streamlight is my go to.

First off, it’s available with four different color LEDs. You can do white/blue,red/IR or white/blue/red/green. I went with the IR model since you never know when you’ll need to have that sneak factor working in your favor.

The light has one knob with a push button that controls all functions. Push and hold to turn on, and continue to hold to cycle through four levels of brightness. Double-click for flashing strobe mode. Twisting the knob, rather than pushing it, selects which LED is active. There’s a tactile index point so you can select LED’s in the dark.

20160715_184035The Sidewinder has a captive battery compartment lid, which I think is an awesome touch and a sign that someone really sat down and put some thought into this thing. No need to worry about losing the battery compartment lid in the tall grass or in the dark if you’re changing batteries. There are also tactile indicators for battery polarity so you can, literally, change batteries in the dark or with your eyes closed.20160715_183954

The Sidewinder clips to your webbing or whatever using a spring metal clip on the back. In addition to the clip, there is an attachment point for a lanyard or keeper so your light doesn’t go missing if you take a tumble.

The base of the unit is flat, and in conjunction with the adjustable angles head allows you to set the light on a flat surface and point the beam where you want it. One disadvantage is the range of motion for the swivel head…if you have the unit seated on your webbing or otherwise on your shoulder/chest the head doesn’t swivel down enough to light the ground at your feet…it’ll light the area directly in front of you, but not directly beneath and in front of you. This can be remedied by carrying the light upsidedown on your person, but be careful it does’t slide off your gear and get lost.

It’s an excellent light for what it’s designed for – navigation and detail stuff. It’s not the sort of thing you use to light up a field or spotlight something, but for trotting down trails in the dark, navigating pitch black interiors, or examining things where you need both hands free, it excels. As of late, I’ve been spending time in a library facility two stories underground. I notices their emergency lighting is virtually non-existent, so this is the light I take with me in my bag…just in case. I can wear it on the shoulder strap leaving me both hands free to open doors, move obstacles from my path, etc, etc.

They aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re kind of expensive. But mine has held up virtually undamaged over the last several years and I have confidence that if I secure it to my bag and leave it there, it’ll always work no matter how wet things get or how much rough handling it experiences.

There are a few clip-to-your-gear lights out there using LED’s, and I have tried a few of them (and found them wanting) but so far the Sidewinder gets my nod for being the best one out there that I’m aware of.

French stuff

A guy driving a truck manages to kill (according to current numbers) more people than a guy shooting a rifle in a crowded nightclub. That’s interesting to think about since pretty much any yahoo can head down to U-Haul, load up a panel truck with some inertia-inducing weight, dial it up to 60 mph and plow into a Farmers Market on any given Saturday.

The quick response is “this is yet another reason to always be armed”, which is a tad misleading if you know basic physics. There’s nothing you can shoot that isn’t crew-served that’s going to stop a couple tons of mass clipping along at 40 mph. On the other hand, reports are suggesting that after his episode behind the wheel, the driver came out shooting, at which point..yes…time for a  bullet party.

What probably would have made the biggest difference didn’t sit in a holster, but rather between the ears – situational awareness. Know the risks, know the potential chokepoints, kill zones, bottlenecks, etc….be aware of who is around you….recognize that being in a cluster of poeple might make you more of a target than being alone..know where the nearest exit is. That sort of thing.

Sad state of affairs, but that’s the way the world is today and probably will be that way for the rest of our lives. Folks like you and I, people who are used to thinking this way about personal safety, will probably adapt to it quite easily and quickly. We already operate in Condition Yellow most of the time when we’re out of our homes. For us, it’s second nature. Most every cop I know operates with a heightened Condition Yellow as their default setting. Same for a lot of military guys. Check your factory setting and adjust as necessary.

Coopers_Levels_of_Awareness_Indicators_of_ViolenceIt’s an ugly world out there, and Bad Things really can come wearing a thousand different faces. You may not be ready for all of them, but you’ll still be miles ahead of the oblivious, normalcy-biased souls who stand around texting “OMG terror attack” when the smart person is beating feet in the opposite direction.

“It’s a real war, kid…it’s here every day.”

Video – After Armageddon

Remember when [insert name of animal] Flu was the big apocalypse du jour? I was down the YouTube rabbit hole and got sucked into this video.

Man, if this doesn’t make you want to redouble your efforts, nothing will.

This is one of the reasons I think it isn’t a waste of time to watch/read surivivalist fiction (or non-fiction). It gives motivation and makes you think about things you may not have thought about. And wargaming these sorts of things is always an interesting exercise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check my stocks of bleach and AA batteries………

Article – ‘MacGyvers’ Born In the Superstorm

When Andrew and Deborah Ku first heard about Hurricane Sandy, they worried that their ground-level bodega—located one block from the beach in Far Rockaway, Queens—would be swamped. They searched for sandbags and found none.

They made an impromptu barrier of faux-sandbags improvised from supplies at hand: cat litter and garbage bags.

The bodega weathered the storm without a drop of floodwater, enabling a reopening as one of the few surviving stores on the hard-hit peninsula.

An article I came across about the impromptu engineering that is spurred by necessity. As Rand said, “Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival.” Everything from Robinson Crusoe to Castaway to The Martian (esp. The Martian, actually) highlights that when you’re caught in a bad situation, it’s the clear-headed, creative, intelligent man who succeeds.

This is why the smart survivalist has a library that covers everything from small unit tactics to emergency medicine to electrical theory and accounting. We’re all familiar with Heinlein’s famous quote: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  I’m not sure specialization is necessarily a bad thing..when I need a triple bypass I’d very much like the guy working on me to be not only a specialist, but a very well trained one. However, specialization to the exclusion of things is definitely not a good idea.

Back in the old day, the best you could hope for was to slowly acquire the information you wanted by diligent trips to the library, and scouring new and used bookstores. Nowadays, literally the entire collected information of humanity is available to you on a small computer you carry in your pocket. And you don’t even need to actually read about it…you can see videos explaining whatever you want to learn.

While the information is out there, the desire to learn is not. That’s something you have to get from within. I am always stunned when I meet people so dogmatic that they won’t try new products, ideas, or methods, because “this is good enough”. What kind of person intentionally hamstrings themselves simply because they’re too lazy or narrow-minded to investigate and evaluate new ideas? I had a buddy who thought that his 1941 Johnson was the ultimate SHTF rifle…it was quick to reload (with five round stripper clips), fired a powerful .30 caliber bullet, and had a high-capacity (10 round) magazine. Never mind that it cost around $3000. Oh..and it didn’t do anything an AR-10, PTR-91, or even an M1A would do for half the money. But…facts had no bearing on his beliefs and he persisted in building his apocalyptic future around an outdated, obsolete, expensive, logistically-orphaned, and awkward weapons platform.

I suppose my point is, the linked article shows that when the chips are down, what’s between your ears can be more useful than whats in your pockets (or pack). But only if you’re able to think that way and not be hobbled by “this is how we’ve always done it.”