A Close Look At: High Tech

Lights, Lasers And... Matches?

Shooters are notoriously resistant to change. If something works it takes a lot of persuasion to convince them something may work better. I’m a perfect example; I understand full well the advantages of stainless steel, polymer frames, and synthetic holsters. Nonetheless I’m as likely to be found with a blued carbon steel handgun (maybe even a revolver!), with checkered walnut or ivory grips, in a handfitted leather holster. But yes, I can change.

I love my computers, digital cameras, even laser rangefinders. I love programs like Final Cut, Adobe Creative Suite and JBM Ballistics. Much as I loved them once I don’t miss Kodachrome or Tri-X film. I’ve also learned to appreciate tritium night sights, laser-aiming devices and dot sights.

And when did they start making batteries capable of lasting practically forever?


A home-defense firearm needs to be secure, yet readily available. The LockSAF is made of heavy-gauge steel. On the bottom, beneath foam padding, are four small holes so the safe can be bolted to a flat surface. Inside the opening on the safe is a fingerprint recognition pad. It can be programmed to recognize up to ten individual fingerprints. To open, press the silver-colored button, then place the fingertip on the pad, and the lid pops open. Should you forget to replace the battery and it goes dead, the safe can be opened with a provided key. Just remember to store the keys in a safe place — not inside the LockSAF!


The Genesis from LaserMax packs a lot of features in a compact, light (1.4 ounces) package. It uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery with a runtime of 2.5 hours between charges. The pulsating green laser beam is extraordinarily bright, making it useable in daylight. It mounts to standard accessory rails and has ambidextrous on/off switches. Because it’s so compact it’s practical to keep on the gun full time, for both carry duty and on a nightstand for home defense.


The APALS adhesive light strips by Brite-Strike were introduced in response to police/military requests. The box holds 10 light strips, each with an adhesive back, which can be used to attach the light. The light (colored or infrared) can be set for slow strobe, fast strobe, steady on, or off. The Brite-Strike baton light has an integral flashlight with four positions; off, on/medium, on/bright and strobe/bright. If the lights fail, one swing deploys an extension for use as a baton to solve the problem.


Viridian was one of the pioneers of green lasers. The X5L is an outstanding combination white light/laser aiming device. The white light puts out 154 lumens either in a steady beam or strobe. The green laser is very bright, useable in both dark and daylight conditions and can also be programmed for steady beam or pulse. Made with a body of tough aluminum it weighs just 3.1 ounces, has an ambidextrous on/off switch, and fits standard accessory rails. It runs on one CR123A battery. Since its introduction, the X5L has been in great demand, with very positive user feedback.

Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace made lasers feasible for defensive firearms without accessory rails with its LaserGrip designs. The LG-452 Laserguard for Glock pistols attaches to the triggerguard; it uses one CR2 battery with a claimed battery life of 2 hours and projects a bright green laser. The Laserguard uses a pressure switch readily available to both right- and left-hand shooters. The Laserguard is available for many popular defensive handguns.


SureFire’s X400 is a combination white light/laser aiming device. The LED white light has a maximum output of 180 lumens. The X400 also features an extraordinarily bright red laser. I like the SureFire quick attach/detach clamp which fits standard accessory rails (and Picatinny rails with a provided adapter) and is both fast to use and secure. Weight is 4 ounces, including the two 123A lithium batteries to power the bright lights. The X400 is strongly made and weather resistant, with an aluminum body, O-rings and gaskets and Nylok adjustment screws. The ambidextrous switch can be used for intermittent or full-time on, with adapter switches available for long gun use.

Match Safe

The metal case is made by Marble’s and is called a “match safe.” A rubber gasket in the lid makes it watertight. The metal loop can be attached to a cord to prevent loss. Inside are a number of “matches”: wooden sticks with two chemicals at one end. When the white end is scratched on the rough metal surface of the match case, heat from friction causes it to ignite. The heat ignites the longer-burning red chemical, which in turn ignites the wood. The flame can then be used to start a fire. Imagine that. The Buck knife shown has three blades, all very sharp. It can be used to whittle a trap to catch a rabbit. Once the rabbit is caught, it can be used to dress and cut up the rabbit. The knife can then be used to whittle a fuzz stick to help get a fire going with one of the matches. When the fire has burned down to coals, a green branch cut with the knife can be used as a skewer to cook the pieces of rabbit over the fire. The thing looking like a pocket watch is a compass. It has a magnetic needle that points to the magnetic north pole. Even if you don’t know how to navigate, you can follow it and just keep walking, eating rabbit as needed, until you reach the magnetic North Pole. By the time you get there you will undoubtedly come across some scientists studying polar bears or measuring ice thickness. They’ll undoubtedly have satellite phones so you can call home and let the family know where you are. These three items require no batteries, no orbiting GPS satellites and no fuel. They can be tucked into a jacket pocket, remain there untouched for 30 years, or even 300, and will still do their job when called upon. Altogether they weigh about 8 ounces. Any one of them in the right circumstances can save your life. Now that’s what I call high tech.