The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 2 – Out of the box & performance report

As mentioned in the first post, I ordered a Streamlight 88081 from Amazon. It arrived and, of course, I had to immediately check it out. Here are a series of photos with the story told in the captions.

This is the 88081 with the 18650 USB rechargeable batteries
The box has twp tables talking about performance metrics based on the type of battery used. The left table is for CR123A batteries and the right is for 18650 batteries. The model I bought comes with the 18650 class batteries (two of them are used at a time) so the right table is applicable.
The first thing I noticed was how it felt – there’s a nice solid heft to it, the rubberized grip is very positive and it fits my hand real nice. Note, I wear XL-sized gloves for reference.
Here’s the business end of the light. Notice the interesting lens. It kicks out one hell of a bright focused center but still radiates a very broad cone of light. It is not adjustable but I really haven’t found the need to change it after using it for over a month.
It has some big fins for heat dissipation. Note, the rubberized surface is only on the handle – the emitter head is just anodized aluminum to allow for cooling. Good idea on their part. The longest I’ve run the light about 5-10 minutes. It does warm up but I’ve not run it long enough to see just how hot it can get.
These are the Streamlight brand Micro USB rechargeable 18650 batteries. I was unsure about the concept at first but they give you a ton of options for recharging in your home, vehicle or even with a big battery in the field.

Streamlight 22102 Rechargeable Li-Ion Lithium-Ion 18650 USB Battery Set - 2 Pack

$27.96
End Date: Wednesday Sep-25-2019 13:17:15 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $27.96
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 18650 Rechargeable ProTac Flashlight USB Battery 2pk

$28.48
End Date: Sunday Sep-15-2019 11:01:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $28.48
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Because I already have an 18650 charging cradle, I bought some spare 18650 batteries. OLight makes good gear so I got a pair of their batteries. As I write this, they are in the light right now. I also bought them because I wasn’t sure how the Streamlight USBs would perform and the short answer is that if I had it to do over, I’d buy a second pair of Streamlight USBs because of the flexibility to charge just about anywhere. DO NOT BUY CHEAP BATTERIES!! You risk performance and them catching fire/exploding.

Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$19.99
End Date: Monday Sep-16-2019 19:36:12 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$19.99
End Date: Monday Sep-16-2019 19:36:12 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
They use a nice beefy spring on the tailcap. This spring is a failure point on cheap lights along with the switch. I’ve never had a spring or switch fail on a Streamlight product.
According to my Bushnell 1200 laser range finder, the hedge row at the back behind the trees is 65 yards. You can see the very bright center and flood light around it.
The bush to the left of the driveway is 62 yards away. Again, you can see the very bright focused center beam and broad light to the sides.

TEN-TAP Programming

I have a pet peeve with some lights – I loathe the ones with tons of modes where you need to click the power switch to cycle through them – low, medium, high, strobe, SOS, etc. What a pain in the butt!! Streamlight wisely made the PROTAC HL programmable via what they call “TEN-TAP”. Mine is set to high beam on and off. That’s it. Sure, I can adjust it if I ever want to but all I need right now is the high beam and I don’t want to have to fumble around clicking the button to get to the high beam mode. Streamlight has a page that tells more about how to program your light – click here.

Bottom Line

I really, really like this light. It is the brightest one I own now and when we pull down the trash at night, we can see everything very clearly. If there are any coyotes, I am sure they are getting the heck out of Dodge as soon as they see that light and hear us coming. Furthermore, the light has enough heft that if we do need to hit something with it, the blow will do massive damage – you’d be amazed what a freaked out fat man can do 🙂 At any rate, I have no reservations recommending this light to you.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Streamlight 88081 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$99.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 12:13:15 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$101.13
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:51 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $101.13
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Black ProTac HL 5-X 2500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$86.85
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $86.85
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$101.08
End Date: Thursday Sep-5-2019 10:39:10 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $101.08
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 880256 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$97.99
End Date: Saturday Sep-21-2019 19:49:14 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $97.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$100.04
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:58 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $100.04
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$99.02
End Date: Thursday Sep-19-2019 6:28:19 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.02
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL-5X USB - Brand New without Box

$85.00
End Date: Wednesday Sep-18-2019 8:29:24 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $85.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$105.00
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 12:47:13 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $105.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 18650 Rechargeable ProTac Flashlight USB Battery 2pk

$28.48
End Date: Sunday Sep-15-2019 11:01:08 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $28.48
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Rick’s R4 Forgery

I always love it when folks send me photos of their firearms using our parts. Rick sent in these cool photos of what he calls his “R4 Forgery” and it is using one of our Galil grips.

Very cool Rick!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 1

One Sunday morning at about 7am, I was putting stuff in the trunk of my wife’s car when a surprised coyote carrying a dead reddish brown cat in its jaws ran by me about 20 feet away. I was startled but not especially worried – you could tell the ‘yote was just as surprised as I was. I knew we had them in the area but this was the closest I had been to one.

A few days later, my wife and I were pulling our trash cans down our long 300 foot driveway at night and all the woods and bushes are dimly lit. My wife said she saw a dog or something running across our yard in front of a hedge. My eyes are crap now and I didn’t see it until it reached the driveway and turned to run away from us – it was another coyote. Well, that did it for me, I wanted us to have a heavy flashlight with one hell of a bright beam to carry when we pulled the trash cans out at night.

My wife will tell you that I am fascinated by flashlights and have quite a collection. I have converted 3, 4 and 5 cell MagLites to LED – they had the weight but not the brightness that I wanted. I wanted something that would absolutely nuke the immediate area in light. I needed something that would push a ton of light in a flood pattern about 100-200 yards and that meant something with well over 1,000 lumens. My 250-500 lumen lights would light up a pretty large area but I wanted a tactical nuke that would light up a big chunk of our yard and stun/scare anything caught in its beam.

The other mandatory requirement that I must emhasize was reliability. I’ve had a ton of cheap import lights fail me – sometimes its the switch, sometimes the cheap under-powered spring pushing the batteries forward, etc. Most of the time, when you buy a cheap light, you get a cheap light. I honestly wanted a light the family could rely on and if they needed to swing it as a club in self-defense to hit a coyote, or any attacker really, it would still reliably work.

If I am going to put my family’s safety on the line with a light, such as this case, there are only two brands of light to be considered – Surefire and Streamlight. Surefire lights are excellent but usually priced outside of my reach. Streamlight on the other hand, is a great combination of excellent quality and affordability. My everyday carry light is usually a Streamlight Microstream and has been for the last 2-3 years. The only weapons lights I buy are Streamlights – either from the TLR or PROTAC series. I’ve never had one fail on me so I am confident with this brand in general.

Thus, I started my journey broad by surfing the web and reading and quickly narrowing my choice down to the Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X LED light.

The PROTAC HL 5-X Flashlight

As mentioned, I did a ton of reading. The specs on this light were wicked and convinced me to order one:

  • 3,500 lumen on high using 18650 batteries or only 2500 if using CR123A
  • Can use either two 18650 reachargeable batteries or four CR123A batteries
  • Three operating programs – 1) High/Low/Strobe 2) High Only 3) Low/Medium/High
  • Light output and battery life depends on both the mode and the type of battery:
    • High (18650 USB): 3,500 lumens; 452m beam; runs 1.25 hours; 51,000 candela
    • High (CR123A): 2,500 lumens; 385m beam; runs 1.5 hours; 37,000 candela
    • Medium: 1,000 lumens; 237m beam; runs 2.5 hours (CR123A); runs 3 hours (18650 USB); 14,100 candela
    • Low: 250 lumens; 120m beam; runs 10.5 hours (CR123A); runs 11.5 hours (18650 USB); 3,620 candela
    • Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 1.5 hours (CR123A); runs 1.25 hours (18650 USB)
  • 9.53 inches long
  • Weighs 1 pound 3.4oz with the Streamlight USB batteries
  • Rubber sleve over an aluminum body gives both a sure grip and is a thermal insulator

Yeah, it was definitely #1 on my “this is the light to get” list. An interesting note is that you can buy complete kits including Streamlights USB reachargeable 18650 batteries. I’m used to the traditional batteries that go in a charger so this was new to me – these batteries have a small micro USB port on each of them and Streamlight can supply a USB cord that plugs into the charger of your choice. Their cord has a split head for charging the two batteries at once. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

The problem with a great many rechargeable batteries is the need for a dedicated charger -either tying up the whole light as you plug a cord into the light or the batteries are removed and put in a charging cradle of some type. With the Streamlight 18650 USB batteries, things are actually simpler – many folks have USB chargers all over the house, in cars, at work, etc. All you need is a charger and any micro USB cable – there’s nothing proprietary to deal with. The light can still use regular rechargeable 18650 batteries as well – I use both but may well get another set of Streamlight 18650 USB batteries. I already have the charger in my office but I don’t have the flexibility I just mentioned.

So, I ordered the full USB kit from Amazon and they did their usual great job of shipping.

How Did It Perform?

As they say, that is a story for another day, or at least the next post so click here to read it. I’ll tell you though, it is one heck of a light and totally lived up to what I hoped for.

Fresh out of the box.

Click here to read the next post that has many photos of the light, its parts and night time photos showing the illumination.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The following are current eBay listings for a variety of PROTAC HL 5-X lights and not just the one I bought:


Streamlight 88081 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$99.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 12:13:15 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $99.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 ProTac HL 5-X Handheld LED Flashlight 2500 Lumens, Black

$81.64
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 11:04:09 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $81.64
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$101.13
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:51 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $101.13
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$101.08
End Date: Thursday Sep-5-2019 10:39:10 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $101.08
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$100.04
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:58 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $100.04
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Black ProTac HL 5-X 2500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$86.85
End Date: Friday Aug-23-2019 6:21:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $86.85
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

ProTac HL 5-X - Missing Batteries and Charger

$68.41
End Date: Saturday Aug-24-2019 20:05:47 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $68.41
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88075 ProTac HL 5-X Handheld LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens, Black

$88.60
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 11:00:24 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $88.60
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 880256 ProTac HL 5-X Rechargeable USB LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens

$97.99
End Date: Saturday Sep-21-2019 19:49:14 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $97.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL-5X USB - Brand New without Box

$85.00
End Date: Wednesday Sep-18-2019 8:29:24 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $85.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

A Kershaw Knockout Knife and Streamlight Microstream LED Light Are In My Pocket These Days

I have quite a selection of folding knives that I use all the time for work – cutting open boxes, plastic pails, insulation, tubing, etc. It’s funny but I wind up rotating through them for one reason or another – it may be because one needs to be sharpened and is too dull (my ZT 0350 is that way right now) or because I just pick up the blade that is by my desk and drop it in my pocket as I head out to the shop. The same is true for whatever small light I am carrying. A while back, I posted about buying both a Kershaw Knockout and Streamlight Microstylus. I’m so happy with both that I figured an update was in order.

Kershaw Knockout

As mentioned, I did buy this blade some months back and posted about it For the last few months, my goto blade has been the Kershaw Knockout. It is a very decent medium sized pocket knife that has a 3.25″ blade made from Sandvik 142C28N steel. It is holding the edge remarkably well – I haven’t needed to sharpen it yet and am very impressed. Note, I use a Work Sharp Ken Onion edition sharpener to true up my blades and it can handle any steel.

The handle is very comfortable, The Knockout gets its name from the cut out in the handle where they rivet in the blade lock. It makes for a very easy to operate locking mechanism. I always like the flag they add to their American made knives also.
The blade is holding up great. You know, I don’t know the details behind the “Diamond Like Coating” – DLC – process but it is really impressive. I’ve beat my ZT 0350 half to death and that coating is holding up on that knife also. Also, you can see the Streamlight Microstream light.

The second reason is that it is remarkably light and thin. For its size, it really does not drag down my pocket. At the same time, the hande is big enough for me to get a firm grip to cut open plastic pails.

The third big reason is that it uses Kershaw’s “SpeedSafe” flipper mechanism for one handed opening. When I am working, being able to open the knife with only one hand is a huge benefit.

The Streamlight Microstream LED Light

I have bought a number of these little lights – my best guess is 6-8 of them. Simply put they hold up great and are at a very reasonable price especially given the quality. Here’s a blog post that I did after my initial purchase back in 201.

I have put at least four of them through the clotheswasher and as long as the base is on tight, they survive. If the base comes loose and water gets in then it is pretty much always game over.

This is a good photo both of the Knockout and the Microstream. The Microstream is 3.5″ long and has a diameter of about 0.6″.

What I can tell you is that I have never had one fail on me due to worksmanship. Dead battery, yes. The switch, body and LED have all held up just great.

I really like these lights because they are small, don’t weigh much, use regular AAA batteries and only cost $16.22 off Amazon. I should also point out that they produce 28 lumens of light and that little battery will last about 2-2.5 hours. I probably carry this light even more than I do a blade because it is just so handy and I can’t see as well as I used to.

In short, I am so happy with both that I wanted to post the update to you folks,


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The Ryobi RY40620 24″ 40 Volt Hedge Trimmer Is Excellent – Seriously Portable Cutting Power

I told you about my very positive experiences so far with the Ryobi RY40230 String Trimmer in my last post. I bought a RY40620 24″ 40 volt hedge trimmer at the same time because it made a lot of sense to me to buy the whole hedge trimmer kit from Home Depot for $169 vs. spending $129-149 for a spare battery alone.

The box arrived beat up with the battery missing. The unit was undamaged and when I called Home Depot’s customer support number they shipped me a replacement battery right away. I don’t know what happened but I used the battery from the string trimmer and ran the unit without any problem. I was impressed by their customer service – they could have run me in circles but instead moved quickly to do what I asked of them which was to simply send me the correct battery that was missing. No hassle at all. I appreciated that.

I also bought the unit because we previously had a Black & Decker Hedge Hog that did a great job but required an extension cord to work and I wanted to get out to our hedge rows to trim them vs. just the bushes by our house. I also wanted plenty of power because a lot of the branches were 1/2-3/4″ thick.

My experience with the 40 volt Ryobi unit is very good. It came fully assembled and has a ton of power. It’s a tad heavier due to the battery but is well balanced. It will chew through 1″ and even slight larger branches no problem.

One feature is that it can rotate the battery relative to the blade 90 degrees either left or right. I have not needed that feature but it does give you some additional clearance.
I should have taken before and after photos. I am largely done here. The unit made very short work of this hedge. All of the branches were well under a 1/2″. When doing trimmer work, I have not drained a battery yet.
You can see part of the far hedge row. If I could get a branch into a 1″ cutter slot, the hedge trimmer would cut it. It was pretty amazing. I used to do this manually with pruning snips and it took forever. With the Ryobi, I walked along while swinging the unit up and down in arcs and quickly cut back a ton of brush.
This side too. You can’t tell all the brush I cut back here. This isn’t a traditional hedge – more like an overgrown part of our property between us and neighbors,

So, I’ve now used the unit probably 4-5 times to trim parts of the property and probably use it for about a 1/2 hour at a time. No problems – I do lubricate the bar with a spray dry Teflon lubricant just to help it out. Ryobi does not say this is required but I do it anyways.

I’m very impressed by this hedge trimmer and have no reservations recommending it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The Ryobi 40 Volt RY40230 Brushless String Trimmer and RYTIL66 Cultivator Are Amazing

Getting ready for this season’s outdoor chores on our 1.5 acre property, I had some decisions to make. For the last two years I had been trying to live with an anemic 18 volt string trimmer that was way, way underpowered for what I needed. I bought it after an old Homelite my father-in-law bought be in 1998 finally gave up the ghost after years of repairs.

The 18 volt Ryobi trimmer simply lacks the power for big lawns where you need to trim around lots of trees, tough to cut areas, etc. It has a single line and you have to make real slow thin cuts to get the work done. With my old Homelite,I had about 30 minutes of work to do on average and living with the old 18 volt Ryobi, it took closer to an hours and two batteries. It did have two things going for it – it was quiet and I didn’t have to mess with 2-cycle gas. So with this current season fast approaching, I started reading up on what to get and it really amounted to my wanting a far more powerful electric trimmer.

Enter The Ryobi 40 Volt RY40230 Line Trimmer

I did quite a bit of reading and opted for the Ryobi RY40230 line trimmer for a number of reasons:

  1. It was 40 volts and the motor had far more power based on all reviews
  2. It was brushless meaning the motor design did not require spring loaded brushes to transfer electricity that wear out and brushless designs tend to have a lot of torque.
  3. It was a Ryobi and it came with a 5 year warranty. Folks, I’ve had good luck with Ryobi battery operated tools.
  4. It used 0.80 line with two strings protruding
  5. Reviews were very favorable
  6. For $199 it came with the trimmer, a 3.0AH battery and a charger
  7. It was expandable – if you look at the Ryobi series of 18 volt and 40 volt tools, they are expanding rapidly. I needed a hedge trimmer also – they had one. I also wanted a light cultivator – they had an attachment that would swap right onto the base trummer.

I took a leap and bought both the edge trimmer and the hedge trimmer. I bought the hedge trimmer because it came with a 40volt battery and charger also. I knew I needed a second battery so rather than just buy a spare battery ($129-149 depending on the capacity) , I bought the whole hedge trimmer kit made way more financial sense (it was $169 with a 4.0Ah battery).

Here are the major parts from the string trimmer. Assembly went very smoothly. The first thing you should do is pull out the charger and start the battery charging while you assemble the rest.
Here it is ready to go, It comes with line already installed in the head plus they give you some additional pre-cut pieces and a winding handle for loading the bobbin.
Here’s a closer look at the business end.

The Test Bed

We have a small garden area that is fenced it. Cutting the grass in there just would kill the 18v Ryobi. This was my first test with the 40v model and as you can see – the grass was about 4-6″ high.

The 40v model would either cut this to my satisfaction or get returned.
Boy, it kicked butt. I saw no power difference between the 40v Ryobi and my old Homelite from years ago. For all I could tell, it was just as strong or stronger. I could cut right into the tall grass and a nice regular pace. I was happy. This also meant buying the cultivator head was worth doing to tackle the old overgrown planting bed on the left.

Folks, this brushless trimmer is dong a great job. I’ve now used it for half the summer and have cut a ton of grass with it. I’d say I get 30-45 minutes from one battery but that depends on how thick the grass is and it’s a best guess also since I cut and move, cut and move, etc. I’m glad I have two batteries as I run one until it is drained and swap it for the other.

Next, let’s talk about the cultivator attachment they offer for it.

The Ryobi RYTIL66 Cultivator String Trimmer Attachment

A few weeks passed before I ordered the cultivator attachment from Home Depot. The string trimmer was doing great on our property so when it came time to tackle that garden bed, I drove over to Home Depot and picked the RYTIL66 attachment up. They do sell a dedicated 40 volt cultivator but since I already had the powerful brushless motor unit, it made more sense to just get the attachment.

When I first opened the box I thought assembly would take a lot longer than it actually did.

It looks daunting but the four steel tines (the wheels that cut into the earth) slide right on and are held in place with supplied cotters keys. The replacemnet handle goes in place of the plastic original. I like that handle so much I just leave it on the unit even when not cultivating.
There is some kind of synthetic felt washer that goes between the tines. Note the holes in the axle, you can run 2 tines, 4 tines or whatever you want. I started with all four.
All four tines installed.
To change heads, loosen the grey locking wing nut and push the silver detebt in. The head pulls right off. Put the new one on and tighten it down – done.
I’m getting started. The head uses a ton of power. I went through about one and a half 4.0ah batteries to do the area that was about 4’x18′ long and I tilled down about 3-4″
Here’s what it looked like after about 30 minutes of work. It did the deepest tilling when I pulled the untit backward. I then went through and removed all the roots that it dug up with a rake. We now have tomatoes planted in there.
Other than losing some paint on the tines, which is totally to be expected, the head and the motor held up just fine.
I liked the handle so much that I use it when trimming too.

The cultivator rocks. Growing up my dad had a big heavy one from Simplicity. Due to its weight, it could really sink down in and tear up the soil. The Ryboi unit is relatively heavy but you still need to do some pushing and pulling to get it to work. It really did a good job given its weight, portability and that it attached to the existing line trimmer shaft and motor. I feel it was worth it and am glad I bought it.

The Bottom Line

The 40 volt string trimmer is totally worth it. The brushless model is considerably more expensive but it ought to last a lot longer and be more powerful. Now that I have used it for half the summer I can say it does a great job. I used the cultivator the one time but I used it hard for half an hour – even my wife was impressed. It’s stored in the shop for the next project.

I’ll post about the hedge trimmer next. It’s also done a very good job and held up well.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Polymer80 Glock Builders: There is a TON of parts on eBay

If you are working on a Polymer80 build or even wanting to overhaul your existing Glock, there are a ton of parts on eBay.  You can find some good deals but I would recommend you stick with reputable brands and sellers. For the sellers, I would look for lots of sales – at least over 30 and ideally hundreds – and very good scores.  There are cheap imports/knock-offs showing up so beware no-name stuff.

The following are all real-time listing on eBay so you can go there and find parts.

Polymer 80 PF940C Kit , Glock No Frame , Polymer 80.

$20.50
End Date: Wednesday Sep-18-2019 8:04:01 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $20.50
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Polymer80 PF940v2,C&CL Magwell - Low Profile - ISLE MFG

$24.99
End Date: Saturday Sep-7-2019 13:16:41 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $24.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Polymer80 PF940v2,C&CL Magwell - High Profile - ISLE MFG

$25.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-1-2019 7:12:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $25.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Glock 27 OEM Style Slide Std Sights Black G27 Gen 3 940SC Polymer 80 OEM Style

$159.99
End Date: Sunday Sep-22-2019 12:15:34 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $159.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

NEW GLOCK OEM GEN 3 G 19 COMPLETE Slide Kit fits poly 80

$399.99
End Date: Monday Aug-26-2019 15:20:10 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $399.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Glock 19 OEM Style Slide Std Sights Black G19 Gen 3 940C Polymer 80 OEM Style

$159.99
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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


First Range Visit For the PSA AK-V

I’ve written a number of posts about the Palmetto State Armory’s second generation 9mm AK-V pistol and how impressed I was. After about a week,I finally got a chance to take it to the range with my daughter and a friend of her’s. Boy, did we have fun!

First off, I cleaned and lubricated the AK-V before we went to the range. This is something you should always do with a new firearm. While cleaning it, I noticed how heavy the bolt assembly was and decided to break it in with 124 grain Sellier &Bellot (S&B) 9x19mm ammo.

The AK-V’s bolt assembly does not have a separate bolt and bolt carrier like you would see in a rifle caliber AK, meaning 7.62×39, 5.45×39, etc. It’s surprisingly heavy and that led me to using 124 grain ammo to break the AK-V in.

The reason for this decision is that 124 grain ammo is used in a lot of submachine guns (SMGs) to generate enough of a recoil impulse to reliably cycle the weapon. I figured the AK-V would need to break in and I had a ton of S&B 124grain FMJ ammo from work I had done with UZIs and MP5s. It also should be mentioned that the S&B ammo is loaded to the 9x19mm CIP spec and not the lighter US 9mm SAAMI spec. Note, 9mm NATO is hotter than commercial 9×19 CIP or SAAMI. I did not have any otherwise I would have used it.

The loose ammo is 124 grain Sellier &Bellot 9mm full metal jacket. It worked great during the break in process. Not one single feed or extraction problem!

To save time and ammo, I used a MidTen brand 9mm laser bore sighter to dial in the Vortex Crossfire Red Dot to be more aligned. I’ve never had a boresighter achieve dead-on accuracy but they do tend to get you close enough on paper so you can more easily make the final adjustments based on actual rounds fired.

The Range

It was a beautiful afternoon when we loaded up the car and headed to the Berrien County Sportsmans Club. My favorite lane was open and we set up at the 25 foot mark.

We loaded up four of the 35 round PSA magazines with the 124 grain S&B ammo, two magazines with 115 grain CCI/Speer ammo that PSA had on sale, and one last magazine with 10 rounds Hornday Critical Duty ammo. Note, I’d heard of guys having some small issues when trying to use Scorpion magazines so I avoided them and only used PSA’s own brand of magazines for the AK-V.

To do the first test firing, I loaded two rounds of the S&B 124 grain in a mag. I had aready function tested the AK-V with the dust cover off to make sure the fire control group operated the way it should. By loading just two rounds, I could safely fire one, make sure the bullet hit the target and then fire the second. The last thing I wanted was a run away gun where a geometry error might cause the whole magazine to dump uncontrollably.

The AK-V ran just great without one single problem. It fed and ejected everything just fine. I was very impressed by the accuracy and reliability. I’m definitely not the only one saying this either – tons of guys are reporting how much they like their AK-Vs.

The Vortex Cross Fire Red Dot on the American Defense quick release base worked great. It’s a tad too high to co-witness but you can get it off the weapon in a hurry if need be.
This is the first 37 rounds fire free hand from about 25-35 feet away plus I was dialing in the red dot as I went. I’ll take the AK-V out again and fire from a rest to see what kind of accuracy I can get.
I’m very happy with our quick takedown pin. Everything was secure and held zero with no visible wear of any kind. Click here if you want to order one.

In conclusion, we had a lot of fun. The AK-V ran great! Note: I’ve read posts from a ton of guys who shot just 115 grain 9mm from their AK-V to break it in so that’s an option for you as well. Also, I was toying with replacing the trigger but after shooting the AK-V, I really do not see the need. The trigger’s actually pretty decent.

So, that’s it for now. I definitely recommend the AK-V to anyone who is interested. It would appear to be accurate and reliable. Kudos to PSA for listening to customers and creating this second generation.


Other AK-V Posts:


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PSA AK-V Part Four: Lubricating and Picking a Carrying Case

At this point, the AK-V is almost ready. As you may have noticed in the first post about impressions out of the box, it shipped pretty dry with just some oil to prevent rust and that’s just fine. In this post I’ll outline what I did to lubricate it and also the cool US Peacekeeper it will be carried in.

Here’s a good view of the inside of the receiver. Everything is clean and appears solid. However, it definitely needs lubrication.
The bar you see in the middle with the circle on its left is the bolt hold open or bolt catch mechanism. On the PSA AK-V magazines, you will see a red tab at the back that only protrudes when the magazine is empty. That tab pushes this bar up and it holds the bolt open. A slide release lever is in the non operating side and simply moves this bar down allowing it to close.
That red tab in the back of the magazine is what pushes upwards and lifts the bolt hold open bar into position.
Here’s the fire control group. It comes with a retaining plate, which makes me happy since I really do not care for the traditional wire retainers.
This is not really a criticism and more of an observation – PSA installed a sheet metal shelf just forward of the hammer and just above the center support rivet. Don’t dry fire the weapon without the bolt present or the hammer will hit this shelf. In most AKs, the hammer would be beating up the center support if triggered without the bolt assembly so really the same need to manually move the hammer forward when the bolt assembly is not installed in order to protect the two surfaces still exists.

Cleaning the AK-V

On any new weapon, you need to run a bore snake or whatever your preferred method is to get any remnants from machining, dust, etc. out of the barrel. I ran a RamRodz tip down the length of the barrel coated in CLP and it came out fairly dirty. I did this four times with two RamRodz and was set. Note, I usually use the RamRodz on my 9mm pistols and happened to have them sitting there. The wood push sticjs were too short for the AK-Vs barrel so I used a small nut driver to push the wood stick down. I would normally use a Hoppes 9mm Bore Snake.

Here’s what the two normally white RamRodz looked like after running down the bore two times each with CLP on them. Note, I broke one removing it from the mag well in a rush.

Lubricating the AK-V

To lubricate the weapon, I pretty much did what I normally do with any AK and I follow and old saying “If it slides, grease it. If it rotates, oil it”. My grease of choice these days is Super Lube. It works great on weapons in a wide range of temperatures, is a synthetic grease and includes very fine particles of PTFE (Telfon) in it. I apply it to the bottom of the bolt carrier, rails, fire control group (FCG) surfaces and a light film in the hole for the recoil spring in the bolt group. I wanted to say bolt carrier but in the AK-V, the bolt is a one piece combination of the traditional bolt barrier and bolt body.

I then used Super Lube oil on the FCG pins plus a drop on each end of the firing pin. Technically, I tried to put a drop in the hole on the bolt face and a drop on the exposed firing on on the rear. I also made sure the extractor was oiled as well.

I’m using Super Lube grease and oil on everything these days – rifles, pistols, shotguns, stuff around the house, etc. You can see the acid, or flux, brush that I use to lightly coat parts. I buy them by the bag off Amazon and keep the current one in use in a baggie between uses — that’s the purpose of the Bondhus zip loc bag to the left.
It’s not pretty but you get the idea – any surface that slides has a think layer of Super Lube grease. All surfaces that rotate have the oil.
You can see I brushed Super Lube on the bottom of the bolt. It looks heavier than what it is thanks to zooming in and the lighting. I put a drop of Super Lube oil down the front firing pin hole and on the exposed firing pin in the back.

After lubricating the AK-V, I function tested it. Wow. What an amazing difference. We’re talking night and day difference. It was incredibly smooth and hadn’t even been broke in yet!

US Peacekeeper 28″ Rapid Assault Tactical Case

Ok, so after measuring the rifle, I ordered the US Peacekeeper case and it fits like a glove. Often you have slop at the ends but here the butt and muzzle go right up to the cushioned ends.

The case is rather discrete and very well made in terms of materials, zippers and stitching. Inside the outer pocket is MOLLE straps for securing pourches and accessories. To hold the magazines, I opted for a three cell pouch made for AR magazines – you can get two of the AK-V 35 round magazines in each and just barely close the flap.

Here’s the case. I had to add the Punisher swag patch to it.
That is a Midway USA brand three AR magazine pouch mounted with MOLLE straps. It’s a pretty good pouch and the as you can see the mags just barely fit. I have three mags laying in the pouch for moment along with an Outdoor Connection one point sling. I don’t think I will keep the other three magazines in there. I do want to keep at least one spare battery for the red dot and a Mag Lula loader in there. I may add one more AR magazine pouch to hold a total of eight magazines and still have room for the batteries and sling.
You can see the AK-V magazines just barely fit. I’m perfectly fine with the fit. The purpose of the pouch is really to organize the case and I don’t need to worry about how securely they are retained vertically.
As you can see, it is a nice snug fit. The AK-V and Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sit in there just perfect. It will not fit with a magazine in case you are wondering.
This is the back of the bag. You can see the sling attachment points plus the fact that they ran the handle webbing all the way around the bag. Cheap bags don”t do this. The reason it matters is that this bag will weigh a lot once the magazines are loaded and you want the weight as evenly distributed as you can – looped under the bottom even. Cheap bags that have handles that only go part way risk the material separating over time under the load. Now there are designs that compensate for this but I thought it worth pointing out that US Peacekeeper thought this through.

That’s It For Now

I will try to get this to the range at some point and will report back when I do. I hope you found these posts useful. Please note, none of these groups sponsor me or gave me their products – I had to buy everything so please consider buying something off one of our Amazon links so we can get a small bit of sales commission.


This is a four part series on the PSA AK-V 9pmm:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


PSA AK-V Part Three: Changing the Brace, Adding a Red Dot and Installing A Quick Takedown Pin For The Dust Cover

Out of the box, the AK-V is impressive. The trigger is decent, the grip and handguard are functional but there were three things I really wanted to do – move to a SBA4 brace, install an optic and create a quick takedown pin so the dust cover could be removed (the big reason I bought the AK-V from a business perspective). So let’s step through each.

Replace The SBA3 Brace With An SBA4

Yes, they are both adjustable braces but that comparison ends there. The SBA4 is much more sturdy and has five length of pull adjustment positions. The SBA4 does go on sale and that is the time to buy one. I got mine for $99 at PSA’s July 4th sale and there was free shipping!

The SBA4 is the top brace and the SBA3 is the bottom. You can instantly see the SBA4 has more bracing and is bulkier. The back end does not flop around either unlike the SBA3.

Now PSA did something with the SBA3 that is a best practice. They staked the castle nut to the receiver end plate. Now, I started thinking about what would be my easiest option and it dawned on me that if I was SB Tactical and wanted to control cost and complexity, I would try and have as few inventory parts as possible and that means as few buffer tubes. Guess what? The SBA3 and the SBA4 both use a Mil-Spec 6 position buffer tube. Problem solved. You can remove the brace just like most AR/M4 stocks – lift up on the locking pin and slide it right off.

The Castle Nut has two real solid stakes in it. Kudos to PSA.
Ta-da! Under the brace is a Mil-Spec buffer tube or “receiver extension” depending on who you talk to. The SBA3 and SBA4 use the same tube!! Note, the weapon is upside down for this photo.
Here’s a good shot of the receiver. See that small vertical slider switch just above the mag catch? That’s the bolt release. The M4 buffer tube / receiver extension they are using is rock solid. If it is made by someone else, I don’t recognize it.
Here’s the tail end of the SBA4 on the left vs. the SBA3 on the right.
The SBA4 uses the same buffer tube and slides right on in place of the SBA3 brace.

The result is a very sturdy brace. After comparing the two, I will only use SBA4 braces going forward.

Vortex Crossfire Red Dot Optic and American Defense Mount

I doubt I will ever go past 100 yards with the AK-V and a much more likely engagement distance is 50 yards so a red dot is perfect. I’m a huge Vortex Optics fan and this was a perfect situation for their Crossfire Red Dot mounted on an American Defense AD-T1-L STD quick detach mount. They are my favorite combination of price and performance these days.

By the way, be sure to keep a couple of spare 2032 Lithium batteries in your case or range bag. Nothing dampens a range trip like dead batteries. It’s also why I use a quick detach mount – if the batteries are dead or that optic fails, I am yanking that optic off.

With the AD-T1-L STD mount you are a tad higher than the AK-V’s sights. I plan to watch how they relate at the range so I can ballpark where to aim if the battery is dead and am in a rush. Practice, practice, practice and not just when everything works.

Here’s the Vortex Crossfire Red Dot on the American Defense AD-T1-L STD mount. If you wonder why I use American Defense, it’s for the quality. Cheap Chinese/import quick detach rings shoot loose, don’t return to zero and bend/break over time. AD stuff is rock solid made from aerospace aluminum. Note, you can see our Quick Takedown Pin just above the handguard and I’ll cover that next.

The AK-V Dust Cover Quick Takedown Pin

I had to look up — I built my first Yugo M92 in 2012 and instantly hated the hinged dust cover. I drilled out the rivet and came up with a stainless pin with a ball detent and pull ring to secure the cover. The rest is history. I wound up making pins for the M92/M85, Tula and Bulgy Krinks use the same pin, Vepr shotguns and now the AK-V.

The reason for wanting a quick takedown pin is plain and simple, when you want to clean the weapon or work in the receiver, the hinged dust cover is in the way. To remedy this, you can install our AK-V quick pin and it’s about a 10 minute job if you know how to strip down an AK. This is a quick overview:

  1. Ensure the weapon is empty.
  2. Field strip the weapon like you would any AK, remove the gas tube and the lower handguard so they are out of the way. 
  3. The AK-V’s hinge is simply a 5/32″ roll pin that needs to be tapped/punched out so use something like a bench block to support the weapon and create a hole/gap for the pin to exit into.
  4. Use a 5/32″ roll pin punch and a hammer to tap the roll pin out.  You can save it for the future in case you ever want to use it again for some reason. 
  5. Put the dust cover back in place with the hinge holes lined up and slide in our quick takedown pin.
  6. Re-assemble the weapon.
  7. Done
Here, I have the rear sight block fully supported by the bench block behind it and am using a 5/32″ roll pin punch and hammer to drive the roll pin out.
What makes a roll pin punch different from a normal punch is the dome in the middle that centers the punch on the pin and makes driving the pin out very easy. It also reduces the risk of a regular punch slipping off what you are working on an scratching the finish.
So this is what you wind up with once the roll pin is removed.
This was my first attempt because I am right handed. Having the pull ring there right next to the gas tube locking lever was just too much. I flipped it around and had the pull ring on the other side of the gas block.
This is how I am running it now. The pull ring is on the left / non-operating side and the ring is tucked just behind the handguard.

We have the pins up for sale on our website now. Click here to order one.

Summary

Looking good!

The AK-V was almost done at this point. I still needed to lubricate the weapon and put it in a suitable case. I’ll tell you about that part of the journey in the next post.


This is a four part series on the PSA AK-V 9mm:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


When Strength and Quality Matter Most